Skip to main content
Original Issue


Once again Paul Zimmerman has shown that he has few—if any—equals when it comes to writing about pro football. The extent of his knowledge and research was very evident in his article on John Hannah (John Hannah Doesn't Fiddle Around, Aug. 3). I consider myself lucky to have seen the likes of Al Wistert, Bob St. Clair. Dick Stanfel, etc. I only wish younger pro football fans could have seen them in order to have some meaningful yardstick by which to measure Hannah's greatness as an offensive lineman.
Research Editor
National Football League Properties, Inc.
Los Angeles

A guard on the cover. I love it! If John Hannah can do for the Patriots this year what he's done in the past, skeptics will believe he's "the best offensive lineman of all time."
Holyoke, Mass.

It is presumptuous and asinine of you to name a "best offensive lineman of all time." It's presumptuous because you simply can't single out one man from the thousands who have played in different times, under different rules and in the different positions of tackle, guard and center. It's asinine because you didn't pick Bob Brown as the best.
Santa Monica, Calif.

John Hannah as the best offensive lineman of all time? Not until he beats out Dan Dierdorf of the Cardinals.
Cahokia, Ill.

Jack Stroud, the great Giant guard of the '50s and '60s, was one of the best offensive linemen of all time. And Bob Brown was in a class by himself. I can remember Brown playing shortly after knee surgery in 1971. He had to limp to the line of scrimmage and still was good. When healthy he was the most devastating player of his era.
River Vale, N.J.

My impression after reading your article on Houston's Bob Young (Still Going Strong. Nov. 17) was that he surely must be the best offensive guard in history. You quoted Jim Hanifan, head coach of the Cards, as saying, "There is absolutely no question in my mind that he's the greatest offensive guard ever to play the game."
Pewamo, Mich.

Other than Jerry Kramer, there has never been a better pulling guard than Miami's Larry Little. He had grace, agility and speed as he opened great holes for the likes of Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris. If ever there was a consummate offensive lineman, Larry Little was it.
Webster, N.Y.

Ron Yary, a 6'6", 255-pound USC All-America, is in his 14th season with the Minnesota Vikings. He has played in seven Pro Bowl games, is rarely injured, always stays in shape and just keeps on firing out or blocking down and destroying the defense.

Pittsburgh's Jon Kolb once handled Lyle Alzado, Elvin Bethea and Harvey Martin in successive playoff games. This should have earned Kolb at least an honorable mention.
Albion, Pa.

If I read nothing else in your magazine, I would maintain my subscription so I wouldn't miss a single article by Kenny Moore. Whatever the assignment, Moore brings to it a poet's grace. His subjects, sensing the presence of a fellow athlete who understands the meaning of training from firsthand experience, reveal themselves in ways ordinary journalists are rarely able to grasp.

The article on Tracy Caulkins (Search For Still Water, Aug. 3) is only the latest example of Moore's gifts. The next time I imagine swimming to be a sport of drudges, I will think instead of Moby-Dick and Ishmael and that wonderful squeezing of hands.

Kenny Moore's article did more than describe the true nature of the sport of competitive swimming. It captured the essence of a wonderful female athlete and the environment that makes her special. SI continues to prove that there is more to sports than the comparatively minuscule amount of time spent in the arena.
Evanston, Ill.

Kenny Moore's music analogy is partly fluffed: Football may be Wagner and swimming Brahms, but, rather than Gershwin, basketball is pure Charlie Parker.
Redlands, Calif.

I take exception to your citing Boston Globe syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman's remarks regarding the now-concluded baseball strike to the effect that having baseball, rather than drawn-out baseball labor negotiators, is the lesser of two evils (SCORECARD, Aug. 3). I object to her insinuating that baseball is boring. On the contrary, baseball is so stimulating that it has inspired more great writing by our most talented sportswriters, novelists and poets than any other sport.

What is galling, however, is the fact that I was subjected to Goodman's opinion in your magazine. Don't you realize whom you quoted? Permit me to point out that Goodman once wrote an essay, "Knitting Up the Raveled Sleep of Care," for the Globe that celebrated sleeping as one of life's great pastimes. In that essay Goodman wrote: "I am, you might have guessed, one of the world's happy sleepers. I look forward to falling into that state with the sense of abandon that others reserve for a plunge into the communal baths of Plato's Retreat."

Goodman is one of the world's self-proclaimed greatest sleepers, and you find her shallow comments on baseball of interest? Please be more discriminating in the future. Try to find somebody to quote who can stay awake long enough to appreciate baseball and give it its due.
Spitball poetry magazine
Covington, Ky.

I'd like to clear up some misconceptions created by your SCORECARD item (Aug. 3) on the tour of the U.S. by the Springboks, a South African rugby team.

First, although the Springboks are composed of the best players in South Africa and could thus be called a "national" team, neither the Springboks nor any other South African rugby team has any connection with the South African government. Rugby in South Africa, as in most other rugby-playing countries (with exceptions such as the U.S.S.R. and Romania), is controlled by independent, amateur, non-government sports bodies. South African teams do not receive government aid. They play in stadiums and on fields owned by the individual clubs or provincial rugby unions and finance their tours abroad with gate receipts and other fund-raising endeavors.

What's the difference between independent South African sportsmen like golf's Gary Player, tennis' Johan Kriek, boxing's Gerrie Coetzee or track's Sydney Maree, the U.S. 1,500-meter champion, competing in the U.S and a team of independent, non-government-controlled sportsmen playing here under the Springbok banner? In fact, this current Springbok team has a "colored" [the South African term for a person of mixed race] player and a "colored" administrator, in direct opposition to the apartheid policy of South Africa's present government.

