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A SALUTE TO WASHINGTON

It's very gratifying to see a gesture of true human kindness from one of our hometown athletes.

While much of the news concerning professional athletes centers on contract squabbles and off-field misdeeds, Bills nose tackle Ted Washington is a fine example of personal humility and community service, having recently initiated several activities to help our city school students. Ted stands out as an exemplary role model who demonstrates positive values and character traits to our impressionable youth.

For the second consecutive year, Ted has volunteered his time by visiting numerous classrooms around Western New York to share a personal message with area students. In a series of eight visits, he has delivered motivational and inspirational messages to several hundred Junior Achievement participants.

His message is simple, yet direct -- success comes through hard work and personal responsibility. He frequently draws analogies between sports and life, galvanizing students to overcome barriers and take charge of their own life. Recently, he concluded a visit to McKinley High School by distributing 30 tickets to students for the Raiders' game. While at the game, students enjoyed coveted seats in the "Washington's Generals" section directly behind the Bills bench. In addition to his valuable time, his monetary gift to Junior Achievement amounts to more than $11,000.

In another enormous show of generosity, Ted has donated 1,000 pairs of winter hiking boots to needy Buffalo Public School students. One hundred students from 10 Buffalo schools received the new footwear based on attendance, behavior and academic performance. I am sure this gift helped brighten their holidays.

Too often media attention surrounding professional athletes focuses on negative events and ignores the many contributions of players who are committed to helping youth and serving communities. Our motto in the Buffalo schools is "High Expectations for All." Ted -- an All-Pro both on and off the field -- lives up to these standards. My sincere thanks to Ted and all the other Buffalo sports stars who give back to our community.
JAMES HARRIS, PhD.
Superintendent of Schools
Buffalo

Strictly a backyard QB

Step back and look at yourselves, Doug Flutie fans. You are so infatuated by a man who looks like a choir boy that it is clouding all critical thought. I hear people saying that this is the most exciting Bills team ever, or they are watching Bills games for first time because of Flutie. There is no believable explanation for it. You will have a difficult time convincing me that the Super Bowl Bills were not at least four times more talented and entertaining than the current edition because they almost always won.

Don't get me wrong, I believe Flutie is a terrific change of pace QB who can generate more chaos for an unprepared defense than his skill level should warrant. Basically, Flutie is a backyard football player with tremendous speed and a terribly weak and inaccurate arm. He can be accurate when he plays sorry teams, for example Indy and Carolina. If your idea is to lead your receivers only when it makes it an out-of-bounds catch, then, obviously, Flutie is your man.

It is sickening to hear all the credit Flutie's passing gets when his best throws are 3-yard outs or underthrowing or throwing behind the receiver, only to be bailed out by Eric Moulds or Andre Reed. People complained when Quinn Early couldn't catch anymore, but to me he didn't drop one pass thrown by Rob Johnson.

If Flutie is the only QB who could beat Indianapolis twice, and the Panthers, Raiders, Bengals and Patriots once, then release Rob Johnson now. Only Flutie could have taken us to the playoffs? Sure!
CHRISTOPHER MAZUR
West Seneca

More cereal talk

As a Dolphins fan for 25 years, I think it's time to speak up about all these Bills fans who are still crying about Jimmy Johnson and the Flutie Flakes. Is there anyone out there who actually thinks that was directed to Flutie's son or his disability?

You are answering yes because you lost and you still don't like losing to J.J. I think that this is being blown way out of proportion. You have had your way with us in recent years, home and away, just like we had with you in the '70s. You don't like J.J. because you say he's "cocky and arrogant." If you had the choice to have him coach the Bills, you would take him in a heartbeat, wouldn't you?

The bottom line is that his Cowboys pounded you in two straight Super Bowls and now his Dolphins ended your year this year. That is why you're making such a big deal with this cereal episode. Sour grapes.
MICHAEL WYDRA
Williamsville

Flutie's not so Super

All the talk in the media lately about Doug Flutie is very premature. Granted, Flutie is a good quarterback and provided the spark to get us to the playoffs but in no way was he the same quarterback in the playoffs. He will never be in the same league as a Daryle Lamonica or a John Elway or for that matter a Jim Kelly at his age.

As a Bills fan since 1946 during the Red Dawson era, this is not the same type of team we had back in the mid-1960s or early 1990s. At my age, after watching 32 Super Bowls and many championship games before that, it's going to take a lot more than a Doug Flutie before we match the team we had in 1964.

Winning a Super Bowl is much more difficult than a Grey Cup.
STAN MARLINSKI
Cheektowaga

Another Miami exit

Leave it to another closet Dolphins fan to wait until Miami finally beats Buffalo in a playoff game to shoot his mouth off. I wonder if he wrote this letter before or after his team's great showing in Denver.

Running game? Where? That's all we keep hearing from Miami is they need to run the ball, but toward the end of every season, it's Dan Marino passing the ball and another exit from the playoffs.

Miami will never get to the Super Bowl while both Jimmy Johnson and Marino are on the same team. Their philosophies are totally different.

At last count, Jim Kelly at least got to four Super Bowls, and I think Marino has gotten to how many? One!
RON CIANCIOSI
Buffalo

Jealous of J.J.

After reading your sports editorial section the last two weeks regarding Jimmy Johnson's actions following the Bills-Dolphins playoff game, I felt compelled to respond. I began to wonder why are Bills fans coming down so hard on J.J. Surely no right-thinking person could think that Jimmy meant anything against Doug Flutie's son. After all, football is an emotional game and this was just an expression of exuberance after winning a hard-fought playoff game.

Could the Bills fans' reactions be another small-town paranoia? Or could it be they are jealous of J.J. After all his Cowboys did "spank" the Bills twice in the Super Bowl and his Dolphins have defeated the Bills five of seven meetings they have had since his return to coaching.

Maybe most Bills fans wish J.J. had been their coach during the Super Bowl years. Does anybody believe that Jimmy would have allowed Jim Kelly's ego to take over and try to pass the ball when the Giants were only rushing two defensive linemen? Or would he have allowed Thurman Thomas to sit and sulk and bring the whole team down after his costly fumble in Super Bowl XXVIII? I think not.

Doug Flutie and the Bills fans should "lighten up." This (smashing of a box of Flutie Flakes) was no disrespect of one's child but a coach celebrating his first playoff win since he joined the Dolphins.
GREG RONCONE
Lancaster

Wants a recount

Could anyone please tell me why Bruce Smith was voted to the Pro Bowl this year?
DICK SOLOMON
Lancaster

In defense of Wackos

In a recent column, Larry Felser wrote derisively about the so-called "talk show wackos." Mr. Felser apparently believes that talk-show callers represent the lunatic fringe of sports fans.

I have the utmost respect for Felser as the dean of Western New York sportswriters. However, he is not always right. I distinctly remember when Mr. Felser said that Doug Flutie was too small for the NFL.

I am afraid Larry Felser may be falling into the trap of thinking he has expertise far beyond the general public. There are many knowledgeable sports fans and the talk shows give them a forum for their views.

Mr. Felser should remember that the "wackos" watch games on TV, buy tickets and newspapers. Without them he would be out of a job.
JOSEPH H. GUSKY
Buffalo

(Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240 or E-Mail to sports@buffnews.com. Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Submissions must be signed and include address and telephone number for verification. Unsigned letters will not be published.)

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