Now that Joe Namath has cried for professional football, perhaps professional football will cry a little for Joe Namath (Mod Man Out, June 16). It is time that men like Pete Rozelle realized that sports is more than an isolated segment of society which can be strictly regulated apart from it. Life is changing, and sports must keep pace. Why the phony facade separating the sports world from the real world? Is sports to modernize, or to crawl back into the past? If it is to modernize, then the Joe Namaths of this world must be accepted as part of it.
Fair Lawn, N.J.
Your one-sided condemnation of Joe Namath's retirement is both disappointing and unjustified. The rationale behind the league's ultimatum just does not make sense: if Namath wants to bet or conspire with the Mafia, he certainly does not need a public bar in which to transact business. I am glad to see that at least one professional athlete has the courage and integrity to support his freedom despite the ubiquitous Rozelle. Bravo, Joe!
EUGENE D. SHAPIRO
New Haven, Conn.
I would like to congratulate you on your excellent article recounting the recent retirement of Joe Namath. Retirement? It appears to be more like punishment, in the form of Namath getting his face slapped by Pete Rozelle as a result of his disapproval of Joe's so-called "playboy" way of life.
As a reason for the ultimatum of sell or be suspended, Mr. Rozelle stated that people of "undesirable background" were frequenting Bachelors III. How could Namath tell? If so, what could he do about it? The case being as it is, Joe could have been suspended months ago if a criminal had been picked up while having a hamburger at one of the Broadway Joe's drive-ins. Actually, what Mr. Rozelle was saying was, "You're a football player, Joe, so I think you should live like a Puritan."
Previously, I highly respected Pete Rozelle as commissioner of football, but this time, I think he's thrown a bad pass. Joe Namath has made great contributions to football. He is a good athlete, a brilliant quarterback and a fine individual. If he is lost from football, it will suffer in many ways.
First you said in your SCORECARD item ("Namath and Rozelle," June 16) that three of the Jets acted like adolescents when they threatened their own retirements. Then you said Joe cried like a child because for once he could not have his own way. Have you forgotten what happened in Los Angeles when George Allen was fired as head coach of the Rams? He cried at his press conference, and I don't remember anyone connected with SI calling him a child.
Mr. Rozelle needs to be reminded that one reason for the realignment of Baltimore and the Jets into the same division was to produce some regular-season "Super Bowls" between the two teams. Without Joe Namath, that segment of realignment is as exciting as seeing summer reruns of Heidi.
Let me compliment you on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED of June 16. It says a thousand words in one picture. It proves that Joe Namath loves this violent game and wants to play.
Leola, S. Dak.
BUFFALO VS. GRIZZLY
Jack Olsen's grisly (sic) series (The Grizzly Bear Murder Case, May 12 et seq.) reminds me of the method employed by C. J. ( Buffalo) Jones when he was game warden of Yellowstone in the early 1900s. Perhaps the National Park Service should try to revive it. Old Buffalo lassoed the bears in question, hung them over a tree limb and paddled their behinds with a long pole. They gave no further trouble. All that was required was the right man, the right horse and a good strong lasso rope. Ernest Thompson Seton and other naturalists attested to the efficacy of Jones' method, as the record shows.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
ROW, ROW, ROW
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has again broadened the vistas of sports journalism with the interesting comments of rower-turned-rebel James Kunen (Merrily, Merrily, June 16). The analogy presented by Mr. Kunen between the motives behind life and sport cuts deeper than some may think. The American Dream is to win, whether winning entails making money, making war or placing first in a boat race. We sometimes fail to see, however, that whoever wins, someone else must lose.
San Jose, Calif.