Cowboys get their answer, but not one they wanted, at RFK


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Heading into last night's "Monday Night Football" colossal, Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman said, "There's no better place to find out if we're up to it [having another Super Bowl season] than RFK." The kid's no dummy. Washington's 35-16 smashing of the Cowboys seemed to get lost in all the Emmitt Smith furor, which really doesn't interest general fans.

* Maryland probably would do a whole lot better selling season tickets for football if it covered just the first three quarters of action. The game scenarios appear to have been written by John Grisham, ("The Firm," "Pelican Brief," etc.) in that they're great stories with disappointing endings.

* Talk about pressure. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, whose Irish go against Michigan in a biggie Saturday, said before the opener against Northwestern: "I told my players that last year when Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis and all those guys were playing, you were sitting on the bench. Your parents were upstairs complaining that you should be playing. Now we're going to find out if they were right. If they were right, we'll be better than we were last year."

* I hardly know Pernell Whitaker, and already I'm a huge fan of his. Regarding Friday night's pay-per-view debacle with irresistible force Julio Cesar Chavez, "Sweetpea" says: "No one wants to see the fights you're supposed to win. This is a fight where no one knows who's going to win. The media doesn't even know."

Fact is, Pea, the media rarely knows.

* If and when Joe Paterno gets his Penn State footballers to the Rose Bowl via a Big Eleven Conference triumph and the Nittany Lions win, Joe will be the first coach to have won all the original big bowl games -- Cotton, Sugar, Orange and the Granddaddy.

* Pat Summerall is the sly old dog of the TV announcing booth, all right. You hardly know the guy's around, meaning he wears well. He gives us just the facts, leaving all the so-called experts to spill tiresome cliches all over the living room rug.

* Ever wonder why they refer to the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French and Australian Opens as the "major" events of tennis? Combined, the four offer prize money in excess of $30 million. And when will Maryland kick off a lottery game hooked up with the results?

* Pssst, today's the anniversary of famed heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan's only loss, James J. Corbett knocking the "Boston Strongboy" out in the 21st round in New Orleans. The year was 1892.

* It's hard to figure out which is worse, teams from the Orient winning the Little League World Series with overage players or former major-league MVP Jeff Burroughs calling pitches for kids as a coach for the victorious Long Beach, Calif., team.

* Watching guys dropping birdie putts is a lot better than seeing them thrash around, but when only three of 84 players end up over par at the Greater Milwaukee Open, it's time to push the PGA Tourists back from the ladies' tees.

* Bad enough we got knocked out in the round of 16 (by Australia) of this year's Davis Cup tourney. If the United States doesn't win a challenge Sept. 24-26, it won't even be in the main draw next year.

* The promoters, Baltimore Professional Bouts Inc., are predicting a crowd of about 2,000 for Thursday night's seven-bout card at Martin's West (7:30, sharp!). Now that he's into a 10-round main event, perhaps Virginia heavyweight Jason Waller (20-3) will show up in shape.

* Richard Krajicek and Todd Martin playing serve-and-volley for more than five hours (56 games) in the third-round match at the U.S. Open is the best reason yet for getting rid of the best-of-five format in tennis except for maybe the semis and final.

* Remembering the May day in 1954 when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier for the mile, it's totally inconceivable to think Noureddine Morceli would have beaten him by about 150 yards with his 3:44.39 effort the other day. Remeasure the track.

* Tickets for the first 10 home games of the Washington Capitals went on sale today, and the size of the type detailing the prices ($39, $36, $32, $24 and $12, barely in Prince George's County) was barely discernible to the naked eye.

* Hey, if Cincinnati and Atlanta are comfortable in the NL West and Penn State is likewise in the Big Ten, why can't William & Mary from the cradle of the Confederacy feel at home in the Yankee Conference? And then there's the makeup of the new Freedom League: Butler, Drake, Evansville, Dayton, Valparaiso and the University of San Diego, which is obviously contemplating a move to Indiana.

* Considering how early college football starts these days -- top-ranked Florida State had two games out of the way by Labor Day -- the NCAA might have to go to a playoff system just to make it to Thanksgiving.

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