William Oscar Johnson described the trial in the $2 million Atkinson slander suit (A Walk on the Sordid Side, Aug. 1) with perfection. Many think that such articles shouldn't be published, but I am convinced that with this sort of attention, players will start realizing that their lives and professional careers are threatened when they commit flagrant fouls.
My heart aches. I have seen the game I've loved since I was old enough to join the neighborhood football team and turn on the television become little more than a pitiful battle of egos, grudges, selfishness and greed.
I don't know why, or how, or even when, exactly, but this magnificent sport with its tremendous skill and excitement and color has lost its magic.
Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
I could have settled the George Atkinson-Chuck Noll dispute easily, dispensing with the lengthy and expensive trial. What happened, simply stated, is that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a game to the Oakland Raiders, and Noll cried. He singled out Atkinson to divert attention from his defeat, a childish tactic, at best, because flagrant infractions of the rules are consistently overlooked by the officials in the NFL, and all teams suffer equally from these oversights.
August 14, 1977
I would have gathered all concerned, and to Chuck Noll I would have said, "If you can't stand to lose, you're in the wrong business." To Lynn Swann I would have said, "If you don't want to be hit, get out of the game." To George Atkinson, John Madden, Al Davis and the entire Raider organization I would have said, "Go for greatness! You thrill people from coast to coast each season with your own brand of aggressive and beautifully brilliant football. You are truly champions."
Johnson brings out the reason why the American people put up with today's violence and crime. Any society that applauds violence on a sports field will allow it to occur off it.
Your article on the Atkinson slander suit was superb. While Swann and Noll whimper behind the comforting coattails of Commissioner Rozelle, the "Oakland Criminals" will dominate professional football.
San Jose, Calif.
A Devil of a Time for the Angels (Aug. 1) proves you can't buy a world champion. The players aren't killing the game with their huge contracts, but the owners who give them the millions of dollars are. After all, no one held a gun to George Steinbrenner and said give Reggie Jackson $3 million.
South Orange, N.J.
You failed to point out that the real devil is General Manager Harry Dalton. The only good deal he ever made was when he was with Baltimore and got Frank Robinson from Cincinnati. In reality, Dalton is only a yes-man for Gene Autry. Under Dalton, the Angels have about as much chance to improve as Autry had of getting to kiss the girl in his movies.
As an avid reader of SI I find it odd that you would print an article on the California Angels as one of the major disappointments of the season and that you would not do one on the Cincinnati Reds. I think it would be more interesting to readers to learn why a team that has won two world championships in a row is in second place, 12½ games behind the Dodgers.
Wheatley Heights, N.Y.
Being an Angels' fan is hell. Thanks for exposing them.
Running the Colorado (Aug. 1) was superb. Photographer John Blaustein and Melissa Ludtke took a subject that I would have considered uninteresting and made it fascinating. A job well done.
University Heights, Ohio
In the interests of medical and scientific honesty, it should be brought to your readers' attention that there is more to tobacco chewing than was mentioned in your article (Chaws, July 4).
Tobacco chewing has for many years been recognized as a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agent; this is well established in the dental literature. I wonder how many of these young professional athletes would continue this habit with that in mind.
JAN FELDMAN, D.D.S.
DRESSED TO KILL
I am writing in regard to Frank Hannigan's remark (Stacy's Not Spacy, Anymore, Aug. 1) that women's golf needs Laura Baugh to win in a halter. How dare he! Can you imagine him suggesting that Hubert Green should have worn something sexy to help men's golf? It's obvious that Hannigan should be relieved of his duties. His prehistoric attitudes aren't doing anyone any good.
JUDITH BERRY INGRAHAM
Roosevelt Island, N.Y.
JUST LIKE PAPA
Robert F. Jones' story on the Torneo de la Aguja (Pursuing Papa's Marlin, Aug. 1) is one of the finest sports pieces I have read in a long time. Interestingly (and perhaps not altogether accidentally), Jones' style is, in places, strikingly similar to that of the man whose legend dominates the tournament, Ernest Hemingway. Whether or not this style ("That night the wind abated") is deliberate is, however, secondary. What is significant is that Mr. Jones has written an account of what makes true sport—idealism and courage, not money and greed.
Your article on man-powered flight (On Gossamer Wings, One of Those Things, Aug. 1) was very interesting. Dr. MacCready's ideas and design seem to be the most logical man has come up with recently.
