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Original Issue


I enjoyed Bruce Newman's fine article, (Let's Get Physical, Nov. 9) about the unfortunate trend toward more physical play in the NBA. Speed and finesse should be the keys to winning in what is called a noncontact sport. Either the league has to change the rules to suit today's players, or it has to enforce the rules that are in place. If the officials limit physical play through the calling of fouls, then maybe we can get back to watching basketball.
Clayton, Mo.

Leigh Montville's article (Where Fouls Are Fair, Nov. 9) explains why finesse is taking a backseat to physicality in the NBA. Sure, a push or a shove here or there should be overlooked as part of the game. However, NBA chief of officials Darell Garretson says he won't call a violation unless he feels the guilty player gained an advantage. He might as well be saying, O.K., guys, try whatever you want, and if I feel like calling it a foul, I will.
The Bronx

I am left with one question: Who will be the Darryl Stingley of the NBA?
Lancaster, Calif.

Kudos to Darell Garretson and the rest of the NBA referees. I believe the quality of these refs far outstrips that of their counterparts in the collegiate ranks. Referees dominate the college game and spend so much time calling ticky-tack personals or those excruciatingly bad charging fouls that I can hardly stand to watch. College refs tend to be inconsistent and appear to be much more sensitive to home court pressures. In the pro game the calls are very consistent.

John Biever's photo of a bloodied Anthony Johnson knifing his way through the Navy defense (Notre Dame Is Golden Again, Nov. 9) is a classic. Whether or not the Irish's Tim Brown wins the Heisman Trophy, Johnson should win a Purple Heart and Biever a gold star for a picture that captures the very essence of the Notre Dame mystique.
Longwood, Fla.

There were two spectacular photos in your Nov. 9 issue. The fresh red blood of Notre Dame's Anthony Johnson lent visible meaning to the description of football as a collision sport. John Biever's exquisite portrayal of this determined running back plowing through adversity is timeless. And Manny Millan's glimpse (Fourth Title for Thomas) of the impending doom in Juan Roldan's eyes, particularly since Thomas Hearn's fist is cocked from above, shows impeccable skill and timing.

I've enjoyed SI's articles and illustrations for nearly 30 years. They have been consistently evocative, with some, like these, particularly so.

Why, when you express such serious concern over violence in hockey and basketball in your Nov. 9 issue, do you then turn around and brush off Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's revolting morning workouts? I'm tired of reading about real men "throwing up together" for the sake of team unity. Coaches like Holtz bring their own form of violence into athletics, and they need to be stopped. A team should be able to work together without the benefit of such practices.

The story by Ron Mix (So Little Gain for the Pain, Oct. 19) was the poorest piece of journalism I have ever seen in your magazine. Just because the Chargers, for whom Mix played from 1960 to '69, violated principles of good injury prevention and treatment doesn't mean that other teams do the same thing. Citing Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant as coaches who mistreated players was a low blow. Neither is alive to defend himself. Henry Jordan, who is also deceased, was an entertaining speaker, and he used facetious remarks to amuse his listeners. His reference to Lombardi's players' being treated "like dogs" was just such a remark. In another of Henry's stories, he said that it wasn't true that Coach Lombardi walked on water. In fact, he said, he "sank about this far," indicating about two inches with his thumb and index finger.

I guarantee that Henry had nothing but the greatest respect for Vince and his methods, as do all of Lombardi's former players. Coach Lombardi never recommended any treatment, or lack thereof, that would jeopardize a player's health or well-being.

I don't believe Mix's figures regarding permanent injuries to pro football players. However, I can understand why he would emphasize them in his article. It looks like a cheap way to win support for his point of view.
San Diego

•Bengtson, a Green Bay assistant coach for nine years, succeeded Lombardi as the Packers' coach in 1968. He later served as defensive coach for the Chargers (1971) and as interim head coach of the New England Patriots (1972).—ED.

After reading Frank Deford's article on Bud Adams and his dealings with Jacksonville as a possible new home for his Houston Oilers (This Bud's Not for You, Nov. 2), I hope the NFL Players Association wins its lawsuit against the NFL and gets free agency. Owners like Al Davis of the Raiders and Robert Irsay of the Colts moved their teams to improve their financial position, and those like Adams who don't move threaten to in order to get a better deal in their present cities. The players can't do that, however. I know now why they feel like slaves despite the money they are making.
Iowa City

I enjoyed the article, but we didn't need anybody—much less a Florida Times-Union columnist—to convince us that we were being taken for a ride by Bud Adams and company. We citizens of Jacksonville sensed their guile.

It's my opinion that we don't need to sell Jacksonville to anyone. We have it all here.

Although Jacksonville may never have had a major league team, it certainly has had big time collegiate basketball. Since 1970, when Artis Gilmore led the Jacksonville University Dolphins to the NCAA championship game, Jacksonville has participated in five NCAA tournaments and four NITs. In that time, Jacksonville has sent 21 players to the NBA, more than any other school in Florida.
Sports Information Director
Jacksonville University

Thank you for shining your SPOTLIGHT (Oct. 26) on rising tennis star Andre Agassi, "the teen dream who could wake up U.S. tennis." Are you sure this guy is only 17? His Jimmy Connors-like enjoyment of the game and his attitude are so refreshing that I agree he is an amalgam. More than that, I say he is a savior. Long live U.S. tennis!
Greenville, N.C.

Thank you for the complimentary article about me. Tennis is a major factor in my life and will be for many years to come. My goal is to constantly work to improve my game, in hopes of becoming the best player in the world.

I would like to clarify one statement. Robert Sullivan quotes me as saying that my brother-in-law, Pancho Gonzalez, is "always too lazy to get on the court." What Sullivan did not mention was that I would never ask Pancho to practice with me, because when I go home to Las Vegas, it is primarily for rest and relaxation, not to practice tennis. My serious training takes place with my coach, Nick Bollettieri, at the Bollettieri Academy in Longboat Key, Fla.

Please understand that Pancho is still very active in many aspects of tennis and, fortunately for me, always takes an interest in my game.
Las Vegas

Regarding POINT AFTER (NOV. 2), I was appalled to see Gussie Busch, owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, compared with the likes of Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner. Busch has done more for St. Louis than any other man in the city's history. The only opportunity we have to show our appreciation to him is when the Cardinals are in the playoffs, and he takes his ride in the stadium on top of the beer wagon. We are fortunate to have had several of these opportunities in recent years. Comparing Gussie with George and Charlie is like comparing Budweiser with prune juice.
Florissant, Mo.

In his article The Not-So Big Eight (Nov. 16), Douglas S. Looney states that most of the 1987 Nebraska players would stare blankly if they heard the name Johnny Rodgers. A quick check of the Nebraska roster reveals the name Terry Rodgers, Johnny's son, as a redshirted sophomore. With all the hoopla over this highly recruited California Player of the Year, it is doubtful that any of his teammates would fail to recognize the name of his Heisman-winning father.

As a Kansas State grad caught here in a sea of red, I would like to see Looney's proposal for an expanded scholarship limit accepted by the NCAA.
Plattsmouth, Neb.

•For a look at young Rodgers in action as a Cornhusker freshman in 1986, see left. In 10 games he carried 27 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. The Nebraska coaching staff considers him an excellent prospect for next season.—ED.



Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.