Putting one little word after another and whatever became of Curt Flood? . . . Nobody has to tell coach Tom Landry why the Dallas Cowboys didn't make the National Football League playoffs this season. Practically all of the Cowboys' problems were on offense, where they averaged just over 18 points per game compared with almost 30 the previous season.
Dallas never did compensate for the retirements of wide receiver Drew Pearson and tight end Billy Joe Dupree and the trade of wide receiver Butch Johnson. The offensive line also played most of the season fighting injuries.
Reports are that Landry has already begun to restructure his passing offense for next season. Yogi might platoon son
Have you wondered how manager Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees will use his son Dale next season? Yogi probably will take a lead from Casey Stengel's book and platoon him at third base with Mike Pagliarulo. Basically that would mean that Berra, who bats right-handed would start against left-handers and Pagliarulo, who bats left-handed, would start against right-handers.
The younger Berra, who struck out 78 times in 450 at-bats last year with Pittsburgh, reportedly will work on cutting down his swing in spring training.
Dale, whose range at shortstop was always suspect with the Pirates, should have no trouble making the switch to third base, even though most ground balls get there a lot faster.
When I happened to ask Berra last season if he would someday like to play for his father, he replied: ''Of course. My father and I are very close. But we've never talked about that situation and I doubt if it will ever happen.'' Gretzky and early retirement
Scoring machine Wayne Gretzky, whose contract with the Edmonton Oilers of the Natonal Hockey League extends through 1999, was quoted recently as saying that he might retire after next season. Gretzky's reasons are the usual ones pro athletes utter when they are mentally tired - the exhausting travel schedule, reservations about flying, and the boredom of staying in a succession of hotel rooms that all look basically the same.
Wayne, 24 in January, has been playing with the Oilers since he was 18. He is ahead of last year's scoring pace and even Gordie Howe's 1,850 total points over 26 seasons does not seem beyond his reach.
When the Edmonton Sun informed Howe that Gretzky might retire, Gordie replied: ''Ask him again a week before training camp, when he's frothing at the mouth to get started. No matter what he thinks now, he has no idea how tough it would be to quit this business and make it stick.'' He suits up for Suns (sort of)
Perhaps somebody should explain why a guy named Henry Rojas recently was given a four-year contract worth $230,000 by the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association. Though not a player, Rojas does appear at all the Suns' home games - in a gorilla suit. He's the team's official mascot, as good at whipping up a crowd as Betty Crocker is at whipping up a cake mix.
Said Suns' Head Coach John McLeod when asked about Rojas: ''What a lot of people don't realize is that Henry also goes out and sells group tickets for us and he's good at it.'' You're right, John, not even the San Diego Chicken does that. They said it on the record
* Coach Pat Riley of the Los Angeles Lakers on second-year guard Byron Scott, whose scoring is up almost five points a game over last season: ''Even with Scott's improvement, we still think he should be playing more aggressively on offense. We don't want him to defer to other players when the shot is there because he really does have a great touch.''
* Bum Phillips, New Orleans Saints coach and one-time assistant to Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, explaining why he has no plans to see Gary Busey play Bryant in the movies: ''I saw the Bear play the Bear in real life and there ain't nobody else gonna do it better.''
* Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers on the role of Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics: ''Bird's responsibility is greater than mine right now. Every night the Celtics expect him to be their leading rebounder and their leading scorer. I've been in that situation myself and it's tough.''
* From quarterback Dave Krieg of the Seattle Seahawks on how he felt when a lack of finances closed down his alma mater, little Milton College in Wisconsin: ''Well, there goes my chance to get a football field named after me. On the other hand, I won't have to pay any alumni dues.''