Coach Tom Flores disclosed today that he locked the Oakland Raiders in their rooms Thursday night to keep them away from Bourbon Street and also revealed that one of three fines imposed this week was because a player left his playbook "lying around."
Was this rare lapse in the super secretive Raiders' organization a breach in security similar to the Philadelphia Eagles' playbook being mailed to the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the season, and later a tape recording of the Eagles' plotting being missing?
"No," said Al LoCasale, executive assistant to Al Davis, the master spy. "It was left in the hotel lobby and the coach happened to pass by and pick it up."
Jim Murray, general manager of the Eagles, was asked if perhaps they had seen the Raiders' playbook. "No," he said, "we just got ours back from Dallas."
Flores confirmed that defensive end John Matuszak was facing a fine (usually $1,000) for going out for four hours after making the 11 p.m. curfew on Wednesday. The coach said another Raider faced a fine for being late for the takeoff of the plane from Oakland.
Dick Vermeil, coach of the Eagles, followed Flores to the microphone and was asked if he had and discipline problems here this week. "No," he said, "I gave our players off Wednesday, completely. I trust my people."
What if any of them violated his rules on other nights?
"They would be home by now."
What if an Eagle of the stature of Wilbert Montgomery had been brought back from partying in a police car, would he be home today? "He would be home today.
"We used to have a lot of problems. I don't like to fine players over discipline; if you have to fine, you don't have discipline. A lot of it is handled internally. I know of one guy grabbing the violator by the throat."
Why is it so upsetting to Vermeil, in contrast to Flores' making light of Matuszak's escapade?
"I'm not criticizing how Oakland handles its problems. I just think it is a lack of regard and respect for teammates who have a commitment to discipline and winning.
"It's like the drug thing we had in our program; if you don't act on it when it happens, it will happen again. In the past, minor things have been handled in front of the whole squad. The last time a guy jumped (missed) bed check was in training camp. He was fined $500, plus the embarrassment of it being handled in front of the squad."
He reported that linebacker Jerry Robinson was fined for being late for the Eagles' plane trip here, despite having the excuse that the ignition key broke off in his car on the way to the airport.
Would Robinson have an opportunity to "work off" the fine by playing well in Sunday's Super Bowl game?
"No. Bill Bergey has been fined for being late to a meeting. Tony Franklin (place-kicker) was fined $1,600 last year -- he paid $100 a game every game this year to remind him."
Franklin was fined after a game last year against Tampa Bay in which he was told to try an on-side kick, but booted the ball long and out of bounds, drawing the usual five-yard penalty before kicking off again. Then, when he was told to kick off, on his own he tried an onside kick, which failed.
Vermeil said he has talked to former Raider coach John Madden, an old friend; four-time Super Bowl winner Chuck Noll, and George Allen, his boss when Allen was head coach of the Los Angeles Rams 12 years ago.
Vermeil said he wanted input about how to cope with "disruptions" here during Super Bowl week, but they have not been a problem. "Noll advised me to get most of our work done before we came down here," he said. "I haven't talked to Allen since before our game against Dallas. He spent seven days in our training camp."