Though the Rozelle Rule has not yet been officially overturned, its days seem numbered, particularly since the commissioner retreated last week in the face of a sharp and thoughtful rebuke from Federal Judge Warren J. Ferguson.
The scene was the U.S. District Courtroom in Los Angeles and the case was that of Ram Running Back Cullen Bryant vs. the National Football League. The suit involved Commissioner Pete Rozelle's arbitrary award of Bryant to Detroit as compensation for the Rams' signing of free agent Wide Receiver Ron Jessie, a former Lion.
Bryant's suit was based on claims of antitrust infringement on his rights as an individual to pursue his chosen profession. During the hearing Judge Ferguson delivered a stern sermon to the NFL on the use and abuse of power. "With all power goes correlative responsibility of fair dealing and fair play. The economic power of the National Football League as demonstrated by this case is truly awesome. That may be the way it has to be if there is going to be an NFL. Such awesome control of the commissioner may be necessary for the effective management of the league. A trial may well show that. But the rule of reason cannot merely be wiped aside by such necessities."
August 10, 1975
An attorney for the NFL argued that players had to assume the risk of being traded when they signed contracts. "Yes, that's what your brief says," said Ferguson, "but the right of the commissioner to force a trade, while being legal, may not necessarily be right." Ferguson thereupon issued a restraining order that kept Bryant with the Rams.
Rozelle thereupon awarded the Lions a first-round draft choice—an abstract being—instead of Cullen Bryant, he of flesh, blood and feelings.
At the Louisville First National Classic last week, Ilie Nastase and Arthur Ashe were doubles partners for the first time. Jimmy Connors, Nasty's regular partner, came along to "coach," and seemed to inspire his friend to ever greater reaches of buffoonery. Ilie arrived at the Tennis Center for a match with his head covered; he removed the cover to show his face, which he had darkened to approximately the color of Ashe's skin. During the match he tried to hit a shot behind his back, and blocked off a linesman trying to check a call, telling him to sit down. At the tie breaker he couldn't remember who was serving and, though he and Ashe won, he shook hands with his partner a point too soon.
Said Nastase about Ashe, "This guy confuses me more than anyone I know."
Said Ashe to Nastase, "Get serious."
LOST AND FOUND
Lilly and Isa, the two circus elephants that escaped into the dense brush around Hugo, Okla. (SI, Aug. 4), eluding capture for nearly three weeks, are back under the big top. Isa was spotted early last week by 20 year-old Billy Joe Easterwood as she grazed in the Easterwood pasture, about 15 miles from where the sheriff's posse was searching. "She couldn't have gotten here without swimming either Hugo Lake or the Kiamichi River and crossing Highway 70," said Billy Joe's mother. Brad Wells, a high school sophomore, was raking hay when he spotted Lilly three miles east of Hugo Lake two days later. Both animals were brought down with tranquilizer guns and hauled out of the woods in outsize trucks. Said a spokesman for Sheriff James Buchanan, "We're celebrating with a barbecue. Then we'll get back to our main business, which is looking for crooks, not elephants."
A correspondent on the Spanish island of Majorca sent the following report:
"When the Sixth Fleet used to arrive in Majorca, one of the favorite places for sailors to visit was the Rustic Inn, a 14-stool bar in the center of Palma. The attraction was the bartender, Curt Flood. He had his trophies, newspaper clippings and cover pictures from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED decorating the walls, and he used to recount baseball stories at great length. The Navy still visits the Rustic Inn, but Curt Flood isn't there anymore. About a year ago, he disappeared from the bar and the island, along with the woman he was living with and her teenage son. He took his trophies and his clippings, and left behind some bills. No one knew where he went.
"I was in Andorra recently and I learned he was there. When he first arrived, he was unable to rent an apartment because he was black. He was told by Andorran authorities he could stay in the country if he had funds, but he would not be granted a work permit. Thus, he was unable to do other than menial jobs. For some time he was a carpet layer, living in one cramped room above Nelson's Tavern, a pizzeria owned by a British subject. Now he has moved from that apartment to another, but he still uses Nelson's Tavern as his contact address. In a "rogue's gallery" above the bar which includes photos of 40 regular customers, Flood's picture is the only one with a caption. It reads: 'Super Hermit.' He is generally liked, although everyone comments on his drinking habits.
"He is said to often voice regret that he ever made his sensational stand and walked out of baseball and turned his back on America. He is not very keen on meeting the press. A friend of mine lent him a flat. She invited him to meet me, but because I am from Majorca and because I am a journalist, he declined. He sent the boy instead who just said to tell everyone, 'Curt's fine.' "
Robert Trent Jones Jr. recently concluded negotiations to build a striking new golf course for the government of—hold onto your party card, comrade—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The course is to be located on the wooded banks of the Moscow River about 15 miles from Red Square. Jones was in Moscow early this summer, and presented a set of golf clubs to the mayor, Vladimir Promyslov, who had never seen such weapons of capitalist recreation before. One man who had, however, was Vladimir Kuznetsov, a former Soviet foreign service officer and now a translator. He had learned the game while stationed at the U.S.S.R.'s Malaysia mission.
