Texas quarterback Vince Young's mind-blowing performance in the Rose Bowl was perhaps unsurpassed in the annals of college football (The Night Is Young's, Jan. 9). By dominating the national championship game as he did and in outplaying USC's Heisman winner, Reggie Bush, Young led the Longhorns to the title and silenced his critics forever.
Kyle Shetterly, Portland
Young was unbelievable, and to have SI's article written by someone with the first name of Austin made it all the better.
Mike Pugel, Seattle
Bowling for Dollars
Thank you, Tim Layden and SI, for exposing the NCAA Division I-A football bowl fraud (Scorecard, Jan. 9). The lame explanations from the major conference commissioners for why a I-A playoff system wouldn't work are unsupportable and motivated purely by greed. I'm glad you've publicly challenged them.
Stephen P. Falvey, New Rochelle, N.Y.
The college football playoff you call for would diminish the regular season, in which, as you say, "almost every game feels like Armageddon." If a playoff were in place, do you really think the powers that be could resist the temptation to keep expanding? After all, more teams, more games, more TV, more money.
William B. Hopkins Jr., Roanoke, Va.
Steve Rushin made me a hero when he wrote about how I lost my two front teeth in the Baltimore locker room and Big Daddy Lipscomb stepped on my bridgework (Air and Space, Jan. 9). Big Daddy wanted to pay for my new dentures, but the Colts picked up the tab. That season, 1956, was John Unitas's first in Baltimore, and our team also included Hall of Famers Ray Berry, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Don Shula and coach Weeb Ewbank. It was an honor to play with those guys--and for Rushin to put me on the same page with coaches Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz, Bill Parcells, Joe Paterno and Dick Vermeil.
Bernie Flowers, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Alexander the Great
Thank you for your article on Alexander Ovechkin (The Russian Evolution, Jan. 9). I know this is sacrilegious--especially to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux fans--but Ovechkin is the most exciting hockey player I have seen since Bobby Orr. At least 10 times this season I have bolted off my couch and shouted, "Oh, my God, that's the most amazing goal I have ever seen!" Don't tell Caps owner Ted Leonsis, but I'd pay twice as much for my tickets just to watch him play.
David Domnitch, Burke, Va.
E.M. Swift's powerful article (What Went Wrong in Winthrop, Jan. 9) made me recall the pain my community went through almost 20 years ago. I was living in Spencer, Mass., in 1986 and was the captain of the football team when we lost a player to suicide. In the following months another 24 teens in the area attempted suicide. It seemed like our town was out of control, but somehow we all grew stronger together from this cruel lesson.
Corby Bowerfind, Cumberland, R.I.
While it was heartwarming to read about 103-year-old Green Bay fan Leone McKenney's receiving a pair of tickets to her first game at Lambeau Field (Scorecard, Jan. 9), it was sad to think she had to wait that long before someone was willing to surrender them. And even then, it took a 4-12 season to pry them loose.
Mike Patterson, Omaha
As Rick Reilly notes, Caltech is notorious for losing in sports (Life of Reilly, Jan. 9). It's only fair, however, to point out that the Beavers have had some notable athletic successes. Glenn Graham won a pole vault silver medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Phil Conley won an NCAA title and made the U.S. Olympic team in the javelin throw in 1956. The 1945 football team was undefeated, untied and unscored upon, totaling 159 points to none for its opponents, and Fred Newman, a Caltech alumnus, was until 2000 in the Guinness Book of World Records for making the most free throws in 24 hours.
Dick Van Kirk, Arcadia, Calif.
The Commissioner Speaks
I am compelled to clarify the record because of my lifelong respect for the sport of baseball. As your story The Big Man (Jan. 23) notes, baseball was my first love as a young sports fan. But in discussing my participation in sports, I often share an anecdote about quitting my law firm's softball team in the 1970s because the manager stuck me in rightfield, which bored me since there was little action there. I found it "about as exciting as standing in line at the supermarket," as I've told friends many times. If more balls had been hit my way, I am sure I would have enjoyed it more. Baseball is a great sport with millions of fans. I am one of them. In fact, I still have my old Brooklyn Dodgers yearbooks with Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and the other "Boys of Summer." Some people might find those books boring. Not me.
Paul Tagliabue, New York City Commissioner, National Football League
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