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Original Issue


Disabled Veterans

I'm a huge NFL fan, but after reading William Nack's article, I
don't know if I'll enjoy watching it again (The Wrecking Yard,
May 7). Knowing what these men are doing to their bodies in the
name of entertainment is depressing.

Though I'm saddened by the plight of the former NFLers, I shake
my head in wonderment when Chris Washington makes a statement
like, "What kind of an example am I setting for kids if I'm
walking around with a cane?" Chris, if one starry-eyed high
school kid sees you in your current state and decides to head
his life in a direction other than pro football, that would be
the best example of all.
ED RUDMAN, Rocky Hill, Conn.

I wasn't a pro football player, but I was an elite high school
athlete. Now, at age 36, I've had my left hip replaced and the
right hip is next. The cause is avascular necrosis (AVN). I hope
your younger readers realize the negative physical effects of
competitive sports. Those effects aren't reserved for retired
pro football players. They happen at all levels.
TODD M. BARUCH, Mesa, Ariz.

I thought Vikings running back Robert Smith was insane for
walking away from a potential multiyear contract that might have
been worth eight figures. After I read Nack's article, I realized
that Smith made the intelligent choice.

I played in the NFL from 1967 to '72 and am experiencing many of
the disabilities mentioned in the article: arthritic knees, left
hip and spine, and the aftereffects of concussions. It's
imperative that our pension and health benefits be significantly
increased so players like me, who helped make the NFL into the
multibillion-dollar cash cow that it is today, not be forgotten.
Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
Mendham, N.J.

My father worked for 35 years in an oil refinery to put his five
kids through high school and college. He has two artificial hips
and endured numerous back operations, yet I've never heard him
complain. Five to 10 years of "work" in the NFL with a fat
pension makes it hard for me to feel too sorry for these guys.

It's comforting to learn that sitting on the couch watching NFL
football may well be healthier than playing it.
ANDY HECKERT, Oracle, Ariz.

Nothing Like Nostalgia

Steve Rushin outdid himself with The Day the Roundball Died (AIR
AND SPACE, May 7). I laughed out loud, made copies for friends
and posted it on the fridge.
KATHY MACLACHLAN, Brentwood, Tenn.

Rushin's lyrics summed up my sentiments exactly. These days it's
rare to find someone my age--32--who follows the NBA with more
than passing interest. By the way, the story appeared in an
issue featuring nine pages of playoff coverage, none of which I
was interested in reading.
SEAN CURRAN, Westerville, Ohio

Please tell Rushin that Magic, Larry and Mike are no longer
playing in the NBA. You can't read an article without some
sportswriter lamenting the days of yore. Get over it. Times have
changed, and this is the NBA you've got. Try doing what great
athletes do: Put what's in your past behind you and move on.

Buck Up

I promise not to feel sorry for Jack Buck (THE LIFE OF REILLY,
May 7), but I can't help but feel sorry for myself. Like Rick
Reilly, I spent my childhood falling asleep to Buck on KMOX.
Because I grew up in St. Louis, I was lucky enough to hear him
during day games, too. We Cardinals fans are exceptionally
lucky. Jack is leaving an amazing legacy: his son Joe, who seems
to have inherited his dad's talent.

Au Contraire

Not to offend Mark Twain, but reports of my demise and my
unwillingness to be interviewed by SI have been greatly
exaggerated (SI VIEW, May 28). I would have spoken with Chris
Ballard had his request to Fox, my former employer, been
forwarded to me. I didn't, as Ballard put it, "resign." Fox
decided to continue to pay me without using me on its baseball
pregame show or on cable. Also, in the first eight business days
after Fox's decision, I received 10 serious inquiries about
broadcasting positions. Most warming to me, three came from
previous employers. To steal another quotation: I shall return.

Finally, I think when Mr. Ballard described Dan Patrick as my
"muse" he meant to write that Dan had once borrowed my mousse.


Change of Opinion

When Barry Sanders (above) retired within reach of the NFL
rushing record, I felt he was being selfish and letting down
both his fans and teammates. I feel that I owe Barry an apology.