The man who once left passes for Elvis at the Astrodome committed the NFL's ultimate faux pas Sunday. Jerry Glanville, coach of the Atlanta Falcons, tried to out-trophy the San Francisco 49ers. In Candlestick Park, no less.
Under Glanville's orders, the Falcons lugged an outlandish, five-foot trophy to their bench at Candlestick for Sunday's game. It was a three-tiered, wood and gold trophy, with figures of birds, football players and an angel.
Trophy background: It was presented to the Falcons last season by an Atlanta trophy shop after they went 6-0 against California teams. Two of those victories came at the expense of the 49ers, who missed the playoffs by one game. The inscription read, "NFL California State Champions 1991."
Glanville, who likes to hold up his opponents' helmet in the Falcons' pre-kickoff huddle, hoisted the hideous trophy instead.
Not a smart move, Jerry.
49ers executive John McVay spotted the trophy before the teams came out on the field. With a wry smile, he headed straight for the San Francisco locker room.
The 49ers, who have four Super Bowl trophies in their possession, were not impressed. They dismantled the Falcons with startling ease, 56-17. It could have been much worse if 49ers coach George Seifert hadn't called off the troops early. The 49ers had 56 points and 570 yards of offense when Seifert went to the bench with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
"It really was kind of inflammatory," Seifert said. "Word was, they were going to take a victory lap after the game and hold up the trophy."
When his cheap motivational trick backfired, Glanville was hard-pressed to defend it.
"We had to find something positive about ourselves," he said. "We had been playing hard but not winning. We had to find something to be proud of."
Glanville is finding his act a tough sell in Georgia. Earlier this month, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution political cartoonist asked readers to "Choose Atlanta's Most Embarrassing Sports Symbol."
Beneath that caption was a drawing of Atlanta's Olympic mascot, "Whatizit," and a caricature of Glanville. Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have plunged back to the NFC pack, the 49ers might be the team to watch in the conference. One big reason is running back Ricky Watters, whose 576 rushing yards is third in the NFL and whose 30 receptions ties Jerry Rice for the team lead.
With Watters, the 49ers, 6-1 heading into their bye week, have restored balance to an offense that in recent years has relied on the passing of Joe Montana, Steve Young or Steve Bono. They are averaging 30.8 points, helping to compensate for defensive deficiencies.
"It might not be an overstatement to say we revolve around him," Young said. "Because of him, we do a lot of things we haven't been able to do the last few years."
Watters, a second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, spent last season on injured reserve with a broken foot and broken hand. He leads the NFL in scrimmage yards, and already has out-gained last year's leading 49ers rusher, Keith Henderson, who had 561 yards. Because of high knee action when he runs, Watters even reminds the 49ers of former running back Roger Craig.
"We drafted him because we thought he gave us what Craig gave us," Seifert said. "Because of injuries, we didn't know what we had."
Eagles' crash course
The Eagles apparently put more stock in that 31-7 Monday night rout of the Dallas Cowboys than they let on. After Sunday's 16-12 loss to the Washington Redskins, linebacker Seth Joyner had this observation about his teammates:
"We've got some young guys who didn't know how to handle success, and we've got some other guys who got relaxed and satisfied. It went to their heads. They don't understand that as soon as you get labeled the best team in football, you can't put it on cruise control. Instead, you've got to spend 10, 15 percent more.
"I don't see people staying late, studying. Everyone's in a big hurry to get out of the locker room."
Of the Redskins, Joyner said: "They know what it takes to stay on top once you get there. They understand what it takes when everyone is coming at you. I've been here seven years, and I'm still waiting for us to understand it."
The Seattle saga
The Seattle Seahawks, down to their third starting quarterback already, have absorbed two shutouts in the first seven games of Tom Flores' coaching regime. That equals the number of shutouts the franchise suffered during nine years and 143 games under Chuck Knox.
The Seahawks have scored just 43 points, or 6.1 per game, and four TDs. They haven't scored a TD in 12 quarters. And they are on course to break the NFL record for futility, established last year by the 1-15 Indianapolis Colts with 143 points (8.9 per game).
Things could definitely get worse, too. Tackle Ray Roberts, the team's first-round draft choice this year, already has given up eight sacks. But he'll stay in the lineup against the New York Giants on Sunday because the Seahawks are down to six healthy offensive linemen.
He's a Raider, all right
Los Angeles Raiders defensive tackle Nolan Harrison sat out his senior year at Indiana after ripping a cash machine off the wall. Said Harrison, a criminal justice major: "It was one of those long hot summers and I was just bubbling. I didn't care if it was a machine. It was going to come out. It had done something wrong to me and I was going to make it pay."
team's second-lowest attendance since moving to Arizona in 1988. . . . Raiders RB Marcus Allen, who nearly had to finish up at QB in a 19-0 victory over Seattle when Todd Marinovich and Jay Schroeder were hurt, doesn't give a bad imitation. He has completed 10 of 23 career passes for five TDs. . . . New slogan in Green Bay, where second-year QB Brett Favre has generated some excitement: "Favre-vergnugen." . . . In his eighth season, Eagles sackmaster Reggie White registered his first sack of the Redskins' Mark Rypien on Sunday. . . . At 23, Dallas Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith has become the youngest player in NFL history to reach the 3,000-yard rushing plateau. . . . The Cleveland Browns' defense hasn't given up a TD in 13 quarters. . . . Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula has won six games in a row 13 times in his career. . . . The Los Angeles Rams have lost the coin toss in 11 straight games (four preseason, seven regular-season games) under new coach Knox. The odds of that happening? 2,047 to 1. . . . Chicago Bears QB Jim Harbaugh's six interceptions this year have been returned for 210 yards, an average runback of 35 yards.