What right do political activists have to deprive U.S. players and fans of the all too infrequent opportunity to compete against the world's best rugby team? Isn't this a violation of our civil rights? Because we are a relatively young rugby country—our national union, the USARFU, was only formed in 1975—and receive no government support, we are not yet able to generate the funds to go on once-or-twice-yearly tours as the more established countries do. The Springbok tour is extremely important to the growth and development of U.S. rugby. The honor of being selected a member of the U.S. national team and playing against the world's best is the only incentive we can offer our top players. Eliminating this opportunity to compete against the best, as was done to U.S. Olympians in 1980, can cause irreparable harm.

You claim that the Springbok tour could cause black African nations to boycott the 1984 Olympics. If a U.S. tour by a South African team is the premise, then those nations could have announced their boycott a long time ago, because during the past year at least three South African teams—the Mbabalas (an all-black side), Hamilton and the Pretoria Harlequins—have toured the U.S.

In addition, during the past 18 months "national" teams composed of the top players from Ireland, Great Britain, France and Argentina toured South Africa and played the Springboks. Touring South Africa is the same "crime" New Zealand committed in 1976, causing the black African nations to boycott the Montreal Olympics.

Finally, a report in New Zealand's Rugby News stated that in the 12-month period ending Aug. 31, 1980 teams from the following 29 countries and territories visited South Africa to compete in "national-level" events in 44 sports categories: Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), the U.S., Japan. Portugal, Belgium, Italy, West Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, England, Transkei, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Scotland, Sweden, Argentina, Norway, Denmark, the British Isles, Venezuela, Luxembourg, Austria, New Zealand, Curaçao, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands.

What's really puzzling about the mixture of sport and politics, however, is its arbitrary nature—its selective morality. Games between U.S. and South African rugby sides draw severe criticism and veiled threats of disruptions and violence from political activists, but the frequent sporting contact between U.S. national teams and state supported teams from the Soviet Union are ignored by the activists and given 60-point headlines by the media. The same people who rightly decry South Africa's apartheid system turn a blind eye to the stranglehold Russia has on countries like Hungary, Poland and Afghanistan. Also confusing is the ability of certain sectors of our society, such as the gold and diamond markets and strategic metal industries, to openly interact with South Africa with little or no criticism, while political activists choose to bully a non-profit amateur sporting group like rugby. It somehow seems that if money is to be made, anything goes.

As I write this, Frank Sinatra is on a singing tour of South Africa; South African heavyweight contender Gerrie Coetzee is getting ready to fight Renaldo Snipes in Westchester, N.Y.; and Miss South Africa has just recently competed in the Miss Universe contest in New York, in which South Africa's Margaret Gardiner, Miss Universe 1978, served as a commentator. Why, then, is rugby an issue?

We are of the opinion that politics has no place in sport.
New York City

•Last week New York Mayor Edward I. Koch canceled the Springbok game scheduled for that city next month.—ED.

Your article on American cyclist Jonathan (Jacques) Boyer (The Biggest Breakaway, June 29) really piqued my interest in that sport. But how come your follow-up item in FOR THE RECORD (July 27) told us only that his French teammate, Bernard Hinault, won the Tour de France and Lucien Van Impe of Belgium was second? Boyer's name was nowhere to be found. Did he finish? In what place? Or is he still out on the course?
Claremont, Calif.

•Boyer was 32nd overall, 59 minutes and 21 seconds behind Hinault.—ED.

In his article on David Renk (EI Texano Comes of Age, July 6) Barnaby Conrad III quotes Pepe Luis Vazquez as "remembering well" my alternativa in Juarez. Vazquez says that he killed one bull for Sidney Franklin, after Franklin was gored, and one for me that I could not kill. Allow me to set the record straight.

On May 3, 1959, I fought as a novillero on the same card as Franklin and Vazquez. Sidney killed his first bull and cut an ear. As he was removing the sword from his second bull, he was gored seriously but the bull died nearly instantly. Vazquez did an outstanding job under brutal wind conditions and cut ears on both his bulls. I killed both my animals after the senior matadors had performed and received a turn around the ring for a truly mediocre fight, but both bulls were killed with a single thrust.

A month later, Franklin fought with me in Reynosa, and then he gave me the alternativa in Tijuana on Aug. 30, 1959, with Jaime Bolanos and Charro Gomez as witnesses. This is all well documented.

Franklin was a good fighter and had some fantastic afternoons. He is dead. Conrad should let it go at that. However, I congratulate Conrad for giving John Fulton some much deserved acclaim. Fulton has had more unwarranted cruelty bestowed upon him by the press for more years than any other living creature.

Apparently readers Gary Phillips and Jeff Knisley (19TH HOLE, Aug. 3), who asked, "What in the world does Mount St. Helens have to do with sports?", have been reading magazines and watching television for so long they have forgotten that nature is the inspiration behind the love of sports that is instilled in most of us. I, for one, was happy to see the new breath of life awakening on Mount St. Helens, and glad to see that SI covered it. I'm sure that hikers, mountain climbers, skiers, canoeists and other sportsmen were moved by the sight of a tiny flower defying the devastation around it.

We can better appreciate the wide spectrum of sports if we can realize that the sheer wonder of an athlete in action is a precious gift from nature. Swiftness and agility are not man-made.

I believe that a true athlete is in tune with nature and that he has great respect for his body and an appreciation for the earth that supports his life. It saddens me to see that some of the fans of great athletes do not share the same values.
Great Barrington, Mass.

Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.