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Letters to the Editors

Paterno a champ; Bowden?

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000

Even though coaching legends should be entitled to stand alone, Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno beg to be compared: genius vs. naivete; coy vs. gullible; strategy vs. chance. Bowden takes a former independent college into the Atlantic Coast Conference, ignoring the more regional rivals the Southeastern Conference has to offer at the expense of attendance (see home games and Florida neutral sites over the past 12 years) and competition (see Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, etc.) to garner an unprecedented and uninteresting string of eight conference championships and a 62-2 record.

JoPa, however, joins the Big Ten, which has traditional powers and longtime rivals, only to fall on such hard times that even the Toledo Rockets beat his team at home. If Paterno were as wily and astute as Bowden, he would have joined the Mid-American Conference, where he could have outrecruited the other schools only to lose two games over eight years, both to Marshall, which had Chad Pennington and some obscure receiver named Randy Moss. Moss, by the way, had to be tremendously maladjusted not to be allowed to remain at FSU. (See Sebastian Janikowski, Laveranues Coles, Peter Warrick, Sean Key, etc.)

Joe Paterno forever will be a legend. Bobby Bowden simply will be a legend in his own mind and spend his retirement in the business of bail bonds.
-- Phil Sexton, Spring Hill

Dangers of sports

"His helmet went off, followed by the light bulb in his head," reads the lead in the Nov. 12 sports story Scream Team. At the hospital "neurologists were standing by to clear the cobwebs." Unfortunately, there are no doctors who can "clear the cobwebs." The "cobwebs" describe progressive and permanent brain damage. Brain-damaged athletes not only suffer from such symptoms as memory loss and diminished cognitive abilities, but because of frontal lobe damage, end up with poor control over their emotions, including easy loss of temper and sudden rages.

We keep warning the parents and coaches of children, especially by high school level, to be alert to the signs of brain concussion, beginning with confusion. If parents plan to send their kids to college for other goals than professional sports, they'd be better off skipping the "thrills" of letting them play football. We often see athletes in our practice for brain testing and pain control. The money they made playing professional sports ends up being spent on painkillers and medical care.

The one group with head injuries and pain we see more than athletes are traffic accident victims. Emotionally fired up and full of booze after watching a violent game, such drivers can kill you.

I hope this helps alert people to the serious side of sports so that, after the games are over, we can all continue to enjoy healthy lives.
-- Dr. W.R. Hafling, Neuropsychologist, St. Petersburg

Mutiny omitted

In reference to Kevin Kelly's Nov. 8 article (Driving Up Prices) on NASCAR and its cost comparison to bay area professional teams, the story mentioned only three of those teams. Our franchise, the Mutiny -- preparing to enter its sixth year in the market, and a playoff team during four of its first five seasons -- was not included. We have appreciated the Times coverage of the Mutiny, and would hope in the future that any story comparing the bay area's pro teams would include the Mutiny.
-- Tracey Judd, Mutiny director of communications

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