SUPER BOWL XVI
I tried to convince myself that this year's Super Bowl would be a bomb because my favorites. Dallas and San Diego, weren't involved, but then I finally broke down and watched the game. I was rewarded not only by the San Francisco 49ers' masterful performance but also by Paul Zimmerman's superb dissection of the game (X'd, O'd and KO'd, Feb. 1). I'm sure that this and the San Diego-Miami playoff game close out—at least until August—the Zimmerman-John Underwood debate (A Running Debate, Sept. 7) as to which brand of the game is more exciting, college or pro.
Twentynine Palms, Calif.
I'm prejudiced, but Paul Zimmerman's article on the 49ers' Super Bowl win was one of the best I've read in my many years as a subscriber. It reflects the reason why I've returned as a pro football fan this season: San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh and an exciting brain-along-with-brawn brand of football.
You featured the 49ers on three consecutive covers (Jan. 18, Jan. 25 and Feb. 1). I worried about the SI cover jinx after the first, but relaxed after the second, hoping the second would cancel the first and negate the jinx. And now after the third, I'm ecstatic. And curious. Have three consecutive covers of SI ever before featured one team or one individual from any sport?
LOWELL P. BRAUN
Menlo Park, Calif.
•Not that we can recall. However, Bill Walton and some of his UCLA teammates came close in 1974, when they appeared on two consecutive covers—March 25 and April 1. opposite assorted North Carolina State players—and on three covers in six weeks, the other being Feb. 25, against Oregon. UCLA lost to both those teams that year.—ED.
In regard to Andy Hayt's excellent cover shot (Feb. 1) of Earl Cooper executing one of football's greatest spikes, I noticed some interesting coincidences. Cooper, No. 49 for the 49ers, not only ended the season with his picture on the cover but he also began it with his photograph on the opening pages of your 1981 pro football preview (Sept. 7). In addition, he was on the cover of your Dec. 21 issue. What's more, all three pictures were taken by Hayt.
Park Falls, Wis.
As an NFC fan, I'm ecstatic over the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl victory, and I think they certainly deserved to appear on the cover of SI. In fact, their Cinderella rise to the top of the NFL might even have earned them the right to be on the cover twice in a row. But three weeks straight? That is an honor that should be reserved only for God—or Tom Landry.
SCOTT R. HUMPHREY
College Station, Texas
I can't believe you totally overlooked the performance of the Bengals', and formerly Northeastern's, Dan Ross. After all. he only set a Super Bowl record for receptions (11) and scored two touchdowns. However, I guess you were right all along when you wrote in your preview article What's New? These Two (Jan. 25) that Ross is "one of the NFL's underrated tight ends." He must be underrated. His name wasn't mentioned in your entire Super Bowl story.
Paul Zimmerman's otherwise superb account of Super Bowl XVI was marred by an outmoded characterization: "The team [the 49ers] that uses the pass to set up the run went Big Ten. No more passes, not one."
During the 1981 season the Big Ten ranked second among Division IA conferences in passing yardage per game per team.
Enquirer and News
Battle Creek, Mich.
While reading the poignant and amusing story by Ron Fimrite about his beloved but ofttimes inept San Francisco 49ers (Mind You, This Time It's Not All Over. Jan. 25). I was moved by his vivid recollections of the Niners of old who played in the rock pile called Kezar Stadium. It was a terrific piece of journalism, and I, who have little reason to follow the Niners, being a born-and-bred Midwesterner, wish I could have seen the team in those days of Y.A. Tittle. Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny. Unfortunately, my earliest memory of the Niners is with John Brodie at quarterback and Matt Hazeltine at linebacker. However, my first football hero was McElhenny, who was then an aging but exciting running back for the 1961 Vikings.