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In Those Days, Owners Had Upper Hand

Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, slightly flabbergasted by today’s salaries in pro football, recalled negotiating with the New York Giants when he came out of West Virginia.

“Wellington Mara, the owner, asked me if I needed anything special,” Huff told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I said, ‘Well, I could use $500 to buy some furniture,’ and he gave me a check.

“I get my first game check and he’s taken the $500 out. I said to him, ‘I thought that was a bonus,’ and he said, ‘Nope, just an advance.’ ”

Dept. of Irony: Eric Jelen, who teamed with Boris Becker in the doubles win that clinched West Germany’s victory over Sweden in the Davis Cup, is coached by Ollie Palmer, a Swede.

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From Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times, reviewing “One Magic Season and a Basketball Life” by Walt Frazier: “His basketball stories reveal that players in his day were extraordinarily stingy with their money, that the nets on the baskets at the Garden were kept tighter than usual so that the ball would drop through slowly and give the Knicks time to get back on defense, and that Wilt Chamberlain was easier to play against than Bill Russell because Wilt, at least later in his career, tended to give himself away by squatting slightly before he leaped.”

Add Frazier: Last year at the age of 42 he swept 3 one-on-one games from son Walt Frazier III, currently the leading scorer at the University of Pennsylvania, but he paid the price.

“I almost fainted,” he said. “I haven’t played him since.”

Trivia Time: What was the name of the topless bar in Arlington, Tex., where Billy Martin got into a fight? (Answer below.)

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The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas posted these Super Bowl odds Monday: Chicago and Cincinnati 5-2, San Francisco and Buffalo 7-2, Minnesota and Philadelphia 6-1, Seattle and Cleveland 15-1, Houston 20-1, Rams 25-1.

Said Buddy Ryan when asked if his Eagles will be handicapped by lack of playoff experience: “To most teams, I think that would mean a lot. With our guys, they’re kind of cocky. They don’t bow down to anybody. We go into a town with our horns blowing, let everybody know we’re there.”

Headline in the Seattle Times when Phoenix came to town with ex-Seattle star Tom Chambers to face the SuperSonics: “Prodigal Sun Returns.”

Now-it-can-be-told dept.: Said Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Fred Carter when asked by the Philadelphia Daily News how it was to play against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “One time, when I was with the 76ers and he was still at Milwaukee, there was a game where he had 55, I had 41, my career high. Next time we played, he blocked everything I put up. So the time after that, when we went out for the opening tap, I told him, ‘Listen, big fella, if you don’t bother my shots I won’t bother yours.’

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“It didn’t work.”

From Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe: “Wearing dark glasses and open shirts and looking slightly bloated, Pete Rose is beginning to take on the look of an Elvis Presley impersonator.”

Trivia Answer: Lace.

Quotebook

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New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, on the Rams’ 38-16 win over San Francisco that knocked the Giants out of the playoffs: “The 49ers lay down like dogs.”


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