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Original Issue


Not Short Sheeted

With all that is wrong in this world, and especially with more
than a few of the athletes in it, I cannot resist commenting on
your Ben Sheets article (Learning Curve, Oct. 1). In July my son
and I attended Little League Day at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Walking the warning track from rightfield past the dugouts and
out through leftfield that day were thousands of kids and
coaches, and that's how many hands Sheets touched. I kid you not,
he touched the hand of every person that walked past. All I could
think of was how many kids' lives he affected in one day.
STEVE KENT, Altoona, Wis.

Wizardly Wiles

I like the angle Jack McCallum took in his article about Michael
Jordan's return (Air Worthy, Oct. 1). Jordan loves the challenge
and will drive his teammates into the playoffs. His comeback will
add to his legend, not tarnish it. Finally there is a reason to
watch the NBA regular season.
ERIK W. LEUTER, Albion, Mich.

I'm a loyal person and a Chicagoan. Jordan is neither. In how
many places does he want to see his number retired? I bought
tickets to see his first game back, against the Pistons in
Detroit, and I'm going to have to say something I always swore I
never would: "Go, Pistons."
LEIGH MCCUE, Ann Arbor, Mich.

By nature, athletes are selfish, but I believe even the most
selfish athlete must eventually realize that it is time to hang
'em up and start giving back to the wife and children who have
endured long absences and unwelcome celebrity. As an aging
athlete, I still love to lace 'em up, but I realized years ago
that my family was more important than my desire to pursue my
over-the-hill athletic career.

When Jordan returned for his second run with the Bulls, many
people questioned his decision, saying that his skills had eroded
and there was no way he could be as good as he had been. He was
better. He has proved the prognosticators wrong once already, and
he deserves at least the benefit of the doubt now.

Extinguished Company

Your review of great moments involving sports and the American
flag was interesting, but you left out one of the best incidents
(SCORECARD, Oct.1). It occurred when Rick Monday of the Chicago
Cubs stopped two fans--who had run out onto the field--from burning
a flag. That move made Monday a hero in the eyes of many
Americans, even more so than Jim Craig, George Foreman or any of
the other flag-waving athletes you mentioned.
CHUCK KAJER, New Prague, Minn.

One, Two, Three, Kick

Rick Reilly's column "It's a Whole New Ball Game" (THE LIFE OF
REILLY, Oct. 1) expressed what many sports fans have been feeling
since Sept. 11: We're thankful for sports as a distraction from
the grim realities of the world. Also, Reilly made us aware that
the often spoiled and overpaid athletes have shown their true
colors in the way they've pitched in and done what they can to
relieve the suffering. And, oh yeah, using the Grambling band
would be sweet.
BOB SMITH, Lusby, Md.

That was one of Reilly's best columns. One of the ways we'll
overcome this evil is by not allowing it to take the joy out of
our lives. The Taliban destroyed all the joy in Afghanistan a
long time ago. The only thing I would add is that the Radio City
Music Hall Rockettes should follow the Grambling band. The
Rockettes' high kicking would be an appropriate answer to how the
Taliban treat women.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Your article on Mike Holmgren misses the point on what's wrong
with the Seahawks (No Forward Progress, Oct. 1). The Seattle
franchise is rotting from the top down, and the results on the
field are only the most visible symptoms of a power struggle
between two guys with overinflated egos. Holmgren's ego is based
on success and a Super Bowl championship. He'll win one for
Seattle if the organization will get out of his way. Team
president Bob Whitsitt is creating the same dysfunctional mess
with the Seahawks that he has created since 1994 as president and
general manager of the Trail Blazers. It took a lot of hard work
and the squandering of a lot of owner Paul Allen's millions to
screw up Portland's love affair with that team.

Fightin' Words

Thanks to Jack McCallum (SCORECARD, Oct. 1) someone has finally
pulled the trigger on the war metaphors that litter the
battlefields of sports like so many land mines. Time to lower the
volume. Expression does not require explosion.
DAVID KAGAN, Grand Rapids

Do I need to remind a sportswriter that war is hell and football
is war? McCallum is overanalyzing simple sports talk that has
been around for decades. With the country trying to return to
normalcy, the last thing we need to read is someone whining about
changing traditional sports slang to be more politically correct.
ROSS LUCK, Ashland, Va.