SUPER BOWL XVI
I tried to convince myself that this year's Super Bowl would be a bomb because my favorites. Dallas and San Diego, weren't involved, but then I finally broke down and watched the game. I was rewarded not only by the San Francisco 49ers' masterful performance but also by Paul Zimmerman's superb dissection of the game (X'd, O'd and KO'd, Feb. 1). I'm sure that this and the San Diego-Miami playoff game close out—at least until August—the Zimmerman-John Underwood debate (A Running Debate, Sept. 7) as to which brand of the game is more exciting, college or pro.
Twentynine Palms, Calif.
I'm prejudiced, but Paul Zimmerman's article on the 49ers' Super Bowl win was one of the best I've read in my many years as a subscriber. It reflects the reason why I've returned as a pro football fan this season: San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh and an exciting brain-along-with-brawn brand of football.
You featured the 49ers on three consecutive covers (Jan. 18, Jan. 25 and Feb. 1). I worried about the SI cover jinx after the first, but relaxed after the second, hoping the second would cancel the first and negate the jinx. And now after the third, I'm ecstatic. And curious. Have three consecutive covers of SI ever before featured one team or one individual from any sport?
LOWELL P. BRAUN
Menlo Park, Calif.
•Not that we can recall. However, Bill Walton and some of his UCLA teammates came close in 1974, when they appeared on two consecutive covers—March 25 and April 1. opposite assorted North Carolina State players—and on three covers in six weeks, the other being Feb. 25, against Oregon. UCLA lost to both those teams that year.—ED.
In regard to Andy Hayt's excellent cover shot (Feb. 1) of Earl Cooper executing one of football's greatest spikes, I noticed some interesting coincidences. Cooper, No. 49 for the 49ers, not only ended the season with his picture on the cover but he also began it with his photograph on the opening pages of your 1981 pro football preview (Sept. 7). In addition, he was on the cover of your Dec. 21 issue. What's more, all three pictures were taken by Hayt.
Park Falls, Wis.
As an NFC fan, I'm ecstatic over the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl victory, and I think they certainly deserved to appear on the cover of SI. In fact, their Cinderella rise to the top of the NFL might even have earned them the right to be on the cover twice in a row. But three weeks straight? That is an honor that should be reserved only for God—or Tom Landry.
SCOTT R. HUMPHREY
College Station, Texas
I can't believe you totally overlooked the performance of the Bengals', and formerly Northeastern's, Dan Ross. After all. he only set a Super Bowl record for receptions (11) and scored two touchdowns. However, I guess you were right all along when you wrote in your preview article What's New? These Two (Jan. 25) that Ross is "one of the NFL's underrated tight ends." He must be underrated. His name wasn't mentioned in your entire Super Bowl story.
Paul Zimmerman's otherwise superb account of Super Bowl XVI was marred by an outmoded characterization: "The team [the 49ers] that uses the pass to set up the run went Big Ten. No more passes, not one."
During the 1981 season the Big Ten ranked second among Division IA conferences in passing yardage per game per team.
Enquirer and News
Battle Creek, Mich.
While reading the poignant and amusing story by Ron Fimrite about his beloved but ofttimes inept San Francisco 49ers (Mind You, This Time It's Not All Over. Jan. 25). I was moved by his vivid recollections of the Niners of old who played in the rock pile called Kezar Stadium. It was a terrific piece of journalism, and I, who have little reason to follow the Niners, being a born-and-bred Midwesterner, wish I could have seen the team in those days of Y.A. Tittle. Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny. Unfortunately, my earliest memory of the Niners is with John Brodie at quarterback and Matt Hazeltine at linebacker. However, my first football hero was McElhenny, who was then an aging but exciting running back for the 1961 Vikings.
Ron Fimrite hit the nail right on the head. I was born and raised in Berkeley, Calif. and although I have lived in Minnesota for the past 10 years, I have never been able to bring myself to root with all my heart and soul for the Vikings. You see, I also am a 49er Faithful, and I always will be. I never could explain it before. Now I don't have to. Fimrite has done it for me.
DONALD D. NELSON
Brooklyn Park, Minn.
OWNERS VS. PLAYERS
I was highly amused by San Diego Charger owner Gene Klein's assertion in your article The 55% Solution (Feb. 1) that Ed Garvey was "attempting to destroy the Chargers." Any knowledgeable sports fan in California can tell you who is really attempting to destroy the Chargers. Bill Walsh and the 49er fans are grateful for the Charger giveaway of Fred Dean, and Green Bay Coach Bart Starr can, at least in part, thank the San Diego giveaway of John Jefferson for helping to save his job. Who is the villain that orchestrated this destruction by refusing to pay these players what they are worth? Look in the mirror. Gene.
The NFL owners would do well to realize that not all fans are so ignorant or so stupid as to fail to realize that it's the owners, not the players and their unions, who are really ruining sport for everyone.
Moss Landing, Calif.
Pro football players should be paid more than basketball, baseball or hockey players. In none of those sports is a player's body subjected to as much bruising as it is in pro football. However, let's hope that the NFL won't be as dumb as major league baseball was, and that there will be no strike.
So the NFL players want only 55% of the owners' gross take. Obviously, they have no imagination. All they have to do. because as Garvey says, they are the game, is to bypass the owners and form their own league. Then, of course, they could keep 100% of the gross. One must wonder, however, how they would split the take.
Ed Garvey should take a little closer look at the football salary figures he thinks are too low. While it may be true that football players receive a lower average salary than basketball and baseball players, they make out better on a per-game basis. Using the 1980 average salary figures for the three sports (basketball $186,000. baseball $143,000, NFL $78,000). I find that NFL players receive $4,875 for each regular-season game, NBA players $2,268.29 and baseball players $882.72.
