B Duane Cross
Tuesday October 14th, 2003

Oct. 14, 2003

Paul Tagliabue 280 Park Ave. New York, N.Y. 10017

Dear Mr. Tagliabue,

Well, Paulie, I hope you're happy. While the fans in Carolina, Kansas City and Minnesota are gleeing all over themselves, the NFL's other 29 teams are wondering when parity is going to come calling in their fair burgs.

Dallas, Denver, Indy, Miami and Seattle all have only one loss. Big deal. And while Baltimore, New England, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Tennessee are all over .500, the rest of our teams are treading water -- or drowning.

OK, Tags, so you can't do much with the Bungles, we understand; forcing an owner out is uncouth. But there are a lot of other teams, 18 of them not counting Cincy, that have taken to ending who's-the-best arguments with "wait 'til next year!"

No, it's not comforting that eight of the AFC's 16 teams are above .500. Nope, couldn't care less that six of the NFC's 16 have won more than they've lost. Sure, it's a 50-50 proposition each time a team tees it up that the day will end with a "W." It's the other 50 that concern me -- the "L," which is popping up more often than Orville Reddenbacher's kettle corn.

Must the good folks who root for the Bears be subject to Kordell Stewart's ineptness? Is there a reason San Diego gets off on the wrong foot every other year -- or ends every other year on that same foot? And what did the league owners have against Arizona by giving it Bill Bidwill? The Cards' carnage is taking away from the view of the nearby Jenna Jameson mountain range.

Atlanta is the prime example of the NFL's parity experiment gone awry. The Falcons have been around since 1966. Never once have they had consecutive winning seasons. Back-to-back? Try back-to-the-wall. Just when it looks like Michael Vick is going to lift the veil ... the competition gets a leg up when Vick breaks his.

Tags, buddy, you had a good thing going. Then came greed and all its baggage, which cannot all be laid at the door of your Manhattan office. No, Pete Rozell should be admonished for not squashing Al Davis when he moved the Raiders to L.A. Ditto the Irsays for corralling the Colts in Indianapolis. It swung the relocation/expansion door wide open.

Art Model says he'd like to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the tale behind moving the Browns to Baltimore. ... At least the NFL made him unpack the Browns' records and leave them behind. Then Bud Adams' trek from Houston made an ill-advised sleepover in Memphis en route to Nashville.

OK, so legally there wasn't much you and ol' Pete could do to stop those teams from moving. ... What, Conrad Dobler had tickets to the opera and couldn't do something illegally about it? I mean, it wouldn't have been the first time he broke the rules. ...

Somehow, when the league owners were looking at real estate in other cities, parity took over. No division has more than two teams above .500. Last year's playoff teams are a combined 30-38, skewed by the Colts and Titans who are plus-6. There's not even a reigning division winner in first place!

Again, I hope you're happy. We sure are -- and all that is what makes the NFL such a great game.

Sincerely, Duane Cross

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