Hats off to Peter King for his story on John Madden (Busman's Holiday, Nov. 26). I live on our family stock farm and teach and coach at the local rural high school. What Madden expressed about small-town life is true. At a time when our world seems to be spinning out of control, he reminds us to slow down, smell the roses and discover the greatest country in the world‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö√ÜAmerica.
Madden is a far cry from the hero-celebrity that King depicts him as being. TV viewers deserve educated analyses of plays and players, not annoying babble from Madden, who all too frequently interrupts his co-announcer to say things like, "I tell ya, he's a heckuva football player. I tell ya." Madden destroys the finesse side of football by claiming players are good only if they are fat, bloody, blubbery guys who eat raw meat. His onscreen scrawling is confusing, pointless and draws even more attention to the fact that, I tell ya, he's a heckuva slob. I tell ya.
I would like to compliment Douglas S. Looney on his article about the changing face of college football (The Mighty Keep Falling, Nov. 26). The 11 factors he listed for the many upsets, and upstarts, of the 1990 season lead to one conclusion: There must be an organized playoff system to determine the national champion. That's especially true in light of the fact that nowadays bowl bids are given out with games remaining in the season. Often these late-season games result in upsets, which, in turn, disrupt the rankings. Is a Notre Dame at 10-2 better than an undefeated Georgia Tech at 9-0-1? Who knows for certain? A single-elimination playoff system would determine the real champion.
New York City
Top-ranked teams are not supposed to be beaten at home, but it happened frequently this year, to Notre Dame (twice), Virginia (twice), Washington and Oklahoma, to cite prominent examples. Even Michigan's mighty Wolverines were upset at home by Michigan State. I cannot believe Looney overlooked that game. For the past four seasons, the winner of Michigan-Michigan State has gone on to the Rose Bowl. State's victory this year had a great deal to do with Iowa's getting the bid to play in Pasadena. Had Michigan won, it might have gone.
December 31, 1990
This was "one wacky season" only because writers proclaim it so. The results haven't fit the patterns expected by the self-proclaimed experts who put their egos on the line and can only watch in disbelief as their creations crumble.
LEAH SETTLE GIBBS
Instead of killing the instant replay as Peter King recommends (INSIDE THE NFL, Nov. 26), why not give each team only two replays per half? Coaches would not waste their replay options on frivolous early plays, but would save them for key moments late in the half.
In the midst of all the controversy surrounding Boston pitcher Roger Clemens and his ejection from Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, I have been waiting to hear his side of the story. Leigh Montville hit the nail on the head (A Moment of Madness, Nov. 26) when he said we do not really know the man behind the Fu Manchu mustache.
JAMES D. COLE
I have new respect and admiration for Clemens after learning of his dedicated approach to each of his 37 pitching starts.
Grow up, Roger. You're not above the rules.
THE DIVINE MADDEN TWINS?
I really enjoyed the article about Madden and his bus trip. There are probably a million people who would like to hitch a ride with him. The once-hated Raider coach (especially by Steeler fans) has become one of the best-liked football analysts‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö√Üa big, friendly, down-home type who nonetheless savors the macho side of football, the blood, mud and scars. He now seems like the Andy Devine of the NFL.
RICHARD C. ROSCHE
‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë¬¨¬¢And not only in his genial mood. On the left is a 1943 photograph of Devine, the late character actor who had been a football star at Santa Clara. When compared with a 1990 shot of Madden, it begs the question: Were they indeed separated at birth?‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö√ÜED.
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.