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Original Issue


Quad Squads

Hey, SI, what a great idea: four different covers for the College Basketball Preview Issue (Nov. 21). Since only one team can win the NCAA Tournament, at least three will be able to claim they are victims of the cover jinx. Heck, it already bit Michigan State when the Spartans lost to Hawaii.
Max R. Moore, Bellevue, Neb.

All of us in Arizona still remember with venom and acrimony your Aug. 29, 1994, College Football Preview cover naming our team No. 1--and our subsequent 8-4 season. We know it has been 11 years and you may have forgotten. Please stop putting our talented but perennially cardiac-inducing Wildcats on your preview covers! We prefer to be underrated than to face the impossibly high expectations of being a media darling.
Dave Nelson, Orange, Calif.

As for the cover jinx affecting Duke, we all know that the Blue Devils have already sold their souls.
Mike Tatangelo

Clinton Township, Mich.

Your Duke cover shows why stopping the Blue Devils is so hard. For many opponents it must feel as though the team has eight players and two balls on the court.
Jim Ramsey, York, S.C.

In addition to top-ranked Duke, why were the Nos. 3, 4 and 6 teams given cover appearances, rather than No. 2 Texas? I am not a Longhorns fan--I'm a TCU graduate going to grad school at Texas A&M--but with Texas contending for championships in football and basketball, is that just too much burnt orange for SI?
Courtney Wellmann College Station, Texas

As a student at Oklahoma I was disappointed to see that all of your top six basketball teams except the two Big 12 schools, Texas and Oklahoma, were honored with special covers. How should the Sooners' faithful view this? Is it proof of an anti-Big 12 conspiracy or a blessed exemption from the jinx? Keep building up other conferences, and the Big 12 will keep putting teams in the Final Four.
Eric D. Epperson, Joplin, Mo.

Rams in Rebellion

I'm not familiar with the hierarchy of a pro football team, but in Fallen Idols (Nov. 21), your story on the waning fortunes of the St. Louis Rams, I read about an owner, a team president, a general manager, a director of football operations, a director of football administration, a president of football operations and a vice president of player personnel. Oh, yeah, there's a coach, too. So who's on first? Simplify the football bureaucracy, and maybe the Rams can get back to their winning ways.
Marcus Dunn, White Plains, Md.

It's the Pits

Rick Reilly's column about working on a NASCAR pit crew (LIFE OF REILLY, Nov. 21) finds some humor in the NASCAR preacher's invocation, "God bless our sponsors, without whom we couldn't be here today." It sounds to me like an appropriate sentiment for a magazine that accepts advertising.
Gary Duff, Granite City, Ill.

Two words immediately came to mind when I saw the picture of Reilly decked out in NASCAR pit gear: complete dork.
Rich Holmes, South Burlington, Vt.

Making a Comeback

You cannot imagine how thrilled I was when I opened the mailbox earlier this week and found SPORTS ILUSTRATED. I hadn't received SI since Hurricane Katrina forced my family to flee our home in Gretna, La. I'm amazed you found me even though I haven't been able to send in a change of address. It's been a rough few months, but my being able to read Steve Rushin, Rick Reilly and all the other SI writers signifies that my life is getting back to normal.
Eric Amick, Covington, La.

Feelin' Blue

I looked at the list. Checked it twice. There has to be a mistake. No North Carolina in the top 65? From No. 1 to none? Y'all have a heel of a lot of explaining to do.
Kent Van Dunk, Milwaukee

Happy Husky

I can't thank you enough for the wonderful article on UConn's Rudy Gay (A Need to Get Mean, Nov. 21). I had the pleasure of being Rudy's guidance counselor at Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.), and I can assure you he is every bit the fine young man portrayed by Seth Davis. In his entire time here I never heard a student or faculty member say any but positive things about him, rare for a star athlete in a competitive high school milieu. It is a pleasure to see you feature someone who is worthy of being an example to follow.
Bettye Weihs, Gambrills, Md.

