AFTER THE BATTLE
The strange strike and the sudden truce between players and owners after a year and a half of intransigent disagreement (page 55) made the bizarre nature of labor-management relations in the National Football League glaringly evident. "Players" is a nice neat term, but there are 26 different clusters of players in the league, and each cluster, or team, consists of nearly four dozen talented, strongly opinionated, often selfish individuals. " NFL" is an even tighter-sounding term, seeming almost monolithic behind such labels as " Pete Rozelle" or "NFL Management Council," but it, too, is comprised of 26 cells—26 separate, independent companies, most of them run by self-centered, self-protective, just-as-selfish individuals.
No wonder then that there has been near anarchy in labor-management talks through this long, dreary period. And no surprise that when Randy Vataha led the impulsive New England Patriots out on strike the so-called leaders of both sides were jolted into a measure of reality. Obviously, progress toward a settlement could have been made much earlier.
Perhaps there will be less pettiness in the future—no more paternalistic spouting by shortsighted owners, no more to-the-barricades threats by militant players. What is required now, above all, is a greater degree of mutual respect. That, of course, cannot be negotiated or legislated. It has to be earned.
STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD?
When 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain was playing in the NBA most people did not know that he weighed nearly 300 pounds, all of it lean and hard. A weary opponent, who did, said one day in awe, "You have no idea how strong he is."
A week or so ago in New York, where he was promoting a Russian-American volleyball game, Chamberlain was waiting for an elevator in Madison Square Garden. When its doors opened, Wilt watched as two workmen tried to pull a heavily laden dolly out of the elevator, over the uneven slit between it and the corridor. Dave Anderson of The New York Times reported that the workmen pulled and heaved for almost a minute without success. Wilt said quietly, "You look like you need a little help." He lifted one end of the dolly off the floor and almost effortlessly pulled the thing into the corridor.
Chamberlain smiled, got on the elevator and went his way. In the corridor one of the workmen said in awe, "I never saw anything like that in my life. This is an 800-pound load."
One of the first season-ticket orders for Seattle's new National Football League team came from a prison inmate. He wrote that he would be free for the 1976 opener and didn't want to be shut out.
HERE COME THE JUDGE