The Road to Houston

As I reached into my icy mailbox for the Jan. 26 issue of your
fine but jinx-ridden magazine, I held my breath until I could see
what image you had chosen for the cover. My heart dropped when I
saw Muhsin Muhammad either asking SI to shhhh until after the
next game or pronouncing the Carolina Panthers No. 1.
Erich Schulz Pinehurst, N.C.

Kudos to Peter King for his informative article on the Panthers'
improbable trip to the Super Bowl (Coming Through, Jan. 26). It
is not only the story of a complete team effort, but also the
tale of a coach, John Fox, who exhibits all the qualities of a
true leader. In a world dominated by negativity and big egos, Fox
has the right attitude.
Steve Lindsley, Mount Airy, N.C.

I know you are swamped with letters from disgruntled Philadelphia
fans about the curse the Jan. 19 cover visited on their beloved
team. But the Eagles didn't step up in the big game, and that is
what hurt them, not that cover picture of Donovan McNabb.
Peter Keefe, Aberdeen, S.Dak.

Michael Silver's Cold Blooded (Jan. 26) made it seem as if the
Indianapolis Colts were completely mismatched and were blown out
by the New England Patriots. It's funny, but I recall that the
Colts had a chance to tie or win with less than five minutes to
go in the game. At least give Indianapolis a little credit. One
late touchdown and the story probably would have been about how
good the Colts were.
Steve Swanson, Alexandria, Ind.

Play It Again, Sam

I had doubts about the Timberwolves at the beginning of the
season. Could Sam Cassell, Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell
coexist? They have proved that they can, but without Cassell
(Mighty Mouth, Jan. 26) the team wouldn't be anywhere. Sam has
his teammates pumped up and playing their hardest every night. He
still gets criticized for hogging the ball, making inappropriate
comments to opponents and not playing defense. His critics should
just let Sam do his job and lead the T-Wolves to their first NBA
championship season.
Aaron Hinnershitz Reading, Pa.

Detroit Drama
Well, another writer has been sucked into the Detroit Red Wings'
soap opera (Dominator or Cujo? Jan. 26). It is too bad that the
petty squabbles are overshadowing the solid play of their third
goalie, Manny Legace. He has a better save percentage and
goals-against average than either Dominik Hasek or Curtis Joseph.
There are better story lines in Hockeytown than the goaltenders'
childish arguing.
Jimmy Dunning, Greenwood, Nova Scotia

Good Korea Move?

He could play college ball for a year, or even play in Europe.
But no, Korean high schooler Ha Seung-Jin (Scorecard, Jan. 26),
guided by his family and agents, is content to hole up in a gym
in L.A. waiting for the next NBA draft. He sounds like an NBA
bust waiting to happen.
Stephen Q. Mitchell, Los Angeles

Brats Entertainment

According to Steve Rushin (Air and Space, Jan. 26), Joe Cahn had
a bratwurst rolled in a tortilla in San Diego. Blasphemy!
Puh-lease, Mr. Cahn, save the tortillas for the fish tacos. Get
your RV to Lambeau Field and have a real brat on a real bun with
real onions in real football weather. And leave the Zantac home.
We need the heat at Lambeau in December.
Rick Hotchkiss, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

It's been my dream to attend medical school, but I would trade
Joe Cahn's life as a professional tailgater for my future life as
a physician in an arrhythmic heartbeat.
John Cox, Roxbury, Mass.

The A Team

I found your depiction of my home state of Arizona to be accurate
with one exception (Sports in America, Jan. 26). Arizona's 1997
NCAA basketball championship was the greatest moment for only
half the state. The other half, made up of Arizona State fans,
was rooting for Kentucky that night.
Ted Hansen, Mesa, Ariz.

I was surprised that you didn't mention anything about Arizona's
women's softball program. The list of former Wildcats softball
stars is a Who's Who of the game's greats, and coach Mike Candrea
will coach the U.S. Olympic team in Athens.
Bryan Goldwater, Phoenix

Memory LaLanne

Thanks so much for making me think a few serious thoughts while
laughing over your tribute to Jack LaLanne (The Life of Reilly,
Jan. 26). I particularly loved how you highlighted the role of
diet and exercise in emotional health. Jumping Jack suicidal?
Banging his head against the wall to ease his pain? What a
revelation! Jack may seem far too rigid and his fitness level
beyond emulation, but who would not want his love of life and
sense of purpose? I, for one, went to the gym one more day than
usual this week. And while I considered ripping open that bag of
potato chips before supper last night, I didn't. Little steps are
the only kind I really make, but it's amazing how far they can
take me.
Jean C. Thomasson, Gales Ferry, Conn.

