How refreshing to read about a professional athlete who doesn't think through a sneaker or talk through an agent's mouth (The Fire Was Gone and So He Quit, Nov. 22). Dave Cowens' attitude reflects a person who seems to be not only physically fit, but also psychologically stable enough to consider himself as much more than a commercial package of muscle and sweat.
THOMAS R. JONES
Though not a Boston Celtic fan or a Dave Cowens fan, I have always had the highest regard for Cowens' basketball ability. After reading your article, I respect him even more as a man.
B. J. LANGE
The average person has little difficulty understanding Dave Cowens' reasons for leaving the Celtics. Many of us have experienced the same feelings in our own careers. We can identify with his thinking and respect the honorable way in which he took his leave. I am sure his actions are puzzling to many other professional superstars, however. Catfish Hunter and George McGinnis must be astounded. Reggie Jackson, Julius Erving and Don Gullett are surely amazed. And can O. J. Simpson or Bobby Hull understand what Cowens has done? Probably not, but I'll have a much easier time explaining Cowens' actions to my 10-year-old sports-fan son than I have had trying to explain the recent actions of some other professional athletes. I wish Cowens the best of luck in whatever he decides to do.
As a Celtic fan I should be saddened by Dave Cowens' leave-taking, but I am not. It takes a big man to play basketball the way he does and an even bigger person to know, and admit it, when his play is uninspired. He gets my vote for MVP, because rather than rip off the fans and the game, he took a break to check his priorities. How many players, superstars or not, are willing to do that? Maybe it is a reminder that sports, although often paying big money, are not bigger than life.
ERIC A. NELSON
Forest Park, Ill.
May I suggest that professional sports examine themselves and the monster they have created. I hope other athletes will not be driven from the sports they love.
GARY F. KEPHART
ON THE LINE
The Frank Hammond position while calling the service line during a tennis match is, as George Plimpton reported (On the Firing Line, Nov. 15), comparable to that of "a-sprinter poised in the starting blocks." Nobody can do a Hammond stance like Frank.
Unfortunately, SI showed Hammond only in repose, so I'd like to share my photograph of Hammond in action at the U.S. Open this past September.
New York City
For years tennis pros have complained about the quality of officiating, yet tennis does not pay its officials an adequate wage, if any wage at all. If these same players gave up a small portion of their prize money to be set aside for a regular salaried corps of officials, the officiating would improve. You get what you pay for.
PETER F. SALOMON, M.D.
Your Nov. 22 cover of new NFL star Walter Payton of the Bears was most gratifying. Chicago's success this year has been due to the improvement of Payton. Chicago fans have been waiting a long time for a winner and No. 34 could be just what we need.
Your collection of new NFL stars (Making a Name for Themselves) is incomplete. You left out two very good players. Wide Receiver Frank Grant and Running Back Mike Thomas of the Redskins. Drafted by Washington in the 13th round in 1972, Grant replaced the injured Roy Jefferson last year and did a fantastic job. So far this year he has 46 pass receptions for 747 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas rushed for 919 yards last year as a rookie, and he has gained 1,003 yards on 227 attempts and scored five touchdowns to date this year.