The sports world said goodbye to two members of the Steel Curtain, a couple of Brooklyn Dodgers pitchers and a pair of legendary basketball coaches, as well as the singular Kiwi beekeeper who conquered Everest, a unique champion of chess and one of the most respected voices in broadcasting
94 | Fresh out of TCU in 1937, Baugh was offered a $5,000 deal by the Redskins, but he held out for—and received—$8,000, making him the NFL's highest-paid player. He was worth it. As a rookie Slingin' Sammy led the league in passing, took Washington to the NFL Championship Game and, in an era when the forward pass was still a novelty, threw for 352 yards in a 28--21 win over the Bears. Baugh didn't restrict his heroics to offense. During his 16 seasons he intercepted 31 passes as a defensive back, including an NFL-best 11 in 1943, when he also led the league in passing and punting. After Baugh retired in '52 the Redskins retired his jersey, something they haven't done for any other player. But Baugh never returned to Washington. Instead he moved back to West Texas, where he bought a ranch and settled into the life of a cowboy. Like everything else he tried, he did it well. When Robert Duvall was preparing for his role as a cowboy in Lonesome Dove, he stayed with Baugh at the Double Mountain. Duvall won a Golden Globe.
58 | A mainstay of the Steel Curtain D, Mad Dog recovered from a lung infection on the morning of Super Bowl IX and sacked Minnesota's Fran Tarkenton for a safety, the only points of the first half. White, who made two Pro Bowls in his 10-year career as an end, went on to a successful career as a businessman and fund-raiser in Pittsburgh. He was elected a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Barack Obama just before his death.
75 | Overshadowed by Don Newcombe and Carl Erskine, Podres did one thing neither hurler could: He clinched a title for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Podres beat the Yankees 8--3 in Game 3 of the 1955 World Series, then threw a Game 7 shutout. After a 15-year career in which he won 148 games, he mentored Curt Schilling, among others, as an always-old-school pitching coach. "I don't know nothin' about computers," he said. "I know pitchers."
78 | After his no-name Texas Western team with five black starters knocked off all-white Kentucky, which had already won four national titles, in the 1966 NCAA championship game, Haskins met the press for 10 minutes, and not once did the issue of race come up. He hadn't intended to make a statement; he was just trying to win the game, one of 719 W's he'd earn in his 38-year career. (Though at the team's 25th reunion he did acknowledge to his players, "I guess you helped change the world a little bit.") The Bear—a scowling man who favored clip-on ties and wrinkled shirts—had coached high school ball in a series of Texas outposts before taking over in El Paso. He looked far and wide in cobbling together his '66 team, drawing recruits from New York City, Detroit and Gary, Ind. During an open practice at the Final Four he berated the Miners, as he was wont to do, to the surprise of several onlookers. "How can you talk to these black guys like that?" one coach asked. Haskins's answer was simple: "Same way I do white guys."