North Carolina Newspapers

    Page 8
It’s all happening in the NFL this year
By JAMKS ALKXANDKR
Sports FMitor
Pro football fans are getting a real
treat this season, as the 16 game race
for the Super Bowl crown has become
a topsy turvy, wild and woolly dog-
eat-dog fight.
No more is the time when 2 or 3
teams dominated each conference
and one team stood out alone as the
most powerful team in the entire
league.
This season’s surprises have been
Green Bay, Atlanta, Seattle, Tampa
Eiay, the Jets, the Giants, Geveland
and Philadelphia.
These teams have all merged with
perennial favorites Pittsburgh,
Oakland, Los Angeles, Washington,
Denver, Miami, New England and
defending champ Dallas to form a
serious corps of teams in contention
for the NFL title.
Not only has there been surprising
teams, but there is some shocking
new talent in the league as well.
Such talent as Green Bay’s no-nanie
offensive trio of quarterback David
Whitehurst, running back Terdell
Middleton and receiver James Lof
ton; Dallas’ new premier receiver
Tony Hill, Tampa Bay quaterback
Doug Williams and Miami’s new
found hope in runner Delvin Williams,
who is now the leading rusher in the
NFL.
Add to that list New England’s pmt-
sized running-back Horace Ivory,
Baltimore’s runner Joe Washington
(who is the replacement for departed
Lydell Mitchell), Atlanta kicker (and
former bartender) Tom Mazzetti,
Houston rookie running back Earl
Campbell, Seattle receiver Steve
Largent, Philadelphia runningback
Wilbert Montgomery, now-injured
Jets quarterback Richard Todd, and
North Carolina’s Dee Hardison, a
starting defensive lineman in Buffalo.
At this writing, the Dallas Cowboys
and the Washington Redskins (both'
everybody’s favorites) appeared to be
coming upon some very hard times in
their fight for the NFC East title.
The Cowboys have suffered back-to-
back defeats at the hands of Min
nesota and Miami, and the Redskins
now stand at 8-3 after being upset by
the Baltimore Colts. Dallas is 7-4.
Young Green Bay and the ex
perienced loaded Los Angeles Rams
remain atop their divisions, with the
Atlanta Falcons posing a serious
threat to the 9-2 Rams. The Falcs
were only 2 games behind and playing
better every week. As a matter of
fact, the Falcs have just recently
come off of a 15-9 upset of the Rams.
The AFC East is still a battling
division as powerful New England
and the rejuvenated Miami Dolphins
fight it out for that crown. In the
meantime, Buffalo, New York Jets
and the ailing Baltimore Colts have
played excellent spoiler roles, making
the battle even tougher.
Pittsburgh is kicking everyone in
the AFC Central, with the Houston
Oilers being the only possible threat
to the Steelers’ hop^ for another
division title.
In addition, the AFC west division
has become somewhat like the old
west, wild and dangerous, as the
faltering Oakland Raiders and the
questionable Denver Broncos are
having a shootout, with vastly im
proved Seattle not far behind.
With only 5 games left on the NFL
card, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New
England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams
and the snapped-back Green Bay
Pack would have to loom as the top
contenders to venture to this year’s
Super Bowl contest.
The teams having an outside
chance of making the prized ap
pearance are Miami in the AFC nd the
defending champion Dallas Cowboys
in the NFC, if they can get their act
together before it’s too late. The
Cowboys can’t afford to lose another
game unless the Redskins hit a skid.
Washington began the season as the
class of the NFC with six opening
victories, but 3 losses in their last 5
games have stirred speculation as to
how good (if at all) the Skins really
are.
Call it a fluke.
Another fluke is the San Francisco
49ers, who were picked by some to
steal the NFC west title from the Los
Angeles Rams.
With a dismal 1-9 mark and an
injured O.J. Simpson (add to that a
traded Delvin Williams), the 49ers
are going nowhere, not even in the
near future.
In the post-season awards depart
ment, Green Bay’s Bart Starr and
Washington’s Jack Pardee are Coach
of the Year favorites in the NFC,
while Chuck Fairbanks of New
England and Don Shula of Miami lead
the candidates for the AFC award.
