Former 49er Cross knows what Redskins are facing

The TV Repairman:

September 11, 1992|By PHIL Jackman

Randy Cross, a guy who made a career out of viewing the world from a dubious perspective -- backward and upside down as a center for the San Francisco 49ers -- has a certain amount of expertise when it comes to discussing a team repeating as Super Bowl champions.

"We were known as 'The Team of the '80s,' but to this day I can't tell you how we did it [repeat] in 1988-89," recalls Cross, aboard to commentate on the Washington Redskins' home opener against Atlanta on CBS Sunday.

"We started out with a win in 1981, but really went into the dumper [3-6] with the strike in 1982. We lost out in the NFC playoff against Washington in '83, a game we should have won, but I guess everyone says that after a loss. Then we won in '84 before moving into a transitional period. Besides, the Giants and Bears were awfully good then."

Cross was shooting the breeze on the subject because it's always a popular subject the first month of the season, the prospects of a champion repeating.

"The thing about winning," he pointed out, "is you're in a constant state of having people blow smoke at you, telling you how great you are. You begin to believe it after awhile and, if you're not a completely driven person, you're going to take a fall."

As is his usual routine before doing a team's game, Cross reviewed Washington's final preseason game against Minnesota, a 30-0 Vikings victory, before checking out the Skins-Cowboys game on "Monday Night Football."

"We all know the exhibitions don't mean much, but I'll tell you what I picked up out of the Minnesota game that should concern Washington fans," he said. "The Vikings played pretty good defense, but the Redskins, with all their best people in there, really tried to score and couldn't. That was a reality check as was the loss to Dallas."

In just a couple of years as an analyst, Cross has shot up through the CBS ranks, no doubt due to the way he views the job.

"It's not a platform for me, a speaking engagement," he says of the task of explaining the whys and wherefores of the game. "I got a new play-by-play partner this year, Dick Stockton, and he asked what kind of notes I work off.

"When I sort of shrugged and I said I didn't come in with notes, he gave me a strange look. What I do is check out the tapes of games during the week and take notes. That's my way of having things soak into my sponge [brain]. If they don't take, chances are it's not interesting or important," he said.

* One thing Ferdie Pacheco has never been accused of in his role as boxing commentator is over-hyping a bad fight. For instance, he describes a heavyweight meeting between Greg Page and Francesco Damiani on pay-per-view tomorrow (9 p.m.) as "a ho-hum affair between two sinking battleships."

However, as far as the main event goes, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Hector Camacho, "The Fight Doctor" becomes almost giddy in his assessment that this could be the "sizzling" fight of the year.

"When Camacho started out, we all thought he was going to be legendary," Pacheco said. "He could do anything you have to in the ring. There's an old saying which states what happens outside the ring is as important as what happens inside it

and this is where he fell by the wayside.

"Many think he lost the will to win. Maybe he did. But in the [Edmund] Rosario fight, he still showed the intelligence, guts and resiliency to beat a very good fighter. But he's going to need all that and more against Chavez.

"Granted, these aren't the boxers they were six years ago, but Chavez remains an almost unbeatable fighter because he has all the ingredients, plus such a taste for the game. He wears you down. He breaks you down, both your body and your willpower. And, when he's done, he just goes back to Mexico and prepares for his next fight.

"What has probably hurt him, though, is there's never been anyone of his quality around him. At least, Camacho has the potential to be that guy, an equal. It's all a question of if Camacho has the willpower, guts and heart and if he's willing to take the punishment that it will require to hang in there and win.

"Otherwise, it will be the Millrose Games [a track meet]," said Ferdie, leaving himself an out in case the 4-to-1 odds favoring Chavez prove true.

* Time was when CBS was all over the U.S. Open with USA Network sneaking in for a little action here and there. The roles have reversed dramatically this year with the cable tuned in for a score of marquee matches day and night for the last two weeks while the network was serving its true master, the NFL.

The network attempted to save some face with the women's semifinals today (11 a.m.), the men's semis and women's final tomorrow (11 a.m.) and the men's final Sunday (4 p.m.), but obviously the damage has been done.

Now if the players will only cooperate and quicken their pace so new viewers and casual fans don't come away with the idea that two guys mopping their brows and toweling off for five hours (Ivan Lendl vs. Boris Becker) constitutes a "great" match.

* Watching Robin Yount collect his 3,000th base hit amid the joy and celebration of Milwaukee County Stadium on ESPN Wednesday night reminded me of the player's first hit in the Bigs back in 1974. Dave McNally was the Orioles pitcher surrendering the safety and, afterward, Mac said, "Did you see that kid? He looked no more than 14 years old. You begin to wonder when a kid two years out of Little League gets you."

* Fans have the opportunity to witness Maryland's new "Pass & Punt" offense tomorrow when Channels 45 and 7 pick up the Terps' home opener against North Carolina State (noon). A passing attack that nets 270 yards sounds OK, but when it's on 32 completions and the running attack nets only 34 yards, it sounds as if the team is playing flag football.

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