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Original Issue

Who's Hot / Who's Not


Saints coach Sean marched into Dallas and outfoxed his former mentor, Cowboys boss Bill Parcells, 42--17. Among the tricks on Payton's play card: a reverse on fourth-and-one and an onside kick with an 18-point lead. Said Saints QB Drew Brees, "I could tell it was very special for him."

Ted's old ball
Two decades after it was stolen from his home, Ted Williams's family recovered one of his most prized possessions: a baseball signed for him by Babe Ruth. (It turned up in an online auction.) Said Ted's daughter, "I only wish my dad ... were here to see it."

Coach Ken, hired by the Blue Jackets a month after the Flyers canned him, is cool in Columbus: The Jackets have won four straight. Said center Dan Fritsche, "Everyone's buying into [his] system."

Sign 'O' The Times: The Purple One, once considered dangerously raunchy, is now tame enough for the NFL. Following in the footsteps of the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, he's headlining the Super Bowl halftime show in February.


QB Manning and the Colts lost their second straight, 44--17, to the Jaguars, Indy's ugliest regular-season defeat in five years. Manning had his worst game of the season (61.5 rating) and has thrown three interceptions and one TD in the two losses. Said coach Tony Dungy of the slump, "It's fixable."

The NBA's new rock
Two months after a new microfiber ball was introduced, commissioner David Stern told players what they wanted to hear: The old leather model—it bounces true and isn't slippery, unlike the synthetic version—is coming back on Jan. 1.

The Birds
Pitchers keep fleeing the Blue Jays' coop: First 15-game winner Ted Lilly left for the Cubs, then free-agent Gil Meche chose the Royals—the Royals!—over Toronto.

After a five-game losing streak, the purple pros were in last place in the Pacific—and rumors that Allen Iverson might come to town have some in Sacramento gritting their teeth. "It is what it is," said former 76er John Salmons. "If he ended up here, I'd play with him."