Throughout my lifetime of avidly following sports, I have been awed by Henry Aaron, dazzled by Muhammad Ali and thrilled by Michael Jordan. And yet for some reason I have never loved any athlete as I have Joe Namath (Where Have You Gone, Joe Namath? Aug. 9). It has been nearly 40 years since he began his professional football career, and the guy still gives me goose bumps. Magnificent cover and story.
Craig Russelburg, Indianapolis
For a minute I thought it was 1972 and I was back in third grade. There was a young Joe Willie in his prime, with the long hair and green Jets jersey, just as I remember him. I still have the autograph he gave me in 1968 as he jogged off the field after practice at Hofstra. My father, Jets reserve quarterback King Corcoran, was jealous because all the girls mobbed Joe and no one looked at him.
Jimmy Corcoran, Boca Raton, Fla.
The book excerpt seeks an inordinate amount of sympathy for a man who continues to have a solid relationship with his kids, remains in a top income bracket and is still generally revered in American sports. In my small town there are stories of despair and trauma that make Joe's life look like a day at the beach. Daily living includes problems, endurance and, hopefully, redemption. When some of my friends finally make it across a far deeper abyss to the other side, then I might find time to be a little more concerned for Joe.
A cover and 12 pages devoted to a mediocre quarterback whose legacy is panty hose, fur coats and a phony Southern drawl? The media obsession with Namath is way over the top. I grew up in the New York area in the '70s and even we didn't worship the guy like this. Super Bowl III is long gone, folks. Let it go.
Chris Cullum, Gastonia, N.C.
What were Deborah Namath's crimes? She insisted that her husband quit drinking and get a job in TV, and she gave birth to two daughters who, he claims, are all he lives for. She supposedly isolated Joe from his friends, but when he was free to visit ailing longtime buddies, he was a no-show. Her only crime that I can see is insisting on having an English garden in Florida.
Paul Clegg, Sacramento
Going the distance for his family is a greater feat than any he accomplished on the football field. We love you, Joe.
Todd Hampton, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Watching Greg Maddux pitch is like watching a good mystery movie (Heady Stuff, Aug. 9). First you have the setup. Then the suspect is baited. Suspense mounts until everything comes together in a thrilling but inevitable conclusion. Later, the more you think about it, the more intriguing it seems.
Corey Zdanavage, Cave Creek, Ariz.
I'd rather watch Maddux than a fireballer any day. Paint the corners, work with movement, throw a junk pitch on a 2--2 count to induce a weak pop-up or ground ball on the next pitch. That's what makes baseball a thing of beauty.
Allison Gross, Winter Springs, Fla.
Is Maddux a great pitcher? Probably, but what is certain is that he wouldn't be close to 300 victories without having been the beneficiary of perhaps the most generous strike zone in baseball history. How many times have I heard Braves announcer Skip Caray chuckle--seemingly with a bit of embarrassment--as a pitch thrown six inches off the plate was called a strike: "Well, he's earned that call." Earned it how? Very good pitcher? Yes. Great pitcher? We'll never know.
Blair Thurman, Virginia Beach
The first thing I do every Wednesday evening is open my SI to the last page and read Rick Reilly's column. It lets me escape the screaming idiots on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, etc.--until this week, when Rick went after Don King's alliance with George W. Bush (The Life of Reilly, Aug. 9). Please never write about politics again. Stick to your brilliant sports and human interest columns, and for 20 minutes every Wednesday night let me not worry about being a Republican or a Democrat.
Mike Kronenberg, New York City
I believe there are only two political columnists worth reading: Reilly and Molly Ivins. They both combine witty satire with hard facts. Keep it up.
Jim Corbo, Fresno
We get the drift: Reilly won't be voting for the Republicans in November. Maybe now he can get back to writing about sports.
Scott T. Waddell, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The nation is, for the most part, already polarized into two camps. So let's get to a political main event we'd all like to see--Don King versus Al Sharpton.
Aaron Storck, Fife, Wash.
Even the most devout right-winger can see that putting Don King on the Republican campaign trail has no chance of swaying the black vote, let alone any vote. King is simply the clown of the boxing world, and nothing he says should be taken seriously.
Lonnie Ball, South Holland, Ill.
Since when did Reilly become the Michael Moore of sportswriters? Sports and politics go together like church and state. If I want to read about the 2004 presidential race I'll run out and pick up a copy of The New York Times or The Washington Post.
