THE YEAR IN SPORTS
2005

44 CROWD-PLEASERS
Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr.

62 THE BEST OF ...

BASEBALL
by Tom Verducci

THE NFL
by Peter King

THE NBA
by Jack McCallum

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
by Grant Wahl

GOLF
by Alan Shipnuck

TENNIS
by L. Jon Wertheim

OLYMPIC SPORTS
by Tim Layden

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
by Austin Murphy

(BOWL PREDICTIONS)

THE REST
by Austin Murphy

99 TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD
by Steve Rushin

110 THE LIARS CLUB
by S.L. Price

118 GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Sports Obituaries

126 'TWAS THE FIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Fiction by Nine SI Writers

Departments

14 Catching Up With ...
16 Letters

19 Air and Space
A mag for pro jocks: What acquiring minds want to know by Steve Rushin

22 Scorecard
• The Saints go marching on
• The heaviest heavyweight
• Olympic dream eludes skater

32 Faces in the Crowd

35 Players

154 Life of Reilly
For a heart transplant recipient, a return to the hardwood by Rick Reilly

Inside ...

143 The NFL
• The Patriots' recharged defense

146 The NBA
• Indiana: Jermaine O'Neal's team

148 College Basketball
• Young players turn UCLA around

150 College Football
• Heisman loss stings Vince Young

152 The NHL
• The Rangers wisely use Czechs

153 Olympic Sports
• A freestyle skier's uphill battle

Cover

PHOTOGRAPH BY WALTER IOOSS JR.

SI Extra

To sign up for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's free subscriber-only e-mail newsletter, go to sicustomerservice.com/siextra.

ON THE WEB

SI.COM
GO TO SI.COM DAILY FOR SCORES, STATS AND BREAKING NEWS

**The NBA heats up on Christmas Day with a national TV doubleheader featuring the first meetings this season between Shaq's Heat and Kobe's Lakers, and between the defending champion Spurs and Ben Wallace (left) and the Pistons. Keep up with the league's comings and goings, upsets and trends, with insight and analysis from Jack McCallum, Ian Thomsen and Marty Burns at SI.com/nba.

**Perhaps it's only fitting, given its declining TV ratings over the years, that Monday Night Football's 35-year reign on ABC is ending with a ho-hum matchup between the Jets and the Patriots. Things weren't always that way, as SI.com recalls with its gallery of the top 10 games in MNF history at SI.com/photos.

**What do Jack Nicklaus (below), Lance Armstrong, Mark Messier and Jerry Rice have in common? They're all on SI.com's list of the top 20 athletes to call it quits in 2005. To see a gallery of one of the most star-studded groups of retirees from a single year, plus shots of the '05 champions in college and pro sports, go to SI.com/photos.

**The last NFL team to start out 13--0 and lose were the 1998 Broncos, who went on to win Super Bowl XXXIII. Can Edgerrin James (right) and the Colts follow suit? Keep track of playoff seedings and matchups, and read Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, at SI.com/nfl.

**Who are the biggest players in the sports media? Check out the Power Rankings in Richard Deitsch's Media Circus column at SI.com/scorecard.

SIX PHOTOS PHOTOJOHN BIEVER 143  Past Perfect
Peyton Manning and the Colts suffered through their first loss of the season, bowing to the Chargers on Sunday 26-17.
PHOTOJOHN BIEVER PHOTOROBERT BECK (NICKLAUS) PHOTOBOB ROSATO (JAMES)
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)