Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins -- has a nice ring to it; aye, two Super Bowl championship rings -- and it appears as though the once quintessential NFL fullback is about to don the aquamarine once more.
Csonka and Dolphin owner Joe Robbie, putting aside the bad blood between them from the days of the Zonker's jump to the Memphis Southmen and his return to NFL with the N.Y. Giants when WFL folded, sat down with Coach Don Shula and it's all but set. Csonka has taken a team physical that Shula says preliminary results indicate he will pass.
His knees not being what they used to be, though, and a make of only 311 rushing yards to show for his 1978 Giant season assure that Csonka at age 32 -- or is it 34? -- won't command the pay he once did. But operating behind that Miami offensive line, and with the potential for mutual inspiration? Shula and Robbie are more than willing to pan for even a little of Zonk's old gold dust.
The past couple of winters FanFare has ruminated over how tough it would be for Carl Yastrzemski at his age to reach 3,000 hits -- and now that he's only 131 hits away from the magic circle, Yaz, going on 40, is willing to sit out all season? Playing double (his pay) or nothing?
Shoot, says Yaz, the New England papers have blown his salary squabble out of proportion -- "All I'm asking for is a fair contract that I'll be happy with based on what I think I'm worth to the Boston Red Sox." Still, his idea of fair's fair may not be all that far from the media theory of $700,001 a year, for 18 years' stardom, to shade Jim Rice's $700,000 on four years worth of credentials, not just a mere token raise from his current $300-350,000.
Frank Robinson, returning to the Orioles as a coach after losing out on hopes to join the Bird broadcast team, nonetheless will carry the title of communications specialist -- and defensive coordinator. Skipper Earl Weaver dubbed F. Robby so in assigning him to straighten out the outfield play that drove Jim Palmer to distraction last season. In the words of the Baltimore Sun, "Robinson's job will be to teach the outfielders how to talk to each other and catch fly balls at the same time." Si, si.
College football recruiters' D-Day came and went yesterday -- the date for youngsters to sign binding letters of intent. And the NCAA had earmarked to be first target for investigation in its new crackdown on recruiting violations the case of the two hot prospects who mysteriously disappeared in a private plane last weekend. "They haven't been seen around town or around their schools," said David Berst, NCAA enforcement director, "since they took off in the private aircraft. Their families say they don't know where they are and their friends say they don't know where they are." But when they landed somewhere to sign up, some athletic department would have some explaining to do. Meantime, Berst wasn't naming names.
Indiana State can't seem to get any grip on No. 1 in the coaches and writers college basketball polls, but National Fan Poll has had the Terre Hauters on top for three weeks now. That's the Chapel Hill-based survey that shows it's straight by ranking North Carolina a mere No. 5, Duke No. 4 -- and Maryland, after a long stay as No. 19, clear out of the top 20. Take that, Terps, for beating Duke...