A quote attributed to Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders in the SCORECARD section of your Feb. 24 issue had a distasteful implication; namely, that if a team cannot win the title it should do what Buffalo did—finish last and get the first draft pick.
If the quote is accurate, Davis does a disservice to the sport he's part of. I need only remind him of the Bills' second-to-last game of last season. Playing with Flanker Eddie Rutkowski at quarterback due to a series of injuries, the Bills had Davis nibbling his fingers in anxiety right to the final gun, as Oakland won by only three points, 13-10.
The Bills that day, and every other time they took the field, extended themselves trying to win. Of course, that's to be expected of every team. Davis' implication therefore is a low blow.
RALPH C. WILSON JR.
Buffalo Bills Football Club
Al Davis says, "I did not say it jokingly nor did I mean to imply directly or indirectly that any team would purposely finish last. The quote was merely an observation on the entire draft system."—ED.
Although I have often disagreed with Dan Jenkins' view of the golf world, I felt that his selection of Bob Lunn, Bob Murphy and Bob Dickson as golf's next big three was well considered (A New Generation of Heroes, Feb. 17). Many sportswriters ignore the considerable role played by such dubious virtues as maturity, self-control and positive thinking in the success of present-day greats like Casper, Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. I found especially interesting and significant Jenkins' omission of two of the youngest, longest-hitting and perhaps most technically competent of the present crop of young golfers, Marty Fleckman and Bobby Cole.
DAVID W. CUSHMAN
East Brunswick, N.J.
SKIING MADE EASY
Congratulations to SI and Bob Ottum for the five-page report on Professor Kruckenhauser and his "wide-stance" style of ski instruction (An Infallible Revelation by the Pope of Skiing, Feb. 24). Recognition of the simple truths about skiing should end the "magnificent mystique" nurtured by ski instructors since skis got edges and style supplanted sport. As Professor K. has belatedly proved, skiing is really no harder to learn than riding a bike. Kids do it all the time, and not a few grownups as well.
Unfortunately, Ottum passes off one-half of Professor K.'s simple system—use of short skis for beginners—with exactly six lines. Actually, short skis are as important to learning to ski easily and quickly as is wide-track. Short-ee Ski Inventor Clif Taylor ended my 20 years of hacking my way through a dozen techniques by putting me on five-footers at Portillo, Chile seven seasons back. As an Instant Skier, I shortly schussed Professor K.'s beloved Valluga run at St. Anton, something I could never have done on long skis. Howard Head caught some of our early-day short-ski fever and came out with his own metal version. At long last, Taylor's 10 years of preaching the Graduated Length Method is being officially recognized.
Short skis are not only safe but fast, easy, cheap and easy to fit and transport. Furthermore, they are fun. Isn't that really what skiing should be?
Ski Writers Association of Southern California
West Covina, Calif.
I have been an avid baseball fan and a frustrated baseball player for all of my years, and have long contended that what the major leagues need at the helm is a fan rather than a strictly professional man. I can readily see from Mr. Leggett's article (The Big Leagues Select a Fan, Feb. 17) that baseball has now acquired the kind of leadership it must have in order to retain its rightful position as our national pastime.
ROBERT B. SMITHWICK
I guess those baseball owners muffed it again. There is no doubt that Bowie Kuhn knows more about baseball than General Eckert did, but that isn't saying much. If the owners want someone who really knows baseball, why not Stan Musial, Ted Williams or Campy Campanella? Why not Jackie Robinson? If they want someone who can change and modernize baseball, why not Leo Durocher? Bill Veeck? Eddie Stanky? All seven of these men would fit the job better than Vince Lombardi, Mike Burke, Chub Feeney or even Bowie Kuhn!
New Rochelle, N. Y.