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Original Issue


Conditioned Athlete

I can't help but wonder what Nov. 14 cover boy Troy Polamalu's hair will look like in 20 years or so when he appears in CATCHING UP WITH--and whether his mother will be sighing and rolling her eyes.
Linda Levine, Pittsburgh

Polamalu will always be my family's favorite Steeler regardless of his football accomplishments. Troy spent several hours in the hospital with my wonderful 19-year-old nephew, Joe Duffy, this past summer. It was the happiest day of Joe's unsuccessful five-month battle with cancer.
Paul W. Hitchens, St. Petersburg

It's awesome to see that the Pittsburgh tradition of great defensive players continues. We've gone from Greg Lloyd to Carnell Lake, from Jack Lambert to Donnie Shell and from Mean Joe Greene to Polamalu. The ethic of the hard workers of the Steel City is certainly personified by the Steelers' defenders on Sunday afternoons.
Brian Charles Lucas, Monrovia, Md.

When did Ted Nugent make the NFL? Does this mean that the Motor City Madman will no longer do concerts? Rock on, SI!
Bill Markham, Cottage Grove, Minn.

Weis Guys

Extreme Makeover (Nov. 14), which described the progress of quarterback Brady Quinn and the entire Notre Dame football team, was phenomenal. It is the first time in the past year that I, a Notre Dame sophomore, have read an article that truly describes the essence of Notre Dame football. Most students here really respect Ty Willingham, but this school was not the perfect fit for him. It is for Charlie Weis.
Erica Wells, Notre Dame, Ind.

Don't get me wrong, Notre Dame is a great football team. Weis is a strong factor in the Irish's winning record, and Quinn, who has led Notre Dame to a BCS bowl bid, has had an outstanding season. Notre Dame is ranked in the top 10, but until they have a schedule that has more than three quality opponents, take them out.
Mitchell V. Rollins, Portland, Mich.

It was interesting to see that Quinn and many of his teammates took issue with the way Coach Willingham was treated by the Notre Dame administration. Here at Syracuse many SU players piled on their criticism of coach Paul Pasqualoni as he was let go. Given the opposite directions that these two programs are going this year, is this a lesson about loyalty?
Don Rindfuss, Baldwinsville, N.Y.

Let Jeremy Play

The NCAA made an unfair decision when it banned Jeremy Bloom from collegiate athletics (Full Bloom, Nov. 14). The NCAA's powers-that-be stated that the punishment was due to the money he received from endorsements related to his role on the United States ski team, but all he was doing was trying to fulfill both of his goals: to ski in the Olympics and to one day play professional football. Since the NCAA wants student-athletes to become successful in life, why would it prevent anyone from doing what Bloom wants to do?
Brian Gayso, Pittsburgh

What Women Want

I promise I will never cancel my subscription if you bring back Troy Polamalu, Brady Quinn and Jeremy Bloom for the Swimsuit Issue.
Donna Mills, Middletown, Ohio

Poetry on Ice

It's nice to learn that Jeremy Roenick, though involved in an extremely physical sport, has a softer, poetic side (To Skate and Score in L.A., Nov. 14). I feel, however, that his opus The Shore would have been more of a hockey poem had it read: The sound of the ocean can calm all my fears/The sight of the sunset can bring me to tears/Especially if I have had a few beers.
Brian Stockton, Grand Island, N.Y.

Positive Thinking

I applaud Steve Rushin for Doing Well and Doing Good (AIR AND SPACE, Nov. 14). I am a cancer patient and a student at Michigan who recently found that the sports world has potential to do great things for people. I had to drop out of school for a year to have chemotherapy. During that time I received an autographed basketball signed by the entire 2004-05 Michigan basketball team and coach Tommy Amaker, inscribed with their wishes that I would have a rapid recovery. I e-mailed Amaker to thank him for the kind gesture, and after he responded we started e-mailing each other frequently. He has kindly offered to help me with whatever I need. Rushin is correct in saying that more of these stories need to be told.
John Kniesche, Kentfield, Calif.

Doze Were the Days

I laughed when I read that Houston Texans rookie C.C. Brown has difficulty staying awake during 1:45 film sessions (PLAYERS, Nov. 14). As a third-year law student at Miami, I spend an average of four hours per day struggling through law classes. How do I stay awake? By hiding in the last row of the classroom and watching film of the previous Sunday's games on my laptop.
Brandon Josephsen, Miami

Mail Bonding

When I read Rick Reilly's comments in Why Wait to Go Postal? (LIFE OF REILLY, Nov. 14) that "running fast is not the only thing these athletes are good at. Not by a million miles" and that "almost no black people were upset! It was all PC whites freaking out for blacks," I was reminded why I turn first to the back page of SI. Thank you, Rick, for stating a truth everyone seems afraid to talk about. Black athletes have made an impact on sports. It should be recognized and appreciated.
Kevin Bodnar, Carteret, N.J.

