The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on December 7, 1985 · 40
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 40

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Saturday, December 7, 1985
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40
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HO STATE THE TAMPA TRIBUNE, Saturday, December 7, 1 985 5-C roncos, fans hope to shake Raiders, snowball incident By MARK HEISLER Los Angeles Times LOS ANGELES Denver, the jewel of the Rockies and home of the Broncos, eagerly awaits the arrival of the Raiders for the settling of one division race and many old scores. The Raiders have a lot of legitimate things to worry about: John Elway, Steve Watson, Karl Mecklenburg, Rulon Jones. But every other question they're getting is about ... snowballs? The Broncos don't throw snowballs. Their fans have fired one or two, though. "When you were In the locker room, the people used to try to nail you coming in," Coach Tom Flores said last week. "That's why they put that big fence there. When I was still playing, you never took your helmet off. Howie Long said: "I've been hit by water, soda; I've been spit at. I like being on the field. It's a lot less dangerous." The snowballs, at least, were considered ' harmless fun until one fell to earth near the ; San Francisco 49ers' Matt Cavanaugh during the Nov. 11 Monday night telecast and seemed to have something to do with his ', fumbling a snap from center. That cost his ' team a 19-yard field goal in a game it lost, 17-16. In Denver, which is hypersensitive about its image, the affair was received variously: Civic embarrassment. Denver talk shows considered nothing else for a week. The Tank McNamara comic strip did snowball jokes for a week. Said President Rex Jennings of the Denver Chamber of Commerce: "It was unfortunate it happened. We have a high class of Bronco fan. We have a high class of season ticket-holder. We don't want the image of Bronco fans as thugs and rednecks. It was a result of someone's enthusiasm. Sometimes a practical joke backfires." 49er guard Randy Cross: "I hope Peter Ueberroth was watching the game. It's a good indication of why a high-class joint like this doesn't deserve a baseball team." A San Francisco newspaper offered $500 for information leading to the identification of the launcher, and later said it found him. The paper said it was withholding his identity at his request, since he was properly contrite, and afraid that he was going to cost his parents their season tickets. What snowball? Bronco Coach Dan Reeves: "I don't think it affected (Cavanaugh). I was looking right at it and never saw the snowball. I don't think (referee) Jim Tunney saw the snowball. I don't think that Cavanaugh thought it affected him because if he did, he'd still be standing there arguing with the official right now. ... It hit kind of behind him and about nine feet from him. It splattered. It looks a lot worse when you're shooting it from up high and look at it against that grass. "I think if you shot me with a 30.06 when I was a holder you've still got to catch that football." A new motif. The old Orange Crush label was getting a little tired, even if the soft-drink company just signed a formal deal with the Broncos. Now, there is a booming market in T-shirts bearing a picture of a snowball and one of two legends: "I threw the snowball," or "I didn't throw the snowball." "I threw the snowball" is said to be the leading seller. A joke. The San Diego Chargers who were due into Denver next, enlivened their practices by tossing rolled-up socks at kicker Bob Thomas while he was practicing field goals. Thomas subsequently had two successive tries blocked in overtime, although the culprit was Bronco safety Dennis Smith, not some fan with a good arm. This is a lot of reaction for one little snowball, but in Denver, the Broncos are more than a team. They are the symbol of the city's claim to being big league, something it worries about. Bronco players worry about it, too. When only one of them from a 13-3 team was named to play in last season's Pro Bowl, along with eight members of the Raiders (11-5) and five members of the Seahawks (12-4), a deep funk set in. Recently, Rulon Jones noted that the media covering the Broncos lack clout. Among the first concerns about any Bronco home game: "Is it going to be on national TV?" And right after that: "Why not?" Monday night games from Denver are the civic equivalent of going to watch your kids in the school play. There was great embarrassment last season when a blizzard inundated the Monday night telecast of the Packers at Denver. Now, they'll think we're another Green Bay! And so before the 49er game, an attempt was made to get everything right this time. Downtown buildings were kept lighted, in order to give ABC a vibrant, exciting skyline for its opening shot. Unfortunately, it was too foggy to look like anything. Then there was the snowball incident. Some nights, a city can't buy a break. "Naturally, on Monday night games, there's always some concern," said Jennings, the Chamber of Commerce president. "You hope it doesn't snow. You're going to be on display. That's just basic civic pride. "It's only in the last 10-15-20 years that Denver has emerged as a truly world-class city. We're always anxious, by golly, to have everyone acknowledge that. Not