By Peter Gleason

Most of us are old enough to remember when Sports Illustrated was the greatest repository of sports commentary known to man and woman.

Every week we would rush to our mail boxes and newsstands to see what Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford and Curry Kirkpatrick thought about college and pro football, basketball and lots of other sports.

Here’s Jenkins’ lead after the Game of the Century in 1966 — Notre Dame and Michigan State, both undefeated, tied 10-10 because Irish coach Ara Parseghian played it safe:

“Tie one for the Gipper!”

Now we have NFL butt boy Peter King, who bends over backward to prop up the league and commissioner Roger Goodell (photo above), as he did in an open letter to NFL players:

Late in the season, late in the vital Bengals-Broncos game, Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson bore down on Denver tight end Owen Daniels as Daniels tried to secure a pass. Nelson could have hit Daniels in the head or knees, but in a split second, he took care to hit Daniels in the upper torso. A very hard hit, but the right hit. I talked to Nelson. One of the things he said to me: “We have to take care of ourselves. We’re one big family out there on the field.”

Too many times you don’t look like a family. You look like you want to physically harm the men on the other side of the line. That has to end. Forget about today. Think of all the people who look at games like Steelers-Bengals and say it’s a big reason why football is a dinosaur, and our kids should be playing sports with very little contact. More games like this, and Congress will get involved. And I would be happy if Washington does, because games like that one show you’re not capable of looking out for the common good.

Players looking out for each other: good for them, and good for the sport. The sport’s image troubles: caused by players not looking out for each other. If only the players would be more responsible, their and the NFL’s problems would go away. Neat!

This is what the Steelers and Bengals showed 27 million Americans about the great game of professional football. Your game. The game your coaches—from youth ball up to the NFL—have taught you to play fairly.