STORM OVER GALE
Each Wednesday the National Football League puts out a list of players who are not-expected to play that week. The October 18 list did not include Half back Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears, so everybody expected an exciting duel the following Sunday in Cleveland between two of the league's leading rushers, Sayers and Leroy Kelly of the Browns—everybody, that is, except the bookmakers. Oddsmakers in Louisville and Chicago—almost as if they knew Sayers would not play all along—took the game off the boards, while everywhere else the odds against the Bears increased steadily during the week. On Sunday, Sayers did not play. "I was jogging on the sidelines during the warmup," he said, "and hurt my leg again."
"He was hurt in the warmup," said Coach George Halas. But some Cleveland newsmen said Sayers had not so much as trotted during warmup drills.
"It was like going to a Harry Belafonte concert and Harry Belafonte wasn't there," said Captain Paul Wiggin of the Browns, all of whom had been prepared to defend against Sayers. Those who paid to see the game felt the same way.
"We're gathering facts on all aspects of the situation," said Commissioner Pete Rozelle. "If there is anything to say we'll say it."
We hope something does get said. Fans should not have to go to gamblers to find out who will play.
Two years ago Kentucky signed the first Negro football players in the Southeastern Conference, Greg Page and Nat Northington. Page died tragically five weeks ago after receiving a severe spinal injury in a freak football training accident. Now Northington, considered a good prospect as a defensive half back and safety, has quit the team and left school. The death of his teammate deeply affected Northington and no doubt contributed to his decision. A shoulder injury and scholastic difficulties are also believed to have been factors.
"It's nobody else's fault but my own," he said. "I like everybody, but there is something missing. I just couldn't live up to it. I'm letting a lot of people down, but if I kept going on I'd just be fooling everybody but myself."
The British, when bent on crime, carry it off with peerless flair. Their train robberies and prison breaks have rare distinction. And now they can add the sure-thing betting coup. Last week at the Bristol greyhound track a gang placed several hundred pounds on Silver Jemima, an animal that on the face of it merited no such display of faith. On the second turn, it was obvious things were going all wrong. Silver Jemima could not win. Suddenly the house lights went out and the mechanical hare stopped amid a pile of startled greyhounds. A gang member, receiving a distress signal from trackside, had pulled out the fuses in the stadium switch box.
The blackout lasted 30 minutes. The race was declared void, and all bets had to be returned.
It would figure that the pastor of the Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City and his parishioners would be men of sporting interests. But when the Kansas City Chiefs announced an earlier-than-ever kickoff time for their home games (1:05 p.m.), it put the squeeze on Sunday worship.
The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Bash wrote in the church bulletin, "I think most churches are going to feel the impact of this rather difficult football schedule." However, Dr. Bash has solved the problem for his congregation and himself. He has arranged for a chartered bus to wait at the church steps ready to speed the faithful to Municipal Stadium. Parishioners can attend services in sports clothes or change clothes at the church afterward. They also can leave their children at the church nursery school during the game. Nor is the Rev. Dr. Bash about to be left behind. He boards the bus still dressed in his clerical robes.
"Our world produces so many interesting, entertaining, fascinating and even helpful distractions," says the reverend, "that old habits of loyalty just wither and die. We never really say to ourselves, 'I'm going to give up church. It isn't as entertaining as football.' But the decision is made, and your church can tell the difference. We have 3,225 resident members, and a home game used to cut attendance by 150 to 200 persons. Life is full of hidden priorities. I don't know whether the question should be, 'What will I sacrifice in order to attend church?' or 'What will I sacrifice to attend a football game?' "
Until this season NFL teams have always been divided into two conferences, the Eastern and the Western. But, to meet the seemingly insatiable demands of pro football fans and heighten the suspense, the league decided to split up this year into four divisions, each with four teams. This would mean two more playoff games come December, and, it was suggested, double the money and double the fun.
Ironically, as of last Sunday night—with almost half the season gone—it may be double the money, but it looks like half the fun. If the old East-West division had been retained fans would now be enjoying two tough, tight races between traditional rivals, one involving four teams, the other five (above). Under the new format races are much less interesting; in the Central Division, champion Green Bay's early bumbling and fumbling has become meaningless. In spite of its indifferent record, it is a cinch-winner in its division of patsys. But that's progress for you.
The Caufield Cup, the trophy for one of Australia's two most esteemed horse races, will sit for the next year on a Beverly Hills mantlepiece, thanks to a judicious purchase a fortnight ago by two Los Angeles businessmen.
