Marty Schottenheimer, coach of the Cleveland Browns, isn't sure which was worse, Frank Minnifield's play or the player's explanation.
Minnifield, after intercepting a pass against Houston Sunday, scrambled around looking for running room, and when he couldn't find any, he flung a wild lateral that sailed over the head of fellow defensive back Hanford Dixon, who wasn't looking for a lateral. The ball flew out of bounds.
Said Schottenheimer: "That's the kind of stuff you do when you're 6 years old and playing in the backyard. After the game, I told Frank to remember that the ball is valuable.
"You should have heard his logic. "He said, 'Coach, did you see Hanford? I'm running, and Hanford won't block anybody. So I figure, I'm gonna give Hanford the ball and let them tackle Hanford.' "
If they give a hyperbole-of-the-year award, the leader in the clubhouse is San Francisco 49ers tackle Harris Barton, who told the San Jose Mercury News: "When a player like Randy Cross goes down, it's like losing Joe DiMaggio."
Coach Bill Russell of the Sacramento Kings told the Denver Post: "I want you to know this team has more enthusiasm than any team I had in Boston. And these guys are very smart. They know I'm always right."
Trivia Time: What running back was known as the Human Bowling Ball? (Answer below.)
Columnist Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register, who came here from Philadelphia, was asked at the Associated Press sports editors' symposium in San Francisco if Southland sportswriters are homers.
He said they weren't.
"None of them live or die with the teams," Whicker said. "That's fortunate right now, because we'd have a lot of dead writers."
Big Talk: Al Rosen, general manager of the San Francisco Giants, has proclaimed that the Giants will win the World Series next year, and he says, "Will Clark might be the next Ted Williams."
Mike Haynes of the Raiders, on Bo Jackson: "Never have I seen a running back like that. I've never seen anybody with his size and determination."
Todd Christensen, on Jackson's speed: "That's just quick-fast, isn't it? I mean, that combination of speed and power is something you don't see every day. Football is a 10-, 20-yard game, not a 100-yard sprint. Bob Hayes might have had that kind of speed, but not in such a hurry."
Ram quarterback Jim Everett said he enjoys Monday night football but not because of the added exposure.
"The only good thing about Monday games is that you get an extra day off and you can get some good hunting in," he said. "We shot quite a few quail last week."
Make of this what you want: The Kansas City Chiefs (1-9), Kansas State Wildcats (0-10-1) and Kansas Jayhawks (1-9-1) are a combined 2-28-2.
From Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears, comparing defensive coach Vince Tobin with his predecessor, Buddy Ryan: "Buddy is definitely a better coach than Vince because he's been in the business longer. Vince is a good coach, too, don't get me wrong."
Trivia Answer: Don Nottingham of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins. A 5-foot 10-inch, 220-pound fullback from Kent State, he was the 441st player taken among the 442 selected in the 1971 NFL draft.
Todd Phipers of the Denver Post: "Which is going to come first for Bob Knight, cardiac arrest, or just arrest?"