Pigskin Blunders As a Tube-Bound Nation Clicks from Politics to Football, will the Oratory Improve?

Kevin Gilbride and Buddy Ryan always will be remembered for their sideline fight when the two were assistant coaches with the Houston Oilers last season.

Earlier this month, when Gilbride and his boss Jack Pardee were fired by Houston, Ryan, now the Arizona Cardinals' coach, rubbed salt in Gilbride's wound by saying: "I predicted that he'd be selling insurance in two years. It was a year early."


Ryan seems to relish his reputation as a loudmouth. A few years ago, while coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, he caused a stir by telling the Redskins to bring body bags for their showdown with his team.

Ryan is one of the true characters in football, a tough and demanding sport, which over the years has generated some laugh-producing statements, including a good number of malapropisms and misspeaks.


Undoubtedly best known for his malapropisms was Bill Peterson, former coach of the Florida State Seminoles. Those who observed him in action feel his classic statements came in stressful or excited situations. Some of his most memorable are:

* On his relationship with players:

"I've always had great repertoire with my players."

* Reminding those around him who was in charge:

"I'm the football coach around here and don't you remember it!"

* On favorable crowd reaction to his speech:

"They gave me a standing observation."

* On the talent of one of his players:


"Fred Biletnikoff's limitations are limitless. He's footsure and fancy free."

* Discussing a meeting between his team and a key rival:

"It'll be like two ships that crash in the night."

* On playing style:

"We're going to throw the football, come hell or high water.

We're not gonna be any Martin D. Tullai is chairman of the history department at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville.


three clouds and a yard of dust kind of team."

* About a coming opponent:

"We can beat this team. All we have to do is capitalize on our mistakes."

* Asked if he thought it would rain:

"What do you think I am -- a geologist?"

* Giving instructions on the field:


"You guys pair off in groups of threes, then line up in a circle."

* Summing up a close, winning game:

"Whew, this was a cliff dweller to end all cliff dwellers."

L * To one of his players, an aspiring minister, after a game:

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer."

* Helping a photographer on press day:


"You guys line up alphabetically by height."

* After a gallant but losing effort:

"I used to have this slight speech implement."

* Remarking on an improvement:

"I couldn't remember things before I took that Sam Carnegie Course."

* On being honored:


"The greatest thing just happened. I got indicted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame."

* Waxing patriotic:

"This is the greatest country in America."

* Painting a glowing picture to his not-very-enthusiastic team before the 1966 Sun Bowl in El Paso -- near the Mexican border and attractions in Juarez:

"Each of you will receive a nice piece of Seminite luggage. We're going to have a grand time, but I don't want any of you players getting in trouble over there in Warsaw."

* Trying to fire up his team by citing a historic precedent before a big game:


"Just remember the words of Henry Patrick -- 'Kill me or let me live.' "

* On being together:

"We're all in this together, and don't you remember it."

* To his Houston Oilers team:

"Men, I want you thinking of just one word all season. One word and only one word -- Super Bowl."

* After a tough game:


"Don't you guys think for a minute that I'm going to take this loss standing down."

L And then there are the following items from various sources:

* On realizing that his coaches were confusing the issue with the profusion of suggestions at a staff meeting, a head coach said:

"Hey, too many cooks are in the soup."

* Terry Bradshaw, former Steelers quarterback, now a television sports analyst, describing a situation when he played:

"One time we had 10 turnovers in Riverfront Stadium -- seven fumbles and four interceptions."


* George Allen, former coach who became a TV analyst, on the positioning of a receiver:

"He kept his body between himself and the ball."

* Radio sportscaster describing a play by Jets quarterback Joe Namath:

". . . and Joe Namath screams to his tight end -- uh, that should be screens, folks."

* TV sportscaster, before the Baltimore Colts-New York Jets matchup in the 1969 Super Bowl:

"Talking about the game, scheduled for next week, Coach Ewbank called his star quarterback, Joe Namath, the most offensive player in football . . . best offensive player."


