Congratulations to SI and Dan Jenkins on the fine article on the greatest quarterback ever (The Best of Them All, Nov. 10). It's a pity all football fans do not realize the achievements of Fran Tarkenton, not only as a passer, runner or play-caller but as a human being.
As a longtime Viking and Fran Tarkenton fan, I thank you for the cover picture and well-written article. Tarkenton is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Former Minnesota Viking Coach Norm Van Brocklin said it all about Fran Tarkenton: "He'll win some games that he shouldn't win and he'll lose some games that he shouldn't lose." That's Fran in a nutshell. Dan Jenkins can throw all the statistics he wants at us, but the real criteria for greatness is winning the big ones.
BILL ST. ANGELO
If you recall what happened to Tarkenton against the Steeler defense last Jan. 12 in New Orleans, you can imagine how he would fare against a schedule of top teams instead of having a Cakewalk. Fran not only lost that big game, he was humiliated.
Fayette City, Pa.
November 24, 1975
Bravo on your article. Fran Tarkenton has been the most underrated quarterback in football. In the past he has been blamed for everything from defeats to the San Francisco earthquake. But his records will speak louder than words, even Van Brocklin's words.
WILLIAM G. PAPA
Glen Ridge, N.J.
HUSKING THE CORN
I enjoyed Douglas Looney's articles on Nebraska football and its super fan Charles Winkler (Plainly Stated, It's Nebraska, Nov. 10). I even accept the ever-popular geographic description of Nebraska as 500 miles of tundra sparsely populated by a few red-clad nomads. But allow me to offer a word of caution to anyone desirous of vacationing in Nebraska after reading Looney's list of things to do in the state. His assertion that one can "go to any town and applaud the changing traffic signal" is a bit inaccurate since at last count only 28% of the towns in Nebraska had traffic signals. Much safer advice would be to "sit on a fence and wait for a pheasant to fly up." People come here from all over the country to do that.
The assessment that Nebraska is nothing but a "landscape of wall-to-wall dust" is about all that could be expected. Come to the Platte River Valley area and we'll show you farmland that provides food for you city folks.
MRS. CARL GANGWISH
Did Douglas Looney really think he could get away with the insults he aimed at Nebraska?
We Nebraskans have a simpler way of putting it: "The beauty of Nebraska is that there is nothing, but nothing, to obstruct your view of the scenery."
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
I found it amusing that Nebraska super fan Charlie Winkler was pictured wearing what is known down South as a Bear Bryant hat.
TERRY L. JOHNSON
A friend of mine is as crazy about Georgia football as Charlie Winkler is about the Cornhuskers. He answers his home phone with the score of the 1974 Georgia-Florida game (17-16). He even goes Charlie one better—he loves Georgia basketball more than his wife. Now that I know there is another one like him in the U.S., all I can say is arrghh!
Charlie Winkler may be a big deal in Lincoln and Grand Island, but he would rate about medium in Baton Rouge and Opelousas.
Your shot was right on when you claimed that Minnesota has the largest and most enthusiastic following for hockey in the nation (Heated Signs of fey War, Nov. 10). Not only do we have the most fans, we have the most discriminating fans. That's why your final shot may have been wide when you claimed that the North Stars have the best chance of hanging on. Unless the Stars come up with some new material, they are likely to continue slowly but steadily losing their following to the solid and more aggressive Saints. Twin Cities fans are not going to let the better team get pushed out. We may be "hockey mad" in Minnesota, but we are not fools.
As an Oiler fan, I appreciated Ron Reid's article (Houston Gives 'Em Bum's Rush, Nov. 3) almost as much as I appreciate Houston's new, winning ways. The Oilers, although a young and inexperienced team, are loaded with positive potential. I predict that Coach Bum Phillips will rival Gordie Howe for Houston sports hero of the decade.
MANMADE MARSHES (CONT.)
It is both amusing and ironic that while Messrs. Woodhouse, Seneca and Broome of North Carolina State University seek due credit, their letter (Nov. 17) constitutes their first published acknowledgment that our work exists. A marsh is not vegetatively defined solely by cordgrass, yet basically that is all Woodhouse et al. have learned to plant with the considerable financial support that they muster. They know that I and my coworkers have learned to cultivate and establish in the field 12 species of marsh vegetation which dominate the fresh, brackish and saltwater marshes found throughout the country.
The scope of our work is broadly known and acknowledged, and I feel that the record does not need the realigning that Wood-house, Seneca and Broome would wish.
E. W. GARBISCH
St. Michaels, Md.
GEORGE AND BABE
I read with great interest the three installments of Babe (Oct. 6 et seq.) by William Oscar Johnson and Nancy Williamson, and in particular Part 2 in reference to my brother George Zaharias' eating habits. Having grown up with George, who was older, and younger brothers Chris and Tom, under conditions both physically and mentally cruel to all of us, I feel I can enlighten the public somewhat on his eating style.
Our parents (Vetoyanis is the family name) settled in Pueblo, Colo. after their arrival from Greece. In exchange for a one-room adobe house with a dirt floor, they went to work for a rancher, leaving the four of us ranging from age nine to a toddler to fend for ourselves. Two older sisters, Mary and Helen, were married at the time. The only substance left for us while our parents toiled from sunup to dark was a pot of black coffee and Greek bread. Our parents did not return during the day, and George, being the oldest, was in charge of us. I always remember our being in a starved condition. Any staples that we did have were locked up for fear that we would waste or spoil them. Our father made two trips to town a year by horse and buggy to purchase a few essentials, so nothing could be wasted.
As young as he was, George knew that he had to keep us going day in and day out. Mashing the hard bread in some black coffee, we fed little Tom. One day George came up with the idea of mixing olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper in a bowl and beating it with a fork. He then taught us to dip our bread into it, and to this day I can remember how good it tasted.
After he decided to leave home and pursue wrestling, George ate heavily in order to put on weight, as did his brothers, who followed him. But I never saw him "take a quarter-pound stick of butter, peel off the wrapper and eat it like a banana." If he did, probably it was because of those days in the adobe hut. At any rate, I am sorry that the public was offered only this picture of George to remember, instead of one of a unique and talented human being.
I immensely enjoyed reading about Babe, as we all loved her, not for her accomplishments but for being such a great gal. We are proud that she was a part of our family.
JOAN C. ZAVICHAS
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