GHOSTS OF SEASONS PAST
I have just read Dan Jenkins' tongue-in-cheek account of O. J. Simpson's fantastic career to date (The Pros Face a Dazzling Dilemma, Nov. 18). The comparisons of O.J. with Davis, Harmon and Grange, are somewhat startling, but Mr. Jenkins does not tell the reader that those men played 60 minutes of football. I wonder if the great O.J. would have those bursts of speed and acceleration if he got battered half of the game while playing defense, instead of being coddled on the sidelines while the defensive unit got its lumps and bruises?
Whoever prepared the chart, "Why O.J. Rates as the Best Runner of Them All," must have read an instructive little book of several years ago called How to Lie with Statistics. The basic measurement of a runner's competence, which is average yards per carry, was omitted. Using your figures for carries and yards, this works out roughly to: Glenn Davis, 8.6 yards per carry; Grange, 5.4; Harmon, 5.2 and Simpson, 5.1.
Syracuse University, the playground of fine running backs, has also produced some better gainers per carry than O.J. The late Heisman Trophy Winner Ernie Davis, for example, had about the same build as Simpson but was a fancier runner. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry for 2,386 yards in 1959-61. Jim Brown's average (1954-56) was 5.8 for 2,091 yards, while more recently (1964-66) Floyd Little averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 2,704.
O.J. is a great runner, but don't get carried away with his ball-carrying statistics.
ROBERT W. VIVIAN
December 2, 1968
We need new scouts, or maybe they are trying to hide Ron Johnson of Michigan.
Oak Park, Mich.
I was quite disappointed with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's "confidential poll." The poll had one notable absence in the top 26 rated players. Stanford's Gene Washington, one of the nation's leading pass receivers, was not on the list. Any person who has watched Gene Washington this year will agree that he is certainly a very good pro prospect. He has great moves, was a member of Stanford's 440-yard relay team, and will catch any ball within 10 yards of him.
Maybe Gene Washington won't be among the first draft choices but, if not, those choices won't include the country's best pass receiver.
Los Altos Hills, Calif.
In your 1968 College Football Issue (Sept. 9) you had an article about Jack Mildren (In Pursuit of a Big Blue Chipper). Jack has now played three games on the University of Oklahoma freshman football team and has proved your excellent article to be correct. If you don't have access to a computer, here's what he's done: passing—40 of 62 for 768 yards; rushing—133 yards in 26 carries for an average of 5.1 yards per carry; total offense—901 yards (300-yard average per game). The OU frosh are undefeated, having beaten Kansas 55-20, Texas Tech 34-18 and Tulsa 77-7.
This proves you must know a blue chipper when you see one. Congratulations and keep an eye on Oklahoma in 1969.
FUN IN GAMES
First, I want you to know that the cows in Waddle, Pa. at times are more interesting and sociable than alumni (The Idea Is to Have Some Fun—And Who Needs to Be No. 1, Nov. 11). Secondly, I knew that Dan Jenkins was in the press box, and I didn't want to disappoint him on that fourth-and-one call.
It was a great story, very flattering and I certainly want to say thanks.
JOSEPH V. PATERNO
Head Football Coach
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pa.
Your article on Penn State worked wonders. Coach Joe Paterno said at the last Quarterback Club meeting that, because of your article, an alumnus has doubled his usual annual gift to the university. His contribution is to the Library Fund.
Would you please mention the following:
1) Joe has a mortgage he'd like to reduce.
2) The university is looking for money to create a Faculty Club.
You may mention these while reporting the fact that Penn State's football team is No. 1.
HAROLD K. WILLIAMS
William Johnson's article on the Ohio State Buckeyes' return to glory (Something to Shout About, Nov. 11) was flattering and enjoyable, but it seems he has done us an injustice. He refers to our Stadium as a "dreary old hulk," a description I must disagree with. True, it was built in 1922 (which may make it old) and it can hold more than 84,000 people (which may make it a hulk), but dreary? May I say that the reactions of the thousands of fans to the results on the field take away any notion of dreariness our Stadium may have.
One more thing: The Stadium (with a capital T as well as a capital S) is also a dormitory for 370 men on scholarship. The men' who reside here are spirited, talented, athletic and the possessors of the highest combined academic average (3.0) on campus. We call The Stadium home long after the football season is over, and we'd like our home to get the respect it deserves.
I nominate John Bower of Auburn, Me. for Sportsman of the Year. His Nordic-combined victory in the Holmenkollen championships in Norway was, I believe, one of the most outstanding and one of the most unpublicized athletic breakthroughs of the past year.
As you know, this is the world championship meet for cross-country skiing and jumping, and in Scandinavia it commands more respect than any other athletic contest. As you also know, it is unheard of for an American to do well in the Nordic events, which are normally monopolized by the Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans arid Russians.
I myself am an Alpine skier and was on two Olympic Alpine teams, and I am, of course, pleased with all the glamour and notoriety Alpine skiing gets today. But in all honesty, I feel that Bower's accomplishment was bigger than Killy's.
Behind every winner in the course of sports there is a loser. It is easy, in my opinion, to be a good sportsman when you win, but it is much harder when you lose. First of all, a loser must accept the fact that he was defeated and is No. 2. Second, in the future people will remember who was No. 1, but they will more than likely have to resort to a sport record book to find out who came in second.
I believe one of the most famous losers, who was really a winner, is Roberto de Vicenzo. Because of an error on his score-card, he was dropped from his rightful place on top of the Masters. Therefore your Sportsman of the Year award should go to Roberto, who quietly accepted the rules and went down to defeat.
I would like to nominate Dan Gurney for Sportsman of the Year. He has emerged as the premiere racing car designer, builder and driver in the United States. His Eagle cars are the favorite on the USAC championship trail. They finished 1-2-4 at the Indianapolis 500 this year, and Dan finished a strong second using an engine modified to his own design. Although continually plagued by bad luck, Gurney has demonstrated the courage and stamina to compete and win in the world's most dangerous sport.
My nominee for Sportsman of the Year is still a toss-up between Al Kaline and Floyd Patterson. I choose Kaline because, after 16 years of waiting, he proved that he was not a World Series fluke. On the contrary, he showed everyone the great fielding and batting skills that have been his trademark ever since the Tigers brought him into the American League.
I choose Mr. Patterson because he has never given up in his quest to do what no man has ever done before—win the heavyweight crown three times.
I hope you will consider my choices when you pick the man you feel is best fitted for this honor.
New York City
Earl Morrall has made one of the great comebacks. While leading the Baltimore Colts to a fine season, he has compiled an outstanding record. He has shown sportsmanship while under great pressure. For these reasons, and others, we nominate Earl Morrall as Sportsman of the Year.
REID B. WEINBROM
Either you select Arthur Ashe as Sportsman of the Year or I cancel my father's subscription.