What a tremendous coup for Edwin Shrake (A Champagne Party for Joe and Weeb, Dec. 9)! The NFL still had six teams in contention and the AFL had four when his article "describing" the Jets' Super Bowl upset over Baltimore appeared. Among other things, Shrake should qualify as the prognosticator who replaces Tex Maule for the preseason selections in SI next year.
Could it be 1975 already? That is when most of the experts estimated the two leagues would finally become equal. Although many of us thought the Mets would bring the next championship to New York, we might have looked a little closer at the AFL domination of the interleague exhibition games for a preview.
WADE N. PATTERSON
Grants Pass, Ore.
I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Not only the supergame, but the superstory! You had better get a pretty good hold on Edwin Shrake—New York City will stop at nothing to get him as a weather forecaster.
Please ask Edwin Shrake to write a letter to his friend Max describing how the New York Knicks managed to beat the 76ers, the Bullets and the Lakers in the NBA playoffs.
By the way, should you happen to see Tex Maule, please ask him for me how his foot tastes.
I feel it should be said here and now that the performance of the New York Jets in the Super Bowl has to go down as one of the greatest moments in sport. It is for this reason that I wish to nominate Joe Willie Namath for Sportsman of the Year 1969. It might be a little early, but I feel there is nothing more that can be done in the world of sport which can overshadow what Mr. Namath did on Jan. 12.
FORE- AND HINDSIGHT
As anyone who has read SI for a few years knows, sometime in January we can expect an issue similar to the Jan. 13 number (Surfers and Sybarites). You continually publish pictures of young women in skimpy, revealing swimsuits that leave little to the imagination. If this practice continues, I may be forced to take out another subscription.
It's nice to know that Giorgio Sant' Angelo's creation, covering just enough of beautiful Erin Gray in front, consists "mainly of thin straps" in back. If he had enough hindsight, your photographer must have taken a shot of those straps and, as an old straphanger, I would like to see it.
I am writing about the apparent decline in the visual impact and quality of your famous (or infamous) January "swimsuit" issues (1963 et seq.). I believe SI is mistaken in departing from the criteria set forth by Jule Campbell in the Jan. 16, 1967 issue: "The girl has to look healthy, has to be the kind men turn around to stare at, has to have visible spirit and should be athletic." With this latest issue SI seems to have abandoned this formula in favor of a style and format more suited to Vogue, and I believe I am not alone in asking you to return to the "fundamentalism" that made the first issues so appealing.
CARTER B. STACK
Count us among the subscribers who are severely disappointed to see SI apparently betraying its professional standing by joining in the race for pinups.
LeROY J. HOLBERT, M.D.
I was quite surprised to read those several letters of horror and shock (19TH HOLE, Jan. 13) in response to what I thought was a colorful, accurate and tastefully done pictorial essay on Sugar Bowl Week in New Orleans (Dec. 23). As a resident of the city, I feel that Photographer Stephen Green-Armytage did an excellent job of capturing the diversity—as total as it realistically is—of the entertainment that New Year's visitors annually find in the Crescent City. The burlesque of Bourbon Street is as much a part of New Orleans' own personality and attraction as anything else one might think of, and SI is to be congratulated for realizing that fact.
ALAN R. YUSPEH
BREAK UP THE AFL
With the pro football draft rapidly approaching, it seems necessary to call the attention of the proper authorities to the potential threat of ever-growing league imbalance, which through ineffective drafting procedures, has plagued pro sports for years. By this I mean giving the exclusive draft rights to a superstar of the nature of O. J. Simpson to the Buffalo Bills, who this year have proven themselves the best team in pro football. After all, they beat the World Champion Jets who in turn defeated the postseason consensus as the best team in the nation, the Baltimore Colts.
At this point it seems that there are only two practical solutions to the problem: either the Bills should be split up into two franchises in a move to restore some balance to the AFL, or O.J. should go to the newly declared worst team in pro football, the Colts.
Congratulations on a .448 batting average on your preseason college football selections in your Sept. 9 issue, which compares with a .373 average for Look magazine's preseason picks.
On a basis of 20 points for each team picked in the top 20 and finishing in the top 20, less the difference between the preseason selection and the final ranking, SI came up with 179 points out of a possible 400.
You picked 12 of the final top 20 and hit both Texas and Tennessee on the nose—with some very close selections on Penn State, USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and LSU.
GEORGE W. HELLER
South Bend, Ind.
How in heaven's name can a responsible sports magazine such as yours publish an article (Bouquets of Roses for No. 1, Dec. 23) stating that the Rose Bowl will settle the National Collegiate Championship?
There is no true national college football champion and you know it. Polls taken from sportswriters and coaches alike are mythical at best, and a true champion will never be crowned until postseason playoffs are put into effect.
To prove how silly and unrealistic this championship has become, consider the following: Woody Hayes and Ohio State were presented the MacArthur Bowl—the symbolic award given the supposed national champion—a week before the official college playing season was over (Penn State, then 9-0, still had one game to play).
Dan Jenkins' decision to write that the national championship is to be decided New Year's Day at Pasadena only adds to the reams of fourth-estate selections as to who the No. 1 team really is. According to Jenkins, had USC beaten Ohio State, it would have ended up being No. 1 even though it was tied during the season by Notre Dame, and soundly trounced in the statistical department in that same contest. Although we now know that such was not the outcome, had it been so, his decision would have looked mighty foolish.
W. B. MULLAN JR.
Although far away from the 50-yard line, I still like to keep up with the American sports scene, and therefore enjoyed your Dec. 23rd issue with all the articles on the bowl games, but I must admit I am heavily weary of predictions, claims, counterclaims and shopworn hyperboles, especially in the case of college football where there is rarely a clear-cut champion and where there is absolutely no way, as things now stand, to judge the comparative strength of most teams. Witness your own failure to predict the winner in four out of five bowl games. Perhaps it is only my exposure to French rationality, but a solution seems simple. First choice: don't bother playing the football games, just vote on them. With a great saving of time, money, gray hair and wrenched cartilage, the sportswriters, pundits and coaches could handle things by themselves. Or perhaps this would be a job for the Harris and Gallup polls. At least it could keep them busy in nonelection years.
Choice two: the NCAA should run a football tournament, similar to the ones in basketball and baseball. I believe it would be very simple to set up a series of playoff games during the month of December. Only for the championship team and for the runner-up would the season be extended as long as a month. Since the good Fathers at Notre Dame didn't object when their basketball team went to the NIT, I don't see why they insist upon keeping the football team out of postseason games. Especially when many Of the players go to all-star games anyway. If the Southeastern Conference is reluctant to let its teams stray far from home, maybe, as indicated by their performance in the bowls the past two years, they have good reason to be cautious. If nothing else, a simple abolition of the Top Ten rankings would at least relieve the fury of this one displaced fan.
MICHAEL F. MEWSHAW