That he will retire after the final Formula One race of the year, driverMichael Schumacher (above). The 37-year-old German, who has won more F/1championships (seven) than any other driver, announced his departure on Sundayafter winning his record 90th race, the Italian Grand Prix. Schumacher made hisF/1 debut in 1991 and before long was one of the most successful--and well-compensated--athletes in the world. (In 2004 he made roughly $80 million,including endorsements, second only to Tiger Woods.) Schumacher is only twopoints behind leader Fernando Alonso in the 2006 F/1 title race. "It's notas if I'm lacking anything," he said. "I might as well leave while I'mstill at the top level."
Of an apparent stroke at age 80, Erk Russell, who left his job as defensivecoordinator at Georgia to build Georgia Southern into a Division I-AApowerhouse. Russell, who dubbed his Georgia defenses Junkyard Dawgs, would firehis players up before games by butting them in the chest with his baldhead--occasionally drawing blood (his own). After Georgia won the 1980 NCAAtitle, Russell left for Georgia Southern, which had dropped football in '41.Within four years Russell had led the school to a national championship. By thetime he retired, in '89, the Eagles had won two more. "If I was picking alist of top 10 coaches that I have ever met and wanted to play for, Erk Russellwould be on that list," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden once said. "Heis unsurpassed as a motivator."
On charges of dealing cocaine, allegedly in the presence of his six children,retired NBA player Henry James, 41. The former journeyman is accused by FortWayne, Ind., police of twice selling at least five grams of crack; on thesecond occasion he allegedly brought his kids, who range in age from threemonths to six. James, who played for six teams in a seven-year career, is bestknown for tying an NBA record with seven three-pointers in a quarter in1997.
Making a disrespectful remark about Zinedine Zidane's sister, Italian soccerplayer Marco Materazzi. Late in the World Cup final between Italy and France,Zidane was sent off for head-butting Materazzi in the chest. Last weekMaterazzi explained what set the Frenchman off: Zidane, who was tired ofMaterazzi's tugging his shirt, told him, "If you want my shirt so much I'llgive it to you afterward." To which Materazzi replied, "I would preferyour sister." Zidane, who has since retired, was banned by FIFA for threegames; Materazzi received a two-game suspension.
By the Detroit Shock, the defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs. Playingthe kind of aggressive ball its coach, Bill Laimbeer, was known for, the Shockrallied from a 2--1 deficit to win the title in five games. In the decidinggame at Joe Louis Arena--a Mariah Carey concert forced the teams from ThePalace--the Shock opened the second half with an 18--3 run to eraseSacramento's eight-point halftime lead. "It felt unreal because we workedso hard and then the moment finally came and we won it all," said Detroit'sDeanna Nolan (above), who was named the Finals' MVP.
The coming skating season in order to attend college, Michelle Kwan, 26. Thenine-time U.S. champion, who withdrew from the 2006 U.S. Olympic team with aninjured groin, will attend the University of Denver. "I have decided to putcollege first," she said. "Next year at this time I will again evaluateall my options, including returning to competitive skating." Kwan willmajor in political science and minor in international studies.
One game check apiece by the NFL for their role in the "Love Boat"scandal, Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and cornerback Fred Smoot.The players pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in Mayfollowing a lurid team party on two boats. McKinnie will forfeit approximately$41,000, while Smoot will be out about $82,000. "I think that should be thelast time I have to hear about that situation," McKinnie said. "It'sover. Wrong place at the wrong time, basically."
Given By FoxSports to Carolina Panthers superfan Greg (Catman) Good, a new pickup truck ascompensation for a misguided practical joke. During Carolina's Aug. 24preseason win over the Dolphins, commentator Daryl Johnston joked that fans whostayed after the starting units came out deserved a new car. Sideline reporterTony Siragusa then presented a toy Porsche to Good, 49, a season-ticket holderwho was dressed in his Catman getup (left). Good believed a real vehicle wouldfollow and complained when told it was a prank. Last week Fox Sports CEO DavidHill apologized for the confusion and handed Good the keys to a Ford F-150."I'm so surprised," Good told The Charlotte Observer. "I thoughtall I was going to get was an apology."
By the Lions for one game after he drove naked through a Wendy's drive-through,defensive line coach Joe Cullen. The incident occurred on Aug. 24; Cullen, 38,was arrested in Dearborn, Mich., and charged with indecent and obscene conduct.(An employee, who took down Cullen's tag number, told police, "The suspectdid nothing obscene, other than being naked at the drive-through.") A weeklater Cullen was again arrested, for DUI. The Lions suspended him for theirseason opener.
