If Minnesota Coach Bud Grant was trying to take the sting out of the Washington Redskins' endlessly buzzing fans, he could not have chosen a better topic of conversation this afternoon. Grant, like most of the 55,000-plus who will inhabit RFK Stadium for Saturday's playoff game, does not like the Dallas Cowboys.
"Since Dallas is the league's team, it will play on Sunday this week," Grant said. "Everybody feels he wants to see the league's team. Of course, that also means the league's team will have an extra day to heal injuries."
The Vikings have some nagging injuries--tailback Ted Brown's shoulder pointer and cornerback John Turner's sore ankle in particular--but they must play Saturday, forcing a second straight week without a day off here at the Vikings' suburban complex.
Minnesota, it will be remembered, beat Dallas in the final Monday night game here on Jan. 3, a result that brought a full-fledged smile to the Vikings' Old Stone Face. It is not that he has strong feelings about Dallas, Grant insisted, it is just that "they seem to get a lot of things their way."
Grant cited Tex Schramm's position on the NFL Competition Committee as a logical reason for what he considers favorable treatment.
"Tex Schramm is a good buddy of Pete Rozelle," Grant said. "There's nothing the matter with that. Pete has to have some sounding boards. But we stated early in the year that the Competition Committee is a very strong committee.
"Don Shula is on the Competition Committee and two days after New England uses a tractor to clear the snow against Miami, we get a four-page directive on what to do about snow.
"We've been dealing with snow and ice since 1961, and with all the problems other teams had with the weather, too, it took something to happen to Don Shula before all these directives and specifications were issued. When you're on the Competition Committee, you get a lot of action.
"Tex Schramm has been trying to move playoff games from cold-weather sites to warm-weather sites. I hope his influence doesn't get that one through."
Grant noted that an observation had been made--"not by me"--concerning the extra games played on Jan. 2-3. Of the four teams with representatives on the Competition Committee, Miami played winless Baltimore, Atlanta met lowly New Orleans, Cincinnati faced horrible Houston and Dallas played Minnesota.
"Dallas had another patsy, at least it thought so," Grant said. "The result kind of fooled them. But they had a lot more success when it came to the TV schedule yesterday.
"Our game was shown in Atlanta, Minnesota, Northern Alabama and Puerto Rico. Dallas went everywhere else. Obviously, the TV people prefer Dallas. But TV determines most of that. They pay the bucks and they call the shots. Maybe Dallas works very hard at creating that image and getting exposure."
Joe Browne, director of information for the NFL, responded to Grant's comments: "If Bud Grant has any questions or comments about league policy, I suggest he should call the league office in New York.
"As far as the Vikings playing on Saturday this weekend, I suggest that Bud Grant look on the bright side of things. The winner of the Redskins-Vikings game has an extra day to prepare for the NFC championship game on Saturday, Jan. 22, against the winner of the Packers-Cowboys game."
Asked why he had so much to say about the Cowboys, when his next game was against Washington, Grant said, tongue in cheek rather than stuck out in the direction of Dallas, "I'm just sick and tired of talking about who's hurt and who's not hurt. It's part of my job to sell the product and you guys need something to write."
Grant said he would have something to say about Washington--whom the Vikings last met, and defeated, 39-14, in 1980--on Tuesday, once he has examined the films of the Redskins' recent games. "There's not a great deal of difference in our team (since 1980)," Grant said. "Our defense has a little more maturity, we have a little more speed in the secondary and Charlie Johnson is a good addition (at nose tackle). Offensively, we're very similar, but maybe we're having a little more success because we got involved in the wide-open offense before everyone else."