Thanks to Ron Reid for writing a story with something good to say about Duane Thomas (Staring and Starring, Aug. 27). This great athlete has been kicked around too long by his teams, the press and so-called fans. After he just about singlehandedly won the Super Bowl for them the Cowboys had the nerve to ship him off to a bush team like San Diego. Although not a Washington fan, I would like to see Thomas help the Redskins to a Super Bowl victory.
A final point: no athlete should be subjected to the loudmouth slob in the stands. After attending a game last year between the Giants and Redskins and watching some guy give Larry Brown a beer bath, I feel that the athletes should have more protection from the crowd. If I had been one of the Redskins in the game in Buffalo, I probably would have let Duane go after the abusive guy.
This is one fan that Duane Thomas did not lose with his "protracted silences and other specimens of antisocial behavior." Thomas has courage, talent and intelligence, and his actions speak louder than words.
Duane Thomas has been a thorn in the NFL's side ever since the 1972 Super Bowl. The dumbest thing about it is that he gets more attention than a player who does his job and causes no commotion. Thomas dropped out of two teams and most people thought he had had enough chances.
Duane Thomas is not king. He doesn't need protection. He caused a lot of trouble. Now he is getting some of it back. It's all fair and square.
MARK A. GEORGE
I resent your using a picture of Duane Thomas on the cover. Any man who turns his back on the flag does not deserve to be on the cover of a national magazine and, of all things, made to sound like a hero.
The real reason the Buffalo fans got on Thomas was not because they were "frustrated by the Bills' ineptness" but because they were, as I am, sick and tired of the antics this man employs on and off the field.
Duane Thomas wants everyone to leave him alone and respect him, so when everyone else faces the flag, why does he offend 80,000 people by not doing it? Does he want more trouble?
Duane is a great football player. He has it made in Washington. Let's hope he realizes that fact.
Why is Duane Thomas' refusal to face the flag during the playing of the national anthem pointed out when the same picture shows another Washington player facing the flag with his helmet still firmly planted on his head?
JEFFREY M. GRAVES
Durham, N. C.
SI Photographer Neil Leifer also "reverted to form" by choosing to face Duane Thomas instead of the flag during the national anthem. People in glass houses should not throw stones.
JEROME D. REMSON
I am overjoyed that you finally wrote about Dan Driessen, one of the best rookies in Cincinnati since John Bench (Reds' Rookie Is a Tough Cookie, Aug. 27). The Reds were 5½ games out of first place and failing when Driessen was brought up. Now he is batting over .300 and has brought the Reds within three games of first place. The next time SI mentions something about Dan Driessen may well be in an article on the World Series.
Hartford City, Ind.
I would like to inform your readers that as of Aug. 20 George Reed of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Running at a Record Pace, Aug. 13) had rushed for 12,313 yards and 108 touchdowns, thus surpassing Jim Brown's lifetime records.
George is presently second in the league in rushing and is a sure bet to once again gain more than 1,000 yards in a season. I nominate this alltime great rusher as Sportsman of the Year.
The Aug. 27 issue was one of your best ever, highlighted by the excellent article Olympic Visions of Eight. Coincidentally, I saw the Olympic film the same day that I read the piece. George Plimpton has provided us with a vivid picture of not only the movie but the directors, too. The excellent photographs accompanying the article were also very representative of the film.
As an amateur film maker I shared some of Mr. Plimpton's opinions, but I thought that the Arthur Penn pole-vault segment was very good.
STEVEN ROBERT ERLE
New York City
I object strenuously to your downgrading women's amateur golf. Your article on the USGA Women's Amateur (For Carol It Was Semple, Aug. 27) reflects a tone of mockery. The "tea party" implication was most unfair. Camaraderie can coexist with serious practice, concentration and dedication. During the USGA Women's Open at Rochester, too, people continued to play tennis and swim in the pool, but a point was made of this activity at Montclair, as if to say that the tournament was not important. It is important, not only to those of us who play but to all of the people who still associate themselves with amateurism.
Except for the derogatory comment on the qualifying scores (which, although high, included 7s, 8s and 9s due to one especially treacherous pin placement), there was no mention in the article of the caliber of golf that was played—or of the difficulty of the course. Having played in both the Open and the Amateur this year, I can assure you that par 72 was just as difficult to attain at Montclair as at Rochester. Two over par won the Women's Open; I do not believe the pros could have done any better at Montclair. But there was not one word as to the par or over-par performances at Montclair. For example, I was one under par for the 15 holes of the semifinal, and in the final Carol Semple, who was three down going into the 7th hole of the afternoon round, played the remaining 12 holes in two under par to win the championship. And all of this came at the conclusion of eight rounds of golf in six days on a very hilly, physically and mentally demanding golf course!
In your July 30 article on the Women's Open you devoted a substantial amount of space to Laura Baugh, who finished tied for 25th. No fewer than seven amateurs equaled or bettered her mark—people like Mary Budke, last year's Amateur champion, a very serious pre-med student who, playing in virtually her first competition of the year, finished 17th, far ahead of many "name" professionals.
I am not trying to belittle professional women's golf; I only wish you would give women's amateur golf its fair shake and due respect. There are a lot of us who choose to remain amateurs and are proud of it.
