Thomas Boswell asserts that Orlando Brown, the Cleveland Browns football player who pushed a referee to the ground after being hit in the eye by a penalty flag, should be . . . understood [Sports, Dec. 22]. Brown can't be expected to be responsible for his actions, Boswell would have us believe. Brown was too angry to make a rational decision, Boswell asserts. He attempts to convince us that Brown, a 350 pound, 6-foot-7-inch lineman wearing layers of protective gear--a self-proclaimed NFL tough guy--was uncontrollably provoked into shoving a much smaller, unprotected referee (and then had to be restrained by other players) by a hankie weighted with three ounces of BBs.

Give me a break. It's just this kind of "not my fault," "somebody or something else made me do it," "I had no choice" and victim-reversing mentality--and our acceptance of these as excuses--that is at the crux of many of our nation's social ills.

Brown had a choice, he chose wrongly, he should pay and pay big time. He should take his medicine like the man he purports himself to be--apology or not. And Boswell and Brown's high school coach would do better to not implausibly try to defend such indefensible action on the part of any sports figure.

--Barry R. Fetzer