Peggy Gale Fleming, in my opinion, gave the best performance of 1968. She was America's only real hope for a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, and she turned in the performance expected of a great athlete.
I think Mickey Mantle ought to be picked as Sportsman of the Year.
I nominate Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Sportsman of the Year 1968. Last year he finished second in the voting for the NFL's Most Valuable Player. This year he should easily be presented the award along with Sportsman of the Year for 1968. Jones, a true football giant, sparks the greatest defensive unit ever assembled in football.
Notre Dame, Ind.
I nominate Joe Namath. He has been a great quarterback playing on terrible knees. In spite of pain he passed last year for more than 4,000 yards.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost the O. J. Simpson Super Bowl when they kicked a 15-yard field goal in the closing seconds to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 6-3 (SCORECARD, Nov. 4). A wire-service report of the game stated that the Eagles "mysteriously" gambled on a fourth-down play inside their own 10-yard line. When the Eagles failed to get the needed yardage the poor Steelers had no alternative but to kick the winning field goal. Steeler Kicker Booth Lusteg has been sold by three teams in the past two years, presumably for his ineffectual field-goal attempts. Now I wonder if he'll get canned for making this one.
And if you think this game was mysterious, wait until March, when half of the National Basketball Association will go into the tank for a shot at the Big A.
GREGORY Z. THOMAJAN
You condemn Pittsburgh football fans. Take a look at Steeler history. Not one championship, and they gave away John Unitas. Buddy Parker traded Buddy Dial to Dallas for nothing. Lou Michaels was traded to Baltimore (look at him now). Mike Clark was lost to Dallas this year. The Steelers have had three unsuccessful coaches in three or four years and a list of "can't miss" quarterbacks (Bill Nelsen, Kent Nix, Dick Shiner, Ed Brown, etc.). This year they have lost to New Orleans, and they beat the Eagles 6-3 on a last-minute field goal by a kicker who has been known to miss kicks from beyond the 25.
Look at some of the other Pittsburgh teams and you see why we don't care. The Pirates? Sixth place. The Panthers? Another one of our fine football teams. The Penguins? Picked for last place. The basketball team (Pipers) won the championship and is now in Minnesota, where another team failed.
Look into the Pittsburgh sports scene a little closer, and then you will see why things are the way they are.
BIG TIME AND SMALL TIME
I do not think it is fair that O. J. Simpson of Southern Cal and Eugene (Mercury) Morris of West Texas State are being compared in the same statistical category for most yards rushed. Surely, if Simpson played against the same competition that Morris does, he would have just as many yards, if not more. I think Simpson should be proclaimed the year's best, rusher in big-time football and Morris the best in small-time college football.