Joe Bugel and Jerry Glanville roomed together in a log cabin back in 1967 when they were assistant coaches at Western Kentucky.
They drew up plays on the back of pizza boxes and dreamed of bigger things ahead.
In a year in which there's not likely to be much coaching turnover in the NFL, Bugel and Glanville are at the top of the list of coaches who have to worry about job security.
Bugel's fate already may be sealed. Owner Bill Bidwill gave him an ultimatum at the start of the year that he had to win nine games to save his job.
He can't reach that goal now and it doesn't help that the man who hired him, Larry Wilson, has resigned as general manager.
But the players like Bugel, they've won three of their past four and they hope a victory today and a 7-9 record will save his job.
That may be wishful thinking, but the players are convinced better days are ahead.
"It's sad we don't have eight more games," linebacker Eric Hill said. "Playing at this level, I think we're unstoppable. I hate to talk about next year."
Bugel said: "This team will be in the Super Bowl one of these years."
Bugel may not be coaching it, though. The interesting thing is that if the Cardinals win one for Bugel, it may not save his job and could cost his friend Glanville his job.
Unlike Bugel, Glanville doesn't have much support among the players and the team is sagging -- losing back-to-back road games to Washington and Cincinnati.
"My contract says I get paid until March of 1995," Glanville said, "Other than that, I don't think about it."
Glanville has two things going for him. The Falcons would have to eat his contract at about $800,000 if they fired him and, Taylor Smith, the son of owner Rankin Smith, is supporting him.
But Rankin Smith may step in if he's worried about selling tickets. The Falcons lost 17 percent of their season-ticket base from the first to the second year at the Georgia Dome. It's likely to drop again -- especially if Glanville is back. Although they've sold about 56,000 tickets for today's game, only about 30,000 may show.
It could turn out that the two old friends are both coaching their last NFL games against each other.
Tex can't believe it
Ted Schramm, the former boss of the Dallas Cowboys, can't believe what's happened in the league he once shaped.
Schramm, who quit as the Cowboys president shortly after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989, was stunned when the NFL gave the NFC package to Fox over CBS.
He said it was an example of "greed, greed, greed" among the new breed of owners.
"It's just a very sad thing when you see something like this can happen," Schramm said. "When you think of trading CBS for Fox with 120 UHF stations, it's ludicrous. There's got to be a point where style and class mean something. It just makes me sick because I spent 40 years in the league. To see this happening just kills me."
He said that in the old days, "There was just a different attitude in that what was best for the league came first. Now it's designed to be a money-making machine."
The strange thing is that while the TV committee was grabbing the money from Fox, the owners left a lot of money on the table because of the way they handled the negotiations.
When they made a "gentlemen's agreement" with NBC, the deal was that Fox could still bid against NBC, but CBS couldn't. So when CBS came back and bid $250 million for the AFC package, compared to NBC's $217 million bid, CBS was turned down.
League officials simply say that was the "process."
Now there's a familiar word. They talked about the "process" when Baltimore was bypassed for expansion.
One owner who didn't like the deal even told a CBS staffer, "They did the same thing to CBS that they did to Baltimore."
At least when they bypassed Baltimore, they had a reason. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue wanted the Baltimore market for Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.
Nobody has yet to figure out why the bidding process was weighted against CBS.
Maybe the owners will get an explanation when they meet in Dallas Wednesday to ratify the deal.
Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, finally gave an explanation for why he voted for Jacksonville in the expansion derby even though his good friend, Al Lerner, was leading the Baltimore effort.
"I wasn't voting for or against Al Lerner. I was voting for a city," Modell told the Akron Beacon-Journal last week, "I felt Jacksonville was a better prospect for the NFL. It's virgin territory. It's another Green Bay in the making. It's going to be around a long, long time as an extremely important franchise."
Modell also had an explanation for why Lerner never commented publicly on his Baltimore effort.
"It was on my advice," he said. "I didn't want him to be the fall guy. I advised him to come in the back way and go out the back way [in Chicago]. I didn't want him exposed to the media -- finding out that Lerner came in on a white charger and failed. I didn't want him to be embarrassed in any way. He didn't deserve it. He got into the picture at the behest of the governor. He wasn't crazy about it.
"I told him I didn't think Baltimore was going to get it, but if they had a chance at all, it would only be with you at the helm. He said he would step forward if he could be helpful to the city of Baltimore."
Modell, incidentally, wouldn't mind trying to use Baltimore.
A columnist for the News-Herald, Hal Lebovitz, wrote that Modell might consider moving to Baltimore or St. Louis if he doesn't get concessions in Cleveland on a renovated stadium project. Cleveland is building a baseball stadium for the Indians, leaving the Browns in antiquated Cleveland Stadium.
Modell did not return phone calls last week.
There have been persistent rumors in Cleveland that Modell may sell the Browns to Lerner, but Modell has denied the team is up for sale.
Spirit of St. Louis?
"I think that passing the bill would mean the team would not move," Weld said.
The trouble is that he doesn't appear to have the votes, and the investment firm of Goldman Sachs is soliciting bids because owner James Busch Orthwein, who's from St. Louis, wants to get out of football.
Weld said he's heard the team may be heading to St. Louis, but Orthwein isn't appearing to be giving the St. Louis group a break. The investment firm is talking about a sale price in the $180 million to $190 million range, which seems high in light of the team's debt picture. In any case, Orthwein seems determined to sell to the highest bidder even if he's not from St. Louis.
Keeping options open
The Los Angeles Rams don't seem to be making any long-term decisions right now.
John Shaw, the team's executive vice president, said last week that he's not looking for a general manager and that coach Chuck Knox will continue to make personnel decisions. There had been recent speculation that the team might change direction and hire a GM.
Since the team could move in 1995, this was another sign that Shaw thinks there's no point in changing things for 1994.
The team is expected shortly to give the city of Anaheim the 15 months notice that is required for it to break its lease.
Jacksonville search is on
Wayne Weaver, the owner of the new Jacksonville team, apparently hasn't decided whether to bring in a big-name GM or a big-name coach to run the team.
If he goes the GM route, Bobby Beathard of the San Diego Chargers and Ron Wolf of the Green Bay Packers could be candidates.
If he goes for a big-name coach who'll run the show without a GM, Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys seems interested.
Johnson always talked about returning to Florida, where he coached at the University of Miami.
"I've always said I'd eventually end up back in Florida on a beach somewhere," he said a week ago.
However owner Jerry Jones told The Dallas Morning News the decision is not Johnson's to make.
"It's up to me," said Jones, who has Johnson under contract through 1999. "I have no intention of making a coaching change. To have this as an issue is a joke."
One thing about Johnson is that he can keep his team on an even keel even through distractions.
"I'm really happy for Troy, but when I look at that [contract], I say: Here I am, an individual, I have to sit out two games, I have to go through this mind-rassling with the man . . . I'm stunned. I'm numb. I was hurt more by the principle of the whole deal than him getting his money," Smith said.
But the Cowboys manage to keep focused on winning. If they beat the New York Giants today, they'll have the inside track on a second straight Super Bowl.
A year ago, Giants general manager George Young was being lambasted in New York for refusing to sign Bill Parcells as his head coach and for being turned down twice before settling on Dan Reeves as his coach.
Now that the Giants are battling the Cowboys for the division title, he's being praised by some of the same columnists who rapped him last year for his foresight in signing Reeves and for some astute free-agent pickups, including linebackers Michael Brooks and Carlton Bailey.
Young, though, doesn't feel vindicated.
"I don't care at all about vindication. I'm not running for any office. Beating your chest does nothing for you," he said.