O. J. ALL THE WAY?
You'll forgive me if I chuckle a little about your story (The Face-off That Never Was, Oct. 14) on O. J. Simpson running "at, inside of, around or over the top of Hendricks." Now, I'm not anti-O. J. As a matter of fact, I'm not even pro-Miami, though I do believe the 30-0 victory over LSU was a little better reflection of Miami's ability than the 28-3 loss to USC.
The point I would like to make, gentlemen, is that Dan Jenkins failed to make his point, and so did your picture sequence showing O. J. cutting inside of Hendricks. On this particular play, it is Hendricks' job to force O. J. inside and not let him turn the corner, which is exactly what the sequence shows him doing. The tackles and linebackers were at fault for the big gain that ensued.
But if it was picture sequences you wanted, how about the play on which Hendricks pursued O. J. across the field and caught him from behind for a loss?
These, I believe, were the only two times in the game the two came anywhere near each other, because films of the game clearly show O. J. running away from—not directly at—Hendricks at least 80% of the time.
To me, the remarkable thing about the game was not that O. J. crunched out his usual 163 yards. Anyone who carries the ball 38 times in one game is bound to gain a good deal of yardage. To me, the remarkable thing was that Hendricks, playing for a team that lost 28-3, was named the outstanding lineman of the game by covering sportswriters. Apparently, some other writers saw a few things that Mr. Jenkins failed to see.
DAVID S. HEEREN
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
It is apparent that Mr. Jenkins and I saw two different football games Saturday night in the Los Angeles Coliseum, although the score bears mute testimony to the outcome. O. J. Simpson is the finest running back in college football today, notwithstanding Mr. Jenkins' Heisman Trophy pandering.
My point, briefly, is that I do not think the score of this game necessarily tells the whole story, and, as was evident from the newspapers and Coach McKay's television show, this was a much harder game than either the score or Mr. Jenkins indicated. Furthermore, Mr. Jenkins' description of Hendricks' play, and the pictures run with it are not necessarily true indicators of the performance seen. Would it have been, for example, as fair to have run a picture of Simpson losing two yards against the left side of Miami's defensive line (as he did) and then suggest that Leroy Keyes is the only candidate for the Heisman Trophy?
I have in general found your reporting of sports events to be adequate, always reserving the right to see with my own eyes and then compare, and this article did justice to neither a fine athlete, as Hendricks is, nor to a fine runner, as Simpson is.
STEPHEN A. KOTZEN, M.D.
SHOT IN THE ARM
It seems incongruous that Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain were allowed to pitch in the World Series after both received shots of pain-killing drugs, yet Dancer's Image was disqualified as winner of the Kentucky Derby for a similar offense.
Where does the sports world draw the line?
A. B. ANDREA
After two years of reading your magazine, I have failed to hear a favorable word about the N.Y. Jets. I got used to the verbose attacks on Joe Namath, the annual A.F.L. predictions which tell why the Jets will never quite win it. But the article Winning with a Loser's Look (Oct. 14) was too much. Edwin Shrake more or less condemned the Jets for winning the type of game in which they are blessed with good fortune rather than good offense. That's football, and those are the breaks which make all sports fascinating.
Mr. Wilson says (19TH HOLE, Oct. 21) that photo shows Damascus with his ears pricked and Baeza's whip pointing skyward at the finish of Woodward Stakes. So what? Maybe Damascus doesn't like the whip. Maybe he needs a mile and a quarter to settle into stride. Some horses just can't be hurried.
Let's take the whip first. Mr. Wilson seems to think Baeza should have used it on Damascus. Well, some horses do their best only under a whip ride and some go to pieces and sulk at the touch of a whip. I do not know Damascus. I don't know if he likes the whip or not. I'm pretty sure a rider like Baeza does know. And another thing: that strong-finish stuff is baloney. There isn't a jockey in the world who can get any more speed out of a game horse once he's turned loose in the stretch.
Now the ears. Mr. Wilson said Damascus had his ears pricked at the finish. The ears standing up at the finish could mean, simply, that Damascus was still fresh at the finish, that he had plenty left but just wasn't good enough that day. I say this because while flattened-out ears may mean the horse is driving, it also may mean he's tired.
WILD ABOUT HARRY (CONT.)
Thank you for the very fine story on the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, Harry Caray. The warm summer evenings wouldn't seem quite right without a "holy cow" bouncing out of the radio. He brings baseball to people who never have an opportunity to see a game.
Harry truly is a nonconformist in a sad world of radio-TV conformity. He stands head and shoulders above the bland mechanical announcers on national networks. And there are very few others who make you feel as if you are in the second row of the box seats back of first.
Here in Colorado we can hear the games on KMOX "under the right conditions" or else from Tulsa or Topeka, Kans. Sometimes it is a continual switching of the dial just to keep the game tuned in. But it's worthwhile to hear Harry describe Maxvill hitting a home run in Shea Stadium, or Schofield hitting one in the 11th to help beat the Braves, or Bobby Tolan making a great catch in right field and throwing a runner out at home all in one motion, or Gibson getting his 13th shutout of the 1968 campaign. It's almost better than being there.
Keep that fishnet loose, Harry, and here's to 24 more good years with the Cards.
Glenwood Springs, Colo.
Harry Caray may be very exciting to Cardinal fans, but to an unbiased onlooker his amateurish babbling can be downright annoying. After two years of seeing him look foolish next to old pro Curt Gowdy, I've had just about enough. One of the prime ingredients for good broadcasting which Gowdy possesses, and Caray so obviously lacks, is knowing when to keep quiet.
If Harry insists on sounding like a fan in the bleachers, I suggest he take his butterfly net out there and leave the broadcasting to men who realize that everyone isn't rooting for the Cardinals.
