TV drama: Young and restless


The TV Repairman:

Consider the number of times Steve Young, the quarterback of the 49ers, has had the accomplishments of predecessor Joe Montana tossed in his face. What, a million? Does it bother him? Does he wear No. 8?

But Young has been around long enough -- remember he was on two of those four San Francisco Super Bowl champions -- to have noticed something: "You'd drive yourself nuts if you tried to jump over and through the hoops and hurdles people put in front of you, especially when they start moving them. I just work to get better with each game and let public reaction take care of itself."

Fact is, though, Young had better lead his favored mates to victory over the Cowboys on Sunday (Fox, 4 p.m.) or he'll wish Alcatraz was still open.

* The point differential in the four NFL wild-card weekend games was 9.5. Last week, in four conference semifinals, it was about 10 points more (18.75). The lines for Sunday's games are 8 for the Steelers over the Chargers and 7 1/2 for the 49ers over the Cowboys. What's it all about, Alfie?

* If the announcers doing Sunday's NFL conference championship games on TV are wearing on you, be advised Pat Haden and Howard David will be doing the Chargers-Steelers on CBS radio at 12:30 p.m. followed by old Monday night sidekicks Jack Buck and Hank Stram at the Cowboys-49ers at 4 p.m.

Quickie story on the vastly underrated TNT analyst Haden: When he was a much-booed quarterback for the Rams, splitting the job with Vince Ferragamo, Pat wrote a letter to the fans via a newspaper:

"I know I'm short, I know I can't throw deep, and I know I'm not Italian. But please bear with me. I've already taken steps to improve my image. I'm taking Italian lessons, eating more spaghetti and trying to talk my wife into changing our name to Hadenlione. Look, you may have to put up with me one more season, anyway, because if the Raiders come to Los Angeles, then you can boo Jim Plunkett if you want. For fans at the game Sunday, would you please point out my open receivers? You can't imagine how hard it is to see somebody with all those big linemen around."

It worked. L.A. Coliseum fans got off his back.

* Obviously, a change of network hasn't changed Channel 11's attitude toward weekend sports tumbling down from the networks: something to be avoided at all cost. It's telethoning tomorrow, so down the tubes is NBC figure skating at 4 p.m. (a tape of the Baltimore Arena show Dec. 28) followed by the LPGA Tournament of Champions at 5. Fortunately, WBAL is picking up the AFC title game between the Steelers and Chargers on Sunday. Whew!

Speaking of golf, and it's all over the place this weekend with TBS doing the Hawaiian Open tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30 and ESPN camped out at the Senior Tournament of Champions the next two days at 2 and 5 p.m., respectively, the Golf Channel commences operations Tuesday and . . . wait a minute, recall how everyone scoffed at the idea of around-the-clock sports on something called ESPN 15 years ago? Anyway, wall-to-wall niblicks is a reality and will tee off off with a free week. The charge will be $7 per month and the immediate goal is 2 million subscribers.

* Those good-natured cutups, Vinny Pazienza and Roberto Duran, get together for another ring go-around on pay-per-view tomorrow in Atlantic City and, going against the way pre-fight hype is conducted these days, didn't spit venom.

"I was involved in a political campaign back in Panama the last time we fought. My condition is much better for this one," said Duran. "He's a clown and I want to shut his mouth, but he's a good, tough kid."

"This is Roberto's last hurrah, so he'll put everything into it," said Pazienza. "He's very cagey and fans think he's old [43], but it's hard to take advantage of him. He put me down in the last fight, but I wanted that to happen to me to check out my mettle." Paz won a close decision.

* What is it about practice that makes it so abhorrent to NBA players? As soon as the Nets hit Derrick Coleman's hometown of Detroit this week, the star was picked up at the airport by friends in a limo. Next morning, he said he was having car trouble and would miss practice. It's the same stunt he pulled during the exhibition season. No one has more troubles with Rolls Royces, Jaguars, Ferraris and Mercedes than NBA players, which is not good advertisement for those expensive machines.

* All you have to do is remember watching the Washington Bullets on Channel 20 or HTS to realize Scott Skiles is correct when he says, "So many people are blaming this [17 losses in 18 games] on injuries. But, to be honest, we weren't playing that well before the injuries."

* The Globetrotters are in the area for their annual appearance this weekend, playing the USAir Arena on Sunday (1:30 p.m.) and the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., that evening (7). A tape of one of the games will be on telly sometime next summer.

* Hey, gang, ESPN has the East/West Shrine Bowl at 4 p.m. tomorrow. Remember when it was a big deal?

* Someday, somewhere, a professional athlete is going to admit that money was a contributing factor to his enjoying the fruits of free agency. However, it's not going to be Kevin Greene, outsider linebacker of the Steelers: "No, money was not a factor in my signing with Pittsburgh after leaving the Rams. I could have made more elsewhere. The Steelers ran the type of system I could have fun playing in."

* Besides the 51 stops on the PGA Tour, there are European and Asian circuits going strong and Greg Norman still insists there's room for an eight-stop World Tour, with the Fox Network putting up $25 million to get the ball rolling.

The players, of course, want to play for all they can command, but to expect just the top 30 players competing for huge purses to elevate these events to the "major" tourney level of the Masters, U.S. and British Opens and PGA is ludicrous. It is the tradition and fields that make those events, not the money.

* Roy Firestone has just 10 more days to go on "Up Close," the excellent sports interview show he has been doing for years on ESPN. He's missed already. Staffer Chris Meyers takes over Jan. 23.

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