CONSIDERING his well-tuned social and ethical conscience (see 1993 Super Bowl and Dexter Manley), no doubt NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will come down very hard on the 49ers for sitting Joe Montana out with some sort of contrived injury last week. With a playoff spot still up for grabs in the NFC, the contending Cowboys and Saints and everyone else deserved the best out of Frisco.
* Let's get something straight about the Nevada-Las Vegas athletic program right now: It's not applying for admission to the Ivy League any time soon. The latest list of charges against the basketball program is the result of an investigation that began in October 1989. And now there's a scandal brewing in the ticket department, according to state of Nevada investigators.
* All those quarterback injuries in the NFL indicate just one thing: Scrimmages followed by four exhibition games followed by a 16-game regular season constitute cruel and inhuman treatment on the body.
If you don't think a season stretching to Groundhog's Day isn't too lengthy, check out the no-shows at games last weekend: In Chicago, 20,500; in Minnesota (indoors), 9,400; in Seattle (indoors), 8,700; in Atlanta, 15,600; in rugged Green Bay for an important playoff decider, 12,775; and, of course, the annual migration away from the Jets in December, 46,841.
* After the Bullets get done playing the 76ers at the Arena tonight (7:30), they no doubt will realize a huge attendance surge playing at home to the creme de la creme Seattle, Denver and Charlotte the next eight days. Talk about cruel and inhuman treatment.
* Stats from way back: Between 1920 and 1932, two-thirds of NFL games were shutouts . . . Just before the 1929 season the league's bank balance was $1,960.05. And that was before The Crash!
* His dreams of pitching an exhibition game at his Hall of Fame induction and of returning to the major leagues at age 45 apparently --ed, reportedly Jim Palmer's next fanciful wish is to return to Scottsdale High School for a repeat of his sophomore year.
* Hang in there, gang, less than 100 days until Frankfurt visits San Antonio and Montreal hosts Barcelona in the World League of America Football . . . appropriately, the games are scheduled for April Fool's Day.
With the NHL Super Series against the USSR reaching its mid-point, crowds of 2,820 (Soviet Khimik at Boston) suggest the once popular confrontation has had it. Moscow Dynamo brings a vs. NHL record of 7-5-2 to a game against the Washington Caps Jan. 8.
* Tardy note about Maryland's opponent in the Independence Bowl, Louisiana Tech. It was in three major brawls within the space of 11 games and one of the foes, Tulsa, canceled out of games the next two years.
* Bobby Ross getting the Bobby Dodd Award for "belief that the game of football should be kept in perspective of college life" seems slightly misplaced. Wasn't he the guy who was always moaning about the facilities and everything else at Maryland and who was constantly seeking admission exceptions for footballer dumbos while working in College Park?
* The loss by the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday assured that the 1974 Baltimore Colts remain as the team making the biggest season-to-season turnaround: Eight games, from 2-12 to 10-4. Gives you a warm feeling, no?
* Darnell Valentine is one guy who appreciates those little extras provided by life in the NBA. Before being signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers, he played ball in Mexico where transportation consisted of a bus with no floor. "It was just like Fred Flintstone's car," reports the guard.
* The problem with silver anniversary teams, like the Super Bowl squad announced recently, is folks tend to forget how good ballplayers were a quarter century ago.
* The NHL's latest expansion team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, better not plan on every request for tickets (15,600) leading to sale of a season ticket. Way back when, the Capitals budgeted as if they were going to sell out the Capital Centre, ended up playing to 45 percent empty seats while going 7-68-5 and lost a bundle.
* Truly amazing facts born out of the Bears' monumental 73-0 playoff victory over the Redskins 50 years ago are Sid Luckman tossing just four passes (one touchdown) and Bullet Bill Osmanski, with 109, being the only Chicago rusher to exceed 100 yards.
* Arnold Palmer relates when he was at the height of his popularity, there was backing for he, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to have their own tour. It probably would have croaked the PGA Tour, but Arnie said, "No, the pro tour is conducted the way it should be." No doubt, it's his greatest legacy to golf.