Cowboys coach Johnson is losing all of his perspective on losing

PRO FOOTBALL

August 08, 1993|By VITO STELLINO

George Halas, the winningest coach in NFL history, suffered through 151 losses while winning 324 games.

Don Shula, who needs seven victories this year to pass Halas, also has 151 losses.

Tom Landry, No. 3 on the list with 270 victories, lost 178.

Jimmy Johnson, who replaced Landry and won a Super Bowl in four years, should take a look at that list.

It shows that a successful NFL coach has to cope with the losing. An NFL coach can't go 52-9 the way Johnson did at Miami.

Johnson, though, hasn't learned that lesson. He thinks he should win virtually every game. He went on a tirade on the team plane after a loss in Washington last December that didn't cost the Cowboys anything.

He was back at it last week after a 13-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in their preseason opener.

After calling the loss "ugly, uninspired, lackluster and very poor," he really unloaded.

"We have some serious problems with this football team. I don't want to be an alarmist and this is not contrived. I'm telling you what I saw, and I saw a team that has a lot of holes to fill. . . . It's a situation where some people are extremely happy to be wearing those Super Bowl rings. Well, there are 27 teams out there just waiting. . . . "

Johnson is overlooking the real problems: Emmitt Smith is holding out and quarterback Troy Aikman is injured. A team with Hugh Millen at quarterback and rookie Derrick Lassic and free agent Michael Beasley at running back isn't a Super Bowl team.

The Cowboys play today in London against the Detroit Lions, another meaningless preseason game to promote the NFL in Europe.

For Johnson, though, the games are never meaningless.

Even before making the trip, he said, "When we get back to training camp, look out."

The price

Pro football owners, who were accused of price-gouging when they set the expansion fee, were smiling when the Orioles were sold for $173 million.

They argue that means their price isn't outrageous. The officia -- price was $140 million, but when you add in $16 million in interest and the fact the teams will get only half the TV revenue for three years, the real price is closer to $200 million.

The difference is that that baseball doesn't have the revenu sharing plan that football has and the Orioles can make $25 million a year if they continue to sell out virtually every game.

With the Baltimore football team paying out $1 million a game t the visiting team, it won't make $25 million. Another difference is that the football team has to pay $70 million up front before it plays a game. The new Orioles owners start collecting money as soon as they buy the team.

It's letter time

Starting tomorrow, teams are allowed to send restricted free agents letters that will sideline them in the first preseason game if they don't report by next weekend.

If they also miss the final two preseason games, they'd miss th first three regular-season games.

The question is how many teams will risk sending those letter and face the possibility of missing a player for up to three games.

The most noted player on the list is the Cowboys' Smith. The odds are Dallas won't send him the letter.

Among the other players on the list are running back Harold Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver Fred Barnett of the Philadelphia Eagles and cornerback Robert Massey of the Phoenix Cardinals.

The ??? Patriots

The NFL keeps laying the groundwork to move the New England Patriots.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue recently sent a letter to Pau Barrett, the director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, stating, "Foxboro is an unacceptable venue for the long-term future of the Patriots franchise."

The NFL is trying to convince Boston to build a mega-plex tha includes a domed stadium, but there is a lot of opposition in the city.

An NFL spokesman denied that Tagliabue's statement was veiled threat, but Barrett thought it was.

Barrett said it meant that if a stadium isn't built in Boston, "it' [the Patriots franchise] going to be out of town."

It's noteworthy that the NFL isn't suggesting that Boston try th private financing plan that Charlotte, N.C., is promoting for its expansion bid. The NFL likes to have cities build their stadiums with public funds.

Bashing Mike

Mike Ditka is gone from the Chicago Bears, but he's not forgotten. Some of his former players are taking pot shots at him.

Defensive tackle Steve McMichael, who'll top Walter Payton's team record of 186 straight games played if he plays the first 12 games and will play more games for the Bears (191) than any player in the franchise's 73-year history, was quick to point out that he's happy with new coach Dave Wannstedt.

"Training camp under Ditka got to be repetitive," he said. "It became drudgery, second nature. It's like a mule at the grist mill. He knows he's going to go around in a circle all day. This is a new thing. I'm learning just like everybody else."

Kicker Kevin Butler, once called "gutless" by Ditka, said, "It was like 'The Twilight Zone' kicking off with Mike Ditka on the sideline."

Missing Jeff?

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