It wasn't long ago that Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs was sitting on football Olympus, two appearances in the Super Bowl under his belt, saying, "Success is such a fleeting thing in this game."
That's a truth now being recognized by the National Football League's three record-breakers of last season -- Miami's Dan Marino (48 touchdown passes), the Redskins' Art Monk (106 catches) and the Rams' Eric Dickerson (2,105 yards rushing).
If this trio continues its current pace, their numbers won't be within a telescope's range of their unprecedented production last year.
At their current rate, Marino, who held out until the final week of training camp, will throw 26 scoring passes in the regular season, down 22 from last season. He'll also throw for 900 fewer yards than last season's league-record 5,084.
Monk will catch 70 passes, down 36 from last season, and for nearly 800 fewer yards than his 1,372 of 1984. Monk hasn't scored a touchdown this season after scoring seven last season.
Dickerson, who missed the first two games of this season in a contract holdout, will run for 870 yards, 1,235 yards fewer than last season. Dickerson is averaging two yards per carry fewer than he did last season.
It's unclear how much Marino and Dickerson were affected by their holdouts. Surely, Marino has been affected by injuries to his offensive line and to wide receiver Mark Duper, who is out for six weeks. However, Marino often has forced passes into crowds this year and hasn't displayed the patience he showed in 1984. Then again, Marino hasn't had the time to throw this season, either.
Monk has been double-covered largely because of the Redskins' inability to find a verifiable second receiver. Monk's short, safe patterns of last season (12.9 yards per catch) have become even shorter and safer this season (8.6 yards per catch). Perhaps the emergence of receiver Gary Clark will give Monk more space to maneuver.
Dickerson has been affected by hamstring injuries and by the fact that injury has hindered his line -- the Rams have been forced to use four players at right guard. Nevertheless, Dickerson simply hasn't been the same.
"Eric seems to have lost the recklessness that he had, and he hasn't annihilated guys in one-on-one situations the way he used to," said one Rams official.
If you think that Dean Hamel, the Redskins' rookie defensive tackle, has taken an underdog's trail -- going from pick No. 309 (out of 336) in this year's NFL draft to replacing injured starter Darryl Grant this week -- consider this:
The Redskins chose Hamel with a 12th-round pick that they received from Buffalo. They received the pick in a freakish way. The Redskins waived cornerback Brian Carpenter on Sept. 19, 1984, then recalled him hours later after the Bills telephoned and inquired about a possible trade for Carpenter. The trade then was consummated.
So, in effect, the Redskins got Hamel in exchange for a player they had planned to release.
Did anybody remember that St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman was a wide receiver/kick returner in training camp with the Redskins in 1982?
Coleman was released in training camp, and Wayne Sevier, special teams coach, recalls that Coleman had problems handling the ball. The ever-comical Sevier said, "I told him at that time, 'Hey, Vince, maybe you might want to try baseball.' "
The NFL set a single-season paid attendance mark last weekend as 901,092 viewed the 14 games. The previous record was 898,223, set in October 1980, a league official said.
Thus far, league attendance has increased by 108,010 over the midseason point last year . . .
Quote of the week: Dallas quarterback Danny White, who has thrown 12 interceptions this season: "I'm getting to be a much better tackler than I'd like to be."