SI Vault
Edited by John Papanek
July 24, 1978
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July 24, 1978


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From Astoria, Sprandel is taking the Columbia to the Snake to the Missouri to the Mississippi. Then he will go up the Ohio to the Allegheny into Pennsylvania and New York. There he will hang a right on the Hudson and paddle straight down to the Statue of Liberty.

Why is Sprandel doing this? To cheer folks up, he says. To "give them something besides rape, murder and the other lousy things they read about every day."


All of you budding superstars who dream of becoming rich like O.J. and Dr. J (page 34) ought to face facts. The odds are infinitely against you. If you are smart, you will forget golf, tennis, football, or what have you, and become an agent. Look, last year's Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell signed a six-year $1.4 million contract with the Houston Oilers. That's big money. Campbell's agent, 26-year-old Mike Trope, got 10%. That's not bad. But while Campbell went out to run laps. Trope wrapped up another contract. And another. And another. And pretty soon he had contracts for 23 of the 25 players he represented in this year's NFL draft. Value: approximately $10,250,000. Even if Trope's take on an average contract is modestly estimated as 8%—he works out different deals for different players—his cut this year is $820,000.

Now, in the six years since he negotiated his first contract as a 20-year-old USC junior—$1 million for Nebraska Running Back Johnny Rodgers from the Montreal Alouettes—Trope has negotiated more than 120 contracts, including those of five Heisman winners and three runners-up. Total value: $30 million. For Trope, the $2.4 million takeout is not even the best part. The best part is, the more he earns for his clients, the more clients he earns, and his fortune just grows and grows. Which is important because, as Trope says, "Remember, I'm only 26, and a lot of people my age are just finding out what they want to do."


Over the years, man has raised Cain, the roof and ticket prices, but nobody anywhere has ever raised a football stadium. (In Black Sunday, they tried to raze one, which is not quite the same thing.) Now it's been done.

In a project that was started immediately after the end of last season, Penn State jacked up its football stadium 12� feet to install permanent concrete bleachers at field level, which increases the stadium's seating capacity from 56,000 to 76,700. Contractors divided the stadium into 10 sections, ranging in weight from 600,000 to 960,000 pounds. The press box, a svelte 500,000 pounds, was hoisted separately. Thirty-eight hydraulic jacks did the dirty work, but it took two weeks to set them in place for each lift.

"If we had added to the back of the old stadium, it would have moved the spectators further away from the field," explains Clarence V. Knudson, project engineer for enlarging the stadium. "We did consider lowering the field, but it is located in a limestone area and we might have run into caverns."

But the main reason for jacking up the stadium was, predictably, money. The operation cost Penn State about $4.6 million, which will be paid off in about four years from revenues received from the extra seats. The last major obstacle to the on-time completion of the great hoist was overcome last week when a temporary strike was settled and work was resumed installing the new seats. Said a school official, "We were going to be ready for that home opener if we'd had to raise the dead."

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