Congratulations on a fine article by Bruce Newman about Washington Center/Power Forward Jeff Ruland (A Tough Man in a Scramble, Dec. 13). If Ruland played for the Celtics, he'd be considered the second coming of Dave Cowens. It's sometimes embarrassing to listen to Boston broadcaster Johnny Most. He calls Celtics Rick Robey and Kevin McHale "Bumper and Thumper" and condones their style of play, which is virtually the same as Ruland's. It's great to be a Boston fan, but the announcing here is sometimes onesided. Put Ruland in a Celtic uniform and Most would probably love him. Why not? He's dynamite.
Please don't glorify thugs like Jeff Ruland. Being big enough to get away with being a bully isn't sport.
The story about Jeff Ruland proved to me that his flippant attitude, which surfaced in the article, is the same as it was when he singlehandedly ruined the fine name of Iona College—and he's blaming everybody but himself for it.
Iona Class of '83
I was fortunate to have attended Iona during all three of Jeff Ruland's playing years, and I always felt he would become a top NBA player. Ruland has gotten a lot of undeserved bad press. He's justified in having some bitter feelings about his experience under former Iona Coach Jim Valvano. I thank Jeff for the contributions he made to my school.
JAMES B. DOUGHERTY
Iona Class of '80
I admire Jeff Ruland for his basketball ability, but I can't say the same for his treatment of his dog. An animal shouldn't be given beer or any other type of alcoholic beverage.
The piece on Miami Guard Bob Kuechenberg by Paul Zimmerman (The Star of Star Island, Dec. 13) was fascinating. Articles such as this help to erase the "dumb jock" image and display our sports heroes' true personalities as well as their off-field talents.
Kooch and the Dolphins—don't call them normal!
JACK A. BOENAU
Once again Paul Zimmerman has given his work a special touch. His research is very complete, adding an erudite dimension to any piece he submits. Zimmerman is the star writer of SI!
PATRICIA W. LEEF
White Plains, N.Y.
Paul Zimmerman portrays Bob Kuechenberg as a decent, likeable person, but all that is marred by Kuechenberg's cheap shots at Norm Van Brocklin, who cut him from the Atlanta Falcons 13 years ago. The Dutchman cut, often with arresting suddenness, many better players than 21-year-old Bobby Kuechenberg. There's the story of the Falcons' flight home from an early-season road loss during which Van Brocklin reached for a motion-sickness bag and scrawled on it a list of 11 Falcons, including five starters, designated for immediate exit from the team, if not from the plane.
Though he has never gotten a fair shake from the press, Van Brocklin is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and one of the most brilliant of football minds. As the quarterback of a marginal 1960 Philadelphia Eagles team, Van Brocklin embarrassed Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in the NFL title game. A year later, as a coach, he fashioned a most overlooked miracle, when he took the Minnesota Vikings, a first-year expansion team, into the season-opener and trounced the Chicago Bears 37-13. If you don't think that was a notable accomplishment, ask John McKay.
Journeyman Kuechenberg claims he would like to learn more about "the alltime greats, the people who seemed like they came from another planet." He might profit from studying the Dutchman, especially as he is depicted in Jim Klobuchar's True Hearts and Purple Heads (Ross, $2.95 in paper).
As a Georgia booster and a Herschel Walker supporter for the past three years, let me commend Ron Fimrite on a tremendous article about Marcus Allen (Reaching Out for Glory, Dec. 13). We Georgia fans regret having lost the Heisman Trophy last year to Allen, but as Walker pointed out, it wasn't a loss when an athlete such as Allen, who rushed for 2,342 yards in his senior season at USC, won the award. Allen has shown his ability in the pros and seems to be in the mold of an O.J. Simpson or Walter Payton. We Dawg fans certainly wish him well.
Ron Fimrite quotes the cynics who belittled Marcus Allen's rushing achievements during his senior year at Southern Cal as suggesting that Woody Allen would have been a success running behind last year's USC offensive line. Woody Allen? No sweat. Gracie Allen, maybe.
CHRIS C. FIELD
Gasp and double gasp. Take a gander at Marcus Allen on the cover, carrying the football like a loaf of bread! Utterly reprehensible. For you youngsters out there, this isn't the way to tote a football. It's a great way to get the thing stripped away.
Pardon me? Allen gained 121 yards on 12 carries in the first half? The Raiders are 5-1? Never mind.
