BACKS IN MOTION
Tex Maule wrote a great article on a long-ignored subject, the running back (Swarm to Daylight, Nov. 13). But we all have our different views on rushing and the people who specialize in it. I would probably put Larry Brown in the lead role, instead of Floyd Little. Tex also left out a few of the great runners in the game, such as Leroy Kelly who may be having an off year but is certainly one of the premier backs in the league. On the quarterback side, Greg Landry was not mentioned. Others were Willie Ellison and two Jet backs, John Riggins and Emerson Boozer.
One last word. As the article essentially pointed out, a running back's work is never done.
St. Augustine, Fla.
It was an excellent article, if you area Denver Bronco fan. But I happen to like the Miami Dolphins. They have the best running attack in football.
Who has the explosiveness of Mercury Morris? (He isn't called Mercury for nothing.) Who has the power to throw defenders to the ground and keep on going? The only man I can think of is Larry Csonka. There arc many men who can gain a few yards by going through a hole. But who can rip through the hole without letting the defense see him come through? I'd say Jim Kiick fits the description.
Maybe Floyd Little did get more yards rushing than Csonka but who does Denver have to match Kiick or Morris?
I can't believe that Tex Maule failed to mention Ron Johnson of the New York Giants. Ron has proved he is one of the NFL's premier runners by his outstanding comeback this season, after having missed the majority of the 1971 campaign due to thigh surgery and knee surgery. He is currently ranked third among the leading NFC runners and is well on his way to his second 1,000-yard rushing season. I think Ron Johnson is due recognition for his role in bringing the Giants back to respectability.
St. Bonaventure, N.Y.
Please inform Tex Maule that he was guilty of a tremendous oversight in not including Kansas City's all-purpose back, Ed Podolak. For the past few seasons, Podolak has carried the Chiefs to victory whenever Len Dawson, Otis Taylor & Co. were rendered inefficient. And I dare any pro football fan to try to forget the Miami-Kansas City game on Christmas Day of last year, when Podolak did everything a football player can be expected to do with the exception of eating the goal posts (we'll leave that to men like Dick Butkus). Perhaps Mr. Everything has not accumulated the rushing yardage of Larry Brown or O. J. Simpson, but add his pass receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns to his rushing offense and you are confronted with one of the finest backs football has ever produced.
ALPHONSE N. GIORDANO
ON THE LINE
Congratulations to George Plimpton for giving SI readers an insight into the high-pitched emotions of pro football (Wiretap on the Pros. Nov. 13). The self-recriminations for a badly executed play and the constant striving for mental toughness were made evident by the use of the tapes. Alex Karras appears as a player who talked constantly to his opponent, trying to psych him out, while John Gordy talked less but waged a war inside himself.
Ozone Park, N.Y.
I happened to pick up a copy of your Nov. 6 issue at the newsstand and was pleasantly surprised to find an article not about the lordly salmon or the leviathan martin but about the lowly and ever-popular striped bass (SOS from a Seaside Slaughter).
I disagree with biologist John Clark that we must continue to keep striped bass available at the market. Personally, I sec nothing wrong with setting aside one important recreational species for sportsmen alone. After all, I can't go down to my local butcher to buy deer, buffalo or quail, all of which I would surely like to have gracing my table at one time or another. Besides, except for the restaurant trade, I doubt that the average citizen would ever miss the striped bass were it declared a game fish. For that matter, I'd bet my best fishing plug that not one in 25 housewives knows what a striped bass is.
I also vehemently object to Clark's opinion that sportsmen ought to be licensed to sell stripers under a management program. Anglers who sell their catch are nothing more than hook-and-line commercial fishermen and should not be identified with the sport.
Massapequa Park, N.Y.
In reference to Robert H. Boyle's article, since when do commercial fishermen have the right to take over the public beaches, forcing "pinhookers" to go elsewhere? The fact that the striped bass is the glamour game fish of the Atlantic Coast should be enough to warrant some protection from the seiners of Long Island and North Carolina. As an avid striper fisherman, I have noticed the decline in action over the past few years. The bass population is dropping steadily. Leave the stripers alone!
R. J. BARTLETT
HUSBANDS, WIVES AND THE GAME
Frank Deford's story Keys to the Kingdom (Oct. 30) is one of the most amusing and interesting football satires I have ever read, and I commend him on this imaginative work.