that there is an inferiority complex here, just the contrary. We know we have one of the great cities in the world, doggone it, and we want to do everything we can to make sure everyone knows it. "I don't want to overstate the importance of the Broncos. We have a number of things that distinguish Denver from other cities. We're one mile high. We're within view of the majestic Rocky Mountains. And I suppose, another is that we're the home of the Denver Broncos. "They're an institution. They've had something like 110 straight sellouts (116, counting this week's). They're genuinely I hate to use the term loved by everybody. The mood of the whole metropolitan community swings on the wins and losses of the Broncos. If you want to make a deal, you do it the Monday after a Bronco victory." Well, into every civic aspiration, a snowball or two must fall. And now for the Raiders, who are hated in Denver in inverse proportion to the way the Broncos are loved. The Raiders are some temptation for snowball throwers, but Denver has just been through all that, so they're probably safe. McMahon frustrated by injury ; By BOB VERDI ' Chicago Tribune ' ; MIAMI Jim McMahon rotated his right arm in a pinwheel motion, ! then grinned. He wants to be a start-; ing quarterback again. But he also wants to be a finishing quarterback, ! which is why he has not been grin-; ning much the last month. The man's plainly frustrated. "One part of me says to go out ; there Ihis Sunday when we play ; home against Indianapolis," ' McMahon mentioned during a few '. spare moments before the Chicago ; Bears' Monday night loss to the Miami Dolphins. "Another part of me says to wait, ; and make sure I don't go out there and hurt myself again. '. McMahon will start against the ; Colts. He finished up against the Dol- phins after reserve-turned-starter - Steve Fuller injured his ankle. "The smartest thing I could do Is ; just back up Steve in case anything goes wrong." "By then I'll have plenty of rest. ; That's probably all this thing needed all along rest. Thing is, I've had 1 enough of that already! They pay me ; to play, so why shouldn't I? They ; don't hold Walter Payton out of the ' games now, just because we've ; clinched the playoffs, do they?" ; "Main thing is, though, we're winning. Steve's doing great, he de-! serves to have a chance and I don't ; doubt that he could take us to the big ; one, the Super Bowl. Way we're I playing, we're so good, it makes me ; feel sometimes like I'm not even needed around here. I'm not sure I ! am." ; Before Monday night's game In ' the balmy Orange Bowl, McMahon, wearing a sleeveless undershirt, was effortlessly hurling practice balls 50 ; yards in the air. Last week, he "cut loose" at an indoor facility near the Bears' practice headquarters in Lake Forest, 111., with no apparent ill-effects. Not since the sixth game of the season had he thrown so ; freely; It was then, at San Francisco ; Oct. 6, that he Incurred his first in-' jury. In pain thereafter, McMahon ; altered his delivery somewhat, ; which still didn't prevent another misfortune Nov. 3 at Green Bay, the ! last time he had played. ; "It was my idea to sit out the next week against Detroit," ' McMahon revealed. "I could have ; played and gotten worse, but people ; are always telling me to be smart ' take care of myself, so for once I ! did. I don't want to miss the playoffs. ; I could have started here tonight, I could start next week at home. But '. with my luck, I'll get hurt again and ; be out the rest of the year. So I don't 'i v.. , r , "i, t f . I i '1 l-.iL I ' AP photo Bears quarterback Jim McMahon realizes his arm needs rest, but is anxious to get back in action. know what to do. I know what I'd like to do, though. Play." McMahon, not one to curry favor, has been fencing with interrogators during his sabbatical. Last Friday, he employed unflattering terms such as "idiots" and "puppets" when referring to members of the broadcast and print media. One can only imagine what venom he might have vented had not he been baring his soul on his own radio program, live, and during the breakfast hour. McMahon is issuing no apologies, other than to remind an adoring public that the injury occasionally had him baffled, too. He also will admit that conflicting daily signals from doctors, coaches, whatever, pertaining to his condition, did not ease frustrations. "Management told me not to say anything about what was going on," McMahon mentioned. "So I didn't. Then I pick up papers, and watch TV, and listen to radio, and they've got me out for the year, or undergoing surgery, or having another injection, or done for the rest of my career. The only rumor I didn't hear was that I was pregnant The whole thing was annoying. "It was tendinitis, I think. I had one (cortisone) shot before the Detroit game in the AC joint That didn't respond, so then I took another one in the shoulder before the Dallas game. Our team doctor, Dr. (Clarence) Fossier had me scheduled for an operation the Monday after Dallas. But my agent, Steve Zucker, and I weren't too excited about that I'm taking medication, there's no tear in there like they thought at first, and I feel good." At least, his arm feels good. "And another thing that annoys me about the Chicago media," McMahon continued. "It's like they're all waiting for us to lose, like they've got a voodoo on us. I'm not saying