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Original Issue

Holy Conflict

When sports and religion collide

Last week the Jets, saying they and the Giants "are in the largest Jewish market in the country," complain that their first two home games on the just-released 2009 schedule fall on Jewish holidays. The NFL responds by moving up the time of the game on Sept. 27, when Yom Kippur starts at sundown, from 4:15 to 1 p.m.

2000 Minnesota state senator Dean Johnson, also a Lutheran minister, complains to NFL commish Paul Tagliabue about the Vikings' Christmas Eve game date. "I don't know how I am supposed to explain to my congregation the wires out of my ears and under my robe," he writes. He doesn't miss much: The Colts beat the Vikes 31--10.

1995 BYU lineman Eli Herring tells NFL teams he won't play on Sundays. The Raiders draft him anyway in the sixth round, and, true to his word, Herring doesn't sign.

1965 Sandy Koufax refuses to start in Game 1 of World Series, which is played on Yom Kippur. The Twins beat the Dodgers 8--2, but L.A. pulls out the Series when Koufax throws a shutout in Game 7.

1924 Devout Christian Eric Liddell of Scotland skips the Olympic 100 meters, his best event, because the quarterfinal is contested on a Sunday. He wins the 400 meters instead and is immortalized on celluloid 57 years later in Chariots of Fire.