MILEPOSTS—CONFIRMED: Rumors of a possible merger, pro football-style, of the National and American Basketball Associations, by NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy and ABA President James Gardner (page 44).
INJURED: MIKE CASEY, Kentucky's All-SEC basketball guard, who broke his left leg in three places when the car he was driving blew a tire and ran off a road near his Shelbyville, Ky home. Hospitalized in Louisville, he was told he would be in a cast from six to eight months. Casey, who averaged 19 points a game last year and set a UK record of 129 assists, will be granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA.
NAMED: As player-coach of the Seattle SuperSonics for a salary in excess of $70,000, LEN WILKENS, six-time NBA All-Star guard.
SIGNED: Heisman Trophy winner O.J. SIMPSON, by the Buffalo Bills of the AFL, for an estimated $350,000 over four years, making the ex-USC runner the richest rookie since pro football's common draft eliminated bidding wars. O.J., accused of making extravagant demands when he originally asked for $600,000 for five years and a $500,000 interest-free loan, had hinted that Bills owner Ralph Wilson was simply stalling until after the College All-Star Game so Simpson could make an injury-free debut in Buffalo (see SCORECARD).
SIGNED: By the San Francisco 49ers, Penn State End TED KWALICK; by the Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas State Defensive Tackle JOE GREENE; by the Boston Patriots, Florida State Flanker RON SELLERS; and by the Cleveland Browns, Michigan Halfback RON JOHNSON. Johnson's lawyer, Arthur Morse, threw up his hands in disgust when his client deserted him and settled for a $50,000 bonus and $50,000 over two years. The multiple signings left Purdue's LEROY KEYES, property of Philadelphia and also a client of Morse, as the only top draft choice still holding out.
DIED: GEORGE PRESTON MARSHALL, 72, flamboyant founder of the Washington Redskins and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, at his Georgetown home. He had stepped down as executive head of the NFL club after becoming seriously ill in 1962. Marshall, who made a fortune in the laundry business, is credited with introducing big halftime shows and conceiving the NFL Championship game and Pro Bowl.