Congratulations! In Edwin Shrake you have actually found another writer who knows as little about football as Tex Maule (How the West Has Won, Nov. 23). Mr. Shrake believes that there are at least three teams in the Western Division that are superior to the Browns, including the Detroit Lions. After what the Browns did to the Lions, I wonder if the Lions could hold their own against the Pomona jayvees.
University Heights, Ohio
Edwin (couldn't you call him Tex, too?) Shrake admits that the West defeated the East in the past three years by virtue of favorable weather conditions ('61 and '62) and a critical injury ('63). How this proves superior foresight on the part of the Packers and Bears somehow escapes me.
In the next breath he claims that Y. A. Tittle has been effective in New York because of his education in the West. This strikes me as a singular theme, in that I recall, as recently as last year, that you people were claiming Y. A. never became a truly effective quarterback until he came to the Giants.
Men like Jim Brown, Sam Huff, Frank Gifford, Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Kyle Rote, Steve Van Buren, Buddy Dial, Tommy McDonald, Chuck Bednarik (enough?) were and are products of the Eastern teams. And as for the inane comment that "in the East there were Baugh and Otto Graham," did not your man ever hear of one Charles Albert Conerly Jr.? All he ever did was steer the Giants to three Eastern Division titles and one world championship (score 47-7).
STEPHEN H. ALVEN
Until reading this article I was sensitive to anything said against the Eastern Division of the NFL. But this was an unbiased report of the horrible plight of professional football due to bad scouting. I hope the Eastern Division takes heed. Vive la Edwin Shrake! Vive la SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!
New York City
You hit the nail on the head in your editorial about football injuries in scholastic football (SCORECARD, Nov. 30). Size alone seems to be the sole requirement some coaches have for selecting a player. Here in New Jersey this past season no less than seven youngsters of 300-plus played varsity football. Now, how can a boy of 15 standing 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 345 pounds possibly pass a physical examination for strenuous exercise?
Yet I talked to one such boy who told me he cared little about playing football, but the coach saw him in the hall one day and talked him into going out for the team. He had been excused from the conditioning exercises because he could not do deep knee bends, sit-ups or even one push-up!
You are correct; the early teens is the wrong time of life for a youngster to begin organized tackle football. In these years boys of the same age may be quite unequal in size and musculature, and sudden spurts of growth can make a boy's body slow to learn safe body-contact techniques.
Prevention of football fatalities depends upon school-supervised medical examinations for every team candidate. It also depends upon patient high school coaches who will neither accelerate nor abort the body-conditioning phase in their desire to teach the fundamentals—which should have been "begun slowly" years before.
ROGER M. SHERWOOD
While 15 may be too young for football as presently played by high schools, it should be pointed out that younger boys in a well-run football program can participate safely and satisfactorily. I have been coaching boys 10 to 14 for more than 25 years; during that time there has not been a serious injury among my boys or our opponents. On several occasions boys could not participate because of broken bones and other injuries incurred playing cowboys and Indians.
ALFRED G. HARE JR.