It has come to my attention that today’s football fan is in a feeding frenzy. He is a shark.
It is no longer enough, for example, to know whether his team signed its top draft pick. He wants to know for how long and for how much and what ink was in the pen. If the subject is quarterbacks, he wants to know arm strength, release time and the girlfriend he dates on Fridays. “Monday Night Football” is now “Thursday, Friday and Sunday Night Football.” And when it comes to predictions, it is no longer enough to go week-by- week. Today’s fan wants it
And so, I oblige. Here is the 1989 football season, one bruising day at a time.
Sept. 10 — The Lions open their season with a riveting, 66-3 victory over Phoenix. Says Mouse Davis: “That’s nothing. With our stretch offense, we coulda scored 100!”
Sept. 11 — Mayor Coleman Young declares an official holiday to celebrate the return of pro football to Detroit.
Sept. 12 — Bo Schembechler and Lou Holtz appear on NBC’s “Today” show to talk about their upcoming game. “What are you doing here?” Holtz says. “What are you doing here?” Schembechler says. A fight breaks out. Bryant Gumbel is injured.
Sept. 13 — Chuck Long tries his elbow. Still doesn’t work.
Sept. 14 — Ickey Woods opens new dance academy, “Feets R Us.”
Sept. 15 — Pete Rozelle wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Sept. 16 — Michigan beats Notre Dame with a last-second field goal, 23-21. The big mystery is the tall quarterback for U-M, who never removes his helmet. “You know,” says Keith Jackson of ABC, “that young fella reminds me an awful lot of Rusty Hilger. . . . “
Sept. 17 — The Lions lose to the Giants, 44-40. “We coulda scored 80,” Davis claims. On the plane ride home, Bob Gagliano trips over a Sony Walkman cord and breaks his leg.
Sept. 18 — Michigan is ranked No. 1 in the new polls. Schembechler denies the news and ranks his team 14th.
Sept. 19 — Barry Sanders receives the Lions’ latest offer: same money as before, but now they throw in a month’s worth of free lunches at Ram’s Horn restaurants.
Sept. 20 — Sanders can be heard laughing from across the street.
Sept. 21 — Chuck Long tries his elbow. Still doesn’t work.
Sept. 22 — Tom Landry wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Sept. 23 — Michigan State plays Notre Dame and wins, 23-21, also on a last-second field goal. Lou Holtz throws his cap in disgust. “I hate the state of Michigan! I hate it! I hate it!”
Sept. 24 — The Lions lose to Chicago, 33-27. Eric Hipple gets hurt on the first play. “We coulda scored 50,” Davis insists, “if we had someone to snap it to.”
Sept. 25 — The Lions announce that their new quarterback will be Jim Arnold, who will also remain the punter. As compensation, the Lions raise Arnold’s salary by $500. “Gee, thanks,” Arnold says. “You guys are swell.”
Sept. 26 — The latest list of possible NFL commissioners is released. It includes Jesse Helms, Kirk Douglas, Pele and Pee- wee Herman.
Sept. 27 — Barry Switzer wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Sept. 28 — LA Rams wide receiver Willie (Flipper) Anderson is hospitalized after trying to leap out of the water and take a fish out of someone’s hand.
Sept. 29 — Brian Bosworth, realizing he stinks as a pro, applies for re-admission to Oklahoma, hoping to relive his glory days in college. The admissions office immediately bills him for six dorm rooms he “accidentally destroyed.”
Sept. 30 — Michigan wins its third in a row, destroying Maryland, 54-0. The big mystery is a rather swift defensive back who intercepts five passes.
“You know,” muses Keith Jackson, “that young fella reminds me a whole lot of Deion Sanders. . . . “
Oct. 1 — All the NFL games are canceled for Rosh Hashanah. The Lions celebrate. “This Rosh guy is OK,” says Jerry Ball. “Who does he play for?”
Oct. 2 — Doctors examine Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson and declare his hair a medical miracle. ‘It is impervious to heat, rain, snow, or wind,” they say.
“We’ve never seen anything like it.” Johnson, convinced he is Glen Campbell, simply nods and sings another chorus of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”
Oct. 3 — Jackie Sherrill wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Oct. 4 — Troy Aikman does an interview with Barbara Walters and confesses that his real name is actually Irving Mushkin. “I just chose Troy because the girls liked it,” he tells Walters, “but you can call me Mushy.”
Oct. 5 — Chuck Long tries his elbow. Still doesn’t work.
Oct. 6 — The Lions make their latest offer to Barry Sanders: same money, same free lunches — PLUS four new tires of his choice.
Oct. 7 — Sanders does not answer his phone.
Oct. 8 — Detroit makes football history when, trailing Minnesota, 20-13, with four seconds left, Jim Arnold takes the snap from center, drops back to pass and instead punts the ball 75 yards. The punt is caught by wide receiver Jeff Chadwick, his first catch of the season. He tumbles into the end zone for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Eddie Murray misses the extra point and the Lions lose again, 20-19.
