NFL parity at its finest: Dr. Z picks the Panthers to win it all after the team finished 7-9 last season (NFL PREVIEW, Sept. 5). This is the only league in which you can pick a sub-.500 team from the year before to be world champions and it seems to make sense.
A.J. Donatoni Malvern, Pa.
Somebody give Dr. Z a good shake. Super Bowl XL will be a rematch of last year: Patriots-Eagles, Round 2. Except this time it's our turn.
Frank Keel, North Wales, Pa.
The caption for the excellent opening photo of your NFL 2005 section mentions the Steelers' Hines Ward as a playmaker, but it omits All-Pro guard Alan Faneca (number 66), who apparently has sprinted downfield ahead of Ward and is making the final block to enable the touchdown. For every touted playmaker there is an unsung lineman doing the dirty work.
Linley Gwennap Mountain View, Calif.
I pass the ball, and you catch it (Going by the Book, Sept. 5). I hand the ball to you, and you run with it. See that guy with the ball? Tackle him. Isn't that pretty much it? These players are highly paid men who, almost without exception, have been playing football for a long time. It seems that no one can surpass the NFL for sheer delusional self-importance. How complicated can this be?
Alan J. Vitello, Arvada, Colo.
Hot Hand of God
You had Diego Maradona in the Who's Hot column when he should be in the Who's Not column (SCORECARD, Sept. 5). Maradona said his 1986 World Cup goal against England was punched in by him and not, as he'd always claimed, by "the Hand of God." Surely admitting to blatant cheating in the World Cup is not hot?
Robin Frost, Tega Cay, S.C.
Of Two Minds
In the Who's Not column (SCORECARD, Sept. 5) you criticize the Yankees, who "underwhelmed fans by trading for [Matt] Lawton." A few pages later, in INSIDE BASEBALL, Tom Verducci praises the Yankees for a "shrewd pickup" of Lawton. Was the acquisition good or not?
Jordan Tierney, Decatur, Ga.
A college QB who never complained about waiting four years to start, gets good grades and serves his community? I may be a die-hard Michigan State fan, but after reading about Georgia's D.J. Shockley (INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Sept. 5), I'll be rooting on the Dawgs this year.
Erika Salemme, Chicago
Thanks for ruining the column about the classic final in the Little League World Series (INSIDE BASEBALL, Sept. 5) by noting that "[i]n the stands, and on the field, there were excruciatingly few African-Americans, but a family tree of the players in the Cura√ßao-Hawaii final revealed a mini United Nations.... [T]he players were light and dark and in between." How many times have your writers mentioned the glories of keeping the adults out of kids' games? How about Martin Luther King Jr.'s statement that our goal is a society where we do not pay attention to the color of a person's skin?
Leah Settle Gibbs, Monroe, Va.
I respect USC's Matt Leinart's decision to play another year of college football rather than enter the NFL draft, but I think there is something wrong with an athlete's playing on a team when he is only a part-time student (SCORECARD, Sept. 5). I'd say that Leinart is not even a part-time student, given that the only course he is taking is ballroom dancing. He may be trying to guide USC to a third straight national championship, but how can he be considered a student-athlete?
Michael Choi, New York City
A Call to Action
SI and the National Recreation and Park Association have established the SI Gulf Coast Community Sports Relief Fund to assist in the rebuilding of local sports facilities and programs on the Gulf Coast. One hundred percent of all donations will be distributed directly to towns in need. All donations are tax-deductible and are being accepted now at www.communityseason.com/SI-NRPA-katrina.
Because you pride yourself on your visuals, I'm surprised by your publication in the NFL Preview of outdated helmets for the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Rob Wieman, Gig Harbor, Wash.
EDITOR'S NOTE: SI regrets the errors.
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