SI Vault
August 31, 1964
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August 31, 1964


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"If you see us line up in punt formation and jump offside, don't worry," he reassured some Arkansas fans the other day. "The new rules provide for unlimited substitutions following a penalty. Say we have a fourth-down-and-three situation. We'll jump offside, take our five-yard penalty and then send in 11 defensive men, including a punter. It will be worth five yards to get those defenders in the game before we have to kick the ball."


The harmonica, which made front-page sports news last week, is a musical instrument much favored by athletes, soldiers and other traveling men because it is so compact. When the harmonica's progenitor appeared (from Asia) in central Europe in the middle of the 18th century, however, it was hardly that. It was a collection of beer glasses filled to varying heights and plinked delicately with sticks. When Benjamin Franklin, that ubiquitous genius, heard one in London, he came home and designed a compact affair, more easily transported and musically more true. He called it an "armonica." The H was prefixed later. It soon became an accepted orchestral piece. Mozart and Beethoven, among others, composed for it and, occasionally, these compositions are still performed.

It remained for an Englishman, Sir Charles Wheatstone, to devise in 1829 a small instrument with movable reeds that could be musically agitated by the human breath. It was not a true harmonica, however, and neither was the instrument Phil Linz blew to such devastating effect, offending the sensitive ears of Yogi Berra. Both, properly, should be known as mouth organs or aeolinas.


When the Houston Oilers announced they were lending Quarterback Jacky Lee to Denver they raised some interesting questions as well as eyebrows. It was done because, under the American Football League player limit of 34, the Oilers could not keep all three of their quarterbacks ( George Blanda and Don Trull, as well as Lee). So Houston negotiated a lend-lease agreement with Denver, and Lee is to be returned to Houston in 1966.

The transaction, which to most fans seemed highly irregular, was quite permissible under AFL rules, which permit lend-lease deals if the agreement between the two clubs is a written one. This, in the view of AFL officials, made the Jacky Lee transaction quite all right.

Now, then. Houston closes regular-season play against none other than Denver on December 20. The game could easily have a bearing on the Eastern championship, since the Oilers are one of the division favorites. What if Jacky Lee, an honest and conscientious young man, suffers through half a dozen interceptions, and these enable his former and future teammates to win the game and the division championship? Or if Oiler rushers ease upon Lee, who would be with them in a future year? What effect would either development have on public confidence in pro football?

There is no need to answer. But it must be said that pro football is a competitive business and ought to be conducted as such.

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