William Oscar Johnson described the trial in the $2 million Atkinson slander suit (A Walk on the Sordid Side, Aug. 1) with perfection. Many think that such articles shouldn't be published, but I am convinced that with this sort of attention, players will start realizing that their lives and professional careers are threatened when they commit flagrant fouls.
My heart aches. I have seen the game I've loved since I was old enough to join the neighborhood football team and turn on the television become little more than a pitiful battle of egos, grudges, selfishness and greed.
I don't know why, or how, or even when, exactly, but this magnificent sport with its tremendous skill and excitement and color has lost its magic.
Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
I could have settled the George Atkinson-Chuck Noll dispute easily, dispensing with the lengthy and expensive trial. What happened, simply stated, is that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a game to the Oakland Raiders, and Noll cried. He singled out Atkinson to divert attention from his defeat, a childish tactic, at best, because flagrant infractions of the rules are consistently overlooked by the officials in the NFL, and all teams suffer equally from these oversights.
I would have gathered all concerned, and to Chuck Noll I would have said, "If you can't stand to lose, you're in the wrong business." To Lynn Swann I would have said, "If you don't want to be hit, get out of the game." To George Atkinson, John Madden, Al Davis and the entire Raider organization I would have said, "Go for greatness! You thrill people from coast to coast each season with your own brand of aggressive and beautifully brilliant football. You are truly champions."
Johnson brings out the reason why the American people put up with today's violence and crime. Any society that applauds violence on a sports field will allow it to occur off it.
Your article on the Atkinson slander suit was superb. While Swann and Noll whimper behind the comforting coattails of Commissioner Rozelle, the " Oakland Criminals" will dominate professional football.
San Jose, Calif.
A Devil of a Time for the Angels (Aug. 1) proves you can't buy a world champion. The players aren't killing the game with their huge contracts, but the owners who give them the millions of dollars are. After all, no one held a gun to George Steinbrenner and said give Reggie Jackson $3 million.
South Orange, N.J.
You failed to point out that the real devil is General Manager Harry Dalton. The only good deal he ever made was when he was with Baltimore and got Frank Robinson from Cincinnati. In reality, Dalton is only a yes-man for Gene Autry. Under Dalton, the Angels have about as much chance to improve as Autry had of getting to kiss the girl in his movies.
As an avid reader of SI I find it odd that you would print an article on the California Angels as one of the major disappointments of the season and that you would not do one on the Cincinnati Reds. I think it would be more interesting to readers to learn why a team that has won two world championships in a row is in second place, 12� games behind the Dodgers.
Wheatley Heights, N.Y.