The Pittsburgh Steelers have filed a $1 million countersuit to Oakland Raider safety George Atkinson's $2 million slander suit - but the dethroned NFL champions have another potential answer to the new Supers: name of Robin Cole.
First, the countersuit filed in U.S. District Court, San Francisco: it alleges Atkinson was part of a conspiracy to sideline Pittsburgh receiver Lynn Swann, " to disable and intimidate Lynn Swann, thereby interfering with Swann's ability to perform." Atkinson's lawyer commented that the Steelers' suit was "kind of a harassing tactic of a desperate defendant" - defendant in the Atkinson suit, which comes to trial July 11, in which the Raider wants recompense from the Steelers and coach Chuck Noll. Both suits stem from the NFL opener last Sept. 12 in which Atkinson belted Swann in the back of the head and knocked him out; after the game Noll was quoted as saying there was "a criminal element in the NFL." It cost him a league fine.
So what do the Steelers have in young Cole, their 1977 first-round draft choice as a defensive back out of New Mexico? A 6-foot-2, 220-pounder who proclaims himself a defender in the mold of Raider nasties Atkinson and Jack Tatum.
"I may slap a player upside the head when his back is turned if the referee isn't looking," Cole exuberated on arrival for some precamp classroom work in Pittsburgh. "I clothesline a lot of players. As long as you tackle them, it's legal."
Noll, learning of Cole remarks, suppressed a gulp and ventured a "no comment." Cole made amends with, "I was excited, I want to apologize" but concluded, "I don't feel they'll be liking me in Oakland."
As a New Mexico Lobo, Cole was nicknamed "Mad Man" . . .
Oh, those defensive backs, Nate Allen of the Minnesota Vikings has been charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct for allegedly punching an off-duty policeman, giving him a broken nose, memory lapeses and seizures for several days. It purportedly happened in a Minneapolis bar Saturday . . .
ollie Schwartz, U.S. 1976 Olympic boxing team manager, who last week-end after the Capital Centre bout said he knew of two dozen American amateurs better than Alfredo Evangelista - "he'd be in our novice division" - puts 20 of them on display June 18. He has scheduled a 10-bout, all heavyweight card in Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum, calling it the first phase toward grooming a man worthy of end-in the long reign of Cuba's Teofilo Stevenson . . . of bringing back the heavyweight gold medal from Moscow in 1980 . . .
Mark Fidrych, irked because his mother called recently to talk about an article on him in Rolling Stone, says no more Mr. Nice Guy - "From now on if a magazine wants to do an article on me, it's $100. They can donate it to the March of Dimes or something. I ain't doin' nothing for free anymore. People have taken advantage of me for too long . . . See what a year will do to ya!" Detroits's American League rookie of the year '76 makes his '77 debut tonight, his knee healed, against Seattle in Tiger Stadium . . . The Bird's exhibition tuneup in Cincinnati last week furnished a clue to why he hand-grooms the mound area: one of his big thrills in Riverfront Stadium was finding two pennies in the infield . . .
Animal farm, cont'd: Lucy Goose, a gift to the Pirates from a farm near Pittsburgh in honor of the Bucs' new bullpen ace, Rich (Goose) Gossage, is accompanying the club on the road trip that began in Chicago today; Lucy watched Tuesday night's home game against the Mets from a wooden cage in the bullpen . . . Unsung hero of the Cleveland Indians' turnaround winning streak: Harvey, a black cat which wondered into the clubhouse just in time to right Frank Robinson's listing ship . . .
Another key contributor for the Tribe has been a fellow one baseball broadcaster called "the pot-bellied rookie right fielder," 5-foot-10, 190 pound Jim Norris - a monument to determination. Norris, those with long memories might recall, played college ball at Maryland. He struggled through six injury-plagued minor league seasons and finally made the grade this spring. He started opening day with two hits and a game-saving catch and he has gone on from there, batting 300 virtually all season and, showing his 40 stolen bases at Toledo last year were no mirage, is among AL leaderships with something like 12 thefts in 15 tries.