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TABLE OF CONTENTS

December 25, 2000 | Volume 93, Issue 26

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Chris Rock Cover - Sports Illustrated December 25, 2000

December 25, 2000
These fans have taken a sacred vow to cherish and to honor, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, during championship seasons and decade-long droughts

December 25, 2000
SI polled pro athletes to see how the fans stack up—and to pick up a few choice lines they've heard from hecklers*

December 25, 2000 | Leigh Montville
Denver's South Stands are the second home to a close-knit gang of diehards bonded for life by their passion for the Broncos

December 25, 2000 | Rick Reilly
Seeing as how this will be the 25th Christmas since the gangly teenage sportswriter first kissed the prettiest cheerleader, a guy starts to run out of good gift ideas. Did the matching oven mitts...

December 25, 2000
I am not a man who prays often, but my thoughts and prayers go out to Julian Swartz and others with OCD.—MIKE FLOOD, Philadelphia

December 25, 2000
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer. They may be mailed to The Editor, Sports Illustrated, 135 West 50th Street, New York, N.Y....

December 25, 2000 | Kelley King
JULY 30, 1979

December 25, 2000 | Steve Rushin
As their fame and fortune grow ever larger, athletes tend to lose sight of how little that matters

December 25, 2000 | John Walters
Highlights

December 25, 2000 | John Walters
It's the season's second-most discussed poll. We speak of Playboy's Choose America's Sexiest Sportscaster contest, in which the men's magazine asks readers to vote on its website for the hottest...

December 25, 2000 | John Walters
One fan's obsession leads to an all-purpose NBA-intensive website

December 25, 2000 | John Walters
Last Thursday, as an ice storm hit Bristol, Conn., ESPN announced that five-year veteran Larry Beil was leaving to become a weekend anchor at ABC affiliate KGO in San Francisco. "I'm trading in...

December 25, 2000
Here are the holiday gifts that need to be given.

December 25, 2000 | Seth Davis
For the second time in seven years, the NCAA handed down sanctions against UNLV's men's basketball program, putting the Runnin' Rebels on four years' probation and banning them from postseason...

December 25, 2000 | Seth Davis
0TD passes thrown last weekend by NFL quarterbacks named Johnson—the Redskins' Brad, the Falcons' Doug and the Bills' Rob—who collectively completed 9 of 18 for 102 yards.

December 25, 2000 | Seth Davis
A $252 million contract for Alex Rodriguez? Who do the Rangers think he is, Roy Hobbs? Which got us wondering: How much would Hobbs and other cinematic players make in baseball's irrationally...

December 25, 2000
Shaquille O'Neal, who received an excused absence from the Lakers' win over Vancouver last Friday night to attend his graduation from LSU, says he's not done hitting the books. "I want to take the...

December 25, 2000
Q What's a Thrasher?

December 25, 2000
Bought•Ford Models, by the Magnum Sports & Entertainment talent agency. The storied modeling firm, whose clients have graced thousands of magazine covers (including SI, with Christie Brinkley,...

December 25, 2000 | Dan Snierson
How fast does a Zamboni go?

December 25, 2000
We now know who'll be taking the field for Super Bowl XXXV. No, not the teams. We're talking about the important stuff: which entertainers will be headed to Tampa for the big show. Before the...

December 25, 2000
According to an ad for a sports-memorabilia show to be held in New Jersey next year, the going price for faltering Bears quarterback Cade McNown's autograph is $35, $10 more than the tab for Hall...

December 25, 2000
BOB BOUGHNERPittsburgh defenseman, on how he'll react to owner Mario Lemieux's return: "I'm going to take him out on the first road trip, get him drunk and talk contract."

December 25, 2000 | E.M. Swift
For 50 years at Milligan College, Duard Walker has taught traditional values

December 25, 2000 | Tim Crothers
Adrian Peterson took wing as Georgia Southern won another Division I-AA title

December 25, 2000 | Jamal Greene
Selling gum was the goal for Topps 50 years ago. Then it put baseball cards in its packs and created an industry

December 25, 2000
Cory Gibbs, PLANTATION, FLA.SoccerGibbs, a senior center back at Brown, was named first-team All-America after leading the Bears to a perfect record in Ivy League play and a quarterfinal...

December 25, 2000
Guidance for those lost in sports

December 25, 2000
The next issue of SI, dated Jan. 8, 2001, will appear two days later in the week than usual so we can give you coverage of the Orange Bowl national championship and the other BCS games.

December 25, 2000 | Michael Farber
The Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov heads a class of unheralded goaltenders who have made a name for themselves with surprisingly spectacular starts

December 25, 2000 | Michael Farber
Evgeni Nabokov began the season as a backup, but now he's a Vezina Trophy candidate. He is also at the top of a class of netminders, including Roman Cechmanek (right), who have exceeded...

December 25, 2000 | Austin Murphy
Led by well-traveled Josh Heupel, an undersized but unflappable quarterback from South Dakota, Oklahoma will play for its first national championship in 15 years

December 25, 2000 | Ivan Maisel
Florida State's offense will be too quick for Oklahoma's staunch defense

December 25, 2000
Fan ParticipationAs part of SI's celebration of the sports fan, which begins on page 98, LEADING OFF presents classic shots involving spectators, such as this picture from the 1959 World Series,...

December 25, 2000 | Jeffri Chadiha
Four weeks after coach Jim Fassel made a bold playoff guarantee, the Giants wrapped up the NFC East with a win over the Cowboys

December 25, 2000 | Josh Elliott
Hurting after the loss of their star runner and starting quarterback, the Saints have found that Aaron Brooks is just what the doctor ordered

December 25, 2000 | Grant Wahl
There's a lot of kid in Notre Dame forward Troy Murphy, and he's having the time of his life leading the Fighting Irish back to respectability

December 25, 2000
THE NBA

December 25, 2000 | Ian Thomsen
Letting FlyKobe Bryant is testing his limits—and Shaq's

December 25, 2000 | Ian Thomsen
If the NBA can import 7'6" Yao Ming from China, he could go No. 1 in the draft

December 25, 2000 | Kostya Kennedy
European PlanOlder first-year defenders from across the pond are making a big impact

December 25, 2000 | Pierre McGuire
During a game against the Wild last week, Capitals assistant coach Tim Army could be seen showing forward Richard Zednik a sequence of plays from the match on a handheld computer. The XOSketch...

December 25, 2000 | Pierre McGuire
MARIO LEMIEUXC PENGUINSThe best player in the world when he retired after the 1996-97 season, the 35-year-old six-time scoring champion is making a comeback later this month.

December 25, 2000 | Kostya Kennedy
Buffalo's Jay McKee, an accomplished amateur magician, keeps his teammates entertained

December 25, 2000 | Peter King
Smart MoneyThe teams that sign middle-class free agents are the ones that thrive

December 25, 2000 | Peter King
The average annual payout of the 10-year, $252 million contract that shortstop Alex Rodriguez recently signed with the Texas Rangers is $1.3 million more than the total (for salary-cap purposes)...

December 25, 2000
My Two Cents

December 25, 2000 | Paul Zimmerman
Have you ever seen anything so crazy? Yes, last year. No, I mean all these teams that needed only one victory to get into the playoffs or win their division, and then they got upset. Have you ever...

December 25, 2000 | Steve Rushin
They are the backdrop to the greatest moments in sports, the fans who live for live action and would die for their team. Here's a tip of the cap to the paying customers