In April 1989, shortly after finishing a three-year stint in the Israeli army, Landau, then 21, decided to travel to New Orleans. He liked it so much that he stayed. One night he was watching a New Orleans Saints game on TV when he became inspired by kicker Morten Anderson. "I wanted to be just like him," says Landau, who played soccer in Israel.
Landau started practicing the following week. On his first kick, he booted the ball 50 yards. With the help of the coach at a local high school, Landau was soon good enough to start contacting some college coaches. "Most of them laughed when I called," he says, "but they stopped laughing after they saw a tape of me kicking a 55-yard field goal."
The only coach still laughing is Grambling's Eddie Robinson. Landau has hit 11 of 15 field goals, including four game-winners for the 5-5 Tigers.
Just as Landau is learning about football, so, too, is he learning from his fellow students at Grambling, whose enrollment is 94.6% black. "I'd heard about the struggles of blacks in America, but here I've been able to listen and learn," says Landau.
Education has worked both ways. Recently, some of Landau's teammates got a little frustrated after he nailed a mezuzah (a small case that contains a piece of parchment inscribed with a prayer) to the doorway of his dorm room. Thinking the mezuzah was a doorbell, they used to try to ring it. Landau says, "Now they understand why I wasn't coming to the door."
A Fair Share
Baseball's haves must help its have-nots
Last week the commissioner's office informed the 26 major league clubs that in 1990 their combined profits had declined 33%, to a total of $142.9 million. Upon hearing the figures. Chuck O'Connor, general counsel to the owners' Player Relations Committee, said, "We've got to do something to bring the total salary bill into line with the revenue growth. The bottom eight clubs are losing as much as the top eight clubs are making."
Since owners have had little success controlling players' salaries, they should look elsewhere—to the sharing of local television revenues—for help for those struggling clubs. The clubs already share profits from national television contracts, so why not share profits from local TV deals as well? The greatest disparity between baseball's haves and have-nots is in local TV revenue. To take the two extremes, the New York Yankees pocketed $50 million in local TV rights fees last season, while the Seattle Mariners received $1.2 million.
Such inequities have led two members of the U.S. Congress from Washington State, Senator Slade Gordon and Representative Rod Chandler, to introduce a bill that would compel teams to deposit about half of their revenue from local TV in a fund to be equally distributed to all teams. By this formula the Yankees would stand to lose $21.6 million and the Mariners would gain $4.2 million. One of the bill's cosponsors, Representative Al Swift, also from Washington, says, "Without a lucrative broadcast contract, small-market teams can't afford to continue signing players. And without the star players, interest will wane, and those teams won't get the broadcast contract. It's a vicious circle."