Real Irsay dummy can spot his stuffed replica at Vet


The Bob Irsay dummy is back. He's got a new suit and new shoes. He's got that same thick smile and those same rosy-red cheeks. His pockets are stuffed with play money. Just like you remember him, right?

The Bob Irsay dummy will be in a 134-person, three-bus caravan that makes the drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia Sunday. And he'll have a $30 seat in Veterans Stadium when the Eagles try to keep the Indianapolis Colts winless.

For the second time since the Colts moved to Indianapolis, they'll play at the Vet. For the second time since they moved, a Baltimore contingent will be on hand to . . . well, root for the Eagles.

The last time it happened was 1984, the team's first season in Indianapolis. Mike Ricigliano, now a freelance cartoonist for The Evening Sun, made a life-size dummy of Irsay that looked just like his cartoon caricature of the Colts owner. Ricigliano took the dummy to the Vet, bought a ticket for it, and delighted in the Eagles' 16-7 victory.

After that debut, the dummy appeared frequently with Chris Thomas on WBAL-TV sports segments. Eventually it was sold to Bud Craven, owner of the Bay Cafe on Boston Street, for $1,400 in a charity auction. And somewhere along the way, it started falling apart, whether from abuse or old age.

A few weeks ago, after deciding to run buses to Philly for the Colts' return trip, Craven asked Ricigliano to repair what was left of the dummy. There wasn't a lot.

"It was pretty smashed up," Ricigliano said. "Its face was smashed to smithereens. I didn't think I could restore it like I did before, but I reconstructed the face and now it's looking good."

Sunday the Bob Irsay dummy will make its encore appearance at the Vet, presumably in a place where it can be spotted by the real one.

* BRUCE'S BOO-BOO: It's been a rough week for Bruce Coslet, rookie coach of the Jets, starting with Monday night's 30-7 blowout loss to Buffalo. Jets fans serenaded Coslet with chants of "We want Joe," in honor of deposed coach Joe Walton. And they didn't hesitate to boo Coslet when he called a draw play on fourth-and-20, down by 23-7. (Later, he explained the draw by saying he thought it was first down, instead of fourth.)

Coslet lost his composure at one point and actually invited one irritating loudmouth "to come down here and say that." The fan, naturally, declined.

Then on Tuesday, Coslet elected to conduct a conference call with the Jets' beat writers -- who were perhaps 100 feet away, waiting down one flight of stairs -- rather than meet with them at the team's Hofstra headquarters. With one less day to prepare for Sunday's game against New England, he needed to make every minute count.

Toward the end of the brief interview, Coslet asked for one more question. "Make it a good one now," he said. "The pressure's on . . . third down and 16 . . . what do you call?"

"Not a draw play," was the cryptic reply of a reporter.

* SQUIB KICKS: Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson, now a commentator for NBC's NFL Live show, says he knows what's wrong with the Cleveland Browns' anemic offense. "Even a blind man can tell what's wrong with this team," he said. "It doesn't have an offensive line. You can hide a weak guy in the secondary by using combination coverages or zones. You can hide a weak running game if you have a quarterback who can move the ball through the air. But you can't hide anything on the offensive line. That's where it begins and ends." . . . Maybe the 49ers fans are spoiled, but last Sunday they booed a futile 49er sweep against Atlanta. The Niners haven't rushed for 100 yards in a game yet . . . Bills backup tight end Butch Rolle doesn't catch many passes, but those he does count. In five years in the NFL, Rolle has 11 receptions and seven touchdowns . . . The Vikings are vikings no longer. They are 2-8 in their last 10 road games and have lost 10 of their last 11 games outdoors. In the controlled climate of the Metrodome, they've won 14 in a row, though . . . If Jimmy Johnson can learn to draft NFL players, the Cowboys could make a comeback by the mid-90s. Thanks to the Herschel Walker and Steve Walsh trades, they now have five first-round picks and five second-round picks in the next two years.

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