I am worried about the National Football League -- not because of the strike, but because of the incessant and increasing violence taking place on the field. I am at a loss for words as to why linebackers continue to wrestle, free safeties continue to thrash, and linemen continue to charge into the quarterback after the play is blown dead or their role in the play is over. The game has been reduced to a one-on-one adult version of "maul ball," and I am tired of it. If I wanted to see gargantuans kill each other, I'd watch the World Wrestling Federation.

More and more often, a play ends with two or more players in fisticuffs, referees having to separate two behemoths to keep them from punching out each other's lights or penalties being assessed for late hits. Not only are these players not playing by the rules, but they have lost the spirit of teamsmanship and have reduced their role on the squad to that of a moronic hit man, whose job is to destroy the opposition. Damn the rest of the team, just let me beat up on the opposing players.

I suppose we should not be too terribly surprised, though. The thinking person's game of football went out the window with the lowering of academic standards for scholastic athletes. And I am afraid that what we are witnessing is the end of good football and the birth of another sport. I won't even attempt to name it.

MICHAEL S. RESNICK

Rockville