CLOSED DOOR POLICY
"Palos, Spain—AP—Capt. Christopher Columbus...today banned Associated Press expedition writer Francisco Tamale from the bridge and poop deck of the Ni�a, Pinta and Santa Mar�a. The order presumably was issued because of Tamale's story yesterday quoting anchor man Jos� Tortilla as saying he was playing out his option on this expedition.... Tortilla confirmed the report, but denied he had told the writer that he thought the earth was flat...."
So wrote The Milwaukee Journal's Jerry Kloss, and guess who Columbus, Tamale and Tortilla were? Vince Lombardi, Ken Hartnett and Jim Taylor.
Hartnett is AP's Wisconsin sports editor, and Lombardi is this great coach. Last week Lombardi barred Hartnett from the Green Bay dressing room after Hartnett quoted Fullback Taylor as saying he was playing out his option and that Jim Grabowski's $355,000 bonus had something to do with it. Taylor denied he had mentioned Grabowski—his substitute—but after Hartnett had refreshed his memory, Taylor said he had misunderstood the question. Said Hartnett: "I don't think he misunderstood the question; maybe his public-relations sense misunderstood it."
Meanwhile, in New York, when Larry Merchant of the New York Post sought to join the other writers in the Eagles' dressing room after the Giants game, the equipment manager kept standing in his way. "You're not wanted, Larry," he said. The background here is that Merchant doesn't think much of Joe Kuharich, the Eagles' coach, and Kuharich doesn't think much of Merchant. In fact, Kuharich has called him "a beatnik, a schizophrenic and a psycho." Merchant on Kuharich would take us to page 37.
The NFL, sensitive imagewise, reminded Lombardi and Kuharich that league policy is that no accredited newsman be prohibited from entering an NFL dressing room, and the ban was off. Said Hartnett: "I don't consider it a personal victory, but a victory for all of us covering the Packers." Of course, there would be no NFL, much less an Atlantic Coast Football League, without the Hartnetts and the Merchants. Not even show business gets as much free ink as sport.
Nobody from the NFL or the Eagles told Merchant he was free to stick his nose back in the Philadelphia dressing room; he heard it from a reporter. "It doesn't bother me that no one notified me," Merchant said. "But it would have been nice if they did. What Rozelle [the NFL commissioner] did was a good gesture. It shouldn't have been necessary."
Speaking of Pete Rozelle, he is trying to make sure everything is real impartial for the supergame between the NFL and AFL champions. Consider the officiating, for instance. The two leagues have asked their coaches to rate the six officials—referee, umpire, head linesman, field judge, back judge and line judge (called the side linesman in the AFL)—in order of importance. If the poll establishes a clear-cut hierarchy, then for this January's supergame NFL officials will probably staff the first, fourth and sixth most important positions, the AFL the second, third and fifth. And in 1968, if you're still with us, the AFL will get the first, fourth and sixth spots. The method for choosing the official timekeeper is yet to be determined.
THE HONEST MATADOR
In Madrid a fortnight ago the noblest matador of them all, 44-year-old Antonio Bienvenida, cut the pigtail and left the fiesta forever. In his 25 years as a matador de toros Bienvenida had killed 2,000 bulls, had suffered 14 gorings (the last rites were administered twice) and had sponsored the alternativas (promotion to matador) of some 40 other toreros. His father and his grandfather before him were matadors—a remarkable dynasty now ended.