THREE FOR THE SHOW
Thanks for a fine article on the best team of sportscasters the announcing profession has ever seen (What Are They Doing with the Sacred Game of Pro Football?, Oct. 25). The Cosell-Gifford-Meredith trio defies the law of averages. How could such different personalities combine to form such a well-balanced machine? Edwin Shrake has done a fabulous job of giving us all a clearer picture. With Dandy Don, Fancy Frank and Headache Howard sitting up in the booth, ABC Monday night football will last longer than Ed Sullivan.
Your article on Howard, Frank and Don was superb! Thanks! It was like having an extra Monday night. NBC's Carl Lindemann obviously has been so anesthetized by Curt Gowdy's endless, inane jabbering that he is unable to revive until Tuesdays. Too bad for him.
ROBERT M. WATERSON
Thank you for revealing the saga of those three stooges on ABC. How Roone Arledge can allow Dandy Don and Horrible Howard to turn Gifford into Frivolous Frank is inconceivable to me.
Listening to a TV executive's explanation of why he has done something is always an exercise in credulity, at best. Roone Arledge states that he hired Howard Cosell because he wanted a commentator people would notice. To not notice Cosell would be tantamount to ignoring a case of diarrhea, which is not to say that Arledge did not accomplish what he intended. Actually, what he did accomplish was to give us more of what we don't want on TV by exercising his own misjudgment of his program and his audience. Arledge chose to overlook the fact that Monday night football broadcasts would be successful in any case, simply because the sport is so popular.
November 8, 1971
The TV viewer—and sport, for that matter—does not need Cosell. Now if we could convince Arledge of this, we could all go back to just watching the football game, which was the whole idea to begin with, wasn't it?
JOHN R. HUDSON
No sense wasting a lot of words on the "two nuts and a gentleman." I am glad that I can personally attend the Nov. 1 Packer-Lion game and watch a classic confrontation instead of listening to one on ABC.
As for second-guessing critical third-down plays, ABC has the Dandy who never won a critical game. Frank is a poor substitute for Keith Jackson and Howard is a poor substitute for anyone. Chet Forte has the answer: cure it with a switch.
Your article could foster a revolution among the long-suffering viewers of sports telecasts. Messrs. MacPhail, Lindemann, Arledge and Forte have created something of a monster in the guise of their color analysts. Radio-type play-by-play announcers are irritating to the television viewer, and color analysts, individually or in teams, are generally disgusting. The average viewer is content with a competent announcer who relates the hard facts of the contest, and he has little patience for such things as philosophical examination of the assumed thinking of game participants. I suggest the networks color their color analysts silent.
C.D. SPILLMAN JR.
What Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Dandy Don Meredith are doing with pro football is bringing it down to its proper level. Carl Lindemann notwithstanding, pro football is entertainment, pure and simple. The only difference between the Super Bowl and Love Story is that in the movie you already know who is going to die. In the Super Bowl you let the players settle that matter for themselves.
Second-rate football games, like second-rate motion pictures, tend to bog down in mid-story. So the producers must improvise a bit. But instead of employing the traditional cries of "This is the greatest game of all time," Cosell, Gifford and Meredith criticize each other, tell jokes or deliver rambling monologues consisting of 12-letter words for the enlightenment and edification of the viewing audience. This is so unusual among sportscasters, especially NFL people, that it is bound to be popular.
Detractors claim that Cosell and Meredith are engaged in ego trips. So what? John Wayne has been on an ego trip since before Dandy Don was born, and he must be one of the few super superstars of all time. This is a new form of TV entertainment, and ABC is the founder. The other two networks are simply jealous.
RAYMOND S. THOMPSON
South Bound Brook, N.J.
While your preview of the 1971-72 pro basketball season (Oct. 25) was interesting, it seemed far too brief and in a few cases misleading. Your statement, "Put the Bucks down for the playoffs—and the title," was perhaps a little too speculative. While few will argue that the Bucks will lead a strong Midwest Division, the New York Knicks might disprove your assessment as to their title chances. After all, New York beat Milwaukee in four games out of five last season with Center Willis Reed suffering from knee problems that an operation has since alleviated. If the Bucks make it to the playoffs, the Knicks will be able to show them that championships are far easier to lose than to retain. This the Knicks have learned from experience.
I find it hard to believe that you could pick Seattle to win the Pacific Division. The Los Angeles Lakers have two superstars in Chamberlain and West and one of the most promising forwards of all in Jim McMillian.
