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Letters / Our readers speak out

Spikes trade was necessary

I would like to thank Takeo Spikes for his seasons in Buffalo. His leadership, competitive spirit and impact on the fans will be deeply missed (I even named my dog Takeo). However, the trade was in the best interest of the Bills, as the Achilles injury is a very hard one to come back from.

Like Sam Cowart, Spikes may never be the same caliber player he was prior to the injury. Furthermore, the addition of Darwin Walker will help provide much needed support on the defensive line.

With another solid draft, the Bills should be in a good position to improve on last year's record. Another good move: not naming my dog Willis.

Michael Tiso



A quick read on McGahee

Hey Willis: Good luck in Baltimore.

As they say in show business, "Break a leg!"

Jim Del Gaudio



'Willis Never Here' would go over big

In response to the Willis McGahee remarks about the City of Buffalo, I would like to suggest that all of the restaurants and bars in Buffalo make posters or signs indicating that "Willis McGahee was Never Here!"

Someone in the sign business could make a fortune making these signs.

George Barnes



Bills should take look at Posluszny

A few years back, the Buffalo Bills drafted a kid from the University of Miami named Willis McGahee and in the process bypassed the best running back in the draft. A couple of picks later, the Kansas City Chiefs were the smart ones and picked a kid from Penn State named Larry Johnson. This player is still with the Chiefs and arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Many years ago, a coach named Marv Levy used to love to draft quality character players from great universities. A draft pick's character was just as important as his athleticism. Do you remember the many quality character individuals that the Buffalo Bills possessed? Shane Conlan, a Penn State graduate, was one of those fine gentleman athletes.

This year the Bills have an opportunity to draft another one of those quality individuals. This guy's a two-time Bednarik Award winner (nation's top defensive player) and 2005 Butkus Award winner (nation's top linebacker). He's an academic All-American and has carried a 3.57 GPA. He's the all-time leading tackler at Penn State with 372 and has played both middle and outside linebacker. His name is Paul Posluszny.

I hope the Bills don't make the mistake of bypassing Posluszny when it's their turn to pick. That would be tantamount to making the same mistake twice.

Aldo Ferrelli



Great Bills teams not built in a day

Once again, the Buffalo Bills are uttering the word "rebuild" to this community. Have we forgotten that our great teams during our Super Bowl years were built on believing in the talent that we had and working with them to become great players?

Yes, that team might have had a few additions but the core were draft picks who the coaching staff worked with and believed in, rather than abandoned because we did not reach our goal of the playoffs or the Super Bowl. We need to believe once again in the players we have rather than abandon them because we want a winner now rather than later.

Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Neither were the great Super Bowl teams of the past or the great Bills team of our glory years (the '60s and '90s).

Tony D. Williams



Bills fans need to pay the price

I'm sure some Bills fans are outraged about the increase in next year's Buffalo Bills ticket prices. Get over it. You have to pay to play.

Ralph Wilson did not become a multimillionaire because he runs a charitable organization. He's a businessman and the Buffalo Bills are supposed to be a profit-making enterprise. The National Football League is a cash cow because millions of ordinary Joes trek to stadiums throughout the country and voluntarily fork over hundreds of dollars each fall weekend for an afternoon of Sunday "entertainment." Tens of millions of others sit glued to their TVs, justifying the outrageous fees the networks pay the NFL to televise America's No. 1 spectator sport.

Unlike rising taxes, utilities, medical costs, gas prices, etc., no one is forcing Bills fans to buy tickets. While this may come as a shock to thousands of deluded fans, professional sports are entertainment, no different than going to the neighborhood cineplex for a few hours of escapism. Entertainment is bought with discretionary disposable income. If the ticket prices are too high, don't buy them. That's the basis of a free enterprise system.

John Kurec

Williamsburg, Va.


Fighting in NHL should be extinct

Hopefully, Larry Felser's commentary "NHL Gives Thought About Entering 21st Century" was not an April Fool's Day joke. If not, I would like to extend a telepathic hug (or maybe just a handshake) to Mr. Felser for having the courage to "think outside the box" regarding the role of fighting in the modern NHL.

In recent years, the NHL has changed some of the rules in order to present a faster, more exciting, uninterrupted sport that will keep a hockey audience captivated. Take, for example, the rules governing offsides, which have been tailored to reduce stoppage and also to inject more wide-open offense into the sport.

The objective in hockey is for one team to score more goals than the other team. Contrary to popular belief, fighting has hardly ever supported that objective, and it is even less relevant within the modern NHL. Sorry to burst your bubble, fans, but fighting rarely changes an outcome. All it does is disrupt an otherwise exciting game.

You can't have it both ways. Either the NHL wants to produce a sport that is fast-paced and explosive, or one that drags because two goons are allowed to stop the action and grapple with each other in order to get their 15 minutes of fame.

