I could not help but notice that four different members of the New England Patriots have appeared on three of the last four SI covers-- Tedy Bruschi (Jan. 24), Tom Brady (Feb. 7) and Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel (Feb. 14)--as they earned their third championship in the last four years. Coincidence? I think not.
"Fancy Footwork" is the caption for Heinz Kluetmeier's great photograph of Patriot Deion Branch in Three-Ring Circus (Feb. 14). Indeed, Branch's feet are inbounds after he makes the reception, but check out the line judge's eyes. We love to criticize players and refs in all of sports, but this photo shows that the official, Mark Steinkerchner, is in the perfect place to make the call.
Polly MacMullen, Brentwood, N.H.
Michael Silver writes, "Because they do not ... beat their chests in triumph, the New England Patriots are forever being cast as commonplace champions," then goes on to compare them to milk shakes and the Beach Boys. A photo that ran with the story shows Vrabel helping Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to his feet, but flip back to LEADING OFF and there's Vrabel mocking Terrell Owens in a celebratory dance--and on the previous spread there's David Givens flexing his muscles in celebration after a touchdown. The Patriots are the best team in professional football, but they're not choirboys. These photos prove they're just as flashy and gaudy as any other NFL team.
Jonathan Sexton, Montgomery, Ala.
The Patriots answered the dynasty question with a resounding Yes on Super Sunday. But where will Bill Belichick be without both of his genius coordinators-- Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel--who have gone on to other jobs? Next season is going to be a time for the coach to put all the critics to rest.
Zach Schneider, Duluth
That Time of Year