Hard as they may try, it is next to impossible for the Washington Federals to block out completely the turmoil that has surrounded the resignation of Jim Gould as team president.
Although the New Jersey Generals, their opponent in Sunday's game at RFK Stadium (1:30, WMAL-630), have accumulated a 3-9 record and nearly as much misfortune as the Federals, Washington (1-11) must be even more single-minded than usual. The team is charged with stopping the finest athlete in the league, Herschel Walker.
"All we can do, and it's difficult, is concentrate on Herschel and try and take him away, or at least limit him," said Washington Coach Ray Jauch. "The last time I looked, Herschel was their leading runner, their leading receiver--you name it, he does it. I'd have to think he ranks with the best already."
If Walker is a given, the New Jersey quarterback position is a variable.
With quarterback Greg Landry out for the rest of the regular and playoff season with a broken ankle, Chicago Coach George Allen traded for Bobby Scott, the Generals' starting quarterback all season. In recent weeks, fans at the Meadowlands booed Scott, who used to be Archie Manning's backup in New Orleans.
New Jersey Coach Chuck Fairbanks will now start Jeff Knapple, who only recently came to the Generals after playing all season with the Denver Gold. Knapple is the quarterback who beat out Joe Gilliam for the starting spot in Denver. Gilliam, after a brief display of his old skills, is now a third-stringer for the Federals.
"I used to see Knapple when he played up in Calgary," said Jauch. "He's certainly more mobile than Bobby, so our ends have to make sure they do their jobs."
With six games left on the Federals' schedule, Jauch said he hopes not only to win but also to begin discerning which positions must be improved in the winter draft.
"I think we're looking better as a team in the last couple of weeks," he said. "The remaining games will give us an indication of what we need to look for."