Rule changes have evolved in hockey, and the sport would benefit greatly if the NHL would likewise change the "fighting in hockey" concept by sending it to extinction.

Alan Avery

North Collins


Ramsey deserves rafters treatment

He attended the University of Minnesota and played for coach Herb Brooks. He was selected to play for the United States hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics, helping them win the gold medal. He was drafted No. 1 in 1979 by the Sabres and arrived in Buffalo after the Olympics. He played 14 years as a Sabres defenseman. In 911 games, he had 73 goals, 256 assists, and 329 total points. He represented the Sabres on four occasions in the NHL's All-Star Game.

So, when will the Sabres' organization finally recognize Mike Ramsey as one of their elite, retire No. 5 and raise his jersey to the rafters in HSBC Arena? The time has come and actually is long overdue.

Don T. Fuhrman

Orchard Park


Vesper's spirit lives in lives of others

Wednesday's funeral for Clarence High School wrestling coach Jon Vesper was without a doubt one of the most gut-wrenching experiences I've ever had as a teacher and coach. However, as difficult and emotional as it was for myself, the 35-plus other coaches in attendance, Jon's current and former wrestlers, and his family and friends, it was equally heartwarming to celebrate the life of a man who gave so much to his family, friends, colleagues and student-athletes.

Vesper was as classy as they come, and he passed that trait along to the student-athletes he mentored. Those who heard Dan Audy and Alex Siedlecki speak Wednesday know exactly what I am talking about. The passion he had for his family and friends was obvious in the outpouring of emotion at Wednesday's funeral.

As a teacher and coach, I feel blessed to have been able to call Vesper a colleague and friend. His spirit will live on in the lives he has touched over the years. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Joe Scapelliti

Lockport wrestling coach


Catholic playoffs need tweaking

It occurred to me while attending the girls basketball state Catholic semifinals at Daemen College that changes need to be made in the way the Monsignor Martin Association determines its qualifiers for these games.

Mount Mercy received the Class A berth by winning the Monsignor Martin championship game, which does make sense. The Class B berth is given to the loser of the championship (Sacred Heart), which is where the system is starting to lose credibility with me. However, the really incredible ingredient to this formula, in my opinion, is to have the losers of the Monsignor Martin semifinals play a consolation game to determine the Class C berth.

In other words, they are rewarding a team -- and to a certain extent giving them incentive -- to lose in the semifinals and be able to go the state playoffs as the Class C team, and therefore have a much better chance to win a state title.

How can this year's Nardin team take any satisfaction in winning the state Catholic Class C championship (Class C schools are considered small schools), based on the fact that it was the Monsignor Martin regular-season champ and was either No. 2 or No. 3 all season in the large school poll?

I have nothing against the players or coaches at Nardin, they just provide a perfect example as to why this system needs to be changed.

A possible solution might be to classify the teams as either "A," "B" or "C" at the beginning of the season like the boys have done. This way, in doing what's right and fair, the smaller schools would have a chance to compete at the state level.

When the Catholic schools aren't even fair to each other, why would they expect the public schools would ever consider letting them into Section VI?

Debbie Arnet



Sports museum would be a delight

Buffalonians can't be more fascinated than to have a tie, a link, between themselves and exciting moments in local sports history. That could be the draw and focus of a sports museum of some real breadth (covering all sorts of local sports and gratifying accomplishments, professional and amateur), once it was located in a big and accessible venue downtown. What a nice motivator to trumpet the value of sports activity for all ages.

Sports is a common denominator for all sorts of people. I believe a museum could have strong regional and local tourist pull, and be quite a point of pride, nostalgia and loyalty, as well as a national example of sports in which team members, coaches and owners participate with heart.

It percolates beneath the surface in community support for all sorts of teams and activities. There's not a person, even a sideliner, who doesn't have a story to tell, moments to share (not to mention souvenirs, photos, outfits).

This sort of collector's haven could be a delight. Let's not let this juncture slip away, but seize the moment and the opportunity. It's part of Buffalo pride -- we don't watch teams passively and not care.

We don't have to start with a suitable site, we just have to envision a big possibility and opportunity.

Joan Van de Water



Let Mesi fight if he wishes

I am a great boxing fan all the way back to the Friday Night Fights in the '60s sponsored by Gillette. Guys were beaten to a pulp back then. Deaths were even common.

Here is my point. Let Joe Mesi sign a document saying that no matter what happens to him in the ring, the boxing commission is not responsible (even if it means death). That means no lawsuits by family members would be valid.

It's his life. Let him do what he wants with it. Not to mention that he is a great fighter to watch.

Rich Kanner



Generosity goes beyond big names

I have to assume that all the generous people giving money to underprivileged hockey coaches and ex-football players are also donating plenty to the children who have no food, medicine or clean drinking water.

Michael B. Burnett


Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Letters may also be sent via fax to 849-4587 or e-mail to Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing.

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