Wolff somehow managed to capture the very essence of the Connors experience: the intensity, the thrills, the chills and, yes, the occasional embarrassment. It's why I cared in the 1970s and 1980s, and why, during that wonderful two-week U.S. Open joyride in '91, I wondered what took everybody so long to catch up.
Jack F.K. Bungart, Napa, Calif.
I want to commend SI for focusing on Michael Phelps's choice to give his spot on the 4√ó100 medley relay to Ian Crocker (Break Out the Bubbly, Aug. 30). Phelps had earned the right to compete in that relay and set yet another world record. He decided, however, to give his fellow swimmer another opportunity. Such an unselfish act is rarely seen these days in the world of sports, and I'm glad that you emphasized it in your article.
September 19, 2004
Paul Burkhardt, Milford, N.H.
Rick Reilly does a fine job of saluting the phenomenal accomplishments of Michael Phelps in the pool at Athens (The Life of Reilly, Aug. 30). In comparing Phelps with swimming immortal Mark Spitz, however, he does the latter an injustice by failing to mention the intense psychological burden Spitz must have carried as a Jewish athlete when members of the Israeli team were murdered by terrorists in Munich on Sept. 6, 1972, two days after Spitz won his seventh medal. While Phelps was indeed physically drained, he could not have been as emotionally spent as Spitz--whose celebration was quickly curtailed because he knew his religion made him a marked man.
Andrew Scharf, New York City
Vlad All Over
Kudos to Esmeralda Santiago for her article on one of baseball's most prolific--and under the radar--players (The Quiet Warrior, Aug. 30). Vladimir Guerrero plays with passion and no superfluous flash. He's a true throwback who doesn't use batting gloves or other unnecessary gear, and is another incredible baseball story from the Dominican Republic.
Milciades Feliz, Bronx, N.Y.
The Men and the Myth
I am just back from my month in the mostly magical time warp of Athens and have just read the poetically juxtaposed articles on Joe Namath (Where Have You Gone, Joe Namath?, Aug. 9) and Mike Tyson (Bottomed Out, Aug. 9). They are two of the most obvious examples of the destructive media wish-fulfillment culture of which we are all a part. Joe didn't want to be Broadway Joe, but it became necessary for his survival to sustain that false image. Mike Tyson hasn't wanted to be Iron Mike for many years now, but he became the prisoner of his own bizarre circumstances. Media, which could, with any careful consideration, have been more aware of the gap between reality and perception, chose to print and broadcast the legends rather than the facts. It sells more, but it serves no other interest.
Jim Lampley, HBO/NBC
The Hazards of Hazing
SI put Pat Tillman on the cover following his untimely death in Afghanistan (May 3). At a moving memorial service Zack Walz, a former NFL teammate of Tillman's, recalled how when Walz became the victim of a rookie hazing incident, Tillman stood up and refused to allow it to continue. Now, following a similar incident, SI puts a spotlight on Oakland's Teyo Johnson (Scorecard, Aug. 30), who reacted to the hazing of rookie teammate Andre Sommersell by saying, "You've got to accept your fate sometimes." Contrary to Johnson's belief, no one should have to accept the ridiculous and--as members of Long Island's Mepham High School football team learned last summer--sometimes abhorrent behavior that is a part of hazing. Anyone who witnesses such behavior should feel empowered to step up and speak out against it, as Tillman seemed to understand.
Howard Simon, Roslyn, N.Y.
Before you get too carried away with the post-playing-career success of several former Oakland Raiders (SCORECARD, Aug. 23), consider the following Washington Redskins alumni from the 1960s alone: a current member of Congress (Nebraska Republican Tom Osborne, the former Nebraska coach), a major university chancellor (Robert Khayat of Ole Miss), a union chief (Billy Hunter of the National Basketball Players Association) and a former United States ambassador to the Bahamas (Sidney Williams). And that doesn't even take into account former Maryland basketball coach Bob Wade and a former Florida football coach Galen Hall.
Philip R. Hochberg, Rockville, Md.
You compared Ben Roethlisberger with Terry Bradshaw (INSIDE THE NFL, Aug. 30), but not only does Roethlisberger talk and act like John Elway--natural leader, win at all costs, etc.--he also plays like him. He even has that same knock-kneed, pigeon-toed throw. Am I the only one who noticed?
Bernadette Reyes, Escondido, Calif.