Years of toting water to Washington Redskin huddles in the late '60s must have helped prepare Staff Writer Joe Marshall for the task of putting together the scouting reports for this, our annual pro football issue, plus the introduction to the 1978 season featuring computer wizard Bud Goode. The reports, beginning on page 48, are the first in years to be written by one man. Actually, Marshall wasn't alone. For weeks his constant companion was an attachè case filled with 10 pounds of Goode's computer readouts and reports on all the NFL teams from our correspondents. The sifting, analyzing and writing jobs done, Marshall said he felt as if he'd been through a week of two-a-days under Vince Lombardi, his boss with the Redskins nine years ago.
Marshall has covered pro football for SI off and on since 1971, the off part being a period in 1975 when he left to serve as vice-president for public relations of the World Football League. The move took him only 19 floors above SI in the Time & Life Building in New York, but Marshall soon discovered that life in the WFL involved more than a change of elevator banks.
"We gave it a good try, but it wasn't a barrel of laughs," says Marshall. "After the first few months, it got increasingly depressing. I still have this giant logo of the WFL which we had made up for news conferences. The only time we got to use it was at the press conference announcing our demise."
Marshall cherishes another souvenir, one that recalls the league's experiment with putting color-coded pants on each player according to position so that fans could better tell who was what. The first trial was set for a game involving the Memphis Southmen, and Marshall has kept a telegram from ex-Southmen Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick which says, WILL NOT WEAR CLOWNLIKE PANTS.
September 3, 1978
His WFL mission over, Marshall returned to SI, and we have been keeping him on the move ever since.
Marshall's association with Goode goes back to 1973 when Goode, a former Hollywood publicist, convinced Marshall that the Miami Dolphins would beat the Minnesota Vikings with ease in Super Bowl VIII.
Goode describes himself as a science and fitness buff. Fifty-five this month, he swims, surfs and runs the 330 intermediate hurdles, despite "two valve jobs" on his heart. He has examined most sports statistically, and his pithiest advice to golfers is, "The money shot is the pitch to the green. If you're going to practice, practice that." And to tennis players, "You should only work on what is already your best stroke." Over the years, Goode's system has become more and more refined and comprehensive, and so time-consuming that he has had to limit himself to pro football. Today, half of the NFL head coaches subscribe to his numbers, and Marshall remains a firm believer. "You know the basic principle of journalism—telling the reader 'who, what, where, when and why'? Well, Bud has found the most objective way I know of giving you the 'why' of pro football."