AFC VS. NFC
I found Joe Marshall's story on the superiority of the American Football Conference (Vince, You Wouldn't Believe It. Nov. 21) pretty ridiculous. I'm sure I could make as strong a case for the NFC. I would simply start with Walter Payton. Then I would mention that Seattle (AFC) traded a first-round draft choice to the Dallas Cowboys (NFC), who picked Tony Dorsett. The leading passer in all of pro football is Pat Haden (NFC). Second is Roger Staubach (NFC). Jim Hart (NFC) is ahead of Steve Grogan and Ken Anderson. Baltimore, led by NFLers John Unitas and Earl Morrall, won the Super Bowl before Bert Jones was drafted.
I'll accept AFL superiority when you discount Cleveland. Baltimore and Pittsburgh wins. By the way, Joe Greene and L. C. Greenwood came from the NFL.
J. P. FERRARA
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Is this magazine supposed to be objective, or do we have to contend with the subjectivity of Joe Marshall?
Now that Joe Marshall is through butchering the NFC, let's look at something he conveniently forgot to include. In criticizing the inept scouting and drafting in the NFC, he somehow forgot lo mention that one of his "few exceptions"—Dallas—is probably the best team in pro football (AFC or NFC) this year. So let the AFC run away with the NFC for now. What difference could it possibly make? The Cowboys will be wearing Super Bowl XII rings come January.
College Station. Texas
December 5, 1977
After reading Joe Marshall's interesting and informative article on why the AFC dominates the NFL. I checked the week's NFC-AFC matchups. When I saw that a Dallas-Pittsburgh game was scheduled. I prepared to write you. telling how the underdog NFC team (Dallas) beat one of the AFC's best (Pittsburgh). However, the Steelers made one of the NFC's finest teams look bad by defeating the Cowboys 28-13. Moreover, in the other AFC-NFC game, the Browns easily beat the NFC Giants 21-7. I am truly apologetic for questioning the validity of Marshall's words.
Who cares if the AFC is better than the NFC? I am sure NFC owners don't mind eating humble pie as long as the AFC is paying for it. With merger payments continuing until 1987, the NFC can catch up and get fat at the same time. It seems as if the NFC is getting humiliated all the way to the bank.
RICHARD H. WILLIAMS
After reading your article, it occurred to me that maybe Lamar Hunt should get together with the other AFC owners and form a separate league. They could even call it the American Football League, for lack of a better name. They should hire Al Davis as "czar" with a lifetime contract and negotiate their own TV contracts.
Then about three or four years down the road, they could invite the NFC in as a junior partner. Indemnification and territorial rights should be around $5 million per NFL team. Tit for tat!
IN PURSUIT OF WOODY'S CAP
In regard to your mention of the Oklahoma University "student trainer" who tried to steal Woody Hayes' cap (SCORECARD, NOV. 7), your facts were sketchy. I am not a trainer. I'm an equipment manager. Moreover, I was not actually trying to steal the cap when I got belted. Here's the story:
Chuck Lester, another manager, and I decided that Hayes' cap would make an interesting piece of memorabilia for Coach Barry Switzer to have in his office. After the game I spotted our coveted prize and made a bee-line for it, but Hayes was flanked by two Ohio State warriors who looked none too happy about their close loss to the mighty Big Red. At that point I also realized that I was carrying a chalkboard, which would surely hamper my quickness, speed and agility. Still, I pressed on. At point-blank range, with hand poised to make the snatch, however, I reconsidered my disadvantages. I also remembered that such an act would not be in keeping with the class that Oklahoma football is noted for, so I decided to offer my hand to Coach Hayes instead. I quickly covered with, "Heck of a game, Coach Hayes." He replied, "Get the hell outta my way!" and stopped me short of the first down, so to speak.
I believe I did the right thing in not going through with the snatch. I also believe that people have gotten down on Hayes too much. His actions are prompted not so much by anger as by competitive spirit. Besides. I like to consider myself a member of the Hit by Woody Hayes Club, and the more exclusive it is, the better.
In your Nov. 28, 1960 issue you included Charles Brownmiller (Lafayette '17) of Easton, Pa. in FACES IN THE CROWD because he had attended his 50th consecutive Lafayette-Lehigh game. On Nov. 19, Brownmiller saw his 67th consecutive Lafayette-Lehigh game. You might consider giving him a "replay."
HILTON N. RAHN JR.
IN DEFENSE OF GOALIES
When I tell people that I'm a hockey goalie, they usually look at me out of the corner of their eyes and say something along the lines of, "Gee, didn't I see you in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?" or, "How long have you had this problem?" or, "I know a good plastic surgeon." Well, after seeing Neil Leifer's photograph of the Islander-Flyer brawl in your Nov. 21 issue (Just What the Doctor Ordered), I have a reply.
If you'll notice, the two goaltenders, Glenn Resch and Bernie Parent, are shown placidly standing shoulder to shoulder, observing the melee from a safe distance. While everyone else was grabbing everyone else, I imagine they had a conversation like this: "Gee, Bern, it looks rough in there, doesn't it?" "Yeah, it does, Chico. And they say we're nuts!"
I'll take flying pucks over flying fists and elbows any day. I'm sure Bernie and Glenn (and Rogie and Wayne and Ken and Gilles) would agree.
As a schoolteacher, football coach and power lifter-body builder, I enjoyed the article about Jan Todd (The Pleasure of Being the World's Strongest Woman, Nov. 14). She squat-lifts more than I do! Jan and Terry Todd are to be admired not only for their success in power lifting, but also for the success they have achieved in their life-style.
