John Schulian's fine article about Chuck Bednarik (Concrete Charlie, Sept. 6) was lacking in only one respect: It failed to mention one of the truly great 60-minute iron men in NFL history. George Connor, my uncle, played with the Chicago Bears from 1948 to '55. During his career he regularly played offensive and defensive tackle and was on the kicking and punting squads. He was moved to linebacker midway through his career and, at 6'3" and 240 pounds, became one of the first of the big, fast linebackers.
Connor was voted All-Pro for six seasons, including three consecutive years on both offense and defense—an amazing feat accomplished by no other player. He was the first winner of the Outland Trophy and has been inducted into both the college and the NFL Halls of Fame.
I was disappointed that you failed to feature Bill George of the Bears rather than merely including him in your list of great linebackers (The Last Angry Men, Sept. 6). George wasn't noted for his meanness, but he played the middle as well as any linebacker you featured.
North Wildwood, N.J.
How could you have overlooked Bill Bergey of the Bengals and the Eagles and Nick Buoniconti of the Dolphins' famous No-Name Defense?
October 3, 1993
You omitted Bobby Bell, an intimidator who never lost a footrace during my years with the Kansas City Chiefs and the finest all-around athlete I have seen in 24 years in the pro-sports business. Also, Willie Lanier of Kansas City wore a helmet with padding on the outside not because he wanted to spare ballcarriers, as you stated, but because as a rookie he suffered concussions that threatened his career.
I was honored to back up both of these Hall of Famers from the 1969 Super Bowl season through 1972.
Your linebacker story should have included Hardy (the Hatchet) Brown, who played with the Colts, Redskins, 49ers and Cardinals in the 1950s and the Broncos in 1960. At 196 pounds Brown was small compared to today's linebackers, but during his eight seasons as a pro he was feared by running backs. I played with Brown at San Francisco during the 1951 season, during which he put 21 running backs out of games. He did it with a devastating shoulder tackle above the waist.
Austin Murphy's piece on placekicker Scott Bentley (A Sure Three, Aug. 30) was right between the uprights. As if the young man didn't have enough to worry about in choosing between two winning programs, he was subjected to a verbal lashing by Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who went out of his way to make Bentley miserable, even to the point of suggesting that in selecting Florida State, Bentley had let his father down and made a "40-year mistake."
Give me a break, Lou. Let Bentley go, wish him well and show some class.
Your article should have included the following information:
From the beginning of the recruiting process, Notre Dame's coaches operated under the premise that Bentley intended to come to Notre Dame, because that was what he constantly told them. Because Bentley's commitment seemed so strong, Notre Dame called Brian Ford, the No. 2 kicker on Notre Dame's list of prospects, and suggested that he consider other schools. The Notre Dame coaches learned that Bentley would commit to Florida State only 15 minutes before his press conference.
Once Bentley committed to Florida State, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz spoke with Vanderbilt coach Gerry DiNardo and told him that he would not sign Ford to a scholarship unless Vanderbilt released him from his oral commitment, and DiNardo agreed to do so.
Sports Information Director, Notre Dame
My purpose in writing is not to trade blows with Scott Bentley but to defend myself and the university that has given me the best four years of my life. The entire Notre Dame family deserves better than the humiliation and scarring that Bentley has tried to inflict on it.
Among several misstatements, Bentley claimed that he didn't drink. Following our initial meeting he was asked to join a party at my apartment. After telling me that he drank on occasion, we served him the alcohol of his choice. Bentley tried to portray himself as a saint when, in fact, he is a typical college student.
Notre Dame kicker, 1989-92
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.