NAMATH AND ROZELLE
The Joe Namath affair is a curious mixture of the comic and the tragic, just as Namath himself is sometimes oaf, sometimes hero, depending on the time and the circumstance. The dramatic impact of his announced retirement was considerably lessened because of the earlier "retirements" this year of Donn Clendenon, Ken Harrelson and Maury Wills. Indeed, Wills' brief fling at private life ended limply the same day that Namath made his emotional announcement.
Much has been made of Namath's insistence that he was acting on principle, always unsteady ground, since one man's principles may be another's declaration of war. Three of Namath's teammates, acting like adolescents, made Pete Rozelle the villain of the piece and naively threatened their own retirements. But a review of the situation makes one wonder how Rozelle can be found at fault. The commissioner is supposed to keep pro football beyond suspicion by nosing out elements that may be detrimental to the game. Rozelle did his duty quietly and efficiently when he warned Namath. The warning was ignored, and so it was a direct challenge: the erring player defying the commissioner.
Rozelle then had no choice but to issue his ultimatum to Namath, and when Joe came in tears to the public he was like a child crying because, for once, he could not have his own way.
There was no more joyous or exciting place to be in sport than at Chapultepec in Mexico City when Rafael Osuna won a tennis match before his countrymen. Only three weeks ago—at 30, on shopworn knees too familiar with the surgeon's knife—he won his last and greatest victory there as he led Mexico's Davis Cup team to its historic 3-2 upset of Australia. Osuna won both his singles and shared in the doubles win—those were Mexico's three points—and the crowd carried him from the court on its shoulders. Ten days later he was dead in a plane crash near Monterrey.
Osuna was always a marvelous player to watch, and he was a good one. At his peak, in the early 1960s, he took Mexico all the way to the Davis Cup Challenge Round against Australia, won the U.S. singles championship at Forest Hills and twice shared the Wimbledon doubles title. He had no real power, but he succeeded with quickness, guile and an infectious, resilient spirit. When he first came to the University of Southern California he could hardly speak English, but he soon became a bilingual wit.
Wherever he went, Osuna captivated the crowds and, indeed, everyone he met, but he was always Mexico's. No athlete ever meant more to his country than Osuna did, and it is difficult to realize that no more will deep-throated cheers for him come rolling out of Chapultepec. There is a special sadness when an athlete dies young, though the sadness is usually only personal. By Osuna's death, an entire nation is bereft.
Danny Wolff, an 11-year-old Little Leaguer of Washington, D.C., pitched a no-hitter recently. Unhappily, his team made 33 errors and Danny lost, 23-3.
BETTER THAN NEVER
A good deal of criticism has been directed at colleges for using football players and then letting them go off to professional football without seeing to it that they follow through and get their degrees. But Utah State—with a big assist from Jim Harris, a Utah State graduate who was drafted by the New York Jets in 1965—has started a campaign to do just that, with excellent results. Ocie Austin, cornerback of the Baltimore Colts, Joe Forzani of the Calgary Stampeders and Dewey Czupka of the Vancouver Lions all received their B.S. degrees this month, and Forzani has started studying for his master's. Merlin Olsen, one of the Los Angeles Rams' "fearsome foursome," is working on his master's thesis. Roy Shivers and MacArthur Lane of the St. Louis Cardinals will graduate in July, and Nick Cuccia and Rusty Malone of the Continental League are nearing graduation. Other colleges, please copy.