Scouting director Tony Razzano of the San Francisco 49ers told the Sporting News that he and John Ralston, then the team’s vice president of administration, both wanted to draft Joe Montana in the third round in 1979, but Bill Walsh wanted Steve Dils, who had played for him at Stanford.
Said Ralston: “We kept going back and forth, and Tony kept insisting on Montana. “Bill yelled at me and said, ‘Get me one more recommendation on Joe Montana.’
“I called Dan Devine, the coach at Notre Dame, and he said, ‘John, if I had Joe Montana, I’d still be head coach in Green Bay.’ That was enough for Bill. He took Montana.
“But when the Vikings drafted Dils a few picks later, bang! Bill slammed his fist down on the table and said, ‘Dammit, I knew we should have taken Steve.’ ”
Add Montana: He was actually San Francisco’s second choice, since the club had traded away its first-round choice. Its first pick, in the second round, was James Owens, the Olympic hurdler from UCLA.
Add 49ers: Denver Coach Dan Reeves, on San Francisco receiver Jerry Rice: “The thing Jerry Rice does so much better than anyone else is he runs through the ball. He never slows down. A lot of receivers will stretch out for the ball, and their feet won’t stay underneath them. You never see Jerry Rice stumble. He always gets yards after the catch.”
Pot-shotting: Here are a couple of Jim Brown opinions as excerpted from his book, “Out of Bounds,” by Kevin E. Boone of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
On Mike Ditka: “He reminds me of many of the coaches back in the NFL of the 1950s: fascist, loud . . . but not exactly Phi Beta Kappa.”
On O.J. Simpson: “The Juice likes to pretend he’s modest, but that’s just the Juice, being the Juice. However phony the guy, O.J. the runner was the genuine item.”
Trivia time: What do Ted Hendricks, Pancho Segura and Rick Barry have in common?
Out of tune: Former NHL coach Harry Neale, now a TV analyst, on his problems in Detroit: “I heard my best center say to my best defenseman during the national anthem, ‘Every time I hear this song, I have a terrible game.’ ”
Photo finish: President Jerry Colangelo of the Phoenix Suns, asked by the Oakland Tribune if the vote was unanimous to give Commissioner David Stern a $27.5-million contract over five years, said: “Let’s put it this way. After looking at the package, one owner choked, two guys were flabbergasted and another guy just fainted. Otherwise, we were totally unified.”
Add Stern: Said General Manager Pat Williams of the Orlando Magic: “David’s son asked him to buy him a chemistry set, so David went out and bought DuPont.”
Trivia answer: All three went to the University of Miami.
Quotebook: Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics on coaches: “Every coach wears thin. Sooner or later, every coach is going to get to you. And I’m sure the players get to them, too.”