SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
November 25, 1985
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November 25, 1985


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The best record in the NFL belongs, of course, to the Chicago Bears (page 18). The next best belongs to Princess Ellen Hendrick, the New Orleans priestess who has conjured an 8-0 mark by removing, at the behest of radio stations and fans, the "negative forces" surrounding the Dolphins, Saints, Skins, Bucs, Bengals and, most recently, Bills. Buffalo had lost back-to-back games before Princess Ellen came to its aid two weeks ago. She did the voodoo that she does so well, and that Sunday the Bills achieved their first shutout in three years, 20-0 over Houston. Earlier in the season she vowed that the spooked Redskins would "run like they never have run before." That week George Rogers and John Riggins each gained more than 100 yards—the first time in Skins history two backs went over 100 in a game—and Washington beat St. Louis 27-10.

The Princess says her sorcery is a mix of Catholicism and African Yoruba. She emphasizes that, like Glinda, she's a good witch: She will get rid of bad vibes for a team, but will never hex an opponent. Her game plan includes incantations uttered over team memorabilia and machinations with black and white candles. Her nine-foot Indian python, Macumba, sometimes gets into the act as it coils itself around a team helmet.

Ellen had an open date Sunday, but with her perfect record should remain in demand. The Bills in particular seem interested. She says the team could profit by keeping a charm called a gris-gris bag in the locker room. Says coach Hank Bullough, "I'm from the old school, but if someone wants to show me something, yeah. I'll take a look at it."


Hopes for a boycott-free 1988 Summer Olympics dimmed slightly last week when sports ministers from 13 Eastern bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, issued a joint communiqu� supporting North Korea's demands for an equal share in hosting the Seoul Games (SCORECARD, Oct. 21). The statement was the first formal show of Soviet bloc unity on the issue. "No one had mentioned [ North Korea's proposal] to us in any of our conversations with the Soviet Olympic leadership," said U.S. Olympic Committee president and International Olympic Committee member Robert Helmick, adding, however, that the communiqu� was "not surprising" given the history of Eastern bloc actions in international sports.

Both the IOC and Helmick have encouraged the Seoul organizers to consider sharing some Olympic events with North Korea, and Helmick said he would "applaud" the fielding of a joint Korean team in the Games as "a step toward peace and relaxation of [North-South] tensions." But South Korea has resisted such proposals, and Olympic officials privately acknowledge that the political gamesmanship, on both sides, likely has just begun.

Whether to withdraw college investments from South Africa is a hot topic on campuses across the country these days. Hence the politically relevant chant two weeks ago by the Williams College band at a home game against Amherst: "Divest! Divest!...Divest them of the ball!"


Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles has announced that Razorback players will be ineligible for the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the country. Broyles said he was withdrawing his school's players from consideration because the man for whom the award is named, former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Dick Butkus, appears in television commercials for Lite beer. "I'm not standing in judgment of the person," Broyles said. "My understanding is he's a fine person in every way. But we are faced with a drug and alcohol problem on the university level, and we feel someone must make a statement."

The trouble with Broyles's statement is that he moonlights as a commentator on ABC college football telecasts, which are supported in part by beer ads. Broyles tried to explain that away by saying he has no veto power over the choice of sponsors. But then, Arkansas linebackers have no say about the name of the trophy, either.

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