Rookie-of-the-year in the NFC will
no doubt be Green Bay’s Terdell
Middleton, who has maintained high
standing among the league’s leading
rushers and scorers. The AFC’s
leading candidate would have to come
from a handful of which no one stands
out.
Another NFL note; former UNC
performer James “Boom Boom”
Betterson of the Philadelphia Eagles
is out for the remainder of the season
with a leg injury. At the time he was
injured, Betterson was returning
kickoffs for the Eagles.
Here are some predictions for this
weekend’s games; Tampa Bay 6 over
Buffalo, Philadelphia 9 over Giants,
Washington 10 over St. Louis, New
England 10 over Jets, San Diego 7
over Minnesota, Seattle 14 over
Kansas City, Dallas 14 over New
Orleans, Atlanta 3 over Chicago,
Denver 7 over Green Bay, Los
Angeles 20 over San Francisco,
Oakland 10 over Detroit, Baltimore 10
over Cleveland, Pittsburgh 14 over
Cincinnatti and in Monday night
affair the Miami Dolphins will thump
the Houston Oilers by 10.
On the pro scene
By (;kf:g()ry clay
Sports Writer
Lydell Mitchell, one of the NFL’s
most versatile running backs, for the
San Diego Chargers said of Joe
Paterno: “He makes you study—
makes you graduate—of 101 players
on the squad when I was there, 100
graduated.’’ Mitchell’s now planning
law school . . .
Two pluses are in Doug Williams’
comer He has one of the fastest
releases in the league and he can
stand the rush of defensive linemen
which is so vital in being with Tampa
Bay . . .
Lynn Swann notes that the
millionaires in Pittsburgh never drive
Rolls-Royces because the guys in the
mills don’t dig it—so the Steelers
follow the pattern . . .
Says Tampa Bays Dewey Selmon:
“Physically I’m no better than I was
in college (Oklahoma), but mentally.
I’m 10 times better . . .
Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys
accused head eoach John McVay of
the New Giants of calling him names
from the sidelines . . .
Speaking of Tony, he has a TV show
one hour before Dallas kickoffs, Ixit
his head coach and “henceful wat
chman” Tom Landry has one 20
minutes before game time. Landry is
winning in every phase of the keeping
time duel between the two, ob
viously . . .
Adapted in part from Football News.
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Jim Rice wins MVP
award, amid controversy
By ARCHIE SHAW
Sports Writer
Recently there was a major occurrence on the national sports scene. Jim
Rice, the hard slugging outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, won the American
Lease’s Most Valuable Player Award and with it there was much con
troversy.
This controversy was personified by the fact that Rice (a Black) beat out
the New York Yankees Ron Guidry (a white) who also had excellent
credentials.
Rice, a player who in the past has bred controversy, surprisingly won the
MVP award with ease and this sparked doubts from many across the
country.
Guidry himself even went so far as to say that the MVP award should be
designated as the MVP award for hitters. Guidry no doubt had an out
standing year anid was instrumental in the Yankees’ championship season.
However, on a day-to-lay basis, there was none better than Rice. If many
managers had the choice on whether they could have a player who could win
ballgames everyday or on every fifth day. the choice would be simple.
The Rice-Guidry situation is not new to the sports scene. In 1971 when the
obvious candidate for college football’s Heisman Trophy was Johny
Rodgers, the news media pushed every white player with any sort of above
averge statistic as a possible candidate for the award.
Last season in the National Basketball Association, with such stars as
David Thompson, (ieorge Gervin, and Elvin Hayes having phenomenal
years. Bill Walton was chosen the MVP after having played only a little
more than half of the season.
And as we look to the future, another controversy may be on the horizon.
Oklahoma’s brilliant halfback, Billy Sims, is obviously the most outstanding
College football player in the country. You can almost be sure, though, that
when the votes for this years’ Heisman are counted, there may be a sur
prise. A white surprise.
I wonder if there’s an award for the most valuable every-other-week
sports writer.
    

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