I would rather eat and drink what I want, work out a little and
die of natural causes at 75 than have to endure Jack LaLanne's
diet of egg whites and fish every single day. Now pass me the
chocolate ice cream.
R. Jeff Brown, Kingwood, Texas

Jumping Jack's Still a Flash is a great teaching tool for my
middle schoolers. Many of my students don't eat right or exercise
regularly--so you brought some very teachable moments to my
classes. Rick, keep up the good work, and take a tai chi class or
something, man. We want you writing at age 90, not gumming rice
cakes.
Terry McAdams, Milwaukee

A month ago I found Jack LaLanne's original exercise show airing
on ESPN Classic and started working out with Jack every day. I
told my high school students about Jack, but they had no idea who
he was. I brought in a tape one morning and had the kids work out
with Jack. They loved him and told me that they do the same
exercises with Denise Austin, Billy Blanks and their Pilates
tapes. Jack LaLanne was certainly ahead of his time.
Hollie M. Schooley, Bangor, Pa.

Rick, thanks for the great article in Sports Illustrated.
Everyone here at BeFit Enterprises got a kick out of it. The
entire world must read your column as we've been getting great
response. As an avid reader of SI, I have always admired your
articles, and I am now proud and honored to be a part of them.
Healthfully and gratefully,
Jack LaLanne Morro Bay, Calif.

Judging Jagr

Beej Gefsky (Letters, Jan. 12) suggested that forward Jaromir
Jagr's stats dropped without Mario Lemieux to set him up. How
does he explain Jagr's winning three scoring titles during
Lemieux's first retirement? Jagr's problem now is that his big
contract has made him lazy.
Peter Moores, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

Progressive Stance

I am certainly not offended by MoveOn.org's and U2's desire to
exercise their right of free speech during the Super Bowl. I am
also not offended by a private organization like CBS exercising
its right to decide what it is willing to air. SI's labeling of
both messages as "progressive," however, is a bit much to swallow
(Scorecard, Jan. 26). Surely a desire to talk about AIDS in
Africa and an ad using children to knock the Bush
Administration's budget policy aren't so similar as to both merit
the label "progressive message"? Perhaps I'm just being naive?
Bruce MacKenzie, Pittsburgh

Girl Uninterrupted

Every time I read about 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton, who
returned to competitive surfing 10 weeks after losing her arm to
a shark attack, I'm struck anew by her astonishing courage,
fortitude and dignity (Scorecard, Jan. 19). We could all learn a
great deal from her poise and determination.
Jim Edwards, Riverside, Calif.

Wie Lassie

Thanks for the coverage of the remarkable achievement of Michelle
Wie at the Sony Open (Leading Off and Scorecard, Jan. 26). Three
pages was great, but she came within one stroke of becoming the
top sports story of 2004, and it was only Jan. 16!
Jeff Reeb, Memphis

Wie ain't wee. She's broken the PGA Tour's glass ceiling:
yardage.
Bill Holmes
Highland, Ark.

Cardinal Rules

I could not be happier that you recognized Stanford as one of the
top college basketball teams in America (Palo Altitude, Jan. 26).
As a 17-year-old Stanford fan of 10 years standing--and as
someone who desperately hopes for an acceptance letter next
December--I am frequently the butt of Stanford jokes made by my
neighbors. Living near the East Coast, they don't realize, as you
noted in America's Best Sports Colleges (Oct. 7, 2002), that
Stanford is an excellent academic institution and one of the
nation's premier athletic universities. Thank you for giving some
respect to the basketball team's not-so-surprising success and
newfound toughness.
Matthew Platkin, Morristown, N.J.

Never Too Late

In Rick Reilly's column about the many senior citizens who are
returning to coaching (The Life of Reilly, Jan. 19), 93-year-old
former UCLA wizard John Wooden suggests he'd like to return as an
assistant coach. Assistant coach? Within a week he'd be running
the program. Within a season, given the right program and the
right chemistry, he'd win his 11th national championship.
Hermann K. Orlet, Martinez, Ga.

How do I go about offering an assistant's job to Coach Wooden? My
high school team is currently 2-14, and I could use the help.
Don Dziagwa, Tampa

Starting Small

Football all-star games for college seniors are indeed a great
way to get exposure, especially for the nationally untelevised
Divisions II and III and the NAIA (Name Recognition, Feb. 2).
Your chart titled "Class of '03," summarizing the NFL
accomplishments of players from these generally unrecognized
college football leagues, omitted one of the NFL's most
surprising rookie stories. Casey Fitzsimmons played last year in
the Paradise Bowl after a successful college career at tiny
Carroll College in Helena, Mont., the 2002 NAIA football
champions. His achievements at Carroll and his performance in
that bowl game helped him land a free-agent contract with the
Detroit Lions. Fitzsimmons started 11 games for the Lions last
season, had 23 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
Philip Porrini, Helena, Mont.

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO COLOR PHOTO: JONATHAN FERREY/GETTY IMAGES (WIE) ON THE BUBBLE Wie nearly made the cut in her PGA debut. COLOR PHOTO: OTTO GREULE JR./GETTY IMAGES GOOD CATCH The Lions' Fitzsimmons.

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