Haywood Jeffires and the Houston Oilers are playing a numbers game this weekend. They already know the winning combination: 4, 11 and 12.

They will settle for simply hitting the last number today at East Rutherford, N.J., against the New York Giants (7-8). Getting a team-record 12th victory would guarantee the Oilers (11-4) a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs and a home game in the next round.

Four and 11 are Jeffires’ personal numbers.

Jeffires comes into the regular-season finale at Giants Stadium needing four receptions to become only the fifth player in NFL history to have 100 receptions in a season. Eleven catches would give Jeffires 107, which would break the single-season record of 106 set by Art Monk of the Washington Redskins in 1984.


A little more than two years ago, the Herschel Walker deal looked like a steal for the Minnesota Vikings.

The first time he touched the ball in a Minnesota uniform, on Oct. 15, 1989, he burned the Green Bay Packers for a 51-yard kickoff return. The play was called back because of a penalty, so Walker responded with a 47-yard run from scrimmage.

He rushed for 148 yards in his debut, a 26-14 Vikings victory, and Herschelmania was born.

Forty-three games later, Herschelmania is as dead as the Vikings’ playoff hopes.


As it turned out, the Vikings mortgaged their future by trading five players and eight high draft choices to Dallas for a running back who was either overrated, ill-suited to Minnesota’s finesse offense or both.

Going into Saturday’s season finale against the Packers (3-12), the Vikings are 21-22 in the Herschel Walker Era, 8-7 this season.

Walker--former Heisman Trophy winner, one-time USFL savior, two-time All-Pro with Dallas, Olympic bobsled hopeful--has become a role player for a mediocre team. He shares time in the backfield with 31-year-old Darrin Nelson, who returned to Minnesota after going to the Cowboys in the Walker trade, and rookie Terry Allen.

More than 200 underprivileged children are getting a chance to see what fans and most players never see: what NFL officials are like under the zebra stripes.


During the last two weeks of the regular season, each of the seven-man officiating crews is playing host to a group for game-day activities.

Before working Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs at the Coliseum, referee Howard Roe’s crew will be host to 10 young adults, ages 12-25--five from the San Fernando Valley and five from L.A.'s inner city--for breakfast at their hotel. Then they will be driven in LAPD cars to the Coliseum, where they will visit the dressing rooms and watch pregame activities from the field.

Roe’s crew includes umpire Ron Botchen, a physical education teacher and former head football coach at Los Angeles City College.

Referee Jerry Markbreit’s crew, scheduled to work the Rams’ game at Seattle Sunday night, will treat 14 youths from local YMCAs and YWCAs to brunch, then a similar tour and the game.