Notion of Ill Will in Rivalry on Mark, but Never on the Ball

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes on the bitter Steeler-Raider rivalry, including claims by the Steelers that the Raiders once gave them a deflated football to kick in Oakland and wrote obscenities on the game ball.

Ken Stabler, former Raider quarterback, admitted to Bouchette that dirty words were written on the balls, but it wasn’t the way the Steelers thought.

“Dick Romanski, our equipment guy, used to write profanities on our balls to keep us from stealing them,” Stabler said. “You wouldn’t take a ball like that home to your kid.”


Add Raiders: Frenchy Fuqua, former Steeler, on the Raiders: “I still pull for the other team when they play someone. I just recently accepted them into the human race.”

Trivia time: How old was Terry Donahue when he became UCLA’s football coach in 1976?

Reprieve: Phil Jackman in the Baltimore Sun: “No need for blow-by-blow announcers to get in a dither about how to pronounce Profit Sithbangprachan’s name. The International Boxing Federation flyweight champ just gave up his title rather than fight Jose Luis Zepeda.”

Coach Gretzky? Luc Robitaille still holds Wayne Gretzky partly responsible for the trade that sent him from the Kings to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the off-season.

“Imagine a rookie who forgets to make a pass to the veteran and gets put in his place when they get back in the dressing room,” Robitaille said in an interview with a French-language radio station on Thursday. “Then the rookie feels obliged to follow that player’s orders or he might get traded.”

Robitaille said the day after the trade was made that he believes Gretzky should refrain from interfering with personnel decisions.

Judgment: Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writing on whiners in Los Angeles:

“Bruce McNall, Kings owner, is about to plead guilty to a monstrous long-term financial scam, $236 million bilked over 10 years, and what does McNall chalk it all up to? He was a bad businessman! Too nice a guy!

“No, Bruce. You are Jesse James in a jet plane.”

Rapid ascent: Rick Neuheisel, former UCLA receivers coach, on becoming the Colorado coach at 33:

“Certainly the head football coach at Colorado is not something I envisioned taking over 10 months ago. It’s nothing short of astounding.”

Add Neuheisel: Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam, a candidate for the Maxwell Award as the outstanding player in college football, on the Home Depot awards show Thursday on ESPN: “Rick Neuheisel is the real deal. He knows how to relate to players. He’s a great passing coach. Our offense will be more wide open.”

Looking back: On this day in 1981, USC’s Marcus Allen, who set an NCAA record with 2,342 rushing yards in a season, won the Heisman Trophy.

Trivia answer: Donahue was 31.

Quotebook: Sacramento Coach Garry St. Jean on Shaquille O’Neal, who scored 41 points in Orlando’s recent 114-107 victory over the Kings: “You pray for a hurricane to stop him.”