The suspense already generated by Tony Dorsett and Joe Namath suggests that their cushy contracts were wise investments for the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams.
Before Dorsett has tilted a hip or Namath has clanked a knee brace, they nearly have earned their salaries.
Gil Brandt, vice president for player development with the Cowboys, said yesterday, "We are 2,000 ahead of our 1976 pace in season ticket sales."
With 95 per cent of the seats priced at $10, and the remainder at $6, and three exhibitions included in the seven-game regular season package at Texas Stadium, the prospect of seeing Dorsett is responsible for nearly $200,000 in new revenue.
His salary is believed to be at least $250,000 a season, but the ticket sales are nowhere near a sellout.
Despite having winning teams for the last 11 years, the Cowboys sold only 38,000 season tickets last year for its 65,101-seat stadium.
Don Klosterman, executive vice president of the Rams, said, "There is a great deal of curiosty about whether Namath
"We are projecting and increase of 2,500 in season ticket sales. We are not attributing all of that to Namath. People are buying them earlier because we will have fewer (19,696) seats for 1977, and we have a very good regular-season schedule.
"Where we see curiosty about Namath reflected is in our single-game ticket sales for our four exhibitions at home. We cut our season ticket sale off at 51,000 last year, so we could service customers with single-game tickets.
"We averaged 60,000 for exhibitions last year. This year we expect to hit 66,000 to 68,000. Sales for our first exhibition, against Minnesota for the benefit of the Los Angeles Times charities, are running 10 per cent ahead of 1976."
Presuming the Rams will sell at least 6,000 more single-game tickets for the four exhibitions, at an average price of $10, Namath will be largely responsible for $240,000 revenue in the preseason.
That is supporting that there is a reasonable expectancy that he will take over the starting quarterback job from second-year man Pat Haden.
The assumption is that the Rams did not trade off onetime starter James Harris to San Diego and agree to pay Namath between $150,000 and $200,000 to sit on the bench, at least in the tryout part of the season.
Klosterman said that Namath, 34 after 12 seasons with the New York jets, "it down to 185 pounds. He used to play at 195 or 200. He has a new intensity. He is reborn.He has someting to prove."
The Los Angeles Times did a random sampling of comment from former Jet teammates of Namath and most predicted he will take the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Surprisingly, John Riggins, the Redskin running back who resented the attention Namath got in new York, when Riggins was with the jets, was quoted by the Times as saying, "I did make some brash statements about Joe. But I feel that the one thing I underestimated in New York was Joe's ability.
"Honestly, he's one helluva quarterback. He's like a Rolls-Royce. You may put a few dents in him but he still runs (operates) pretty fine.
"I don't see any way the Rams won't be in the Super Bowl."
In his turnabout enthusiasm for Namath, Riggins conceded by implication that his Redskins will not be in the Super Bowl, inasmuch as they are in the same National Football Conference.
Klosterman of the Rams tried to throw off the psychological liability of Los Angeles being acclaimed a certain Super Bowl participant, in June. He said he regarded the Cowboys as odds on favorites, with Minnesota, Chicago and the Redskins among the top contenders.
Brandt of the Cowboys said of Klosterman high rating of Dallas, "There's one thing wrong with that. First, you've got to play 14 games. The Redskins found that out last year, when everybody predicted to much for them after they signed Riggins, Calvin Hill and jean Fugett."
But Dorsett will make a big difference?
"He was impressive in our rookie camp," Brandt said. "He was almost as good as Mike Thomas of the Redskins was at this phase of his rookie season."