The Baltimore Colts put out a fancy spread in their locker room today, with miniature fountains and lace-trimmed tablecloths no less, all to introduce new coaches and new uniforms.
However, there was no indication that quarterback Bert Jones will be around to wear one of those uniforms.
There have been numerous reports that Jones will be traded, but asked about Jones' status, Coach Frank Kush was noncommittal. "If he remains with the Colts, then we can wait till later (in the draft) to get a quarterback," Kush said. "Otherwise, obviously quarterback will be an earlier priority."
Kush, tanned and looking relaxed, introduced his assistants and warned the public to "hold the applause till they've won a few ball games." Kush, the former Arizona State coach, was hired last December after coaching the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats to an 11-4-1 record and first-place division finish. He brought two assistants with him from Hamilton, and dipped into the college ranks for others.
"My plan is to work individually with players, and that's why I hired a lot of college coaches," Kush said. "I'm not saying the NFL ones can't do that, but the college guys are more used to (doing) it."
Kush, who will attempt to improve on the Colts' 2-14 record and last-place defense of last season, said, "We aren't going to be doing anything unusual. People tend to get too philosophical about football. It's a very simple game, really. We'll be doing very basic, simple things."
Kush said he had watched films of last season's games and believes "this team is not as bad as its record indicates." However, he added, the films also showed "some people who simply did not want to win. With the type of money these players receive, they have an obligation to the fans and owners. They have to accept responsibility."
Kush said he expects his players to be physically ready and by time the first of two minicamps opens after the NFL draft in April. "We've sent out the pamphlets, detailing diet and conditioning," he said. "And I expect to see certain results by then. The minicamp is a measuring device, and if there are no signs of change, you have to do something. You don't wait till September to make moves."
The Colts rolled out a bit of nostalgia for those with long memories, a film clip from the 1971 Super Bowl, in which Baltimore beat Dallas, 16-13. When the lights came back up, Colts owner Robert Irsay was presented with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Super Bowl prize, by former Colt Buddy Young, now with the NFL.
"Funny thing about this," Irsay said, referring to the trophy. "We won it back when, and it disappeared after that. And we really don't know where it went."
Two mannequins dressed in the Colts' new uniforms were displayed. The biggest changes are a horseshoe and numeral on the hip, and silver pants for home games.