"Genetics has a lot to do with it, but so does good nutrition," says St. Louis Rams offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, who coached the Washington Redskins' gargantuan Hogs from 1990 to '96, back when a 300-pounder was still something of a curio. "These youngsters are getting into good high school programs with good weight training."
Hanifan fails to mention that at least some NFL behemoths are artificially beefed up. Steroids, human growth hormone and other muscle-building drugs are, alas, not endangered species.
Mom-and-Pop Sporting Goods Stores
Few have survived the onslaught of sporting goods chains. Today, instead of being doted on by a store owner who measures your foot with the Brannock if you're buying sneakers, you're greeted indifferently by teenage minimum-wagers who deign to toss you a few shoe boxes after you've guessed your size and selected a model.
Your responsibility is crushing, your minutes drop, your relationship with your teammates changes, and you never get to wear Armani on the bench. There is, however, one great thing about being a player-coach: You get to call your own number.
And so the last of a species—Mark Hughes of the CBA's Grand Rapids Hoops—called play number 1 with four seconds left in a playoff game against the Florida Beachdogs last spring. An inbounds pass, a little drop step and...nothing but net and accolades for the power forward-coach. Hughes, 30, the former sixth man on Michigan's Fab Five team, was 12-5 after taking over the Hoops last February. "I thought I enjoyed the winning a lot as a player," Hughes says, "but it seems even better as a coach."
Player-coaches are a relic; the NBA hasn't had one since Dave Cowens did double duty for the egregiously bad Bob McAdoo-Curtis Rowe Boston Celtics during much of the 1978-79 season. Cowens, now coach of the Charlotte Hornets, says that even if another Bill Russell comes along—the goateed one took the Celtics to a 162-83 record and two titles as a player-coach in the late 1960s—no team is going to be so miserly as to try to squeeze a player into handling clipboard duty too. "Teams have so much money today that affordability is not a problem," says Cowens. "It would be ridiculous to try both."
Undisputed Boxing Champions
The last in the heavyweight ranks was Riddick Bowe, who, in a fit of pique over a World Boxing Council order that he fight Lennox Lewis, dumped his WBC championship belt into a trash bin at a London hotel on Dec. 13, 1992, and announced that he was withdrawing his "recognition of the WBC." With that, the sport returned to its usual state of chaos, in which 16 governing bodies recognize various titleholders.
Six-on-Six Girls' Basketball
In 1995 Oklahoma became the last state to abandon the game, once the only form of girls' hoops in some states. The arcane rules allowed a player only two dribbles and three seconds of possession. Iowa's six-on-six high school tournament, last held in '94, was as glorious an event as Indiana's all-comers boys' hoops tournament and Minnesota's all-comers hockey event; neither of those exists anymore, either.