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May 19, 1969
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May 19, 1969


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Pro football did not solve all its current problems when it finally settled the realignment question. The failure to sign top draft choices, particularly O.J. Simpson, was a continuing headache. For instance, the chief appeal of the Coaches All-America Game in Atlanta on June 28 is the anticipated duel between the West's Simpson and the East's Leroy Keyes (of Purdue and, hopefully, the Philadelphia Eagles). But with not much more than six weeks remaining before the game, neither had yet accepted an invitation to play, and apparently neither had yet agreed to play in the traditional College All-Star Game in Chicago on Aug. 1, which this year sends Joe Namath and the New York Jets against the collegians. Their refusal is understandable. An unsigned player is reluctant to play in an all-star game because a serious injury would leave him with no financial recourse, beyond the insurance taken out on each player by the promoters. A signed player, on the other hand, has the guarantee of his season's salary from the club that drafted and signed him.

And the holdouts were not just Simpson and Keyes. Still unsigned, and apparently waiting for O.J. to make his move, were George Kunz (Notre Dame and the Atlanta Falcons), Greg Cook ( Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Bengals), Ron Sellers ( Florida State and the Boston Patriots), Fred Dryer ( San Diego State and the New York Giants) and Ron Johnson ( Michigan and the Cleveland Browns).


It was a fairly obvious thing for him to say after his Oakland Oaks had won the ABA championship, but Coach Alex Hannum asked, "Why not a super bowl in basketball?" Even if it is obvious, in some ways the idea is appealing—the upstart Oaks against the old-line Boston Celtics for the championship of everything.

Hannum's credentials add considerable vigor to the idea. Alex is the only coach to win championships in both the NBA and ABA (as Weeb Ewbank of the Jets is the only coach to win in both the NFL and AFL). Moreover, Hannum won the only two NBA titles that the Celtics did not win in the last 13 seasons.

There is that three-point rule (for goals from beyond 25 feet) in the ABA, but then the AFL had the two-point extra point and that didn't stop the Super Bowl from coming into being. The Super Hoop may soon be with us—which will be fine unless it takes the season into mid-June.

The all-time record for one day's betting at U.S. racetracks is $6,120,631, established at Aqueduct on May 31, 1965. Betting on Churchill Downs on Derby Day this year—$6,106,346—just barely missed topping the Aqueduct total and would have beaten it except for a fluke. Before the start of the first race on Derby Day a horse named—stand back, now—Sweetsie Sweet tossed his jockey and ran away, probably to hide in embarrassment. At any rate, the stewards ordered the horse scratched and all money bet on him refunded. It came to $27,559. If it had not been refunded the total handle at Churchill Downs would have reached $6,133,905, or $13,000 better than Aqueduct's record.

One of the most popular items that America is importing nowadays is tennis players. For instance, Oral Roberts University of Tulsa, Okla. has Peter van Lingen of South Africa, Ivan Mikysa, Cyril Suk and Jirka Medonos of Czechoslovakia and Pekka Saila of Finland. The University of Corpus Christi in Texas has Ramiro Benavidez of Bolivia, Roberto Chavez and Vicente Zarazua of Mexico, Humphrey Hose of Venezuela, Oscar Salas of Curacao and Marc Boulle of France. When Corpus Christi played Oral Roberts recently, there was no U.S. citizen on either team.


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