Joel Borgman, Atlanta
Rick, please stick to subjects about which you actually know something, like bashing Barry Bonds.
Gus Napoli, Pittsburgh
Why would George W. Bush have a convicted felon, who could not legally cast a vote in Florida in the November election, stumping for him in Miami and other places? The "promoter of the black voter," indeed.
Tom Ellinger, Cincinnati
Spare the A-Rod?
Tom Verducci may assert Alex Rodriguez was an innocent victim, or something close to one, in the July 26 Boston basebrawl, but I can't agree (Inside Baseball, Aug. 9). Verducci must not have seen the four-letter words flowing from A-Rod's mouth or the bring-it-on gesture he made toward Jason Varitek. Hats off to the de facto Red Sox captain for sticking up for his pitcher. Surely his counterpart, Yankees captain Derek Jeter, would have been classy enough to simply take his base, and the entire situation would have been avoided.
Ben Doody, South Hadley, Mass.
Unfortunately it now appears that due to the shoddy pretrial court procedures of a country-bumpkin judge and the Mayberry-style prosecutors in Colorado, Kobe Bryant (Scorecard, Aug. 9) will be just another jock with a million-dollar defense team who will walk away from an alleged crime. How sad.
Bud Jones, Park Ridge, Ill.
Down with Love
When my husband recently purchased a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED subscription for me, I was genuinely pleased and happy. I had always enjoyed the informative articles. I was shocked, however, to read about the dating habits of Derek Jeter (Scorecard, Aug. 2). In the Aug. 9 issue I learned about the dating habits of Quentin Richardson and the mating habits of Kris Benson. I couldn't care less who these people are dating or married to, or in how many cities they choose to continually reconsummate their union.
Robin Joelle Josey, Tacoma, Wash.
The article on Bill Belichick affirmed what the fans of the New England Patriots have suspected all along: Belichick is not only a genius, he's a stand-up guy (Master and Commander, Aug. 9).
Kim Amer, Peabody, Mass.
I quickly scanned the article on Belichick and didn't notice any reference to Charlie Weis, who by no coincidence was at Belichick's side in New England for all the successes. And please don't forget Charlie's presence when both Weis and Belichick were Patriots assistants under Bill Parcells. And, oh, yes, Charlie's presence in New York during Parcells's second Super Bowl run with the Giants and when the Tuna's Jets went to the AFC Championship game.
Bernie Hubert, Morristown, N.J.
I loved the article on Belichick, and he deserves enormous respect for the way he treats his assistant coaches. But as former Belichick assistant and current Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz surely found out when he read the book Belichick gave him, One More July by George Plimpton, the book's subject, Bill Curry, never played for Bear Bryant as Peter King implies. Although he later coached at Alabama, every Ramblin' Wreck fan--and every 'Bama fan, for that matter--knows that Curry played center for Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech.
Greg Evans, Anderson, S.C.
•SI regrets the error. --ED.
Michael Silver may want to give Ricky Williams credit for bolting the NFL, but I don't see high-minded conviction in his actions (Scorecard, Aug. 2). I see a man who has failed to get the most out of his talent and has been caught using an illegal drug. He is not following his heart, he is running away from NFL punishment and trying to excuse himself by claiming that other players are taking masking agents to beat drug tests. My guess is he will not run very far before he trips up.
Terry Griner, Spokane
Ricky has a choice. He could retire having already earned more money than most of us can earn in a lifetime. Then he could travel, write poetry and smoke a joint whenever he wanted to. Or he could continue playing football, make more money than he could spend in a lifetime and risk suffering a painful and debilitating injury, leading to a lifetime of rehabilitation and therapy. Tough choice.
Roxana Perkins, The Villages, Fla.
The end of Smarty Jones's racing career prompts a concern: Exactly what do you get a horse for his retirement party (SCORECARD, Aug. 9)?
Jim Burns Valley Stream, N.Y.
Getting Their Goat
With the baseball playoffs approaching and the Chicago Cubs having acquired shortstop Nomar Garciaparra in their attempt to push to the front of the wild-card race (INSIDE BASEBALL, Aug. 9), I'd appreciate it if you could put a picture of a billy goat on your cover. The SI jinx might reverse the billy goat curse and allow the Cubs to win the World Series.
Bob Kessler, Northbrook, Ill.
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CARL IWASAKI (COVER)
LAUGH OF LEISURE
The Derby and Preakness winner is headed to pasture.
MESSIN' WITH THE KID Cubs fans hope an unreal cover reverses the curse.