Athletes are going to have to forget the notion that all owners are making a lot of money. The owner is the one who is putting up his capital for equipment, transportation and food. If the operation is run smoothly, then the owner should be entitled to his profits, not the players. Garvey's plan is completely off the wall. Let the players go on strike.
I am a founder of the NFLPA, but the present course of that organization under Ed Garvey is anathema to me.
Your story reveals Garvey as a very pedestrian person who seeks ego gratification by promising current and future NFL players instant lifetime financial security from the first day they step on the playing field. This was never the intent of the Players Association: players during my era (1950-58) considered pro ball an exciting and enjoyable interlude between college and their life's work.
•Colo, a graduate of Brown, played as a tackle for the Baltimore Colts (1950), New York Yanks (1951), Dallas Texans (1952) and Cleveland Browns (1953-58).—ED.
I thoroughly enjoyed Douglas S. Looney's article on Jackie Sherrill (Jackie Hits the Jackpot. Feb. 1). There is no doubt that he is one of the top college football coaches in the country. However, I am afraid that this huge contract will make him look bad. This shouldn't be the case. In my opinion, it is Texas A&M that should be "embarrassed."' as the school's president put it. No one should fault Sherrill for accepting the offer. He wanted the position of athletic director, and with that salary, how could he pass it up? I was sorry to see him leave Pitt, but I wish him the best of luck at A&M.
DAVID L. SHARP
Two hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars a year for a football coach? Why not? The presidents of many of the top U.S. corporations make that much and more.
College athletics is big business. Successful businessmen get paid well. Jackie Sherrill has been successful.
LAWRENCE O. GUILLORY
You missed the real story, which occurred in Ann Arbor, Mich. when Bo Schembechler had the integrity to turn down basically the same offer that Jackie Sherrill grabbed. You could have honored a man who put loyalty to a university and keeping his word to his coaches and players ahead of megabucks. but you mentioned Schembechler only in passing. You also could have redeemed yourselves for the article you did on Schembechler (Bo, Sept. 14), which, for those who know him, was a less than accurate and fair portrayal.
Instead you glorified Sherrill, who broke a contract with Pitt and a commitment to his players because he felt "unappreciated" right after being named Pittsburgh's Dapper Dan Man of the Year. And then, to compound your mistake, you followed the "Sherrill-A&M" article with The 55% Solution, reporting the demands of the NFL Players Association for 55% of the owners' gross NFL revenues. Do you realize that nine of your first 21 pages of feature articles were devoted to the almighty dollar? Perhaps that's what sport has become. If it has, it's a great shame. But it's an even greater shame when a man stands against the tide, as Schembechler did, and you fail to highlight him.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I feel obliged to extend a word of warning to the new head football coach and athletic director at Texas A&M. I have been, and still am, an avid supporter of the A&M athletic program. Nonetheless, it has been my observation over the past 10 years that the A&M Board of Regents has afforded the school's mascot. Reveille, more respect than it has A&M's coaches and athletic directors. Good luck. Jackie Sherrill! You'll need it.
Many people will deplore Jackie Sherrill's receiving $267,000 to coach football, while college presidents and professors must struggle along on $100,000 or less. Their concern is misplaced. What of the employees of these football factories, the amateur football players? Other than bed. board, books, beer money under the table from grateful alumni and perhaps a car when the NCAA isn't looking, these student-athletes receive no monetary rewards for their efforts. Perhaps now is the time for all jock-slaves to unite and demand just compensation.
DONALD R. HEIDEL
Oak Ridge, N.J.
With regard to Jackie Sherrill's recent bonanza at Texas A&M, if the Aggies are so dumb, how come they're rich?
DAVID E. BORREBACH
I would like to correct the identification of the harem pants and bikini worn by Kim Alexis on the second spread of your swimsuit feature (Kenya Top This? Feb. 8). The designer of that outfit was not Leah Gottlieb of Gottex but Gideon Oberson of Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv, Israel
•We'll have to correct the price, too. The pants are $135. the bikini $60.—ED.
IN DEFENSE OF JENNER
I've known Bruce Jenner since before the '76 Olympics, and I'd like to assure Phil Mahre (Double Trouble on the Slopes, Jan. 18) and anyone else who shares his views that Jenner's motivation for his gold medal wasn't money. It was simply the challenge to be the best in the world at what he loved.
Track isn't like boxing, skiing, hockey or figure skating, where you can turn pro even if you don't finish first in the Olympics. Before Jenner, who from track and field ever made big post-Olympic money? Did decathletes Bob Mathias, Milt Campbell. Rafer Johnson and Bill Toomey get rich? So why should Bruce have expected it to be different for him? Believe me, he didn't. Naturally, he felt good things would happen if he won. but "get rich"? No way.
But let's say others before Jenner had made money. In order for Jenner to do so, with no pro track, he'd still have to win the gold and then the public's affection. Olympic competition and pressure, plus variables like weather and injuries, make chances for the gold slim, and who can predict the public? Therefore, after finishing only 10th in the '72 Olympics, Bruce would have had to be crazy to gamble his next four years, training eight hours daily in virtual anonymity and under severe financial strain, in hopes of achieving such a very long shot. And Jenner isn't crazy.
The extent of Jenner's multifaceted success since Montreal was unexpected, but he earned it. Let him enjoy it and continue to inspire others. Considering that, according to SI, Mahre very likely earns more than $100,000 annually from skiing while competing as an amateur, he should be the last person to criticize anyone over money, especially Jenner, who when he was an amateur and the decathlon world-record holder, earned less than $7,500 annually selling insurance.
Bruce Jenner's manager
Beverly Hills, Calif.
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