Michigan No. 1 (1983 College & Pro Football Spectacular, Sept. 1)? Surely you jest. How can a supposedly reputable group of sportswriters make such a prediction?
This is an article from the Sept. 19, 1983 issue
If Nebraska met Michigan, I think the score would be about 45-7. Nebraska will rule the nation this year.
Michigan doesn't have to worry about playing a weak team in the Rose Bowl, because to get there the Wolverines must win the Big Ten title, and Ohio State is going to do that! Go, Buckeyes!
Mount Clemens, Mich.
Copies of Ron Fimrite's article (The Anatomy of a Miracle, Sept. 1) about last fall's Big Game between Cal and Stanford ought to be framed and added to the growing collection of miracle-finish memorabilia. After reading his graphic analysis, I felt it was only a little less great than The Play itself. Years from now I can tell my grandchildren, with only a small twinge of guilt, that I was among the million or so who were actually there!
WILLIAM H. NICHOLAS
So the University of California scored a touchdown after making five lateral passes. Gosh! Pretty soon we may invent rugby all over again.
As dedicated Stanford fans who have endured the ignominy of The Play for nearly a year, we feel it is time to set the record straight. John Elway was right when he characterized The Play as "a farce and a joke," and here's why:
Although Dwight Garner alleges that he was not downed by Stanford, the films of the game we've seen show an official signaling that Garner is down. And the final lateral, from Mariet Ford to Kevin Moen, did in fact travel forward. A simple law of physics states that if you are moving forward with sufficient velocity, you may throw an object behind you and still have it land in front of where you threw it.
It is inexcusable that six officials in good standing with the Pac-10 could miss insufficient men on the line on the kickoff for Cal, a Cal player down and an illegal forward lateral by Cal, while miraculously calling all of the penalties on Stanford. Also inexcusable is your lack of comment about the officiating.
It is true that Cal won the game. It is also true that this sounds like sour grapes, and maybe it is. However, if people are going to talk about this play until 2082, they should know that Joe Kapp is wrong. Sometimes a game is over after 59 minutes and 56 seconds—unless, that is, it degenerates into a farce and a joke.
Palo Alto, Calif.
When Stanford Coach Paul Wiggin is reduced to ranting at the referees about men losing their livelihood over a football play, it is a sign that we who are associated with football have lost our capacity for laughter. I played for Stanford in the 1960s. In 1982 I also coached my last season at a medium-sized high school. The Play had an impact on my decision to quit coaching.
What we can all learn from The Play is that football needs to be returned to its proper perspective. It is just a game! When this simple fact had finally sunk into my brain, I was able to resign my head coaching position with no remorse. I turned my back on a sport that even at the high school level had become a business: Win at all costs. Alumni at all levels should somehow be made to watch The Play repeatedly, and maybe they would realize that football is not a reflection of a school's prestige but rather a contest between young men who somehow are having a good time.
GREG A. BEALE
Sarah Pileggi's article on John Madden ("Hey, Wait a Minute! I Want to Talk," Sept. 1) is a thoroughly enjoyable portrayal of what today's pro sports world is sorely lacking: genuine, caring people who realize that fun is what sport is essentially about.
However, I do have a question. The author states that Madden "never ties his shoes." But in the pictures of the casually dressed Madden, his shoelaces are tied. Please clarify this. A fine magazine like SI shouldn't leave loose ends untied.
•Madden says, "I used to wear those old tennis shoes with the laces untied all the time, but about a year ago I tripped on a lace and broke my left foot. Since then I've kept the laces loosely done up so that the ends can't get underneath my foot, and still I can just step in and out of the shoes. I never untie and retie them."—ED.
After reading Sarah Pileggi's article on John Madden, I went out and bought a six-pack of Miller Lite! What a guy! Darryl Stingley and Mark Mulvoy's two-part article about Stingley's tragic accident (Where Am I? It Has to Be a Bad Dream, Aug. 29 and Sept. 5) showed what a wonderful man Madden is, and Pileggi's profile confirms it.
KEVIN F. LYNCH
The article on Darryl Stingley was fantastic! It was an inspiration to anyone who has ever felt as though life has cheated him. Darryl could have given up on rehabilitation, or even tried suicide. But he didn't; he hung in and has kept fighting back. His story has helped me to realize that I should be thankful for all the God-given talent I have; but above all, I should be happy just to be alive.
The Darryl Stingley story brought me back to the reality of football. I love the game and enjoy playing it. However, my coaches are always telling us to keep our heads up when we hit or get hit, and this year, for the first time, we were required to watch a film on the causes of injury and the dangers of our sport.
ANOTHER BIG GAME
I have enjoyed many articles in SI, not only for content but also for style of writing. I've marveled at its variety, but was quite unprepared for a perfect J.P. Marquand type of story in REMINISCENCE by Schuyler Bishop in your special football issue. Thank you for a memorable piece of literature. Now if you could only do an Edith Wharton kind of piece on basketball....
West Chester, Pa.
ARMS AND THE MAN
Your 1983 College & Pro Football Spectacular (Sept. 1) was as spectacular as I expected it to be. However, I would like to know whose body belongs to the hands on the cover of the issue.
•The hands, and arm, on the cover (below) belong to Boston College Noseguard Mike Ruth (right). And the hands and arms on the Contents page of that issue belong to Ruth's teammates Tailback Ken Bell and Quarterback Doug Flutie.—ED.
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.