Whither Mercury Morris, erstwhile Dolphins running back, we know not, but Dolphin tightend Jim Mandich has landed on his feet. Cut by Washington just before the Redskins went and 6-0'd it, Mandich signed yesterday with Pittsburgh - yep, the 6-0 Steelers . . . And look who Payton has for a new buddy (if he reports): defensive tackle Alan Page, the eight-time All-Pro cut loose by Minnesota. The Bears waited out Viking tries to trade Page before Tuesday's deadline, then picked him up on waivers. Not such a surprise, the Vikes shedding Page, when we learn this season he had no tackles against Seattle, two against Tampa Bay, one against Chicago.

No trade takers for Chi Bull guard Norm Van Lier, either, so they put the 32-year-old with the four-year, $850,000 contract leftover on waivers as Golden State took Bull draft considerations rather than Van Lier in sending Charles Dudley to Chicago.

Mark Manges of Maryland, after the look-see this week by the N.Y. Jets, felt encouraged to look extra hard at that Hamilton CFL opportunity; Jets and they'd rather have more experience at backup QB.

One old Dodger with fish to fry other than the W.S.: catcher Mickey Owen of 1941 droppedthird-strike fame left Springfield, Mo., where he is county sheriff, for a 12:01 a.m. jog yesterday to Silver Dollar City; benefit performance for a senior citizens home . . . Former fringe major leaguer Adrian Garrett completed Japanese baseball's regular season with 40 homers to 39 for perennial champ Sadaharu Oh - but Koji Yamamoto beat all with 44. Oh won RBI crown, 118, and reached 805 career HR.