Thanks to John Underwood for his moving article on Major Neal Jones (Opal Two Is Back, April 23). If any good can come of the ordeals of Major Jones and the other POWs, perhaps it will be to turn us from our petty gripes and grievances toward attaining the kind of faith and courage that can allow a man who has lived through 6½ years of hell to say, "I've been lucky. I've been kicky all my life."
Ackerman, Miss.

Opal Two Is Back ranks as the most inspiring piece of literature I have read. It so thoroughly mixes sport and patriotism. As one who served with the Special Forces for 18 months in Vietnam, I would like John Underwood to know that this is a vastly satisfying work that America should be proud of.

Neal Jones shall have his homecoming present. Tulane will one day defeat LSU.
Cuba, N. Mex.

The article exemplifies two very important points. It shows the great effect sport has on the people of this country, relieving tension, providing a common meeting ground for discussion, providing memories and giving hope. But more important, it says God Bless America and hats off to Neal Jones and the other POWs. We in this country are fortunate to have men such as these protecting us.
Columbus, Ind.

It seems to me you could have had a better cover for your April 23 issue. Instead of a picture of a boxer who is two fights and six years removed from the heavyweight championship, wouldn't it have been better to have had one of George Foreman or Ken Norton, with an article about either or both of them? Let's look to the future of boxing. Also, a picture of one of our POWs throwing out the first ball at an opening baseball game would have made a much better cover than that of a man who refused to serve his country in a time of need.
Columbus, Ohio

Your April 23 cover didn't go over too well with me. The picture of Muhammad Ali was sickening. It isn't the most appealing thing to look at some dude with a broken jaw eating mush and slobbering all over the place. Yuk! I think you and Photographer Neil Leifer could have worked out something more suitable to put on the front of your magazine.
Mt. Prospect, Ill.

It was a comfort to read your article on Muhammad Ali (The Month Thai Nearly Roared) and to learn that he does not plan to retire anytime soon. He is a man boxing cannot do without nowadays. If it were not for him, the boxing fans of the United States would get to sec a fight only every 18 months or so, if lucky. When George Foreman beat Joe Frazier I thought we might see some more good fights, but George has turned out to be another Frazier.

Ali is the one with guts. When he was champion, we saw fights regularly. He wasn't afraid of losing, as Foreman and Frazier must be. He's the one who stayed in the ring with a broken jaw. If Foreman wants to keep the title, let's make him fight for it.
St. Matthews, S.C.

Congratulations on the article. I found it entertaining as well as interesting, yet I question Tex Maule's choice of leading man. How long are we expected to accept the word of the world's greatest con man? How many times must we await the knockout punch that will never come? I admit that Muhammad Ali was indeed a great fighter, but I can no longer accept his meaningless promises.
Vancouver, British Columbia

I loved your cover. There is nothing better than to see Muhammad Ali with egg on his face.
Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

I never dreamed that a school like the University of Montana would receive four color pages of attention from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The article (Playing the Payroll Game, April 23) naturally attracted my attention, because my home is in Montana and I attend a school that is possibly the capital of football, Notre Dame. Even though your article was about a scandal that could end up discrediting the Montana sports program, there are two points that need emphasizing.

First of all, Coach Jack Swarthout really took a beating with the massive rumors and controversies that spread between his indictment and acquittal. He deserves to be commended for his honesty during the entire year or more of frustration.

Second, the Montana students still have a lot going for them, because when it comes to sports they are doers instead of watchers. Many of my friends are enrolled at the university and I think I respect them most because they are interested in applying their talents instead of cherishing someone else's. Here at Notre Dame practically everyone is a watcher.

I would hate to see football deteriorate at the small universities like those in the Big Sky Conference, but maybe this says something to the larger schools that are clouded with numbers and scoreboards and where only a minority of students are really doers.
Notre Dame, Ind.

Dan Jenkins has done it again (Jack Fell Down and Lost His Crown, April 16). Why can't he give credit where credit is due and congratulate Tommy Aaron for his victory in the Masters?

Mr. Jenkins seems to think that Jack Nicklaus is the only one capable of winning the big tournaments. And when he speaks of Gay Brewer, J.C. Snead, Jim Jamieson, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Johnny Miller and Tommy Aaron as "guys in the mines," I suggest he check the 1972 statistics. Collectively these players earned more than $613,000 not bad for "miners."

It is true that Nicklaus is far and away the best on the tour today, and everyone knows this. So let's hear about some of the other players for a change. Even if Mr. Jenkins couldn't bring himself to do it, I would like to congratulate Tommy Aaron on his final-round 68, a great tournament and a most deserved victory.
Santa Clara, Calif.

We really enjoy Dan Jenkins' writing and share his reverence for Jack Nicklaus. However, his article in the April 16 issue did justice neither to the Masters champion, Tommy Aaron, nor to the fascinating array of players and personalities involved in the outcome of the tournament. Nicklaus earns all the respect and adulation he receives as a champion. We are both crazy about him and surely wish that he would win every tournament he plays in. But, basically, each tournament belongs to the winner, not to the loser, no matter who he may be. Let Jack continue to earn the glory awarded him by winning, but when someone else wins, let that player revel in the glory alone.
San Diego

Clive Gammon is indeed an asset to your extremely capable staff. His fascinating article about the river Tarn (Truffles and Flourishes on the Tarn, April 16) has compelled me to regear for trout fishing.

More than a mere teller of tales, Mr. Gammon has done a magnificent job of acquainting us with the subtly elegant nuances inherent in almost all fishing expeditions. On this reader's scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Gammon has ascended to the lofty parapet of 9‚Öû.

When I saw your Contents page entry for a story on the Kansas City Royals (Now Comes the Big Blue Machine, April 23), I was skeptical, since the Royals have been ignored so much. But your article was terrific. I was also very happy to see the recognition given John Mayberry, the next superhero. Good work, SI, for taking an untraveled path.
Bartlesville, Okla.

I regard William Leggett's article on Kansas City as a timeless preview of a solid and determined baseball team. With rookie Manager Jack McKeon and his running and hitting offense, the Royals will definitely be a contender for years to come.

Cheers for Manager McKeon, who has his hitters swinging on 3-and-0 counts. I have always had trouble understanding the need for the "automatic take" in this situation and am happy to know that one manager is ignoring the custom. I hope Red Sox Manager Eddie Kasko reads the article before we play K.C. Incidentally, managers should forget about the intentional walk, too.
Millbury, Mass.

Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME& LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.