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My Best Friend ... IN ANOTHER SPORT

Author:

WARRICK DUNN

FALCONS RUNNING BACK

GARY SHEFFIELD

YANKEES OUTFIELDER

Sheffield lives in Tampa and has tickets to the Bucs. "He'll sit behind the bench and pull for you," says Dunn, who played for Tampa Bay from 1997 to 2001, adding that he and Sheffield talk about "life, managing money, the latest things and family.... I don't call him because I need a favor, you know." Says Sheff of the 5'9", 180-pound Dunn, "He's a small guy and a warrior."

MICHAEL BENNETT

VIKINGS RUNNING BACK

SAM CASSELL

TIMBERWOLVES GUARD

Cassell, 34, was a Buck and Bennett, 26, a high schooler in Milwaukee when they met at the Boys & Girls Club, where Cassell did community outreach work. They stayed in touch during Bennett's days at Wisconsin; now they hang out weekly, play video games and joke about starring in each other's sport. "I just need a 10day NBA contract!" says Bennett.

JERMANE MAYBERRY

EAGLES GUARD

JERRY HAIRSTON JR.

ORIOLES INFIELDER

Mayberry read in SI three years ago that Hairston is a Jehovah's Witness and contacted him, intrigued. The Orioles second baseman fielded Mayberry's questions about the religion, and the big Eagle converted. "We talk a lot about our faith and being an athlete, too," says Hairston. They also "help each other stay positive" through injuries, says Mayberry.

A.J. FEELEY

DOLPHINS QB

HEATHER MITTS

SOCCER DEFENDER

The couple met in Philly: He was an Eagle, she was with the Charge. Mitts says Feeley's emotional support during grueling soccer workouts this year was a "huge part" of her making the Olympic team. Mitts, meanwhile, helped Feeley learn Miami's offense before the season. "I read plays out of the playbook," says Mitts. "Then he had to say them back to me and write them down."

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PAUL ABELL/WIREIMAGE.COM (DUNN)

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ROB TRINGALI/SPORTSCHROME (SHEFFIELD)

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JOHN BIEVER (CASSELL)

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JOHN GREISHOP/ICON SMI (BENNETT)

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DREW HALLOWELL/ICON SMI (MAYBERRY)

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DONALD MIRALLE/GETTY IMAGES (HAIRSTON)

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MICHAEL BUSH/WIREIMAGE.COM (FEELEY)

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SCOTT BALES/ICON SMI (MITTS)