A Kiss-Off Goodby and They're Gone

A gold watch, a hoist o' the cup and a fond farewell to. . . .

Tom Landry.

Football is a vicious game off the field, too. The owners and executives can be as cold and brutal as an inside linebacker on third and short.

Example: Earlier this month, the Green Bay Packers fired their cheerleaders. It was a surprise, because a lot of people figured it was going to be the other way around. Many believed that the football team was a mindless distraction, and was hurting the attendance at the Sunday cheerleader performances.

Obviously, then, nothing is sacred in football. I had a vague feeling that Tom Landry's job might be in jeopardy when rich guy Jerry Jones announced that he had hired Jimmy Johnson to be his head coach, and then announced that he had purchased the Dallas Cowboys.

Landry may have sensed trouble in the offing when Tex Schramm popped into the coach's office and said, "Tom, come on down and meet the new owner. Oh, and bring your playbook."

Jones drew strong criticism for his timing and insensitivity. After buying the team, Landry lovers said, Jones should have waited a day, or a week, or at least taken a deep breath, before firing the man who has coached the team for 29 seasons.

But what purpose would've been served by delaying the move, leaving Landry to twist in the wind, wrinkling his sport coat? How would that be kinder to Landry? And who can blame the new owner for wanting a fresh start, after last season's disaster and the team's steady slide in recent years?

Jones isn't the first new owner to bring in his own coach. Sure, Landry was a sacred Texas institution, but it's not like Jones fired the Cowboy cheerleaders.

Besides, Jones indicated there might be a job for Landry in the organization. The new owner didn't say exactly what that job might be, but he dropped an ominous hint when he said: "Let me tell you this, Jimmy Johnson would be the first to tell you he couldn't carry Tom's water bucket."

Florence Griffith Joyner.

There is no truth to the rumor that FloJo was pressured to retire from track and field after a random drug test turned up traces of steroids in her fingernail polish.

If ever an athlete was a comet streaking across the sky, it is-- was --FloJo. To most of us, Griffith Joyner burst upon the athletic scene only last summer, when she became the world's fastest negligee. In Seoul she was as dazzling an Olympian as any in memory, if you combine personality and performance.

And now she's gone, faded back into the real world. Considering how greatly she improved in such a short time, FloJo may be the first great athlete to have retired before her peak. Now we'll never know if she could beat a 10.49 or a 21.34, but it's scary to think what she could have done if somebody had pushed her, if halfway through a race she hadn't been so far ahead she could break into a smile and start waving at the cameras.

FloJo's only flaw as a runner was her style. She has too much of it. If she wasn't so pretty, the big offers to endorse products and appear on television wouldn't have tempted her away from running.

Among other ventures, she has signed to star in a movie, playing the female James Bond. You remember Bond--Agent 007? FloJo, I would guess, will be Agent 006.83.

Steve Garvey.

First, Garv faded out of baseball because his batting average was too low, and now he fades out of politics because his batting average was too high. Go figure.

Garvey was married once before, to a woman who whispered their most intimate problems to a national magazine writer. He was once publicly attacked, right on the ball field, by Morganna the Monstrous. Now, after his recent marriage, Garvey has revealed that two other women whom he dated claim he caused them to become pregnant.

If Margo Adams sues him, Garvey will have completed the grand slam of romance.

It's too bad, because Garvey, even back in his glory days with the Dodgers, was one of sport's nicest guys. I never, never saw him refuse an autograph request or snub a fan in an airport or hotel lobby, and he was even friendly with sportswriters. Some say Garvey's niceness was contrived, but if it was, we could use more phonies.

When accused of the latest transgressions, Garvey admitted guilt and offered to take full responsibility for the consequences of his actions. This, obviously, is a man ill-suited for politics.

He may yet fight back into the political arena, though. It could turn out that neither child is his. With Garvey, there is a simple paternity test. If a child is born with his or her hair mussed, it's not Garv's.

And even if the bad publicity costs him some potential votes, he seems to be building a strong base of future Garvey voters. What do you expect from a guy who spent almost every spring of his life in a place called Virile Beach?

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