If ever a man gave brutality a good name, it was Jack Dempsey.
JESSE WELLS, Bettendorf, Iowa

TUNNEY-DEMPSEY

William Nack's The Long Count was one of the greatest flashbacks
I have ever read (Sept. 22). It captured every detail of the
transformation of Jack Dempsey from villain to hero. Dempsey was
especially unpopular here after he won a 15-round decision from
St. Paul native Tommy Gibbons in 1923. Three years later, I
remember listening to the radio broadcast and being thrilled
when Gene Tunney took the title from the hated Dempsey. After
the Long Count, that changed--Dempsey was the hero and Tunney
the villain.
DICK GORDON, St. Paul

My husband, Jack, would have greatly enjoyed the article, not
only because it was factual and interesting, but also because it
captured the principals involved and what the Long Count meant
to them over the years. The Long Count kept Jack's name alive,
which in turn enabled him to give back some part of himself to
those who had cheered him. Nack's article was a touching piece
that I shall save for my grandson, who is growing up hoping that
the U.S. Postal Service will issue a stamp commemorating Jack
Dempsey.
DEANNA DEMPSEY, New York City

This story brought back memories of when I was 14 or 15. Our
neighbors, friends and relations got together to listen to the
radio, which advertised in advance heavyweight title bouts
between Dempsey and whoever his opponent might be. The local
newspaper put a loudspeaker outside the office so people in the
street could hear the blow-by-blow description, and crowds would
gather around many other businesses that had speakers set up,
making the evening a festive occasion. Dempsey was such a hero
in our crowd that it was almost unthinkable that he lost the
title in '26 and failed to regain it the night of the Long Count.
JOHN R. DOUGLAS, Wauchula, Fla.

In 1953, at age 10, I was having lunch with my mom in Jack
Dempsey's restaurant in New York City when the champ entered the
restaurant, came over to our table and took a seat! My mother
was a woman of considerable beauty and charm, but the great man
focused all of his attention on me during the 10 minutes or so
that he spent at our table. As a rabid boxing fan, I wanted to
ask about the Long Count, but I was struck dumb and could only
stare at him in slack-jawed wonder. Too soon he was gone, and
when my mother asked for the check, we were told that our meal
was complimentary.
AMBERSON MCCULLOCH, Alameda, Calif.

BACKUP QUARTERBACKS

Forty-niners fans who wish for the second coming of Joe Montana
are really wishing for the San Francisco teams of Montana's time
(Backup Power, Sept. 15). Give Steve Young the kind of
protection and running game that Montana had, and then sit back
and enjoy watching the greatest quarterback of all time while
he's still playing.
LORENZO M. ROMNEY, Kansas City, Mo.

In your item describing occasions when backup quarterbacks were
pressed into service because starters were injured, the entry
for the Buffalo Bills' game against the New York Giants on Dec.
15, 1990, told only part of the story. As you indicated, Jeff
Hostetler did ably replace Phil Simms for the Giants, but what
went unsaid was that the Bills' Jim Kelly went down with a knee
injury in that game, forcing him out of that game and the
following week's, against the Miami Dolphins, with the division
title and home field advantage on the line. Backup Frank Reich
led Buffalo to a 24-14 win. Kelly returned for the playoffs,
which culminated in the Bills' 20-19 loss to the Hostetler-led
Giants in Super Bowl XXV.
WILLIAM SMITH, Kenmore, N.Y.

Omitted from your list was the 49ers' reserve quarterback Steve
Spurrier, a Heisman Trophy winner and now the Florida football
coach. In the sixth game of the 1972 season, he started for John
Brodie and then led the 49ers to their third consecutive
division title, completing 54.6% of his passes and throwing for
18 touchdowns, including five in a 34-21 victory over the Bears.
MARTIN JACOBS, San Francisco

CLASS ACT

Thank you for Ivan Maisel's article about Penn State (Inside
College Football, Sept. 29). It is about time someone recognized
the fact that Penn State is continually penalized in the polls
for not running up the score against weaker teams. Is it really
necessary to beat a team 82-6? Congratulations to coach Joe
Paterno and Penn State for remaining a class act even when the
national championship is on the line.
JEREMY BOWERSOX, Shippensburg, Pa.

COLOR PHOTO: FRED KAPLAN Spurrier stepped in to spur on the 49ers in '72. [Steve Spurrier in game]
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