The AL Cy Young winner in 1979, when he went 23--9 for Baltimore, Flanagan was so crafty that he didn't need to use his admitted "great bullpen spitter" in games. He was known for his quips—he told the Orioles' mascot to "take two worms and call me in the morning" after the bird fell off the dugout—which served him as a broadcaster. For six years Flanagan was also the O's G.M. He committed suicide in September.
The center joined the Bills from the USFL in 1986, on the same day as Jim Kelly. The team sent a limo for the QB. It sent an equipment van for Hull, who was just happy for the ride. An agile 6'5" and 284 pounds, he was ideal for the no-huddle offense, which propelled Buffalo to four AFC titles and Hull to three Pro Bowls. Said Bills linebacker Darryl Talley, "As long as Jim had his hands under his [butt], we had a chance."
Famed for scoring 29 points in Memphis State's loss to UCLA in the 1973 NCAA final, Finch was also a hometown star whose play buoyed the city after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Finch later spent 17 seasons on the Tigers' bench, 10 as the head coach. The Memphis Commercial Appeal recalled the man who inspired the community—black and white—with a simple epigram: Memphis' unifier.
Lee Roy Selmon,
In 1973 three fourths of the Oklahoma defensive line came from a sharecropper's farm in the tiny town of Eufaula (pop. 2,500) in the eastern part of the state. They were the Selmon brothers, the youngest and baddest of whom was Lee Roy. When they weren't trampling their mother's flower bed playing football, Lucious, Dewey and Lee Roy worked as janitors to help make ends meet. (That left little time for socializing, which perhaps explains why Lee Roy's prom date was Dewey.) Lee Roy won the Outland Trophy in '75 and the next year was the No. 1 pick and the first player drafted by the expansion Buccaneers. (Dewey was the third.) The team was terrible, but Lee Roy stood out—for both his play and his attitude. "Whenever I want to feel good," coach John McKay said, "I think about Lee Roy Selmon." Tampa Bay shockingly reached the '79 NFC title game; that season Selmon was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Those who faced the ferocious 6'3", 256-pound pass rusher never forgot him. Bears tackle Ted Albrecht told his coach at halftime, "I never want to be hit in the mouth by a hockey puck, I don't want to be buried at sea, and I don't want to play the second half against Lee Roy Selmon."
Though he had soft hands and surprising hops, Traylor knew his strength: his size. Nicknamed Tractor, the 6'8" 300-plus-pounder bullied foes at Michigan. "It's nice to pull up in a limo," he said, "but when it's time to haul ass, you need an 18-wheeler." The Mavericks picked him sixth in 1998, then dealt him to the Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity. Traylor, who died of a heart attack, had a seven-year NBA career.