SCORECARD

November 01, 1976

PETE'S SAKE

For a long time it was accepted as gospel that pro football owed most of its prosperity to Pete Rozelle, usually described as the best commissioner in professional sport. Rozelle's remarkable skill at promoting the National Football League and negotiating its lucrative TV contracts were taken for granted. But judging from comments dropped by disgruntled owners, notably Carroll Rosen-bloom of the Los Angeles Rams, the bloom, so to speak, is off the Rozelle. Since Rosenbloom blames Rozelle for everything from bad coffee in the press box to World War III, some of his fulminating can be discounted, but he and other owners, worried by the vast increases in salaries and operating expenses, have been muttering about what they think of as Rozelle's extravagances (three public-relations directors, for example) in running the league office. They are disturbed, too, by the proliferation of costly and generally unsuccessful lawsuits. "We sued a state the other day," Rosenbloom growled, referring to Rozelle's attempt to get Delaware to stop using NFL game results in its complicated new state lottery. "Next, we'll sue the United States, and then, I suppose, we'll go over and sue Russia."

Some particularly acerb comments from Rosenbloom came shortly before the league owners met in New York City last week, giving rise to rumors that he was hoping to have Rozelle deposed. The Los Angeles owner, who did not even attend the meeting, categorically denied that report, but the fact that such rumors were taken seriously, instead of being scoffed at, indicates that Rozelle's leadership is no longer unquestioned.

LOOK WHO'S COMING

When word spread through the posh horse country of northern Virginia that Muhammad Ali was thinking of buying a home there, a weekly newspaper, The Fauquier Democrat, ran a front-page story on local reaction to the prospect of welcoming the flamboyant heavyweight champion as a neighbor. There were some chuckles, said the paper, some nods of approval, some shaking of heads. One real-estate agent wanted to know how to get in touch with Ali. Someone else wanted to invite him to a community dinner. Because Ali was raised in Louisville, there was speculation that he might be planning to breed or race thoroughbred horses.

The only comment that was even slightly adverse came from a local citizen who once lived near Ali when the champion had a home in Cherry Hill, N.J. "He was a quiet, non-publicity-seeking neighbor," this one said, "and he was an asset to the community. But he did get quite a few speeding tickets."

REFUGEE CAMPS

During the World Football League's short life, extravagant claims were made for the abilities of a few WFL teams ("They're on a par with some NFL teams right now") and there were equally extravagant put-downs ("There aren't half a dozen men in that league who could even make an NFL squad"). When the WFL died a year ago a large pool of professional talent—about 400 players in all—became available. Right now, 59 of them, or about 15%, a majority of whom had little or no previous NFL experience, are active on NFL rosters, with about a third starting, figures that appear to refute both earlier opinions.

Of the 28 teams in the NFL, only the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets have no WFL players at all. Surprisingly, the brand-new Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks have only three between them. But the vastly improved Chicago Bears have eight (one more is on injured reserve), four of whom start. The Bears apparently have benefited because Coach Jack Pardee, himself a refugee from the WFL, knew the right players to go after. On the other hand, the Washington Redskins, with six WFLers, none of whom are starting, seem no better or worse than last year. And the New York Giants, who have seven, two of them starters (including Larry Csonka), are off to their worst start in history. All but one of the Giant group came from the much-praised Memphis Southmen, the WFL team that wanted to come into the NFL.

QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR

Tennis' carefully nurtured image as the sport of bad-tempered superstars, incompetent officials, profanity, obscene gestures and on-court tantrums was badly damaged early in October when Italy defeated Australia 3-2 in Rome to gain the Davis Cup final round. The matches were lively and the volatile Italian crowd was excited, which meant that a lot of bad feeling could have been generated if people only had tried. But, according to International Tennis Weekly, the paper of the Association of Tennis Professionals, everything went off "in the best spirit—wild and loud and fervent, certainly, but never crossing the line that divides happy hysteria from bad sportsmanship and poor taste."

The officiating was competent and controlled, and the players on both teams behaved with what the tennis weekly called "tolerance and sophistication." Differences of opinion on contested calls, for example, aroused no arguments or dramatic displays of pique. Probably the most impressive moment came late in the final match, a stirring four-set victory for Italy's Adriano Panatta over Australia's aging hero, John Newcombe, when at one point the crowd, strongly pro-Italian, began a spontaneous chant of "Newcombe, Newcombe" in salute to the Australian.

This sort of thing can only give the sport a bad name.

UP DOWN UNDER

Australia may be in the doldrums in international tennis, but in big-time golf it is moving up fast. Kerry Packer, 38-year-old son of the late Sir Frank Packer (best known in the U.S. for spending great sums of money to build the yachts Gretel and Gretel II in his unsuccessful attempts to win the America's Cup), has taken over promotion of the Australian Open, which is being played this week in Sydney.

