COME BACK, JOE
Football Commissioner Pete Rozelle made one of his biggest mistakes in ordering Joe Namath to sell or be suspended (Mod Man Out, June 16). He said in an interview that he was certain that Namath had done nothing wrong, but that by his associating with "gamblers and suspicious characters" in his restaurant he had laid football open to suspicion by the public. The public, unlike Rozelle, isn't going to condemn Namath for what he has done because so far he has done nothing. The law is unable to do anything about these gamblers; they are allowed to go free and they probably own legitimate businesses of their own. As long as they haven't been punished for what they have done, why make Namath pay for what he hasn't done? Even if he wanted to, he couldn't refuse anyone service in his restaurant. Namath is being judged on guilt by association and not really judged, because how can he be judged right or wrong when Rozelle, the judge himself, has admitted Namath had done nothing at all? As long as the law is unable to judge in this way, how can the commissioner of football be allowed to, no matter how important the "sacred image of unblemished sport" is.
Football ( Mr. Rozelle) has made another forward step in attempting to widen the gap between sport and today's generation. There are enough plastic things in the world today. At least give an old 23-year-old fan like me and millions of kids believable heroes. The Jack Armstrong myth is no longer. I would bet all my old Sis that a majority of athletes don't teach Sunday School and some probably don't even like the taste of milk. Perhaps a clich�, but the kids today do know "what's happening." And what's happening is that athletes, even our Impact Champions, have a right to their own ways and attitudes off the field.
Some no-good once told me that Mr. Rozelle plays cribbage for beers, so, if I promise not to snitch on you, Pete, please let Joe do his own thing.
Painted Post, N.Y.
To try to force Namath to sell his nightclub would be a violation of his constitutional rights. Namath's stand on principle is just one of his many beautiful qualities that endears him to his fans. Namath's honesty is above question and we fans trust him completely. He has every right to own a nightclub if he chooses. He has never and would never have anything to do with fixing a football game for gamblers. Who needs it?
The first time I read What Price Heroes? (June 9) I thought the author was pulling my leg; the second time I thought it was funny; the third time I realized that he was 100% correct.
Mercer Island, Wash.
According to Mr. Deford, Simpson is already better than Gale Sayers, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Joe Namath, John Unitas, Bart Starr or anyone that's ever played in the history of the NFL or AFL.
He's saying let the owner give Simpson at least $1.3 million for the records it looks like he could break, the crowds it appears he could draw, the injuries he might avoid and the pressures he may overcome.
A man that says Oscar Robertson is not a superstar is not all bad, just wrong.
Hartford City, Ind.
Writer Deford raises some interesting and provocative points in his article. As to his initial question about which organization ( General Motors or the Buffalo Bills) is wrong—since the former is willing to pay O. J. Simpson $250,000 for a few minutes of televised discussion of automotive merits whereas the Bills will only begrudgingly disgorge $650,000 for several bone-jarring years on the gridiron amidst surly behemoths—Mr. Deford is hereby advised that neither is wrong. General Motors is interested in O.J. only to the extent to which he performs his projected heroics on behalf of the Bills. If he performs said heroics for a brand-spanking-new and far-lesser-known league theoretically begun by Howard Hughes, as suggested later in the article, General Motors may very well revise its offer to $2,500. What price would Simpson's advertising words command if he played for the Calgary Stampeders next fall? The facts of economic life insist that O.J add the $250,000 on top of the $650,000, plus many other probable emoluments, in evaluating the Bills' offer. He should not, economically speaking, view the GM offer as creating an odious comparison with the Bills' meager stipend, as the writer seems to suggest.
Playing football successfully (on TV) for the Bills is what opens the door to the attention of generous sponsors and other similarly rewarding situations. Yes, O.J. is a little greedy and a little shortsighted, I do believe.
RONALD J. YOUNG