ALL'S WELL, AND ALL THAT
One of the good shocks that come from shocking reports about scandal in sport is the discovery that there was no need for early shock at all. This week the good shock concerned Charlie Conerly, one of the great quarterbacks of professional football, famous and retired. He does not appreciate its beauty.
The National Football League looked into reports that Charlie had been intimately involved in the financial affairs of a professional gambler. The league, through Jim Hamilton, its new guardian of morals, found he had been. But it found him innocent, too, which is what he was.
Conerly had been a good and not too perceptive friend of Maurice I. Lewis, a Memphis real-estate developer who now is accused of being a bookmaker. Charlie had received checks totaling $9,575 from Lewis. The whole thing burst into newsprint while Conerly, a poor but persistent shot, was dove hunting. His articulate and charming wife, Perian, broke into an attractive sweat and started poking through canceled checks. She established that Charlie had been lending Lewis, member of a respectable Memphis family, thousands of dollars and that Lewis had been paying back promptly. It looked like an innocent series of transactions between friends, except that Perian could not account for $3,500 Charlie had received from Lewis.
Charlie came back with three miserable doves in his bag and with Jim Hamilton, onetime technical adviser to the TV show, Dragnet, about to descend on his bank account. "That $3,500?" he asked numbly, in the familiar manner of a husband accused. "Oh. That came from the Cadillac he sold for me." It was the Cadillac reverent fans had given him on Charlie Conerly Day in 1959.
Few in Memphis, it seems, and least of all Charlie Conerly, knew that the very respectable Lewis had been charged with operating in a downtown apartment as a small-time bookmaker.
"We're not too sharp on this business bit," Perian said. What Charlie had been guilty of, one guesses, was that, like many another man, he had trusted an affable fellow.
END OF A BRIEF ERA
Professional tennis is approaching another crisis. Tony Trabert, director of promotion and programming, is quitting the game to go into business as of November 1. Some of the lower-flight players, unhappy because they cannot maintain a competitive edge on a mere two or three months of play (topflight players get 10 or 11 months) are quitting after they complete assigned schedules. These include Malcolm Anderson and Michael Davies. Barry MacKay, a graduate economist who had always planned to enter business early, is also retiring. And, of course, with the suspensions at the season's middle of those aging greats, Pancho Gonzalez and Pancho Segura, the attractiveness of the pros was greatly diminished.
Jack Kramer, pressing on against the storm, says these developments can be remedied by new signings—with Chuck McKinley, Rafael Osuna and Manuel Santana as obvious targets. Players of their caliber are likely to demand guarantees equal to those given their predecessors, if only out of pride. And destruction may once again be what pride goeth before.