The All-Missing Team

How could you fail to include Illinois point guard Dee Brown on your first- or second-team preseason All-America team (5 Minute Guide, Nov. 21)? Last season Brown was the Big Ten player of the year and a Wooden Award finalist--and an All-America. He is better than most of the guys who made your first and second teams.
Bryan R. Pratt, Champaign, Ill.

I was disappointed to see Syracuse point guard Gerry McNamara's name absent from your All-America list. G-Mac is best known for his ability to drill threes from NBA range, but his spirited competitiveness and leadership abilities are what make him truly worthy of selection. It is refreshing to see a fourth-year senior play hard-nosed, scrappy basketball and ignite a team the way he does.
Matt Brocks, Somerville, Mass.

Into the Void

SI's LEADING OFF (Nov. 21) depicts a stark contrast in fan interest. The up-close view of Detroit Red Wings right winger Daniel Cleary also offers a distant background view of thousands of empty seats. Has Hockeytown become Not-So-Hockeytown? Turn the page and there's not an empty seat to be found in the background of the Ricky Manning and Chris Gamble dance number in that football mecca of Charlotte.
Don Schroeder, Louisville

Great Expectations

The NBA Rookie Diary of Gerald Green (PLAYERS, Nov. 21) provides a perfect example of why NBA commissioner David Stern pushed so hard to establish an age limit for the draft. Green's account of how "things haven't gone quite as I expected" in the NBA shows that a young player needs more time to prepare for the realities of the pro game. Stern was right.
Kevin Noble, Vista, Calif.

Soccer's Galaxy

I was ecstatic that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED published an article about the MLS Cup (Bottom's Up, Nov. 21), even though as a New England Revolution fan I was disappointed that my team lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy. My only complaint is that although Grant Wahl noted Boston's gossip columnists often identify our Taylor Twellman as the "kicker cutie"--which he is, in addition to being the league MVP--there was no beefcake photo. Would you ever consider an article about Anna Kournikova or Danica Patrick without including at least one gorgeous picture?
Julie R. Kumor, Belmont, Mass.

Lightweight Heavyweights

Boxing doesn't need, as you argue in SCORECARD (Nov. 21), a "heavyweight savior" to reclaim its "mainstream relevance." It just needs to shrink its bloated structure. There is now the alphabet-soup of four major sanctioning organizations (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO) bestowing boxing "championships" to fighters in 17 weight divisions. A sport that had thrived for decades with eight weight classifications, producing a maximum of eight world champions, now offers fans the possibility of 68 different titleholders. Does anyone really care who the super-junior-mini-weight champion is? Hell, I haven't cared who the heavyweight champion is since the 1970s.
Steve Grismer, Dayton

The Honor System

I was struck by the juxtaposition of two golf stories in your Nov. 28 issue. The For the Record (Scorecard) item about Paula Creamer challenging the LPGA over a ruling on Annika Sorenstam's drop during last month's ADT Championship was contrasted nicely by the mention in the Sportsmanship Edition of Faces in the Crowd of Halsey Copp's decision to assess himself a one-stroke penalty that may have cost his high school team the state title. Copp understands one thing that many players forget along the way--no individual player or team is above the game.
Edward P. McCarthy, Allenhurst, N.J.

Sad Parallel

Another amazing coincidence, like the ones cited in SCORECARD (Oct. 31), lies in the parallel stories of former Mississippi defensive back Chucky Mullins and former Washington defensive back Curtis Williams. Both players suffered incapacitating and eventually fatal spinal injuries on the football field. Mullins was hurt in a game against Vanderbilt in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 1989, and died from injury-related complications on May 6, 1991. Williams was injured in a game at Stanford on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2000--exactly 11 years after Mullins was hurt--and he died on the 11th anniversary of Mullins's passing, May 6, 2002.
John Platz, Stanford, Calif.

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The tragic fates of Mullins (left) and Williams were separated by exactly 11 years.



 [See caption above.]