Big heat is on the zebras.
Commissioner Pete Rozelle, in Topeka, Kan., yesterday to help kick off a United Way campaign, was not charitable to the game officials he watched in Sunday's Kansas City Houston game. He saw flagrant fouls that were not called, Rozelle said, and if that weren't enough pressure on the NFL stripe-shirts, steam is really rising in the aftermath of Oakland's unbelievable, final-play defeat of San Diego on a 14-yard TD fumble.
Eugene Klein, president of the Chargers, declared he is filing an official protest of the ruling that gave Dave Casper the Raider touchdown that snatched victory from Klein's squad, 21-20.
Raider quarterback Ken Stabler candidly stated that, hit by defensive end Fred Dean as he tried to pass with the clock expiring. "I fumbled on purpose." Fumble, heck, snorts Charger Coach Tom Prothro: Films show very clearly that Snake Stabler tossed the ball underhand four or five yards and Raider running back Pete Banaszak threw it forward another eight to 10 yards. Illegal.
And the guy whose play Prothro said he thought was legitimate, tight end Casper, admitted shrewdly nursing the ball along until it crossed the goal line - "I helped it along then jumped on it."
The St. Louis Cardinals told San Diego canvassers of those who saw film of the play that they will demand the NFL fire the whole Charger-Raider crew before they can officiate a Cardinal game (the Redbirds play the Redskins this week.)
But referee Jerry Markbreit - the NFL's junior referee in point of service (third year) - stood by his decision that "the ball went into the end zone and was recovered for 2 touchdown - that's it." And the NFL stood by Markbreit.