Thanks to Paul Zimmerman for his outstanding article on Raider linebacker Matt Millen (This Raider's a Real Riot, April 16). Millen brings an intensity to football that all who play the game should possess. He is indeed the ultimate warrior.
DANA K. VIGE
Defensive Secondary Coach
Sutherland High School
Matt Millen has to be the most intense, feistiest competitor in the game. If I ever get to coach a youth football team, I'd love to mold my defensive unit into 11 Matt Millens. In fact, the only time I wish Millen weren't so fired up is when he plays the Dolphins.
Nobody writes football like Paul Zimmerman, but I hope young athletes won't read his story on Matt Millen. Millen's statement, "Melosky told me, 'Give him the big lariat across the head,' " is a knockout blow to the ideals of sportsmanship and integrity. I think any athlete who has suffered a severe head or neck injury would agree with me.
St. Augustine, Fla.
SI has now profiled two outstanding and remarkably similar linebackers. The first, the late Todd Becker of the University of Pittsburgh, who died at the age of 20 from injuries suffered in a fall from a third-story dormitory window ("Any of Us Might Have Done It," Nov. 21), was described as a "killer." "He loved to hit." "He sort of scared you at first, because you couldn't tell what he was going to do...he wasn't a brute.... He cared for the people around him.... But he was kind of...wild." The second, Matt Millen, is described in similar fashion: "He was so intense, he'd get into so many fights in practice, that the assistant coaches would complain.... [His] play was fanatical.... [He] surveys the world of NFL football in an ever-mounting rage."
Rick Telander's article on Becker pointed out that if young football players fail to temper the violent behavior often vigorously encouraged in them by society, they could be headed for failure, disappointment and tragedy. Paul Zimmerman's story on Millen suggests that if youths perfect their violent behavior, they can be headed for glory, success and happiness.
The message of the Telander article was that there is no buffer zone between the football field and the real world, and that we can hardly expect our football heroes to quickly and easily shut off the emotions that brought them success on the gridiron. Millen is the best inside linebacker in football and, apparently, a good-natured human being, but I only hope that by glorifying Millen's violent actions you haven't led some young player down the tragic path of Todd Becker.
I wonder why you chose to give this smart mouth so much print.
Steve Wulf's article (Searching for a Sea of Tranquillity, April 16) on golfer Phil McGleno/Mac O'Grady was truly uplifting. I'm a student at Bucknell University, which has an abundance of corn, cows and conformists, and I found it refreshing to learn that someone with a slightly off-center view of life can succeed without giving in to the popular notion that to chase a dream is childish. As I read the quotes from McGleno/O'Grady's journal while sitting in my English 104 class, I felt as if I had gained a friend. Thanks for giving me a new name to look for in the sports pages and a new inspiration to help me through life.
In the article about Mac O'Grady, Willie McCovey was quoted by O'Grady as saying that I did not play in the Crosby one year because I was too scared.
I don't know who makes up these stories. On the golf course, I am like Snoopy: I have nerves of graphite.
CHARLES M. SCHULZ
Santa Rosa, Calif.
BALTIMORE'S TEAM (CONT.)
Frank Deford's words about the Colts, past and present (SCORECARD, April 9), were therapeutic. As a lifetime resident of Baltimore, I grew up with Johnny Unitas and the Colts, with Brooks and Frank Robinson and the Orioles. I believe that without such wonderful sportsmen to look up to as a child, I would never have become a professional athlete myself.
Traveling the women's tennis circuit the past six years, I've seen many cities all over the world. Baltimore and its people have a charm that I have not found in any other city. I have my own house and business in the Baltimore area and have no intention of moving. Unfortunately, Robert Irsay, an outsider, never bothered to find out what makes this special city tick.
Perhaps we Baltimoreans should look at Irsay's departure for Indianapolis as a continuation of the renovations that we have seen in our city over the past 10 years. Haven't we been trying to get rid of all of the old, useless and dilapidated items? Well, we just cleaned up the city more than we realize. Unfortunately we had to sacrifice our Colts in the process.
What professional football franchise left town after 26 consecutive games without a loss and two straight NFL titles? The Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs. Regardless of the wishes of the fans, the moving of franchises has been a part of professional football for as long as the game has existed.
Actually, this is the second time that Baltimore has lost an NFL football franchise known as the Colts. In 1946 a rival league, the All-America Football Conference, was formed, with Baltimore fielding one of the eight teams. In 1950, three of these AAFC teams (the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts) were admitted to the NFL. But even though Baltimore was given special consideration in the 1950 allocation draft, the team lasted for only one year. In 1951 Abraham Watner returned the franchise to the NFL. If Baltimore is lucky, history will repeat itself, and it will get another NFL franchise. But don't count on it—we've been waiting in Canton since 1926.
RAYMOND D. FETE
UNFAIR TO UMPS?
After reading your April 2 article The Umpires Strike Back, which suggested that umps may be getting too big for their britches and cited incidents in which umps had been unfair to players, I was interested to see the picture of the Cubs disputing a call that favored the Padres in the April 16 issue (The Beast Team in Baseball). The photograph truly revealed what many umps have to put up with during a season.
While I'm not saying that the April 2 story was one-sided, I fully agree with ump Jim McKean when he says, "If it seems that we're willing to take less, it may be because we're getting more."
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.