Number of starting quarterbacks in last Saturday's Fort Lewis--Idaho State gamenamed Matt Gutierrez; Idaho State's Gutierrez outdueled Fort Lewis's in a48--12 win.
Average price of an NFL ticket this season, a 5.6% increase over last year.
Average price of a Patriots home ticket, the most expensive in the league and$48.71 more than the cheapest, the Bills.
Career passing yards by Toronto Argonauts quarterback Damon Allen, 43, breakingWarren Moon's record for yardage by a pro passer.
Shutouts in the major leagues on Sept. 5, the most in one day since a recordeight were tossed on June 4, 1972.
The Writing on the Ball
NFL game balls¬†underwent a subtle change thisseason: The signature of new commissioner Roger Goodell replaced that of hispredecessor, Paul Tagliabue. What does Goodell's John Hancock say about thekind of commissioner he might be? According to Bart Baggett ofhandwritinguniversity.com, Goodell should delight fans and reporters: He'sstraightforward and gabby. "The clear inner space in his O's means he'svery honest," says Baggett, "and the open space at the top of the Oshows that he's talkative." (That's in contrast to Tagliabue, whosesignature, Baggett says, shows he is "slow to trust people.") Therightward slant of Goodell's signature indicates he is sociable, Baggett adds.But if you mock him, you'll have to deal with the consequences. "That thesecond L in his last name is taller than the first means he doesn't like beingridiculed," says Baggett. "He appears to be an ethical man who isfriendly and loves the challenge of responsibility."
PATTY BERG 1918--2006
Sometime in the early 1950s, just before BudWilkinson's Oklahoma team embarked on its NCAA-record 47-game winning streak,the coach brought a 5'2" thirtysomething woman to practice. Pointing toPatty Berg, Wilkinson told his players, "This is the kind old lady whotaught me how to play football." Berg, who died last week of Alzheimer's atage 88, grew up on the same Minneapolis block as Wilkinson, and shequarterbacked his sandlot team, the 50th Street Tigers. (Wilkinson, two yearsyounger, played right tackle.) Berg, who had no future as a football player,turned to golf in her early teens, and it was on the links that she made a namefor herself.
In 1940, after a successful amateur career, she turnedpro--though the decision barely affected her income. Her prize for winning the'41 Western Open: a $100 war bond. A few years later she helped the war effortmore directly, serving in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. After the war sheand 12 other women formed the LPGA; Berg was its first president. She stoppedplaying full time in '62 after she had won 83 tournaments, including a record15 majors. Even in retirement Berg, who probably put on more clinics than anygolf pro in history, was never far from the game or its players. (When proHeather Farr underwent cancer treatment in '91, Berg wrote her a letter a dayfor months, many scathingly funny.) "She was quite hysterical, with a greatsense of humor, and a pioneer," said Annika Sorenstam. "We're all goingto miss her."
In the NBC-ESPN Sunday Night vs. Monday Nightshowdown, the game is the thing
The competition¬†has finally begun. The road toSuper Bowl XLI? That too, but an exciting matchup this season will be the fightbetween NBC (which launched Sunday Night Football last weekend) and ESPN(Monday Night Football's new home). Both sank millions into ads and on-airtalent--you may have heard that John Madden (right) works for NBC and TonyKornheiser is in on MNF. But one factor will decide if Sunday is the newMonday. The games, stupid.
NBC seems to have the edge. (SNF's Colts-Giantsbroadcast drew a 14.3 rating, higher than any MNF's debut since 2000.) The SNFand MNF schedules are set for the first nine weeks. SNF teams had a combinedwinning percentage of .672 last season, and every game has a 2005 playoff team.MNF combatants had a .522 winning percentage, and three games match nonplayoffteams.
It gets interesting in Week 10. MNF improves: Thecombined winning percentage in its final seven games jumps to .598 and all butone game features a playoff squad. As for SNF? Who knows? NBC can pick itsgames in weeks 10--15 and 17 (12 days ahead of time), which should help avoidclunkers. Sunday afternoon broadcasters Fox and CBS can each protect five gamesthat can't be moved to Sunday night. But they learned last week that they mustmake their choices by Week 4, which doesn't thrill them. "The NFL has a lotriding on NBC being very successful," said CBS Sports president SeanMcManus. "We just want to make sure they don't do that at the expense ofCBS."
PAOLO COCCO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
PIONEER WOMAN Berg won the first of her three AP Female Athlete of the Year awards in 1938.
RON HOSKINS/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
T.ORTEGA GAINES/CHARLOTTE OBSERVER/AP