The Super Bowl subject for today - not including raindrops that kept falling - involved distractions. Oakland coach John Madden, in a radical departure from the George Allen approach, insisted he really couldn't find any.
"I really believe this whole concentration thing is a myth," Madded said this morning. "I don't believe in people concentrating 24 hours a day. If we were trying to meet, watch films or practice and people were trying to interview us, I'd be bothered.
"But we have times set aside for concentration, times for this (interview sessions) and times for relaxation. In a 24-hour period you can get all of these things done.
"Hey, if we can't handle 2 1/2 hours of interviews in a week of quote, distractions, then we're in bad shape."
The Oakland Raider wives were due in today on a charter from the Bay Area, and they have been billeted at a hotel several miles from the Raiders' team hotel in Newport Beach. "Hell yes, we still have a curfew," Madden said, laughing all the way.
"Nah, we don't have any fraternization rules. If they want to fraternize, they can fraternize. Geez, it's only Thursday and we're already into the fraternization rule."
Madden is a jolly soul, glib and gregarious in direct opposition to Bud Grant, his couterpart on the Vikings and a man who prefers his humor in subtle, dry doses.
"Good morning," Grant greeted members of the working press today, "Are there any new questions?"
Grant said his wife and two sons, his mother-in-law and four friends were stuck in a snowstorm in Albuquerque, N.M., Wednesday night after attempting to cross the country in "one of those camper things."
Why did they drive?
"It costs too much to fly a whole family across country," he said. "And it puts too much pressure on winning." The loser's share obviously wouldn't cover the cost of plane fare.
Both Grant and Madden took turns today expolding a few other old professional football myths.
"I think we have genuine emotion on this team," said Grant. "We have a loose ball club. You'll see a lot of teams jump and down on the sideline and go out there and lose, 40-0. When our players do it, I think they mean it. No. I don't try to psych up the team. Our players do that themselves. Nah, we don't have a bulletin board for clippings. I don't believe in that."
After the Vikings had whipped the Redskins in the opening round of the playoffs, Grant said his-team probably had an advantage because the Redskins had run out of emotion after their topsy-turvy season.
Madden, without naming a specific team, concurred. "I've seen coaches who thought they needed emotion for a Tuesday practice and got it, and thought they needed if for a Wednesday practice, and got it. But when Sunday came around, they couldn't get it again."
And how does the big fellow handle defeat? Is losing like death for John Madden?
"Nah, not really," he said. "You just punish yourself if you take it too hard," he said. "When we lost those playoff games in the past, I'd take a day off, and then on Tuesday I'd go to the Senior Bowl and after that I'd have to coach the Pro Bowl team. I didn't go hide or jump off a bridge.
"A loss is a loss. I'm a big believer in that. Don't worry about things you can't control. Once it's over, it's over. When we lost it was always a disappointment to me. No, I wouldn't call it frustration.
"Frustration to me is saying 'Oh, my God, we can't do it.' When I was a kid, the big thing was breaking the four-minute mile. Everyone was trying to crack that, and the guys who would run 4:01 and 4:02 were the ones that wanted to get right back and do it again.
"They guy who wanted to break the four-minute mile and was running 5:32, 5:38, now that's frustration."
It may also be a wet football game.
It has been raining, and raining hard, here in sunny Southern California for two days, and there is a small chance of more rain Sunday.
Both teams worked out in the wet and cold this afternoon, and both coaches said they did not believe either team would be especially affected by a soggy field. Madden added that his friend, John Robinson, the head coach at Southern Cal, said the Rose Bowl field was not in very good shape.
"I hope they have a tarp on it (they do," he said, "because rain mixed with dirt equals mud."
Said Grant, when asked if the rain would disturb him, "Baby, you don't have a shovel this. It runs off."