- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Packer paradise--that's training camp in Green Bay. No NFL team better integrates serious football preparation with fan-friendliness. Talk about being in a comfort zone: There's a doughnut shop 150 yards south of the practice fields and a tidy neighborhood of homes 200 yards north. On an early-August day (the Packers have open practices for the first four weeks of camp, July 26 through Aug. 28) fans can watch morning drills from just behind the sidelines, examine Packers lore at the Packers Hall of Fame inside refurbished Lambeau Field, have a Curly's Special Ale ($3.50 a pint) and Grandma Lambeau's Meatloaf ($12) at Curly's Pub inside the Lambeau atrium, hustle over for the afternoon practice and come back to the best gift shop in the NFL. ( Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila bobblehead, anyone?) There's also the cutest tradition in training-campdom: Kids line up with their bicycles before and after practice. Players--often as many as 50 of the 80 on the summer roster--commandeer the bikes (as Tim Couch, number 2 at right, and Kris Briggs did last year), and often the kids ride on the back or the handlebars to or from the field. The sight of a mammoth lineman on a preteen's bike is something to behold. Like everything else here, it's Packer perfect. -- Peter King
Think of it as the Thrilla of a Flotilla. The U.S. Rowing National Championships, at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis from July 20 to July 24, feature both elite and club rowers, men and women from juniors to Olympians competing in heavyweight and lightweight sculling (singles, doubles and quads) and sweep events (pairs, fours and eights). There will be more than 100 championships decided, and races will go off every seven minutes. "That's eight finishes every hour," notes former U.S. rowing president Dave Vogel. "That's a pretty good deal." Eagle Creek is one of the few venues at which you can see virtually the entire 2,000-meter race course from the spectator beach. You could say there's nowhere to get more for your rowing buck, but admission to the races is free--and that's only appropriate. "This is one of the few sports that is still purely amateur," says Vogel. "Everyone on the water is there because they love what they do." -- Kelli Anderson
It may be "a stupid game played by stupid people," as longtime participant Nella Jolliff lovingly describes it, but Over the Line softball is a San Diego tradition. More than 55,000 fans are expected on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay during the weekends of July 9-10 and July 16-17 for the 52nd annual OTL world championships. The game is played by three-person teams on sand courts and named for the rule that batters have to hit the ball over a line 55 feet from the plate for it to be in play. Pitches are tossed up to the batter by a teammate, and each fair ball not caught in the air is a safe hit. Three hits in an inning score a run, and each additional hit scores another run; a ball blasted past the defense on the fly is a homer. Some 1,200 men's and women's teams in nine age divisions compete in double-elimination tournaments of four-inning games. "It's a great festival, but what I love is the competition," says 60-year-old Tom Whelan, who has won 12 OTL titles and the weighty gold rings that go with them. "And where else can an old fart like me play in front of 20,000 people?" --K.A.
There's nothing big or machinelike these days about the struggling Reds. But there is one holdover from the Big Red Machine era, and he's a real Hall of Famer: radio play-by-play man Marty Brennaman, who since 1974 has punctuated Cincinnati wins with his signature "And this one belongs to the Reds!" Brennaman's homespun spiel is perfect for the Queen City. "What we do might not work in New York or L.A.," admits the 62-year-old, whose voice retains more than a lilt of his native Virginia. Besides offering patented Brennamanisms ("Good ol' good one" is a low-scoring game), he artfully and often hilariously provides a game-long stream of digressions, which include updates on his family (son Thom does play-by-play for the Diamondbacks) and his golf game (he's a 19 handicap). Thanks to XM Satellite Radio and mlb.com, you can listen--wherever you are--to every major league game. Which means a good ol' good one is just a click or a channel away. -- Richard Deitsch