SUPER BOWL XXII : WASHINGTON vs. DENVER BRONCOS : Notebook : Coaches Have Their Moments in the Spotlight

Times Staff Writer

Things wind down a bit on the Friday before Super Bowl, but there were the coaches' press conferences.

Denver's Dan Reeves led off at 8:30 a.m., followed by Washington's Joe Gibbs at 9:30.

Reporters had little to ask, which jibed with the coaches, who had little to say.

Questions ranged from Reeves' sleeping habits (midnight to 5:30 or 6 a.m. mostly, but he has been sacking in as late as 6:45 this week) to the Bible passage Gibbs thought most pertained to the game (none; he finds the whole book relevant).

Other highlights:

--Reeves said that the Broncos had practiced well Wednesday but characterized Thursday's workout as terrible. "If we would have played anybody yesterday, we would have gotten killed."

--Gibbs, never mistaken for a stand-up comic, was positively giggly, actually laughing out loud at least six times.

One of his knee-slappers was the that's-life coaching philosophy of assistant Jerry Rhome.

"He says you really can't win. If you're winning all the time, people call you a jerk. And if you're losing, you're a loser. So you're either a jerk or a loser."

Big laugh, then back to a more serious Gibbs: "I'd guess I'd rather win the right way and not be a jerk."

--Reeves' wish list for Sunday: 1. Stop the Redskin running game, keep them from controlling the ball; 2. Contain Washington defensive ends Charles Mann and Dexter Manley; 3. No mistakes.

--Both said the odds seemed to favor a high-scoring game. Both, of course, then explained all the reasons it well may be low-scoring. Denver beat Washington, 31-30, in their last meeting, Game 15 of last season.

--In the second half of the season, the Broncos were apt to put John Elway in the shotgun formation on almost any play. Reeves said the plan was conceived for the Chicago game as a way to neutralize the Bear pass rush.

Denver runs and passes with equal ease from the formation, but Reeves said there's much more to come.

"There are lots of things we still want to do--direct snaps to running backs and that kind of thing," he said. "We tried some of it before, but then we got to over-coaching and they started fumbling. It's really something you have to go through training camp with."

--Gibbs, on any lingering bad feelings between strike replacement players on the roster and the regulars: "I don't think there's any holdover whatsoever. I thought ours was over three weeks after the strike was over. We played a game with Buffalo, played probably one of our best games of the year (winning, 27-7), and I think from that point on the Redskins were over the strike."

--Finally, Reeves on why he returned to coaching in 1974 after a difficult try at the real estate development business:

"I was going to make a $200,000 commission on a deal that was supposed to go through. But interest rates were going up, and they just walked away and left $200,000 in earnest money on the table. I knew I didn't want to be in that kind of business."

Reeves said he did manage to make "eight or nine thousand commission" on a deal in 1973. "That's how we had Christmas that year."

The National Football League has developed an almost perverse pride over the Super Bowl media blitz--2,348 journalists are credentialed--but the world will have bigger things on its mind this fall.

Tom Ehman, executive director of Sail America, was touring press facilities at Super Bowl headquarters, the San Diego Marriott, Friday to get ideas for the 1988 America's Cup defense against New Zealand. The match likely will be sailed in Long Beach in September.

The main press room was typically busy, but it was a scaled-down demonstration for Ehman. He expects about 6,000 reporters for two weeks of Cup coverage.

A hotel elevator with 17 passengers aboard, including two television announcers and several Super Bowl field officials, disappeared Friday.

Ninety minutes later, the elevator emerged, one floor below where it had last been seen. No injuries were reported.

Shortly after 1 p.m., 15 people piled into an elevator at the third floor. Two hotel guests were already aboard.

Included in the sardine-like group were announcers Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf, NFL Supervisor of Officials Art McNally, referee Bob McElwee, field judge Johnny Grier, back judge Don Wedge, an alternate game official, and Sheila Dufresne, wife of Times staffer Chris Dufresne.

"When all those people got on, the warning buzzer sounded, the doors closed, the elevator went down about four feet and stopped," Dufresne said.

Using the emergency phone, the passengers contacted the front desk and were routed through four different receptionists.

"Don't hang up," one receptionist advised the passengers. An elevator mechanic was summoned from outside the hotel. He arrived an hour later.

While waiting, the passengers discussed the possibility of holding the pregame coin flip in the elevator, and made plans for a reunion of the survivors of the incident.

"Let's sing," one man reportedly suggested. "What did they sing when the Alamo went down?"

During the ordeal, hotel employees supplied the trapped passengers with glasses of water, handed in through a crack between the jammed doors.

The elevator was eventually lowered to the third floor, where the passengers finally got off.

The Redskins were subjected to chanting college students Friday during a two-hour workout.

The students from the University of San Diego was watching the practice from atop a dormitory across the street from the practice field. They chanted in apparent protest of Redskin security measures.

San Diego police, who earlier had removed two painters from an apartment overlooking the field, said they had no jurisdiction over the students except in an emergency. The chanting stopped after USD Dean Tom Burke spoke with the students.

Actor Corbin Bensen, who plays attorney Arnie Becker on the television series "LA Law," found there is no celebrity when it comes to parking on a Super Bowl weekend.

Hotel officials, having no time for patience with a flood of guests descending, found Bensen's black stretch limousine parked in the loading zone at the front door Friday and called for a tow truck.

The car, from Limousine Connection in North Hollywood, was being hoisted into position by the truck when the chauffeur appeared and rescued Bensen's wheels.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said he was in the Navy here during World War II.

"I remember the B-24 Liberators taking off all day," he said. "That's the most visual memory I have of San Diego."

Injured Bronco guard Stefan Humphries was in pads and shorts but did not participate in a 65-minute workout at San Diego State.

Humphries, who suffered a bruised right thigh and mild hyperextension of his right knee in a collision during the final five minutes of Thursday's workout, will be listed as probable for the game.

Times columnist Jim Murray wrote of the Denver Bronco running attack: "What running attack? I've seen guys running after a bus move faster than these guys. . . . I don't know three people who know their names."

Bronco running back Gene Lang replied: "Yeah, well, I've seen much better writers than this guy, also. I didn't know his name, either."

Murray will be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.

Lang was voted most valuable runner on the Pass Christian (Miss.) High School track team.

Times staff writer Scott Ostler contributed to this story.

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