Maria, Full of Grace
Thank you for putting Maria Sharapova on your cover (July 12-19). It's interesting that she just happens to be reaching up her skirt to grab a new ball, exposing a little extra leg. We all know this was a coincidence and had nothing to do with her beauty. It's obvious that if a less attractive woman had won Wimbledon, she also would have graced the cover. That's good to know.
Maria's won one Grand Slam event, but so have Anastasia Myskina, Iva Majoli, Jana Novotna and Conchita Martinez. I don't remember their victories earning an SI cover. What's different about Maria? I'm guessing her ponytail, modeling contract and aggressive agents had something to do with it. I thought the swimsuit issue had already been published this year.
SHARON UTZ, Arlington, Va.
L. Jon Wertheim was prescient. Who's That Girl? (Sept. 2, 2002) noted, "The WTA is desperately seeking a new star to embody its ideal of strength, attitude and sex appeal," so he created the fictitious Simonya Popova. Sharapova's wholesome freshness, maturity, aggressiveness and results make for an even better ideal.
DAVE HEPPBERGER, Atherton, Calif.
Great WHERE ARE THEY NOW issue (July 12-19)! Having two adopted sons under one means I don't usually get to read all of SI. However, this week I stayed up late. It reminds me of a lesson I will teach my boys: It's not if you win or lose, or even how you play the game, but how you live your life that matters.
JEFF HAYES, Pittsburgh
It's amazing how we come to admire an athlete from the past through tales told by dads and uncles. With only those stories and videotape, I long ago became a fan of Dick Butkus (Forever Growlin'). Number 51's understanding of the game, coupled with his brute strength and desire to succeed, should make him a required subject for study in NFL locker rooms.
MICHAEL D. DRESSELL, Cincinnati
It was nice that photographer Al Tielemans didn't upset Scott Norwood by talking about his famous missed kick (A Life After Wide Right), but you made us Bills fans live through it again!
I have always felt that Norwood and Bill Buckner got the rawest deal of any two athletes in recent memory. They are each remembered more for their one public failure than for their stellar careers. America is a very fickle nation indeed.
THANE R. KOLARIK, Pittsburgh
I disagree with the notion that Tony Mandarich was a wasted draft pick for the Green Bay Packers (The Flip of the Flop). Mandarich's failure turned out to be the last straw for the board of directors in the NFL's smallest city. If the Packers had taken Barry Sanders, it is conceivable that they would not have continued to flounder. Tom Braatz might have kept running football operations, and Ron Wolf would not have been hired to take over. Coach Mike Holmgren wouldn't have replaced Lindy Infante. They wouldn't have traded for Brett Favre, and Reggie White would have signed with another team, and on and on. That said, how can anyone deny that the most influential Green Bay draft pick over the last 20 years must be Mandarich? He turned out to be one of the people responsible for bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay. Thank you, Tony.
DENNIS KAEGI, Weston, Wis.
Yanks a Lot
For the last 12 months I have looked forward to reading the poll results in your weekly Sports in America section, and your national poll (July 12-19) was a fitting climax. Having the Yankees win the Triple Crown—they were voted Favorite Team and Most Hated Team, and George Steinbrenner won as Enemy of the Nation—warmed my heart. Your photo of the Boss looking for a fight now hangs in my office.
MIKE WEINSTEIN, Edison, N.J.
As the first baseball and last football stadium announcer in the 36 years of D.C./ RFK Memorial Stadium, I say thank you, thank you for recognizing Washington, D.C., as the 51st state (July 12-19). However, you should have gotten the correct spelling for Spingarn High School.
PHIL HOCHBERG, Rockville, Md.