Reilly and Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry have lost perspective. This has nothing to do with being PC. Athletics at our service academies exist to support the missions of those schools by providing physical and mental developmental opportunities for the cadets and midshipmen. DeBerry was just making a weak excuse for poor performance.
Richard J. Nicholson, Holyoke, Mass.

I find it ironic that Reilly's column about the stereotyping of black athletes was titled Why Wait to Go Postal?--talk about stereotyping! The U.S. Postal Service has consistently ranked high as one of the safest places in the country to work. As a letter carrier, and on behalf of more than a million workers who faithfully deliver SI each week, please let this stale cliché die.
Barry R. Wood, Uniontown, Pa.

An Eye for an Eye

I'm appalled that Todd Bertuzzi has returned to the ice while the man he attacked, Steve Moore, has not and may never (SCORECARD, Nov. 7). When considering the punishment for a player whose intentional action results in the injury of another, the NHL should link the duration of the suspension to the duration of the victim's recovery. Bertuzzi should not be allowed to skate until Moore returns to play. If Bertuzzi's vicious strike ended Moore's career, so should it end his.
Ted Seides, Riverside, Conn.


Alexander Wolff's Ground Breakers (Nov. 7), about the players who broke the color line in college football in the South, was riveting and heartbreaking reading. It's hard for us today to grasp just how much courage and sheer tenacity was demonstrated by these young men. I was particularly struck by the tale recounted by former Maryland football player Darryl Hill about the time his mother was prevented from entering the gates at Clemson University until school president R.C. Edwards showed up and invited her to watch the game as his guest in the President's Box. Edwards's leadership is a reason that Clemson can recall desegregation as a moment of institutional pride rather than shame. One lesson that we can take from Edwards's actions on that day in 1963 is that one individual can have an impact if he chooses to do what is right.
James F. Barker, Clemson, S.C.
President, Clemson University

Every football fan, and especially every SEC fan, should praise the heroic efforts of Wilbur Hackett, Darryl Hill, Jerry LeVias, Eddie McAshan, Nat Northington, Greg Page and Calvin Patterson. These young men's names and stories should be known and remembered by all.
Andrew McLelland, Auburn, Ala.

It was refreshing to read an acknowledgment of Kentucky's efforts in integrating SEC football. As a graduate student at UK in the fall of 1969, I witnessed Houston Hogg's and Wilbur Hackett's playing leading roles in defeating all-white preseason SEC favorite Ole Miss, led by Archie Manning, in a 10-9 nail-biting, home victory. Hogg had a key 16-yard run, and Hackett spearheaded the defense. It was the Wildcats' only conference win that season but certainly notable in more than one respect.
Art Wormuth, Whitesboro, N.Y

Loosen Up

As noted by Michael Farber in It's Working (Nov. 7), NHL scoring is indeed up. Seeing pucks go into the net, however, is down considerably--even for someone like me with 20/20 vision. When is the NHL going to get rid of the overly tight goal netting that cannot react to the impact of the puck? If you want to increase the appeal and excitement of the game even more, loosen up the nets.
Rick Caldwell, Lancaster, N.Y.

Hoop Dreams

Obviously, Beulah Walker--the distant relative who raised Trail Blazers rookie Martell Webster (Love and Basketball, Nov. 14)--never allowed the expression "poor me" to surface in her home. Both she and Webster are to be commended for continuing to strive for success instead of, like so many people, looking for excuses.
Sarah M. Johnson, Rocklin, Calif.

Webster has a great future, but he had better get a top-notch accountant. Driving a car to work is not a business expense.
David Paulson, Columbia, Md.

What Men Want

Thanks to Rick Reilly for his column about appearing on Oprah and trying to explain the average guy's behavior (LIFE OF REILLY, Nov. 7). We women disappoint only ourselves when we expect a man to act like a character in one of those romance novels with Fabio on the cover--a pillaging pirate with flowing hair and a penchant for amour. I happen to love a certain big guy who spends his Sundays on the couch with a beer, surrounded by his high school friends and watching the Dolphins on TV. I respect his need to wear the same jersey every week and the fact that he insisted on naming our children Miami and Daniel Marino. I wouldn't have him any other way.
Angela Danko, Streator, Ill.

Sign of the Apocalypse: Reilly on Oprah.
Jim Nowak, Strongsville, Ohio

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AS SEEN ON TV - Reilly (left) explains male behavior to (from right) Oprah, Jay Leno and singer Brian McKnight.