they're wanting us to. But they're waiting for us to choke. We keep getting compared with the Cubs. Well we're not the Cubs of 1984. We're not even the Bears of 1984. This is a different Bear team than has ever been before. Do you think guys like Walter Payton, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael are going to choke? "Mike Ditka hasn't talked to me much lately. I don't know whether he thinks I'm a prima donna or what If he doesn't think I care, that would really make me mad. I got fined for missing one meeting a couple weeks ago. I was up getting treatment I figured that was more important for the team than me watching films of a game I didn't even play in." Dolphins get point across after dominating victory By GARY LONG Knight-Ridder Newspapers MIAMI They had a little difficulty expressing themselves, such was the joy and satisfaction of the Dolphins early Tuesday morning. Cornerback William Judson halted to gather his thoughts. "That score 38-24 wasn't indicative of the game," he finally spat out, smiling. "We really kicked their tails." Linebacker Bob Brudzinski also tried to sum up his thoughts, bounced a couple of words around meaninglessly, and then broke into a broad grin. "I can't even think right now," he said. "It just feels so damned good." Not only had the Chicago Bears won their first 12 games this year, they had done it so convincingly as to appear increasingly invincible. But the Dolphins disproved that, and the defense so often maligned took a major hand in the whipping. Brudzinski intercepted an overthrown screen pass by Steve Fuller in the first quarter to set up the Dolphins' second touchdown. Judson blocked a punt late in the first half two plays before Dan Marino flipped to Nat Moore for 6 yards and six points and a 31-10 cushion. And the Dolphins as a unit got four of their six sacks in the second half to thwart a Chicago comeback attempt fueled by two turnovers on the Dolphins' first two possessions. Judson put the Dolphins' stunning performance and victory into the perspective of both the past and the present. "I'm glad to help beat the Bears," he said. "We showed the world that nobody can go undefeated except the Miami Dolphins," who did it in 1972 en route to Super Bowl VII and the NFL crown. Of the Dolphins' grasp of a one-third share of the AFC East lead with a 9-4 record, he said, "We can control our own destiny now. Not only can we still win our division, but we can still end up with the best record in the AFC and the home-field advantage in the playoffs. This one meant so much." The defenders had mixed emotions about the Bears concentrating on getting Walter Payton his eighth consecutive 100-yard game and NFL record in the final minutes instead of going for victory. But their feelings about Payton were not mixed. "Walter got his 100 yards and his record and all that, and that shows what a great back he is," Brudzinski said. "But it's weird. I never saw anybody give up like that at the end just for a record. They can strike quick, Just like we can. They had chances. They had time. It just surprised me." Nose tackle Mike Charles was not as shocked by the way Payton got the ball five times in the final two minutes and 27 seconds so that he could pad his rushing total from 80 yards to a final 121. "They all love Walter," Charles said. "He has done remarkable things for them, even when they were losing all those years. I'm kind of glad he got it. I like Walter. I've always liked him." Defensive end Doug Betters, joined Brudzinski in his failure to comprehend the priorities in the last two Bears series. "But I guess that was for the record books," he said. Of the Dolphins' defensive performance, he said, "We had to win this game. It's as simple as that." Charles added, "We just wanted to let people know that we have a really reputable defense, too. They call us the glamour boys and the Bears the intimidators. But we let everybody know that we have an intimidating style of our own. "It has been coming together week after week, and that's the way it's supposed to be. You're supposed to get better as the season goes along and it gets down toward playoff time." Dolphins' game : could get messy; Associated Press ; GREEN BAY, Wis. While Green Bay Coach Forrest Gregg makes no guarantees about the condition of Lambeau Field for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, he declared Friday the Packers weren't trying to mess up the playing surface on purpose. "The field probably will be soft. It might even be muddy ... or it could be frozen. It depends on the weather," Gregg said. "I'm not trying to get the field muddy. I'm not trying to get an advantage with the field." : A muddy field would benefit neither side, Gregg said. ' "We're just trying to get the it the best we can," he said. Lambeau Field was snow-covered last Sunday as the Packers trounced the Buccaneers in a near-blizzard to improve their record to 6-7. Underneath the snow, the field, which had been covered, was in fairly good shape, players said. But this week, left over ice had to be removed by urnihg on heating coils in the turf. The field could be soft, unless fair weather allows grounds crews to lift the tarpaulin tonight which would firm up the turf. U Lrdud IT) r'APH vA Lb Lb --SNAWl I Hurry! Thru 122185 OMIY! DELUXE ESTATE 8x10x8 REG. 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