This is the postseason of super-silliness in Southern California.
The banning of pompons from use at the Ram-Cowboy playoff game at the Coliseum on Sunday because of potential fire hazard is front-page news. And columnist George Allen keeps warning in print about distractions, family, friends and the press.
One wonders what Allen would say if he saw the postpractice routine of Ram defensive end Jack Youngblood during this, the week of the most important playoff game in the history of the franchise.
Youngblood has a dog, a 15-month-old back Labrado retriever named Jet, which he brings to the Rams' Long Beach training facility every day. When Youngblood is finished with his 2 1/2-hour workout, Jet is taken off the leash and put through a rigorous set of drills the ducks of America could probably do very well without.
Jet is a purebred champion, and there are a lot of folks around the NFL who will tell you the same about Jack Youngblood, a 28-year-old eight-year pro weaned by Deacon Jones, housebroken by Merlin Olsen and trained by his current coach, Ray Malavasi, who helped mold him into an App-Pro.
Youngblood is clearly the leader of a Ram defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season and must contain the league's most proficient offense -- Dallason Sunday, in the Nfl/ championship.
These are strong, but hardly silent, Cowboys. In the newspapers this week, many of the Rams were reminded of some fighting words issued by Roger Staubach after he had been sacked late in the Rams' 27-14 early-season victory over Dallas.
"We'll see you chokers in the playoffs," Staubach said that day. There was a nasty expletive preceding chokers.
And then Wednesday there was a message from Thomas Henderson, who said the Rams don't "have enough class to play in the Super Bowl... If they don't choke, I will choke them."
"Yeah, I've seen all that stuff, and you know what, it's all bull," Youngblood was saying of all the silliness today. "Sure they put it on the bulletin board, but if you need that kind of stuff to motivate you, you're in a lot of trouble."
Youngblood's motivation is simple enough. He remembers sitting in the Ram dressing room after losing to the Vikings last year "and just about wanting to commit suicide." He does not want to feel that way again.
"We know the feeling of dejection all too well," he said. "Last year it was pitiful. We were a much better team than we showed on the filed.
"It was just a shame to put in all that time, all that energy and put on a showing like we did. But what's happened in the past has no bearing on this game Sunday. It's 60 minutes of pure aggression and hard-nosed foot-ball, and I hope the best team wins."
Youngblood, the Rams left end, will go up against an old nemesis, 12-year veteran Rayfield Wright, who starts at right tackle for the Cowboys.
Wright was injured in the team's first meeting, and the Cowboys suffered because of it. Stauach was sacked three times that day and the Dallas quarterback tossed up four nterceptions in the face of an all-out rush.
"The battles Rayfield and I have are usually classics," Youngblood said. "I believe you play best when you are playing against the best and that's how I feel about Rayfield Wright. We always seem to go after each other.
"His age (33) isn't necessarily a detriment. His finesse is still there. He's not a strong as he was as a kid, but he's got a lot more weapons."
Youngblood has a few in his arsenal. A new years ago, he tried playing at 275 pounds, with disastrous results. Now, he is 240, relying mostly on spped rather than raw power to outmaneuver opposing blockers.
He's excellent against he run and he's a great pass rusher," said Torgy Torgeson, the former Redskin assistant who now coaches Ram defensive linemen. "And he's a terrific guy to work with. He's All-Pro, but if you tell him to do something, he listens."
Youngblood also listens to the radio, and he was not particularly pleased with a local disc jockey on the country music station the other day.
The Rams had just defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 34-10, when the disc jockey alluding to Los Angeles inability to score many touchdowns this season, said "I know 11 field goals make 33 points, but how do you suppose he Rams got that other point?"
Youngblood was not amused and immediately called to demand an apology. "Just foolin, Jack," the discjockey said the next day. "Honest." CAPTION:
%Picture, Jack Youngblood