Super Manning

Self-effacing but self-confident, he leaves no doubt as to who is in charge and will always do what's best for his team (Passing Marks, Dec. 20). Change the 18 on his jersey to 19, give him black hightops, and it might be hard to tell Peyton Manning from Johnny Unitas.

Jim Hannon, Pittsburgh

This season's change in enforcement of the pass-defense rules has resulted in receivers' running patterns virtually unimpeded and has allowed quarterbacks to release the ball sooner. It's little wonder Manning had never attained a 100 passer rating in any of his six previous NFL seasons yet finished this season at 121.1.

Dennis H. Clark, Henderson, Nev.

Sonic Truth

Although you don't mention me by name in Suspiciously Good(Dec. 20), you have me saying that the Sonics' 17--3 start was "the most positive story in the history of Seattle sports" and accuse me of having "drunk the mochacinno." What I actually said on my radio show was that the Sonics were "the biggest surprise story, in a positive way, in the history of Seattle sports." I'm not silly enough to call this the biggest sports story in a town that has boasted an NBA championship, an NCAA football co-championship, the Mariners' 116-game-winning season and a baseball player who decimated the single-season hit record, no matter how many mochacinnos I have had--and I don't even drink them.

Mitch Levy, KJR Radio, Seattle


Peter King likes that the NFL has abandoned the idea of playing the 2009 Super Bowl in a cold-weather city in an outdoor stadium (Inside the NFL, Dec. 20). I don't like it. Football is meant to be played outside. Let's put the elements into the Super Bowl.

Jeremy Brummet, Huntingdon, Pa.

Veteran Athlete

Rick Reilly, you've done it again (Life of Reilly, Dec. 20). Iraq War vet Josh Amstutz's participation on the Texas A&M football team is the kind of story we all should be reading about.

Travis May, Tampa

Reilly's closing statement--"Hey, coach Dennis Franchione, can't you put him in? After all, he went in for you"--has to be the greatest line I've ever read in a sports publication. Wow!

Joe Bevino, Trumbull, Conn.

OxyContin Tragedy

As much as I would like to take umbrage at unflattering remarks about our city and the drug culture surrounding MLB pitching prospect Jeff Allison in your story Pride of Peabody (Dec. 20), the real tragedy is not that we let one athlete slip through the cracks but that we have let it happen to many young people. My hope is that--in every community--political leaders, educators, businesspeople, parents and students will take the larger lessons from your story and begin a process to rid our communities of the drug problems we all face. I assure you Peabody is working on ours.

Dave Hall, Peabody, Mass.

Sad. Twenty years old and he's already facing a 3--2 count. If only Ken Caminiti could talk to this guy right now.

Brad Gullickson, Brandon, S.Dak.

Allison, his family and friends seemed to have completely ignored the city's religious community or any other influence that would have emphasized ethics and simple decent behavior. This cancer--athletic ability without any sense of virtue and decency--is not easily cured.

Stephen Ficke, Clay Center, Kans.

I am a lifelong resident of Peabody, a 25-year-old male who, along with almost every one of my boyhood friends, has been seriously addicted to the drug OxyContin (OC). OC is not just a problem in Peabody, it is an epidemic. It's not just high school dropouts or kids that are always in trouble who are being swept up in this--but college grads with good jobs. I appreciate Coach Niz talking candidly about the problem and about his son Brad, whom I know very well. But please, Coach, if you care about this city and your students, turn over the teams to someone else. You have been successful, but too much has gone bad at the high school. It's ridiculous to say you had no idea Allison had a problem. I was away at school in another state, and I heard from many people that Jeff was going down the wrong path.

Name Withheld, Peabody, Mass.

Red Rider

Matt Bonner, the newest sports idol in Toronto (INSIDE THE NBA, Dec. 20), is called the Red Rocket not only because of his hair, as you suggest, but also because he likes to ride the streetcars of Toronto to get around. The Toronto Transit Commission has a slogan, Ride the Rocket, encouraging people to use public transportation.

Jason Egbuna, Brampton, Ont.

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COLOR PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (COVER) COLOR PHOTOSTAN BEHAL/SUN MEDIA CORP. MASS APPEAL Raptors fans may run into Bonner while riding public transit.