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Over the years I've noticed a change in how fans react to the "big hit." There is rarely polite applause if a woozy player is lucky enough to get up, but there's always a celebration when he goes down. We as spectators seem to demand this type of play, which in turn increases the players' desire to execute these unrepentant, concussion-causing hits.

Joseph W. Cottrell, Macomb, Mich.

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There is only one way to seriously cut down on concussions in football (Concussions, Nov. 1): Require all players at all levels to wear leather helmets without face guards. It may not make for exciting hits, but incidents of head injuries will drop very quickly.

Jim Pileggi, Galena, Md.

When I read of players' objecting to rule changes that would protect them against overly aggressive hits, I wonder if the damage from concussive events isn't already apparent.

Steven Whitehead

West Des Moines, Iowa

So let me make sure I understand this: The NFL is working diligently to protect players' safety and has revamped its rules to castigate infractors in an effort to avoid catastrophic injuries, while at the same time it is considering extending the regular season to 18 games? Wow.

Gustavo A. Ruiz de Chavez

Baton Rouge

What ever happened to tackling? A clean tackle performed by wrapping the defender's arms around the offensive player and bringing him to the ground would have the same desired result as many of the head-to-head hits or forearm hits that we see in the game today. It seems technique has given way to violence for violence's sake or for the desire to make a highlight reel.

John Sims, Aberdeen, N.J.


Viewing microscopic slides of damaged brains won't change the way Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis plays (WARHORSE, Nov. 1), but perhaps having former NFL players who are disabled or have dementia line up in their wheelchairs on the sidelines during games will.

David J. Gross

St. Augustine, Fla.

Lewis is a linebacker playing tackle football, not ballet. The sole point of his position is to aggressively fight off blockers and to annihilate whoever has the ball, which he does with precision and greatness. He plays the game the way it is supposed to be played and shouldn't have to make excuses for it.

Eric Latham Dover, Del.

Does Lewis really think it's a tragedy that a defender can no longer violently hit a defenseless player in any manner he chooses? And the only exception is if the vicious blow in question (i.e., Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather's hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap) is on one of his teammates?

Steve Rathgeber, Orrtanna, Pa.

Cam I Am

Lars Anderson's excellent article on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (Catch Cam If You Can, Nov. 1) not only depicts a gifted and dedicated athlete but also showcases a youth who is immensely coddled by those around him. Consequently, Newton feels not grateful for what he has but rather deserving of whatever he takes: a stolen computer, stolen Popsicles and opportunities at multiple colleges and universities. Given his alleged redemption and desire to be a leader, how disappointing it is that this pastor's son still seems to display no loyalty, service or scholarship. A lifetime of privileged treatment is one way to build a winner, but it can also create a monster.

David O'Connell


In your article about Newton you state that "he could become the first junior college transfer to win the Heisman." O.J. Simpson played for City College of San Francisco in 1965 and '66 and was twice named to the Junior College All-America team before transferring to USC and then winning the Heisman in 1968.

Patrick Doherty

Springfield, Va.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In addition to Simpson, three other junior college transfers went on to win the Heisman: Navy quarterback Roger Staubach in 1963 (New Mexico Military Institute), Nebraska running back Mike Rozier in '83 (Coffeyville Community College) and Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward in '93 (Tallahassee Community College).

True Inspiration

Tom Verducci's article on Rangers ace Cliff Lee (Can You Say Cliff Hanger?, Nov. 1) shows the brilliance of the famed pitcher on the field, but it was what I read at the end of this story that really hit me the most. Learning how Lee dealt with his son's battle with leukemia at only four months old really gave me a different perspective. Yes, it is great that Lee can dominate the Yankees like no one else, but it is also great that a star like Lee can be humble and compassionate off the field as well.

Greg Hiemstra

Storm Lake, Iowa

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