The crowd in the 12,757-seat arena was 250.
As TV cameras zoomed in on the launch, the catapult broke and the rocket ship feebly rolled back down the launch ramp at about two mph before plopping 10 inches to the Garden floor.
But the Black Eagle was not disheartened. "No one asked for their money back," he said.
With the George Atkinson-Chuck Noll case out of the way, another federal district court has taken a look, albeit a brief one, at player violence in the National Football League. Judge Richard P. Matsch in Denver dismissed a $1 million lawsuit against Fullback Boobie Clark and the Cincinnati Bengals. The suit was filed by Dale Hackbart, a former defensive back for the Denver Broncos, who claimed he was injured and his career cut short four years ago, when Clark struck him in the head. No penalty was called, and Hackbart played two more games for the Broncos before he was waived. After hearing testimony and viewing films, Judge Matsch concluded civil courts cannot be expected to control violence in pro football.
Cincinnati's Assistant General Manager and Legal Counsel Mike Brown is pleased with the dismissal. "What it did," he says, "was confirm what we always assumed to be the arrangement under which football has been played—that players assume the risk for injuries not just within the rules, but outside the rules. If that assumption had been changed, there would have been so many suits filed you couldn't have counted them."
Brown doubts that the ruling will encourage violence. "I think the league is going to police that kind of thing more severely than ever," he says. "We recognize it as a problem. We don't condone it, the other clubs don't condone it, the commissioner doesn't condone it and the players themselves don't."
An optometrist and sports fan, Dr. A. I. Garner of Harrisburg, Pa. says, "If an athlete is not visually fit, he is not 100% physically fit." And going by a study that took Garner five years to complete, about a quarter of all U.S. athletes may suffer from poor vision. Of the 3,094 athletes he examined, 866 could not pass the eye test used by the Pennsylvania State Police to determine if a driver should wear glasses. Thirteen of 53 hockey players in training with the 1974 Pittsburgh Penguins failed, including seven who were wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses. Among college athletes, 33% of the football players flunked, while 50% of all basketball players who had not previously had their eyes examined failed the test. High school football players had a failure rate of 27%, but only 17% of women college athletes flunked.
To rephrase Dorothy Parker, men who throw passes may need to wear glasses.