Once again I must tip my hat to the editors of SI for doing their thing. By now it is no secret to the sports-reading public that as soon as some unfortunate "hero" makes his appearance on the cover of SI he at once becomes a marked man.
So in the tradition of turning winners into losers the wise old heads at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED treated the public to a special fold-out cover on its October 7 issue: The World Champion Cardinals complete with colorful outfits, colorful personalities, colorful salaries. Result? THE WORLD CHAMPION DETROIT TIGERS.
It just occurred to me that you might be doing your country a great service if you put Ho Chi Minh on your cover. Undoubtedly, the war would end in a week.
I am glad you published Bill Illerbrun's letter in your October 7 issue drawing attention to our Canadian Football League.
We would be no match for your professional teams in a "World Series," for reasons that I am sure you know.
However, some day Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto will have domed stadiums, then we will do our best to "sock it to you."
Meanwhile we will continue to enjoy your coverage of American sports, with a polite request to Tex Maule and Co. to glance northward occasionally, just to see what your Canadian cousins are up to.
J. F. HINDE
Bill Illerbrun pointed out that although Eldridge Dickey may be the first black quarterback to become a regular in American pro football, he couldn't become the first in pro football because of a Negro quarterback in the Canadian Football League. In an editor's note after the letter you said, "Dickey will in fact be the third." It remains to be seen whether or not this statement will come true. The odds are against it. Marlin (the Magician) Briscoe of the Denver Broncos became the first Negro quarterback in the AFL when he appeared against Boston on September 29 in a backup role. Briscoe played about 10 minutes, completed two of six passes, rushed for 51 yards on five attempts and scored a touchdown on a great 12-yard run. Although he is not yet a regular, Briscoe is a lot closer to becoming one than Dickey.
I would also like to say to Mr. Illerbrun that although the AFL and the NFL are not the only professional football leagues, they are clearly the best. The Green Bay Packers are definitely the world champions. By Mr. Illerbrun's reasoning, the Packers must also play the champions of the Continental Football League before they could claim their title. Don't be ridiculous.
Bill Illerbrun's letter suggests that the NFL champion is not really a world champion because it has proved its supremacy only in America and has not taken on the Canadian champion. This is pure lunacy. As an American who lived in Canada for eight years, I am amazed that anyone who has seen both the NFL and CFL could even think about comparing the two leagues. The CFL features second-rate talent, mere cast-offs from the NFL and AFL, and a brand of ball that can only be compared to high school play in its quality. An NFL-CFL championship (under any rules) would be a farcical mismatch. The Canadian champ and Purdue would be more like it.
STEPHEN J. DeGANGE
Bowling Green, Ohio
It seems to me that Bill Illerbrun overlooked the fact that most Canadian League players feel they have reached their career's height when they're accepted by the NFL. Therefore, it follows that the NFL really is the best league and the Packers really deserve the title of World Champions.
ARE LOSERS FAILURES? (CONT.)
If the closing letter in your September 16 issue from New Jersey Sports Editor Shabazian implying that all losers fail remains the last word on the quotation from William Lyon Phelps, Phelps will rest uneasily indeed. I have been cribbing Phelps for years and the word he chose was stronger than "success." Phelps said that the front page too often chronicles man's failure, the sports page is a recording of his triumphs. Phelps's sports page, however, was quite different from Shabazian's. I do enjoy today's sports page, but when I count the dollar signs there are more than in the business section.
Some fine depictions of the things Phelps saw are in the film Olympia, a documentary work of art showing the 1936 Berlin Olympics as many men triumph over time and distance, and their fatigue. Of course the triumph of the winners is recorded, but also a marathon runner collapsing as he crossed the line—he finished eighth, but he finished—plus the subtle triumph of Lutz Long, the great German athlete, beaten by the only man by whom he could be beaten, possibly because he gave that man advice that on his last chance helped him qualify. Why? Because a gold medal with Jesse Owens fouled out was less valued than to win or lose to Owens at his best.
Lud Shabazian should live a little longer. He will learn that in the long run we all lose though we need not fail. You don't always have to finish first to win. True, one of those trailing jocks on the slower horses may be carrying Lud's two bucks, but what does he want him to do? Get off and carry the horse? Lud is in the wrong job. If he is right and Phelps was wrong, there is no point to sport.
Santa Monica, Calif.
RIGHT TOWN, WRONG TEAM
If Joe Kuharich had ever coached the San Francisco 49ers as you say (If You Know a Good Joke, Tell It to Philadelphia, Sept. 23), they might not now be titleless in the NFL. Joe enjoyed some of his best football years in this city. Where he did coach, 1947-51, was here at the University of San Francisco, and over the final three seasons he molded one of the great collegiate teams the sport has known. Undefeated, untied and uninvited (to a bowl), the 1951 Dons sent seven first-stringers into the NFL (a record), among them Ollie Matson, Gino Marchetti, Bob St. Clair and Ed Brown.
All that may be ancient sports history now, although Matson retired from the Eagles just last year. A reporter can be forgiven for forgetting or not knowing it—except, perhaps, by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. He was the publicist for that USF team.
JAMES W. KELLY JR.
We read all the publicity and stories in your magazine concerning Evel Knievel and his scheduled attempt to jump the Grand Canyon on his motorcycle on Labor Day. Since then—nothing but silence.
Please, did he make it or fall in?
THE LIBRARY CLUB
TROY HIGH SCHOOL
•Knievel has not abandoned his plans to jump the Grand Canyon but has been unable to obtain permission from the federal agencies who administer the land along the Colorado River. Meanwhile, he is arranging to purchase a launching site north of Twin Falls, Idaho for a one-mile warmup jump across the 700-foot-deep canyon of the Snake River.—ED.