After a 16-year career, linebacker Junior Seau (above). In 1993, before hisfourth NFL season, Seau told SI, "I'm afraid of being average. I have areal fear of being just another linebacker." His fears were unfounded.Seau, 37, who spent the first 13 years of his career in San Diego, made 12 ProBowls. He had size and speed (as part of his training regimen, he would racehis dogs, and usually beat them) and technique (Seau led the Chargers intackles eight times). He spent his last three seasons with the Dolphins, whoreleased him in March. "I look at today as a graduation," said Seau."I'm graduating to wherever I'm going to go next."
By former Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold, 36, the 2006 World Series of PokerMain Event. Gold, who once represented actors James Gandolfini and FelicityHuffman, went all in with a pair of queens at the final table early lastSaturday morning, then goaded his opponent, Paul Wasicka, into calling with apair of 10s. Playing in his first WSOP, Gold won $12 million. He says the firstthing he'll do is hand over a large sum to his father, Robert Gold, 70, whosuffers from Lou Gehrig's disease. Says Gold, "If I could spend every pennyof this to see my dad live an extra day, I'd do it in a heartbeat."
From his team in the Russian Super League, Evgeni Malkin, one of the world'smost sought-after young hockey players. Malkin, 20, was drafted second overallin the 2004 NHL draft by Pittsburgh, and the center has been compared toPenguins owner Mario Lemieux. He is under contract with Metallurg Magnitogorskfor next season, but Malkin has stated a desire to play in the NHL as soon aspossible. It is uncertain if his destination was Pittsburgh, but Metallurgofficials think that's where he was headed. "They all like to talk aboutdemocracy, the American way, and then they shamelessly steal our bestplayers," Metallurg general director Gennady Velichkin told Reuters.
For life from Yankee Stadium, Scott Harper. In the eighth inning of a gameagainst the White Sox last summer, the 19-year-old jumped from the upper deckinto the net behind home plate because, police said, he wanted to see if thenet could hold his weight. (One of Harper's friends told the New York DailyNews at the time, "He likes to get attention.") Last week, Harperpleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, and Judge Troy Webber barred him fromattending Yankees home games.
By Diana Taurasi (above), the WNBA single-game scoring record. The Mercuryguard had 47 points in Phoenix's 111--110 triple-overtime win over the HoustonComets last Thursday. The old record of 46 was set by Katie Smith of theMinnesota Lynx in 2001. Playing in new coach Paul Westhead's up-tempo system,Taurasi, the WNBA's leading scorer, made eight of 16 three-pointers beforefouling out with 2:45 left in the second overtime. "It was a greatbasketball performance," said Westhead. "Had she not fouled out itcould have been well into the 50s."
His job as a sales rep for Nestlé, aspiring kicker MacKenzie Hoambrecker. The26-year-old candy peddler from Omaha, who kicked in the Arena Football Leaguelast year, was signed by the Panthers to fill in while starter John Kasaynursed a leg injury. (Hoambrecker was picked primarily because he, like Kasay,is left-footed.) Nestlé gave him a week to chase his dream. When it was up,Hoambrecker decided to stay in camp (where he makes $800 a week), even thoughhe knows he has little chance of making the team. Nestlé demanded hisresignation on Aug. 8. "It was a tough situation," Hoambrecker told theCharlotte Observer. "It was a good entry-level job, but an opportunity likethis might be once in a lifetime."
By a Columbus, Ohio, judge to undergo a psychological evaluation, MauriceClarett (right). The former Ohio State running back was pulled over by Columbuspolice early on the morning of Aug. 9. He had four guns (including an AK-47)and a half-empty bottle of vodka in the car with him. Police hit Clarett with astun gun, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it had no effect on him.They then pepper sprayed him and charged him with carrying a concealed weapon.Clarett was pulled over less than a mile from the home of a woman who was totestify against him in a robbery case. That trial, which was to begin onMonday, was postponed pending the evaluation. Clarett is being held on $6.1million bail.
