A couple of years ago, after pro-football experts Tex Maule and Edwin Shrake incorrectly tabbed the pro champions, I became contemptuous of their abilities. Let me say, however, that this year's success more than made up for past transgressions. Maule especially was uncanny in his pre-Super Bowl reports (Stop Those Chiefs! Jan. 16). He not only correctly predicted the difference between the two teams in the touchdown department, he also accurately described how the victory would be accomplished. Congratulations!
You were right. The Green Bay Packers do not blow a million dollars.
KENNETH B. BURNS
Your most erudite writer, Edwin Shrake, makes quite a case for the NFL as compared to the AFL (Still a Long, Rough Road Ahead, Jan. 30). Because of the blackout of Ram games here in southern California, we fans look almost exclusively at the TV games of the AFL—that is, when we are not watching the college games (which cannot be beat for color, interest and satisfaction).
Perhaps we do not see as precise professional execution in the AFL, but we do enjoy the games, probably to a greater extent than do those who watch the "superior" league.
If the Super Bowl game showed something of the relative strength of the AFL and NFL, it also disproved the notion that the Packers are a colorless and dull football team. If the Packers' precision football is dull, then so was the conducting of Arturo Toscanini.
BRUCE H. KARNOPP
Congratulations on the article, Belle of the Mushers (Jan. 23), by Virginia Kraft. It was wonderfully written, with superb photographs. Although I have never even seen a dogsled, let alone a sled-dog race, I could feel the tension, the tug of the dogs at the harness and every icy rut along the trail, just in reading this.
This is one of the most absorbing accounts of sports participation I have read. If ever there was a case for someone finishing last to receive first prize, this is it. But being No. 1 Lady Musher is probably the greatest compliment of all, after that ordeal!
PETER J. M. BARR
Virginia Kraft's adventure is still vivid in my mind. But where to now, since Roberta Bingay got to the Boston Marathon first? Please think up something quickly for those of us who admire Virginia's spunk and the grace with which she relates her experiences.
It will never replace duck hunting, but Bil Gilbert's article on hawk watching (Visit from a Proud Stranger, Jan. 16) is thrilling to an armchair ornithologist. My only regret is that you did not show a picture of his imperial golden eagle, although subsequent bikini presentations in the same issue were a delightful eyeful.
PAUL C. WRIGHT
The Super Bowl was a super flop at the gate, which says something about the football "fans" on the West Coast in general and in Los Angeles in particular. Of course the blame for the poor turnout lies with the NFL and AFL for not finally settling on the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans as the site for the first world-championship game.
The Sugar Bowl would have been overflowing with true fans, just as it was when LSU met Tulane on Nov. 19. Where else but in Louisiana could two teams who were to end their season that night with 5-4-1 records draw more than 82,000 fans? Temporary bleachers had to be erected to accommodate this crowd, which was one of the largest ever to see a night football game in this country—and larger than the crowd that saw the Notre Dame-Michigan State game that same afternoon.
Despite the absence of a local team in the Super Bowl (which is the excuse given for L.A.'s poor support), the presence of Louisiana products Jim Taylor, Johnny Robinson, Willie Davis, Buck Buchanan and Max McGee would have been enough to assure a sellout in New Orleans. If you don't believe me, wait until next year and see the doomed-to-the-cellar Saints outdraw most established NFL franchises.
Why are big sports events consistently played in Los Angeles? It is clear to me that L.A. is not a big-time football city. The Rams haven't played to a capacity crowd in years. The most publicized football game in history, the Super Bowl, failed to draw half as well as L.A. officials had promised. And the Pro Bowl, which would draw a capacity crowd in any other American city (including South Bend), drew only 15,000 in L.A.
The drawing card Los Angeles uses to get such games is the "beautiful" southern California weather. On the day of the Pro Bowl, however, a duck could have used the field as a pond. Meanwhile, Chicago had 51 sunny degrees and Cleveland had 59 of them.
WILLIAM D. BREJCHA
Notre Dame, Ind.
I think it's time for someone to point out that the Boston Celtics are being buried a bit prematurely (Sarge Takes Philly to the Top, Jan. 2). The Philadelphia 76ers won the Eastern Division title a year ago, only to be beaten in the playoffs, with ridiculous ease, by the World Champion Celtics.
When the playoffs roll around this year, assuming the 76ers beat the Knicks, the men under Sarge's command will again have to face the greatest team in the history of professional sports. Coach Russell will be able to concentrate solely on Philly and on outplaying Wilt. Sam and K. C. Jones will be able to go full tilt for the entire series instead of pacing themselves, as they do now. Then there are always John Havlicek and that Boston defense.
As for the old tradition of a bald coach and a bearded center winning the championship, how's this for a new one: a bearded center, a bearded coach and a bald, cigar-smoking general manager who gets thrown out of All-Star Games?
New York City
Frank Deford said it in his article: "They could set a season's record, finish 10 games in front of the Celtics and again lose it all to the Celtic defense in the playoffs." I'm only sorry I won't be there to see it happen. Go Celtics!
1st LIEUT. RICHARD J. DOYLE, USMC
An Hoa, Vietnam
Down here in Argentina, my SPORTS ILLUSTRATED arrives about five or six weeks late. Therefore, I was caught completely off guard when I opened your December 5 issue and found Whitney Tower's fine article on the U.S.-Argentine polo matches, A Long Trip and A Good Try. My wife and I had the good fortune to attend the Cup of the Americas matches here in Buenos Aires and can attest to your writer's clear and accurate reporting. We crowded into our 500-peso ($2) bleacher seats at the Palermo polo field and, although we are only new fans of the game, we knew we were seeing the world's best players. The Argentines have the best team in the world and deserved to win but, as Americans, we were extremely proud of the way our boys fought hard and almost won.
Mr. Tower, however, failed to mention what I think was one of the highlights of the series. It was the magnetism big Harold Barry had for the Argentine fans. During the first match Barry took a terrific spill from his pony and lay flat on his back for 10 minutes or more. The whole stadium was hushed, and when he finally arose and remounted he received a huge standing ovation as he rode the length of the field to change his mount. Thereafter, whenever he came near the ball the crowd roared and roundly applauded every move he made.
With players like Knox, Linfoot and the Barrys, the Cup may be ours before long.
WILLIAM F. SCHRAGE