Your Aug. 29 issue, particularly the articles on Darryl Stingley learning how to live a new life (Where Am I? It Has to Be a Bad Dream), Henry Marsh running with pain (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) and Kevin Saucier happily choosing sanity and a loving marriage over the glamour and insanity of a career in baseball (Picking Up the Pieces), spoke to the true meaning of sports in a way that few other issues or magazines have. We have a lot to learn from athletes like these, because they inspire us. Thank you for some thoughtful and sensitive writing.
Just seconds ago I finished reading the highly emotional article by Darryl Stingley with Mark Mulvoy. Stingley is a tremendously courageous young man. At a time when the image of the professional athlete is being tarnished by drugs, arrests, etc., Stingley is a true hero. As a medical technologist, I come into contact with patients every day. We technologists know that we may annoy patients at times, but we also realize that those people are suffering and might not be acting the way they would like to. Stingley is not, as he said, a "jerk"; he is a shining example to everyone. I wish him good luck.
The story of Darryl Stingley is moving—I was teary-eyed the whole time I read it—and the writing is top quality. Stingley and Mark Mulvoy are to be congratulated. My admiration for John Madden skyrocketed. As for Jack Tatum, no comment.
TAL H. MANGUM
Some years ago I attended a meeting at the University of Oklahoma at which an NFL lineman (whose name I don't recall) appeared as a guest speaker. During the question-and-answer period, I asked if indeed NFL players tried to intentionally injure opponents to the point of causing them to have to leave the game. After the laughter and chuckles subsided, the speaker mockingly replied, "No, we try to pick them up and set them down as gently as possible." I'll never forget his words or his attitude.
Darryl Stingley's story is a sad commentary not only on Jack Tatum but also on the techniques and attitudes being developed and taught in professional football. Good luck to Stingley and to pro ball; I'm not sure which one needs it more.
JAMES W. THOMPSON
Shots by players like Jack Tatum are uncalled for and should be banned. What really upset me was that Tatum didn't go to the hospital to say he was sorry. God bless Darryl. I wish him the greatest possible recovery.
Rock Hill, S.C.
Last fall, after he had been examined by many specialists in the neurological field, our 15-year-old son, Chris, was told he could no longer play contact sports. He has a problem with the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae in his neck, and many of the doctors used Darryl Stingley as an example of what could happen to him if he continued to play. Nothing anyone said could make our son understand the risks. He was determined to go on playing football—until he read your article about Stingley. For the first time he comprehended what could happen to him, and at last his mind is at rest. I'm sorry for the tragedy in Stingley's life, but I am thankful he had the courage to tell his story.
Thank you for restoring my perspective. Along with many other fans, I felt cheated by last year's strike-shortened pro football season. Indeed, my enthusiasm for this season's campaign was tempered somewhat by allegations of performance-affecting drug use. Now, however, I look forward to cheering on my favorite players with renewed zeal, thanks to Bill Brubaker's enlightening piece (It's Not as Simple as A...B...C, Aug. 29) and to the first installment of Darryl Stingley's story. The former reminded me that the players are often victims of misguided athletic departments, unscrupulous agents and team owners who often deal in "rights" to athletes with shockingly little regard for the welfare of those players. The latter article underscored the fact that it is the players who face the true risks, while the owners invest in, at worst, a potential tax write-off. I am reminded of the NFL Players Association's bargaining motto: "Why a percentage of the gross? Because we are the game."
CHRISTOPHER C. KERR
Bill Brubaker's story about Gary Anderson has all the ingredients of a soap opera. Unfortunately, this one's for real. I don't know which was most disturbing, Anderson's "functional illiteracy," the University of Arkansas' failure to remedy it, the possibility of lawsuits and countersuits, Jerry Argovitz, Lloyd Wells or the management of the Tampa Bay Bandits and of the San Diego Chargers. Surely, the saddest point is that, in this society at least, money seems to be accepted as adequate compensation for illiteracy.
I realize Gary Anderson was probably taken advantage of by his agents and by the Bandits and the Chargers. But regardless of Anderson's level of literacy, what ever happened to his sense of team loyalty and ethics? I feel Anderson, like so many other athletes today, went "price shopping" and changed his mind when the money got better.
TERENCE J. BROWN