* With Norm Snead at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, the play-by-play announcer, apparently a golfer, observed:

"Going back to pass to his tight end is Sam Snead."

* Broadcasting a Miami-Georgia Tech football game, sportscaster Bill Derne declared:

". . . and now coming into the game is the 5-ton junior from Canton, Ohio."

* During the 1973 NFL season, when the New Orleans Saints did not fare too well, even Archie Manning was booed. When John xTC Ferguson of WWL-TV and Radio asked the respected quarterback if the booing had hurt him or his teammates, he responded:

"No, I think it was just a small majority of the people."


* During an Oakland Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs game, sportscaster Curt Gowdy offered this summary of a successful TD drive:

"The 78-yard drive was led by 14-year-old veteran Lenny Dawson."

* Color commentator, noting an injury on the field:

"And from here in the press box it appears that Bart Starr, the great Green Bay Packers quarterback, had the wind knocked out of him, for which we are most grateful."

* During a Sugar Bowl game between Alabama and Penn State, Bud Wilkerson said in praise of his opponent:

"Joe Paternity . . . Paterno's fine defensive line from Pencil State University . . . er, I mean, Penn State University has played well."


* Coach Wilkerson, upon being told by a reporter that his quarterback had charisma:

"What? Will he be OK by Saturday?"

* John Madden, about running back Earl Campbell:

"From the waist down, Earl Campbell has the biggest legs I've ever seen on a running back."

* Joe Namath, Hall of Fame quarterback and now a sports analyst, describing a halfback's woes:

"He was hit so hard, he lost all of his facilities."


* Tim Brandt, CBS colorcaster, about a Notre Dame draw play against Miami:

"Nicely done -- a well-deceived play."

* Jackie Sherrill, while coach at Texas A&M;, explaining why the Scholastic Aptitude Test is unfair to athletes:

"The tests historically discriminate against those not in the mainland or streamlined."

* Quarterback-turned-sportscaster Don Meredith, as a game was about to get under way:

"And now, football fans, it's time for the kiss-off!"


* A halfback tired of being kidded about his fumbling habit, told his teammates:

"Aw, c'mon fellas, let a dead horse rest."

* The line coach of a well-known college power was being interviewed for the head coaching job at an Ivy League college:

"What's your football philosophy?" asked the chairman of the athletic board.

"To explode across the line and nip out the opponents guts," snarled the hard-nosed coach.

The chairman looked shocked. "Do you mean that literally?" he asked.


"Hell, no!" replied the coach. "I mean that physically."

* John Madden, on John Elway:

"Because Elway is blond, blue-eyed and wears No. 7, he doesn't look that big."

* Former Tampa Bay coach Ray Perkins, on running back Gary Peterson:

"He's a great player. He ceases to amaze me every day."

* Walter Payton, on whether the Chicago Bears were as good as their 10-6 record in 1984:


"Better. We should have been undefeated at least."

* Observation of a Troup High School (La Grange, Ga.) football player on the sideline when a teammate

streaked downfield, went by the defender, then dropped a perfectly thrown 50-yard pass:

"Coach, he must have heard footprints."

* Terry Bradshaw, on demands the banquet circuit and his announcer's job have made on him since retiring from the NFL:

"When you're unemployed, you have to work all the time."


* Former Kansas City Chiefs Coach John Mackovic on being prepared:

"You must always be prepared for today. If you lose sight of that, then you will never have a today, which was a tomorrow yesterday. What I'm saying is, you must be prepared for today, because tomorrow really doesn't ever get here from yesterday, and we have to assume it will get here again tomorrow."

* Ron Stanko, attorney for Baltimore Colt Derrick Hatchett, regarding his contract obligations:

"Indentured servants went out with the Gettysburg Address."

* Learning that a player who was holding out for a five-year contract was now willing to sign for one year, a general manager declared:

"Well, that's a different kennel of fish."


* A defensive coordinator, upset by his charges' poor play, told an associate:

2& "We have to nip this in the butt."