No Piece of Cake for Patty (Aug. 20) is nothing more than a poorly written jab at the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner, Pat Sullivan. Should a courageous young quarterback be discredited solely on the basis of one performance, particularly his first in a starting role? More important, can Joe Marshall not distinguish between self-confidence and cockiness? Perhaps it speaks well for an individual that he is able to maintain his self-confidence in spite of disappointment.
LARRY E. EWING
It is hard for me to understand the rationale of Norm Van Brocklin in trading Bob Berry away, thus putting the fate of the Atlanta Falcons in the hands of inexperienced Pat Sullivan. For the last few seasons Berry has been among the leading passers in the NFL, while Sullivan has yet to prove he can cut it in the pros. What do the Falcons need with Lonnie Warwick, an aging, injury-prone middle linebacker whom they received for Berry, when they have the great Tommy Nobis? Berry might become the next passing leader if Minnesota Coach Bud Grant has enough sense to play him over Fran Tarkenton.
Kings Point, N.Y.
With the best defense in football and three great running backs (Art Malone, Dave Hampton and Harmon Wages) behind an experienced offensive line, the Falcons do not need a superstar quarterback.
Regarding Norm Van Brocklin's reference to the players he cut during his first season with Atlanta as "only alleged players," it seems to me, after reviewing Van Brocklin's coaching record, that the players were cut by an alleged coach.
Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.
I couldn't be more delighted! SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has printed two articles on Red Sox All-Stars. The cover story of a few weeks ago on Carlton Fisk was one of the best I have seen in your magazine. It captured the spirit of this young catcher while giving us an in-depth look at what makes him tick. And now you have given credit to Pitcher Bill Lee for the fantastic job he has done (A Left-handed Compliment for the Fens, Aug. 20). He has already exceeded the most glowing of expectations. If the Red Sox should win the pennant it will be largely because of the efforts of these two stars.
It was with great dismay that I noticed in your article on Bill Lee that your writer cited the left-field wall at Fenway Park as being only 302 feet from home plate. Shame on you! Any true baseball fan should know that it is one of the oddities of Fenway that the right-field line is shorter than the fabled left-field line. For your information it is 302 feet to the foul pole in right field at Fenway; 315 feet to left. How did that get past your copy editors?
•Local sportswriters who have gotten past Fenway guards and paced it off contend that Boston's famed left-field line is considerably shorter than 315 feet.—ED.
Jack Olsen's article on the Umpqua (Love Letter to a Restless River, Aug. 20) was one of the best your magazine has ever done. I rank it right along with Dan Levin's article on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Keep the superb conservation articles coming.
Jack Olsen is even weaker than he admits to being. In his single-minded pursuit of his story he has begun the defoliation of a great river. Sainthood for Zane Grey, who kept the Umpqua secret, and may Mr. Olsen spend eternity drifting on the River Styx.
SPENCER M. SNOW
I was mildly shocked to read of Stephen Holland's fantastic world-record swim in the 1,500-meter freestyle in the newspaper, and I was gratified to see an article (Down Under He Went Way Under, Aug. 20) concerning the feat appear in your magazine.
However, as a high school swimming coach and an ardent follower of international swimming, I do not feel that Holland's performance was the greatest shocker ever produced in aquatics, nor can it approach the significance of Bob Beamon's 1968 Mexico City Olympic long jump, as you suggested. Perhaps a greater time improvement took place in the same 1,500-meter freestyle event in the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trials when Mike Burton, from whom Holland took the record, lowered the mark of 16:28.1 held by Mexico's Guillermo Echevarria to a then fantastic 16:08.5—a drop of almost 20 seconds. Holland improved Burton's record by 14.7 seconds.
It may be argued statistically that Holland's and Burton's time improvements rival Beamon's feat, but to most people they were just swimming records. Because it happens with such regularity, the general public has come to take a rather ho-hum attitude when a swimming mark is broken, no matter by how much. In this respect, swimming has become a victim of its own phenomenal progress. Holland's record will certainly be in jeopardy this month because he or Rick DeMont or some other young upstart could better that time in Belgrade at the world championships. If that does not happen, do not expect the record to last very long.
On the other hand, if one starts talking about Beamon's mark being challenged, just forget it. It has been five years since he jumped 29'2½" and no one has come close since. Someday his record will be broken, but I doubt that many of us who enjoy your magazine will be around to read about it when it happens.
DARRELL A. GREEN
Maine West High School
Des Plaines, Ill.
In his fine story on the Experimental Aircraft Association's fly-in (Breezing Off to Oshkosh, Aug. 20) Coles Phinizy mentioned Oshkosh's Wittman Field, where the event took place. He would have done well to mention the man for whom the field was named—Steve Wittman. Wittman, who is still living and flying in Oshkosh, was one of the most innovative of light-plane designers in the 1930s. His tiny Bonzo, using his unique short-wing design, raced in the Thompson Trophy events of those years, challenging Roscoe Turner and others flying larger planes with larger motors.
After the war another Bonzo pioneered the midget racing-plane class and Wittman won his share around the pylons until the mid-1960s. His Tailwind sport planes were very popular, too.
In other words, if you are going to mention Wittman Field, the story lacks something when it doesn't mention Steve.
When it comes to selecting a Sportsman of the Year why does everyone seem to forget the one person who places the development of personality and character of young men above the almighty dollar—Joe Paterno of Penn State. All others mentioned so far are playing primarily for money. Joe's dedication to sport continues to bring greater and more lasting results.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
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