The college and pro football issues (Sept. 3 and 10) were a pleasure to read. In almost every article, you chose to highlight athletes and programs that have their priorities straight—athletes with strong beliefs in religion and family, and programs based on academics first. I applaud the editors for selecting such topics.
DREXEL L. KLEBER
Thank you for Austin Murphy's story about Barry Sanders, Detroit's superb running back (Sept. 10). Our youth need someone to admire and emulate, and Sanders provides such a model.
Murphy says Sanders is not sanctimonious and quotes Lion coach Wayne Fontes as saying, "Barry's not the type of guy who scores a TD and kneels down in front of everyone in the world." The common spectacle of today's athletes kneeling in the end zone, crossing themselves in the batter's box or huddling in prayer on the sidelines is ridiculous and repugnant. To whom are they praying? What god, worthy of the name and presumably concerned about the deprivation and misery of half of the world's population, could give a damn when an over-paid American jock makes a touchdown or wins a tennis match?
DAVID R. CUNNINGHAM
In his article on one-platoon football (One Is More Like It, Sept. 3), Douglas S. Looney notes Army's success from 1946 through '50, after coach Red Blaik installed a two-platoon system following the Cadets' game against Michigan in '45. Looney should also have mentioned the Wolverines' success over the same period, especially since Michigan coach Fritz Crisler is credited with—or blamed for—initiating the two-platoon system in college football, in '41. Although Crisler retired following the '47 season, the Wolverines, from '46 through '50, won a national championship, came in second once and won four Big Ten titles, two Rose Bowls and, during one stretch, 25 straight games. They never finished worse than ninth in the polls.
October 14, 1990
Incidentally, Crisler later spoke out against the two-platoon system and, as chairman of the NCAA football rules committee in 1953, supported a successful effort to abolish it.
THOMAS M. ROSSEEL
Amen to your call for one-platoon football. Eliminating player specialization and requiring versatility would be better for the game all around.
While we're at it, let's go one step further and fix another flaw bred by unlimited substitution: The extra-point kick should be attempted by the player who scored the touchdown. This would introduce a new level of strategy. If you're on the one-yard line, do you give the ball to a powerful fullback who's a poor kicker, or do you look for a way to let a better kicker score? Placekicking would become as crucial a fundamental for a back as free throw shooting is for a power forward. For all other kicks (except, of course, the opening kickoff), require the kicker to have been on the field for his team's most recent offensive play.
Getting the kicking game into the hands (or feet) of regular players would bring the foot back into football.
Your story listed seven good reasons to return to the one-platoon system, but I believe Looney left out an important one: It could train young men to be leaders, to think on their own under game conditions.
Another reason: The fans would love it.
KEVIN C. SCHIFERL
The Big Black Attack (Sept. 17) is one of the most entertaining articles I have ever read. Rick Reilly's account of the Atlanta Falcons' new coach, Jerry Glanville, cracked me up. Maybe Glanville is just what fans in the Heart of Dixie need to rally them behind the Falcons.
I don't know who is funnier, Glanville or Reilly.
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