EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sean Landeta is getting married. It's the final blow.
Juicy sports gossip is virtually nonexistent these days, except when someone gets indicted, suspended or sued. But in his heyday, Landeta was a one-man National Enquirer. The original playboy punter.
He got Donna Rice's phone number before Gary Hart. He dated Marla Maples before Donald Trump. He charmed fashion models and centerfolds, and now he's marrying Pamela Schmidt, a former paralegal from Long Island he swears is "the prettiest of them all."
"She's definitely better than I deserve," Sean says.
No doubt Pam is a fine woman, but we'll miss the old Sean. He dated the same girl from his senior year at Loch Raven High to his senior year at Towson State. Then, after three years in the USFL, he joined the New York Giants.
What, no Madonna?
It was all very innocent, at least by today's standards. Landeta, 29, wasn't running for president. And he sure wasn't married to Ivana. He was just enjoying life in the NFL, while the rest of America's singles watched "Love Connection."
"I didn't think I would be married until I was 35 or 40," he says. "Let's face it, if you're lucky enough to play professional sports and you're single, you'll get chances that most guys will never get and would love to get. Who wouldn't like that?
"I'm not afraid to admit that if I wasn't playing pro football, there's no way I could have dated some of the girls I did. They were way too pretty for me. I think back to some of them, and it's like, geez."
Alas, it's all behind him now. Landeta could have been the first man to date every model in the "No Excuses" commercials -- all right, maybe he would have passed on that wacky Monica Seles -- but now he's the very picture of domestic bliss.
To think, he was emerging as the rightful heir to Broadway Joe Namath, at least in his own mind. Landeta might not be as handsome as the former Jets quarterback, but Maples did go out with him in '85, and Rice did give him her phone number at the Giants' Super Bowl victory party in '87.
He never dated Rice, but upon learning of her tryst with Hart, he recalls, "I had to chuckle." As for Maples, he says, "It was just a friends thing. It wasn't like we were dating. I see her around, but not often. She's a nice person."
These days, Landeta is all but humming "You Light Up My Life," but you might wonder what his fiancee thinks of his fabled past. True, she's not as bad off as, say, Geraldo's wife, but Landeta is the first to admit, "She's not thrilled, which is understandable."
"We've been going out a couple of years now," he explains. "Even though we're engaged and everyone knows it, she still has to hear stuff like this. If the situation was reversed, I don't think I'd like hearing it either. But she's great. She's a wonderful person."
Landeta met Pam on a blind date in September 1989. She lived 55 miles from Giants Stadium. Can you imagine? He never thought he'd marry a New Yorker -- "the attitudes are a little different" -- much less one who lived so far away.
As Landeta puts it, "The second or third time we went out, the traffic and distance was so much, I remember when I got to her house, I said, 'Things better go pretty well, because I'm never coming out here again.' "
Well, things went pretty well. Sean and Pam were an item the entire '89 season, and then Sean did the unthinkable. Hopeless romantic that he is, he invited Pam to spend the offseason with him in Timonium. "Why I did it, I don't know," he says.
The rest is history. Sean says the wedding probably will be this summer -- "quick and easy if it's up to me," he says (hint, hint: it's not). The Landetas will live happily ever after in a four-bedroom home occupying 4,300 square feet in Lutherville.
In the meantime, Sean will continue punting for the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, his average is down to 39.1 yards from an NFC-high 44.1 last season, but three times he's been forced to punt from within the opponents' 40-yard line.
The Giants, of course, are fretting over their 1-2 start, but many of them still find time to rib Landeta about his pending nuptials. They'd sooner believe the New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl.
"They all say, 'Yeah, right, you're getting married,' " Landeta says. "Since it's been a while, they all know it's pretty serious. But in the backs of their minds, I'm sure they're saying, "I'll believe it when I see it.' "
Sean's getting hitched.
No more gossip. No more fun.