In your Nov. 19 SCORECARD, under "They Said It," NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, "marveling at how little controversy NFL officials have stirred up this season," was quoted as saying: "They might be waiting for the playoffs." The officials made him a prophet when they denied Houston a critical touchdown on the Pastorini-Renfro pass in the AFC championship game (Hitting a Wall of Steel, Jan. 14). What the officials need is more good old-fashioned guts.
MAX R. MOORE
The officials were wrong, and everyone knows it.
Let's not make excuses for the Oilers' loss to the Steelers. Paul Zimmerman spent most of his article crying for the Oilers because of a bad call by the officials. The Oilers got beat, and that's that. What about that bad call in the Houston-Pittsburgh game on Monday Night Football a few weeks back when the officials denied Pittsburgh a legitimate onside kick? The Oilers weren't crying then.
W. A. WATKINS
The controversial call in favor of Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game underscores the need for some technological assistance for the NFL officials. The officials are not to blame. Nobody else could do better under the circumstances. But let's give them and their credibility a break. Pro football is a multimillion-dollar sport. Let's see the NFL spend a few hundred thousand on the equipment necessary to back up its officials for the sake of the game.
H. WILLIAM DETTMER
For 12 long years I've suffered through the many frustrations Los Angeles Ram fans have had to endure, but finally my prayer was answered: the Rams won a trip to the ever-elusive Super Bowl. I eagerly awaited the arrival of your article on the Rams' shutout of Tampa Bay in the NFC championship game, only to be dismayed by its disparaging tone (A Game of Resistible Forces, Jan. 14). Come on, SI, you really let me down.
Myrtle Creek, Ore.
You said the Rams-Bucs game was "boring." What's so boring about a superbly played defensive battle? Just one big play could have turned the game around.
The once 5-6 Rams are NFC champions, and neither a loss to the mighty Steelers nor Joe Marshall's arsenic-tipped pen can deny them their achievements. And if the Steelers spend too much time "snickering," the Rams just might get in the last laugh. Stranger things have happened.
Congratulations to Bruce Newman on his analysis of the new three-point shot in the NBA (Now It's Bombs Away in the NBA, Jan. 7). Unfortunately the three-pointer is only another gimmick to boost attendance and TV ratings.
If NBA executives had any smarts they would revise their rules to conform to those on the college level, where zone defenses, slow-down offenses, the five-foul disqualification and the absence of the shot clock often enable a less-talented team to upset a heavyweight. The college game has never needed the three-pointer, the red-white-and-blue ball, the Ann Meyers gimmick, the annual ploy to un-retire Wilt Chamberlain or a Great White Hope to survive.
BENN P. GRANT
It is rules like the three-point field goal—along with the 24-second clock—that are turning pro basketball into a one-on-one school-yard game. One of your pictures illustrates this perfectly. Brian Taylor is taking a three-point shot while his teammate stands wide open beneath the basket. No wonder interest is down.
Loose-ball fouls, three-to-make-two, the 24-second clock, even the nefarious "continuation two-shot foul" seem traditional when compared with the three-point field goal. All the NBA lacks in its quest to become a bona fide three-ring circus is a dancing bear.
As I see it, Chris Ford's three-point-field goal percentage of .471 is, in an important sense, seriously misleading. Since three-point shots are worth 50% more than a normal field goal, Ford's "real" shooting percentage is an astronomical .706. He shot 40 for 85 to produce 120 points. A two-point shooter would have to go 60 for 85 to achieve the same results. The same is true of the other three-point shooters. Larry Bird's apparently anemic .364 shooting percentage becomes a respectable .545 when viewed in these terms. Thus, when properly employed, the three-point shot is actually a high-percentage play despite its opposite appearance.
New Haven, Conn.
The three-point-shot rule makes pro basketball much more exciting. Now you can say the whole game is worth watching, not just the final two minutes.
In reference to your article on the Flyers, I somehow got the impression that the entire team would soon be canonized (And the Broad Street Streakers Skate On, Jan. 14).
Flyer Coach Pat Quinn's team has changed its game a little bit, but please let's wait before stating that the leopard has changed its spots.
Your SCORECARD item (Jan. 7) on NHL brawling and the recommended ultimate solution is very interesting. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association adopted the progressive penalty rule several years ago and finds it a highly successful deterrent to excessive fighting in the league.
Of course, there is always the player who is trying to impress the scouts and the fans with his toughness, and nothing will stop him from fighting. But the really good college players want to play hockey, not fight.
The pros could certainly benefit from a strict penalty assessment for fighting—the sooner the better—before someone is seriously hurt.
MARGARET M. SMITH
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