For failing to obey police officers, racing legends Al Unser Sr., 67, and BobbyUnser Sr., 72. The brothers, who have won the Indy 500 seven times betweenthem, were trying to drive onto property they own in Albuquerque to avoid astandoff between a SWAT team and a carjacker. Deputies told them to stop, andwhen they allegedly refused, they were arrested. Ironically, the standoff wasat the intersection of Central and Unser--a road named for the family. And thebrothers weren't together at the time. They were stopped individually and raninto each other in jail. "It is a very bad thing that happened, for them,for me, for my brother," said Al. "It is embarrassing on bothsides."
At age 39 of breast cancer, Heather Clarke, the wife of Irish golfer DarrenClarke. A mainstay on the European Ryder Cup team, Clarke took a hiatus fromgolf following the British Open to be with his wife, who was diagnosed in 2003."Heather's courage and bravery throughout the last two years ... has beenan inspiration," Clarke said in a statement released after Heather passedaway early on Sunday. Clarke has not said when he will resume playing.
By Titans mascot T-Rac, Saints quarterback Adrian McPherson. During halftime oflast Saturday night's exhibition game between Tennessee and New Orleans,T-Rac--an edgy raccoon--was tooling around LP Field in Nashville in a golf cartwhen he ran into the Saints' fourth-string QB. McPherson stayed down for a fewminutes and was looked at by a trainer. Coach Sean Payton said McPherson had abruise on his knee and did not play in the second half. "If that had beenme, I would still be lying there," said Saints receiver Joe Horn. "Iwould have owned a percentage of that field." McPherson was expected topractice on Monday.
Grand slams hit this season by Cleveland's Travis Hafner, who tied DonMattingly's single-season record on Sunday.
Length in hours of a soccer game--believed to be the longest ever in theU.S.--played in Bell Gardens, Calif., to celebrate the centennial of Mexicanteam Chivas; more than 2,000 players participated in the game.
Average number of hours per week that fantasy sports players spend managingtheir teams, according to a University of Mississippi study.
NFL owners who have teams in the English Premier League: Malcolm Glazer ownsthe Buccaneers and Manchester United, and Browns owner Randy Lerner agreed tobuy Aston Villa for $118.8 million on Monday.
England's new national team coach drops David Beckham from the squad
THE LAST TIME England played Greece, David Beckhamscored a last-minute, game-tying goal--which secured England's place in the2002 World Cup--on one of those swerving free kicks that became his hallmarkand inspired the suits who name movies. The next time England plays Greece, onAug. 16, they'll do so without Beckham, 31, who was unceremoniously dropped bynew coach Steve McClaren last week. There was no spinning of a"retirement" story; one of the best players of his generation and oneof the most iconic athletes ever was simply left off the team sheet. "Hetook the news very well, although he was disappointed," said McClaren.
Two frequently explored story lines during England's2006 World Cup were the team's unimaginative play and what the wives andgirlfriends (dubbed the WAGs) were wearing. McClaren hopes that won't be thecase in 2010. The attention Beckham and his wife, Victoria--the queenWAG--attracted reached distracting levels. (McClaren is reportedly consideringbanning WAGs from traveling with the team.) The effect Beckham's departure willhave on the field is more debatable. While not as fast or as dangerousone-on-one as the players McClaren favors, he produces. His free kicks andcrosses led to three of England's six Cup goals. And Beckham, who will stillplay for Real Madrid, thinks he can still contribute. "My passion forrepresenting my country remains as strong as ever," he said.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (SEAU)
MATTHIAS SCHRADER/EPA (BECKHAM)
END ITLIKE BECKHAM - The midfielder "took the news well."
TIM JOHNSON/AP (TAURASI)
KIICHIRO SATO/AP (CLARETT)
BARRY TAYLOR/WIREIMAGE.COM (T-RAC)