On the morning of
Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Giants returned from a game in Denver, landing at
Newark airport not long before the departure of United Flight 93-the one that
went down in Pennsylvania. "I remember being on the tarmac and looking at
the plane next to us, which was [Flight 93]," says receiver Amani Toomer
(right). "We went to play Kansas City the next week, and it was so
emotional ... the last thing we wanted was to play football. I could see the
Trade Center from my house, [and] it was smoking for months. I'd never watch
the movies [about Sept. 11]. It's too soon."... Toomer's coach, Tom
Coughlin, was then with Jacksonville, but his son Tim was in the South Tower
when it was hit. "We started calling Tim as soon as I found out,"
Coughlin recalls. "Every 10 minutes for two hours. I was very anxious. It
was 10:30 in the morning when he called back. I'm very aware of the miracles
that have taken place in my life. [Tim's survival] is one of them."...
Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox, then a Jet, got close to the scene in New York.
"I went to Ground Zero to pick up rocks and talk with families-anything I
could do," he says. "The experience was breathtaking. It was out of a
science-fiction movie. It made you sad, and it made you grateful to be
alive."... The night of the attacks, Vikings tackle Jason Whittle, then
with the Giants, went to see an acquaintance who had been injured near the
buildings: "He was in a hospital near Ground Zero and had head trauma. I
explained my situation to a policeman, who said, 'I'm not supposed to do this.'
But he took me over. It was eerie. Like a ghost town."... Royals first
baseman Mike Sweeney (right) recalls that one of the team's coaches, Keith
Bodie, had a cousin, Nick, a firefighter, who was killed at the Trade Center.
"We went to New York a few weeks later," says Sweeney. "We met
little Nicky, named after his father. It was one of the most sobering, humbling
moments of my life. Me, Joe Randa and Raul Iba�ez ended up going down to Ground
Zero. There were letters written by children: 'Daddy when are you coming
home?'"... "It was like any Tuesday," recalls Redskins long snapper
Ethan Albright. "I went to drive my wife Kathy to where she was meeting
other wives for a luncheon. But it was gridlock. We turned around, went home
and found out what happened. The next few days at practice it was dead quiet.
Since we're so close to Dulles Airport, there are always planes going over. Now
there was beautiful blue sky but dead quiet."... Marlins first baseman Wes
Helms was with the Braves then, and came to Shea Stadium to play the Mets in
the first post-Sept. 11 game in New York. "It brought tears to my eyes, the
feel of that stadium that night," he says. " Mike Piazza (right) hit a
home run to win the game and even though we lost, the entire Braves team tipped
their caps to the fans. That was one of the best moments of my career."...
Seahawks fullback Mack Strong (below), who was living in Mercer Island, Wash.,
was jolted out of bed on his 30th birthday. "My mom called [and said],
'We're being attacked.' My wife had scheduled a party with guys from the team
and the neighborhood. We still had people come over, but it wasn't so much to
celebrate my birthday. It was to take time out, reflect and pray."... Texas
Rangers shortstop Michael Young was with the team in a San Francisco hotel.
Says Young, "I got a call from [then teammate] Carlos Pe�a. He said, 'Turn
on the TV.' I'm like, 'Are you crazy? It's early.' He said, 'Just turn it on.'
I did, and I just sat there. My wife was with me. We sat and didn't say a word,
glued to the TV. Saw everything. Saw the second plane hit. Saw both towers go
down. It's one of those things you're never going to forget where you were, who
you were with."