Three days before the 90th running of the historic stakes event, Investor William Breliant and Accountant Irving Litz flew to Australia and bought Tobin Bronze, a 5-year-old chestnut who had won 23 races and $164,000. The buyers had been told by California Trainer Charlie Whittingham that the horse could probably beat anything in America up to 10 furlongs. They purchased Tobin Bronze for about $450,000, a record in Australia, but noteworthy in the U.S. because it was so small, rather than so large, a price. The following Saturday Tobin Bronze won the Caufield Cup and the $40,000 purse that went with the victory.
Breliant and Litz were at first reluctant to go into the winner's circle at the Melbourne track, mindful, no doubt, that Australian racing enthusiasts still hold every American responsible for the mysterious death 35 years ago in California of the famed Phar Lap. Now another Australian champion was being taken away.
But the crowd applauded the new owners as well as the horse, and Major General Sir Rohan Delacombe, the governor of Victoria, has even offered to arrange transport for Tobin Bronze to the Washington, D.C., International on November 11, where he will formally compete for Australia, despite his new ownership.
FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY
In a high school football game in Texas, New Deal beat Roosevelt 46-14.
NOT SO SPARTAN PROSE
A few days after he had suspended six Michigan State football players, Coach Duffy Daugherty was explaining in his newspaper column why athletes have to be disciplined: "To become a champion all athletes have to be aware of the value...of discipline, of being willing to have respect for authority, being willing to discipline one's self and of being willing to give up some of the things that non-athletes are doing.... I feel so strongly about our young men trying their best at all times that I not only talk to them a great deal in this vein but also write them a number of letters during their summer vacations.
"In these letters I point out our goals, hopes and aspirations for the coming season. I ask them to think big so their deeds will grow, to hitch their wagon to that proverbial star and to come back to fall practice imbued with an overwhelming desire to do everything within their God-given talents to help us achieve the high goals that we have set for ourselves.
"Knowing that words might fail to get across my important points in my final letter I enclose this little poem:
If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun, be a star.
For it isn't by size that you win or you fail,
Be the best of whatever you are."
...AND SPEAKING OF DISCIPLINE
If Duffy Daugherty had his disciplinary problems, so did two other horrified Big Ten coaches recently when their adventurous punters decided to take the game into their own hands. When undefeated Indiana played Iowa in its fourth game of the season, Indiana's kicker and halfback, John Isenbarger, was told he could run from punt formation if he saw a chance for a big gain. He succeeded once, then failed and set up an Iowa touchdown that almost cost Indiana the game. Coach Johnny Pont told Isenbarger to forget about running from punt formation in the future, but the following week against Michigan there he went again, running on fourth down at the Indiana 13-yard line. Isenbarger fumbled, Michigan recovered and scored, and again the Hoosiers almost lost. "I've never been madder in my life," said Pont.
But he could not have been as angry as Purdue's Jack Mollenkopf. Purdue, ranked No. 2 in the country, had just been upset by Oregon State. The turning point in the game came when Dick Berg, the Purdue punter, ran on fourth down at midfield and failed, giving Oregon State the opportunity to score.
"Berg's no runner," stormed Mollenkopf. "He often works out in his street clothes. I have always wondered what would happen if he got a bad pass from center and had to run. He must have been reading about Isenbarger in the papers. What he did is the same as breaking training rules."
Last week, almost as poetic as Duffy, Indiana Athletic Director Bill Orwig loudly recited the following as the Indiana team boarded its bus:
"See John punt.
Punt John punt.
Punt John punt.
See John run."
PITCHING A WET ONE
That red-white-and-blue-spangled ball which the American Basketball Association has been using to jazz up its games may be replaced by a standard model in the next few weeks. The ABA's ball was designed with an eye to the future and color television, but it is already probably a thing of the past. Players complain that moisture collects on the ball, making it difficult to grip.
GOOD SHOT, BAD SHOW
During the recent Champagne Open in Upland, Calif., Bill Hathaway, a college professor with an 11 handicap, watched his tee shot on the 1st hole, a 286-yard par-4, bounce onto the green and roll into the cup. The host club, the Red Hill CC, had promised to give a new car to any golfer scoring an ace in the tournament. But when Hathaway went to claim his prize he was told that a hole in one on a par-4 did not count. The club had purchased protective insurance for par-3 holes only.
THEY SAID IT
•Woody Hayes, Ohio State football coach, after his punter was hit hard in a game but no penalty was called: "I guess they only consider it roughing when one guy grabs the punter's leg, then another guy grabs the punter's other leg and they say to him, 'Now make a wish.' "
•Bill van Breda Kolff, Los Angeles Laker coach, after watching mild-mannered Mel Counts wander around: "Mel, I'm going to make you so mad that you will take a punch at me—and, in all probability, you'll miss."
•Joe DiMaggio, on his new appointment as vice president of the Athletics: "Exploit me? Aren't we all exploited in a way when we take a job? I found Finley to be very nice and, until proved otherwise, I'll go along with him."