The Lonesome End
William Nack's story about Bill Carpenter (The Lonesome End, Oct. 4) was an inspiration and a revelation. We are parents of a young infantry officer, and it helped us understand the special camaraderie and stoicism that many of these soldiers have in common with Carpenter. A standard-bearer for the quiet hero, Carpenter has led an exemplary life and seems to be headed for well-deserved tranquillity.
JUDY AND JOE RYAN
Pearl River, N.Y.
As I read William Nack's outstanding article, the following lines from Carl von Clausewitz's book On War came to mind: "Responsibility and danger do not tend to free or stimulate the average person's mind—rather the contrary; but wherever they do liberate an individual's judgment and confidence, we can be sure that we are in the presence of exceptional ability." Bill Carpenter was indeed an exceptional leader, both on and off the battlefield.
ROB WALKER FREER
Your article was interesting, but why trash Pete Dawkins? Having known and been inspired by both Carpenter and Dawkins, I don't see why SI allowed petty jealousies to be used as cheap shots at one of America's living heroes. Dawkins clearly deserved the Heisman Trophy in 1958, and he has been an exemplary patriot both in and out of uniform. He contributes as much as if not more to our country than a retired "lonesome" general living in northern Montana.
SAM W. BARTHOLOMEW JR.
U.S. Military Academy '66
I am very disappointed in the NFL's decision to fine Phoenix Cardinal free safety Chuck Cecil for his so-called "two acts of flagrant unnecessary roughness involving the use of his helmet" (Headlong and Headstrong, Oct. 11). As Cecil noted, he has played this way since he first put on pads, and if it weren't for his hard-hitting style of play, he would be home watching the NFL on TV. Perhaps the league should search out Cecil's coaches, who helped make him the player he is, and fine each of them $30,000.
Since no penalties were called, how can the NFL justify its fine against Cecil?
BRIAN K. HURLEY
The same NFL that levied the $30,000 fine against Chuck Cecil will make thousands more in revenue from the sale of NFL films. If Cecil's "illegal" hit makes one of the league's highlight films, the NFL will have its cake and eat it too. Remember when former Packer Tim Harris yelled, "This ain't no tennis match!" on This Is the NFL? He's absolutely correct, and if the league is going to fine players for throwing their bodies around like "heat-seeking missiles," then it shouldn't sell videos showing these hits.
Winter Springs, Fla.
Missing from Rick Telander's article was the fact that there is no such thing as a freak injury. For every effect there is a cause. Clearly the cause of football-induced paralysis is spearing. When a collision occurs with the top or crown of a helmet as the point of contact, and the posture of the head, neck and trunk are such that the energy input cannot be dissipated, the head comes to a stop, the momentum of the body continues, and the cervical spine and cord are crushed between the two. The result is quadriplegia.
Before the adoption of rules prohibiting spearing in 1976, 30 to 35 such injuries occurred yearly. Since then, this number has progressively decreased to where there was only one in 1991.
JOSEPH S. TORG, M.D.
Director of the National Football Head and Neck Registry;
professor of orthopedic surgery, University of Pennsylvania;
team physician, Philadelphia Eagles
The fault lies not with the players or the league office but with a lack of attention and intelligence by game officials. Referees are responsible for enforcing rules on the field. The NFL was right to fine Cecil, but until the zebras fling the hankies, more career-ending injuries will occur.
The English class down the hall would agree that Rick Telander is a fine writer, but we are offended by his ignorance of basic chemistry. Electrons do not return to the nucleus, as he wrote in the opening paragraph of his story, nor were they ever there in the first place. So if Chuck Cecil were like an electron, he would not crash into anyone; he would merely run circles around them.