Your special report "I'm Not Worth a Damn" (June 14) by Don Reese with John Underwood was the best article I've ever read in SI. I fear that Reese's story about the use of cocaine in the NFL is all too true. Drug abuse is usually accompanied by denial, and the denials come not only from the abuser but also from the people who perpetuate the situation. I, for one, think Reese is worth a damn for having the guts to stand up and tell it like it is. To quote the last line of the story, "The sad part is that it wasn't said a lot sooner." Well, now it's said, so let's do something positive about it!
You have gained tremendous respect by printing the story by Don Reese. What courage! What guts! What a service to those who think cocaine is a harmless, recreational drug! I applaud SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, which dares to go beyond any other sports magazine, news magazine or human interest magazine.
ELIZABETH A. WHITE
North Branford, Conn.
Your June 14 cover story was timely, concise, educational and, I hope, useful. It was also one of the most daring, necessary and appropriate sports journalism presentations of modern times. Hearty congratulations!
HENRY M. PLYMIRE
A blockbuster! Don Reese's article and the increasing stories about conniving in college athletic recruitment and the ensuing exploitation of the athlete lead me to only one conclusion: As a society, we have equaled the decadence of the Roman Empire. The NFL has become an employment agency for gladiators and a promoter of spectacles. We fans are the pampered, affluent throng thirsting for blood, not caring what devices have been used to prepare the gladiator for combat. Feed him well. Toss him whatever will make him content. The spectacle's the thing!
ROBERT M. KUNKEL
As an avid NFL fan for more than 20 years and a pastoral counselor who has spent thousands of hours with people as they faced the difficulties of their lives, I was powerfully touched by Don Reese's confessions. There is a strong theme of repentance in his recent resolve to change his ways, take responsibility for his life and go for help. Because of its compelling honesty and potential relevance for those who idolize pro stars and are tempted to get involved with drugs, I believe that this is one of the most significant articles you have ever published. I am praying that this revelation will be redemptive both for Don and for his former profession.
THE REV. ROBERT H. GRIZZARD, PH.D.
Since the publication of your special report, Don Reese has proved to be a prophet. The NFL and the NFL Players Association have tried to discredit him, downplay his accusations and ignore the truth. It's hard to understand why Reese's revelations provoke such an attitude on the part of those who have the most to lose. The drug abuse problem, no matter how small, will destroy the game if it isn't brought under control.
As parents, my husband and I were urged to learn—and we did learn—how to recognize the telltale signs of drugs in children. It is a sad commentary that after we parents have done our job, the team officials in the NFL can't do theirs. It is inconceivable that we, as novices, can detect drug afflictions and they can't! They may know how to call the signals in a game, but their rules for life are shameful.
Don Reese's story has greater impact than any other article SI has ever published. Maybe, just maybe, it will compel someone or some group to fight this insidious crime on and off the gridiron.
Already, the NFL is proclaiming exaggeration, as Reese predicted. He may face further incarceration because of the article and the admissions made therein. I want him to know that I will help him in whatever way I can. We have a son who at one time wanted to be a professional quarterback. Thank God someone along the way dissuaded him. Please forward my name and address to Reese so he knows there are people in this world who feel he made the greatest play of his career.
I think that Don Reese's idea of having players take urine tests is what the NFL needs. It would make the players think twice about taking cocaine and other drugs.