© St. Petersburg Times, published December 31, 2000
Grumpy NFL taking fun out of sport
Why don't you do an article on the NFL and why it wants to take the fun out of a sport? Seems the league has forgotten these are not life-and-death gladiators. When people are fined for a bit of celebration after scoring on an 80-yard drive, this (attitude) seems insane.
-- C. Tom Morgan, via e-mail
I'll hold off, the Bucs-Rams game still tingling fresh with well-earned delirium. I'm okay with wholly merited, classy celebrations, but I'm also for zebra flags in cases such as egomaniacs who go body-swaggering nuts over a tackle when their team trails by two dozen points.
Thanks for your extremely well-written column on (the death of jockey) Chris Antley. Being a Canadian in his 14th Florida winter, I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your vast writing skills, as has my wife. Articles that will truly be missed.
Don McMillan, Dunedin
I moved to Tampa and was excited to find a sports writer with real passion for his work andinsight into what sports today are all about. I moved on, but wanted to say I have been entertained and touched.
-- Bill Morse, Atlanta
Times sports pages will not be the same without your input. I have enjoyed your reporting and thank you for your perspective and insight.
-- Bob Stewart, Pinellas County Commission
You probably don't remember me, but I will never forget you. I now live in the San Francisco Bay area but read the Times online every day. Imagine my shock and sadness at hearing you are retiring.
Your reporting of the Bucs, Lightning, Devil Rays and sports in general has been some of the best I ever encountered. I lived in the Tampa Bay area until 1997 and would listen to you on 820 radio. At times, I would call in to whale (Sam Wyche's favorite word) on the craziness that was Bucs football.
Thanks for your honesty, as brutal as it had to be at times. Thanks for the optimism. You are a rare treasure.
-- Will Thompson, Everyville, Calif.
A few years ago, I read a tribute you wrote about your father who had just passed away. It was a touching memorial. Could you still get that column for me?
-- Daniel R. Harkins, St. Petersburg
Like almost anyone, I enjoy being praised, especially when the impetus seems entirely genuine.
Being a journalist, I expect and understand it when negative reactions fly. Since announcement of my May 2001 retirement, reaction has been far more wide, warm and meaningful than I could've possibly dreamed. Thanks so much to so many. That piece about Leon Mozart Mizell (1909-93) is in the mail, Mr. Harkins.
Doesn't Tony Dungy understand that an NFL offense must try to win instead of trying to prevent losing? This clearly must change, because the Bucs have talent on offense. But the coach refuses to let the big dogs run. It seems the only time Tampa Bay's offense looks good is when there is desperation and they open it up.
T. Stanstill, via e-mail
I'll get word to Tony.
Wouldn't it be a good time for an article on Trent Dilfer? His role with the Ravens making the playoffs, playing the same (Bucs-like) ball control. Saying whether Trent thinks he might have been more successful with Les Steckel's offense than Mike Shula's.
David York, via e-mail
I hoped Ravens-Broncos would be played Saturday, allowing me to cover the Baltimore game en route to today's Eagles-Bucs match in Philadelphia. NFL didn't cooperate.
Yes, it is absolutely something I would enjoy doing if the Ravens advance. I like Dilfer and would enjoy nothing more than a Tampa Bay-Baltimore affair in Super Bowl XXXV, though it's frankly a major long shot.
This season, there seems to be an inordinate number of NFL officiating errors. Players are tested. I wondered if officials are also checked for alcohol or drug abuse.
Bill Ryan, St. Petersburg
Zebras are physically assessed. Some officiating boo-boos are befuddling, but no more than miscues by athletes.
All we should ask is constant NFL pursuit of well-schooled, well-conditioned officials with strong common sense. Notable goofers should be expelled. I sense arrogance on the part of some NFL officiating supervisors.
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