O.J. Simpson most likely will return to the Monday Night Football booth next season, according to Roone Arledge, president of ABC News and Sports.
Simpson, bumped from the booth by Washington quarterback Joe Theisman for the Super Bowl telecast on ABC Sunday, was asked about coming back next season at an ABC press conference tonight.
"No, I haven't signed yet," Simpson said. "ABC has an option on my contract. It's up to Roone."
Said Arledge, who was moderating the press conference, "I think he will (return) . . . We'll sit down at the end of the season . . . I expect him to be with us a very long time."
Theismann, meanwhile, was clearly the main star of this publicity show, if only because there has been some controversy concerning his replacement of Simpson, a regular (as Howard Cosell's successor) on Monday Night Football along with Frank Gifford and Don Meredith all season.
Theismann insisted he is not "someone who will talk a lot" on the telecast, said he thought the two best teams are in the Super Bowl, and admitted he felt "somewhat awkward" replacing Simpson. "But it's not my decision . . . I've been invited to join a five-man team (Simpson will be on the pregame, halftime and postgame shows). What I might be able to contribute is insight into current events."
Several of Theismann's new colleagues poked a bit of fun at the glib Redskin. Said Simpson, "I read in the paper where I was taking out his girlfriend (show business personality Cathy Lee Crosby); I read where I was taking out his ex-wife. Now he's taking out my two partners."
Added Meredith, "I guess they wanted Joe to provide inside tips. I don't know why they picked Joe. Did you see the Bears game? He didn't know what they did."
Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie has announced he will renegotiate the contracts of three of his most important players -- Dan Marino, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton -- after the Super Bowl.
Robbie says he does not generally believe in renegotiating contracts, but that the move will be mutually beneficial. "When I think of extending the contracts of people like Marino and Duper and Clayton, I think in terms of quid pro quo," Robbie said. "In return for whatever we do for them in terms of extended contracts, the additional years protect us."
Marino is now in the second year of a four-year, $2 million contract. The two receivers earn about $80,000 a year; Duper is in his third season with the team, Clayton his second.
The long-range weather forecast cites a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday, expected to end late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, with temperatures in the mid-50s.
Rain would be a small disaster for fans who have been told that umbrellas are not allowed in Stanford Stadium, in order not to block the view of other spectators.
Marino was asked how well he played on wet fields and said, "We (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) played McKeesport (Pa., in high school) on a muddy field . . . I was 0 for 18. The final score was 0-0."
The Dolphins began an 11 o'clock curfew tonight, nightly until the game. The 49ers, living at their homes for the most part, must check into the team's hotel on Friday, as they do for any home game.