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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.


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


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


FRED BARNES's article on Auburn Football, Eye of the Tiger, was, as we kids like to say, dead-on-balls accurate. Accurate, that is, until the very last statement. As a Penn State alumnus, I submit to you that the 1994, 12-0 Nittany Lions are the best college football team ever that was not officially recognized as National Champion. That being said, keep up the good work.

--Russell Cote


FRED BARNES writes that Auburn is the best team ever to not win a National Championship? Please, spare me. Penn State went undefeated five times without a National Championship, including when Nixon awarded it to Texas, which to me was a greater sin than Watergate could ever be. And in 1994, voters handed it to Nebraska because Osbourne had never won it and was close to retirement. As for weak schedules, is The Citadel a real powerhouse? Stick to politics, you are the king of prognostication, but football just makes you look silly.

--Aftan Romanczak


YES, as Fred Barnes writes, Auburn did beat highly ranked teams; they also played four teams with a combined record of 16-29, and only one of those teams played .500 ball. You can't talk about the weakness of USC's or Oklahoma's schedule when 4 out of the 11 teams Auburn played posted such poor numbers.

--J. Marques


TRENT WISECUP's article, The Democrats' Marketing Mistake, reminded me of a hysterically funny line I once read in the Sunday New York Times. It was a review of the Honda Accord Hybrid published on Nov 28, 2004. According to the Times, "[B]uyers of the $30,000 Accord Hybrid can bask in the self-satisfaction of owning an efficient, state-of-the-art hybrid while the neighbors are still waiting for the leases to expire on their Excursions and Escalades."

It apparently never occurred to the gray eminences at the Times that the owners of Excursions and Escalades are the last people on Earth who would wait in line for some ridiculous, cramped, Japanese hybrid-econo-suicide-box.

--Jon R Brenneman


AS A MEDICAL student who grew up in a red state and then spent four years in the Ivy belly of the blue state beast, I can vouch for the condescension and snobbery much of the liberal left exhibits and to which Trent Wisecup refers. That said, I disagree with your logic regarding finances and automobiles.

A Ford F-150 gets 16mpg in the city and 19 mpg on highways. If an owner drives his car 20,000 miles a year, he will consume at least 1052.6 gallons of gasoline. At $1.80 a gallon, he will spend $1894.73 on gas. If he drives a 4 cylinder Chevy Malibu (a comfortable, American sedan), he will get from 26 to 34 mpg, with a maximum expenditure of $1384 and a minimum expenditure of $1058. Therefore, he will save between $510 and $826 on gas. If he drives the much maligned Prius, with its 51 mpg city fuel economy, he will spend a maximum of $705, thus saving at least a thousand dollars. Granted, there is still a price premium for hybrid cars, but at approximately $20,000, they are not outrageously expensive. Unless your red state, truck-owner Wal-Mart dad uses the truck bed regularly (and I know plenty of owners who never use theirs), he should probably drive a more fuel efficient car. This is before we take into account any of the possible externalities associated with gasoline consumption.

--Rob Novoa


I READ with interest Reuben F. Johnson's Trouble in the Ukraine. This issue has the potential to be the biggest event in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall. Two very important factors are emerging. First, the Ukrainian people have finally realized that their country is their own. Whatever becomes of this standoff, there is a more widespread belief in Ukrainian independence than any time since the treaty of Pereiaslav in 1654. Second, Vladimir Putin has shown his true colors as both a staunch imperialist and a man so possessed with czarist ambitions that he doesn't realize the earth has moved beneath his feet.

I hope that The Weekly Standard and other publications that promote freedom and democracy will not get bored with Ukraine's progress. It promises to be an interesting tale. In addition, the spotlight of the international media may prevent Russia and the Ukrainian oligarchs from rolling in the tanks to crush the peaceful protestors of the opposition.

--John Yancura


ASIDE FROM the irrelevant invocation of Hunter's son, Tom Donnelly's argument seems to be the same as that offered by other opponents of intelligence reform. For all I know, he may be right. What is truly interesting is Donnelly's explicit assumption that the President's support for the bill is a charade (less politely, a lie) and Rumsfeld is playing along with the gag. We see that Hastert supports Hunter "quietly," i.e. his oft stated support for the bill is also a lie. This is all necessary, you imply, because of the imperial Senate, and the 9/11 families. But I thought Bush had a mandate; is this how he and the Republicans plan to govern, by pretending they are for popular bills instead of confronting the opposition and explaining their position? Hunter and Sensenbrenner have taken a hypocritical but understandable position--they are defending their turf, their power, and their perks.



TOM DONNELLY has provided us with a great, and much needed, article. Aside from some moderately good writing in their final report, the 9/11 Commission is just a partisan, preening nothing. The very idea of Richard Ben-Veniste writing national policy is absurd! What we really need are laws governing the behavior of committee members after they conclude their official business.

--John Reed