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August 11, 2008
Net Gain
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August 11, 2008


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Net Gain

Watching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer trade shot after spectacular shot for almost five hours was magnificent. It is refreshing to have a rivalry defined by mutual respect, competitive fire, hard work and a flair for the dramatic. "The greatest match ever played" may have been won by Rafa, but we fans were the true winners.
Ray Bailey, Ottawa, Ill.

Greatest match ever? How can Nadal-Federer (The Spin Master, July 14--21) be more exciting than the marathon between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg in 1980, which included an 18--16 fourth set? Borg's 8--6 victory in the fifth concluded a true masterpiece.
Andrew Green, Erie, Colo.

Non-Fantasy Football

Stefan Fatsis's essay on his time embedded with the Broncos gave the best description of the mental and emotional challenges of playing in the NFL that I have seen in print (Players, July 14--21). I voluntarily left the NFL following the 1996 season after four years as a center in Arizona and one in Seattle. Even today I still have dreams this time of year in which I'm late to a meeting, getting berated by a coach or can't find the stadium. Being a professional football player is one of the top 10 most stressful jobs in the country. Yes, there is glory, money and fame, but the men who play the game America loves are paying a price that may negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. And no amount of money can change that.
Ed Cunningham, Venice, Calif.

While the lack of guaranteed contracts and potential for serious injury clearly make the NFL the least player-friendly major sports league, the insinuation that we should feel sorry for these players is pathetic. We all compete to reach our career goals. While the average American household income is $48,201, NFL athletes play for a median annual salary of $770,000.
Matthew Blecha, Chicago

Where Are They Now?

Thanks for your update on Jim Abbott (Where Are They Now?, July 14--21). My sons and I attended many Royals games, arriving early and staying late to get autographs. Many players would dodge requests, even from children. After a game one night Abbott exited the stadium carrying a bag in his one hand. My son Joel ran up to him to ask him for his autograph. Abbott put down his bag, tucked the baseball under his arm and signed it. He still represents all that is right with sports.
Dan Thomas, Pretty Prairie, Kans.

If the Hall of Fame is going to keep Pete Rose out because he harmed the game, why doesn't it put in Abbott, who, despite his losing record, inspired so many?
Rick Hopelain, Mill Valley, Calif.

Anna Kournikova a mature, intelligent adult. Who knew? The fact that she's turned out so nicely despite hangers-on trying to steer her in the opposite direction might be the sports story of the year.
Andy Amey, West Terre Haute, Ind.

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