SI Vault
Edited by Robert Creamer
August 17, 1970
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 17, 1970


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue


Benny Friedman, who was an All-America quarterback at Michigan more than 40 years ago and a star quarterback in the National Football League after that, is in his 60s and has no official connection with football anymore. Yet he stays close to the game, running clinics for high school quarterbacks, and right now he is not happy. He'd like a cut of the pro football pension pie and says he is thinking of starting legal action on behalf of old-time pro players. "Brash and arrogant beyond belief" is Friedman's description of the decision—reportedly the result of actuarial necessity—to leave pre-1958 pro players out of the pension plan. "What gave them the license to draw the line at 1958?" he asks. "How can they exclude the older players? We kept the franchise alive and gave these guys what they have now. I used to travel two days ahead of the team with our publicity man. We'd buy two bottles of whiskey, go to the newspaper in the town where we would be playing and give one bottle to the sports editor and the other to the columnist. We'd sit down and talk, and that's how we got publicity. When I was with the Giants I spoke at every high school in New York. We did things like that to keep the teams going. I don't like the callousness of players today who are getting $50,000 and $100,000 a year plus all those other benefits. They should be thinking about the guys who made it possible. I think they owe us a hell of a debt."

Of course, times have changed. You can't buy publicity from sportswriters and sports editors today. Not for one bottle of whiskey, you can't.


The new Portland, Ore. Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association are accepting applications from would-be ball boys. Leo Marty, a young aspirant, may well appeal to owners and coaches. After enumerating his qualifications his letter added:

"But I also have a few things to offer you if I am chosen. First of all, I would promise that I would not try to form a union of ball boys throughout the league. I don't care for a pension and I don't need a loan from the club for a few grand."

Son, you just passed the management test. Now, how do you think you'll get along with the players?


In the last few weeks bad manners have taken over from good tennis on the Pepsi Grand Prix tennis circuit, the sponsored long-green-instead-of-silver-trophies tour. Cliff Richey and Bob Hewitt got into a shouting match at the Western tournament in Cincinnati, and at the National Clay Courts Open in Indianapolis, Brian Fairlie walked off the court and sat down in the grandstand when he decided that Hewitt was "toweling off" too much. Richey won his match in Cincinnati but said (of Hewitt), "This guy is the biggest jerk that ever existed," and (to Hewitt), "Next time you say something I'm going to wrap a racket over your head." When the two players were called into a peace conference Hewitt refused to attend, saying later, "I'll be damned if I was going to go out there when it was my opponent who caused all the trouble. I could knock him over the head with a racket, too, but the way I figure it, don't be gutless and use a racket. Be a man about it and use your fists."

In keeping with the general tenor of things, Ilie Nastase of Rumania got so upset over a call by Umpire Al Buman that he swatted a ball at the umpire's stand. Buman yelled, " Nastase, I'm warning you, don't do that again." After losing a point later in the match, Nastase knocked a ball far out of the arena. Buman shouted, "We're not going to have batted balls in this tournament. Get the referee." The referee and the tournament chairman huddled with Buman and then told Nastase he would be disqualified if there were another incident. Nastase lost the next three games and the match and complained, "It wasn't fair. Everybody else has been hitting balls out."

Continue Story
1 2 3