SI Vault
January 06, 1969
SPORTSMANSirs:Your selection of Bill Russell as Sportsman of the Year in the Dec. 23 issue is by far the best yet. The choice must have been a very difficult one, for basketball is not usually in the limelight. But, as anyone who follows sports knows, Russell surmounted a myriad of obstacles in regaining his stature as a champion. The award is a tremendous tribute to an incomparable athlete.MICHAEL GRENIERLawrence, Mass.
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January 06, 1969

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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I want to congratulate Peter Carry on his fine article on a fine man, Connie Hawkins (Shining Star Under a Cloud, Dec. 16). Connie has overcome many obstacles to become one of the great players in pro basketball. Sure, Connie made a mistake, but do we have to punish him the rest of his life because of it? I am a white man, and I feel that if more people were like Connie Hawkins, this country would be a much better place to live in.
Evansville, Ind.

Although I'm not certain of the connection between Harold Peterson's oblique comments about Appalachia and our own bustling Ohio Valley, I must compliment you on your timing in regard to our Ohio Valley Ironmen (Pro Football on a Shoestring, Dec. 16). SI hit the newsstands just one day after Ironman Coach Lou Blumling was named Coach of the Year of the Continental Football League. The Ironmen wound up 9-3, missing the playoff by one game.

If your story helps stir the needed interest of the NFL or AFL in minor league professional football, you will have performed a noble deed. Giving comparatively inactive taxi squad players a chance to play regularly in a good league would help everyone—the majors, the players, and the minor league pros. And the minors are worth helping!

Let's hope your story spurs more financial, support from Ohio Valley industries. They, and you, could then share our fans' affection.
Wheeling, W. Va.

I'd like to make a few observations about your fine story on the Wheeling Ironmen.

1) It might be pointed out that nearly 40 CFL graduates are currently playing in the NFL or AFL.

2) Some of the CFL clubs have more fancy equipment than the Ironmen, including diathermy machines, unshabby dressing rooms and Exer-Genies. In fact, the champion Orlando Panthers have a complete Exer-Genie program.

3) Harold Peterson's brief description of the CFL game ("A crashing and bruising affair on the ball and away rom it. The passes are accurate and the receivers' patterns complex") is a succinct picture of the brand of football appreciated by fans throughout the CFL.
Assistant Commissioner
Continental Professional
Football League
San Jose, Calif.

Wheeling, W. Va., as any other city, does have some problems. One of the biggest is that industry is not coming into the Valley like it used to.

I think one of the reasons is that Mr. Peterson and writers like him label our area as the nation's spittoon.
Morgantown, W. Va.

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