Oakland will win, 27-17. The star will be Cliff Branch, going deep every time Raymond Chester doesn't. Jim Plunkett's arcing bombs will trace patterns through the Superdome sky so often that the Eagles' wonderful secondary will get a collective crick in the neck. For Oakland's defense, The Mad Stork, The Molester and The Tooz will deliver, pester and bruise. Wilbert Montgomery will limp off and Harold Carmichael will be invisible until Ron Jaworski turns heroic in a late move.
The Mad Stork is Ted Hendricks, 6 feet 7 inches of mean linebacker. He will render Montgomery ineffective.Philadelphia's best running back certainly will not be the 194-yard runner who humiliated Dallas two weeks ago. And he probably won't be the 100-yard runner the Eagles must have for the ball control so essential against the quick-striking Raiders, who have scored at least 24 points in four of their last five games.
The Molester is Lester Hayes. Maybe the best cornerback in the NFL, Hayes had 18 interceptions this season -- more than some teams. Five of the steals have come in the playoffs. His work Sunday will be decisive, for he most likely will go one-on-one against the giant Carmichael, who is eight inches taller than the 6-foot cornerback.If they're smart, the Raiders often will use Hayes against the other wide receiver, Charlie Smith, assuring a shutout there while two men are left available to cover Carmichael. The Tooz is John Matuszak, 6 feet 8 inches of ornery defensive end. Getting up for the game, Tooz stayed up all night Wednesday, drinking and dancing at the Old Absinthe Bar on Bourbon Street. Sportswriters in the Absinthe -- all there doing serious sociological research -- quoted Matuszak as saying, "You can get bruised when you cruise with the Tooz." This time his bankbook was bruised by a $1,000 fine from his coach, Tom Flores, who mostly laughed it off, saying, "I locked the guys' doors from the outside last night, and I had the only key."
A confession here: for the longest time, your itinerant typist could not make up his mind which team would win this Super Bowl.
But then Matuszak showed up for a press conference wearing dark glasses. Real dark glasses. Black-dark glasses.
Leave the computers to Bud Goode. Forget the palm readers and psychics. Give me the guys in dark glasses. It was only a year ago that Jack Lambert, the Steelers' fanged linebacker, came to a mass-media interview room in his dark glasses.
"Why are you wearing the shades?" someone asked Lambert.
"You wouldn't want to see anything that looks like my eyes," Lambert said.
Clearly, defensive players have a mid-week need to do damage to their brains. When George Allen cut Matusak from the Redskins in the preseason of 1976, the coach had a three-word explanation for getting rid of a former No. 1 draft choice who cost Washington a couple medium-round draft picks. "Vodka and Valium," Allen said. Anyway, Lambert played up a storm come Super Sunday a year ago, helping the Steelers bury the Rams, 31-19 -- and so it makes sense to look for the defensive monsters in dark glasses as signal of certain victory.
A TV cameraman the other day turned his bright lights on The Tooz, who threw his arms in front of his eyes, Dracula shutting out the killing glare of daylight. Then he explained what he was doing out so late the night before.
"I am the enforcer," Matuszak said. "That's why I was out on the streets -- to make sure none of our other guys were."
Okay, that wraps it up for the Raiders.
Now, to the important stuff.
1. The Incisive Observation Award for this long week went to a Oklahoma newsman who asked Pete Rozelle if New Orleans risked being the site of future Super Bowls by its gouging of tourists here this week.
"While I was watching, a clerk raised the price of M & Ms from 30 cents to 35 cents," the offended reporter told the commissioner.
2. The Best Follow-up Question Award went to a fellow who pounced on Tom Flores' revelation that the Oakland cornerbacks would be taking "jumping lessons" this week in order to defend against the giant Carmichael.
"These jumping lessons, how will they be given?" the fellow asked.
Flores didn't miss the chance. "We have a ballet teacher and the guys put on their tutus every day," the coach said. "In fact, I have to hurry right now because I have to change."
The questioner wrote down every word of the answer.
3. The Washington Post's record, long thought untouchable, will fall Sunday.
The year the Redskins went to the Super Bowl, 1973, The Post sent 13 reporters, editors and photographers to Los Angeles. Though threatened a couple times, this standard of journalistic commitment was never matched.
But in these times of excess, more than 2,500 media people asked for credentials to this one football game.
And along comes the Philadelphia Bulletin, which this Sunday will have 17 people here. "And we'll have four people meeting the hostages," said Craig Ammerman, the newspaper's executive editor. "We want to keep everything in the proper perspective."
The four Philadelphia newspapers will have 45 people here. The three Philly TV stations will have 35. Four radio stations have a man each. That is 84 newspaper, TV and radio people -- nearly two for every Eagle.
4. But John Kiley can rest easy. Kiley is the organist at Boston's Fenway Park. According to Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustsrated, who is the keeper of the records, Kiley is sport's fastest practitioner of "The Star Spangled Banner."
"The record was 53 when I heard Kiley do it in 56 one night," Zimmerman said. "So I went to him and told him he had a shot at the mark. He said, 'Oh, no, I couldn't do it any faster, it would be degrading to thenational anthem.'
"But the next night, as soon as he started up, he was on it. He was going for it. He made the turn in 22. 'Rockets' red glare' is the turn. He brought it in at 51 seconds."
The longest anthem Zimmerman has clocked is Pearl Bailey's at 2:23. The shortest, he says, "was by the Marine band in the movie 'Tora! Tora! Tora! They see the Zeroes coming and they get through the national anthem in 38 seconds. But that's 38 with an asterisk."
Kiley's record, unlike The Post's, is safe Sunday. Helen O'Connell, the singer, is said to be in the 1:38 range.