WAY TO GO, JACK
The USFL took a promising first step toward closing the quarterback gap between itself and the NFL last week when one of its expansion teams, the Oklahoma Outlaws, signed Doug Williams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' signal caller since 1978, to a five-year contract. Williams, a free agent who'd been unable to come to terms with the Bucs, turned to the USFL when no other NFL teams bid for him, even though quite a few of them clearly could have used a quarterback of his proven ability. Trouble is, under terms of the collective-bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association that ended last year's strike, player movement within the NFL is impeded by requirements that teams signing free agents must pay compensation in the form of draft choices. As a result, bidding for free agents is too costly for most teams to contemplate. And so Williams accepted an offer from outside the NFL.
The fact that a feisty rival like the USFL has emerged to challenge the NFL for players ought to make the older league think twice about some of the restrictions it has imposed on player movement among its own 28 clubs. Back when it had only the Canadian Football League to worry about, the NFL had every reason to try to fend off true free agency, something it succeeded in doing largely because the NFLPA has improvidently chosen not to force the issue. But with the USFL now in the picture, NFL Management Council Executive Director Jack Donlan sounded more suicidal than arrogant when, discussing the lack of mobility of NFL players, he recently told USA Today, "As far as the players go, they still have freedom of choice. They have 'free agency' to go to another league...."
Donlan spoke those words a few days before Williams bolted to the USFL.
Congratulations, Jack. The system works.
IN DEFENSE OF RESOURCES
New York Governor Mario Cuomo last week signed legislation increasing the minimum size of striped bass that may be caught in the state's coastal waters from 16 to 24 inches. The measure, a response to the precipitous decline in the stock of the striped bass in its Chesapeake Bay spawning grounds and all along its migratory path, followed similar legislative action by Massachusetts, Maryland and other states on the Eastern Seaboard. Cuomo's decision to sign the bill into law in the face of heavy opposition from his state's commercial fishing industry served to acknowledge that the oceans can no longer be considered an unlimited resource.
Florida Governor Bob Graham also acted last week to preserve natural resources—or, rather, to restore them. Graham announced a wide-ranging "Save Our Everglades" project that, he privately admitted, was really intended to "save" all of south Florida environmentally. Reacting to the effects of decades of development, Graham proposed the widespread reflooding of previously drained marshland, including the restoration of the Kissimmee River to the meandering 90-mile stretch of water it had been before being diverted into a 48-mile canal. The intent is to reinstate the southerly flowing sheet of water that is the life-blood of the Everglades (SI, March 15, 1982 et seq.). Graham also called for federal and state acquisition of more than 100,000 acres of land to protect the habitat of the virtually extinct Florida panther. The Kissimmee's restoration would require federal cooperation, and while there's no indication such cooperation will be forthcoming from the Reagan Administration, Graham expressed faith that his plan will eventually be carried out. The alternative, he said, was "the collapse of an entire ecosystem now under acute stress."
THEN THE ICE MELTED, AND...
During an appearance on NBC-TV's Today show recently, Terry McLaughlin, skipper of Canada 1, one of the foreign yachts vying to be the America's Cup challenger, had the following exchange with host Jane Pauley:
Pauley: "It's the first time in more than 100 years that Canada has had an entry. Where have you been for 100 years?"
McLaughlin: "Out playing hockey, I guess."
FRETTING THE POUNDS AWAY
You've heard of the Scarsdale Diet, the Beverly Hills Diet and the Cambridge Diet? Well, now we want to tell you about the Austin Diet. But be forewarned that the way John Gamble lost 19 pounds in 34 hours in an Austin, Texas hotel room isn't for everyone. In fact, Gamble allows it really isn't for anyone. Gamble, a world-class powerlifter and assistant strength coach at the University of Virginia, was in Austin to defend his title in the 275-pound division at the national powerlifting championships but ran into some trouble apparently attributable to a faulty scale in the Virginia gym on which he weighed himself before departing for Texas.