Your NOSTALGIA piece by Walter Bingham (Nov. 22) really brought back memories of the Cornell-Syracuse football game of 1938, because I was the "Syracuse man" who intercepted the lateral from the Cornell fullback with Syracuse trailing by five points. Two plays later, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh threw me the winning touchdown pass.
With Syracuse having trailed 10-0 at the half, and four touchdowns having been scored in the final nine minutes, small wonder Grantland Rice called the game the most amazing he'd ever witnessed.
Duffy Daugherty, later the coach of Michigan State, and Marty Glickman, the prominent TV sports announcer, also played for Syracuse in that game. Bud Wilkinson was the Orange end coach.
Bil Gilbert's article The Utterly Delightful Otter (Dec. 13) represents SI distilled to its essence. Gilbert writes with the grace and gentle humor of the creature he describes. However, it's sad that other state departments of conservation cannot be as enlightened as Missouri's. The protectionists and the hunters bicker as the extinction of species continues. It's heartwarming to learn that there are exceptions.
Applause for Bil Gilbert on a fantastic article about otters. I'm glad that some of the animals were moved to Missouri, where they will have a chance to increase in number. What I disliked was that radio transmitters were implanted in them. If the wildlife biologists want the otters to have the best chance to survive, they should just turn them loose.
Bil Gilbert's article contained more than I care to know about otters.
Any discussion of the running scene in Gainesville, Fla. (FOOTLOOSE, Dec. 13) is incomplete without reference to John L. Parker Jr. Not only was Parker a member, with Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter, of the terrific Florida Track Club teams of the early '70s, but he also wrote about those days. His novel, Once a Runner (Cedarwinds, $2.95 in paper), is a warm, humorous account of the athletic, social and political adventures of a collegiate miler as he trains for the Olympics. Despite Parker's disclaimer of any similarities between his fictional Kernsville and Gainesville, a reader familiar with Gainesville and the University of Florida cannot suppress a smile of intimate conspiracy. Readers of all ages have enjoyed my well-worn copy, even if they have never run or been to "Hogtown."
MICHAEL P. DONOVAN
JUNIOR TENNIS LESSONS (CONT.)
I believe commendations are due those readers (19TH HOLE, NOV. 22 et seq.) who've written in response to Barry McDermott's article The Glitter Has Cone (Nov. 8), verifying from their own experiences that the idea of winning as adults see it isn't always best for children. Unrealistic parental expectations can turn normally constructive doses of athletic challenge into destructive doses of pressure. Those parents who refuse to acknowledge this fact are usually the ones who most need to understand it. Young, aspiring athletes should learn that what's important is doing one's best. Before they undertake thousands of dollars' worth of tennis or other lessons, kids first need the freedom to be kids.
I appreciate SI's publication of divergent opinions, some of which have helped me develop an appreciation for sports I had seen little or no value in. Only through honest examination of others' views have I been able to come to a more mature perspective. As for reader Ike McKelvain's comment (Nov. 29) that his child hadn't read the McDermott article because "it could affect...his mind," I wonder how the child came to the conclusion that the effect would be bad.
PUNISHING THE RULE BREAKERS
I've been a fan of your magazine and admired your editorial objectivity for many years. College athletics also remain a favorite of mine. With those two thoughts in mind, it's incredible that discussions of NCAA rules enforcement continue with no one—not even you—within my memory pointing a finger at one of the guilty parties.
Schools go on probation and guilt-free individuals are punished, while the head coaches, the ones who should be ultimately responsible for the actions of those under their supervision, go on to other, often better, positions. If these coaches, who benefit from the talents of every athlete on their teams, were held accountable for the actions of their supporting staff, cheating would soon greatly diminish. By accountable I mean subject to removal from coaching at any NCAA institution. A captain is responsible for every one of his crew—and he's supposed to go down with his ship, too.
The item entitled "Winning and Cheating" (SCORECARD, Nov. 22) was so one-sided and negative I have to respond. Sure, there are damning abuses in college athletics that usually lead to NCAA probation. But there also are shining examples of major colleges committed to excellence in academics as well as in athletics.
On Nov. 13 Penn State and Notre Dame played as the two major independents fighting for the national championship. Penn State may well be the best college team in the country and may wind up as the national champion. There probably was no greater assemblage of brains and brawn on the field anywhere this season than there was that weekend in South Bend. And when's the last time either Penn State or Notre Dame was on NCAA probation? Ever?
Come on. SI, balance your articles. Otherwise you'll add fuel to the media fires that allege that everybody involved with college athletics is a crook.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.