SI Vault
November 27, 1961
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November 27, 1961


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The accusation that the National Football League is playing unfair with the rival American Football League is heard again in the land, and not merely from the active vocal cords of Harry Wismer, owner of the New York Titans of the AFL. The Wismer charges, some old, some new, some borrowed, are now being echoed by respected journalists and deserve examination.

The claim is that the New York Giants, who currently lead the NFL's Eastern Conference, are being loaded up by other teams in the NFL in a specific attempt to make them look good and focus attention on them and away from the Titans. The argument goes that the NFL, in order to destroy the AFL, must bust it first in the biggest and most prestigious city on the circuit and is conscientiously trying to do just that.

Well, it is a fact—provable by hindsight—that the Giants have benefited greatly from trades with Western Conference NFL teams and have given up relatively little in return. There is no evidence as of now, of course, that this is due to anything more than the astuteness of canny Giant Vice-President Wellington Mara, long known as a demon trader (SI, Nov. 20). And to many it must seem ridiculous to suggest that any NFL team would purposely trade away any one of its valuable players merely to build up any specific rival.

The Giants have received their biggest break not in the trades alone but in the NFL scheduling as well. In their first eight games this season New York twice played Washington (loser of 17 straight), twice played Dallas (no wins last year) and twice played St. Louis. By the time the season was half over, the Giants had not been tested either against the championship Philadelphia Eagles or the consensus choice for new champion, the Cleveland Browns.

The effect of this was to give the Giants plenty of time to assimilate their new heroes. Another effect was to give them a fancy 6-2 record by the time the big games on the schedule began to roll around, thus assuring the rich gates and the lavish attention that Wismer, whose Titans currently hold a record of 5-5 in the AFL, claims is aimed at wrecking his team.

Some now argue that the kindly providence that watches over the Giants by providing them with fine new players and soft first-half schedules is not a providence at all but a connived "syndicate" operation in the National Football League. This harsh accusation has not been proved, but it has stirred enough controversy to make it a legitimate subject for speculation. And surely there could be an improvement in scheduling. We recognize all the scheduling problems faced by Rozelle and his staff. Baseball overlaps the pro football season by several weeks, and baseball teams have first call on the playing fields. This explains some oddities of the schedule, but not all.

There is simply no need for the New York Giants to play three teams twice each in their first eight games. And when two of those teams are the worst in the league, the NFL—even with clean hands—lays itself wide open to the charge of building up the Giants.

Two weeks ago Walter O'Malley announced officially that the new $16 million stadium in Chavez Ravine will be called Dodger Stadium. The words were scarcely out of his mouth when the management of the Los Angeles Angels, who will also play baseball in Chavez Ravine, began to kick. They didn't ask that it be known as Angel Arena but said they would never call it anything but Chavez Ravine. So the new park is going to have two names, to the confusion of California's patrons and the nation's sports-writers. "We don't want any tourists interested in seeing our games wondering where the hell Dodger Stadium is," said an Angels' official. The artful Dodger O'Malley is adamant, and so is ride-'em-cowboy Gene Autry, Angel board chairman. As a compromise we suggest Elysian Fields.


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