EDDIE BISHOP'S EXAMPLE
Thanks for one of the most eye-opening, heartbreaking sports stories I have ever read in SI (A Twilight's Last Gleaming, Nov. 19). It makes me wonder if Eddie Bishop was alone in his dilemma, what with the pressures on hometown coaches throughout the country. We all have a breaking point, and I hope this story will prevent other coaches, and fans, from reaching theirs.
Being a native Kentuckian, I was pleased to see an article on Pineville's Eddie Bishop. However, after reading Frank Deford's account of Bishop's life, I was reminded of how fickle so-called boosters can be. Eddie Bishop was a fine athlete and a very good football coach. He taught his players more than just the game of football. I know this because I am acquainted with Lee Bishop, the eldest brother, who is a Fort Knox (Ky.) High teacher and coach and one of the most professional men I've ever met.
The story gives the reader a very realistic look at the profession of coaching. I hope that Pineville mayor Bobby Madon will now realize there is more to life than a losing football season. Incidentally, Eddie Bishop's greatest football game was against Trigg, not Twigg, County High.
Assistant Basketball Coach
West Texas State University
As a former coach in a place where basketball was "the only game in town," I found that Frank Deford put into words emotions I felt when my teams didn't meet local expectations. After reading his piece on Eddie Bishop, I pulled out Deford's article (The Toughest Coach There Ever Was, April 30) on Bob (Bull) (Cyclone) Sullivan and wondered even more why people try to coach. But then, whenever my thoughts about coaching become too depressing, I reread Kenny Moore's article To Baffle And Amaze (July 26, 1982) on Bill Walsh, and I am reminded once again that coaching can be a beautiful and positive, although exhausting, experience.
PHILIP E. NELSON
December 3, 1984
Thanks for the Eddie Bishop story. Frank Deford did a beautiful job; he really did his homework. We feel honored. The day he left, Eddie said, "Mama, I read SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and my Bible." I preferred his saying his Bible first, then SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. (Smiles.)
Bernie Fuchs's art is great. I've seen your magazine for years but had never taken time to read it or study the art. But there is a time and a place for all things. Thanks for printing the story. I hope it helps some other mother's son to make a wise decision.
MR. AND MRS. FRED BISHOP
As a county probation director, I found it refreshing to read about Mike Merriweather (Pittsburgh's Bashful Bruiser, Nov. 19) and learn that he somehow profited from having to report to a probation officer during a wayward period of his youth—so much so, perhaps, that he now plans to work with disadvantaged kids. Someone should caution Mike, however. Because of distorted societal values, Mike's second career might not leave him with very much money.
IN DEFENSE OF NBC'S COVERAGE
William Taaffe's article on our coverage of the Breeders' Cup (TV/RADIO, NOV. 19) claims we fell short on two counts: hooking uninitiated viewers and addressing the journalistic questions brought up by the events.
First, I must state that my main goal of getting through an unprecedentedly complicated four-hour live telecast cleanly and with no "TV debacle" was more than met. For this huge accomplishment I credit the hundreds of NBC technicians and production personnel involved. And second, I must update Taaffe's ratings projections. We did indeed surpass our hoped-for 5.0 national rating (with a 5.1).
As to our journalistic approach, SI's fine article on the Breeders' Cup by William Nack (Squeezing Into The Limelight) broke no new ground and included no interviews that we did not cover on a live basis. Nor did it address the drug issue that Taaffe seemed so bothered by. And as to attracting new viewers, I take issue with the idea that an explanation of the formulation of the morning line would have kept viewers tuned for four hours. Quite the opposite; the non-horse players would have seized the opportunity to check out the Washington-USC football score. And the short interviews with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Fred Astaire are being referred to time and again as proof that Hollywood Park was the place to be on Nov. 10.
New York City
REVITALIZING THE NFL (CONT.)
Here's another prescription for the moribund patient (Dr. Z's R To Revive The NFL, Nov. 12): Bring back the drop-kick for a two-point conversion. Consider the recent Miami-Philadelphia game. The Eagles have just scored a touchdown to make it 24-23 Miami. The holder kneels in position, but forget the blocked PAT; instead, imagine that the ball is centered directly to the kicker, who takes two steps and makes a George Gipp drop-kick. It's 25-24 Philadelphia. Delirium. No tie. Heidi as scheduled. Highlights at 11.
I loved Flying Bikes And Wealthy Tykes (Nov. 12)! Mike Goodwin, a king of hype for sure, has taken a thrilling participant sport and created a spectator sport that is as popular with the fans as it is with the sponsors.
However, Barry McDermott apparently was so distracted by Goodwin's overwhelming drive and energy that he didn't take much time to talk with the fans about why they think Supercross is such a good show or to talk with the 16-year-old kids riding wide open to take Johnny O'Mara's first-place trophy from him. What's the attraction of Supercross? It's the intense excitement, hot competition and enormous payouts. And it's the American dream. It's folks saying "Heck, maybe my kid could take that checkered flag and the $100,000 bonus."
El Toro, Calif.
It's interesting that following your report on the decline of the NFL you would have an article on Supercross (stadium motocross). Could this be futuresport?
In your EXTRA POINTS item (Nov. 19) about the song Hoosier Heartland, Jill Lieber accurately predicted that the tune wouldn't make the Top 10 in Baltimore. We're familiar with Bob Irsay teams, and we'd like to make a prediction, too: When Indianapolis gets used to the kind of losing football it has been experiencing this year, then Hoosier Heartland won't be a hit there, either. As for Colt G.M. Jim Irsay, we suggest that he pay more attention to football records than music records, because the Colts' Indianapolis mark (4-7 at this writing) is not going gold.
NOT BRADLEY'S WORDS
There is an error in FOOTBALL'S WEEK (Nov. 5) relating to a story I did for The Daily Oklahoman's preseason football tabloid. N. Brooks Clark leads off his weekly roundup by saying that Oklahoma quarterback Danny Bradley "told The Daily Oklahoman," etc. What follows is not what Bradley told me but what my lead was in the story.
The Daily Oklahoman
A Milepost? Joe Willie, Broadway Joe, the man who led the New York Jets to the greatest upset victory in NFL history in Super Bowl III gets married, and all it warrants is an entry in Mileposts (FOR THE RECORD, NOV. 19)? Come on, SI, give us a photo of Deborah Lynn Mays, the woman who wed the athletic world's greatest bachelor.
DAVID L. BALL
•Here she is, with hubby Joe.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.