From men II boyz
As an ex-employee (of my own volition) of the Dallas Cowboys, I was greatly amused at Jennifer Briggs' tell-all tale on the "plowboys" ["Secrets from Cowboys camp," August 17]. It was great for someone to finally spill some of the beans on America's Team.

However, it was a wonderful organization to work for back in the Landry-Schramm days. There was a true team spirit, from the front office to the field, and like Harvey Martin said, they had their share of titties and beer then, too. But there was a sense of decency attached to the organization as a whole which Jerry Jones promptly eviscerated as soon as he took over.

I grew accustomed to such changes (among many others) as Jerry walking by, before noon many days, with his highball glass of scotch already melting the ice, or going to work each day not knowing who would have just been asked to leave after years of service and loyalty. And, of course, Jerry didn't do the firing--he made their supervisors do the deed.

You, see, people were not and are still not important to Jerry. What was important was his obsession with his newfound fame and that gaggle of beautiful young girls he could surround himself with at any time. The morning that one of Jerry's Arkansas cronies grabbed a handful of my ass as he walked by and wished me a "good morning" was the last handful of ass they were going to take from me. I decided to leave before they got the chance to tell me it was my time to go.

I would like to say thanks to Coach Landry and Tex for making the old Cowboys organization a place I will always be proud to have worked for. But Coach, it's a good thing you left when you did. You would have been really sad if you had stayed to see all of that.

Name withheld by request

Three strikes--she's out
There are few writers who can disrupt my emotional balance and make me throw the newspaper across the dining room and against the wall. Jennifer Briggs is one of those writers. I have considered writing this letter twice before, but I, like President Clinton, subscribe to the "three strikes--you're out." One must say something so incredibly ignorant, malicious, or just plain stupid three times before I write.

Well, Ms. Briggs is about to be indicted because of her piece on the Cowboys. I do not know what kind of problem Ms. Briggs has with black athletes--or, for that matter, black people.

Please explain to me her rationale for the continual references to the magazine Black Tail and how the black athletes preferred and bought every copy of this. Or her description of the model as having a "considerable hindquarters." What a thinly veiled sexist comment. Considerable hindquarters? Is that any way to refer to a human being--a person, I might add, of Ms. Briggs' own gender? I hope she is bright and intelligent enough to realize this isn't even on the periphery of funny. Were the copies of Playboy and Penthouse purchased with such regularity by the white players?

I also remember Ms. Briggs' unflattering portrayal of Jason Kidd as churlish, spoiled, and unfocused. I've never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kidd, but I'll surmise that he's about 180 degrees different from what she wrote. And her routine evisceration of Roy Tarpley juxtaposes nicely with the pattern she has established.

Is it possible that Ms. Briggs could somehow find something positive to write about black athletes? Maybe if she'd stop slithering around convenience stores comparing the number of issues of Black Tail sold versus how many black athletes frequented the establishment, she could offer us a compelling, well-written story.

Surely, since the hometown pro sports teams--at least those playing in the NBA and NFL--are populated with a large percentage of black players, she could unearth something more positive to write about than the fact that Emmitt Smith traded autographs for condoms and that Steve McNair is Texas' newest millionaire. (Let's just ignore this man's accomplishments as a collegiate athlete and highlight the fact that he's wearing baggy shorts and an earring.)

And moreover, why the ongoing dissin' of Nate Newton? I thought the bodies of offensive linemen weren't supposed to be sculpted like Bo Jackson's. The man has a long track record of being successful in the NFL--why impugn him because of his weight? Evaluate him on whether he's a good pass blocker--not on what his weight was when he entered camp, or what he had for lunch.

Maybe there really is some conspiracy to denigrate black athletes in the eyes of the public through this kind of journalism. We know about conspiracies in this city, don't we?...

I expect more from the Observer than this. Laura Miller is a wonderful writer who offers insight into the various political machinations around town. And Matt Seitz, without question, is the finest, most insightful film critic to come our way since Pauline Kael.

But Jennifer Briggs--why does this woman have a column? Are there no writers in the Metroplex, in the Southwest--hell, in this hemisphere--that you have to have this woman on the payroll?

