FIRE AND ICE
Steffi Graf retired the way she played--on her own terms
She didn't care to be loved, or so it seemed. Her game evoked
the joyless efficiency of a piston pumping, her locker room
manner fell somewhere between cold and hostile, and even knowing
it was her last Wimbledon match, she bolted Centre Court last
month without giving the crowd a final lingering glance, one
last wave. It was fitting that Steffi Graf announced her
retirement last week from Heidelberg, Germany--like much of her
career, Graf's abrupt departure came to us from a distance. She
wanted no tributes or teary ovations. She just wanted out.
But those close to the 30-year-old Graf will tell you her famed
reserve stems less from arrogance than from shyness, pride,
self-defense. Her 5'9", 132-pound body came about as close as
possible to an athletic ideal, but it also served as a shield
for a fragile psyche. Although--or perhaps because--she'd been
on tour since she was 13, Graf never quite got over hiding
behind her hair in press conferences, and she allowed herself
few friends. Her father, Peter, embarrassed her publicly more
than once, and there were times she couldn't keep herself from
crying. A few years ago she was visibly shocked to find herself
considered tennis's iron maiden. "Do you think I'm tough?" she
asked. "When things are not going right, I'm frustrated or
depressed or spaced out, but definitely not tough. I'm not good
at confronting problems."
That was never more apparent than in 1993 when rival Monica
Seles was stabbed by a German fan intent on making Graf No. 1.
Graf visited Seles the next day in the hospital but never took
the lead in denouncing Seles's attacker or fighting his release
from prison. The crime left Graf dazed and feeling somehow
culpable. "For a whole year I was almost haunted by it," she
said last year.
Yet neither that bizarre incident nor some 50 injuries could
stop her. Graf's comeback win over Martina Hingis in this year's
French Open final, a smack in the teeth to the player who called
her a has-been after Graf's devastating knee injury in 1997,
capped the greatest singles career in women's tennis history.
Even without that 22nd Grand Slam title, Graf's all-around
dominance--at least four wins in each Slam event--and her record
377 weeks at No. 1 had placed her a notch above Martina
Navratilova and Margaret Court. But Hingis was a new
generation's standard-bearer, and when Graf shattered her in
Paris she added Hingis's name to a list of vanquished greats
that began with Chris Evert and Navratilova.
Yet what was most memorable about that day had little to do with
tennis. The shock of the win and the roars of the crowd at
Roland Garros momentarily cracked Graf's shell. She took the
trophy and hopped like a schoolgirl. Voice quavering, she
grinned and said, "This is amazing.... I feel French!" She tried
to console Hingis, told her--imagine!--not to take things so
seriously and gushed to the people, "I want to thank you so
much!" It was her best public moment, the one time in 17 years
that Graf allowed the world to see the passion that made her
supreme. --S.L. Price
Tony Martin on Trial
The money laundering trial of Dolphins wideout Tony Martin--he's
charged with writing checks and leasing cars for alleged cocaine
dealer Rickey Brownlee, who repaid him in cash--has provided one
of the striking sights of the preseason: coach Jimmy Johnson and
eight Dolphins players lumbering into a Miami courtroom on Aug.
2. The Dolphins said they were there to show support for their
teammate during jury selection. "I consider Tony a friend, and
this is what friends do," said defensive back Terrell Buckley.
But federal prosecutors shook their heads at what could also be
seen as a ploy to pressure jurors into linking Martin's case to
the Dolphins' Super Bowl hopes. "Maybe we ought to just have a
scrimmage right here in the courtroom," one lawyer said.
During his trial the former Pro Bowler, who says he never
accepted drug money and thought Brownlee was a legitimate
businessman, continues to practice with the Dolphins. He started
in the team's 26-14 exhibition loss to the Saints last Friday at
Pro Player Stadium. A special clause in the four-year, $14.2
million contract he signed on April 9--two months after he was
indicted--could allow him to play ball while appealing his
conviction if he is found guilty.
In Miami, where NFL fever is running hot this summer, keeping
Martin in uniform can seem more important than proving his guilt
or innocence. As one of Brownlee's former lawyers told The Miami
Herald, "Money laundering happens every day in Miami. But the
Super Bowl--how many times do you get the chance to go to the
Salt Lake City Tornado
THE DAY THE SKY FELL
The twister that struck Salt Lake City on Aug. 11 left many Utah
Jazz employees thinking, There but for the grace of God....
