By Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie (above), his own marathon world record, with atime of 2:03:59 in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. The time was 27 secondsbetter than the previous mark, which Gebrselassie, who skipped the Olympicmarathon because of his concerns about pollution in Beijing, set in Berlin lastyear. Gebrselassie, 35, was unable to train for a week before the race becauseof a calf injury. "Today I had some doubts ... but it was really verygood," said the Ethiopian, who has won Berlin three times. "Berlin ismy lucky city."
At age 90, former first baseman and two-time American League batting championMickey Vernon. The seven-time All-Star played for five teams from 1939 to '60(with two years off for service in World War II), spending most of his careerwith the Washington Senators. He won batting crowns in 1946 and '53 withWashington, and in 1961 he became the first manager of the expansion Senatorsafter the original franchise moved to Minnesota.
At age 72 after a battle with leukemia, former Giants cornerback Dick Lynch. Asa Notre Dame star Lynch famously scored on a late touchdown run to give theIrish a 7--0 win over Oklahoma in 1957, ending the Sooners' 47-game winningstreak. He debuted in the NFL with the Redskins the following year and wastraded to the Giants, where he starred from 1959 through '66. Lynch was knownfor his toughness and nose for the ball: He had 37 career interceptions andtwice led the league. After retiring, Lynch became the Giants' radio colorcommentator, a job he held until last season.
To a 400-meter sprint by U.S. Olympic relay gold medalist Mary Wineberg,Bengals receiver Chad Johnson. During the Beijing Games, Johnson, who won afootrace with a horse last year, said he wanted to swim against Michael Phelps.Last week, in an interview with FSN that was posted on YouTube, Wineberg made adifferent challenge. "I really think I could give him a run for hismoney," said Wineberg, who won gold in the 4 √ó 400-meter relay in Beijing."So I'm open to hearing back from him." As of Monday, Johnson had notresponded.
By the NFL and NBC on Sunday, that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band willperform during halftime of the Super Bowl. The halftime show, once little morethan a source of background music provided by marching bands, has become ashowcase for iconic popular-music acts: the Rolling Stones, U2, Janet Jacksonand Justin Timberlake, Prince and Tom Petty have played in recent years. TheSuper Bowl will be played on Feb. 1 in Tampa.
At age 37 after 15 NFL seasons, Patriots receiver Troy Brown (below). Aneighth-round draft choice out of Marshall in 1993, the 5'10" Brown seemedtoo small and slow to star in the NFL. But he holds the New England record forcareer catches (557), played in the 2002 Pro Bowl and became a versatilethreat, returning kicks and punts and even filling in at cornerback in 2004when the Patriots' secondary was depleted by injuries. (He made threeinterceptions.) "You can't outrun Father Time," said Brown, who hadn'tplayed this season. "It's just kind of hard to let it go."
To a 15-year low, the major league home run rate. There was an average of 2.01homers per game this season, down from 2.04 last year and the lowest rate sincethe 1.78 in 1993. (The alltime high was 2.34 in 2000.) The homer drop wasaccompanied by an overall dip in offensive stats, particularly in the AmericanLeague. Dustin Pedroia's 118 runs were the fewest by an AL leader since 1992,and Alex Rodriguez's .573 slugging percentage was the lowest by an AL leadersince '89. "I think the steroid testing has something to do with it,"said Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. "I'd say it's a small percentage, butof course it's going to have an impact."
They Said It
Canadiens center, who took up boxing in the off-season to stay in shape, on hisfavorite punch: "Fruit punch."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., fired basketballcoach Ricky Benitez for using profanity during practice.
TOBIAS SCHWARZ/REUTERS (GEBRSELASSIE)
DAVID BERGMAN (BROWN)
LUC LECLERC/US PRESSWIRE (LAPIERRE)