I greatly appreciate Sam Moses' fine efforts to keep readers informed on unusual happenings in the sports world. Not only this but also the one on George Willig's ascent of the World Trade Center brought a welcome change from the regular sports articles.
Please keep us up to date on Dr. MacCready's progress. By the way, Sam, are you going to try and fly the Gossamer Condor?
•Sam is mulling it over.—ED.
In the last paragraph of his man-powered plane story Sam Moses writes, "When Leonardo da Vinci was trying to fly five centuries ago, he would never have believed that man would be capable of walking on the moon before he could actually fly under his own power." It's a nice sentence, but it's inaccurate. While Leonardo made a lot of sketches of flying machines and may have built and tried to fly one, I know of no evidence that he did.
The first flight in which a heavier-than-air craft took off and flew under human muscle power alone occurred on Nov. 9, 1961 in England; the aircraft was called SUMPAC (for Southampton University Man-Powered Air Craft) and the pilot was Derek Piggott. Neil Armstrong took the first moon walk on July 20, 1969.
Jiro Horikoshi, not Hidemasa Kimura, designed the World War II Zero fighter.
I would like to comment on your readers' responses (19TH HOLE, Aug. 1) to the British Open. Three of the five letters expressly or implicitly took issue with Dan Jenkins' assessment of Tom Watson as a golfer.
Those three letters missed the point of Jenkins' article. What he was saying is that Watson is a better golfer than Nicklaus in the Year 1977 and that Watson has the potential to remain a better golfer than Nicklaus.
I agree with the Nicklaus fans that Jack is the greatest golfer today from a total career standpoint.
NEIL M. SCHWARTZ
Foster City, Calif.
Last night, several of us were sitting in a Milwaukee bar quietly sipping what our fine city is known for, when we noticed an obvious error in your SCORECARD article about highway accidents involving deer.
Being college men, we felt that through empirical observation your writers should have realized that deer read very well but that the DEER CROSSING signs are simply facing the wrong way. If the intent of the signs is for the deer to cross there, then the signs should face into the woods. Go into the woods sometime and try to distinguish between a DEER CROSSING sign and one that reads: SLIPPERY WHEN WET. Very difficult!
We know that deer can't play basketball, as evidenced by a certain NBA franchise, but please don't assume their lack of reading skill without proper evidence.
In Cesar's Salad Days Are Over (Aug. 1), Joe Morgan said if Cedeno would get out of Houston he would be the best player in the league. Well, with Morgan batting around .305 with 16 homers and only 61 RBIs, maybe it's time for Joe to go. And if Cedeno did go to Cincinnati, he would have to face the best young pitching staff in the majors with J. R. Richard, Joaquin Andujar, Floyd Bannister and Joe Sambito, and wouldn't have to face the Reds' shabby staff, which has the next-to-worst record in the league.
While I enjoyed Robert Cantwell's story about burros (Hide-and-Seek in New Mexico, Aug. 1), I think you'll agree mine is even better.
This happened some years back. I was living in Tampico, Mexico and was sort of down on my luck when I met a couple of fellows named Howard and Curtin, one of them a grizzly old guy with a beard and white hair, the other about 30, a little younger than I. Anyway, the old guy Howard mentions something about there being a lot of gold up in the Sierras above Tampico and how maybe the three of us ought to go up there and look for it. Trouble was, we didn't have enough money for burros, picks, canteens and other equipment until one day, soon after, a sweepstakes ticket I had bought from some urchin turned out to be a winner. The next day we were off.
I won't bore you with the rest, other than to say we found gold, fought a few bandits and started back. Somehow I got separated from Howard and Curtin on the way down, which left me with all of the gold to guard. I was nearing town when three Mexicans sort of sidled up to me and my string of burros and started poking around. But I was ready for them. From my shirt I pulled out a sack of fool's gold that I had found on the way up the mountain and tossed it at them. While they grappled for it, I took off into the bush, carrying with me a dozen sacks of real gold. Later on I learned that the Mexicans were executed because everyone figured they killed me, and that Howard and Curtin had a laughing fit because they figured all the gold dust had been blown back up the mountain where it had come from. And I'm sitting here by my pool overlooking the Pacific laughing even harder because they were wrong.
FRED C. DOBBS
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