Your article on Jan Todd made my day! Yes, some of us are built for power. For years I've enjoyed pulling tree stumps, tilling the garden, hauling off boulders, etc. I do it not only for the sheer physical joy of meeting those challenges, but also for the joy I feel when my husband and neighbors express their shock that I, a woman, can do these things. I'm 5'5", 130 pounds.
It's reassuring to me to know other women who are built for strength are not ashamed to use that strength and take joy therein.
Salt Lake City
Your article on the world's strongest woman was very interesting and informative. I hope that I am lucky enough to find a woman such as Jan Todd.
In the article I was mentioned as the world-record holder in the bench press and identified as a Canadian citizen. This statement is incorrect. First, I don't have the official record yet, because the AAU didn't see fit to fly in the required three international judges for the meet in Hawaii. They told me that they didn't have enough money.
Second, I would like to refute the statement that I am a Canadian. I represented the U.S. in the 1974 world championships and competed in the U.S. junior nationals twice and in the U.S. collegiate nationals twice. I am an American and proud of it! Please get this straight because I plan to be a winner at the next world championships.
Thank you for the fine article on Jane Frederick (Plainly, Jane Has a Penchant for the Pentathlon, Nov. 21). One thing bothers me, though. You said that the 157-pound Frederick could bench-press 205 pounds—a fairly hefty lift even for a 157-pound male. What is more, in your article on Jan Todd, the world's strongest woman, you state that Todd's 176.4-pound bench press is just 34 pounds short of the women's world record. I am awed that Frederick, a track and field athlete, can bench-press a weight so close to the world record in an event she does not train competitively for. Please check your figures.
•Frederick, who has been training with weights three days a week since 1973, says she bench-pressed 205 pounds last spring, when she was at the peak of her strength and weighed 165 pounds.—ED.
As an avid surf fisherman and longtime Melville buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the article Tumult on a Wild Shore (Nov. 7). William Humphrey and your readers might be interested to know that it was not at Nantucket that Melville had his thought on meditation and water. Melville first visited Nantucket in July 1852 when he sailed there with his father-in-law, Judge Lemuel Shaw of Boston. This was almost a year after he had written Moby Dick, where the famous passage appeared.
BROWN VS. PENN STATE
As a recent graduate of Brown University, I was seriously disturbed by the opinions expressed in your VIEWPOINT column (Nov. 14). The author ascribed purely financial motives to Brown officials for opting to play Penn State, which, admittedly, has fielded a stronger football team than Brown and expressed a different athletic philosophy.
One of the essences of sport is competition between people and institutions of all sizes and philosophies. Restrictions on competition merely demean this. Implicit in the article is the belief that the student-athletes at Brown would be "embarrassed" if Brown did not beat Penn State. Winning is not the only goal of Brown teams. Another worthy goal is to test one's skills against those of the so-called powers.
As a three-year member of a Brown basketball squad that played Maryland, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Furman, Providence and Wake Forest, I can honestly say that despite losing, I enjoyed the attempt at winning.
JAMES M. BURKE
In the excellent VIEWPOINT on the 1983 Brown-Penn State apparent mismatch, it might well have been pointed out that Penn State Coach Joe Paterno is a Brown graduate who played quarterback for the Bruins. This might have been the main reason Brown was bold enough to move out of its class.
ONE FOR THE YEARBOOK
Thank you for Bil Gilbert's article on high school football (That Senior Season, Nov. 14). Although I played at Canarsie High in Brooklyn, I found my experience to be very similar to that of the Vicksburg, Mich. players. From the first week of August practice, which we named "Hell Week," to the athlete's father who always knows more than the coach, similarities abound. Even the personalities are similar. I could match one of my former teammates to each of the Vicksburg players Gilbert mentioned.
I finished my high school career four years ago, but after reading the article I could almost taste the dirt from the grass drills and see my former teammates again. I hope your other readers identified with the story as much as I did.
Walker Valley, N.Y.
As a past player and a junior high coach, I think the article says a lot about high school football and its effect on everyone involved. I can relate to the various individuals on the Vicksburg team, as they are representative of youngsters all over the country. Bil Gilbert did a great job of getting the feeling across. STEPHEN D. WOLKOFF
Bil Gilbert's Senior Season was unmercifully long and hopelessly cliché.
The emergence of Charlie Criss as a star in the NBA (Very Short and Sweet in Atlanta, Nov. 14) comes as no surprise to those of us who had the opportunity and pleasure of watching him perform his basketball wizardry in the Eastern Basketball League. Having lived in Allentown, Pa., home of the Allentown Jets, I was able to see several games between the Jets and the Scranton Apollos, Criss' team. It was not a rarity to find at the end of a game that Criss alone had outscored the entire backcourt of the Jets. A 40-point game from this human spark plug was a frequent occurrence.
TODD S. RAYMIS
Jerry Kirshenbaum's article on Atlanta's Charlie Criss is inspiring. What professional basketball needs is more people of Criss' determination.
REVIEWING THE REVIEW
Jonathan Yardley's review of The Game They Played by Stanley Cohen (BOOKTALK, Oct. 24) was shallow and unkind. Both my son and I read the book, and we enjoyed it immensely.
To say the book was irritating because Cohen injects himself into the story is asinine. The author's reminiscences, especially when he takes a walk with his son through the streets where he spent his childhood and to the schoolyard where he played basketball, were sensitive and heartwarming.
Clearly, Yardley's review was based upon regional animosity and a distaste for New York. That is all well and good, but it hardly contributes to an objective review. I thought the book was great.
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