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Thanks for the terrific article on Lance Armstrong's final Tour de France victory (A Grand Finale, Aug. 1). The Discovery Channel team and the contingent of American cyclists actually made it look easy. Two U.S. cyclists, Armstrong and Greg LeMond, now hold 10 Tour victories in the last 20 years. Imagine how impressed with themselves the French would be if their athletes had achieved similar success in one of our national pastimes.

Branan Cooper, Landenberg, Pa.

Your cover headline may have read "What a Ride," but my first thought upon seeing it was, What a Photo.

Rob Creighton, Boise, Idaho

Back Pain

I read with interest your story about NFL teams not wanting to commit to big contracts for established running backs (A Question of Value, Aug. 1). In it, Edgerrin James compares playing this season--for $8.1 million--to serving a prison sentence. But why can't James and other players who claim they are just trying to make sound business decisions for themselves understand that team owners and general managers are trying to do the same thing? With apologies to these gifted athletes, it makes no sense to invest five to eight years and $50 million to $70 million on an aging running back when talented youngsters like Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson are knocking at the NFL's door. It's true a franchise back is hard to find, but an older runner with a large contract and a bad attitude is even harder to get rid of.

Luke Hlavacek, Austin

Seeing Clearly

Thank you, Gary Smith, for your wonderful article on the Veeck family (The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Aug. 1). As a die-hard baseball fan raising a daughter, I feel a closeness to Mike and Rebecca. Because of his past habits, Mike has had his share of blurry vision, but because of his relationship with Rebecca, who is living with retinitis pigmentosa, his sight is now clear.

Gary Berg, Ozark, Mo.

We could all learn something from how Mike and Rebecca Veeck handle life's obstacles: with smiles on their faces.

Errol Meinholz, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

I'm 41, single and have never wanted kids. After reading your story on Rebecca and Mike Veeck, I've changed my mind. Now I gotta find a wife.

David W. Mason, Stockton, N.J.

The A Train

Stephen A. Smith is the most honest man in sports (Stephen A., As In ..., Aug. 1). If Smith were to testify in court, the judge wouldn't have to put him under oath because the man does not lie.

Danny Sadagursky, Staten Island, N.Y.

Smith too often turns issues into matters of racial discrimination. When we are trying to move past racism in sports, it's disappointing that someone with such a powerful voice is holding us back.

Scott Cunningham, Grand Junction, Colo.

Sports fans, meet the African-American version of Howard Cosell.

Edward Brinz, Houston

Cardinals Sins

It is obvious that Rick Reilly did not do his homework before writing his column about the Bidwill family, owners of the Arizona Cardinals (Life of Reilly, Aug. 1). The Cardinals' onfield record may be questionable, but the Bidwills' record of philanthropy and impact on the valley community is not. With little fanfare the Bidwills have helped many meaningful projects in the greater Phoenix area, and there are also important improvements taking place within the Cardinals franchise. A state-of-the-art stadium that is being readied for the 2006 season, the addition of respected coach Dennis Green, and better draft and free-agency decisions don't seem to jibe with Reilly's negative evaluation of the franchise. Even some of Reilly's media colleagues are predicting the Cardinals will be competitive in their division this season.

Roc Arnett, Gilbert, Ariz.

Rick, as a longtime Arizona Cardinals season-ticket holder, all I can say is, Welcome to my world!

Terri Amabisca, Tempe, Ariz.

Fast Eddy

The greatest cyclist ever? Even Lance might agree that title belongs to Eddy Merckx. The Belgian star, who retired in 1978, had five Tour de France and five Giro d'Italia victories and won three world championships. He also was a seven-time winner of Milan-San Remo, a five-time winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix.

Andy Dutton, Redmond, Wash.

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Unlike Armstrong, Merckx competed throughout the year.