Lynn Swann of the Super Steelers insists he has retired from football at 27. The NFL champions are trying not to believe him. Title the story "Zodiac killer revisited."

It's a tale that has Swann's Pittsburgh employers shaking their heads and pondering whether to forgo fining the great receiver for being AWOL - when and if he reports.

The All-Pro wide receiver says he has talked with Coach Chuck Noll and President Dan Rooney and, "They know where I am." San Francisco, that's where.

Swann tells his story:

In January 1974, he and two brothers and a cousin were in the Golden Gate city celebrating Southern California star Swann's being drafted on the first round by Pittsburgh. They were stopped at a traffic light during a police search for the so-called Zodiac killer.

Swann claims a police officer broke his watch wirh a nightstick and beat his companions around the knees.

"They thought we were four dumb blacks they could beat up," Swann was quoted by a San Francisco newspaper. "I just think it's a matter of principle that I stick around for the trial."

A fate worse than George Atkinson?

Trial? Oh yes, Swann, brothers and cousin have hit the City of San Francisco with a suit alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery and "emotional disturbances due to racial slurs." A $2 million suit.

Hearings got under the way July 16, and Swann tells the Steelers at their Lathrobe, Pa., digs to go on without him . . .

In Minnesota, where Carl Eller had been AWOL since Viking training began, they'll have to get used to the absence of 15-year Vike Eller, who with Alan Page and Jim Marshall (still around at 41!), made up the famed Purple People Eaters pass rush of the team's halcyon days.

Coach Jack Patera of Seattle, who for seven years (1969-75) coached the Viking defensive line starring five-time All-Pro Eller (earlier a Minnesota Gopher All-America), explains Monday night's trade of Steve Niehaus, first collegian ever drafted by the Seahawks and NFC defensive rookie of the year 1976, for Elelr, 37: "We have depth at defensive tackle with Manu (this year's No. 1 Seahawk draftee, Manu Tuiasosopo) . . . but we needed more help at end. I think he'll set a trememdous example for our young defensive linemen." And Niehaus hasn't been the same since hurting a shoulder in '77.

Coincidence: Seahawks and Vikings meet Thursday night.

The richest harness or thorough-bred race of all time comes off tonight, at New Jersey's Meadowlands: the $862,750 Woodrow Wilson Pace for 2-year-olds. It's $431,375 to the winner, with Niatross, undefeated in five starts; Whamo, beaten once but starting on the rail, and Denali the picks in a field of 12.

Nothing to it, the medics said at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia after removing a nonmalignant polyp from the vocal cords of WBC heavyweight champ Larry Holmes.

The Postland Trail Blazers are anxiously awaiting arrival of 6-11 Mychal Thompson, coming off such a great year as an NBA rookie, in Portland on Thursday to determine just how severe is the fracture of his left leg. Thompson was giving some pointers to the Bahamian national team in his hometown Nassau Monday night when, going for a layup, he broke his tibia.

Lee Trevino, on the eve of the 61st PGA Championship at Michigan's Oakland Hills, says the man to beat is Lee Trevino: "I'm playing good, real good, and I'm putting. Oh, man, am I putting.I haven't missed a putt since Canada." Three tournaments ago!