But Tagliabue has also demonstrated sensitivity to racial issues. After last year's Los Angeles riots he resolved that local minorities would fully participate in, and profit from, Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena. As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, Tagliabue got results. All printing for the Super Bowl Host Committee was done by minority firms. Food at a Super Bowl press conference was provided by a black caterer. The NFL held football clinics for inner-city youngsters. The league donated $100,000 to Michael Jackson's Heal the World Foundation. It pledged $1 million over five years to a youth center set up by former Cincinnati Bengal linebacker Reggie Williams in a riot-torn L.A. area.
Baseball's hiring of minority managers and Tagliabue's Super Bowl efforts underscore a truth not even Schott can hide: In race relations, actions speak louder than words.
SI's Peter King reports on Buffalo Bill owner Ralph Wilson Jr. 's firing of Bill Polian, the team's general manager, four days after the Super Bowl.
Sure, the Bills haven't won the Big One, but until Polian became G.M. in 1986, they were an NFL doormat. Polian helped make Buffalo a powerhouse. The issue, though, isn't whether he should have been canned—that's the owner's prerogative—but the classless way Wilson went about it. Immediately after the Super Bowl, Wilson said, "No heads will roll. This is no time to panic, for people to jump off the 15th floor." Then, despite an appeal from coach Marv Levy to spare Polian, Wilson did the deed. He told Polian over the phone, not face to face. Worse, he had Polian announce the firing himself at a Buffalo news conference.
Team insiders say that Polian's sin was that he often clashed with Wilson's chief finance man, Jeff Littmann, who considered contracts given to such Polian favorites as safety Mark Kelso overly generous. To the end Polian exhibited loyalty to Wilson, praising him even after he was axed in favor of player personnel director John Butler. Loyalty. Wilson ought to look up the word in the dictionary.
All of Charleston, S.C., is hailing the heroism of Daniel Johnson, a strong safety on The Citadel football team, who in one 48-hour span this month:
?saved the life of a Citadel teammate whose throat was slashed with a broken bottle when two strangers attacked them in the street. The friend's carotid artery was cut, and as the attackers fled, Johnson stuck his fingers into the wound to stanch the bleeding;
?ran down a purse snatcher, turned the suspect over to the police and comforted the victim. Johnson even gave fair warning to the hapless thief, calling out during the chase, "I'm all-conference in track. I'm going to catch you."