Oct. 9 — Mayor Young forces everyone to work an extra eight hours to make up for the mistaken holiday he gave them last month.
Oct. 10 — Dan Fouts wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Oct. 11 — Chuck Long tries elbow. Still doesn’t work. Tries other elbow.
Oct. 12 — Boomer Esiason signs endorsement deal with nuclear power plant.
Oct. 13 — George Perles admits Barney Rubble is indeed his long-lost cousin.
Oct. 14 — The Michigan-Michigan State game ends in a tie, 10-10. To settle the rivalry, a winner-take-all wrestling match is set between Mark Messner and Tony Mandarich.
Oct. 15 — It’s the NFC East showdown between New York and Washington, and Jamie Morris, in sympathy for his injured brother, Joe, decides to play for the Redskins and the Giants. He gains 134 yards and scores twice for Washington, gains 211 yards and scores twice for New York. The game is suspended after Morris tackles himself on the 1-yard line and argues with himself over the placement of the ball.
Oct. 16 — Jerry Rice, Tony Rice and Glen Rice are guests at the taping of a Bob Hope special. “Gee,” Hope says, “I feel like Uncle Ben.”
Oct. 17 — Garry James wakes up, sighs, goes back to sleep.
Oct. 18 — Doug Flutie, realizing he stinks as a pro, applies for re-admission to Boston College with hopes of reliving his glory days in college. The admissions office immediately slaps him with $450 in overdue parking tickets.
Oct. 19 — Michigan is still ranked No. 1 in the polls. Schembechler denies it and ranks his team 12th.
Oct. 20 — Sports Phone closes temporarily for repairs. Five million Americans have nervous breakdowns.
Oct. 21 — The Heisman Trophy race heats up as Darrell Thompson of Minnesota gains 324 yards and Anthony Thompson of Indiana gains 317. Or was it Darrell Thompson of Indiana and Anthony Thompson of . . . no, wait, it’s. .
Oct. 22 — The Kansas City Royals are in the fog-delayed World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Bo Jackson, who cracked two home runs the night before, flies to Philadelphia and returns a kick for 75 yards, as the Raiders beat the Eagles, 21-14. “How do you do it?” reporters ask Jackson.
“Oh,” he says, looking at his shoes, “I just do it.”
Oct. 23 — Jackson steals two bases in World Series Game 2, then makes a tackle in football practice.
Oct. 24 — Jackson makes leaping catch to end Game 3, shags punts in practice.
Oct. 25 — Jackson hits for the cycle in Game 4, leads calisthenics in practice.
Oct. 26 — Jackson pitches shutout in Game 5, washes uniforms in practice.
Oct. 27 — Jackson pitches no-hitter and hits grand slam in Game 6, plays quarterback in practice.
Oct. 28 — Jackson hits four home runs and throws perfect game in Game 7, kicks field goals in practice.
Oct. 29 — Jackson plays all nine positions in Game 8 and hits five doubles. Normally there isn’t a Game 8 in the World Series, but Jackson says,
“We keep playing till I say we stop.” He also runs for two touchdowns as the Raiders beat Washington, 28-6.
Oct. 30 — Jackson hits Hollywood, replaces Michael Jackson in concert, subs for Jesse Jackson at a lecture, then takes Phil Jackson’s coaching job with the Chicago Bulls. “Just do it!” he sings. “Just do it!” he yells. “Just do it!” he hollers.
Oct. 31 — Bo Jackson explodes.
Nov. 1 — A day of mourning.
Nov. 2 — Rodney Peete announces he is finally healthy and ready to play.
“That’s great!” says coach Wayne Fontes, who slaps Peete on the back so hard he flips over the railing of the Silverdome and breaks his arm.
Nov. 3 — The Pistons’ season begins. . . .
Dec. 24 — Pistons break for Christmas. Fans turn their attention back to football. The Lions lose their last game of the season with Mike Cofer at quarterback and Lomas Brown at running back. The Heisman Trophy goes to the first person named Thompson to pick it up. Leonard Thompson, the golfer, happens to be in New York and accepts the award on behalf of the little people. Michigan wins the national championship with a mystery running back gaining 400 yards in the season finale against Ohio State.
“You know,” says Keith Jackson, “that fella reminds me of Barry Sanders.” The player removes his helmet and he is, indeed, Barry Sanders. “I used my last year of eligibility and transferred to Michigan,” he explains. Asked how he got Sanders, Hilger and Deion Sanders to play for him, Schembechler chuckles. “I told them my team was better than any of the ones they would play for,” he says, “and I was right.” Somewhere in the West, Darryl Rogers wakes up, sighs and goes back to sleep.