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A Righteous Man

I've been an SI reader for more than 30 years, and Frank
Deford's profile of Max Schmeling is the finest piece of writing
I've read in your magazine (Almost a Hero, Dec. 3). As a
Jewish-American, I approached the feature with caution,
confident that I would dislike all that Schmeling stood for
during the Nazi era. However, I emerged with respect for the
champion's candor and humanity. Schmeling said that he lives his
"life as if there were a God." Hitler's victims also struggled
with the existence of a God who would allow evil to flourish,
yet Schmeling's strength of character allowed him to "do good"
in spite of the temptations offered him.
DAVID S. LEVINE, Cheshire, Conn.

Almost a hero? After reading Deford's enlightening article,
Schmeling is a hero to me. For my entire life I had despised him
as a symbol of Nazism. Now I have nothing but the highest respect
for this man. As a former boxer, I'll always be in Schmeling's
TODD WINKLER, Cincinnati

Schmeling made mistakes in his life, but he was also a hero.
Other people can't know what they would have done under the same
extraordinary circumstances. Most would probably have done no
better than Schmeling did.
NEAL TURNQUIST, Annapolis, Md.

Men such as Louis and Schmeling carried themselves as gentlemen
in and out of the ring, something boxing sorely lacks today. In
his rematch with Louis, Schmeling was promoted as a Nazi,
embodying all that the Fascists stood for. In reality he was not
a Nazi but a very good boxer who faced a great boxer and lost.
Deford got it right. These men should be remembered for the good
they have done for others, not for the politics of their period.
H.J. SCHARDEIN JR., Louisville

Racism, by Any Other Name

In your article on Wally Szczerbiak (Killer Looks, Dec. 3), L.
Jon Wertheim quoted a passage from Shaquille O'Neal's book in
which Shaq refers to Szczerbiak as one of his favorite white
players but adds, "If you get dunked on by a white boy, you got
to come home to your friends and hear it." I am amazed that
these comments went unquestioned. If similar remarks had been
uttered by a white athlete, the public outcry would have been
DAN EDGEIN, Louisville, Ohio

The BCS and a Rabbit's Foot

The Bowl Championship Series, for all its faults, has
accomplished something beyond dispute. It has found a cure for
the SI jinx. As surely as Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch
adorned the cover of the Nov. 26 issue, the Cornhuskers were
pummeled by Colorado and knocked out of national-title
contention. Alas, the BCS, with its complex calculations,
reversed the effects of the jinx and thrust Nebraska back into
championship contention. I wonder if the BCS can develop a
formula for my slice.

Don't Break Any Mirrors

As soon as you put my Redskins on the cover (Dec. 3), their
five-game winning streak ends with a loss to the--cough, hack,
spit--Cowboys. How much did the Eagles pay you for that cover

As a longtime subscriber and a Dallas fan, I was excited to see
the Redskins on the cover. Though the Cowboys are suffering
through a terrible season, I knew they had victory in their
grasp because of the curse. Thank you.
AL MAGILL, Conklin, N.Y.

In the Bubble

Steve Rushin taught me an excellent point: Tiger Woods's brand
of golf is different from mine (AIR AND SPACE, Dec. 3). Tiger's
world is silent and serious, full of triumph and dismay. For me
the game holds the certainty of noisy fellow players and
maintenance equipment, shanks, missed putts and the probability
of meeting new people who will share my round while making jokes
about how badly I play. At the end of a round I can grab a beer
and go home to watch sports on TV. Tiger has to go home and
prepare for next week. I wouldn't trade my game for his in a
million years.
KEVIN BECK, Royal Oak, Mich.

Music to My Ears

Thanks for the write-up on Eagles announcer Merrill Reese (SI
VIEW, Dec. 3). Since leaving Philadelphia for the sunshine of
central Florida three years ago, my wife and I have had to
endure fall Sunday afternoons with the TV tuned to the Bucs
while our Internet connection sang out Merrill's play-by-play of
our beloved Eagles' games. If he could only e-mail me a
cheesesteak, all would be bliss.
OZZIE VATER, Lakeland, Fla.


First-year Phenom

Ivan Maisel's article on freshman running backs who broke out in
the second half of the season (INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Dec. 3)
should have at least mentioned Wisconsin's Anthony Davis, who
set an NCAA freshman record for 100-plus-yard rushing
performances, with 10. He didn't wait to break out.
FRED HENCKEL, Rhinelander, Wis.