SI'S SPORTSMEN AND SPORTSWOMEN
I've been reading SI for four years now, and my favorite issue has become the Sportsman of the Year edition. It's a fantastic and fitting climax to every sporting year. One thing—I'd really like to know the names of all of the great athletes who have been honored with this award. Would you please list the Sportsmen and Sportswomen who preceded 1984's very deserving Edwin Moses and Mary Lou Retton?
FRANK MURTAUGH III
•Here they are.—ED.
JOHN WOODEN and BILLIE JEAN KING
WILLIE STARGELL and TERRY BRADSHAW
THE U.S. OLYMPIC HOCKEY TEAM
SUGER RAY LEONARD
DR. Z'S ALL-PROS
I wish Dr. Z only the meagerest of Happy New Years for picking Raider tight end Todd Christensen over the Browns' Ozzie New-some on his All-Pro team (The Doc's Dangerous Double Dozen, Dec. 24-31). Give Oz an outside threat like Cliff Branch to draw some attention away and a running back like Marcus Allen in his backfield, and he would make 200 catches. Nobody does it better than the Wizard!
Seattle noseguard Joe Nash was named to the NFL All-Pro team and will start in the Pro Bowl, yet he didn't even receive honorable mention on Dr. Z's All-Pro team. Another surprise is the absence of L.A. Raider running back Marcus Allen. But possibly Dr. Z's biggest blunder was Coach of the Year. Chuck Knox took Seattle to a 12-4 record without star running back Curt Warner, wide receiver Paul Johns, linebacker Michael Jackson and numerous others. Sounds like he did one heckuva job to me.
I agree with Dr. Z's selection of Denver's Dan Reeves over San Francisco's Bill Walsh as Coach of the Year, but the reason he gives—improvement over the previous year's record—is a cop-out. The 49ers moved up five games to the Broncos' four—and they also had about the same cast as in '83, except for some key injuries and the Fred Dean holdout, which may have reduced the team's quality for a while. In truth, San Francisco's 15-1 record was compiled against weak sisters, for the most part. Reeves deserves the honor because the Broncos were so lacking in offensive talent that a 7-9 record would have been over-achieving, and 13-3 is a miracle.
Santa Clara, Calif.
Washington wide receiver Art Monk not worthy because "his single-season reception record (106) was built on a lot of eight-yard hitches"? I suppose Pete Rose is not worthy of the Hall of Fame because too many of his hits were singles?
Monk set the record with All-Pro Charlie Brown injured most of the year. Alvin Garrett was out and Joe Washington, one of the best pass-catching running backs ever, missed most of the season. Each time Joe Theismann dropped back to pass, every coach, defensive back and hot dog vendor knew that Monk was the primary target. To leave him off your All-Pro team is ludicrous. And not choosing Redskin tackle Joe Jacoby was just about as stupid, but I'll let that one slide—this year.
TIMOTHY S. PROCTOR
Concerning Rick Telander's bountiful praise of Dan Marino (Idol Of The Marino Corps, Dec. 24-31), how can we tell if Marino is really one of the great quarterbacks of all time or merely the beneficiary of present rules that would make a proficient passer out of an arthritic-armed anvil carrier? Telander's comparisons of Marino with George Blanda and Y. A. Tittle and with Dan Fouts in his early days are entirely meaningless, because those quarterbacks played under conditions in which a pass completion was a genuine accomplishment, not a rules maker's gift.
This uncertainty among the fans as to the validity of present-day passing achievements is probably one of the reasons for the NFL's decline in popularity. Bring back the pre-1978 rules allowing bump-and-run coverage all over the field and forbidding blockers to wrestle with pass rushers. Only then can we determine if Marino, Joe Theismann and Joe Montana are really comparable to Bobby Layne, Tittle and Johnny Unitas.
IN DEFENSE OF BOB COSTAS
Regarding William Taaffe's Heidi Award (TV/Radio, Dec. 24-31) for NBC Sports' Skins Game telecast, we would like to clarify the role of Bob Costas, the studio host of our NFL '84 pro football pregame show. His statement that NBC's unfortunate cutaway from The Skins Game was due to "contractual agreements" was in fact incorrect. However, Costas is blameless in this matter.
The segment in which Costas referred to "contractual agreements" was pre-taped at 3:15 p.m. (EST) with the understanding that it would immediately precede the 4 p.m. kick-off, in which case it would have been completely accurate both in tone and content. Unfortunately, it was broadcast at the start of the pregame show (3:28 p.m.), making Costas the unknowing victim of a production error.
Costas, as host of NFL '84, is explicitly aware of our contractual obligations to the NFL, and had he known that the tape would air before the pregame show, he certainly would not have referred to the "contractual agreements."
As we have expressed previously, we regret our decision to leave The Skins Game telecast. We also regret the unfortunate situation in which we placed Costas.
President NBC Sports
New York City
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