MOMENTS OF TRUTH

December 29, 1997

If your memories of 1997 are neither warm nor fuzzy, blame it on
sports, which were seldom warm and rarely fuzzy in the last 12
months. Ninety-seven was a bear. Ninety-seven had no hair.*
Fuzzy Zoeller wasn't fuzzy, was he? So rather than choose a
favorite Moment of the Year, as other SI writers have done in
the following pages, I have selected a Letter of the Year. Is
that cheating--picking a unit of type, not a unit of time? I
think not. In sports one small letter can make all the
difference. Ask Johnnie Cochran: He defended O.J. but offended
P.J.

Of all the letters from A to Z (AZ being the postal abbreviation
for Arizona, which won the NCAA basketball title), one clearly
emerged as the winner in 1997. It was not L. L almost got the W.
L had one 'elluva year, what with all the L's in Latrell
Sprewell and Ernie Els's winning the U.S. Open and El Nino's
elevating sales of L.L. Bean outerwear.

But in the end 1997 belonged to E. E for E-4 (as Tony Fernandez
will attest). Or E-vander. Without E, you can't get to F (which
the Florida Marlins wore on their caps) or G (which the Green
Bay Packers wore on their helmets). Ninety-seven gave us some
remarkable champions, and '98 will have some size 15EEE shoes to
fill.

Indeed, the best E of the year was one that never even appeared.
After Holyfield retained his heavyweight boxing title in June,
this magazine ran a story on the bout's referee, Nevada judge
Mills Lane. The headline read THE ULTIMATE ARBITER. Now put an E
in front of arbiter. You have the headline for our next Mike
Tyson story.

--STEVE RUSHIN

*See Marv Albert.

COLOR PHOTO: COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE LANGE/INSPIRED BY CARL FISCHER'S PHOTO OF SONNY LISTON FOR THE DECEMBER 1963 COVER OF ESQUIRE COVER Evander Holyfield

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)