I commend Gary Smith on his well presented and thoroughly documented article on former NFL Coach Dick Vermeil {A New Life, March 28). Sensitivity was certainly evident throughout those 12 pages of reporting on one of football's most successful coaches—and when I say that Vermeil was successful, I don't mean that strictly from a won-lost perspective. Many people are quick to criticize those who fall from what they perceive to be success, and therefore they never really acquire a genuine understanding of the total person.

My hat is off to Vermeil for striving to achieve a level of dedication, industry and perseverance that should serve as a standard. I wish him much success in his "new life."
West Orange, N.J.

Thank you very much for bringing the story of Dick Vermeil to your readers. It was a tremendous article written about a tremendous coach. What really struck me was how closely Coach Vermeil's life seems to parallel the life of another man I admire greatly: my father. When I read the stories about Vermeil's family, I felt I could almost put myself right into the picture. I want my father to read this article—if I can ever get him to stop working long enough to sit down and read!
Fork Union, Va.

Many thanks for Gary Smith's timely insight into Dick Vermeil. It raises a question concerning achievement at any cost that many participants must answer in today's world of sports: What is the reward?

I hope that Vermeil will abandon his contorted perspective and begin to focus on the lasting values of sport: recreation, enjoyment and balanced character development. If I may paraphrase someone who had a good hold on life's values: "What shall it profit a man if he wins the Super Bowl but loses himself?"
Cedar Lake, Ind.

Has Dick Vermeil really and permanently changed, or is he just taking an extended vacation from coaching? I hope he has changed, but I have my doubts, particularly when he states: "I already feel so good I could start [coaching! tomorrow."

The compulsion to work is obviously a trait so ingrained in him that I wonder if he will be able to help himself. Major changes in personality do not happen rapidly. For his sake, I hope he stays away from pro football long enough to think things out completely and thoroughly. Maybe you can give us periodic progress reports—as a sort of case study that would be of value to all of us who are engaged in high-demand occupations.
Santa Rosa, Calif.

The article on Dick Vermeil was outstanding. He helped put Philadelphia back on the map. He gave new meaning to the word love, as in The City of Brotherly Love. We will miss him dearly. We are also left with one major concern: that he will return to coaching and kick the Eagles' "butts"—one of his favorite expressions—from the opposing sideline.

While Gary Smith and other members of the sports media have correctly heaped praise upon Dick Vermeil for taking a mediocre team to the Super Bowl in five years, it is a wonder to me that Vermeil has received so little blame for his team's return to mediocrity, which has been accomplished in only two short years. Considering the record of his last Eagle team (3-6), it is likely that a less charismatic and less popular coach would be branded a quitter instead of a victim of burnout. The difference in terms is meaningless to Eagle fans like myself who, in recent years, have mercilessly booed Vermeil for his play-calling and his choice of quarterbacks. I wish Vermeil all the luck in the world, but if he does return to coaching, may it be somewhere else—preferably Dallas.

I always wondered how a chubby guy named Jack Nicklaus could come out of the long-wintered North with a flying right elbow and a middling short game and turn golf's record book into his own biography. After reading Craig Neff's article on world-record swimmer Steve Lundquist (Leapin' Lizards, It's Lunk, March 28), I think I know. Jack had spizzerinctum!
Wauneta, Neb.

Finally, an article on swimming! And an excellent one at that. I was a swimmer in Georgia during Steve Lundquist's earlier years. As a youngster, Lunk was just as awesome as he is now. Thanks for an accurate report of what goes on in the life of a great swimmer.

However, I couldn't help noticing the statement in that issue's SCORECARD that a recent survey showed "swimming was the favorite participant sport." It is ironic you would print that in the same issue as Lundquist's story, because one cannot begin to compare the grueling hours and hours and thousands of miles a true swimmer invests in his sport to the infantile splashing and floating those surveyed were referring to.
College Station, Texas

Now that's what I call a swimsuit issue. Encore, encore!

After reading William Nack's article Starting Up the Long Road Back (March 28) and seeing the opening photograph of Gerry Cooney, I would hate to be in the heavyweight division in the next couple of years. Cooney looks as powerful as one of the San Jacinto Mountains shown in the background, and I believe he now has a spirit the size of a mountain—big enough to destroy any heavyweight today, including Larry Holmes.
Lansdale, Pa.

After reading William Nack's article on Gerry Cooney, I wondered why SI would allow space in the magazine to be put to such bad use. Cooney's constant crying about his failure to beat Larry Holmes has got to be making every boxing fan sick by now. He was a mediocre fighter before that fight, and he always will be a mediocre fighter.
Easton, Pa.

The sooner Gerry Cooney realizes that this is America and the only reason he saw a $5.4 million payday is that he is white, the better off he'll be. Perhaps he already realizes it.

Your article on the world figure skating championships at Helsinki (Great Scott! What a Doubleheader, March 21) stated that "in the break before the free skating," Rosalynn Sumners of Edmonds, Wash., the new women's world figure skating champion, "bought herself a $950 silver-fox coat, which indicated pretty clearly who she thought the winner would be."

It is true that Rosalynn thought she would clearly be the winner, but she did not buy herself the fur coat. It was her father who bought the coat, as a gift for Rosalynn after she won the gold medal. Many people have asked me how a young amateur athlete can afford to purchase a fur coat—by the way, it was blue fox, not silver. My answer to them has been, she can't—at least not yet. As her father, I can't afford it either, but it sure was worth it!
Everett, Wash.

•The actual purchase of the coat was made by Rosalynn's father after the finals. However, Rosalynn picked it out beforehand in anticipation of earning the reward her father had promised, if she won, as "compensation for all her hard work."—ED.

I just read Frank Deford's PERSPECTIVE (March 21), and you can't believe how happy I am to learn that I am not the only postpubescent who carefully watches his TV screen and his SI covers for the latest trends in uniform colors. I heartily join Deford in a Bronx cheer for the red, white and blue. A home-plate collision between a Texas Ranger and a California Angel resembles nothing more than a heap of star-spangled spaghetti.

On the subject of purple, though, has it escaped notice that in the same year Northwestern's men's basketball team crashed the NIT in its first-ever postseason appearance, New York University—my alma mater—decided to resume varsity basketball? I bet Deford just can't wait to cover an NCAA tournament final matching the purple against the Violets. That assignment would be quite a plum!

Congratulations to Frank Deford on his humorous account of color coordination in sports. He makes one mistake, however. He states that the two greatest dynasties in American sports are the Yankees and the Celtics. How very wrong. The greatest single dynasty in American sports today is the swimming team here at Kenyon College (It's a Real Campus Haunt, Feb. 19, 1979). The men's team recently won its 30th straight Ohio Athletic Conference title, as well as its fourth straight NCAA Division III title. You're probably wondering what color the Lords wear. Why, bright, shiny purple, of course!
Gambier, Ohio

Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.