TRIBUTES TO HAYES
Rick Telander's balanced POINT AFTER (March 23) on Woody Hayes was a moving portrait of the old coach. Since much has been written of Hayes's controversial side, I'd like to share a little-known story that shows another side.
In the autumn of 1968, while Ohio State's "super sophomores" were leading the Buckeyes to an unbeaten season, I was a Marine pilot in the Oakland Naval Hospital, recovering from Vietnam burn injuries. I was invited by Hayes's wife, Anne, who, like her husband, has done many charitable deeds, to join the team in Pasadena, where it was preparing for the Rose Bowl game against USC. There, Coach Hayes gave me one of his Bowl tickets. On Jan. 1, 1969, from a seat on the 50-yard line, next to Mrs. Hayes, I saw Ohio State defeat the Trojans and O.J. Simpson 27-16. This probably did more for my recovery than any treatment.
As my son and I left the Cotton Bowl after Ohio State beat Texas A & M this past New Year's Day, an angry Aggie shouted, "What's a Buckeye, anyway?" The answer: "It's a winner." So was Coach Hayes, right to the end.
As a Buckeye fan for 35 years, I loved Woody, not just because of the great victories he gained for us, but because of his obvious love for football, his players and Ohio State. He was often criticized for his angry outbursts, but I always felt he was just throwing up a smokescreen to protect his players. Instead of focusing on individual OSU players' costly mistakes, the press would turn its attention to the coach's outbursts, thus allowing the team to escape the heat and regroup. I'll miss Woody. College football is diminished by his loss.
Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Although I am a Michigan fan and not a Woody Hayes supporter, I take exception to one of Rick Telander's statements. Telander thinks Hayes was not a great football coach, for one thing because Woody just ran the ball.
Maybe Bobby Knight isn't a great basketball coach because he doesn't favor a zone defense, or maybe Babe Ruth wasn't a great hitter because he didn't bunt more often. People don't win consistently for many years without being proficient at their sport. Woody's record speaks for itself.
DENNIS R. HAGEY
Iron Mountain, Mich.
FALLEN STAR (CONT.)
The article by Gary McLain, as told to Jeffrey Marx (The Downfall of a Champion, March 16), is one of the best ever done by your magazine. Certainly it is one that needed to be done. The fact is—and most people involved in sports know it—drug use is prevalent in all sports, and it has gotten worse in the past few years. Gary's story is probably very close to those of hundreds of other athletes across the country. It is the minority of athletes who have not at least tried drugs, because, as Gary says, when you are a good athlete you are the man. You're in the spotlight. You're on the fast track, and most athletes love it.
I have heard people ridicule McLain by saying, among other things, that he is a disgrace and that they hoped Gary was happy now that he was on the cover of SI. These people must be living in a dream world. Drinking and getting high are part of the scene everywhere. Athletes are just part of society.
I hope Gary shocked some sense into a few people by telling his story, but most will probably bury their heads in the sand and pretend that he and Len Bias were just a couple of wayward boys.
Scarsdale, N. Y.
Gary McLain's simple, straightforward, powerful account of his addiction ought to be required reading for every junior high school student. I handed the piece to my 15-year-old son this morning.