Jerry Glanville, the football coach who moved this year from the Houston Oilers to the Atlanta Falcons, is a master of the outrageous statement.
"I only promise one thing: bodies will be flying all over the place," he said before Sunday's Falcon-Oiler game in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Glanville also likes understatements.
"I've never once told my guys that I used to coach the Oilers," he said.
But, as they reminded him afterward, he didn't have to. They knew he wanted this one, and they gave it to him in a sizable way, swamping the Oilers, 47-27, when cornerback Deion (Prime Time) Sanders ran 82 yards to a touchdown with a last-minute interception.
Houston's problem wasn't its new offense, the run-and-shoot. The Oilers' problem was as old as football. It was the old fumble play, which it executed four times in the first 12 minutes.
Twice, the Falcons picked up the ball and scored with it. Twice, they used fumbles to set up a touchdown and a field goal. And in no time, Atlanta had a 24-0 lead, leaving nothing much for anyone to stick around for but the final score.
When the Oilers settled down, they produced four touchdowns with their new offense--all on passes by Warren Moon, who had a 389-yard day throwing the ball.
But this game wasn't a test of the run-and-shoot, or Atlanta's defense, or its offense or much of anything else. It was an exhibition of how to win a pro game with 301 net yards--on a day when the other side gains 418--by cashing in on fumbles.
"It doesn't matter who you play, when you give up the ball that many times, that fast, you lose," said Oiler Coach Jack Pardee, who at the University of Houston last year coached an errorless run-and-shoot team that won a 95-21 game from SMU.
Glanville used his postgame news conference as a platform from which to embarrass Pardee, his Oiler successor, for running up the score against SMU.
"I'm sending the game ball to (SMU Coach) Forrest Gregg," Glanville shouted, referring to the cross-town friend of his Houston days.
And with that, he jumped down from the stage, declining to answer questions from anybody in the roomful of reporters, most of whom were on deadline.
So after antagonizing most of the Texas press during his years with the Oilers, Glanville, starting fresh in a new environment, didn't make many friends on opening day--except among fans of the Falcons.
The last time they played in this stadium, last December, the Falcons drew 7,792.
For Glanville's first game here the crowd was a sellout 56,222, many dressed in Glanville's favorite color, black.
His team was also in black shirts and black helmets, and even the ball boys, trainers and doctors wore all black.
It looked as if 15 or 20 Glanvilles were running around on the sideline.
Offensively, his team played pretty well. With Chris Miller at quarterback, the Falcons were off to a 27-7 halftime lead, and Miller sustained his first drive of the third quarter for 70 yards and a 34-7 bulge that put Houston too far in arrears to think of coming back.
Thereafter, Moon outscored Miller, although it didn't much matter in a game that dragged on for 3:40--about an hour longer than the average exhibition this summer.
Glanville's stars, besides Miller, were linebacker Aundray Bruce and rookie halfback Steve Broussard, who made the timeliest of Atlanta's big plays.
As the game began, Bruce sacked or hurried Moon repeatedly because the Oilers weren't expecting to see him in their backfield.
He has been a bust in Atlanta ever since the club drafted him first three years ago. It turns out that that was because the former coaching staff wanted him in a disciplined defense.
Instead, he wanted to play all-out, rush-the-passer defense. And as it happens, that's Glanville's way, too.
It took 10 or 12 minutes for the Oilers to account for him, and by that time the damage was done.
Houston fumbled on each of its four possessions of the first quarter and Bruce caused one when he sacked Moon at the Oiler 10-yard line, cornerback Bobby Butler recovering for Atlanta in the end zone.
The Oilers' other fumbles came after a 14-yard run with pass reception by halfback Lorenzo White, after a short option run by Moon and after a running play by White.
On the option play, Moon didn't exactly fumble. He was on the stadium floor when Atlanta linebacker Jessie Tuggle reached down, took the ball away, turned and loafed 65 yards to a touchdown.
Most of the players on both sides were under the impression that the ball was dead after each of Moon's fumbles. Touchdown-makers Butler and Tuggle proceeded to 14 easy points for Glanville, who has put the fun back in football for the Falcons.