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
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
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
*See Marv Albert.