Cris Collinsworth is just about set to accept the offer he has been weighing for months and the Cincinnati Bengals are resigned to seeing him follow Dan Ross to the United States Football League.
Reports have the USFL Bandits planning to announce at halftime of the Tampa Bay-Denver Gold game Monday night a commitment by Collinsworth, a Florida hero, to join them for 1985.
In 1981, tight end Ross caught 71 passes and wide receiver Collinsworth clutched 1,009 yards' worth on the way to playoffs and Super Bowl. Now, Boston Breakers signee Ross plays out his Bengals contract in 1983 and Collinsworth follows suit in '84.
Collinsworth as much as admits he has made up his mind, saying, "If they (Bandits) have come to a decision . . . if the terms are all right and they want to do it, then there's a good chance . . ."
His representative, Washington attorney Rick Bennett, tells us it's "a very good chance. Of course, things can always fall apart at the last moment . . ."
Mike Brown, Bengals' general manager, indicates no move to outbid the Bandits and says, "The other league can cherry-pick our players, and there's nothing we can do about it. We fought it in court with the Bill Bergey case (jump to World Football League, 1974) and lost . . . There were instances back in the WFL where NFL players signed and then lay down and died in their final NFL seasons before leaving. But I think Dan and Cris are the type of people who will play hard all the way."