Russ Francis say's he's through with football, a jolt to the New England Patriots at this late date -- not to mention to Howard Cosell, who so long had trumpeted the stylish tight end as all-world."
The Foxboro town fathers resurrected the Patriots-Cowboys game (Sept. 21) for Cosell and ABC Monday Night Football, all right, last week but along came Francis yesterday -- long distance from Honolulu -- to say he is ending his frequently all-pro career after six-years. Never mind the year left on his contract. A renegotiation ploy? Perish the thought.
"We are in complete shock at something like this happening just as training camp opens," said Billy Sullivan, the Pats' president. "We find the timing of this to be very inconsistent with Russ Francis' character. . ." An underling put in that Francis isn't due in camp until late Friday and ventured, "A lot of things can happen between now and then."
But Francis recently remarked, in print, "I have problems with football. Philosophically, I mean. Why are people out there hurting each other? Why do human beings want to run into each other at full speed?"
This from a man who is offseasons skydives, flies planes, shoots rapids and rides -- once badly wrecked -- a motorcycle. Still, Francis discounted the carios football injuries that have plagued him over the year, citing merely, "personal reasons . . . time to explore other avenues". . .
Villanova University may not have football but it has Charley Jenkins taking over as track and field coach. Jenkins, leaving Washington after 18 years with the federal government, currently with the U.S. Office of Education, was introduced yesterday at his suburban Philadelphia alma mater as successor to the late Jumbo Elliott. Jenkins, winner of gold at 400 meters and 1,600 relay in the 1956 Olympics, said of his old mentor, "You're right, it is going to be very tough" replacing him -- "You can't take anything away from Jumbo, but he had 47 years to perfect this. It's going to be a challange". . .
Who says the Capitals are losers? Washington's hockey stalwarts placed third among 12 NHL teams competing in the recent Molson's slow-pitch softball wingding in Niagra Falls, Ontario, benefiting UGF; a two-out, last-of-ninth homer by a Toronto Maple Leaf denied the Caps the title . . . Prince George's County Babe Ruth baseball hosts the Maryland state tournaments, both 18 and 16 divisions, starting Thursday at Sports Park off Cental Avenue. . .
The Redskins' final preseason game, Sunday, Aug. 30, against the Patriots at New England, gets national coverage by ABC Sports (WJLA-TV-7), 12:30 p.m. air time, so Howard maybe can get a head start on NFL life without Russ. Channel 7, on its own, will present the other three Redskin preseason games, but all on a delayed basis because of being played here and in Baltimore. Irv Cross returns to join Tim Brant on the commentary. No Ron McDole?