A Dec. 21 SCORECARD piece raises the question of whether any city boasts three living legends from three different team sports who have the stature of Boston's Bobby Orr, Ted Williams and Larry Bird. You say that Chicago comes closest with Walter Payton, Michael Jordan and Bobby Hull, but you don't mention Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. What an oversight! That makes four living legends from four different team sports. I would put Walter, Michael, Bobby and Ernie up against the three from Boston, plus a fourth of your choice, any day. Let's play three.
What about Philadelphia, with Bobby Clarke, Steve Carlton and Julius Irving? In fact, Philly could sub Bernie Parent for Clarke, or Mike Schmidt for Carlton, "with no loss of luster whatsoever," as you say Beantown could have done by replacing Bird with Bill Russell.
You forgot Detroit's big three of Gordie Howe, Al Kaline and Dave Bing, all members of their respective sports' Halls of Fame. You could even sub Isiah Thomas for Bing, or include Barry Sanders, and suffer no loss of luster.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
I offer a formidable trio who enjoyed banner years in the Twin Cities area: Harmon Killebrew, Fran Tarkenton and George Mikan. And if I subbed Rod Carew for Killebrew, the Twin Cities would have a pinch hitter with a .328 average and seven batting titles.
Eden Prairie, Minn.
Cincinnati can match Boston with Oscar Robertson, Anthony Munoz, and Pete Rose or Johnny Bench.
You didn't think hard enough about New York City. I can name three sports legends who match Boston's without even using their full names: Joe D, LT and Earl the Pearl. Want substitutes? How about Mickey or Whitey for Joe D, or Broadway Joe for LT?
Although I agree that Orr, Williams and Bird are living legends, I submit that true champions are measured by the number of championship rings they earn. The ring count of Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw (four rings), Willie Stargell (two) and Mario Lemieux (two) exceeds that of your Hub trio by three.
WILLIAM J. KESTER
As the sister of Denver Bronco linebacker Mike Croel, I read with interest your cover story on NFL injuries (The Unfortunate 500, Dec. 7). Each game day I say a prayer for my brother, his teammates and the players on the opposing team. I hold my breath every time Mike takes more than three seconds to get up from the turf after he has completed a play. I used to love to watch football, but after Detroit's Mike Utley was injured last season (my brother's successful rookie year), my enjoyment waned. Football players accept risk as part of the job, but I worry about my brother every weekend during the season. I wonder how he will feel physically when he is 40. All I can say is that NFL players deserve every dime in their paychecks.
HEATHER R. CROEL
Palo Alto, Calif.
My son broke his neck 19 years ago while playing high school football. Since then our home has been hell on earth. The injury has altered forever the life of our family and the lives of our son's friends. I am sure that the majority of SI readers "love" football. I ask them to spend one day with my son. They will see the terrible pain that he endures. They will feel his frustration at being totally dependent on others.
The NFL seems to glamorize bone-jarring hits and on-field violence. Instead, shouldn't the league donate some of its profits to aid research into spinal-cord injuries? And shouldn't it take strong measures to reduce the occurrence of these on-field injuries?
I must be a little dense, because I just don't get it. What are you trying to tell us? On the one hand, you bemoan the brutality of pro football, and then, a few pages later, you present a glowing account of how Alabama's defense knocked three SEC quarterbacks out of games (Red Storm Rising). At least the pros get a fat paycheck for the risks they take.
MILT DE REYNA
Hope Mills, N.C.
You failed to identify the three players whose pictures appeared on your Dec. 7 cover illustrating Peter King's article about NFL injuries (The Unfortunate 500). As a Green Bay Packer fan, I know that the man lying across the bottom is Packer center James Campen, but who are the other two players?
Sun Prairie, Wis.
•The player in the upper left corner is San Diego Charger punter John Kidd, and the one on the right is Robert Blackmon, a safety for the Seattle Seahawks.—ED.
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