Your Feb. 27 issue contains one of the finest profiles of a sports figure that I have ever read—Gary Smith's open letter to Mike Tyson about Eddie Futch (Dear Mike...). Smith's insightful character study of Mr. Futch is a moving and remarkable story of accomplishment. Boxing may be Mr. Futch's forum, but his message transcends boxing's social and economic boundaries. At some point in our lives we all need a Mr. Futch. He could teach anyplace, for his is a lesson of value to us all.
Whether Tyson will follow Smith's advice to seek out Mr. Futch remains to be seen. But Smith's thought-provoking article should send this message to young people everywhere: You can learn a lot about life and yourselves from someone like Mr. Futch.
WARREN F. ROCKWELL
A couple of years ago I attended the Virgil Hill-Wayne Caplette light heavyweight fight in Williston, N.Dak. There was an autograph session afterward, and as I was waiting my turn, I noticed Hill's trainer, Mr. Futch, sitting back by himself, away from the crowd. After I got through the line, I walked over to him and asked if he would sign my book. He took it and slowly signed it. He was very calm and didn't say a word, despite all the excitement in the room. I want to thank you for telling me the story behind that quiet man. I am a senior in high school, and I see Mr. Futch as a man to respect.
I have spent many years despising the Dallas Cowboys, but what happened to Tom Landry is a disgrace ("A Chapter Closed," March 6). Landry has always projected an image of class. Oh, sure, people thought of putting a photograph of him on their dart boards, but never was Landry the real target. The Cowboys were. He was successful. He was good at his job. He did not deserve to be deposed by an apparent egomaniac who wanted his college buddy to be his coach. I just hope that Mr. Landry is aware that many people in America loved to root against his teams but never wished him anything but the best. Good luck, Coach.
Jerral Jones closed the deal on the Cowboys, hired Jimmy Johnson, painted a Cowboy logo on his Learjet and fired an angel of a coach in less than 24 hours. Will Dallas use the no-huddle offense during games, too? Timeout, Jones. Give Landry the respect he deserves.
Because I've been through a few firings myself, on both sides of the table, I can guarantee that delaying such an action in an attempt to soften the blow would have been the worst approach.
First, getting fired would not have been any easier for Tom Landry a month from now. In fact, it would have been worse because he would have been preparing for a new season with a false sense of security. Second, there would have been the distinct possibility of leaks, which might have led to speculation, suspicion, distrust and outright lies. Finally, in putting off the inevitable, the boss, in this case Jerral Jones, wouldn't have been honest with himself or with Landry, new coach Jimmy Johnson, the assistant coaches, the players, the fans or the press.
Once Jones had determined that a coaching change was to be made, it was incumbent upon him to carry out that change as quickly as possible. It was the kindest thing to do, as well as the right thing to do.
CHARLES R. HASTINGS
I was pleased that you ran a photograph of my painting of Arkansas's 1964 national champion football team, on which Jimmy Johnson and Jerral Jones played. However, I was disappointed that I did not receive credit for creating this mural.
Having read, in your Feb. 27 issue, the article on Montreal Canadiens coach Pat Burns ( Third-Degree Burns) and the special report on the scandalous acts committed by Oklahoma and Colorado football players (You Reap What You Sow and What Price Glory?), I think it would be advisable for all college football programs to hire a coach like Burns. Practices would be a lot tougher, but every athlete would learn the meaning of discipline. I should know: Pat's nephew, Don Burns, is coaching me on the defensive line of the Coll�ge du Vieux Montr�al football team. Believe me, the only difference between Pat and Don is age.