A lot of people were shocked last week when Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka suffered a heart attack. But I was not. After all, one look at the volatile coach, ranting and raving on the sidelines, and you knew that he was an accident waiting to happen.
The truth is, in football, it is possible to tell the stress levels of coaches simply by watching them on Sunday afternoons.
For example: Tom Landry of Dallas. He will never have a heart attack. If he does, they’ll have to tell him about it. Landry is the picture of calm on the sideline. Arms folded. Hat on his head. Sometimes, I am not sure whether he is thinking about the game or where he left his laundry.
Same goes for Bill Walsh of San Francisco. He looks like an English professor in the midst of grading exams. Dan Reeves of Denver shows very little excitement, unless John Elway tells him to.
On the other hand, watch Minnesota’s Jerry Burns. He looks like he’s having a heart attack all the time. And have you ever seen New York Jets coach Joe Walton? He is either stressed-out or just ate Mexican food.
And then, of course, we have Darryl Rogers, the head honcho of the Lions. Stress? Heart attack? Rogers looks like he’s watching his golf ball land in the sand trap.
Which pretty much describes his team.
And speaking of sand traps, here are this week’s picks . . .
* MINNESOTA 20, LIONS 10: Rusty Hilger gets hurt. John Witkowski gets hurt. Jim Arnold punts on every first down — and the Lions finish with their most productive offensive game of the year.
* NY GIANTS 27, DALLAS 17: Perhaps it’s time to dump Gatorade on Landry. Dallas fans have already dumped everything else.
* ATLANTA 21, GREEN BAY 20: The battle for next year’s No. 1 draft pick.
* PHILADELPHIA 20, LA RAMS 17: I smell upset. Or maybe I smell Buddy Ryan.
* MIAMI 28, NEW ENGLAND 27: Tony Franklin, the barefooted kicker, finally got smart and joined Miami, where he can avoid frostbite.
* CINCINNATI 28, PITTSBURGH 10: Last week was Boomer-Bernie. This week it’s Boomer-Bubby. What is this, nursery school?
* CHICAGO 17, TAMPA BAY 10: McMahon is out. Ditka is out. Can we even recognize the Bears anymore?
* PHOENIX 20, SAN FRANCISCO 17: A lot of sports writers are pulling for a January playoff in Arizona.
* NY JETS 16, INDIANAPOLIS 13: The Colts are exhausted after all that scoring Monday night.
* WASHINGTON 24, NEW ORLEANS 16: Wake up, Washington. It’s time to start playing like defending champs.
* DENVER 13, KANSAS CITY 3: The fact that you even have to think about this one shows how low the Broncos have sunk.
* BUFFALO 10, SEATTLE 9: The Bills enter the Kingdome and say “Hey. It’s warm in here. There’s no snow. What is this place?”
* LA RAIDERS 21, SAN DIEGO 7: The Raiders could give the Chargers one of their running backs and the Chargers still wouldn’t win.
* (MONDAY NIGHT) HOUSTON 21, CLEVELAND 20: I suppose Oilers shouldn’t have squeakers, but what the heck.
* BEST PICK LAST WEEK: NY Jets 24, Pittsburgh 21 (Jets won, 24-20).
* WORST PICK LAST WEEK: Chicago 43, New England 10 (Pats won, 30-7).
* RECORD LAST WEEK: 10-4.
* RECORD FOR SEASON: 82-43-1.
* LAST WEEK VS. SPREAD: 8-6.
* SEASON VS. SPREAD: 62-61-3.