JEREMY SHOCKEY GIANTS TIGHT END >> << DAVID WELLS PADRES PITCHER
'TWAS AT the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego that the 6'5", 252-pound Shockey first frolicked with the 6'3", 248-pound Wells. "We were introduced by the drummer with P.O.D.," says Wells. "We went to the Bitter End and Martini Ranch, hanging out with a group." The bar crawl launched a deep friendship. "We got to talking, and it was weird how two people can connect that easy," says Wells, 41. "He's a crazy dude, awesome--a clone of me." Shockey, 24, admires the quieter side of Wells, who is married with two kids. "He's a family man. Everybody has this opinion of him as a partyer, and we do go to clubs and have a good time," says Shockey, "but mostly we hang out and talk. You have to put yourself around successful people."
DEION SANDERS RAVENS CORNERBACK >> << TORII HUNTER TWINS OUTFIELDER
A GAME of one-on-one is just 20 minutes away for these two. The Twins' Gold Glove centerfielder got to know Sanders on the baseball diamond during Deion's years as an outfielder, and now they're practically neighbors, living 15 miles apart in the Dallas--Fort Worth area. The two talk every few weeks, and when they're both in their off-seasons, they often get together to play hoops or work out. Hunter, whose season ended last Saturday when the Twins lost to the Yankees in the AL playoffs, is building a house on land he found through Sanders. Says Deion, "The wives are close, the kids are close, we're close. He's family."
ROY WILLIAMS COWBOYS SAFETY >> << FREDDY ADU D.C. UNITED FORWARD
WILLIAMS WAS introduced to Adu at IMG Academies in Florida three years ago when the soccer phenom was 12 and the NFL star 21. Trevor Moawad, a director at IMG, asked Williams to be Adu's mentor. "Freddy really connected with Roy, and Roy was a positive influence," says Moawad. "Roy made smart choices off the field and was a consummate professional." Says Adu, "He reminded me of myself because he always had a big smile on his face." The relationship has continued, with the two talking by phone, swapping highlight reels and attending each other's games--Adu was there to pull for his buddy when the Cowboys won in D.C. on Sept. 27.
CHAD HUTCHINSON BEARS QUARTERBACK >> << TODD WALKER CUBS SECOND BASEMAN
THEY MET in 2001, when Walker was with the Rockies and Hutchinson was a Cardinals pitcher. In February, Hutchinson will marry Walker's sister Lindsey. The guys helped each other through tough times: Hutchinson's being cut by Dallas in July and the Cubs' late-season collapse. "I spent the whole afternoon with him after the [Cubs were eliminated]," says Hutchinson. "They have two little kids I adore. He talks to me about baseball. I know what he goes through because I played." Walker was thrilled the Bears signed Hutchinson last month. "It worked out terrific," he says. "Chad just needs a chance." --Friends reporter: Sarah Thurmond
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 (SHOCKEY)
MICHAEL ZITO/SPORTSCHROME (WELLS)
JOHN BIEVER/SI (HUNTER)
TONY QUINN/WIREIMAGE.COM (ADU)
KIRBY LEE/WIREIMAGE.COM (WALKER)
RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES (HUTCHINSON)
KARL WRIGHT/ICON SMI (WILLIAMS)
CAPPY JACKSON/WIREIMAGE.COM (SANDERS)