EL SEGUNDO, CALIF., JAN. 15 -- As Dan Hampton walked away from the destructive yet rewarding life of pro football, he said there would be no tears. The Chicago Bears defensive lineman said tears were for people who dream of what could have been.
"The ones who cry are the ones who wish they could have done more," said Hampton, who retired Sunday after 12 seasons as a Bears defensive tackle. "I've done it all. The bottle was empty. I poured out all I had."
His retirement didn't end in a party but with a bitter loss, 31-3 to the New York Giants in the NFC divisional game at Giants Stadium.
Never short of descriptive words, Hampton described the loss on the day of his retirement as " . . . a Walt Disney movie that ended with a train wreck and everybody dies."
Hampton was one of the best defensive tackles of the 1980s, making the Pro Bowl four times in that decade. He will be remembered for many things, including the number of knee surgeries in his career and a huge heart that enabled him to play through the pain. Hampton revealed after the game that he will need two more knee surgeries in the upcoming months.
"I've got to have two more knee operations, then I'll have 12 knee operations in 12 years," he said. "It's a good stat. It's a nice balance."
Said Bears linebacker Mike Singletary, "I'm going to miss his dedication and commitment. Most of all, I'm going to miss his heart. That guy's heart, it's difficult to find in this game." . . .
It looks as if the 1993 Super Bowl will be held in California rather than Arizona, barring any major disagreement from NFL owners.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Pasadena and San Diego officials have been notified to prepare presentations for the NFL owners meeting in Hawaii, scheduled the week of March 18.
NFL vice president of communications and development Joe Browne told the newspaper that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue wished "to allow Arizona to continue its longtime political debate over a Martin Luther King holiday without the Super Bowl as a factor."
Tagliabue announced in November, after Arizona voters rejected a paid state holiday in honor of the slain civil rights leader, that his preference would be to move the 1993 Super Bowl elsewhere. A 'Key' Play for Raiders
One of the more hilarious stories of this year's playoffs happened Sunday morning, hours before the Los Angeles Raiders were to play Cincinnati in the AFC semifinal playoff game.
Raiders middle linebacker Ricky Ellison was stuck in a traffic jam that hadn't moved for 25 minutes about a mile from Memorial Coliseum. Los Angeles players had to be at the stadium at least two hours before gametime and he knew he was going to be late, so he left his car.
Here's the strange part: Not only did he leave his car, Ellison gave the keys to his 944 Porsche and a parking pass to strangers in a van behind him. Ellison, without identifying himself as a Raiders player, asked them to park the car for him.
"I was desperate," he said. "I knew if I didn't get going I was going to be late for the game."
Now here's the amazing part: The strangers did park the car and, after guessing he was a Raider, waited for him after the game with his car keys. Ellison had forgotten what the men looked like but noticed one of them dangling his keys in the air.
"He told us the story before the game," teammate Bob Golic said. "I didn't think he'd ever see that car again. I said, 'Don't worry Ricky, I'll give you a ride home.' " No Prospects for Non-49er
How tough is it for other sports to compete against the San Francisco 49ers? Stanford University men's basketball coach Mike Montgomery knows exactly.
The Cardinal played Washington State in Palo Alto last Saturday at 2 p.m., an unlucky time slot considering the 49ers were playing the Washington Redskins in the NFL playoffs, beginning an hour earlier. Only 1,945 people showed up for the Stanford game, the smallest crowd at a Pacific-10 basketball game this season.
Asked if the 49ers had anything to do with the poor attendance at his game, Montgomery said, "Oh, excuse me, the 'Niners, geeze."
At this point Montgomery went to his knees and said, "My fault, only two million people in the Bay area. I wonder if they were all at the game."
He was asked if he taped the 49ers game. "I can read the first 75 pages of the paper and find out about the 49ers. I'd have to go to page eight to read about" the Persian Gulf crisis.