WINTER SPORTS NOTE
One of the problems that beset the National Football League every winter—aside from what to do with all that money—is that the championship game often is played under frosty, blizzardy conditions that restrict the talents of players in a game designed for autumn weather no worse than brisk. But, naturally, fans of a winning team want to see the championship game in the home park, and that is the way it has been. Now it appears that sport's burgeoning masters, the big TV networks, who have already sickened boxing by overexposure, would like the season to continue through February. The proposal is being given surprisingly bland appraisal by the NFL.
"It's during these months that most of the nation is under snow, and people stay indoors," explains Pete Rozelle, NFL commissioner. "Television would have its greatest audience at this time." In the light of this TV interest, Rozelle is considering the desirability of determining the championship in a "best-of-three series."
"The first game could be played in a league city, as it is now," Rozelle says. "Then we could go south for the second, and, if necessary, third games."
There would be several obvious dangers in such a course. Dilution of interest in the home game, perhaps even the championship, would be a certainty. Injury to a key player in the home game, as has happened, would make the next two games scarcely a presentation of a contender at its best. And the players, who now rest for two weeks before the big game, and are keyed up for it, would be hard put to maintain a peak of desire over a three-game series, especially after a long and arduous season.
It may all be academic. Growing indications are that before too long the American Football League will have established among fans and players that the true pro football championship must be played out between the top teams of the two leagues. AFL and NFL player representatives already are holding meetings to discuss problems common to players of both leagues. Not the least that may be expected of such meetings sooner or later is a players' push for a playoff game between the two leagues.
FETCHIT THE STRATEGIST
The reason Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay went into training at Miami Beach a week ago Sunday is that he expects to fight Sonny Liston again in the next couple of months. Locale of the fight is undecided, but Los Angeles and New York are out because they cannot abide Liston. Miami is out, too, because it has already experienced a Clay-Liston fight. Louisville, Las Vegas and Baltimore were the first towns considered by the fighters and their backers.
Details of the fight contract were agreed to in Philadelphia at a meeting between Gordon Davidson, the lawyer for Clay's syndicate, and Jack Nilon, Liston's representative.
In preparation for the fight, Clay has taken up with a new companion, none other than Stepin Fetchit, the old movie star, now 62, who in May was a charity patient in Chicago's Cook County Hospital. Remembered for his molasses-slow speech, slumped shoulders and shuffling walk, Fetchit provides something of a contrast to the lightning foot speed and constant chatter of his new mentor.