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Nfl Really Needs A Shorter Season

Tue., Jan. 17, 1995

The real Super Bowl, huh?

Probably. After all, the handling of Dallas by the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, accomplished in, what, the first 7:27 of the game, was in keeping with the way things have gone in the Supe nearly back to its infancy 28 years ago.

The margin of victory by the NFC representative during its recent 10-year winning streak has been more than three touchdowns. And that includes losers gathering up points near the end of games when the winners were dumping Gatorade on the sidelines and showing little regard for the final score.

Nearly as bad, though, is what the NFC title game has evolved into. Only two of the last 11 showdowns of the socalled old guard NFL teams have been competitive.

What these facts and a few others would seem to suggest is, the longer the season goes, the worse the games get. It’s understandable since rough-and-tumble football wasn’t invented to be played over the course of seven months and with about as many games as what once constituted a basketball season, 20 to 24 games.

Therefore, and in the interest of extending careers and giving us Sunday shutins better games to watch, the motion has been made and seconded that the season and playoffs be cut back to a reasonable length.

Thankfully, one thing about ABC doing Super Bowl vingt-et-neuf in a couple of weeks is the long-awaited pasteurization of the Fox studio crew of Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson. The guys, along with host James Brown, had their moments the last 20 weeks, but they’ve been like an impacted wisdom tooth since about Thanksgiving. Then again there’s Dan Dierdorf and Brent Musburger doing a pregame show.

As usual, John Madden stood out among the network announcers Sunday, the “$8 Million Man” providing his own special brand of reasoning concerning the welladvertised bonding of the 49ers this season: “It might go back to the game they lost to Philadelphia (in week 5). You know, when a guy (Steve Young) yells at the coach (George Seifert), the other players like him? Maybe that’s when Steve became one of the guys.”

Bob Trumpy, NBC’s lead analyst and competition, established his usual beachhead doing the San DiegoPittsburgh AFC title game by pointing out “Neil O’Donnell called a very conservative route” for his first pass of the game. It was just the second scrimmage play of the game and, on second down, the Steelers quarterback was looking to pick up a first down for his run-oriented team while checking out what San Diego was doing defensively. Conservative? Obviously, Trumpy was looking for a “Hail Mary” into the end zone.

Bob was there with his usual “trump” card, however. That’s when he makes up quotes for the combatants such as a pressuring defensive lineman saying to San Diego quarterback Stan Humphries, “Son, it’s going to be a lengthy afternoon if you’re stuck in third-and-10 all day.” Yeah, these people talk just like that during a game.

The stat of the day had to be when Pat Summerall stated during the early going of the San Francisco victory, “That’s the first time in NFC history that a team got three touchdowns in the first period.” Attention-getting, yes, but erroneous.

The immediate reaction was, what about the Chicago Bears when they laid that 73-0 hammering on the Washington Redskins back in 1940? The “Monsters of the Midway” got a TD inside the first minute when Bill Osmanski swept 68 yards to a score, but then Sammy Baugh led the Skins on a long, fruitless drive that ate up clock. Sid Luckman plunged over from a yard out and Joe Maniaci lumbered 42 yards to the end zone and Chicago led 21-0 after a period. Asked afterward if the outcome would have been different had Washington scored early, Slingin’ Sam drawled, “Yeah, it would have been 73-7.”

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