How could Oklahoma make the cover for its 35-24 yawner against overrated Texas (Football Fever, Oct. 21)? Miami's 28-27 win over Florida State, decided by FSU's Xavier Beitia—who bucked the wide right trend and sent one wide left—was the thriller of the week.
CHRIS BELLO, San Diego
The excerpt from John Feinstein's The Punch (Oct. 21) was one of the finest pieces of journalism I have ever read. It brought insight and a sense of compassion to the tragic story of Rudy Tomjanovich and Kermit Washington and elevated a truly awful event into something much bigger: an examination of how a single angry action can change everything. It also showed how every situation, no matter how painful, difficult or unfortunate, offers an opportunity for forgiveness and grace.
BOB GOOKIN, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Washington's major mistakes were not punching and almost killing Tomjanovich; they were blaming other players, showing little remorse, demanding money from the NBA and invoking racism when he was criticized. He threw the punch and never took sole responsibility for it. He deserves to be a pariah until he does.
ROB BOSCHETTO, Doylestown, Pa.
Although Washington's polygraph results were "almost miraculously high" when asked if he felt threatened by Tomjanovich, it is important to point out that if you tell the same lie often enough, you may eventually believe it yourself.
DOUG REARDON, Arlington, Mass.
The actual punch was preceded that season by an SI feature story that glorified Washington, Maurice Lucas, Calvin Murphy and other tough guys (The Enforcers, Oct. 31, 1977). The NBA in that era was on a path to NHL-type entertainment. The punch instantly changed the league's attitude toward violence, and that is good.
JERRY FRANKLIN, Carrollton, Va.
Regardless of what Kevin Kunnert did or did not do, it doesn't justify Washington's attack on Tomjanovich. It appears that Washington's thinking in this regard has not advanced beyond that of a young child.
Scott S. Pollard
Reading Feinstein's excerpt brought back the same intensely negative feelings toward Washington that grew within me as a 17-year-old at the time of the incident. And then I asked myself, Would I feel just as negative had the skin color of the men been reversed and a fellow white man had thrown the punch? Sad to say, I think the answer is no.
RON STAPLETON, Canton, Mich.
Jeff MacGregor's portrayal of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart (Road Rage, Oct. 21) is yet another example of pandering to talented athletes. Stewart should realize that were it not for the intrusive media, there would probably not be 140,000 fans in the seats, and a man whose main skill is "spooky hand-eye coordination" would certainly not have been able to "earn" over $11.4 million in prize money between 1999 and 2001, nor the millions of endorsement dollars for which he must suffer the travails of handshakes and interviews.
COREY D. EBER, New York City
What Really Matters
Kudos to Rick Reilly for his uplifting and insightful look at Savanna High football (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 21). The seven-year losing streak has generated plenty of publicity for the team and our town, and too much of it has been negative. A lot can be said about the young men who have suited up over the past seven seasons: Week after week they continue to battle, despite the sometimes overwhelming odds, and have represented their school with heads held high. We should be just as proud of these players as we are of the players who've won conference championships.
BRIAN REUSCH, Savanna, Ill.
Thanks for showing the other side of the story—that sometimes kids just love to play the sport and put it on the line every week. Sixteen or so kids who go up against teams of 30 or more kids week after week, year after year, deserve respect for their desire and dedication.
ROBIN BOWDISH, Scio, Ohio