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Top 10 Letters

NFL Football, college football, and other important stuff, like democracy.

11:00 PM, Dec 14, 2004
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.

*1*

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ's Nov. 15 article, A Saudi Protest March, misinforms because Schwartz does not understand the Saudi people. Swift political change would drown our nation in a flood of chaos, as we are primitives in the domain of politics and democracy.

Attaining equal rights and representation for all Saudis, men and women, as well as eradicating terrorism are efforts already underway and the results will soon come to light. I just hope that the West realizes that reform that comes from within would be smoother to implement and the region's leaders and people would adhere by it more easily.

As more Saudi women are assigned to the Saudi Committee for human rights, participate in international United Nations missions, head universities, hospitals, trade fairs, and public events, we are the only ones who should decide when and how to elevate our public role, and only after assessing our surroundings and taking into account all valid factors. Hence, we are not yet ready for the imminent public elections. Furthermore, ignorant foreign interference in our affairs would only hurt our movement.

As we acknowledge our economic, political and social challenges, we are also working day and night to promote our genuinely tolerant culture and religion. However, the US government's foreign policy in the Middle East has conspired with events in the region to make these challenges more difficult.

--Fatima Mohammad

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

*2*

I FOUND Stephen Barbara's review of the new Joe Namath biography interesting, but take issue with several of his comments about Namath's impact on football.

First, Barbara says that before Namath "its [the NFL] annual contest generally featured an NFL team thrashing a weak side from the AFL," but after Namath, "It featured an exciting yearly pageant--the Super Bowl--that was accompanied by much pre-game bluster." Obviously the statements are contradictory (and would you generally describe the Super Bowl as "exciting?" Most games are run-aways). The Super Bowl existed before Namath brought the Jets there a single time--and there was certainly plenty of "pre-game bluster" before Super Bowl III.

Nor can one say that Namath was responsible for enormous salaries, bonuses, etc. in the NFL. Remember, pro football pays its players less than hockey, basketall, and baseball--and the salary cap has a far greater impact. Second, the big bonuses really began in the NFL with those such as Paul Hornung, years before Namath arrived.

You write that the players were anonymous before Namath arrived--really? How about Red Grange, Sam Huff, Jimmy Brown, Frank Gifford, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Sammy Baugh, Norm van Brocklin, Otto Graham, Ernie Nevers, Bronco Nagurski, and dozens on dozens of others anyone on the street could name. Do you really think that the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts of the '50s and '60s were largely anonymous to Americans?

You write that the sport was more of a team sport before Namath arrived. I guess the Cleveland Browns of the Jim Brown era and the teams on which Red Grange played were the exception. Did Namath figure more in his team's strategy than, say, Unitas or Jurgenson or Baugh or Graham or Waterfield or Jim Taylor or dozens of others? I don't think so.

Relative to other professional team sports in the United States, football players are now relatively anonymous and underpaid, and the teams are "teams" more than in any other sport because on an eleven man squad, the individual cannot matter as much. Moreover, the likelihood of injuries prevents teams from relying excessively on any one player-- if they do, they won't succeed. Finally, the salary cap forces rather ruthless cuts of so-called "stars."

Namath simply was not responsible for the success of the (generally dull) Super Bowls, for high salaries, for the fame of athletes. My guess is that the athletes of the 1920s enjoyed a fame and basked in a glory that few athletes have achieved since World War II.

--Thomas Dean

*3*