One of the pitfalls in "Playing Football" is the fan instinct. It is easy to form a rooting attachment to a particular team or teams. With me, in recent years, it's been Pittsburgh and Washington.
For several seasons the Steelers' defensive unit had more character, pardon the clinche, than any other group of players in the NFL. That's gone now. The decline started with Mean Joe Green's arm miseries. But it was difficult, nonetheless, to go against Pittsburgh last Sunday, backing Denver. A better is supposed to be cold, calculating, analytical in making his selections, but that's not always the case.
With Washington, the story is changing, mainly because "Jawin Joe" Theismann has talked his way into being the team's starting quarterback. Theismann didn't major in football at Notre Dame, he studied public relations and dramatics. He is the golden tongue from the Golden Dome.
When Jurgensen or Kilmer was at the controls the Redskins were a highly professional outfit. George Allen's teams, always well prepared defensively, never were embarrassed. If they lost because of a controversial call, and they complained. It was always a legitimate complaint.
Monday night's cry-baby act in Baltimore was therefore, completely out of character. The officials gave the Redskins every consideration in their last-minute death march from the Washington 29 yeard line to the Colts' 13. It was amazing the Skins were able to get off four pass plays in that short a time, let alone trying for a fifth, since they had no time-outs left.
The reason Washington didn't get the last play off in time was Theismann. He had two seconds on the clock; he needed three to get his troops lined up. Then he completed a pass into the end zone when only two of the 11 Baltimore defenders were playing defense, just in case.
I respected Jurgensen's ability. I loved Kilmer. He was a winner, a man on whom a bettor could risk his mythical bankroll and never doubt, for one minute, that he would received a 110 per cent effort.
Theismann is too pretty to be the Redskins' quarterback. He belongs in L.A., or with the Jet set. Everything about the young man seems to be postured, even when he's sacked, as he was five times in the mud at Baltimore.
Jawin Joe saw a famous picture of old Y. A. Title, on his knees, bleeding, after being battered one day near the end of his career. The photo elicited instand sympathy. That already, is Theismann pose. He plays to the crowd. He plays to the tube. He plays to the press. He is a submarine artist. And all this probably would be pardonable to me, as a bettor, if only the guy had more ability.
Theismann reminds me of a young Fran Tarkenton, to whom second-and-18 was a way of life in his early years. Except Theismann doesn't have Tarkenton's accuracy of arm or Tarkenton's head. His best asset, at this point, is his tongue - and I doubt he's going to be able to talk his way past too many opponents.
Somehow, in watching the Redskins in recent weeks, I get some bad vibrations that Allen is preparing to go to Detroit and maybe take Kilmer with him. That's unless, one of these Sunday's Allen goes to give the ball back to Billy and Billy [WORD ILLEGIBLE] down George's throat. Kilmer is too much of a professional, even in that situation, but to go out and do his best.
Having sounded off so strongly against Jawin Joe, the least I can do to put my money [WORD ILLEGIBLE] typerwriter's mouth is this week Philadelphia is an ordinary team. Sunday's game is even although Theismann played well in the first quarter against the Eagles here two weeks ago. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to see him do it again, a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] $100 only, because Washington must and should win.
That is $100 on Philadelphia in an attempt to make Theismann shut up. But the week's serious selection is Dallas, for $500, giving six points at home Monday night against St. Louis. THis is the classic [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the Cardinal offense against the Dallas defense [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] suggests the St. Louis defense has improved, I doubt it.