Talking back to Mike
For years, Mike Ditka, the coach of the Chicago Bears, has been poking fun at the Minnesota Vikings, noting all the Pro Bowl players they have, suggesting they don't have heart and calling the Metrodome the Tinkerdome. Jerry Burns, the Vikings coach, finally had enough and replied last week.
"In the first place, nobody takes Mike seriously. He babbles on and on, much to the delight of the media. To me, he's the Muhammad Ali of pro football. He's more knowledgeable about my team than I am. He knows how many Pro Bowlers we've got. He knows that we're underachievers. He knows we have no heart. He knows all about how talent-laden we are.
"For me to talk to the Chicago press is ridiculous. He can fill them in fully on all aspects of our team. He talks about how lucky he is. They've got nine Pro Bowlers and 10 first-round draft choices. He makes out like Jim Harbaugh is some country bumpkin he found out in the sticks and turned into a great quarterback. . . .
"In his defense, Chicago was known as the Windy City long before he arrived on the scene. . . . He hates me, he hates the Vikings, he hates the Tinkerdome, hates this, I mean he's supposed to be a fine, upstanding Christian gentleman. . . .
"All this Ditka stuff drives me crazy. Like I say, all that hot air coming out of Chicago might melt this snow. That's all I can say."
The strange thing is the 7-2 Bears are underdogs tomorrow night against the 5-5 Vikings. Must be all that Vikings talent. David Fulcher of the Cincinnati Bengals said last week, "I still believe we can get in the playoffs."
E9 The Bengals won their first game last week to go 1-8. Clarence Kay of the Denver Broncos: "I don't dislike anybody, but I dislike losing to those guys [Raiders]. They're arrogant when they're winning, and they're arrogant when they're losing."
Looking for a relief pitcher
There is no bullpen in football, but if there were, coach Joe Bugel might have Stan Gelbaugh warming up today when the Phoenix Cardinals play the New York Giants. Bugel indicated he might go to Gelbaugh, the former Maryland quarterback who was the MVP of the World League of American Football, if Tom Tupa struggles today.
"I think you have to be just like in baseball. If you need to go to the bullpen, you have to do it. I think if Tupa starts struggling, I think he'd appreciate maybe being relieved. If he's not throwing strikes, he may have to put the reliever in," Bugel said.
Gelbaugh said he's studying more this week.
"That's really all you can do. I can't make my wife go out in the backyard and run patterns. She's pregnant," he said.
Worrying about the Bucs
With the Detroit Lions playing the 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers today, NT Jerry Ball said he's worried.
"When we were 1-8, our attitude was, regardless of our situation, we were going to inflict pain. If that's their attitude, yeah, we're worried," he said.