- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The WBA heavyweight title, England's David Haye, with an upset victory over Russia's Nikolai Valuev last Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany (above). Haye, 29, a former cruiserweight champ fighting as a heavyweight for only the third time, gave up nearly a foot and 100 pounds to the 7'2", 316-pound Valuev, the tallest and heaviest champion in history. But Haye earned a majority decision by using his superior quickness to avoid Valuev's punches. "It was like a track event," the dethroned champ said. "I wasn't ready to run that much." Haye (23--1) will most likely make his first title defense against John Ruiz (44-8-1), the WBA's top challenger. Said Haye, "He's about the same size as me, and I think I will knock him out."
By the Chiefs, embattled running back Larry Johnson. On Oct. 28 Kansas City suspended Johnson for two weeks after he insulted fans, questioned coach Todd Haley's credentials and used a gay slur in Twitter posts; he then repeated the slur to reporters. Last week fans started an online petition calling on G.M. Scott Pioli to release Johnson before he could pick up the 75 yards he needs to pass Priest Holmes as the team's alltime leading rusher. It had more than 32,000 signatures on Monday morning, when Johnson was scheduled to return to the team. Instead the Chiefs released a tersely worded statement cutting him. "A part of him is excited and a part of him is very regretful," Johnson's agent, Peter Schaffer, told the Associated Press.
By the Grizzlies, an indefinite leave of absence to Allen Iverson. The All-Star guard left the team last Saturday before a road game against the Clippers, telling owner Michael Heisley that he had to attend to a personal family matter. The leave followed a week in which Iverson, who signed a one-year, $3.1 million contract with Memphis in September, complained publicly about coming off the bench and not starting in three games after returning from a hamstring injury. Heisley said Iverson's departure had nothing to do with his unhappiness over playing time.
By Italy, the Fed Cup, with a sweep of the U.S. in the best-of-five final in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on Sunday. It's the second Cup title in four years for the Italians, who won in 2006 and also lost in the final to Russia in '07. The U.S., which has taken a record 17 Fed Cups but hasn't won since 2000, played this final without the Williams sisters; Venus and Serena decided to skip the event because of fatigue. That left 18-year-old U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, who is No. 49 in the world, as the highest-ranked player on the U.S. side. On Sunday, Oudin was beaten 7--5, 6--2 in the clinching match by Flavia Pennetta (right). "To represent your country is something very different," Pennetta, the world's No. 11 player, said. "We always play for ourselves.... Here it's completely different."
By Mike Williams, the Syracuse football team. The Big East's leading receiver (106.6 yards per game), Williams did not give a reason for his decision, but he has had off-the-field problems. He missed the 2008 season for academic reasons and was suspended for the Oct. 24 game against Akron because of an unspecified team rules violation. Without the Biletnikoff Award finalist, Syracuse dropped to 3--6 last Saturday with a 37--10 loss to Pitt in which no Orange receiver had more than 36 yards.