"Kuznetsov had a great sense of humor," says Jones. "He told us that golf was not an ideological game, but a sport for the people—especially for himself. When we gave the mayor a copy of the USGA book of rules, Kuznetsov leaned over to me and whispered, 'You know us Russians. We'll change the rules the way we want.' "
Plans call for the course to be laid out next spring and finished by the spring of 1977. Then, presumably, the air will ring with shouts of "Beereegeess!" It may not sound like "Fore!" but if you hear it, you'd better duck.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Long a football member in good standing of the Big Eight and for years one of the nation's top basketball powers, Kansas State revealed that as of June 30 it had accumulated a deficit of 5365,000 in its men's athletic programs. The athletic department had just $37,000 on hand, while unpaid bills in the amount of $200,000 had piled up. To make ends meet, the athletic department had been forced to borrow $204,000 out of anticipated revenue from football tickets, a bookkeeping ruse that will only compound the crisis. Deep cuts have been ordered in all sports budgets except basketball's. Golf, tennis, gymnastics and wrestling were left with no money at all, and 1975-76 schedules have been canceled. There is even a move on to sell the $100,000 athletic dormitory, which was completed in 1968 and last year lost $100,000.
Says Kansas State Athletic Director Ernie Barrett, "We're just experiencing the athletic pinch a little sooner than other people." Ominous words indeed, particularly since Kansas State has the lowest athletic budget of any school in the Big Eight.
The moral stance of Basketball Coach Bill Musselman, the high-powered recruiter who just departed the University of Minnesota to become coach of the ABA's San Diego Sails, is astonishing, to say the least. In the wake of Mussel-man's resignation there remains a thundering echo of misdeed and mismanagement. The NCAA is poised to slug the Gophers with something like 100 recruiting violation charges, many of them in Musselman's own bailiwick.
He admitted that he had given money to two players and that he "had a feeling" that illegal financial help came from other sources. Yet, when he was asked what he felt about the charges against the school he left in the lurch, Musselman replied, "I'm not a member of the university staff anymore, so my conscience is clear."
Tom Beene, a California cattleman, has recently turned from being a cowhand to being a—well, a goathand. In the interest of ecology Beene is now in his third summer of trying to complete the last roundup of the 10,000 Spanish goats that live on San Clemente Island. Voracious residents of the 57-square-mile island since Spanish clipper sailors released them there in the early 1700s, the goats have proliferated and so ravaged the foliage that the island has been all but denuded. The goats have erased small-tree growth, caused extensive erosion and endangered other fauna because they simply don't have enough to eat.
The Navy, which is custodian of the island, contracted with Tom Beene in 1972 to round 'em up and head 'em out.
Beene pays the Navy $1.50 a head, then sells the goats for $8 to $15 each, either for breeding (the females) or for eating (the males) by devotees of various Chinatowns who consider the meat a delicacy. Does that sound like easy money? It isn't.
The goats of San Clemente are wily fellows all, and Tom Beene, a wrangler for 44 years, says, "They're much tougher than cattle. We've tried everything from horseback to hunting dogs to helicopters. We've had the best luck using a couple of guys on horseback and people on foot driving them into fenced-in traps. Once we get them near the fences, we have to be very careful; they like to turn and stampede over us. Once we had a herd of 200 almost edged into the trap, but they wheeled around, ran over us and escaped down a 20-foot cliff."
So far Beene has corralled and carried off about 6,500 goats and he would like to wrap up the roundup this summer. But those left are, of course, the oldest and wisest, and Beene has respect for them. He has also learned to rather relish their meat. "Just take a big drink or two and cook 'em any damn way you like," he says. "They're good to eat."
RING AROUND A WOMAN
Two boxers in a tournament at a South Sydney, Australia fight club were called to the center of the ring before their bout, a gentle hand was placed upon each and an earnest voice spoke. "This is my first job as a referee. I'm very nervous. Could you please help me and hit above the belt and have a clean fight?" Thus began the ring career of Mrs. Vikki Williams, who claims to be the first woman boxing referee.
Presumably she is qualified, having been a second to her husband, Robbie Williams, a featherweight. Vikki, a nurse, got a huge round of applause when she entered the ring last week and a nice one when she left. But she said she is not dealing in crusades. "I'm not in this for Women's Lib, I just want to take an interest in Robbie's career and in boxing in general."
THEY SAID IT
•Chip Campbell, PR man for the Washington Capitals, worst team in National Hockey League history, on the team's new promotional film: "It's not a highlight film, it's a historical document."
•Don Carter, bowling star: "One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you very seldom lose a bowling ball."
•Elrod Hendricks, Oriole catcher, asked if he thought "home run" before hitting a game-winning three-run blast. "No, I was thinking wild pitch."