Perhaps the foundation brass is simply too busy sniffing out cases of unsatisfactory citizenship, a business that implies investigations into beliefs and lifestyles. Chester LaRoche, the Hall of Fame's founder, has warned that Alabama's Joe Namath is another who might never be selected (inductees must be out of college 10 years and no longer in pro football). " Namath's a great player, but what's he done with his life?" asks LaRoche. "He hangs around saloons." If the foundation would only change its name to the What-They-Did-Later-in-Life Hall of Fame, somebody else might start a college football shrine that confines itself to college football.
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL
A lot of folks at the University of Illinois were upset when basketball Coach Gene Bartow begged out of his five-year contract—it had four years to run—to sign on as John Wooden's successor at UCLA. By way of protest, 50 students marched outside Bartow's office and serenaded him with the Illinois Loyalty Song. Only one trouble. Not knowing the words, some of them had to read from sheet music.
AND NOW, HERE'S JOHNNY!
As the man who stages the Michelob Classic, the Monte Carlo championship and other celebrity tennis tournaments on TV, Hollywood Producer Wendell Niles Jr. has been watching show-biz types cavort on the court for the past six years. Niles has now succumbed to the temptation of ranking these players, an exercise that sounds like something left over from last week's Academy Awards. As if Godfather II did not win enough honors, Niles reckons Robert Duvall, the actor who played Al Pacino's baldish, somber lawyer, as the best of the film colony's tennis players.
After Duvall, Niles' Top 10 consists of: 2) Rick Nelson, 3) Jim Brown, 4) Robert Redford, 5) Ed Ames, 6) Bill Cosby, 7) James Franciscus, 8) Burt Bacharach, 9) Charlton Heston and 10) Chris Connelly. Niles followed an informal handicapping system, taking into account, for example, that Nelson was once a top junior player while others on the list are relative novices. "The most prominent new player of 1975 is Johnny Carson," he declares. "He should be in the Top 10 by this time next year."
If the National Football League had its way, it would blame declining attendance, dropped passes, torn ligaments and every other imaginable ill on the 1973 federal law prohibiting TV blackouts of games sold out 72 hours before kickoff. In an unrelenting P.R. campaign against the dread legislation, which Congress enacted as a three-year experiment, Pete Rozelle & Co. habitually talk about "no-shows"—fans who buy tickets for games only to stay home, presumably to watch the action on TV instead.
But the Federal Communications Commission isn't buying what the NFL is peddling. In its second annual report on how the blackout-lifting law is working, the FCC attributes last season's decline in NFL attendance—from 9,707-943 in 1973 to 9,112,160—to such factors as the troubled economy, the rising cost of gasoline, the preseason player strike and competition from the WFL. The FCC notes that until the last two weeks of the regular season, when foul weather and settled conference races dampened fan enthusiasm, no-shows were running no higher at games televised to the home folks than at those blacked out. Even including the final two weeks, the averages for the whole season were 6,413 no-shows for televised games vs. 5,965 for blacked-out games, a difference the FCC terms "insignificant."
Representative Torbert H. MacDonald, the Massachusetts Democrat who sponsored the blackout-lifting measure in the House, invokes the FCC report as evidence that "the law has done no harm" to the NFL. But the league argues that the law will subtly erode the game's box-office appeal over the long haul. No matter. MacDonald predicts that Congress will make the legislation permanent this session, without waiting for the third year of the experiment.