It's hard to argue with the facts. When a healthy Bert Jones quarterbacked the Baltimore Colts for three seasons, the Colts won 33 games, lost 11 and were AFC East champions each year.
But when the eight-year veteran suffered injury after injury to his golden right arm two years ago, the Colts withered to 5-11 finishes and hid in the cellar.
As Jones goes, so go the Colts.
"No, I wouldn't say that at all," Jones said today after a workout in 98-degree heat at Goucher College, where the Colts hold summer practice. "Just circumstantial evidence.
"Hearing that may make me feel good, but I think it's a bit overemphasized.
There are more variables that make us win or lose than whether Bert Jones is in the lineup."
For now, Jones is in the lineup, healthy as ever, he says, and ready to resume a brilliant career that began to go downhill in the last preseason game against Detroit in 1978 when he suffered a partial separation of his shoulder.
He is going through Coach Mike McCormack's 90-minute, two-a-day drills at full speed and will start his first game since the second week of last October when the Colts play the Redskins Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in an exhibition game.
"I kind of like playing the Redskins," Jones said. "I feel like I know a lot of the players through fooling around during the summer scrimmages over the years. We wind up having a regular three-ring circus with those guys. I kind of hope the best for the Redskins except when we play each other."
McCormack said Jones "could go all the way" in the Redskin exhibition, but added that Colt backup quarterback, Greg Landry, who is performing well in camp, also will play.
"Bert's coming along well," McCormack said. "He's throwing the ball with a lot of authority and reading the defenses well."
But what about his right shoulder?
"I've been in rehabilitation for more than two years now and I feel that I'm finally to the point of completion," Jones said. "My arm feels just fine. Right now, I'm performing physically as well as I can perform.
"I don't think about the injury a lot, either. It's not a mental thing. It really doesn't make any difference what I do. If it (shoulder) goes, it goes. There's nothing I can do about it.
"I just hope I can return to my 1977 form. At least, that's what I'm anticipating. I'm not calling this a comeback year or anything, though. I've been out (periodically) but it's not as if I lost all sense of play."
Jones is still getting used to McCormack's passing game, which emphasizes timing and slant patterns, with added attention given to the tight ends.
"I enjoy coming to camp every year and I look forward to the exhibition season," Jones said. "But I don't think of preseason as anything but practice."
Jones said his rehabilitation program consists mostly of "throwing the ball and lifting weights.
"I'm not out to prove anything personally, but you do have something to prove every day up here -- or they'll ship you out in a hurry. Those are the cold facts of the NFL."
Most Colt watchers spent the day waiting for a 3:30 press conference by running back Curtis Dickey and his agent. Jerry Argovitz to announce that Baltimore would sign its No. 1 draft pick.
However, nothing happened until 4:20, when, in the middle of the second practice. Batimore General Manager Dick Szymanski told a group of reporters that although a contract hadn't been signed, the two parties "were very hopeful of finalizing Dickey's signing tomorrow morning -- one way or the other.
"Both sides were very agreeable on the major things. It was just the minor things that we have to go over tomorrow."
Argovitz said that the Colts had agreed to a three-year contract, as opposed to the five-year pact Baltimore management originally wanted. Dickey and Argovitz reportedly were asking for $1 million over three years.
Said Argovitz: "There's been an awful lot of progress made today. We're extremely pleased. I just hope there's no banana peel out there for us to slip on and fall backwards."