Let's make a deal.
Monte, I've got a running back who once won the Heisman Trophy. Sure, he wore a lot of tread off the tires while carrying on almost every down for those unforgettable New Jersey Trumps. Then he became a feature star for Dallas just when the Cowboys were reverting to short subjects. But Monte, if it's necessary, I'll dress him in a barrel, not his favorite apparel, and roll him to the very first row. Because Monte, I sure need the dough.
All I want in return, Monte, is somebody's franchise. And maybe throw in their future. Is there a taker out there?
Yes, out there in the mental equivalent of the balcony, we find Minnesota General Manager Mike Lynn. He'll not only take a washed-up and disinterested Herschel Walker, he'll give you the players and draft choices whose loss will cripple his franchise for years to come. This will surely cost a decent gentleman named Jerry Burns his job as coach. Of course, it won't hurt Lynn. He's already made another deal. He'll be somewhere between Helsinki and Amsterdam, supervising the new World League.
The references to Monte Hall's dreadful TV game show are inspired by a song written by the late Steve Goodman, a gentle genius who deserves every plaudit we can muster. That song was made a hit by Jimmy Buffett, who proved vividly in another song that he could understand pro football's dealings: "If it weren't all crazy, we would all go insane."
But before getting on to prove that Lynn did not make the worst trade in football history, let's look at the bright side. Former commissioner Pete Rozelle is missed more every week during the reign of the declared Sun King Paul Tagliabue. We all remember now that Rozelle had a sense of humor, personality, and even a passing acquaintance with the Bill of Rights.
But Monte, he never lived down his first appearance on your show. Remember when somebody was dangling another declining running back named Ollie Matson behind Door Number 1. Rozelle, then general manager of the Rams, traded 11 warm bodies for Matson. Fortunately, the commissioner's job became vacant.
Three things can now be stated in Rozelle's defense. First, those 11 players never amounted to much -- even if Matson didn't either. Second, he did not make a trade on a level as low as that of Lynn. Third, he wasn't even close to the ballpark of Robert and Jimmy Irsay of the Colts.
Herschel Walker may drop kickoffs and fumble the first time he is handed the ball from scrimmage. But even while proving conclusively that his career is history, he at least is making a semblance of effort.
Seen Eric Dickerson lately? The Colts mortgaged a franchise for him. What they received was a selfish and avaricious star who squashed team morale by criticizing his blockers and then holding out. The likes of O.J. Simpson and John Riggins once tried to make media heroes out of their linemen. Dickerson tries to erase them from history. The results are obvious.
But once they had accomplished that Sophoclean trade, the Irsays topped themselves. They sacrificed two certain Pro Bowlers, tackle Chris Hinton and brilliant wide receiver Andre Rison, plus a high draft choice, for the unknown prize behind Door Number 2. Anybody made contact wih rookie Jeff George lately?
There is a scant wonder that the Vikings and Colts are now vying with the New England Chauvinists for the title of worst team in the league. But give the Patriots credit. They didn't ruin the franchise with trades. They just let the one smart guy in the organization, Dick Steinberg, get away. Then they lie around waiting to contract the latest virus. Marc Wilson, anyone?
As a Footnote, Monte, the Redskins don't have to make a deal. They're good. They're solid. They're courageous. They will make the playoffs as a wild card. They just can't beat the elite teams. They won't get the early draft choices to remedy this. So they will have to patch and fill with creative drafts and free agents. It kind of recalls the days of someone named Beathard.
But enough of the negatives. This week the Redskins are 2 1/2 over Detroit in Pontiac. The Redskins love domes. They are 8-1-1 indoors. They also love carpets in general. They are 10-1-1 on artificial turf if you don't count Giants games (something they would dearly love to do). Take Washington minus the 2 1/2.
The Bills are 2 1/2 over the Browns in Cleveland. The Browns are struggling but they still care. Don't forget their victory at Denver. The Bills have lost 13 straight in nondivisional games on grass. Browns plus 2 1/2 are the top pick.
The Jets are 4 1/2 over Dallas at home. As mentioned here before, the Jets are the worst home favorite since Germany in 1945. The Cowboys are good against the AFC. Take the Cowboys, plus the 4 1/2.
The Steelers are 4 1/2 over Atlanta at Three Rivers. My cult hero Merril Hoge is thriving. Can the Falcons sustain the missile-like intensity that beat Cincinnati and Sam Wyche? All I know is that Atlanta Coach Jerry Glanville hates Chuck Noll even more. And I'm sure that while Congress was passing the budget the other day, someone mentioned that in games played by teams after they had played Cincinnati, the underdogs are 24-10. One more time with Glanville's men in black. Falcons plus 4 1/2.
The Seahawks, at home in their dome, are 5 over the Chargers. Have you noticed that the 'dogs are 8-1-1 in San Diego games on rugs? Since 1984 the Chargers are also 13-4 getting 3 1/2 or more on the road. Upset special: Chargers plus 5.
Last week: Atlanta, at pick'em, routed Cincinnati, 38-17. Sweet revenge, sweet bankroll. The Buccaneers, a team that is not quite on the verge of being respectable, were embarrassed in San Diego, 41-10. The Dolphins, who continue to amaze even this veteran Dol-fan, crushed Eric Dickerson and the Colts, 27-10. The Patriots, who don't seem to care anymore, bowed meekly to the Bills, 27-10. And Bubby Brister and Hoge lit up Monday night by overwhelming the Rams, 41-10. Who said Joe Walton couldn't build an offense in Pittsburgh?
Results for week: 3-2.
Results for season: 24-16, 60 percent. At this rate, Monte, as Steve Goodman wrote, my whole world is waiting behind Door Number 3.