You are the quarterback...." read Quarterback Tobin Rote as he sat in the Detroit Lions' dressing room at Briggs Stadium on Saturday morning, December 28, just before suiting up for an important workout.
"You are the quarterback on a team behind 24-27 with four minutes left in the game. Your team has the ball at mid-field—fourth down and four yards to go. What do you do—punt or try for the first down? Explain your strategy."
Rote was not, as the circumstances might suggest, running through pregame skull practice before the playoff with the Cleveland Browns. Instead he was serving as a "playoff" judge in a sports quiz contest which a number of our advertising friends and their families in Detroit recently took, based on facts in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED during the second half of 1957.
When some 35 Detroit students of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED answered all the questions right, the situation called for tie breakers. The tie breakers called for judgment—in this case on golf, sports fashions, baseball and football. And that called for judges. Other experts in their own fields who lent their services along with Rote were Joe Belfore, the professional at the Country Club of Detroit, for golf; Madelyn Coe, Fashion Director of the J. L. Hudson Co., for fashions; and Detroit Tiger Manager Jack Tighe, for baseball. The eventual selection of the judges as winner was Mr. G. M. Millar of Grosse Pointe, who is an account executive at Brooke, Smith, French and Dorrance.
January 13, 1958
A few million people who watched Tobin Rote in action now know that the problem posed in the question he judged was never a problem for him on the following day. With four minutes left in the real game, in fact, he was sitting on the Lions' bench, enjoying a 52-14 lead over the Browns which his judgment and good right arm had gone a long way to make.
When the game was over some Detroit readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, with whom Tobin Rote had not entirely agreed the day before, had no complaints. For along with the rest of Detroit, the Cleveland Browns and most of the country, they agreed that you could hardly have picked a better man than Tobin Rote to judge a football question.