It used to be George Allen who upstaged Draft Day with a spectacular trade. Today, it was the Dallas Cowboys.
They traded four draft choices to Seattle for its No. 1 pick in the first round of the National Football League selection of collegians today and grabbed off Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett on Pittsburgh.
That was after Tampa Bay, as expected, used the first pick in the draft to take All-America running back Ricky Bell of Southern California. Bell reportedly signed a five-year, $1.24-million contract with the Buccaneers.
The Redskins used their fourth-round selection to take Duncan McColl, a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end from Stanford.
McColl, of Covina, Calif., was named to UPI's All-America first team and to the second teams of Associated Press and Football News.
Allen said McColl, the 97th pick in the draft, was one of five players the Redskins hoped would still be available when their turn came.
"We got a good football player," Allen said. "He played against good competition. We had him in here for a physical. He's got good flexibility. We think he can develop into a good pass rusher."
Maryland defensive end Joe Campbell was the seventh player to be selected. He was taken by New Orleans in the first round. The Terps' fullback, Tim Wilson, was selected by Houston in the third round and offensive guard Ed Fulton was drafted by Los Angeles in the third round.
The talk ran through the grand ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel that by acquiring the rights to Dorsett the Cowboys had already nailed down the title in the Eastern Division. In four years of varsity football, Dorsett gained a record 6,082 yards and scored 58 touchdowns.
On the telephone from Dallas, general manager Tex Schramm asked, "What does George Allen say, "Today's the day' or 'The future is now?'"
Personnel director Gil Brandt was in on the conference call and asked, "How do you like that deal?"
He was reminded that the Cowboys have never been known to overpay players and asked if they might borrow money from Allen to pay Dorsett.
"Allen doesn't have any money left," Brandt said, alluding to the Redskins signing former Cowboys Calvin Hill and Jean Fugett for high salaries as free agents in 1976 and their giving John Riggins a $1.5-million contract covering five seasons.
But Allen, at Redskin Park, said, "Dallas still has to sign him (Dorsett) and that's going to be very interesting. Dallas has been strictly a low price team. This guy will make more money than anybody on the ball club."
Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant said Dallas and Seattle "must be sleeping together."
Grant was astounded by Seattle's decision to give up the rights to Dorsett to the Cowboys for a lower pick (See DRAFT, E4, Col. 1) (DRAFT, From E1) in the first round and three picks in the second.
"Second-round picks are chancey," said Grant. "And you don't win with quantity, but quality."
"I don't understand it at all," he continued. "Most people felt Dorsett was the premier player in the draft - similar to (O.J.) Simpson several years ago."
Dallas coach Tom Landry said the Cowboys have "never had a player with this breakaway speed. The confidence factor is going to be a big thing with a player like Dorsett. Our players know he has the ability and there is going to be an air of confidence throughout the team about what he can do.
"His speed is not so important as his quickness. He busted the scout out in quickness. That's why he hit those holes and slid out for the big play. I like this tenacity. I've seen him in games where he was contained for three quarters, but he didn't let up. And then he broke the big play late in the game.
"The trade, of course, is excellent for us. We gave up some building strength for a high-quality player who fills an immediate need. Basically, all we gave up was our No. 2 choice (Dallas also gave up No. 2 choices acquired previously in trades with Buffalo and San Diego). From Seattle's standpoint, it was a good trade because it gives them an opportunity to get a number of players to help lay the foundation for their (expansion) team."
The Cowboys got one of their second round choices back by trading wide receiver Duke Fergerson to the Seahawks.
The Cowboys reportedly made their deal with Seattle five weeks ago, contingent on Tampa Bay picking Bell. The first-round pick Dallas gave Seattle, the 14th in the draft, was obtained in 1976 when the Cowboys sent quarterback Clint Longley to San Diego.
Cincinnati, with three picks in the first round, took defensive tackle Eddie Edwards of Miami, Fla., defensive tackle Wilson Whitley of Houston and tight end Mike Cobb of Michigan State.