The Virginia scale indicated that Gamble weighed 283 pounds, eight too many, but that appeared to be no problem because, he says, "I lose that much overnight in nervous energy." Alas, when Gamble arrived in Austin and stepped on an accurate scale at 10 p.m. Friday, he found he weighed 293. Gamble went to his hotel room and, with an 8 a.m. weigh-in Sunday bearing down on him, didn't eat and rarely slept. He turned the hot water in his shower to full blast to create a steam-room effect and sat there, sweating profusely, for 45 minutes at a time. He ruled out exercise. "I didn't want to weaken my legs any more than they already would be," he says. Another source of weight loss: "I was worrying so much, it was causing me to go to the bathroom a lot." By 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Gamble had slimmed to 275¾ pounds, still a smidgen too much. "I worried like hell," he says. "What was I supposed to do?" Worrying apparently was enough. By 7:30 he had lost the smidgen and at the weigh-in was a svelte 274.
Gamble had four hours to recover from his ordeal before the competition, and on the advice of a physiologist, he ate some fruit—it was all he could get down—and took some extra vitamins. He was so dehydrated that he drank four gallons of water and didn't need the rest room once. The happy ending to the story: 1) Amazingly enough, Gamble successfully defended his title with a world-record cumulative total of 2,270.7 pounds; 2) the scale in Charlottesville has been fixed, and 3) Gamble has no plans to write a book called The Austin Diet. Of his crash regimen for shedding pounds, he says gently, "I don't suggest that anyone else try it."
REFLECTIONS ON AN ACCIDENT
The details in the case of Mike Reilly, the Los Angeles Rams linebacker who has been suspended for the 1983 season by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, are tersely tragic. On Aug. 7, 1982, a car Reilly was driving hit the rear of another car in La Palma, Calif., killing Zachary Thomas, a 17-year-old passenger in the other car, and injuring two of Thomas' companions. Reilly was found to have .23% alcohol in his system, the equivalent of 10 beers, and he pleaded no contest to charges of drunken driving with injury and vehicular manslaughter. Because he is currently serving a year in jail under a work-furlough program, Reilly conceivably could have played in Rams home games this season, a prospect that Rozelle's suspension dashed.
So much for the bare-bones facts of the case. More illuminating is the written statement that Reilly's father, a Federal Aviation Administration official in Miami, submitted before his son was sentenced in Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif. Groping to explain how his son had come to such grief, James Reilly told of having been deeply involved in the boy's earliest athletic efforts. He said that for a while he "did what most fathers do when coaching their own—I was less tolerant and more demanding of Mike than the other boys." The younger Reilly, the father said, "was more concerned with winning than he should have been. Also, he was never totally satisfied with his own performance." In high school, partly because he was so advanced in sports, he befriended older boys and soon began to balk at parental curfews and "seemed to respect or measure people by their athletic ability rather than just as people." He was heavily wooed by college coaches, including Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Joe Paterno and Barry Switzer, all of whom visited him at home within a one-week period, a recruiting blitz that helped throw his values "off course." Reilly eventually cast his lot with Switzer at Oklahoma, where he displayed an "inability to handle alcohol." On one occasion he was found guilty of public drunkenness and assaulting a police officer. The father said the Norman, Okla. cops had baited his son, reflecting a "love-hate" attitude toward athletes that results in "half the people putting the players up on a pedestal and the other half hoping they are knocked off."
The elder Reilly also said, "Most athletes set goals for themselves that are often unattainable.... I believe they have a real fear of not performing up to their ability at all times and [of] the disappointment to their fans, coaches and family. They are normally very physical and think that should equip them to handle all these pressures, but obviously many resort to the use of drugs and/ or alcohol, many ending in disaster for themselves and their careers."
After the accident, Mike Reilly was hospitalized in an alcohol-abuse program for 30 days and underwent outpatient treatment for eight months. In a written presentencing statement of his own, he said, "It has been over eight months since I've had a drink and I have had no problems adjusting to a non-alcoholic life." But he added, "I know this doesn't bring Zachary back."
