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9/07/2007 12:48:00 PM

Five Best Cities For Watching Football

Georgia
Athens is just one of the stops near Atlanta where you can see quality football.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

Take off your baseball caps and break out your football jerseys, people. The majority of us has seen our favorite baseball team eliminated from contention by now, and we find it time to turn our attention to the sport where the players are supposed to be unnaturally strong and huge. But where to watch? What city in our fine country provides the most variety for football fans? Here's our list of the top five cities in America for football watching:

1. Atlanta: It's not only because it's my hometown. The ATL has the doggone Falcons, a resurgent Georgia Tech and more high school football than Buzz Bissinger would know what to do with. Plus, within driving distance, the following worthwhile teams ply their trades: the Carolina Panthers, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Universities of Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, South Carolina and Wake Forest. You can also drive up to Duke, although I'm not sure why anyone would want to see its football team play.

2. Dallas: Texas is the state that spawned Friday Night Lights and the nationally ranked TCU Horned Frogs play in Fort Worth, but the Cowboys remain religion in the Lone Star State. With Dallas as your hub, Austin and the Longhorns are just a few hours down the interstate, Lubbock and Texas Tech are a few hundred miles west and Houston and the Texans are to the southeast, with Texas A&M along the way.

3. New York: While high school football in the tristate area is still not an obsession like it is in many other parts of the country, the area does boast two NFL teams and a Rutgers team in the Top 25. Also, Penn State is about four hours to the west, but I do not recommend that drive to anyone except the adventurous.

4. Chicago: The Bears are here, and the Colts are just a few hours down I-65. Notre Dame and Michigan are each within driving distance, if you enjoy watching struggling college programs. If you prefer to stay closer to Chicago ... hey, Stewart Mandel, remember when Northwestern used to be good?

5. Las Vegas: I know, the only real team located here is UNLV (at least since the Las Vegas Outlaws closed up shop). But at any sports book in Vegas on any given Sunday (or Saturday), every TV in the joint is tuned to football. Plus, if you know what you're doing, you might be able to make a little scratch while you watch the games. Allegedly, of course.

What's the best city for watching football in America? Let us know below.

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
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9/05/2007 01:18:00 PM

NFL Breakout Stars for 2007

Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub is a great fit for Gary Kubiak's offense and should immediately bolster a unit that has been spinning its wheels for years.
Photo by Nick Doan/Icon SMI
With the NFL season kicking off Thursday night, SI.com's Andrew Perloff looks at 15 players who are poised to have breakout campaigns. His list is below. After reading it, tell us which players you think are ready to make an impact on the NFL in 2007.

1. Matt Schaub, QB, Texans
2. Jason Peters, OT, Bills
3. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
4. Demetrius Williams, WR, Ravens
5. Matt Roth, DE, Dolphins
6. Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears
7. Jay Cutler, QB, Broncos
8. Cullen Jenkins, DE, Packers
9. Rocky McIntosh, LB, Redskins
10. Antwan Odom, DE, Titans
11. Donte Whitner, S, Bills
12. Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers
13. Stephen Cooper, LB, Chargers
14. Kamerion Wimbley, LB, Browns
15. Vince Wilfork, DT, Patriots
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9/03/2007 11:21:00 AM

Five Hardest Working Athletes

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders was known to play two professional sports in one day.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

Today is Labor Day, the day that we Americans incongruously honor the labor of millions of people before us by, oddly, not laboring for a day. Shouldn't we spend Labor Day working as hard as possible for eight hours? (Wait, that's every day around here at Extra Mustard! Huzzah!) Regardless, while many of us spend Labor Day chilling on the couch or watching the slow devolution of Jerry Lewis, there are many athletes out there who never take a day off, who always go all-out. Here are my top five hardest-working athletes of all-time...

1. Deion Sanders: Sure, Prime Time wasn't the most physical athlete of the last century, but as Deion once told me, "I didn't have to be." He's probably the best cover cornerback of all-time, he was a seven-time All-Pro, he managed to hit .300 in a Major League Baseball season, he hit .533 in the 1992 World Series, and in 1996 while with the Cowboys he participated in 50 percent of their offensive plays and 80 percent of their defensive plays. Plus, he once threw a bucket of water on Tim McCarver.

2. Chuck Bednarik: My dad's favorite football player of all time. Bednarik played in the NFL for more than a decade, from the late '40 through the early '60s, and is known by many as the last true two-way player. Starting at both linebacker and center, Bednarik missed a mind-bending three games in 14 seasons.

3. David Beckham: He might be injured right now, but that's because he ran himself down to nothing. As the face of soccer in the United States, Becks has been on an insane schedule the last few months, doing interviews with every outlet possible while playing through a bum ankle to log time for the L.A. Galaxy and the England National Team. Two weeks ago he played an international match (England v. Germany) in London, then flew to Los Angeles and, less than 24 hours later, played an entire game for the Galaxy in Los Angeles. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that his knee didn't hold out.

4. Julio Franco: So maybe he can't get around on the fastball like he used to, but the man the Braves called up last week is 49 YEARS OLD. He's built like a Greek statue, and he can still take a ball to right field better than any of the Braves first basemen (other than Mark Teixiera.) I also like him because after Andy Van Slyke insinuated that Franco must be on steroids, Franco responded, "Tell him the steroid I'm on is Jesus of Nazareth."

5. Roy Jones Jr.: He may be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all-time, compiling a record of 51-4 over the last decade-plus. He also "played" pro basketball, logging time in a USBL game in Alabama and going 11 rounds in Pensacola that evening. He also dabbled in cockfighting and rap music, with questionable results.

Who do you think is the hardest-working athlete? Let us know below?

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
posted by SI.com | View comments | Add a comment
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