Lindell Singleton

Emmitt Smith: safe sex role model
I would like to commend Jennifer Briggs on her expos of the Dallas Cowboys. I would like to thank Ms. Briggs on providing our youth with a role model who finds safe sex important. Whether the concern be pregnancy, STDs, or HIV, prevention is essential.

Kudos should also be extended to Emmitt Smith for having the sense and courage to purchase (trade for) condoms. As the coordinator of Rubber Maids (a safe sex outreach that provides condoms to men), I know that many people find it too difficult, shameful, or embarrassing to buy condoms in public. Yes, abstinence is best. However, this is not a choice for everyone. So risk reduction is the next best thing. (It's like playing the percentages.)

I do not support or condemn the Cowboys for their actions described in the article, just as long as they take responsibility for those actions. They are adults. Apparently, Emmitt is mature enough to do just that.

Mr. Smith, as an AIDS educator of a non-profit agency (and a big sports fan), I thank you and provide you and your teammates an open offer. I will supply you condoms in exchange for items for our Celebrity Auction for AIDS and/or promotional assistance.

Gil Flores
AIDS Resource Center

Big Brother Muhammad
For those who think the Nation of Islam mall beatings were just and fair, beware! You are likely to pay a dear price for letting this genie out of the bottle to do your dirty work.

Is this the kind of justice that the now-free descendants of slavery are going to settle for? Are you willing to trade in your liberty to a new slavemaster in exchange for the promise of a quick fix--just because he looks like you? What is the big difference between being tried, convicted, and punished by these self-appointed saviors and being beaten by rogue cops? If a private citizen were to strip and cane his own child like this, the authorities would whisk that child away to a foster home faster than you can say "Big Brother."

However, the Dallas [County] grand jury is apparently telling us there is nothing wrong with several dozen strangers kidnaping, whipping, and caning your naked child as long as the mob says they were sincerely trying to do the community a service. You can't blame the Nation of Islam for what they do and what they get away with; the community seems to be calling out for more.

The frustration we feel today is nothing new, and the general condoning of vigilantism is a failed solution that has been documented throughout history. Dallas used to sport a similar community service organization that your grandparents will remember. Some of our finest citizens and civic leaders belonged, and they did many good works for charity. Like the Nation of Islam, when they felt it necessary, they bent or broke our laws to suit their own needs with the blessings of the community at large when it was believed that the ends justified the means.

It seems that the more things change, the more they remain the same. While I like the uniforms of our new civic service group better than the old "bedsheet and burning cross" look, I believe that brown shirts and jackboots might go better with those bowties.

While we are at it, we could let all "proper" women wear a veil and stone the rest as an example for our children.

L.D. Berry

Blamin' the blame game
Equal opportunity coverage of miscues and misdeeds is the only way to encourage ethical behavior and conscience cleaning on the parts of those in power.

The tear-stained letters [Letters, August 24] from people like Barbara Gonzalez ("How dare you run stories on minorities as poor role models!") and Patrick Shaw ("People have done worse things than Henry Tatum--why pick on him?") only serve to remind us that an alarming number of citizens now view the world as a ward of mostly poignant victims of judgmentalism and abuse rather than the product of their own self-serving mistakes of greed and lack of character.

Used to be that newspapers served as the watchdogs of public avarice and community standards. Now, however, standards are virtually undefinable--anything is acceptable if it's done by someone I can identify with. We have given up on standards, and without standards, there can be no progress, no improvements, no quality. Everything is OK, everything is good when shielded by the umbrella of situational ethics.

Hey, I feel better already.
Andy Lawson

Gordon McLendon
The neat story on Gordon McLendon ["Legend of the game," June 29], with its mention of the sportscasting apprenticeship of the young Wes Wise, brought to mind another event of the early '70s when Wise was announcer for the playoff game between the Fort Worth Strangers and the L.A. Dodgers.

During the early struggling days of the Rangers, some playful staffer of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram created this mythical team (modeled on themselves; Bob Ray Sanders was one) which they called the Fort Worth Strangers. Every day through the season, in a little box on the front page, no less, was an account of last night's game and escapades of the players (including the time the opposing team objected that there were 10 players on the field because the pitcher was pregnant).

Pity somebody hasn't done a reprise on that season, which ended with the aforementioned broadcast with all the sound effects.

John & Shirley Johnson
Fort Worth

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