HAL VS. SAM
Jack Nicklaus wasn't the only legend 25-year-old Hal Sutton beat by winning this year's PGA championship. Sutton's victory gave him $635,118 in career earnings to move him into 77th in that category, one place ahead of Sam Snead. Of course, Sutton's rapid climb on the all-time money list—he has been on the tour less than two years—does have something to do with today's considerably more lucrative prize money. Sutton is still slightly behind Snead in career tour victories, 84 to three.
A POLITICIAN WHO KNOWS HIS PLACE
"Is the mayor of the city of New York being overcompensated? Well, how do you like the fact that the chief executive officer of the Port Authority of New York gets $125,000? He's getting more than I am, although he's an appointed official. Or how do you like the fact that Dave Winfield probably makes $2 million a year? I'm not suggesting I should be comparable to Dave Winfield, but...."
—MAYOR ED KOCH, defending a proposed increase in his annual salary from $80,000 to $110,000
LIKE SAVE THE WHALES
Fifty-two women distance runners from 19 countries, including Mary Decker of the U.S. and Grete Waitz of Norway, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court last week to force Olympic officials to add the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs to the track and field program at the 1984 Summer Games. The runners, who were joined in bringing the action by a nonprofit, Oregon-based group called the International Runners Committee, charged the Olympic brass with sex discrimination in excluding the two events from the program for women while including both events for men.
Women have never gotten a fair shake at the Olympics. In ancient Greece women risked being put to death for merely watching the Games, and it wasn't until the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam that they were granted a "distance" running event—the 800 meters. Because the competitors hadn't trained properly for the event, one woman collapsed during the race and several others fainted after crossing the finish line, and the 800 was dropped from the Olympic program, not to be restored until 1960. A women's 1,500 wasn't added until 1972, and the 3,000 and marathon, both of which were run at the World Championships last week in Helsinki, will make their Olympic debuts in L.A. But there is still no true, on-the-track distance race for women at the international championship level. "The 3,000 isn't one," complained Waitz, the marathon champion at Helsinki. "It's just another race for milers." And Decker, who won the 1,500 and 3,000 at Helsinki, said, "Right now we have nothing between 3,000 meters and the marathon. That's a huge gap."
The suit charges that the International Olympic Committee and the International Amateur Athletics Federation ruled out 5,000 and 10,000 competition for women because the events weren't "glamorous" enough, a marketing consideration that wasn't taken into account in putting those events on the men's program. But some longtime track and field observers wonder whether 1984 might be too soon for quality Olympic competition in the proposed events. "There were more than three minutes between the first and 50th fastest women's 10,000 times last year," says British track statistician Richard Hymans. "Three minutes. That's as good an argument as any against it." By comparison, barely 55 seconds separated the 50 fastest male 10,000-meter runners in '82. But as IRC Executive Director Jacqueline Hansen, a former marathon world-record holder, says, "Races create runners." In other words, add women's 5,000 and 10,000 events to the Olympic program, and both glamour and quality performances will soon enough follow.
Hansen predicts that the lawsuit will succeed. "We're like Save the Whales," she says. "Really, who can be against us?" And, indeed, Hansen's side will sooner or later prevail—if not in '84, almost certainly in '88. As Decker says, "There's no reason we shouldn't have the chance to run the same distances as the men."
THEY SAID IT
•Lee Corso, asked what he has been doing since being fired as Indiana football coach last December: "I've cleaned my basement 14 times. I have the cleanest basement in America."
•Mike Beam, driver Kyle Petty's crew chief, after Petty shocked the conservative stock-car circuit by wearing an earring: "We're not going to start worrying about Kyle until he shows up in a fireproof dress."
•Gary Hogeboom, Dallas Cowboy reserve quarterback, presenting starter Danny White at a banquet: "It's kind of hard to introduce a guy you hope gets the flu every Sunday."