"Our aim and ambition," says Packer, "is to make the Australian Open the fifth-best tournament in the world, behind only the U.S. and British Opens, the Masters and the American PGA. Jack Nicklaus told me, 'If you'll really have a go and make it into a world-class tournament, then I'll help you. I'll come.' "

Packer imported an American expert to toughen up the venerable Australian Club course, site of this week's competition, as well as to direct the tournament, and he raised the purse from $40,000 to an eye-opening $200,000. "If you want the top players," he explains, "you have to put up the money."

True to his word—and his abiding affection for collecting championships and gobs of money—Nicklaus flew to Australia. Naturally, he was favored to win, but the Aussies aren't doing too bad in the competitive side of golf, either. Their best shotmakers, Graham Marsh and David Graham, have won eight tournaments between them this year and about $400,000 in prize money.

Still, it doesn't really matter who takes the title. The revitalized Open is a victory for Australia.

DAYVILLE GLO

Exceptional winning streaks by teams at relatively obscure high schools or colleges are not uncommon, but even so we feel an obligation to report that the girls' volleyball team at Dayville High School in eastern Oregon ran off a string of 65 victories before losing a week or so ago. What makes this streak so appealing is that Dayville High has only 29 students, 11 of whom are boys. Of the 18 girls, 16 are on the volleyball squad and a 17th keeps score.

Although Dayville is one of the smallest Class B high schools in the state, it has won the Class A volleyball championship the past two years. Part of its success must be due to its unbridled optimism. The letter that brought word of the winning streak said that after the defeat, "The team rebounded and has a winning streak of one."

WORLD SERIES SHARES

Although the polls say the Presidential election is a toss-up, seers studying baseball auguries say that the Cincinnati Reds' victory in the World Series has to bring joy to the Carter camp. For more than half a century, with only three exceptions, when a National League team won the World Series in an election year, the Democratic candidate won the Presidency; when the American League won, so did the Republicans. Here's the electoral rundown:

[originallink:10588631:43674]

Year

Series

Election

Holds True

1920

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1924

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1928

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1932

A.L.

Democrat

No

1936

A.L.

Democrat

No

1940

N.L.

Democrat

Yes

1944

N.L.

Democrat

Yes

1948

A.L.

Democrat

No

1952

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1956

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1960

N.L.

Democrat

Yes

1964

N.L.

Democrat

Yes

1968

A.L.

Republican

Yes

1972

A.L.

Republican

Yes

AND HERE'S THE GNUS
The Topeka, Kans. zoo has two new gnus. Their names are Sports and Weather.

DON AND BUM

Pro football is risky enough on the field, yet the Houston Oilers, already beset by injuries, almost lost both their quarterback and their coach in non-football accidents that occurred only hours apart last week. Dan Pastorini racked up his camper at 3:45 a.m. when he veered off the road and crashed into a clump of trees. And Bum Phillips' 60-foot-high steel observation tower toppled over only moments after he had climbed down from it during an Oiler practice session. Pastorini suffered cuts and a concussion and stayed overnight in a hospital, but Phillips came away from his disaster undamaged, except for his nerves. "When the damn thing fell," he shuddered, "I hadn't walked 10 steps away."

Pastorini, a free spirit who races power boats and who managed to break a foot playing tennis last summer, cheerfully recounted his bad luck. "It was a little scary," he said, "especially when my engine came up and joined me in the front seat. Let's see, since I've been with the Oilers I've had one car stolen, one wrecked by a buddy of mine, one run into by a lady who ran a stop sign—and now this."

Because of the late hour and implications that Pastorini had not been exercising the kind of sound, clear-thinking judgment one expects from a star quarterback, Phillips was asked if he would take disciplinary action against the player.

"What a guy does in his own time is his business," said Phillips, something of a free spirit in his own right. "I'm interested in his health, not his habits. If he feels like it's my business to know what he was doing at the time, he'll tell me. I'm not gonna ask."

ILLUSTRATION

THEY SAID IT

•Pete Maravich of the New Orleans Jazz, hearing that Julius Erving had been signed by the Philadelphia 76ers in a $6.5 million deal: "Some sheik must own that team."

•Jim Palmer, Baltimore Oriole pitcher, recalling the way Chris Chambliss fought off New York fans after his pennant-winning homer against Kansas City: "I figured the Jets and Giants might be after him, seeing he's the only guy in New York to break a tackle all year."

•Hugh Campbell, football coach at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., after his team had defeated Whitman 70-30: "It wasn't as easy as you think. It's hard to stay awake that long."

•Lee Corso, Indiana football coach, asked if Michigan had any weaknesses: "They sure have a lot of turnovers. Every time you look around, they're kicking off."

•John Hall, Los Angeles Times sports columnist, objecting to college football at night: "The colleges would do better to get rid of the nights and return to Saturday afternoon football the way God and Grantland Rice created it."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)