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NFL Notes : This Season, These Five Were Unable Meet Their Own High Standards

The Washington Post

This may be remembered as a freak season in the National Football League for two reasons:

1) Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker of Dallas and Kelvin Bryant of Washington--three of the more dazzling and productive running backs in football the past decade--almost certainly will not reach 1,000 yards rushing this season. Dorsett has 634 rushing yards, Walker 612 and Bryant just 229.

This would be Dorsett’s first miss since he ran for 745 yards in the 1982 strike season; Walker’s first miss since he gained 985 yards (on 100 carries) as a 10th-grader in Wrightsville, Ga.; and Bryant’s first miss since 1979 when he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina and ran for 149 yards.

The last season in which none of the three running backs reached 1,000 yards? Try 1970, when Dorsett was a sophomore defensive back in high school in Aliquippa, Pa., and Walker and Bryant were in grade school.

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2) It’s possible that Dallas’ Tom Landry, Miami’s Don Shula and the Raiders’ Al Davis--pro football’s three longstanding pre-eminent football minds--will not make the playoffs this season.

Landry’s Cowboys have reached the playoffs 18 of the past 20 seasons; Davis’ Raiders have reached the playoffs 15 of the past 19 seasons; Shula has reached the playoffs with either the Colts (1964-69) or Dolphins (1970-present) 16 of the past 22 seasons.

The last season in which none of the three reached the playoffs? Try 1963. That’s when Davis was a 33-year-old general manager and head coach, leading the the Raiders to a 10-4 second-place finish in the West Division of the American Football League; Landry was the 40-year-old fourth-year head coach of the 4-10 Cowboys; and Shula was a 33-year-old rookie head coach, leading the Colts to a third-place 8-6 record.

At this point in the season, you’d have a difficult time finding a more deserving man for AFC Coach of the Year than New England’s Raymond Berry. Besides having to recover from the scandals of last offseason (drugs and allegations of gambling against receiver Irving Fryar), the Patriots have had a slew of injuries, their running game isn’t budging, and they’re still 10-4, tied with the Jets for first place in the AFC East. None of the Patriots’ top three runners--Craig James, Tony Collins, Mosi Tatupu--is averaging more than 2.8 yards per carry.

The San Francisco 49ers became the first team to have three quarterbacks pass for more than 300 yards in a game in the same season. Both Joe Montana and backup Jeff Kemp have done it twice, and No. 3 quarterback Mike Moroski did it once.

Next time somebody tells you NFL players of the pre-modern era were inferior, just remind them that the Redskins’ Sammy Baugh averaged 51.4 yards on 35 punts in 1940, and nobody has done better before or since.

Cleveland executive Ernie Accorsi, former general manager of the Baltimore Colts, said after his club signed veteran kicker Mark Moseley two weeks ago: “These kickers are not football players, they are more like golfers. They have to be in a groove. Garo Yepremian had three careers: He was cut by the Lions, then had a good stint (with Miami), then was cut by Tampa.

“Raul Allegre was the best kicker I’ve ever seen with Baltimore in 1983. Then he got cut and now he’s kicking the Giants into the playoffs. Moseley started out this year by hitting five of six, then went into a slump. You never know with kickers.”

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While he has enjoyed managing the games, he has especially hated the constant traveling.

He has also told friends he wanted to retire “and spend my money” before he was too old to enjoy it.

Isn’t it remarkable to think that San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts, who has joined Fran Tarkenton and Johnny Unitas as the only players to pass for more than 40,000 yards in his career, has thrown for the equivalent of the length of 400 football fields over his 14 NFL seasons?

One of the great NFL mysteries has been the appearance of “John 3:16" banners at stadiums around the league over the past several years. The banner refers to a biblical verse relating to God’s love of the universe and man’s salvation.

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The signs have appeared twice behind the end zone at RFK Stadium this season and both times were removed for violation of league rules, according to Dale Morris, Redskins director of stadium operations.

Morris said the banners have been placed in the stadiums around the country by “disciples of (Rockin’) Rollen Stewart. He’s better known as the rainbow man. He lives somewhere in the Southwest, he’s very wealthy and uses his monies to further the cause of St. John 3:16. He’s recruited people who place the signs at big sports events around the country.”

League rules stipulate no banners or signs which “obstruct sightlines or which are inflammatory, derogatory or in general bad taste” may be displayed. NFL rules also forbid banners to be placed on end-zone walls, where television cameras frequently focus on field goals, extra points and touchdowns.

Dick Maxwell, a league spokesman, said enforcement is left to club and stadium officials. Maxwell said, in some places, such as Giants Stadium, banners are forbidden. Morris said only signs that “pertain to football” will be permitted at RFK Stadium.

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