I am not known in the television industry for my ringing defenses of NBC Sports, but I think on this occasion SI has been unfair and, worse than that, inaccurate. If Critic Sheed was watching as closely as advertised, he would have known that Curt Gowdy could not possibly have neglected to tell the TV audience of Met Al Weis' presence in the first New York- Atlanta playoff game since Gowdy was announcing the Baltimore-Minnesota game at the time, while the Met game was being announced by Jim Simpson. To make such a fundamental error in journalism is inexcusable, but perhaps "an esteemed critic" finds that less important than a series of wisecracks.
ABC Sports, Inc.
New York City
?In the battle of wisecracks between TV Executive Arledge and Contributor Sheed, Mr. Arledge must be deemed the winner on points. The words attributed to Curt Gowdy were in fact pronounced by Jim Simpson.—ED
Having read your recent article on the field goal (A Lot of Kicks Coming, Sept. 22), I have some thoughts for Pete Rozelle to consider. The rash of easy field goals in pro football has probably hurt the game more than helped it. Not to detract from the obvious skill involved, but what has happened to the good old fourth-and-short-yardage situation, the punt out of bounds or the attempt to kick the ball dead inside the 10-yard line? And has anyone reflected of late just how silly the present possession ruling is following a missed field-goal attempt? Team A tries a three-pointer from the 41-yard line. It misses, and team B takes possession on its own 20. Team A has just been rewarded 21 yards of turf for 1) failing to keep its offensive drive alive and 2) missing a field goal.
In my opinion the following changes would not only place more value on kicking accuracy but, more important, would reemphasize the premium value of the touchdown: 1) move the goalposts 10 yards off the goal line, 2) move the uprights closer together and 3) on all field goal attempts outside the 20-yard line that are missed award the ball to the other team at the original line of scrimmage rather than the 20-yard line.
These rule alterations would not eliminate the field goal, but would tend to reduce the long attempts, make the short ones a bit more difficult and return to football the greatest of all situations, a fourth down with two yards to go on the 28-yard line.
Think it over, Pete. More people than ever before are heading for another cold beer at the announcement, "And here comes the field-goal team."
I was glad to see SI give space to one of the great baseball players of all time—Ernie Banks (A Tale of Two Men and One City, Sept. 29). In deference to the memory of a great judge of raw baseball talent and a loyal and devoted servant of the Chicago Cubs, I would like your readers to know that Ernie Banks was brought to my attention by the late Jimmy Pay ton, who scouted the Southwest for the Cubs. Payton saw Ernie play some 20-odd games on the bus-and-hamburger circuit played by the Kansas City Monarchs, and after every game Payton called me or Wid Mathews to say that Banks would someday rank with Honus Wagner as a shortstop and hitter. Until we actually closed the deal, the only persons with whom I discussed Ernie Banks were Payton, Mathews and Phil Wrigley.
Incidentally, the purchase of Ernie's contract was a rare bargain. I recall that the Cubs gave the Monarchs $18,000 for the right to sign Banks and two other Monarchs, whose names I have long forgotten. One, I believe, was a boy named Rickey.
Office of the Baseball Commissioner
New York City
ANOTHER FOR MARYLAND
In his letter (19TH HOLE, Oct. 6) Michael F. Mewshaw notes, among other things, that "the only sport for which the Terrapins are nationally prominent—the only sport in which they have won the national championship within the last 15 years—is lacrosse."
I beg to differ. Maryland won the NCAA soccer championship (co-champs with Michigan State) in 1968. Also, Giancorlo Brandoni and Mario Jelencovich both were named to the 1968 All-America team.
Varsity Soccer Coach,
City College of New York
New York City