I can't help but question your list when fullback Jim Brown and
strikeout king Nolan Ryan are not included.
--RICHARD P. ZOWIE, San Antonio


The list of Our Favorite Athletes (July 12) included only one
NFL running back, Bo Jackson--a questionable selection. While
Jackson was a unique combination of athlete and phenomenon,
Walter Payton had a much stronger case for being among your 20
favorites. He deserved a spot for his courage and grace as a
runner and a man.
ROBERT C. CLARK, Simpsonville, S.C.

As soon as I saw the cover mention of the 20 favorites list, I
thought of Lou Gehrig. Then I noted with dismay that Gehrig was
not included. If there was ever a great athlete and a great man,
it was Gehrig.
PATRICK ALLEN, Bemus Point, N.Y.

You didn't have to grow up in San Francisco to know that Willie
Mays dwarfed anyone else in ability and showmanship. Were you
just trying to solicit angry letters to the editor?
MITCHELL MOFFETT, Santa Rosa, Calif.

How could you leave off Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe?
Talking about playing in times of adversity, Thorpe was the lone
Native American competing in his sports, Owens had to take on
Hitler, and Ashe was a black player in a game ruled by whites.
DAN MONICO, Winnetka, Ill.

When Joe Namath came on to the sports scene, pro football was
populated by crew-cut, stodgy old men, like SI favorite Johnny
Unitas. Namath was a new breed of athlete, young and hip and
loaded with style both on and off the field.

How in the world did you leave Henry Aaron off your list?
RUSSELL HUDSON, Mexico Beach, Fla.

You might as well have titled it your 20 favorite American
athletes of the century.

Walter Johnson was seventh all-time in strikeouts (3,509) and ERA
(2.17), tied for fourth in complete games (531), second in wins
(417) and first in shutouts (110).
MARK DURHAM, St. Mary's, Ga.

No one, man or woman, has ever dominated two sports as Babe
Didrikson Zaharias did golf and track and field.
AL GAITHER, Newton, N.C.

What Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did for the game of basketball
was nothing compared to what they did for sports fans. They have
their own spots on my favorites list!
JOSH WOLF, New York City

Not only was Joe Montana amazing to watch as he pulled off
remarkable comebacks, but he also led the San Francisco 49ers to
four Super Bowls and won them all. He was also a three-time
Super Bowl MVP.
JAKE O'LEARY, Boise, Idaho

Pele was the best and most popular player in the most popular
sport in the world.
ADOSH UNNI, Rochester, Minn.

Three words: Robert Gordon Orr, the man who revolutionized
DOUG ROSE, Brockton, Mass.

Obviously you never saw Doak Walker play.


I'm disappointed to see that SI has fallen prey to the
list-making frenzy that has enveloped sports culture as we near
the year 2000. These lists are quick-fix, short-attention-span
snippets of meaningless bar arguments that tarnish the quality
of the other articles in the magazine. Give your readers credit.
We can concentrate for more than one paragraph.
TIM MCNAMARA, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL O'NEILL Readers found some glaring omissions on our list of favorite athletes, including (from left): Arthur Ashe, Lou Gehrig, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Joe Namath. B/W PHOTO: DURANT/SI PICTURE COLLECTION [See caption above] B/W PHOTO: SI PICTURE COLLECTION [See caption above] COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER [See caption above]