Joke will be on Schottenheimer if Montana doesn't get healthy NFL WEEK 6

VITO STELLINO

October 10, 1993|By VITO STELLINO

Marty Schottenheimer, the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, will never be known as a wild and crazy guy.

That's why it was so surprising last week when Schottenheimer showed up at a news conference wearing a turban and appearing to peer into a crystal ball.

In a perfect sound bite for the TV cameras, Schottenheimer said, "Montana . . . Joe . . . It's very cloudy . . . Some sense of uncertainty . . . Percentages are 50-50."

Schottenheimer then removed the turban and said, "I hope I made my point. I don't know. I really don't know."

Schottenheimer had found a way to have fun with all the questions about Joe Montana's health.

Montana pulled his hamstring in the second quarter of the Chiefs' victory over the Los Angeles Raiders last Sunday and the Chiefs don't know how long he'll be out. He'll probably miss today's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Although quarterbacks get hurt all the time, Montana is no ordinary quarterback. He's 37 and sat out all but one half of the past two seasons.

Montana has had physical problems this season, too. He injured his wrist in the first game and sat out the second one.

"Is Joe more brittle than I thought he was?" Schottenheimer said. "I don't know. That's why we have David Krieg."

Montana said he had no history of hamstring pulls and seems frustrated.

"It's aggravating to me," he said. "It's one little thing after another. I hope I'm getting them all out of the way."

Montana suffered the injury while he was scrambling. Although Aaron Wallace of the Raiders was penalized for hitting him out of bounds, Montana said he felt something pop before he reached the sidelines.

Paul Hackett, the offensive coordinator, said Montana has to curtail his scrambling.

"He ran the ball a little more than we would like. That's always been a part of his game," he said. "I don't think we're ever going to eliminate it entirely. But I'd like to see him get out of bounds a little faster."

The trouble is, you can't play football that way. Montana can't be effective if he's worrying about getting hurt.

Chiefs president Carl Peterson said: "When we made the trade, we didn't expect him to play 60 minutes for 16 regular-season games in 1993. That's not a revelation. How many quarterbacks played 16 games for 60 minutes in 1992?"

Only one quarterback took every snap last year, and he is Montana's backup -- Krieg.

That's the only thing Krieg does better than Montana -- stay healthy.

The Chiefs have to keep their fingers crossed Montana can stay healthy. So does the NFL, which would love the thought of Montana bringing the Chiefs into the Super Bowl.

Although the NFL clobbers the NBA in TV ratings, it doesn't have the type of stars the NBA has. Network anchorman Tom Brokaw covered Michael Jordan's retirement, but don't look for him to cover the retirement of any NFL player.

Montana is one of the few marquee players the league has and he's on his last legs. The Chiefs and the NFL hope the legs last till January.

Catching Joe's pass

Chiefs backup offensive lineman Joe Valerio got his ticket to the Hall of Fame last week -- all for catching a Montana touchdown pass.

"I'm in elite company now," he said. "Someone mentioned that in the Hall of Fame, they put up all his receivers who caught TD

passes so in about 10 years, I'm going to have to make a trip to Canton and get a couple of pictures of the shrine when Joe is inducted."

The quarterback derby

While Montana gets most of the attention, there's a lot of quarterback shuffling going around the league.

Mark Rypien returns to the starting lineup in Washington, Bubby Brister makes first start today in Philadelphia for Randall Cunningham, John Friesz replaces Stan Humphries, who has a sore shoulder, in San Diego and Jeff Hostetler is likely to return for the Los Angeles Raiders after sitting out a week with an ankle injury. The Indianapolis Colts had planned to replace Jack Trudeau with Jeff George, but had to switch signals when George bruised a hand.

The Bengals toyed with the idea of replacing David Klingler with Jay Schroeder, but stuck with the second-year man. The Cleveland Browns also could give Bernie Kosar the quick hook for Vinny Testaverde, who replaced him the past two games.

The Detroit Lions even made a quarterback change during their bye week.

Coach Wayne Fontes announced that Rodney Peete is now the starter for the rest of the year. Fontes raised eyebrows when he yanked Peete for Andre Ware, and then watched his team lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It didn't help that owner William Clay Ford left a message for Ware congratulating him on becoming the starter -- and left it on Erik Kramer's answering machine. That fostered the speculation that Ford had called the shot.

Don't be surprised if Peete isn't the quarterback for the rest of the way. The way quarterbacks are going down, he's not likely to stay healthy the rest of the year even if he isn't pulled.

The expansion derby

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