Many women of America feel resentment as their husbands become glued to the TV sets. I find I am not in this position because I share my husband's interest in football. How many women have ever tried to learn what a screen pass or a blitz is? Maybe if some wives took time to learn about football, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday nights might not be so lonely. Many a man would appreciate a wife who could share in the excitement of a football game.
MRS. JOHN HOWARD
Prairie du Chien, Wis.
Frank Deford has captured Baltimore's love of the Colts in the late '50s and early to mid '60s. But I think a restudy of the feeling of the Colt fans and general Baltimore citizens of the '70s would indicate a considerable change in attitude not only toward owning season tickets but, more importantly, toward attending Colt games on Sundays and devoting the whole day to social activities surrounding the game.
In any event, it was another excellent article by Mr. Deford.
JAMES J. LACY
As a longtime, satisfied subscriber, I feel it is only fair to tell you that Frank Deford's story was a work of art. Funny, but oh, so true!
F. A. NIX
Daytona Beach, Fla.
My husband should be voted Sportsman of the Year. Each year he attends: 39 Flyer games, nine Eagle games (including preseason games), 30 Phillie games and 20 76er games. Anyone who would travel 150 miles round trip to see a bunch of losers has to be one heck of a sportsman.
Timothy Sullivan and John Kobler deserve a round of applause for Caddying for a Man Who Never Shot Par (Nov. 6). Sure, we all know of AI Capone the crook, mastermind murderer of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, etc., but we never hear of the Capone who liked kids and helped out during the Depression. He was no angel, but maybe he was a nice devil.
Timothy Sullivan's yarn about caddying for Al Capone brought back memories of the time I caddied for Machine Gun Jack McGurn for four days while he was a guest of a member of a suburban country club where I caddied for 10 years. Unaware of his true identity at first (he used his real, Italian name), I was quickly informed by the older boys and basked in his notoriety for the next few days. McGurn at that time was a mid-80s golfer and seemed rather soft-spoken.
Years later I recounted my experience to Ted Payseur, then athletic director at Northwestern University and an outstanding golfer. Ted topped my story about McGurn by telling me of the time he was competing in the 1926 Tri-State Open in Indiana and reported to the officials a player he had noticed repeatedly improving his lie. The player, who had eyes of steel, later followed Ted into the locker room, from there into the shower, then down to the parking lot. Not a word was said. But a few days later a Chicago Daily News reporter told Ted just who that small Italian was.
Somehow, I was disappointed not to have found a tommy gun hidden in the golf bag.
Thank you so much for the enlightening article about one of my alltime sports heroes, the ever-popular Al Capone. Now that your magazine is humanizing and glorifying gangsters, how about an exciting in-depth feature on that lovable old German sportsman, Adolf Hitler?
Al Capone a hero for our kids?! You're sicker than we thought you were.
The article by Timothy Sullivan shows what a truly extraordinary man old Scar-face was. But then I guess you can't judge a hood by his cover. Eliot Ness probably didn't know a golf club from a pistol. Thank you, SI, the article was "untouchable."
In regard to Richard W. Johnston's recent article on the hookless lure (Maybe It Will Fit the Bill, Oct. 23), I feel a refutal is in order as to certain of Captain George Parker's claims and allegations.
First, if Captain Parker discovered this lure in 1968, he was certainly not the inventor, as this device had been known to this organization for some years previous to that date. However, it did not become commonly used, because most anglers rejected it as a totally unsportsmanlike method. In fact, it was outlawed in virtually all of the sailfish tournaments on the east coast of Florida many years ago. Several recommendations were made to the IGFA that we should prohibit it. As a result, ballots were sent to our international representatives and to more than 600 member angling clubs throughout the world. The results were 98.3% in favor of prohibiting the device.
As to Captain Parker's statement that angling is playing the fish, not setting the hook, I daresay he would have difficulty in finding one experienced billfisherman in a thousand who would agree with him. Hooking the fish generally requires more skill and is one of the more exciting parts of the fight.
Captain Parker's statement that the IGFA is in business to protect old records made with bamboo rods and linen lines is so ridiculous that a refutal seems unnecessary. At no time have we resisted any improvement that was compatible with true sportsmanship. In general, it is difficult to see how anyone could advocate a device for sport fishing that does not give the fish a chance. I feel this philosophy would apply to any sport.
WILLIAM K. CARPENTER
International Game Fish Association
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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