CHICAGO — A new fashion rage--Rozellewear--was unveiled here Sunday. The commissioner of pro football inspired it. Jim McMahon designed it. And McMahon and Walter Payton modeled it.
Under their helmets, the quarterback and star running back of the Chicago Bears wore headbands with "ROZELLE" scrawled across the front during their 24-0 victory over the Rams in the National Football Conference title game at Soldier Field.
The two players had been wearing sweat bands throughout the season. Pete Rozelle had not objected to that. But the bands featured athletic brand names--adidas for McMahon, Kangaroo for Payton--and the commissioner repeatedly had emphasized to National Football League teams that endorsements as such could not be worn or displayed on the field.
Tired of warning them, Rozelle last week sent a letter to the Bears notifying them of a $5,000 fine.
So Mike McCaskey, the Bears' president, approached McMahon before Sunday's game and advised him not to wear the headband with the adidas insignia. McMahon reluctantly complied.
Instead, he found a plain, white headband, took a felt marker and printed the commissioner's name in large letters. Payton liked McMahon's handiwork. "Hey, make me one, too," Payton said.
They wore them during the game, and McMahon showed it off for television close-ups after scoring the game's first touchdown.
"I thought maybe if I gave Pete a little publicity, he wouldn't mind," McMahon said afterward.
"I'll probably get fined 10 or 20 thousand now. Well, I'm not gonna pay it."
The Bear quarterback said players already wear shoes, gloves and other equipment that feature brand names. "It's a little nitpicky," he said. "It's not football, it's politics. They're taking the fun out of it."
McCaskey isn't as fond of title-game cold weather as his players say they are.
Watching the snow come down in the fourth quarter, McCaskey said:
"Some day I hope we can play this game under a roof. An outdoor stadium really isn't practicable for football in Chicago in January. And I trust we'll play many January games here from now on."
If Chicago's proposed domed stadium ever becomes a reality, McCaskey favors one with a retractable roof.
"I'd like to play on grass," he said. "You only need a roof for bad weather."
McCaskey doubts, however, if Chicago will get a dome anytime soon.
"The only new stadium they (politicians) seem to be discussing now is one south of the loop for the White Sox," he said. "And they're the third team in this town."
George Allen said wind is more of a factor than temperature in Chicago.
"You can play this game well in Chicago--or anywhere--whether it's zero or 50 or higher," he said. "Cold weather doesn't bother you. It's the wind that's the big weather problem. When the wind off the lake is gusting up to 20 or 25 m.p.h., you can't play good football in Chicago on a warm day. When there's little or no wind, you don't mind a little freeze."
It was a mild 39 degrees when Sunday's game began, but the wind was gusting up to 35 m.p.h. Before the kickoff, Allen said the warm day wouldn't help the Rams if the wind kept blowing.
"If you win the coin flip, always take the wind in Chicago if it's blowing 20 m.p.h. or more," he said.
Payton said the Bears won Sunday's game a year ago in San Francisco, when they lost the NFC title match, 23-0.
"We were so glad to get to the championship game (last winter) that we forgot we had to play it," Payton said. "The same (players) won't ever make that mistake again."
Ram Coach John Robinson quickly established his off-season theme after the 24-0 loss.
"The Bears went to San Francisco last year and got beat in this game, 23-0, and said, 'OK, we're not good enough. Let's get good enough,' Robinson said.
"Now, the same idea applies to us."
Eric Dickerson, asked about the bad spot he got in the second quarter that cost the Rams a first down, said: "I told the ref, 'You need my glasses more than I do.'
"After the play, (Bear safety Gary) Fencik came up and said, 'It was a bad call, but we'll take it.' "
Dickerson wore gloves and rubber skindiver's sleeves and said he had no problems with the 39-degree temperature, the wind and, finally, the snow--only the Bears' defense.
"I felt fine," he said after gaining only 46 yards in 17 attempts. "I didn't get a chance to really run. We never got a running attack established. It made a long day for us. They never played me dirty, though."
Buddy Ryan, the Bears' defensive coordinator, had predicted that Dickerson would fumble three times. He was close. Dickerson fumbled twice and the Bears recovered once, leading to their second touchdown.
"I fumbled some, Walter (Payton) fumbled, a lot of guys fumbled," Dickerson said. "I lost one of mine."
Part of the Bears' defensive scheme featured a pre-snap shift, with strong safety Dave Duerson dropping back and free safety Gary Fencik stepping up into the line.
It came as no surprise, however, to Hudson Houck, the Rams' offensive line coach.