I enjoyed reading about the Chicago Bulls' high-flying Michael Jordan (Ready...Set...Levitate! Nov. 17). Larry Bird was right about God being disguised as Jordan. People who don't enjoy watching him are missing the greatest player of our time—or all time.
What the ivy is to Wrigley Field,
What the wall is to Fenway,
What mom is to apple pie,
Michael Jordan is to basketball.
Some things just go together.
Rick Telander's article (Walker & Dorsett, Nov. 17) was very good but seemed to perpetuate a common theme of this football season. Herschel Walker has been placed on a pedestal by well-respected football people, the media and fans all around the country, and he certainly deserves it. At the same time Tony Dorsett has been portrayed as the bad boy—a superstar always in trouble.
In spite of Dorsett's many off-the-field tribulations and tragedies, he is one of the most productive running backs in NFL history. Is that not the mark of a true professional? Are we overlooking the "Cowboy character" Dorsett has displayed over the years?
All due respect to Walker and his enviable sincerity, attitude and considerable athletic skills. However, when all is said and done he would do well to live up to Dorsett's accomplishments. Best of luck, Herschel!
ROBERT D. SUTHERLAND, M.D.
Thanks to Rick Reilly for the long overdue recognition of the Arizona State University football program (Coming Out Of The Desert Darkness With The Sun Devils, Nov. 17). I never liked football much until my freshman year at ASU in 1975, when the Sun Devils went 12-0 and were one of only two undefeated and untied Division I teams in the nation (Arkansas State was the other). They beat a much bigger Nebraska team in the Fiesta Bowl 17-14 that season and were robbed of the national title by Oklahoma, which went 11-1. ASU was No. 2 because it played in the WAC then. (Don't get me started on BYU.)
In your article you raised the question of whether BYU would have finished 13-0 and won the national championship in 1984 if Arizona and Arizona State had still been playing in the WAC. In 1984 ASU was in the Pac-10 and had a record of 5-6, including a loss to 2-9 California. Arizona fared a little better at 7-4, but lost to a Fresno State team that finished 6-6. I would therefore suggest that the absence of Arizona and ASU from the BYU schedule was not the determining factor in deciding the '84 national championship.
In any event, congratulations are in order to ASU for getting off NCAA probation and for finally getting to the Rose Bowl.
EARL B. TAYLOR
Arizona State University and the surrounding communities were ecstatic over the coverage afforded our Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils. We have a proud, rich football tradition yet have labored in obscurity for many, many seasons. The excitement generated by our success this season only increased with Rick Reilly's visit to our campus.
It appears Andy Hayt caught us napping with one of his photos. Unfortunately, the yawning player identified as linebacker Scott Stephen is reserve offensive guard Randy Jefferson. Next to the allotment of Rose Bowl tickets, the biggest question on campus that week was. Who was more embarrassed by the photo, Scott or Randy?
Sports Information Director
Arizona State University
•Sorry for the mixup.—ED.
Thanks a lot; that's all I needed! I have three brothers living in Tempe, two of whom attended Arizona State (Yuck!). I attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, and I am an avid Wildcat fan. Every time the Sun Devils (Gosh, did I actually write that?) win, I receive a collect call from my Sun Devil siblings, along with all the pertinent information concerning that particular victory. Thanks to you, my mailbox will now be stuffed with articles and articles and more articles. Can you feel the rivalry?
NFL INJURIES (CONT.)
Paul Zimmerman's article on NFL injuries (The Agony Must End, Nov. 10) failed to make an observation that is often overlooked: League rule changes have increased the risk of injury to players at the offensive skill positions.
In an effort to increase passing efficiency, the NFL adopted the five-yard "chuck rule" allowing defensive players to "bump" receivers only within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The natural consequence of this rule is that receivers are now exposed to higher-speed collisions in high-risk areas, namely, the intermediate passing zones. Allowing defenders to "bump" offensive players anywhere upfield will slow them down and expose them to fewer violent hits because it will become more difficult for the receiver to work his way into these high-risk areas.
In addition, because secondaries have their hands tied, defensive coaches must compensate by applying more pressure on the quarterbacks. More blitzing results in more quarterback injuries. If defensive backs are allowed to do what they do best—i.e., cover receivers—coaches will respond by taking fewer risks (i.e., blitzing) and rely on their players' cover skills.
Of course, allowing the traditional style of bump-and-run coverage on the field will probably mean fewer pass completions, and this translates into fewer points. I am not certain if the NFL is willing to sacrifice entertainment for safety.
Defensive Backfield Coach
Helix High School
La Mesa, Calif.
MOST VALUABLE STATE?
What do the Chicago Bears' Richard Dent, the University of Louisville's Pervis Ellison and the New York Mets' Ray Knight have in common? All won major MVP awards in 1986, and all are from Georgia. Dent, from Atlanta, was the MVP in the Super Bowl. Ellison, from Savannah, was the MVP in the NCAA Final Four. And Knight, from Albany, was the MVP in the World Series. Considering the number of players involved, I think it's amazing that all three are from Georgia.
The yawning Sun Devil (above) is third-stringer Jefferson, not starting linebacker Stephen (right).
[See caption above.]
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.