At a monastery outside Bangkok, Thai tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan, who is spending a week as a Buddhist monk. In observance of a Thai custom that calls for men to serve as monks to demonstrate their religious faith, the No. 43--ranked Srichaphan shaved his head, assumed the Buddhist name Mahaviro (Great and Brave) and rode an elephant (above, right) in a preordination ceremony last Friday. "I will spend the next seven days as a monk, especially meditating, which is something I can make use of when I return to tennis," he said.
On a misdemeanor charge of drug paraphernalia possession, former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. Last Friday, Irvin, 39, who is now an ESPN analyst, was pulled over for speeding in Plano, Texas, and officers found a pipe while searching his car. On Sunday, Irvin said the pipe belonged to a friend who had left a Houston rehab center to visit his house for Thanksgiving; Irvin said he put the pipe in his car so his kids wouldn't find it. "I know the type of demons [my friends] have to fight, and I am going to help them because it's the only way I can keep them from getting to my family," said Irvin, who pleaded no contest and paid a $10,000 fine for cocaine possession in 1996. "I have to clean up my friends because they are around my boys." Irvin appeared as usual on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown show.
By New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, that he wasn't drafted by the Kansas City A's. For years Richardson, a standout pitcher at Tufts, has told people he was chosen by the A's in the 1966 draft. (The nugget was part of his campaign biography when he first ran for Congress in 1982 and was mentioned in a White House press release when he was named ambassador to the United Nations in 1997.) But last month, after the Albuquerque Journal was unable to verify the claim, Richardson acknowledged the error, saying it was based on scouts telling him at the time he "would or could" be drafted. "In my mind," Richardson, a Democrat, told the paper, "that meant I had been drafted."
At age 84, Hall of Fame center Frank (Gunner) Gatski, of heart failure. Gatski anchored the Browns' line from the team's inception in 1946 and never missed a game in his 12-year career. He played in 10 straight All-America Football Conference and NFL title games for the Browns, from 1946 through '55. "Gatski was the best and toughest center I ever played against," Hall of Fame linebacker Chuck Bednarik once said. "I sometimes had to go over the center. But Gatski was an immovable object."
By the U.S. women's gymnastics team, nine medals at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia, the best showing ever by the U.S. in the competition. The record haul included sweeps of the top two spots in four of the five events. Two of the golds were won by rising star Nastia Liukin (above), 16, a Moscow native who now lives in Plano, Texas. In her first major international competition Liukin--whose father, Valeri, won four medals for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Games and whose mother, Anna, was the '87 rhythmic gymnastics world champ--won golds in the uneven bars and balance beam and added silvers in the floor exercise and all-around competitions. "It was just very spectacular," said her father, who's also her coach. "We are a very strong unit right now, and this is a real team.
By the Eagles, a complaint with the NFL alleging that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones violated the league's rules against tampering when he suggested he was interested in acquiring Terrell Owens. During an interview on Dallas radio station KTCK last week, Jones was asked if the Cowboys would consider the controversial receiver, whose four-game suspension by Philadelphia was upheld by an arbitrator on Nov. 23. "In general I am a risk-taker," Jones said. "I probably have a propensity to try and make things work.... A top receiver could flourish with Drew Bledsoe. That's always appealing." The Eagles are arguing that Jones was tampering since they still have Owens under contract. (He's expected to be deactivated or released when his suspension ends later this month.) If the league agrees, the Cowboys could face a fine.
That he's planning to enter Ukrainian politics, former WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (below), who retired last month because of a knee injury. Klitschko, 34, a hugely popular figure in his native country, told reporters in Kiev that he would run for the city's mayoral post "if Kiev residents support my initiatives," but he didn't rule out making a bid for a seat in the Ukrainian parliament instead. (Elections for both are scheduled for March.) "My sporting career is over, but I believe that I have a rather good opportunity so that my contacts, energy and knowledge can be put to a new task," Klitschko said.
By Liberty University chancellor and founder the Reverend Jerry Falwell, head football coach Ken Karcher. Falwell said the housecleaning--athletic director Thomas Park resigned, and two associate ADs were fired--was prompted by his disappointment in the performance of a program he wants to see rise from Division I-AA to Division I-A. "We're not even playing par I-AA football here, so obviously we have to start over, and that's what we're doing," Falwell said. Liberty, an evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., with 9,000 students, was 1-10 this season and went 21-46 in six years under Karcher. "I'm 72," Falwell told The News & Advance of Lynchburg. "I don't have much time to get the football program in the top 20."
Rushing yards for the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson this year; he's the seventh player to top 1,000 yards in each of his first five NFL seasons.
Career 100-yard rushing games for Memphis senior running back DeAngelo Williams, tying him with Tony Dorsett and Archie Griffin for the most in Division I-A history.
Teams in the Associated Press's preseason Top 25 that aren't bowl eligible: Tennessee (preseason No. 3), Purdue (No. 15), Texas A&M (No. 17) and Pittsburgh (No. 23).
Interceptions returned for touchdowns by Florida International in a 52-6 win over Florida Atlantic, tying a Division I-A record.
At age 75, former SI writer Pat Putnam. A Marine and Purple Heart recipient who spent 17 months in a POW camp during the Korean War, Putnam joined SI in 1968. Over the next 27 years he wrote 54 cover stories, covering boxing, track, baseball and football. An aggressive reporter--he broke the story that Cassius Clay was changing his name to Muhammad Ali--and a humorous and vivid storyteller, Putnam estimated that he had written more than 400 SI stories. "Four hundred nights without sleep," he said. "That's more than a year of my life spent under the gun filing overnight stories. But that's what I like. That's what I am."
Smooth As Silk
After more than 5,000 wins, Gary Stevens decides to hang it up--this time for good
FEW MEN have been as skilled at making a horse do his bidding as Gary Stevens, but in the end the Hall of Fame jockey let a mount tell him which direction to take. Over the last two years Stevens piloted Rock Hard Ten, which he called the best horse he ever rode, to six wins in seven races. When the colt was retired last month, Stevens, 42, decided it was time to step aside as well. "I said, 'He's retiring, I'm retiring,'" Stevens said. "I've had a wonderful career, but it's time to hang it up."
Stevens retires with 5,005 career victories, three wins each in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes and two in the Preakness. He won two thirds of the Triple Crown three times: in 1995 (with Thunder Gulch), 1997 (Silver Charm) and 2001 (Point Given).
This isn't the first time he has quit racing. Knee pain forced him into a brief retirement in 1999, and in 2002 he took a sabbatical to play jockey George Woolf in Seabiscuit. After his final race, in which he finished second at Churchill Downs last Saturday, Stevens sounded as if this retirement would be permanent. "I'm the happiest guy in the world," he said.
ELIOT J. SCHECHTER/EPA (SRICHAPHAN PLAYING)
APICHART WEERAWONG/AP (SRICHAPHAN ON ELEPHANT)
MARK BAKER/AP (LIUKIN)
STEVE MARCUS/REUTERS (KLITSCHKO)
JOHN IACONO (PUTNAM)
LANE STEWART (ALI COVER)
KIM D. JOHNSON/AP (STEVENS)
REED SAXON/AP (STEVENS RIDING)