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Hank G.

I suppose it’s too much to consider that NFL football ratings might also be down because of the horrific stories of long-term brain damage (not to mention the physical toll; Earl Campbell has to use a wheelchair most of the time).

That’s what did it for me, although cutting the cord a couple of years ago was made easier because my old team, the 49ers, had gotten bad, and the team I live near now in Washington, D.C., is both mediocre and has a name I find offensive. A well-executed football play can be beautiful, but the physical and mental costs are just too high for me to enjoy it.

I expect it has more to do, as you said, with the many more NFL games that are broadcast, not to mention the dozen or more college football games available every weekend. I am old enough to remember when ABC had a College Game of the Week, and that was it.

Hank G.

One of my nephews, who did much better in college than I did (and he went to a prestigious university in the Midwest), told me that getting good grades wasn’t that hard; you just figured out what the professors wanted to hear and gave it to them.

I think that’s what you did in the essay contest, and I am torn between whether that is smart or appalling. On the one hand, that is probably a lesson that will take a person pretty far in life. The downside is that a person doing that will never come up with something original or groundbreaking (but how many people are going to do that anyway?).

If you still have it, I hope you’ll post that winning essay sometime.

Mike Peterson

If I discover I still have it, I will burn it.

As it happens, one of the challenges I often face editing book and movie reviews by young writers is teaching them to write what they think rather than what they think I want them to think. Once I can cut them loose from what they've learned in school, their voices suddenly gain great credibility -- though I should add an "if" to that. If I can cut them loose.

It's pretty deeply embedded for a lot of them.

Mary McNeil

I have been boycotting Papa John for a number of years for just the reasons you cited. PLUS my local NFL team is the Cleveland Browns.


Your reaction to your old teacher-pleasin' essay is funny. I recently turned up a 6th grade poem I did as homework that the teacher thought was simply wonderful, all about how much I loved fall. Every word in it was a total lie, except maybe my observation that leaves turn red. I cherish this stuff. It made me laugh. I'd never burn it.

I think, years ago, somebody or other told me, "If you like where you're at, you ought not to despise the road that brought you there." Hmmm, who the hell *was* that, anyway...

Mike Peterson

Oh, I don't despise it.

I have pleasant memories of walking the dog, but I don't scrapbook the droppings.

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