The Baltimore Colts satisfied Bert Jones' desire to be traded, sending the disgruntled quarterback to the Los Angeles Rams yesterday, then selected his replacement--Ohio State all-America Art Schlichter--in the first round of the 1982 National Football League draft.
After New England, as expected, made defensive tackle Kenneth Sims of Texas the first man chosen in the draft, the Colts moved to improve the NFL's worst defense by selecting linebacker Johnie Cooks of Mississippi State.
The Colts received the Rams' first-round pick--the fourth player overall--and Los Angeles' second-round choice in the deal for Jones, who had openly demanded to be traded because of a contract conflict with team owner Robert Irsay. The Colts used that choice to select Schlichter, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound, four-year starter at Ohio State.
There were relatively few surprises yesterday, but several intriguing trades were made in the first two rounds.
Jones was one of four former all-pros dealt to new teams. The Patriots traded away two of them, sending tight end Russ Francis to Super Bowl champion San Francisco for the 49ers' No. 1 pick, two second-round choices and a fourth-round choice, and trading safety Tim Fox to San Diego for second- and third-round picks. Houston traded tight end Mike Barber and a third-round choice to the Rams for Los Angeles' second-round choice.
Francis had retired from football a year ago to pursue a career in acting and television, but had changed his mind, saying he would play for a team on the West Coast. An attempt to trade him to Los Angeles fell through earlier in the day, but the 49ers traded the four choices for Francis and New England's second-round choice, the 29th player overall. Fox had been involved in a contract dispute with New England and had threatened not to report to the club. Barber also had asked to be traded.
Billy Sullivan, owner of the Patriots, added a bit of spice to the proceedings when he said in New York that he had turned down a cash offer from the Redskins for the Patriots' first pick in the draft.
"Washington owner Jack Kent Cooke called me after the season about the first pick and said: 'I'd like to talk big dollars,' " Sullivan said at draft headquarters in the New York Sheraton Hotel. "He did everything but confirm what Bob Irsay had said--it was worth $2.5 million."
Informed of those remarks, Cooke said: "It's not true at all, not true. It's not even remotely true. I never offered a specific amount of money to any club owner and that includes Bob Irsay and Billy Sullivan. It's an outright abominable lie. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Irsay ought to take that Sperry Rand course in improving their hearing."
Asked if Cooke had offered a dollar amount to the Colts, Irsay said: "Never, never, never . . . He asked me if we'd be willing to sell or trade our No. 1. We never went further in dollars because I know I wouldn't do it . . . I said to Billy that Jack had talked to us and that he would probably talk to him. I kiddingly said if you can get $5 million or $10 million for it, get it, but I never said he offered us $2.5 million."
Billy Sullivan's son Chuck, the Patriots' executive vice president, said: "Cooke said he was willing to pay 'important money.' The $2.5 million figure is based on what my father and Irsay estimated he meant by that."
Sims no doubt also had dollars on his mind as the first player selected. He said that as a youngster he once hauled hay for a nickel a bundle and "the wages weren't so sufficient. Now I don't have to worry about such things." According to published reports, Sims is reportedly seeking $1.5 million over three years from a Patriot organization that has had several contract problems in recent years. Sims' agent, Witt Stewart, said he hopes to get the contract settled in a week to 10 days, although Bucko Kilroy, general manager of the Patriots, said negotiations have stalled.
Not everyone was delighted with the outcome of the opening rounds. Stanford's Darrin Nelson, the first running back selected, said he was "a little disappointed" that the Minnesota Vikings picked him.
"Minnesota is the only team I sent a letter to telling them I didn't want to be drafted by them," Nelson said, adding that he preferred the warm west to Minneapolis, despite the Vikings new domed stadium.
Nelson was one of seven running backs taken on the first round, which included 18 offensive players among the 27 selected (New Orleans used its first-round selection last year by picking quarterback Dave Wilson of Illinois in a supplemental draft). Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen of Southern California was the 11th player chosen, by Oakland.
Only one Washington-area player was taken on the first round: Nebraska's Jimmy Williams, selected by the Detroit Lions as the 15th selection overall. Williams, who went to Wilson High School in the District, played defensive end at Nebraska, but the Lions will use him at linebacker.
Redskin rivals in the NFC East made some predictable moves. The Dallas Cowboys made Kentucky State's Rod Hill the first cornerback taken. The Philadelphia Eagles, looking for depth at wide receiver, took North Carolina State's Mike Quick, who runs the 40 in 4.5. The St. Louis Cardinals selected Luis Sharpe, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive tackle from UCLA. The New York Giants, who had a remarkable season from veteran Rob Carpenter, selected Michigan running back Butch Woolfolk on the first round and Syracuse back Joe Morris on the second to complement Carpenter.
The Chicago Bears made Brigham Young's Jim McMahon the second quarterback selected. They took him immediately after the Colts had selected Schlichter. Baltimore Coach Frank Kush said he chose Schlichter because of his "more physical stature. He has all the attributes he needs."
Jones, meanwhile, was ecstatic about the trade. "I've been favorably impressed with the Rams and the way they've handled this entire situation," he told United Press International. "I'm happy and that's what really counts. I enjoyed nine great years in Baltimore and they were very good to me. I'm going to do the best I can and to the best of my ability generate some offense for the Rams."