Eighty people were hurt in the storm, and a conventioneer across
the street from the Delta Center was killed when the freak
funnel cloud slammed into the arena just before 1 p.m., punching
holes in the roof, smashing more than 400 glass panels, flooding
a dozen luxury boxes and leaving the basketball court damaged by
water and tumbling concrete. Had the Jazz or the WNBA Starzz
been playing, says Jazz media relations director Evan Silverman,
"the fatalities would have been unbelievable."
Jazz general manager Tim Howells stood in a sixth-floor
reception area watching the storm develop, then ducked behind a
door when he saw it was headed his way. The twister hit the
arena's southwest corner. If it had hit the south side, Howells
says, "I might not be talking to you."
Security guards Patty Earl, Ray Gunn and Al Higham were unaware
of the tornado until it blew out the windows of their Delta
Center office, knocked Gunn off his chair and sent Earl flying
down the corridor. Higham was cut by a flying brick, but all
three escaped serious injury.
Kim Turner, senior media relations director for the Jazz, was on
a lunchtime jog when the storm hit. "I saw explosions," he says
of the detonation of a Utah Power & Light substation. "Then it
was all coming right at me, and that's when I really started
running." As Turner hid under a cement archway fronting an
apartment just below sidewalk level, the door opened. "What are
you doing out here?" asked the woman inside.
"It's a f---ing tornado!" said Turner, and the apartment dweller
ducked back inside, leaving him to face his fate alone.
"I swear I was right in the middle of it. It was like I was
looking up inside the damn thing," he says. "Not too many people
can say they went for a jog and ran through a tornado."
SHAFT MEETS SUPERFAN
Three words of advice for any NFL fan who coins a catchy slogan
for his team: Trademark it--now. If you don't, NFL Properties or
one of its hungry licensees might snatch it in less time than it
takes to do the Dirtybird.
Last winter longtime Falcons fan Alan Weiss used money he had
set aside for his wedding to make souvenirs featuring the word
Dirtybird, which he coined in 1995. But after discovering that
he had trademarked the name only in Georgia, NFL Properties
bought the federal trademark rights and put Weiss out of
business on the eve of the Super Bowl. Soon the league was
selling its own Dawg Pound merchandise, bogarting a term
invented by Browns cornerbacks Hanford Dixon and Frank
Minnifield, who didn't bother securing trademark rights. Then
last week Titans fan Scott Douglas learned that NFL Properties
licensee Pro Player was selling shirts with the slogan Flame
Pit, which he'd invented as Tennessee's answer to the Dawg
Pound. But Douglas hadn't trademarked his brainchild, either.
The NFL says it owns unofficial names and slogans that become
identified with its teams, a claim bolstered by a judgment in a
recent lawsuit over the name St. Louis Rams. But legal rights or
no legal rights, Douglas thinks league officials are in the
wrong. "We've tried to do something to generate excitement for
our NFL team, and they come in and take the idea from a fan and
claim it as their own," he told The Tennessean. "It's bad when
big business tries to shaft the little guys."
Ripken at the Movies
Without knowing it, Cal Ripken Jr. provided the last laugh in
the movie hit of the summer. Near the end of The Blair Witch
Project, which is set in a Maryland woods during the summer of
1994, doomed sound technician Mike shouts, "Two thousand, one
hundred and thirty consecutive games, and Cal Ripken is king!
Cal Ripken is king, and I'm not gonna see it because I'm gonna
be stuck in the woods." The line was an ad lib by Michael
Williams, who like the other two actors in the film improvised
most of his dialogue during shooting in '97. "Michael and I are
huge baseball fans," says Blair Witch codirector Eduardo
Sanchez. "We agreed that mentioning Ripken would add
"My character's consecutive-days-lived streak was in jeopardy,
so I went for gallows humor," says Williams, a lifelong Yanks
fan whose reference to Ripken's breaking Lou Gehrig's
consecutive-games mark delighted Orioles fan Sanchez.
