At a church in Houston at which George Foreman is pastor, he delivers sermons on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday of each week. Only on Sunday does the collection plate appear.

"And that plate is not passed," he says. "It sits on a table in front of the pulpit. Leaving the church, a worshiper has the option to drop some money into the plate, or to keep walking."

Since Foreman, weighing in at 275, has the plate under surveillance, you would guess a parishioner who "keeps walking" would give serious thought to his health.

But Foreman assures you the church is his loss-leader, his offering to society in exchange for the extraordinary gift heaven has given him -- the ability, at 42, to talk his way into a heavyweight championship fight with Evander Holyfield.

If the promoter passing out the money doesn't catch the midnight train -- it always is possible in the field of promotion -- Foreman figures to get $12.6 million from that encounter. That would seem a large sum to the average individual, but the average individual doesn't have the Foreman's appetite.

"If I eat too lightly," he says, "I tend to hallucinate."

"What is your remedy for everyday hunger?" he is asked.

"The sandwich," he answers. "I am America's foremost fancier of the sandwich. The franchise hamburger has changed my life. When I left my home in Texas in 1965, we had only one local hamburger establishment in the neighborhood. Today, the biggest decisions I make aren't related to the heavyweight title. They are whether I am going to visit McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's or Jack in the Box. In California, I add to the list Carl's Jr. and Fatburger."

With such selection, he pictures himself sultan in a ground-round harem.

Recently finishing a network television show in Los Angeles, he was provided with a stretch limo to transport him to dinner.

"Jimmy's in Beverly Hills no doubt," we interject.

"No, Fatburger on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Cienega," replies Foreman. "Emerging from this nine-passenger machine, in which I was the only passenger, I entered the premises, ordered a two-thirds pound cheeseburger and disposed of it swiftly. Then I ordered another on which to feast in the limo."

"Is the hamburger exclusive to your sandwich diet?" he is asked.

"I also like pastrami. But I got myself into a bit of a jam the last time I ordered one. I was in this delicatessen in New York. I asked for a pastrami sandwich. The waiter said okay. Then I said I wanted it with American cheese, mayo and tomato. And I told him I wanted it on wheat bread. The waiter looked at me. He said, 'Maybe you should be eating your pastrami in Texas.' "

Foreman recently returned from St. Lucia in the Caribbean, where he was running hills.

"At my age," he says, "leg strength means everything. And there is no better way to help your legs than to run three or four miles up hills. I'm going back in January."

"But isn't it easier to haul uphill maybe 235 pounds instead of 275?" he is asked.

"During my comeback, I got as low as 229. I underwent a personality change. I was so mean I felt I owed it to my family and friends to start eating again. When I eat, I think better. If I have a nice sandwich before I fight Holyfield, I'll be in better control of my brain."

"How do you see your weight for the fight?" he is asked.

"I see myself coming in somewhere between 248 and 263. Depends upon where I find myself most comfortable. If Holyfield wants to diet and run the risk of losing his mind, that's a problem he must deal with."

Foreman concludes: "Boxers wouldn't be as crazy as they are if they ate."

Of course, it also is pointed out that Tom Lasorda won a world championship when he was eating. Entertaining Bob Costas in the clubhouse before the start of the 1988 World Series, Lasorda offered during the interview spaghetti pomodora, asparagus Italiano, meatballs, chicken cacciatora and beans alla Romana. It is a non sequitur that Lasorda got it for nothing, his usual restaurant bill.

And what would follow in the Series? Lasorda won it all in five.

Tom hasn't repeated and, checking with George Foreman, he can find out why.