The young quarterbacks are disappearing, in the main, from the fields of the NFL. Right now this league is full of old guys throwing the ball.
Toward the end of the Kansas City-Los Angeles Raiders game two weekends ago, Steve DeBerg was quarterbacking the Chiefs and Vince Evans the Raiders. DeBerg is 36, Evans 35.
Steve Grogan is normally the starter for New England, though now out with a lower back injury. Grogan is 37. America's Monday night audience saw two of the best in Joe Montana, 34, and Phil Simms, 35. Warren Moon is 34. Seattle's Dave Krieg is 32. Boomer Esiason and Jay Schroeder are both 29. Wade Wilson, until lately the starter at Minnesota, is 31.
Where did all the young guns go?
"The experience factor becomes more than the young guy can overcome," said Tim Rooney, director of player personnel for the Giants.
There are other factors. For one, bad teams, like the 1-11 Patriots, are likely to give young quarterbacks a chance because bad teams have nothing to lose. Thus rookie Tommy Hodson has started over veteran Marc Wilson the last two weeks. The problem is, since the teams are bad, these young quarterbacks are likely to get hurt. Hodson is healthy -- for now.
There is also what Pro Football Weekly personnel analyst Joel Buchsbaum termed a "wishbone repercussion." Recently, he said, there has been a major influx of high school wishbone quarterbacks and a drought of drop-back passers. He added that the exits of quarterback gurus like Sid Gillman and Bill Walsh have also hurt.
"Look at all the quarterbacks Walsh was associated with," Buchsbaum said, referring to Greg Cook, Dan Fouts, Kenny Anderson, and, of course, Montana. Williams of Minnesota
Jimmy Williams, the Washingtonian waived by the Lions after a sideline quarrel with Detroit coaches in Sunday's loss in Chicago, was picked up by the Vikings yesterday. Detroit's No. 1 draft choice in 1982, he started at outside linebacker from 1983 until his sudden dismissal. He has 49 solo tackles, 11 assists, three sacks and three recovered fumbles this season; led NFL linebackers in '89 with five interceptions. . . .
Phoenix waived one nose tackle, Craig Patterson, and released another, Dana Wells, from its practice squad to free up a roster spot for Dexter Manley, the defensive end claimed Nov. 20 after being reinstated from a year's NFL suspension and released by the Redskins.
The nine-year pro is expected to play Sunday in Atlanta.
"We want to give him some snaps and we'll probably use him in third-down situations at first," Cardinals Coach Joe Bugel said. "We got four or five guys we can rotate in there. But with Dexter on one side and Freddie Joe Nunn on the other, I think they can create some havoc out there." Warmer, Gentler Vikings
The problems of the Vikings over the last two seasons -- their current mini-surge excluded -- can be attributed to several things: the Herschel factor, the lack of team unity factor, and now, even the weather factor.
Minnesota was once a team that loved braving the elements. The Vikings welcomed playing in a blizzard. Not anymore. Over the last two years they are a cozy 15-2 in domes but a miserable 1-11 outside. All six of their victories this year came inside, with their only outdoor win these two seasons coming at Tampa Bay in 1989.
Said Wilson: "It's a far cry from Vikings lore and the history of the franchise. We used to thrive in the elements. I don't know what it says about us; why we don't play well on the road and outside."
One thing it says is that Minnesota has recently lacked a certain mental toughness. But part of the blame should be put on Coach Jerry Burns, who hates cold weather and prefers to practice inside. Two for the Passing Show
The University of Miami-San Diego State game Saturday drew more NFL scouts than just about any other college game this season. Between 15 and 20 were there, as were New York Jets vice president/general manager Dick Steinberg and Joe Mendes, the Patriots' director of player operations. Both their teams are in the market for quarterbacks.
Most binoculars in San Diego were in fact trained on the two quarterbacks: Miami's Craig Erickson and San Diego State's Dan McGwire, the impressive 6-foot-8-inch senior. Erickson is generally thought of by many NFL scouts as the better quarterback. But he wasn't against the Aztecs.
McGwire dramatically improved his chances of being a top 10 pick in the 1991 draft by showing tremendous poise and strength against a tough Miami defense. McGwire was 32 of 53 for 323 yards and two touchdowns; Erickson 17 of 39 for 284 yards and two scores.
In the fourth quarter, with two defensive linemen draped around his waist -- one of them being another probable first-round draft pick, Russell Maryland -- McGwire was able to switch the ball from right hand to left and flick a pass to receiver Ray Rowe for the touchdown.
"I just brushed them off," McGwire said. "Remember, I'm no shrimp. I weigh 240 pounds."
The Falcons are well on their way to a record for road ineptitude. Currently Atlanta's 17-game road losing streak is the fourth longest in league history.
The 1981-84 Oilers have the longest at 23, followed by the '83-86 Bills at 22 and the '83-85 Buccaneers at 19. The Upset Pick
Bengals over the 49ers. Esiason wants to have a good game so he can attract yet more offers for those underwear commercials.
Upset Pick to date: 0-4.