I immensely enjoyed seeing the Raiders on your cover twice in three weeks (Jan. 3 and 17). Oakland won the Super Bowl not because Minnesota was so bad but because Oakland was so good. Without a doubt, the Raiders are world champions and the best team in pro football.
CHRISTOPHER H. EVANS
Your coverage of Super Bowl XI was tremendous, and Dan Jenkins' last paragraph (The Raiders Were All Suped Up, Jan. 17) tells it all. The AFC is much superior to the NFC. As I see it, the Minnesota Vikings could not have won any of the three divisions of the AFC and could have finished second only in the Western Division.
There seems to be a subtle difference between the styles of play in the two conferences, which must go back to the old AFL. Games between AFC teams are almost always more interesting to watch.
Before Dan Jenkins' statement that the NFC should apply for admission to the Ivy League is taken seriously, let's look more closely at the facts. True, the AFC has won five Super Bowls in a row and eight of 11, but Baltimore and Pittsburgh, NFL teams before the merger, account for three of those wins, so the tally should read NFC six, AFC five.
With all that has been written about the Minnesota Vikings and their disappointing Super Bowl record, I would like to enlighten some of the fans about other title games. From 1933 through 1969 (37 games), the NFL title game was decided by two touchdowns or more 17 times. The New York Giants played for the championship 14 times and lost 11 of those, including three in a row in 1961, 1962 and 1963. What is more, they were shut out twice and three times scored only one touchdown.
The Los Angeles Rams were 1-3 in title games, winning in 1951 but losing in 1949, 1950 and 1955.
The Cleveland Browns played in 11 NFL championships, winning in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964, but losing seven times, including three in a row in 1951, 1952 and 1953. From 1950 through 1957 Cleveland played in seven of eight championships, winning three and losing four.
Also, in 1954 the Browns beat Detroit 56-10 and in 1957 Detroit beat them 59-14, which shows that the score of one championship game has no bearing on the relative strengths of divisions or conferences or even of the clubs involved. It only shows who was better on that day.
So congratulations to Oakland on its NFL title, but Minnesota has lots of company in having lost another "big game."
I have noticed that No. 12 is a winner in the Super Bowl. The only times a team that started a quarterback wearing No. 12 lost were when the other team also started a quarterback wearing No. 12. For instance, Roger Staubach and the Cowboys defeated Bob Griese and the Dolphins in 1972. Other No. 12 winners after Staubach were Griese in 1973 and 1974, Terry Bradshaw in 1975 and 1976 and now Ken Stabler.
William Leggett's article on TV taking over the Super Bowl was on the nose (TV/RADIO, Jan. 17). I watched Super Night at the Super Bowl. It was so boring I fell asleep after 10 minutes. I wish they would leave the Super Bowl to the players.
Only TV could turn the world championship of professional football into a circus with pre-Super Bowl shows (NBC's Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of the Super Bowl and CBS' Super Night at the Super Bowl). The networks have reduced the game to a farce.
Who cares how many variety shows TV puts on before and after the Super Bowl? No one has to watch them to qualify to look at the game. And if the viewer doesn't like the shows, there's a very simple solution. As for athletes appearing "wooden and embarrassed," what's new about that? Years ago after the World Series athletes used to set out on the vaudeville circuit. Vaudeville then, TV now. What's the difference? In each instance the idea was to make a buck or two.
The President's Commission on Olympic Sports has produced more in 600 pages and two volumes than any other sports body ever has (Cure for an Olympian Headache, Jan. 17). The commissioners have outlined a basic foundation upon which amateur sport can stand. I hope that by 1980, when the U.S. hosts the XIII Winter Games, we will have become a nation on the" upswing in Olympic and amateur sports by way of this proposal. At the very least, it is a promising start in the right direction.
Old Bridge, N.J.
I wholeheartedly endorse the motives of President Ford in establishing the President's Commission on Olympic Sports. Its conclusions, as reported by Kenny Moore, appear to be well thought out and appropriate to the goal of improving the U.S. Olympic sports program.
The elimination of intergroup squabbling and of arbitrary rules would be a boon to freedom in athletics. I think it is important to realize that the disqualification from interscholastic competition of gymnast Bart Conner because his participation in the 1975 Pan-American Games had caused him to miss more than 10 days of school is not an isolated case. This kind of "protection" for the athlete is utterly ridiculous and only serves to penalize excellence as well as to keep fine athletes out of national and, perhaps, Olympic competition.
DONALD F. HAAS
Your article seems to me to paint an unjustifiably optimistic picture of the proposed Central Sports Organization as a cure-all for the ills of amateur athletics in America. Granted, the time is long past to end the comic-opera bickering of the NCAA and AAU and to provide deserving athletes with the opportunities to take off a year or two for intensive training without going broke. But a central sports authority? The CSO sounds like something out of 1984.
The truth is that a CSO would, in the long run, take young athletes off the sandlots and playgrounds and put them into intensely competitive situations with predictable results: a few so-called amateurs skating and running for national glory and everyone else twiddling their thumbs on the sidelines.
ROBERT M. MARKLEY
WHAT DID SHE DO?
Re: Susan Baker in FACES IN THE CROWD Jan. 10. She won the women's elite competition at the Appalachian Fall Orienteering Festival? What is it? What happens?
I wish you would explain this arcane activity.
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
•Orienteering was introduced to the U.S. in 1946. Competitors run cross-country using a map and a compass to determine what they feel is the best route between checkpoints and to the finish line. The winner is decided on the basis of elapsed time.—ED.
WINTER OLYMPICS 1980
Placid Is Not Peaceful (Jan. 3), nor will it ever be if the Olympics actually are held there. If Lake Placid has a population of 3,000 and, say, 1,500 of them are employable (which is high) and there is 17% unemployment, this means 255 people are out of work. This is not good if you are one of them, but for this should we spend a minimum of $49 million of taxpayers' money and desecrate a great wilderness area? There must be other approaches to take care of the unemployed besides develop, develop, develop for the good of a very few, meanwhile producing incalculable problems and expenses for ordinary citizens who desire to keep their areas from being overwhelmed by outsiders.
GERALD S. MCCARTHY
Re your article on drop-kicking (SCORECARD, Jan. 3), the advantages of a direct snap and extra blocker are important, but I believe the real benefit lies in the fact that dropkickers probably would have greater range and accuracy. In rugby we have players who are deadly from 40 to 50 yards while kicking on the run! Standing still and kicking at the angles involved in football, dropkickers could make conventional and soccer-style kickers obsolete. The differences between the rugby ball and the football are not critical, so the only problem I can foresee is statistical. You mentioned that the longest field goal by a "dropkicker" is 63 yards, but there are two techniques a dropkicker can use. He can kick the ball with his toe—or he can kick it with the instep of his foot.
JOHN G. SNOW
University of Arizona Rugby Football
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