The Top 10 college seniors as rated last week by the National Football Scouting combine:
Bruce Smith, defensive lineman, Virginia Tech; Eddie Brown, wide receiver, Miami; Bill Fralic, offensive tackle, Pittsburgh; Ray Childress, defensive lineman, Texas A & M; Lomax Brown, offensive tackle, Florida; George Adams, running back, Kentucky; Chris Doleman, linebacker, Pittsburgh; Ethan Horton, running back, North Carolina; Rich Johnson, cornerback, Wisconsin; Kevin Allen, offensive tackle, Indiana.
What about Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie? Look for the Boston College quarterback to go to the Bills, who'll pick No. 1, or the Falcons, who'll pick third. Both teams were box-office flops this season, and could use some Flutie magic to hype ticket sales.
While Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson drools about Flutie, Bills general manager Terry Bledsoe would prefer to spend the team's bucks on Jim Kelly, who threw 44 TD passes for the USFL's Houston Gamblers last season. The Bills own Kelly's NFL rights. Says Kelly's agent, Greg Lustig, "They'd have to pay Kelly seven figures a year."
Flutie seems to be No. 1 in the Falcons' hearts. Coach Dan Henning dismisses doubts about the 5'9�" Flutie being tall enough to play in the NFL, saying: "Anybody who throws 11,000 yards in four years of college and plays a major-college schedule can play in the NFL."
Al Davis is keeping his Raiders happy. Two of his favorite players got new contracts last week. Defensive end Howie Long, who walked out of training camp demanding "Gastineau money," got it: a reported $3 million over four years. Linebacker Matt Millen, who was said to be ready to leave the team, had his salary tripled to $350,000 per year. With fat pay hikes projected for Marcus Allen and Mike Haynes as well, the Raiders' payroll will exceed $15 million for '85, roughly two times what it was three years ago. Says one NFL exec, "Of course, they're spending the NFL's money." By that, he means the still-undetermined millions that the Raiders will collect from their successful antitrust suit against the league.
John Bassett, owner of the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits, has come up with an unusual marketing scheme. In exchange for a stub from Sunday's Buccaneers-Jets game, Bassett will give one free Bandits ticket. "This is an investment," he says. "Say we get 10,000 stubs. Half of those people probably feel the USFL is baloney. So we'll let them see a game. Hey, they'll come back."
Here's a sampling of what the Colts were saying privately before coach Frank Kush departed last week to become coach of the USFL's Arizona Outlaws:
"We are led by fear and humiliation tactics."... "We battle Frank Kush, we don't battle other teams."... "[Kush ordered] chicken-crap fines, like $10 for grass on our shoes. We're not in high school."... "He'll never have to write an acceptance speech for Coach of the Year."
Little wonder the Colts popped champagne corks in the locker room after Kush announced he had accepted Arizona's offer, a reported five-year, $1 million contract—$700,000 of which is guaranteed.