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Original Issue


What, theHex?

With your NFLPreview Issue the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover jinx came through again, big time.Not only was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady featured on one of your sixregional covers, but he is also shown putting forward the knee that he injuredin Week 1 against the Chiefs, ending his season.
Peter Mandzuk, Danbury, Conn.

I have enjoyedreading your magazine for years, but if I should ever become famous, Irespectfully request that you do not put my picture on your cover.
Kent Walter, Alliance, Ohio

Your NFL Previewfailed to include SI's prediction that Tony Romo, Marion Barber, T.O., DeMarcusWare and Terence Newman will all unexpectedly retire in late September. I justassume you believe this will happen, given that you predict Philadelphia(Scouting Reports, Sept. 1) and not Dallas to win the NFC East.
Sam Fiano, Fairfield, Conn.

Back in the 1980sthe NFL employed a scheduling process in which strong teams had to play againsteach other more often. In the schedule ratings in your NFL Preview, I noticedthat both the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers, surely the twostrongest teams in the NFL last year, have been given the two weakest schedulesin the NFL, ranked at 32 and 31, respectively. Evidently, the NFL now rewardsgood teams with weak schedules.
Donald Connors, Arlington, Va.

EDITOR'S NOTE:For the 2002 season the league adopted a scheduling method whose priority wasto ensure that every team played every other team at least once every fouryears: In addition to six games against divisional foes, teams play all fourteams in a division out of their conference, and in their conference, with thedivisions rotating yearly. The two remaining games are against teams thatfinished in the same position from the remaining conference divisions; so NewEngland, for example, plays fellow division winners Indianapolis and Pittsburghthis year. The Patriots' rating reflects the weakness of their division foesand of the NFC and AFC West, which the AFC East goes against this year.

Gene Upshaw

As the formerassistant executive director of the NFL Players Association, let me say thatGary Smith's story on the death of Gene Upshaw, NFLPA executive director andHall of Fame guard (Gene Upshaw, 1945--2008, Sept. 1), channeled the man we allknew and loved, as much as he would let each of us. The man I worked undercould be inspiring and infuriating in equal doses, but he was an original whostayed true to what he believed in, no matter what. Reading your article wasbittersweet, bringing him to life, but, like my decision to call his cell onthe day after his death just to hear that deep, commanding voice, painful. Thisstory was nonetheless a gift for his family and friends, who will pull it outand read it from time to time and remember the big guy and what he still meansto them.
Doug Allen, Los Angeles

The HealingSeason

Selena Roberts'sstory about the Dolphins' 1972 perfect season and the death of her brother(POINT AFTER, Sept. 1) spoke to anyone who has ever had to come to terms withsuch a loss. Not only could you feel Roberts's grief in each passing sentence,but you also knew that writing the article was therapeutic for her. It wastherapy for her readers as well.
William Todd Wallace, Canton, Ohio

In the same waythe Patriots' quest for a perfect season triggered memories of happier timesfor Roberts, so too did an interleague series this year between the Red Sox andthe Reds. It was the first time the Sox had visited Cincinnati since the 1975World Series, when my late father and I enjoyed our last Fall Classic together.Roberts's wonderful column resonated with me for that very reason.
Doug Gladstone, Wilton, N.Y.


Bob Rosato'sphoto of the U.S men's basketball team celebrating its gold medal in unison(Sweet Redemption, Sept. 1) was fantastic. Hats off to Coach K for instilling ateam-first approach, reinforcing that the name on the front of the jersey isalways more important than the name on the back.
Blaine K. Taylor, Worcester Township, Pa.

Kobe Bryant'squote in your magazine about synchronized swimming, "That's probably thehardest sport I've ever seen," has spread through the synchro world.Synchro swimmers, parents and fans don't expect the sport to get the sameattention in the U.S. (where most don't even want to call it a sport) as itdoes everywhere else in the world, but we do get excited when synchro getskudos and respect from a great athlete like Kobe.
Maureen Miller, Lakeland, Fla.

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