Whatever one thinks of Houston Oiler offensive tackle David Williams's decision to stay with his wife after she gave birth to their first child on Oct. 16, there is one thing we should all agree on. It is time to bury the metaphor of football as war.
"This is like World War II, when guys were going to war and something would come up, but they had to go," said Bob Young, Houston's offensive line coach. That was part of the rationalization the Oilers used when they withheld Williams's game pay of $111,111 after he chose not to join his teammates in Foxboro, Mass., for an Oct. 17 game against the New England Patriots.
Wrong, Coach. Football is not like war at all. On the same weekend the Oilers faced the Patriots, NATO planes were flying sorties over Serbian gun positions in Sarajevo; U.S. Army pilot Michael Durant returned to his home base of Fort Campbell, Ky., after having spent 11 days, wounded, as a hostage in Mogadishu; and six U.S. warships assembled off Haiti to enforce a United Nations embargo.
As for World War II, which Young saw fit to invoke, consider that 50 years before the epic Houston- New England struggle, U.S. troops were inching their way across the Pacific on the eve of the battle of Tarawa. Casualties in that engagement: 4,500 Japanese, 3,000 U.S. Marines.
Is Bigger Better?
Golf's hottest trend right now is a slightly larger ball that theoretically curves less in the air, thus allowing golfers to keep their shots more on line. Low-handicap players don't like the larger ball because they can't hit a controlled fade with it, but it would seem to be a godsend for hackers, whose "controlled fade" is usually a monstrous slice onto an adjoining fairway.
Remarkably, these bigger balls conform to USGA rules, which are only slightly less forgiving than the Code of Hammurabi. But the rules stipulate only that a ball can be no less than 1.68 inches, which is the measurement for a standard ball. Spalding's Magna, for example, is 1.72 inches in diameter.
The big ball is popular—witness the 36 million Magnas sold since they were introduced in January—but there is something bothersome about the trend. As with those annoying tennis rackets that have gotten bigger and bigger, it sends the message that if you can't play the game, then you can always tilt the playing field.
What's next? Oversized baseball gloves and aluminum bats?
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]