Smurfs, Hogs, and Bees in Super Bowl limelight
Ordinarily when Super Bowl Sunday approaches there's a last-minute rush to once again analyze the talents of both quarterbacks. Sometimes even twice isn't enough.
But this year, instead of concentrating on Washington's Joe Theismann and Miami's David Woodley, the media has devoted most of its attention to the Smurfs , the Hogs, the Killer Bees, and the Lonesome Offense.
Since when have they been calling the Super Bowl cute? Are they playing at the Rose Bowl or Disneyland? Do you send your sports columnists to cover the National Football League's championship battle or do you turn the job over to the entertainment editor?
The Smurfs are an unlikely group of Washington pass receivers named Charlie Brown, Alvin Garrett, and Virgil Seay who are so small they can walk through a foreign car without taking their helmets off. All three came in potato chip bags.
In the Redskins' playoff wins over Detroit, Minnesota, and Dallas, Garrett and Brown combined to catch 24 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns. If Washington wins the Super Bowl, you'll probably catch them guesting on the Muppets TV show.
The Hogs are those beefy individuals who hang out as Washington's offensive line. They are known for their strength, their appetites, their togetherness, and the way they slog it out in the trenches - not necessarily in that order. They wear Hogs T-shirts to practice, and if one should be foolish enough to forget his this week, he gets fined $25, reportedly $20 more the regular season assessment.
Killer Bees refers to Miami's clever and opportunist defense, which has been intercepting passes all season. Six members of the unit have last names starting with the letter ''B.'' But the one you read the most about is 6 ft. 4 in., 248 -lb. linebacker A. J. Duhe, who operated his own Sting against the New York Jets by intercepting three passes. A. J. is not an easy man to ride off a play and often seems to be on both sides of the field at once.
Washington's Lonesome Offense is designed to take advantage of the powerful running of 235-pound fullback John Riggins, who in his last three playoff outings has averaged 140 yards per game.
Pro offenses generally have a strong and a weak side, depending on where the tight end lines up. But the Redskins frequently balance their alignment by using two tight ends - a move which sometimes confuses the defense but which also eliminates everybody from the Washington backfield except Riggins.
I know what you're thinking. Why doesn't the defense simply adjust by shifting some of its people around? It does, except the Redskins throw it right out of whack again by putting one of those tight ends in motion.
The reason more teams don't use this offense is that they don't have a runner like Riggins, who resembles a small freight car that can also pivot.
Getting back to the quarterbacks, the NFL isn't about to make a training film of either of them. Theismann's 13 regular season scoring tosses were surpassed by four quarterbacks, and Woodley's five by 24 players.
There is still speculation that Miami will try to acquire Baltimore's first draft pick so it can take Stanford quarterback John Elway.
As for Theismann, he has calmed down a lot since the Redskins got him out of the Canadian Football League in 1974. Joe didn't get his first start with Washington until the fifth week of the 1976 season. He never got along with Coach George Allen and never won much under Coach Jack Pardee, but seems to have found someone who understands him in current head man Joe Gibbs.
So the glamour may be off the quarterbacks this time, but headline writers have still been having a ball all week with the Smurfs, the Hogs, the Killer Bees, and the Lonesome Offense.