Behold the new Jimmy Johnson: Husband, father, person. Romantic walks along the beach. Candlelit dinners at sunset. Jazz festivals before film breakdowns. Once obsessed with winning, Johnson--who briefly quit after last season--now is obsessed with living, looking beyond the game plan of his Miami Dolphins to the game plan of his own existence. Everywhere he gazes, Coach Jimmy no longer sees end zones, he sees only endless horizons.
He is a sensitive, sensitive man.
He's gone from Bear Bryant to Alan Alda.
The old Jimmy sprayed his hair, licked his lips, clapped his hands and played the dictator. The new Jimmy is a delegator. He's brought in his old buddy, Dave Wannstedt, as assistant head coach and detail man.
He's evolved from football to footloose, and oddly enough, Johnson now resembles his nemesis and Cowboys successor, Barry Switzer. For Switzer, like Johnson, won a national championship and a Super Bowl--but without the sweat and tears. Jimmy's become a Barry believer.
Here's a look at the relaxed schedule of the new Jimmy:
* 10:15-10:30 a.m.: Morning practice and yoga.
* 10:30-11:45: Coffee and croissant break.
* 11:45-12:05 p.m.: Coaches meeting/family time.
* 12:05-3:00: Spanish-style siesta; feed fish.
* 3:00-3:10: Afternoon practice and mud bath.
* 3:10-4:00: Afternoon tea, with readings from Thoreau's "Walden."
* 4:00-5:00: Oprah!
* 5:00-5:10: Debrief Wannstedt on upcoming opponent, tell him not to stay past midnight and head home.
Johnson's unbeaten Dolphins are a five-point favorite at home Monday night against Buffalo. Here's a handicapping hint: When teams play tough division rivals, they must pay attention to detail--and Jimmy's no longer a detail guy. He's probably listening to some opera as we speak. Take the Bills and the points.
(TV Note: Carnival barker Chris Berman on ABC's "Monday Night Football"--"Coming up on the Toyota Halftime Show . . . our Top 10, including good hands in Tampa, congratulations for the numbers 900 and 17, No. 4 is No. 1 again in Green Bay and No. 14 1/2 equals No. 1 in Boston!" He's the human Rorschach test.)
(Rules Note: Next season, teams will have two instant replay "challenges" per half and one "do-over" per game.)
As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only:
* Panthers at Redskins (-8 1/2): To Redskins punk owner Daniel M. Snyder, He Who Would Be Eddie D, I bequeath the following Gershwin lyrics: "The man who lives for only making money/Lives a life that isn't necessarily sunny/Likewise the man who works for fame/There's no guarantee that time won't erase his name." Pick: Redskins.
* Ravens at Falcons (No Line): Pick the 20th-century thinker that doesn't belong: Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Brian Billick, Jonas Salk. . . . As expected, Falcons QB Chris Chandler's HMO dropped him from all coverage. Pick: Falcons.
* Titans at 49ers (-2): Thinking they're protected, users of strong sunscreen tend to risk prolonged exposure to Steve Mariucci. . . . Topic of this week's Bill Walsh Tuesday lecture series: "Audibilizing During a Hurricane." Pick: Titans.
* Eagles at Giants (-9): When Giants CB Jason Sehorn plays, that means opposing offenses can only attack half of the field--the side he's on. . . . Giants should only be favored by this much if they're playing themselves. Pick: Eagles.
* Raiders at Seahawks (-4): Buckling to staff pressure, Al Davis replaced all rotary phones at team complex Monday. . . . On Raiders' team bus, California state law requires Kid Coach Jon Gruden to use a car seat. Pick: Raiders.
* Cardinals at Cowboys (-7): To keep in football shape, Cardinals QB Jake Plummer operates with a play clock even when he's in a singles bar. . . . Deion's toe is healed, but now he has athlete's foot. Pick: Cardinals.
* Saints (-1) at Bears: Uncomfortable situation developed Tuesday when Dick Jauron, Dave McGinnis and Mike Ditka all simultaneously tried to pull into head coach's parking space at Bears complex. Pick: Saints.
* Browns at Patriots (-12): NFLPA has suggested Browns players form support group to meet each Sunday night. . . . Instant replay cannot be used to overturn Browns drafting Tim Couch. Pick: Patriots.
* Rams (-4) at Bengals: If Bengals' Bruce Coslet can average 11 losses per season, he is projected to pass Sam Wyche as fastest NFL coach to 100 defeats in October 2002. Pick: Rams.
* Jaguars (-3 1/2) at Steelers: Jaguars players circulated petition this week complaining about "sweatshop conditions." Pick: Steelers.
* Jets at Broncos (-6): All's well that ends well. I've got to tell you, this Jets season is not going to end well. Pick: Broncos.
* Buccaneers at Vikings (-7): To be fair about things, Vikings' Mitch Berger really should kick off from the tunnel. Pick: Vikings.
* Chiefs at Chargers (-1 1/2): At end of Thursday practice, Chargers' Junior Seau entertained teammates by tackling himself. Pick: Chargers.
Last week: 7-6-1.
Season record: 17-25-2.