While professional teams belong to their respective owners economically, they belong to their fans in deeper and more meaningful ways.

What's in a Name?
In your article detailing the NFL's ridiculous stance on the use of the name Colts by Baltimore's new CFL franchise (But Don't Call Them the Colts, July 25), NFL spokesman Joe Browne makes two statements indicating his apparent misunderstanding of the sport that he represents. First he says, "This is not a fight we [the NFL] started." Sure it is. By allowing greedmongers like Bob Irsay to run history-rich, locally supported teams as if they were personal businesses, the NFL grossly undervalues what the fan means to the game.

Second, Browne says, "Our clubs cannot allow someone to misappropriate their trademarks and national identity that has taken many years to build." The Colts' identity was built in Indianapolis?

The Colts' identity was built by legendary Baltimore players like Johnny Unitas, Tom Matte and John Mackey; by Alan Ameche's touchdown run and Raymond Berry's sideline catches; and, most of all, by the passionate relationship between the city and the team. The NFL sat back and watched Bob Irsay destroy the franchise and run away like a thief with the remnants. When people think of his team today, they think of a mismanaged loser. It's easy to see which of the teams should have the decency to give up the name Colts.
TOM SMITH, Atlanta

Thomas and Griffey
I have never been more impressed with a pro athlete than I am with Frank Thomas after having read Rick Reilly's profile of him (The Big Heart, Aug. 8). That his drive to become one of baseball's best players is spurred by his sister's death from leukemia is a telling testament to his greatness as an athlete and a person.

Thank goodness! I was afraid something was the matter. After all, it has been a full two months since Ken Griffey's last appearance on your cover. And with Seattle's mighty .438 winning percentage in the awesome American League West, who deserves a cover story more than Junior (Junior Comes of Age, Aug. 8)?

Perhaps you weren't following the National League statistics. It seems there's this Jeff Bagwell guy who has more runs than Griffey, more RBIs than Griffey, more hits than Griffey and a higher batting average than Griffey. And his team, the Astros, has 17 more wins than the Mariners. Other than home runs (and Griffey has only one more of these than Bagwell), about the only category in which Griffey leads Bagwell is SI covers.

I would rather see Ken Griffey Jr. compared to the likes of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron and Roberto Clemente than to Reggie Jackson. Jackson represents the overhyped, overpriced, me-first athlete whose numbers on the field never lived up to the legend created by the media.
TOM COYNE, Lancaster, N.Y.

Jack Nicklaus
I was surprised by your harsh criticism of Jack Nicklaus in your July 25 SCORECARD. His words regarding why more blacks don't play golf may have been poorly chosen, but throughout his career Nicklaus has encouraged people of all races to play golf. As an example, recall his chastising the golf community for treating the 1990 Shoal Creek incident lightly.

Before SI condemns men and women for not meeting its current standards for political correctness, you should reflect on your own years of failing to "speak up." In the '60s and '70s, when Nicklaus and Palmer were at the zeniths of their careers, few (if any) reporters for SI (or any other sports magazine, for that matter) wrote about the Shoal Creeks of our nation.
DAN HICKMAN, Douglas, Wyo.

As an African-American and a longtime golfer, I am dismayed by Nicklaus's views on why more blacks don't play golf. If the evaluation of the musculature and kinesis of black athleticism had been done by someone qualified to comment on the subject, I might look at what he said differently. However, he is eminently unqualified to make such comments. To ascribe the lack (a better word is denial) of participation to musculature and to "gravitational levels" is to distort facts.

PHOTOBILL SMITHBagwell trails Griffey in only homers and covers.

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