RED CLAY AND GOOBERS
Congratulations are in order for your issue of Oct. 13. The cover shot of Georgia's Bruce Kemp was sensational—we Bulldog followers have been waiting a long time for this sort of recognition—and Pat Putnam's story on the Southeastern Conference (The SEC Catches On) was beautiful.
Folks from other regions of the country are constantly questioning why SEC teams are not highly rated in national polls. The reason is obvious: no other football conference in the nation can ever hope to attain the superb balance of the SEC. Take this year, for instance. At least five teams are in the running within the conference (Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida), and several of them are definitely among the nation's best.
Thanks loads, SI. We of the land of red-clay hills, swaying pines, moss-hung oaks, goobers, fried chicken and shrimp Creole are very much indebted to you.
Fort Belvoir, Va.
Upon reading Pat Putnam's article I felt obliged to 1) remind Mr. Putnam of a particular passage in the aforementioned article: "The fans at Vanderbilt and Kentucky are a gentler breed. Lately, so are the football teams"; 2) cite for Mr. Putnam's benefit two recent scores: Kentucky 10, Ole Miss 9 (Sept. 27) and Vanderbilt 14, Alabama 10 (Oct. 11); and 3) inquire as to whether Mr. Putnam takes salt and pepper when eating his crow.
October 27, 1969
Your article was fabulous. It captures all the excitement of true rivalries between these great teams. But in your Sept. 15 issue you failed to include LSU in the Top 20, quite a big mistake since the Tigers are going to win the Southeastern Conference!
OOPS AND DOWNS
I must take umbrage with several of the things in your article Youth Will Have Its...Oops! (Oct. 13). The title itself is at best insulting. In fact, after looking in vain for an article on the Bengals after each of their three wins, I found the general tone of the article and the pictures belittling.
Granted, the Bengals are a young team and will make mistakes, but seasoned teams make mistakes, too. Your picture of the "busted play" between Wyche and Robinson could just as well have been a picture of the "seasoned" Charger who fumbled the ball on the kickoff.
We have never lacked respect for our elders and we realize we aren't supposed to be 3-1 against veteran competition, but we are. Cincinnati fans are proud of the accomplishment of this team and hope that they never lose their youthful dreams.
On page 31 of your Oct. 13 issue. Photographers Sheedy and Long snapped a priceless photo of a professional goof. Did you notice that Quarterback Wyche's eyes were closed?
JEFF VANDER WOLK
RUFFIANS ON THE ROCKS
I've played and watched ice hockey for years and I don't see why your writers picked Boston so high this season (Hockey '69: The Rough Get Rougher, Oct. 13), even as a possibility to unseat Les Canadiens. Teddy Green, Boston's sparkplug, leader and take-charge guy, is lost for the season. Even an Esposito, who is quiet but very effective, and an Orr, who is great but also not so loud or rowdy, cannot take up where Terrible Teddy left off. Green is the heart of the Boston defense, a good, hard-hitting puck carrier who rushes and skates well and must rank with J. C. Tremblay and even Orr himself as the NHL's premier defenseman. I'm afraid that without Green around Boston will flounder to third or fourth, maybe even out of the playoffs. Look out for New York and Detroit. You just can't move without a leader like Green.
In SCORECARD (Oct. 13) you made a complaint as you have done often before about fighting in hockey. I disagree with you there. Fighting has been an important part of hockey for years. For the eight years I have watched hockey and the many years my father watched it before me fighting was a popular aspect of hockey. Even my mother, who usually dislikes fighting, likes fighting in hockey. One reason why the Boston Bruins are so popular is because they are a rough-and-tumble team. So don't knock fighting in hockey. That might be the reason that the game is so popular in the first place.
At the risk of oversimplification I make the following suggestion to prevent further skull fractures in hockey brawling: as soon as a player throws a punch or swings his stick at another player, make him sit out the rest of the game. Professional football controls its players by prompt banishment for fisticuffs. The reason this is effective, of course, is that the whole team is penalized by the loss of an important player for the rest of the game. Until hockey cracks down on bush-league brawls and bloodletting, the sport will be running the risk of additional skull fracturing by athletes the league seems unable—or unwilling—to control.
Credit Myron Cope with a splendid piece of nostalgia (The Game That Was, Oct. 13). I'm sure the majority of people in this country know little, if anything, concerning the emotional, physical and economic conditions under which professional football was played during the 1920s.
However, if it is possible to compare the stars of that era with those of today, it is a most amusing situation. Consider Ed Healey vs. Ralph Neely. The only objects the former would make contact with would be Neely and the ground. And Joe Namath could throw from a chair against Indian Joe Guyon. Even if Red Grange was a ghost, a yard gain against Deacon Jones would be a very difficult task.
Let's face it. Modern athletes are stronger, swifter, heavier and more agile than their predecessors.
Those must have been great times, though. Imagine, eight games in 12 days.
East Dubuque, Ill.
SEVENTH WAS FIRST
With reference to your article on the World Cup (Pennies in a Golden Age, Oct. 13) and the implication that I was the only one responsible for players turning down invitations to participate, I think it should be pointed out that the following players not represented by me were asked to participate in the World Cup and declined for various reasons comparable to those of my clients: George Archer, Frank Beard, Dave Hill, Gene Littler and Jean Garailde (of France).
Since Arnold Palmer was also approached about representing the U.S. in the World Cup, your readers might be interested to know that Lee Trevino was actually the seventh choice of the World Cup organizers as the U.S. representative.
