A challenging task for any writer is unraveling the cocoon of mythology that surrounds his sport, and this week in a profile of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Jack Lambert (page 24), Senior Writer Bob Jones shows that middle linebackers are not necessarily mean and masochistic. Jones and our new pro football editor, Mark Mulvoy, have considerable experience in debunking legends and detaching themselves from the gods of sport.
Mulvoy, who until three months ago was one of SI's most prolific writers, is well versed in today's pro game, having been on the beat last season. For Jones, who joins Dan Jenkins in covering the sport, his fall assignment will be only semi-tough.
Jones wrote pro football for SI in 1969-70, but then begged off, believing the game was becoming a bore. "Five years ago pro football had virtually no action," he says. "It had become turgid and an excruciatingly joyless experience to cover." Rule changes—specifically those that opened up the passing game and brought about more long punt returns—have gotten pro football out of a rut, Jones says, and so he asked to return to the action.
For seven years Jones has been our motor sports man, trailing the racers from Monaco to Indy, from Sebring to Watkins Glen. Before that, for three years, he wrote about the war in Vietnam for TIME. He has seen his share of dying and that is another reason bringing him to football once more.
July 11, 1976
"I wanted to get into a gentler sport than motor racing," Jones says, "and even though pro football may bang people up, it doesn't kill them. So many of my friends in racing have died. It had gotten so bad I was afraid to befriend the younger drivers; that's when I knew I had to get out."
SI readers are most familiar with Mulvoy's comprehensive hockey articles. During his nine years as a staff writer he logged some 1.5 million air miles, and he complains that he is suffering another sort of jet lag now that he is a deskbound editor. To help ease the adjustment, Mulvoy has begun running several miles each morning and has already dropped 30 pounds.
"The running helps," he says, "but the big difference is in the way I eat. When I was on the road, I found myself taking people to lunch, taking people to dinner, taking people for post-game bacon cheeseburgers."
There have been other changes. "I've gone from playing golf a minimum of five days a week to a maximum of one," Mulvoy says peevishly. As the ultimate indignity, he has had to give up—though not without a struggle—wearing golf clothes to work. "Until I changed jobs I owned one suit, which I bought eight years ago for my marriage. Now I own a closetful. What do you think of this outfit?"
You're looking good, Mr. Mulvoy. Looking good.