Pro Football / Bob Oates : Bears' Architect Finks Says It Won't Be Easy

January 20, 1986|BOB OATES

NEW ORLEANS — Jim Finks, the new president and general manager of the New Orleans Saints, picks the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl XX "in a tight game" here next Sunday against the New England Patriots.

"It will be a lot closer than most people think," says Finks, the man who built the Bears in the 10 years before he resigned as their general manager on Aug. 24, 1983. "The Patriots have some of the league's best talent. I know because they outdrafted us (the Bears) a lot of times."

In Finks' opinion, the key to coming up in the world of pro football is to get lucky and find a whole gang of first-string players in one draft.

"The foundation of the Steelers' four-time Super Bowl champions in the '70s was the seven starters they drafted in 1973, I think it was," Finks said. "Then they drafted Lynn Swann and Jack Lambert the next year. The Bears are what they are because of the seven starters we got in 1983."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 21, 1986 Home Edition Sports Part 3 Page 5 Column 2 Sports Desk 1 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
The Rams and Raiders, as did all nonparticipating teams, received only 696 tickets each to Sunday's Super Bowl, not the number reported in The Times Monday. The Chicago Bears and New England Patriots each received 16,000.

The Bears' class of '83 includes wide receivers Willie Gault and Dennis McKinnon, offensive linemen Jim Covert and Mark Bortz, defensive backs Dave Duerson and Mike Richardson and defensive end Richard Dent--all starters and big contributors.

This is the first time since 1982, and only the second time in 20 years exclusive of Super Bowl I, that both teams are playing in this game for the first time.

The only other such matchups were in Super Bowl III, the New York Jets and Baltimore, and Super Bowl XVI, San Francisco and Cincinnati.

At least one team with Super Bowl experience has made it to every other championship game since the first one in 1967.

Successful drafting put the Bears and Patriots here, says Finks, who calls New England's Dick Steinberg and Chicago's Bill Tobin "two of the top five or six personnel men in the league."

Steinberg recruited most of the Patriots. Tobin, who was brought to the Bears by Finks a decade ago, is the man who recommended, among others, Dent--whom the Bears got on the eighth round in '83.

The ability to spot winning players on college teams, Finks says, is a talent related to no other skill in or out of football.

He says Steinberg and Tobin have that ability although neither has an NFL coaching background.

Steinberg began as a football player at Temple and a high school coach in Philadelphia.

Tobin played at Missouri and Edmonton and began coaching at Central Connecticut State.

The Chicago Bears' cheerleaders, known as the Honey Bears, will be making their final appearance at Sunday's game.

Starting next season, the Chicago management will manage without organized cheerleading at Soldier Field.

The Honey Bears were created under the stewardship of the late George Halas, the club's founder, who admired the pioneer group in this field--the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Halas has been succeeded on the Bears' board of directors by his daughter, majority owner Virginia McCaskey, wife of club chairman Ed McCaskey and mother of club President Michael McCaskey.

In her view, prancing cheerleaders have outlived their usefulness in football--at least in Chicago.

The Bears and Patriots worked out up north over the weekend for the last time this season and will fly to their camps in New Orleans this afternoon.

Mike Ditka and Raymond Berry, the Chicago and New England coaches, have agreed to make their televised New Orleans press conference debuts before dinnertime tonight.

Sunday's game time is 2 p.m. PST. The Patriots will wear red, the Bears white. The Up With People show is coming in for halftime.

Joe Namath, the only holdout, has agreed to report, meaning that all the MVPs of the first 19 Super Bowls will be honored during the pregame show. Green Bay's Bart Starr, Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw and San Francisco's Joe Montana won it twice.

Scalpers say there are a few tickets left at $700, if you aren't choosy about location. This will be the 19th straight Super Bowl sellout. The first game in Los Angeles in 1967 was the lone box-office dud.

One difference between Ditka and Berry is that although both are former All-Pros, only Berry is in the Hall of Fame.

Until this year, though, Berry wasn't widely respected as a coach. Indeed, the only football man who believed in him was Pat Sullivan, the New England general manager, who last year recommended Berry to his father the owner, Billy Sullivan.

Berry was out of football, seemingly for good, when Pat rescued him.

The most prominent casualties of the week before the game are both Patriots, wide receiver Irving Fryar and cornerback Ronnie Lippett, and both are expected to play.

Lippett reportedly has had leg trouble.

Fryar, whose lacerated hand kept him benched at Miami last week, will catch Chicago's first punt, the Patriots say. And if he holds it, he will catch some more.

He may not be seen in the offensive lineup in his usual station at wide receiver.

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