THE DRAFT RESISTANCE
When the NFL announced last week that it would include Ohio State All-America wide receiver Cris Carter and Pitt running back Charles Gladman in a supplemental draft on Aug. 28, doomsday pronouncements were heard across the land. Carter had been kicked off his team for taking money from an agent. Gladman had been thrown off because he didn't cooperate with an investigation into illegal agent payments. In effect, the NFL was rewarding the two players for their alleged transgressions by letting them skip a year of college. Some alarmed college coaches and officials darkly predicted that intercollegiate football would be harmed beyond repair.
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler was furious. "I have never heard of Pete Rozelle doing anything for the benefit of college football," he said. "This message says to a college player, 'Go ahead and rob, steal, cheat and kill. Then as soon as you are declared ineligible, don't worry, because then you get into the NFL.' " Pitt coach Mike Gottfried said, "This is the start of droves of guys leaving college for the pros."
There were immediate cries for more rules, increased penalties and the stringent monitoring of agents. But Stanford AD Andy Geiger said, "We've got plenty of rules. The problem is that rules only work for those who believe in rules."
As the cases of Carter and Gladman remind us, there are, in fact, many agents (SI Aug. 3, 1987) who don't believe in rules and many players who like to have spending money. Amid all the hysteria about the NFL's seeming approval of agent treachery, however, welcome words of reasoned calm were occasionally heard. Some were voiced by NCAA president Wilford S. Bailey, Auburn's faculty rep, who said, "We have to decide whether the longtime policy of the NFL not to draft undergraduates is enforceable or desirable. Is it right that a superb, highly skilled athlete who is in no way prepared for college work be forced to go through a college farm system?"
Although the NFL is wearing the black hat in the Carter-Gladman affair, league officials said—correctly—that they had no choice. The NFL is not an enforcement arm of the NCAA, and if a player violates NCAA regulations and loses his amateur standing, then how can the NFL deny him an employment opportunity? According to NFL lawyers, if the league were to keep any player out of the draft, it almost certainly would be ruled in violation of antitrust laws.
Will the drafting of undergraduates ruin the college game? Probably not. College basketball certainly wasn't ruined after former University of Detroit star Spencer Haywood's successful 1971 lawsuit challenging the NBA prohibition against drafting undergraduates. The only rules governing the NBA draft now are that a player's high school class must have graduated and that a player must let the NBA know 45 days in advance that he wants to be in the draft pool. Says NBA commissioner David Stern, "Our way is direct, and it's not hypocritical." Since 1971, 114 college basketball players have been drafted by the NBA before their senior years. Some of them are big names—Michael Jordan, Akeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson—but the college game has prospered, even though the loss of one star player is far more devastating to a basketball team than the loss of any one player would be to a football team. In addition, it's easier for a player to make an immediate impact in the NBA than in the NFL. For this reason, Boston College football coach Jack Bicknell was probably right when he said, in the wake of the NFL's announcement, "I don't think the floodgates will open."
Unfortunately, the message coming out of the supplemental draft of Carter and Gladman is that crime does pay. Still, if their actions pave the way for the NFL to adopt a similar draft policy to that of the NBA, Carter and Gladman may have done everyone a service.
—DOUGLAS S. LOONEY
On the day before this month's Edwin Rosario-Juan Nazario WBA lightweight championship fight in Chicago—Rosario won on an eighth-round knockout to retain his title—a story appeared in the Chicago Tribune by the newspaper's boxing writer, Sam Smith, claiming that Don King, the promoter of the upcoming bout, and his son Carl, a fight manager, habitually take advantage of fighters. Among the charges: Boxers managed by Carl receive low purses because they cannot fight for any promoter other than Don and thus do not benefit from what should be the adversarial relationship between manager and promoter; also, these boxers have 50% of their purses deducted as Carl's cut—and sometimes another 25% for "expenses."
When Smith showed up to cover the Rosario-Nazario fight, Murray Goodman, King's public relations man, barred him from his assigned seat at ringside. Goodman said he was "told to do this by someone above me." Smith took refuge in the area assigned to the Illinois boxing commission, but, he says, King's people continued to hover near him throughout the evening. Smith said he was surprised at the King camp's reaction because "I thought my story was mild compared to other stories I've read about him."
Added Smith, "I guess King was embarrassed by the story. But that's attributing human emotions to him."
THIS ONE HAD SONAR
A bat—the winged variety—was recently seen hanging out in the tunnel between the home dugout and the clubhouse at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The Pirates called it Corky.
In a TV story in this magazine a week ago (Pans for the Pan Ams), William Taaffe observed that Bianca Jagger, who was covering the Pan American Games for CBS, had "as much to do with Pan American sports as Carmen Miranda."
Taaffe and SI wish to apologize. Not to Bianca Jagger, but rather to Carmen Miranda of Cuba, who won the bronze medal in women's table tennis singles last week.
MAKING ENDS MEET
When Meri Cartee says, "The pieces just didn't come together," she's not mouthing another sports clichè. Cartee, a 26-year-old electrical engineer from St. Peters, Mo., is talking about her near miss last week in the National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio. More than 500 puzzlers from every corner of North America assembled—in more ways than one—for the event, which included singles, doubles and juniors competitions.
In the singles category, contestants had to work 500-piece puzzles as quickly as possible, and in the finals, Cartee put together Concerto in Doll Minor—a picture of two girls playing the piano as their dolls watch—in a remarkable 1 hour, 14 minutes and 54 seconds. But that was still 1 minute and 9 seconds slower than the time of winner and defending champion, Donna Klett of Stow, Ohio.
Donna, who is only 15 years old, says, "I don't think I have a real special talent." But the 10th-grader has been doing jigsaw puzzles since she was five, and she now does about 200 a year, sometimes the same puzzle many times over "because I can't afford to buy new ones all the time." She took home the first-prize purse of $1,000.
Just in case anyone is thinking Donna spends too much of her life puzzling, let it be known that she also likes to read books and to root for the Cleveland Indians. "They're still missing a few pieces," she says of the ball club.
THE CHECKERS KING
Marion (Two-Ton) Tinsley had every right to say "King me" last week. He won the World Checkers Championship in Petal, Miss. (SCORECARD, July 13) for his seventh title, dating all the way back to 1955. Two-Ton, a 60-year-old mathematics professor at Florida A & M, whose sobriquet is intentionally ironic, defeated high school teacher Don (Kentucky Wonder Boy) Lafferty two games to none, with 36 draws. Lafferty put up quite a fight—Tinsley's two victories were the fewest he has ever had in a championship. In the end the challenger had to admit, "Dr. Tinsley's probably the greatest checkers player of all time."
Two-Ton is now beginning a yearlong sabbatical, during which he plans to do math research and to preach at the Tallahassee Christian Church. He also said he might use some of his time to play a little checkers.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are no tight ends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
THEY SAID IT
•Dick Butkus, Hall of Fame middle linebacker, on his reputation for playing dirty: "I never set out to hurt anybody deliberately unless it was, you know, important. Like a league game or something."
•Whitey Herzog, St. Louis Cardinals manager, on his career: "Baseball has been very good to me since I quit trying to play it."
•Mark Koenig, 85, shortstop for the 1927 Yankees, on why he distrusts books written about the Yankees: "One of them has me dead already."