Net Gain

Watching RafaelNadal and Roger Federer trade shot after spectacular shot for almost five hourswas magnificent. It is refreshing to have a rivalry defined by mutual respect,competitive fire, hard work and a flair for the dramatic. "The greatestmatch ever played" may have been won by Rafa, but we fans were the truewinners.
Ray Bailey, Ottawa, Ill.

Greatest matchever? How can Nadal-Federer (The Spin Master, July 14--21) be more excitingthan the marathon between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg in 1980, which includedan 18--16 fourth set? Borg's 8--6 victory in the fifth concluded a truemasterpiece.
Andrew Green, Erie, Colo.


Stefan Fatsis'sessay on his time embedded with the Broncos gave the best description of themental and emotional challenges of playing in the NFL that I have seen in print(Players, July 14--21). I voluntarily left the NFL following the 1996 seasonafter four years as a center in Arizona and one in Seattle. Even today I stillhave dreams this time of year in which I'm late to a meeting, getting beratedby a coach or can't find the stadium. Being a professional football player isone of the top 10 most stressful jobs in the country. Yes, there is glory,money and fame, but the men who play the game America loves are paying a pricethat may negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. And no amount ofmoney can change that.
Ed Cunningham, Venice, Calif.

While the lack ofguaranteed contracts and potential for serious injury clearly make the NFL theleast player-friendly major sports league, the insinuation that we should feelsorry for these players is pathetic. We all compete to reach our career goals.While the average American household income is $48,201, NFL athletes play for amedian annual salary of $770,000.
Matthew Blecha, Chicago

Where Are TheyNow?

Thanks for yourupdate on Jim Abbott (Where Are They Now?, July 14--21). My sons and I attendedmany Royals games, arriving early and staying late to get autographs. Manyplayers would dodge requests, even from children. After a game one night Abbottexited the stadium carrying a bag in his one hand. My son Joel ran up to him toask him for his autograph. Abbott put down his bag, tucked the baseball underhis arm and signed it. He still represents all that is right with sports.
Dan Thomas, Pretty Prairie, Kans.

If the Hall ofFame is going to keep Pete Rose out because he harmed the game, why doesn't itput in Abbott, who, despite his losing record, inspired so many?
Rick Hopelain, Mill Valley, Calif.

Anna Kournikova amature, intelligent adult. Who knew? The fact that she's turned out so nicelydespite hangers-on trying to steer her in the opposite direction might be thesports story of the year.
Andy Amey, West Terre Haute, Ind.

The story on JohnCarlos and Tommie Smith, the sprinters who raised their fists at the 1968Olympics, struck me as tragic. How can two men whose shared moment defined themood of an era allow their petty animosities to cheapen the historicalsignificance of their act?
Dave Lowry, Ottawa

Your vintage photoof Alex Karras, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford reconfirmed a decision I madeto destroy every picture ever taken of me in the '70s!
John M. Casteel, Traverse City, Mich.

The Death ofCool

I agree with PhilTaylor that Cool certainly is dead (POINT AFTER, July 14--21). But I believeCool was much older than Taylor stated. Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were coollong before the '60s.
Tony Ferrara, Coal Township, Pa.

I'm very sorry tohear of Cool's demise. I actually got to meet him once. He acted exactly likeBarry Sanders.
Brett Kenschaft, Denver

Cool was mortallywounded by Muhammad Ali when he regularly bragged about his talent and tauntedhis opponents.
Francis W. Green, Albemarle, N.C.

Seems to me Cooldied soon after ESPN's SportsCenter hit the airwaves.
Alan Marks, Concord, Mass.

I'll never forgetwhen Cool went on the respirator: the day that Adam Morrison cried athalf-court.
Brian Phelps, Indianapolis

Phil Taylorconfuses enthusiasm and celebration with braggadocio. By his definition TigerWoods (as seen ecstatically celebrating on SI's recent U.S. Open cover) is not"cool."
Peter Bertschmann, Sherborn, Mass.

Remember, Phil,even MJ cried after winning his first NBA Finals in 1991.
Peter Schock, Wenatchee, Wash.

Does the laid-backmanner of Eli Manning suggest that Cool could make a comeback?
Bob Birge, Stratford, Conn.

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