Senior editor Sandy Padwe first met coach Walt Michaels of the New Jersey Generals in 1964. Michaels was a member of Weeb Ewbank's New York Jets staff, and Padwe was covering the AFL for the Newspaper Enterprise Association. In the intervening years Michaels was a Philadelphia Eagles assistant and head coach of the Jets before taking over the Generals of the USFL last year. Padwe, meanwhile, worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, SI from 1977 to '80 and then The New York Times, where he was deputy sports editor, before he returned to our fold in January.
As our pro football editor, Padwe once again finds himself in the same league, so to speak, as Michaels. Notwithstanding the differences between the AFL and the USFL, the struggles of the current upstart league (SCORECARD) tend to start Padwe and Michaels reminiscing about the old days. Says Padwe, "I learned my football on road trips from people like Michaels, Chuck Knox and Clive Rush, who also were Jet assistants. If you didn't understand something about the game, they'd sit down with you on the plane trip back to New York and diagram the play. The AFL gave a lot of people, including me, a lot of opportunities."
Since then, Padwe has made the most of his. While he was at Newsday in 1972, the National Headliners Club voted him Sportswriter of the Year. Two pieces he is particularly proud of from that year concerned Dick Allen, the iconoclastic White Sox slugger who went on to become the American League MVP, and jockey Bill Hartack. Both were tough interviews, but Padwe got them talking. "Allen remains possibly the most intriguing sports personality I've ever known or written about," says Padwe. "Hartack very seldom granted interviews in those days, but I just kept badgering him."
The ability to get information that's not easy to come by is one reason why, in addition to his pro football duties, Padwe has directed investigative stories such as our recent coverage of the Tulane point-shaving scandal (April 8 et seq.). During his first stint at SI, Padwe did some private investigating and discovered that Daphne Hurford, SI's pro football reporter at the time, was as taken with the ballet as he was. After more than a few trips to the theater, Padwe and Hurford, now an assistant editor at LIFE, were married in June 1981.
As we said, Padwe isn't one to pass up a promising opportunity.
THE TRAVAILS OF THE USFL REKINDLE AFL MEMORIES FOR PADWE (LEFT) AND MICHAELS.