Near the end of the oh-so-peaceful picnic that replaced the customary war waged by the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburg Steelers, a bearded author named Pat Toomay put his arms around Terry Bradshaw and turned the famous country singer upside-down. That play confirmed Oakland's 16-7 victory and is evidence there's a place in professional football for a defensive end whose radical beliefs include the supposition he is, at 29, an adult.
The National Football League pays so much money to so many overgrown adolescents that teams hire coaches who also must be father figures, chaperones and all-seeing, all-knowing Dispensers of Juctice. It also helps if they know how to change diapers. Fourthe rare player who happens to be an adult, life on a lot of NFL teams is the next worst thing to being locked up forever in kindergarten.
Toomay was All-Everything at Thomas Edison High in Alexandria, a 6-foot-6 three-sport star. The football factories wanted him, but Toomay enrolled at Vanderbilt, which tells you something. A close association with books and classes did him no physical harm, and the Dallas Cowboys signed Toomay eight years ago. Only now has he made good his escape from kindergarten.
"When I came into professional football, with Dallas. I had expectations that were never met," Toomay said. "I knew there must be some place that was sane. And, by God, Oakland's the place, you dress on the road.
Toomay sat on a stool in front of his locker only minutes after Oakland's victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Sharing the defensive end work with those familiar Raider monsters, Otis Sistrunk and Matuszak, Toomay twic sacked Bradshaw, may have forced two interceptions and certainly was near the NFL record for postgame contentment.
"My definition of 'sane' is probably anybody Col. 1> else's definition of "'insane,'" Toomay said, smiling easily. "'Sane' is when football's the most important thing with a team - not whether you show up for a meeting at a certain time, not how you dres on the road.
"Like last week, we beat San Diego, 24-0, but we made a lot of mistakes. Some of the teams I've played on, that 24-0 victory would have seemed like a loss. Everything's a crisis, win, lose or draw. You never can enjoy yourself.
"Here, the coach said, 'I'm 41 years old and if I'm upset with a 24-0 victory, then I'll be upset with anything.' The coach in Dallas would have made it a loss."
The coach at Dallas is Tom Landry, the coach at Oakland is John Madden. The other coaches in Toomay's professional life have been Lou Saban at Buffalo. John McKay at Tampa Bay. After five seasons with Landry, Toomay wanted out, landing at Buffalo, where after one season he was judged expendable and taken in the 1976 expansion draft by newborn Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay did not win a game last season. While Toomay says he was one of two men to play all 14 games - "87 plays a game on defense," he said - that's about all he remembers.
"The memories are rather dim," he said wryly, "and I prefer to keep it that way. The situation there was mutinous. We had truck drivers playing, construction workers. No players, just a bunch of kids. The 'high point' was the last game. We had a 170-pound linebacker, and we had some fun that day against New England. Almost beat them."
In the off season, Toomay said, his neighbors in Dallas wanted to know if he still played pro football. The odyssey from Dallas to Buffalo to Tampa Bay had rendered him invisible. Those who recognized Tampa Bay as part of the NFL often responded with a fit of giggles. "So when I'd check into a hotel, that line that says, 'Representing . . .' I stopped putting down 'Tampa Bay.' I put 'NFL,'" Toomay said.
Apparently because Toomay resented McKay giving away his job - he said the coach put second year man Leroy Selmon at right defensive end before training camp even bagan - Tampa Bay traded Toomay to Oakland.
"I turned around and drove back as fact as I could."
From 0-14 to the Super Bowl champions.
"It cost me $30,000 to leave Dallas and it's taken me a long time to make it up. But it's finally paid off."
Toomay said the Raiders, whose notoriety is legend, are "a great bunch of guys, contrary to popular belief." Otis Sistrunk even moved from right end to left, giving Toomay the side he's always played. "A helluva thing to do," Toomay said. "Otherwise, I'd probably have been cut." As for George Atkinson, the defender celebrated for his meanness, Tommay said. "He's a nice guy. He clubbed one man. You see it all the time in the films."
Someone suggested that Toomay, whose book on pro football and the Cowboys, "Crunch," was a success, write the definitive work on the Raiders.
"No, I've done that thing. It would bore me to do it again. Right now I'm working on some fiction and story-telling. I want to see if I'm any good."
Then Toomay left for the Pittsburgh airport where the Raiders took over a bar and absorbed a lot of liquid. Noisily. John Madden stood outside the bar, talking to fans. Somewhere, Tom Landry fould have disapproved.