SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Excellent choice! Mary Decker is the consummate athlete: gifted, dedicated, resilient. She's also an inspiration. She has shown us that there's a place in this world for the insecure. Rather than being beaten by her emotional needs, Mary has used them to become the best woman track and field athlete of the '80s. In addition, she has one other asset: She's beautiful!
Saint Michaels, Md.
As a strictly amateur runner who runs simply for the pleasure of it, I was thrilled to see your selection of Mary Decker as Sportswoman of the Year. Thank you, Mary, for your soul and for your spirit. And thanks, SI, for recognizing the part of her that goes beyond world records.
It's difficult to argue with your pick of Mary Decker as Sportswoman of the Year, but I wonder why Julius Erving, a man who has deserved to be honored for so many years, a man who is the embodiment of the term sportsman, has never been chosen Sportsman of the Year. Dr. J has graced the pro basketball court for 13 years now, giving fans his supreme effort, and he has served his community and numerous charities. Maybe you should initiate a new award, Sportsman of the Century, and give it to him.
Granted, Mary Decker had an outstanding year, but you should have selected Edwin Moses, who has had seven outstanding years and who also has dominated his event as no other person has. Decker may go down in history as one of the alltime track greats, but Moses, who is probably the world's best active athlete, will certainly be remembered as the greatest intermediate hurdler ever.
Not since you bypassed Ron Guidry for Jack Nicklaus in 1978 have you made such a mistake. An amateur athlete might well deserve the award in 1984, but a more appropriate choice this year would have been Moses Malone, Martina Navratilova or the New York Islanders.
HENRY A. MEER
New York City
DR Z's ALL-PROS
As usual, Paul Zimmerman picked a superb All-Pro team for the 1983 NFL season (Dr. Z Lets You Know Who's Really All-Pro, Dec. 26-Jan. 2). With so much veteran and rookie talent to choose from, he had to make some tough selections, but the final squad looks fine.
Unfortunately, I have to point out a rare error by Dr. Z. He stated, " O.J. Simpson (1973), Earl Campbell (1980) and Jim Brown (1963) are the only NFL players ever to rush for more than the 1,808 yards [Eric] Dickerson gained this year...." Sorry, but not included on that list is one of the best backs of all time, Chicago's Walter Payton. In 1977 Payton had 339 rushes for 1,852 yards and 14 touchdowns. What's more, Payton did it in a 14-game season!
?It also should be noted that Simpson surpassed 1,808 yards twice, rushing for 2,003 in 1973 and 1,817 in 1975.—ED.
Finally someone has recognized Baltimore's Raul Allegre as the fine kicker he is. After finding out he wasn't picked for the Pro Bowl, I thought all the so-called experts were crazy. Way to go. Dr. Z. At least someone knows what he's talking about.
As a longtime San Francisco fan, I applaud Paul Zimmerman's choice of 49er offensive tackle Keith Fahnhorst for his All-Pro team. Conversely, I contend that the reason Dr. Z offered for not naming San Francisco wide receiver Dwight Clark to his team ("...he labored under tight double coverage all year, which kept his numbers down") is the very reason that Clark should have been chosen. Clark's numbers were 70 catches for 840 yards (12.0 average) and eight touchdowns. That's outstanding, considering the double coverage.