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Morning Briefing

At Least, He Puts You Back Together

January 25, 1986

The problem with trying to tackle Walter Payton is that you don't know whether he's trying escape you, demolish you, or simply embarrass you.

"I caught his stiff-arm once, under my chin," Dallas cornerback Everson Walls told Gary Pomerantz of the Washington Post. "It bent my head back and where your head goes, man, your body goes. I was able to push him out of bounds, though. You know how you do those calypso dances where you bend your body underneath a stick? That's how I got under his stiff-arm."

Walls recalled how Payton once made Dallas safety Dennis Thurman miss on an attempted tackle, then spotted Thurman's gold necklace dangling outside of his jersey after the play had ended. Payton reached over and put the necklace back in its proper place, under Thurman's jersey.

Pomerantz: "It was kind of like Superman handing Lois Lane her purse after he caught her falling off a 10-story building."

Said Chicago Bears safety Gary Fencik after Jim McMahon had created still another headline in New Orleans: "'He's not like most other great quarterbacks who have played this game. I mean, I can't see Jim doing a Rolaids commercial when he retires."

Add McMahon: He's recognized as a great leader, but how does he rate as a passer? Says former coach Dick Vermeil: "His statistics are all right, but not terrific. But I'm like a lot of people who have begun to suspect he is a great passer who can make any play. His touchdown pass to Willie Gault against the Rams was outstanding. McMahon, a right-hander, threw a perfect pass while running to his left."

Add Fencik: Recalling the playoff shutout of the New York Giants, he said: "Richard Dent is a great defensive end, and one of those Giant suburbanites couldn't handle him. We've got a bunch of city basketball players on our defense.

"Have you ever seen city kids play basketball against a bunch of suburb kids on the playground? The city kids will jump all over you. They don't call any fouls, they just beat on you. That's how we play. We're the city kids."

Trivia Time: Who is the only player to play in Super Bowls in three different decades. (Answer below.)

From Charley Hannah of the Raiders, recalling his childhood fights with older brother John of the New England Patriots: "I'd run to the backyard where we had some big pine trees. I was skinny then and could climb way up to the very top.

"John was real big and when he'd get near the top, the limbs would start to break off on him. We had pine trees whose tops looked like poodle tails."

Miami Coach Don Shula is picking Chicago Sunday unless New England gets a lot of turnovers. When the Dolphins lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game, they turned the ball over four times on fumbles and twice on interceptions and Shula said, "You can't win in the playoffs with six turnovers."

Wrong. In the 1971 Super Bowl, the Baltimore Colts turned it over seven times and beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13. In that game, which became known as the Blooper Bowl, Baltimore's first touchdown came on a pass from Johnny Unitas that was tipped into the hands of John Mackey who turned it into a 73-yard play.

Trivia Answer: Gene Upshaw. He played guard for the Raiders in the Super Bowls of 1968, 1977 and 1981. In the last one, he was 35 years old.


Chicago Bear defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, asked how William Perry matches up against New England guard John Hannah: "If Fat Boy can't handle him, I'll move Dan Hampton over there. But I figure Fatso ought to be able to do a good job."

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