One of the items in Gene Wang's Dec. 23 pro football weekend wrap-up [Best and Worst, Sports] celebrates the "crushing blow" inflicted on Texan Billy Miller by Champ Bailey, preventing the Texan from making a catch. The title of the item: "Best Hit." Is this something your paper should applaud?

I always thought the aim of a pass defender, such as a cornerback, is to prevent the receiver from making a catch by deflecting the ball or making an interception. A crushing blow to the receiver is, to my mind, not part of the drill. Similarly, a tackle is designed to stop the runner in his tracks and bring him to the ground. Here again, does that contemplate a crushing blow?

Football, especially on the pro level, is a violent sport -- no one will argue with that. But that doesn't mean we should applaud excesses.

An opposing player put down by Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp earlier this season narrowly averted serious injury. Nevertheless, the NFL did nothing, saying it was a "clean hit." In light of the league's whitewash, how far are we removed from the blood lust in the Roman Colosseum?

-- George M. Gold