If lynch law does not prevail in St. Louis after the town gets a chance to digest the crimes the Cardinals committed yesterday in RFK Stadium, there is no justice in pro football. You're not gonna believe how dumb those guys were in losing to the unbeaten Redskins, 28-14.
Coach Jim Hanifan might have a sudden attack of amnesia, insist he wasn't aware the team even played yesterday, that as near as he could recollect the NFL players still were on strike. Cardinal fans won't fall for that old ruse, not after haughty Washingtonians send them the tapes of just what happened before the usual sellout throng here.
The way it came over WEAM radio, Hanifan was an embarrassment to his profession. Both teams were very inefficient, in fact, getting off a combined total of only four plays in the last six minutes of the third quarter. Nat Allbright was as surprised as the rest of us that the Cardinals gave up so easily, even though Mike Nelms "broke their wings" with a 95-yard kickoff return late in the final period.
Nat didn't find it odd that the Cardinals, down 14-0, chose to kick off to the Redskins in the second half. Nor did he scold the officials for allowing the clock to keep running once after an incompleted pass. Neither was a bushy eyebrow raised when the Redskins apparently violated NFL rules by activating injured Wilbur Jackson.
This was because what came out of Nat's mouth only happened in Nat's mind. As a public service to Redskin fans in desperate need of their weekly fix, he "created" the lopsided victory everybody who tuned in pretty much figured would take place.
If there were more than a few flaws, the thought was nice. The attitude among Washingtonians this first NFL-less Sunday was restless. With nowhere to turn, some of us turned everywhere: to old movies, to Canada, to the Orioles, to the most recent Super Bowl, to a surprisingly dicey "NFL Today."
There were no no-shows in Nat's narrative, which figured since the Redskins were unbeaten and playing their home opener after two straight upsets; there was a major no-show on the NFL labor front, the owner's man, Jack Donlan, who was supposed to "Face the Nation" (CBS-WDVM-TV-9) with Gene Upshaw.
Joe Theismann, who threw three touchdown passes after being shown live in New York by CBS less than a half-hour before Nat's game began in Washington, offered the wisest commentary on the strike. It would last, he said, "for enough weeks for enough people to get hurt."
As usual, Tom Landry was insightful. To Phyllis George, the Cowboys' coach admitted being lost and restless and that if this impasse lasted much longer "we'll all be nervous wrecks."
He was as civil as his boss, Cowboy President Tex Schramm, was tasteless. Only Hitler and Ed Garvey, Schramm said, had kept Landry away from football since 1940. That was the blind-side cheap shot of the entire owners-players mess. Tacky, Tex. We expected more.
Teetering on a delicate line between not offending the owner who pays his salary or the players who help certify his football genius, Landry volunteered that the villain of this mess was "money, the way it develops lots of greed on both sides."
For the first NFL Sunday since the gang in a car dealership in Canton, Ohio, formed the forerunner to the NFL in 1920, the only injuries yesterday were to egos and wallets. Nobody was carried off the field; no knees were twisted beyond repair; nobody in the stands threw anything at a player on the field who acted mortal.
The longer the players stay out the more time thoughtful, once-devoted fans will have to realize that in addition to everything else evil at the moment, pro football just might be violent enough to be offensive. The more one considers that aspect the less appeal the NFL has.
Nat's game, though the only one in town at the moment, is not going to satisfy many appetites. It's a bit like some souffles, ineresting but nothing you'd want as a steady diet. Commissioner Pete Rozelle said that if the strike is settled by Thursday the NFL will be back in business next Sunday.
If not, there will be another Redskins' dream/WEAM game. Betcha Nat guides them past the Browns.