Happy New Year
As a Texas alumnus who is aware of the SI cover jinx, I was excited to see USC's Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart on the cover (Dec. 26--Jan. 2). Now that Texas has won the college football national championship, however, I see that you were actually correct: The Trojans were the best team of 2005; the Horns are the best of 2006.
Ken Lass, Nashville
A Culture with Pop
What an imposing potential lineup there is in Walter Iooss Jr.'s photograph, Latin Kings (Crowd-Pleasers, Dec. 26--Jan. 2). A more daunting decision than the one you mention--who would bat cleanup--would be whom to bench. There are logjams in the outfield ( Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Beltran, and Miguel Cabrera), first base ( Albert Pujols and David Ortiz) and possibly at third base ( Cabrera has some experience at the hot corner, though Melvin Mora would undoubtedly be the starter), and you can use only one of them as the DH, so at least one of these amazing batsmen will be riding the pine. That's a problem 30 major league baseball teams would love to have.
Bill Godwin-Austen, San Diego
I cannot believe that the NFL and the players' association decided to give each member of the New Orleans Saints a $40,000 bonus for "performing under unusual and unanticipated conditions" (Scorecard, Dec. 26--Jan. 2). What the league should have done was donate the money to the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. You know, the ones who are living in shelters around the country because their homes--and not their stadium--were destroyed.
Danielle Papa, Patterson, N.Y.
A Father Remembered
Thank you for including my father, pitcher Nelson Briles, in Gone but Not Forgotten (Dec. 26--Jan. 2). I was touched to see my dad listed among such an accomplished group. It was a terrific Christmas present.
David Briles, Westerville, Ohio
Your nine-chapter collaboration, 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (Dec. 26--Jan. 2), shows once again why boxing is, in the words of former heavyweight champion George Foreman, "the sport to which all others aspire." For the athlete, no other sport more fully measures one's true mettle. For the writer, from Norman Mailer to Ernest Hemingway to A.J. Liebling, no other subject is as rich in drama, pathos, comedy, absurdity and redemption.
Ernest Rodriguez, Nashville