Other first round picks: New York Jets - offensive tackle Marvin Powell of USC; New York Giants - defensive tackle Gary Jeter of USC: Atlanta - offensive tackle Warren Bryant.Kentucky, and defensive tackle Wilson Faumuina, San Jose State: Green Bay - defensive end Mike Butler, Kansas, and defensive end Ezra Johnson. Morris Brown: Kansas City - defensive back Gary Green. Baylor: Houston - offensive tackle Morris Towns. Missouri: Buffalo - defensive tackle Phillip Dokes, Oklahoma State: Miami - defensive tackle A. J. Duhe, LSU; Seattle - offensive guard Steve August, Tulsa; Chicago - offensive tackle Ted Albrecht, California: New England - defensive back Raymond Clayborn. Texas, and wide receiver Stanley Morgan. Tennessee: Cleveland - linebacker Robert Jackson. Texas A&M: Denver - offensive guard Steve Schindler, Boston College.
St. Louis - quarterback Steve Pisarkiewicz. Missouri: Pittsburgh - linebacker Robert Cole. New Mexico: Los Angeles - linebacker Bob Brudzinski, Ohio State: San Diego - center Bob Rush, Memphis State; Baltimore - wide receiver Randy Burke. Kentucky; and Minnesota - quarterback Tommy Kramer, Rice.
"Although the Giants also figure to be adversely affected by the Cowboys' acquisition of Dorsett, a member of the Giants' organization satirized the Redskins' predicament as an arch-rival of Dallas by saying. "Not to worry, Ron McDole - (37-year-old defensive end of the Redskins) - will pin Dorsett in his own backfield."
Dorsett disclosed in a telephone interview from the University of Pittsburgh that a friend there had written a letter to the Seahawks saying the running back did not want to play in Seattle. Dorsett confirmed that.
Dorsett's agent, Mike Trope of Los Angeles, who also represents Bell, was at the draft meeting, told newsmen, "The Cowboys gave up four picks for Tony so they will have to pay a reasonably good figure."
"He doesn't care if he plays for the Cowboys or the Siberian Huskies, but Seattle has a reputation for being somewhat penurious. I hope Dorsett and Bell become the highest-paid rookies of all time."
Trope was asked about the chances of Dorsett playing with Toronto in the Canadian Football League if he cannot reach a salary agreement with Dallas.
"I hate to put odds on playing in Canada," Trope said. "I was there recently but we did not talk figures. If Seattle had chosen Tony I think the odds would have been 50-50 that he would have played in Canada. Seattle passed up Chuck Muncie last year and signed defensive tackle Steve Niehaus (Muncie signed with New Orleans for $1 million over seven seasons)."
John Thompson, general manager of the Seahawks, said Monday his team was leaning toward keeping its No. 1 draft choice and stressed at the time it was not ruling out taking Dorsett.
Today, Thompson said he firmed up the deal with Dallas late Monday "because if Tampa Bay had changed its mind about taking Bell we wouldn't have had a deal. Dallas might have dealt with Tampa Bay, because ours was a tentative deal with the Cowboys.
"We told Dallas we would make a deal for linebacker Randy White and as many draft choices or young quality players as we could get, or for draft choices or young, quality players. The Cowboys said that giving up White was out of the question. We first sat down and discussed a deal with Dallas in January. We talked to other clubs but no one else came close to offering us what Dallas did."
Dorsett was asked if he was still considering Toronto.
"I will have to go to Dallas first and negotiate," he said. "If we can't agree on a contract. I can go to Canada for two years and come back to the NFL as a free agent (although Dallas would retain the right to meet the offers of any of the other 27 NFL clubs).
"I was a little surprised, delighted and overwhelmed that the Cowboys want my services. It's a super situation, going with a championship team. The biggest challenge will be to win a starting role."
Was he disappointed that he was not the No.1 pick, before Bell?
"No, that would have meant that I would be playing for Tampa Bay (0-14 last season) instead of Dallas."
Bell was asked if he interpreted being picked ahead of Dorsett as justification that he should have been voted the Heisman Trophy instead of Dorsett.
"Not really," he said. "I think it means that coach (John) McKay thinks he needs a big fullback rather than a halfback and the Cowboys thought the other way."
There were three Southern California players chosen in the first five picks on the first round, which prompted Bell to comment. "Our toughest games at USC were in practice; they were tougher than our Saturday games (against outside opponents)."