Stung when his Tampa Bay Bandits were called semiprofessional, the United States Football League's team's owner, John Bassett, reportedly has challenged the New England Patriots to a winner-take-all, $1 million game.

The challenge from Bassett was issued in a March 3 letter to Dick Steinberg, player personnel director of the Patriots, of the National Football League.

At a luncheon Tuesday in Foxboro, Steinberg said the USFL included "a bunch of terrible players. We watched the Tampa Bay Bandits. They looked like a semipro team." Bassett wrote: "I resent our football team being called semipro, and I would, on behalf of our ownership, management and players, issue your club an invitation to play us any time, at any place, between the end of our season and the start of yours with a winner-take-all prize of $1,000,000 . . . having viewed the job that your department has done with the Patriots recently," Bassett went on, "it leads me to believe we would have an excellent chance against you . . . and we relish the opportunity to prove it" . . .

Former Miami Dolphins running back Eugene (Mercury) Morris, sentenced to 20 years in jail for cocaine trafficking, has been ordered by a judge to serve his term in state prison. Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios Gable ended the stay of the former National Football League standout in Dade County Jail, where Morris had asked to remain pending appeal of his conviction last January.