SI Vault
Edited by Gay Flood
November 23, 1981
BOSTON'S BIRDSir:John Papanek outdid himself in his fantastic article about Larry Bird, a super human and super basketball player (Gifts that God Didn't Give, Nov. 9). It's an SI classic, and it made me feel good to know that money and fame haven't spoiled the NBA's "best all-around player." Bird really flies high.RANDY L. JOHNSONElizabethton, Tenn.
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November 23, 1981

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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True to the historical formula, the profit is steadily declining again. The union's figures are distorted.
Director of Information
NFL Management Council
New York City

•Because NFL clubs are considered private business enterprises, their financial records are not open to the public, or even available to the NFL Management Council, according to spokesman Miller. Team financial statements, he says, are submitted directly to the auditor, who, in turn, reports to the NFL only gross, league-wide averages. Therefore, there is no accurate way for SI to determine whose figures—the Players Association's or the NFL's—are more nearly correct. One must bear in mind, however, that the current contract between these two organizations expires in July and that, just before any new contract negotiations begin, unions traditionally argue that management's financial picture is rosy, while management takes a much bleaker view. The truth usually lies somewhere in between. As for Denver, General Manager Grady Alderman insists the Broncos suffered a "net loss from operations" in 1980 and that the biggest reasons for the loss were player costs and salaries, which he said were "in excess of 50% of our revenues."—ED.

It's apparent that Amos Alonzo Stagg's long-standing record of collegiate wins will be eclipsed by Alabama's Bear Bryant. However, this fact should not negate Stagg's countless contributions to the development of the modern game or obscure his place in football history. Unfortunately, many young fans are unacquainted with Stagg's part in the evolution of the game from the days of the flying wedge to the slick, sophisticated version we see today. Stagg was one of the giants, along with Knute Rockne, Bob Zuppke, et al.

Stagg was the first to use wingbacks, the direct pass from center, the place kick, the mousetrap play and the Notre Dame shift, which Rockne made famous. He developed the draw play and many of the defensive alignments that, with modern adjustments, are used by all teams today.

Clark Shaughnessy and George Halas have rightly been credited with the development of the modern T formation. However, only after adding Stagg's split line, flankers and man-in-motion, was the T resurrected from its status as a casually used formation of the '20s and '30s. The earlier version often featured the quarterback and center positioned "butt to butt," with the quarter reaching through his legs for the ball and then handing it off to a back. It was a weak passing formation with no wide threat until it was embellished by Stagg's innovations.

One of the most commonly used Stagg developments is his spread punt, which was introduced to West Coast football in 1933 by his College of the Pacific team. This formation, with modifications, is universally used today.

As a former player and graduate coach under Stagg at COP, I'll be sorry to see his record surpassed, but I'm confident he'll be recognized by posterity as a great coach.
Santa Cruz, Calif.

I found your article about athletes on postage stamps (SCORECARD, Nov. 2) interesting but incomplete. My father is in possession of a U.S. stamp commemorating the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The engraving was taken directly from a photograph of my uncle, J. Alfred LeConey, who anchored the record-setting 400-meter-relay team in the 1924 Paris Olympics. I don't know how it was arranged, but the picture on the stamp shows my Uncle Al as he appeared in the starting block while a track star at Lafayette College. The "L" was removed from his jersey, however.

When I was a student at Lafayette, before my uncle's death in 1959, it was traditional to ask pledges at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, our mutual fraternity, to name the only living American on a postage stamp. Al LeConey was one of our nation's outstanding sprinters, but like so many athletes of the past, he has been forgotten except by a few. His gold medal and the stamp are a tribute to his memory.
Linwood, N.J.

As a member of the medical profession, I strongly object to your suggestion that sports figures such as Bobby Jones, Babe Zaharias, Jim Thorpe and Babe Ruth deserve the same standing in the history of mankind as does Dr. George N. Papanicolaou, one of the 300 people whose picture has appeared on a U.S. postage stamp. Dr. Papanicolaou, as you noted, invented the Pap test, which has saved hundreds of thousands of women from death due to cervical cancer. Dr. Papanicolaou belongs in the same category as Drs. Lister, Pasteur, Roentgen and Salk. To equate his standing in history with that of a winner of a game illustrates the overblown importance placed on sports.
Jensen Beach, Fla.

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