SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is to be commended for publishing John Underwood's series on football brutality (Aug. 14 et seq.). It is unquestionably a landmark in sports journalism. If The Washington Post won a Pulitzer for Woodward and Bernstein's expos� of Watergate, Underwood deserves no less for exposing the dark side of football.
I have been a subscriber for more than eight years and have read many excellent articles in your magazine, but I was never prompted to write a letter to the editor. John Underwood's series has changed that. I commend him for his well-thought-out, well-written series. Rarely do a man's love for a game and his fear for what is happening to it shine through so strongly on the printed page. Underwood's bias does nothing to harm what he is saying; if anything, it enhances the points he makes. Here's hoping that those who are responsible for the rules and practices at the high school, college and pro levels open their eyes before it is too late.
JAMES M. ANASTOS
I have been a devoted fan of pro football for the past 10 years, but after reading Part 3 of your series I'm not so sure. Football has always been a violent sport, but I have no wish to see players permanently injured. And when the element of drugs is added, I cannot see how this can be avoided. I, for one, support your proposed rule changes.
North Bend, Ore.
Good for you, SI. Finally a major magazine candidly exposes the massive use of dangerous drugs in football. If Pete Rozelle is so sure that pro football players do not use drugs, then why doesn't he institute mandatory urinalysis for all players?
Hats off—or shall we say helmets off?—to John Underwood. His series vividly challenges football to initiate safety changes. It's too bad ancient gladiators did not have today's modern football helmet. They could have thrown aside their weapons and merely "speared" one another.
John Underwood's series makes a powerful statement. It is almost as effective as an ad currently appearing on television for your magazine. You may have seen it. It features "hitters" and concludes with Lyle Alzado taking a bat out of Steve Garvey's hands while musing, "I gotta get me one of these."
It is reassuring to know that the business side of your magazine does not control your editorial policies. It would, of course, be too much to hope that the editorial side might influence your business practices.
CLIFFORD D. ALLO
John Underwood's series is a sideliner's point of view. Now a lot of parents will be too afraid to let little Johnny play football, because he'll run into a 200-pound defensive tackle and hurt himself.
I am now a junior at Choctaw High School and I have played football for six years. I have suffered no serious injuries on the field, but I've seen and given out a few. Football is a contact sport; it should not be built up to be anything else. If a coach tells me to center the ball and protect the quarterback, well, I'm going to block the guy in front of me any way I can. If that means I've got to crab-block him or throw a forearm to his windpipe, I'm going to do just that, because he's going to try to do the same.
If I get the chance to tackle a fleet back, I'm going to put my face mask in his numbers so hard that I hope he never gets up. Someday I hope to teach the way I play. Stick him before he sticks you!