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What Christmas gift would you like to give a sports figure?

December 22, 2011 | 10:37 am

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Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion of your own.

Bill Kline, Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call

Far too many former NFL players struggle with debilitating physical and emotional injuries — the latter caused in part by suffering too many concussions while playing a sport so violent yet so flush with cash. These players have lost their families, homes, quality of life and even their lives themselves (some to suicide caused by depression).

In the Christmas spirit, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s gift is a better conscience so that he can save these former gladiators who have broken-down bodies, minds and lives. Since the NFL inhales $9 billion annually in revenue, Goodell should direct at least $250 million more a year to rescue these ex-players. After all, today’s NFL money machine was built primarily on its players' brawn and — as it turns out — the abuse of their brains.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Gifts can be selfish. Often, gifts are not about giving but about the great feeling one gets from giving. It is in that spirit that these gifts are offered to South Florida’s sports franchises.

To the Miami Dolphins, a franchise quarterback, the likes of which you have not seen since Dan Marino and Bob Griese, so many years ago. To the Florida Panthers, a trip to the playoffs for the first time in an NHL-record 10 years. To the Miami Marlins, success in your new home, new uniforms and with your new payroll. To the Miami Heat, another run at the NBA Finals. Maybe you’ll actually win them this time.

By giving these gifts, South Florida sports fans — and sports journalists — will have more fun and interesting teams to follow.

[Updated at 1:13 p.m.:

Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun

This is hard for me because having grown up in Cleveland I was raised to dislike everything and anything about Pittsburgh. But I’d would like to see Sidney Crosby, the best hockey player in the world, get a clean bill of health. He’s far too young to have his career derailed by injury, and in his case it’s concussions.

His career reminds me of the Philadelphia Flyers’ Eric Lindros, who never reached his true potential because of injuries. Wayne Gretzky is the Great One, but Crosby is the Next One. The way he plays the game is magical. And trust me, I hate to say it — or see it — because he plays for the Penguins.  

We could write about others like Peyton Manning, who also could use a clean bill of health, but he’s nearing the end of his career. Crosby is just 24 and has so much left to give to the game. Let’s hope he gets the chance.]

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Photo: Santa Claus watches the Chicago Bears play the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on Sunday. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

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