MARK H. MCCORMACK
A fast answer to Philip McLaughlin's query, "Where, oh, where have the Bleacher Bums gone?" (19TH HOLE, Oct. 13): We have all gone to school, or we would be gone to jail.
RICHARD E. LLOYD
After reading Publisher Garry Valk's lofty explanation of why SI was going to have a weekly column of television criticism (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Oct. 20), I along with your other readers looked forward to a healthy, objective and enlightened column, particularly since Publisher Valk went to such length to assure us that Wilfrid Sheed was "an esteemed critic in many fields," and Sheed was quoted as saying, "No serious critic has followed sport television. The rascals should know somebody out here is watching." Might I suggest that perhaps Critic Sheed ought to watch a little more carefully. Instead of any kind of enlightened criticism, we apparently are going to be fed a weekly serving of sarcasm, carping and nitpicking. To pick up an isolated meaningless sentence out of the approximately 15 hours that NBC devoted to live coverage of the baseball playoffs is not only unenlightening, it is also unfair.
I am not known in the television industry for my ringing defenses of NBC Sports, but I think on this occasion SI has been unfair and, worse than that, inaccurate. If Critic Sheed was watching as closely as advertised, he would have known that Curt Gowdy could not possibly have neglected to tell the TV audience of Met Al Weis' presence in the first New York-Atlanta playoff game since Gowdy was announcing the Baltimore-Minnesota game at the time, while the Met game was being announced by Jim Simpson. To make such a fundamental error in journalism is inexcusable, but perhaps "an esteemed critic" finds that less important than a series of wisecracks.
ABC Sports, Inc.
New York City
•In the battle of wisecracks between TV Executive Arledge and Contributor Sheed, Mr. Arledge must be deemed the winner on points. The words attributed to Curt Gowdy were in fact pronounced by Jim Simpson.—ED
Having read your recent article on the field goal (A Lot of Kicks Coming, Sept. 22), I have some thoughts for Pete Rozelle to consider. The rash of easy field goals in pro football has probably hurt the game more than helped it. Not to detract from the obvious skill involved, but what has happened to the good old fourth-and-short-yardage situation, the punt out of bounds or the attempt to kick the ball dead inside the 10-yard line? And has anyone reflected of late just how silly the present possession ruling is following a missed field-goal attempt? Team A tries a three-pointer from the 41-yard line. It misses, and team B takes possession on its own 20. Team A has just been rewarded 21 yards of turf for 1) failing to keep its offensive drive alive and 2) missing a field goal.
In my opinion the following changes would not only place more value on kicking accuracy but, more important, would reemphasize the premium value of the touchdown: 1) move the goalposts 10 yards off the goal line, 2) move the uprights closer together and 3) on all field goal attempts outside the 20-yard line that are missed award the ball to the other team at the original line of scrimmage rather than the 20-yard line.
These rule alterations would not eliminate the field goal, but would tend to reduce the long attempts, make the short ones a bit more difficult and return to football the greatest of all situations, a fourth down with two yards to go on the 28-yard line.
Think it over, Pete. More people than ever before are heading for another cold beer at the announcement, "And here comes the field-goal team."
I was glad to see SI give space to one of the great baseball players of all time—Ernie Banks (A Tale of Two Men and One City, Sept. 29). In deference to the memory of a great judge of raw baseball talent and a loyal and devoted servant of the Chicago Cubs, I would like your readers to know that Ernie Banks was brought to my attention by the late Jimmy Pay ton, who scouted the Southwest for the Cubs. Payton saw Ernie play some 20-odd games on the bus-and-hamburger circuit played by the Kansas City Monarchs, and after every game Payton called me or Wid Mathews to say that Banks would someday rank with Honus Wagner as a shortstop and hitter. Until we actually closed the deal, the only persons with whom I discussed Ernie Banks were Payton, Mathews and Phil Wrigley.
Incidentally, the purchase of Ernie's contract was a rare bargain. I recall that the Cubs gave the Monarchs $18,000 for the right to sign Banks and two other Monarchs, whose names I have long forgotten. One, I believe, was a boy named Rickey.
Office of the Baseball Commissioner
New York City
ANOTHER FOR MARYLAND
In his letter (19TH HOLE, Oct. 6) Michael F. Mewshaw notes, among other things, that "the only sport for which the Terrapins are nationally prominent—the only sport in which they have won the national championship within the last 15 years—is lacrosse."
I beg to differ. Maryland won the NCAA soccer championship (co-champs with Michigan State) in 1968. Also, Giancorlo Brandoni and Mario Jelencovich both were named to the 1968 All-America team.
Varsity Soccer Coach,
City College of New York
New York City
MORE ON MOORE
As you noted in FOOTBALL'S WEEK (Oct. 6), Missouri's Joe Moore carried 22 times for 191 yards against Illinois. What you failed to note, however, was that he sat out the last 18 minutes of the game, fell shy by only 27 yards of the alltime Missouri record for single-game rushing and was named Big Eight Back of the Week for it all. In addition, his rushing total was 69 yards more than the entire Illinois backfield was able to muster, 87 yards more than Oklahoma's Steve Owens rushed against Pittsburgh, and it gave Moore 315 yards total rushing this season (22 yards more than Owens) and made him the Big Eight leader in that department (overtaking Owens, who has held that honor for the last two years).
Now who did you say was the back of that week?
DAVID C. WOOD
In his fine coverage of the week of college football, Sandy Treadwell referred to Missouri's Joe Moore as a sophomore halfback. He is a halfback, but he is not a sophomore. Moore is a junior.
I wanted to correct this error because I am sure you will be writing a lot more about the Missouri football team and Joe Moore.
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