I couldn't help but notice your annual write-off of Elgin Baylor. What you said about his being too old at 37 and too scarred after another operation may at long last be true. However, it seems we've heard all this before.
The overall 1970-71 performance of Atlanta's Pete Maravich may have been "less than pluperfect," but no one can be more than perfect—except, perhaps, Jabbar of Milwaukee.
GERALD ROBERT SOLOMON
NEW ENGLAND VERSION
Your article on the New England Patriots (Don't Pity the Pats, Oct. 18) is one of the funniest I have ever read. After following the Patriots, I can sympathize with everything Robert Boyle wrote about. The era of the Boston Patriots (Mike Holovak and Clive Rush) is over. The era of the New England Patriots (John Mazur, Upton Bell and Jim Plunkett) is just beginning. The Pats are finally a major league organization. Thank you for recognizing it.
My thanks to SI for a most interesting and amusing article on a team that has accomplished a previously unheard-of feat. The New England Patriots have lured Rhode Island's multitude of Giant fans away from their easy chairs and television sets into those backless bench seats at Schaefer Stadium. The previously hapless "ham and eggers" of the NFL have finally been given the support that New England's other major league teams have been showered with year after year. The Patriots more than deserve the fans that they have attracted during the past 12 months of upheaval. Go, Pats!
HERBERT E. STEVENS
HUMAN RELATIONS (CONT.)
In response to the article The Man Cut Out for the Job (Oct. 11), I feel strongly that something must be said about Coach Cicero A. Frye. To me, it doesn't make any difference what color a man's skin is. A man can be judged only by what he believes in, by what he strives for and by the way in which he regards his fellow man. In these respects Coach Jerome Evans far excels many men.
However, I think Coach Frye has been misunderstood. I know the man well, and I am certain that he has instilled some very important qualities in many young men, myself included. C.A. Frye wanted to be a winner. Success was his strictest rule at Williams High; maybe too strict. His heart was in everything he did. Can people in Burlington, N.C. rightfully say that Frye was wrong? Do they know that many people who played for him couldn't have cared less whether they won or lost, just so they had a uniform and a seat on the Bulldog bus? Frye gave his efforts to those who really wanted to win, but can you blame him? Who are we to judge a man, anyway?
Jerome Evans and C.A. Frye will long be remembered in Burlington. I just hope everyone can know that, like Mr. Evans, Coach Frye was doing what he believed in, and he was doing his best to achieve it. Perhaps Frye was a victim of circumstances, circumstances that allowed many nonunderstanding people to cast shadows on him. Jerome Evans and C.A. Frye are both winners. I'm just sorry that Coach Frye had to be made to look like a loser in Burlington.
If life were simple, then perhaps there would be no need for the insight and objectivity provided by Pat Jordan in his article on Jerome Evans. Such articles are what make SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and you can be sure you have my support in printing more than just cold, hard facts.
From your headline for the article on the U.S. team semifinal playoff (Cutting Some Uppity Kids Down to Size, Oct. 18), bridge devotees who follow the fortunes of the Precision Club team got the impression that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has misjudged those able players. I know Joel Stuart, Steve Altman, Peter Weichsel, Gene Neiger and Tom Smith to be high-caliber gentlemen, courteous and fair, with great team spirit. Never could the word "uppity," with its connotation of arrogance, be applied to them. As to the Mathe team's cutting them down to size, the facts in Charles Goren's write-up of the playoff indicated that it was merely a close shave.
Mrs. JAMES H. SMITH
BOB BLACKMAN'S STYLE
Roy Blount Jr.'s article on Illinois' new coach, Bob Blackman (An Ivy League Lombard Gets a Big Ten Jolt, Oct. 18), portrays a man who appears to have stepped out of his league in more ways than one. Blount is careful to note that Blackman has always taken losers and made winners out of them. But records can be misleading. What doesn't show up in Blount's article or in Blackman's magnificent record is the quality of football he brought to Dartmouth.
When Blackman came to the Ivy League, he brought with him a sophisticated brand of football which, at its best, was unsurpassed for its imagination, execution and excitement. And with Blackman it was at its best with convincing regularity.
Three yards and a cloud of dust may be winning football, but it is about as interesting to the average fan as a 19th century translation of an Old English manuscript. If the past is any indication of the future (and Duffy, Woody, Bo and the rest are going to wish it weren't), Big Ten fans can expect the unexpected when Blackman and the gang from Champaign-Urbana come to town. Even on third down and one.
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