Rookie running back Craig James of the Washington Federals, a seventh-round pick of the New England Patriots in Tuesday's NFL draft, said yesterday he has no plans to break his contract and join his former college coach, Ron Meyer. James said, however, "It's a comfortable feeling knowing I have an option in four years."
"I had heard I might get picked somewhere in the seventh or eighth rounds so I wasn't surprised a team selected me," said James, who signed a four-year contract with the Federals. "I talked to my agent (Blount Sherwood) last night, but the conversation wasn't about figuring out a way to get out (of his contract). I signed here for four years and I plan to honor that. In four years, I'll have another decision to make."
Dick Steinberg, New England's director of player development, said the Patriots drafted James because he would be a good player for the future in case he decided to go elsewhere in four years. James played for Meyer at Southern Methodist.
"Drafting him was no big deal," said Steinberg, who also drafted two other players in the United States Football League. "We are fully aware he has a contractual obligation with the Federals. But we had reached a point in the draft where drafting James was a better value than some of the players (remaining). We feel James is an excellent choice for the future and we gave him a chance to consider another option."
James was among 10 players selected from the USFL in the NFL draft. The others were Grambling wide receiver Trumaine Johnson of Chicago (by San Diego) and Southern Mississippi quarterback Reggie Collier of Birmingham (Dallas) in the sixth round; North Carolina running back Kelvin Bryant of Philadelphia (Washington) in the seventh; UCLA tackle Irv Eatman of Philadelphia (Kansas City) and Wisconsin defensive back David Greenwood of Chicago (New Orleans) in the eighth; Arizona tight end Mark Keel of Arizona (New England) in the ninth; UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey of Los Angeles (New England) in the 10th; Ohio State fullback Tim Spencer of Chicago (San Diego) in the 11th, and Michigan wide receiver Anthony Carter of Michigan (Miami) in the 12th. Carter was the 334th and next-to-last player selected in the draft.
Chicago Blitz Coach George Allen and his son, General Manager Bruce Allen, pulled off the "sting" of the draft Tuesday.
The Blitz signed Tom Thayer, an offensive lineman from Notre Dame, only hours before the Bears selected him in the fourth round.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Bruce Allen said his actions weren't unethical and he would do the same thing again.
"The NFL tries to get every edge it can on us," he said. "(Robert) Bennett, Thayer's agent, didn't tell the Bears Thayer had signed with us. Why? Well . . . let's just say I like to watch things happen."
"We didn't know anything about it," Bears General Manager Jim Finks said. "What can I say? In the not-too-distant future, Thayer could change his mind and eventually come with us."
Federals General Manager Dick Myers said the NFL showed good business sense by drafting USFL players.
"In the back of their minds, they're still questioning how long we'll be in business," Myers said. "So, they gamble and waste a pick in case we go out of business. I don't blame them at all. I'm surprised a few more players weren't picked."
Rookie quarterback Mike Hohensee said his future will depend on what NFL team is interested in him and what he is offered by Washington when his two-year contract is up.
"Right now, I'm very satisfied playing here," Hohensee said. "I think the NFL is taking a big risk drafting this league's players. If the league is successful, they've wasted a pick. When my two years are up, I'll look at my options."
"The NFL is just trying to protect themselves in case something happens with the USFL," James said. "I was honored just getting drafted. I saw some of the guys that went in the first round and that made me that much more confident I would have been a first- or early second-round pick if I had waited. I'm sure I could play in the NFL."
Washington waived two players yesterday, running back Louie Giammona and defensive back Don Burrell.