"When we started this project we just hoped it'd go to video,"
Sanchez says of his $35,000 film, which has grossed more than
$100 million. "We never imagined Cal might actually see it."
So will he? "I'm curious because they mention my name," says
Ripken, "so I probably will see it--if my wife wants to go."
An NFL Spy?
THE PURPLE PEOPLE-WATCHER
There's a chill in Frostburg, Md., site of the Redskins'
training camp. The atmosphere has nothing to do with the weather
and a lot to do with the presence in camp of Jim Marshall, the
former defensive end who anchored the Vikings' fabled Purple
People-Eater defense along with fellow linemen Carl Eller and
Alan Page. Marshall, 61, retired in 1979 and became a
motivational speaker. He was ostensibly hired by new Redskins
owner Daniel Snyder to be a consultant for defensive coordinator
Mike Nolan, but during the first two weeks of camp he spent most
of his time on the sidelines with assistant general manager
Bobby Mitchell and came to be seen by players as Snyder's spy.
Marshall's attempt at humor last week--he wore a T-shirt
emblazoned with i am not 007--didn't help.
Marshall and Snyder didn't return SI's calls. One longtime
Redskins insider, asked for his view of Marshall's role, simply
rolled his eyes and said, "Jim Marshall? Please." Defensive
tackle Dan Wilkinson was equally scornful. "To bring a guy in as
a motivational speaker on fitness and all that mess," said
Wilkinson, "that's something you do to a high school or college
SEX SAPS THE KNEECAPS
First came news that race car drivers get carpal tunnel
syndrome--all that steering and shifting can strain Formula One
stars' fingers and wrists. Now comes the heartbreak of
satyriasis: A study by Paul Oyudo, a medical student at London's
Queen Mary and Westfield College, suggests that unprotected sex
may be hazardous to athletes' knees. Oyudo studied 10
chronically sore-kneed British jocks, half of whom played soccer
in the elite Premier League. He found that their appetite for
frequent unprotected sex made them prone to a bacterial disease
called sexually acquired reactive arthritis (SARA).
"Promiscuity among these sportsmen calls for concern," writes
Oyudo. "Footballers appear to be the greatest culprits." Less
sex looks to be the only balm for this sort of arthritis, since
there's no cure in sight--immunologists have yet to get SARA's
WHO'S GOT TONY'S GOODIES?
For 48 games after he got his 2,950th hit on April 20, Tony
Gwynn would don a crisp new San Diego Padres jersey and a stiff
new cap, put on a fresh pair of batting gloves and spikes and
use a new Genuine C267 Louisville Slugger. Gwynn was preparing
for the collectibles crush that would inevitably attend his
3,000th hit, which came on Aug. 6 when he singled in the first
inning in Montreal.
Top-of-the-line Gwynniana has doubled in value this year,
according to C.J. Sports in San Diego. On eBay.com on Sunday the
bat-and-ball combo from his 2,897th hit was bid up to $520, and
a game-worn jersey from his rookie year was priced at $8,000.
Despite the value of his memorabilia, Gwynn, an eight-time
batting champ, is giving away much of the stuff associated with
his hit chase. His high school, Long Beach Poly, and his
college, San Diego State, will get some gear, as will friends
and family. Last Friday in a ceremony at Qualcomm Park in San
Diego, Gwynn donated his bat, helmet, uniform pants and spikes
from hit number 3,000 to the Hall of Fame.
Each time he got a hit this year, Gwynn would hand the ball to a
clubhouse attendant for safekeeping, then later sign it. Gwynn
gave numbers 2,900 to 2,950 to Padres owner John Moores. Gwynn's
wife, Alicia, got 2,951 to 2,985 for her merchandising company,
AG Sport. Numbers 2,996 and 2,998 went, respectively, to Tony's
two brothers, Chris and Charles. Number 2,997 was a grand slam
in St. Louis that a lucky fan kept. Gwynn's mother, Vendella,
Number 3,000? That's going nowhere. Gwynn will keep that one and
display it in his house in Poway, Calif., on a stand that was
given to him for that purpose and stood empty for eight
years--through nearly 1,500 hits--awaiting the big day.
--That the Expos win 40 in a row to sneak into a wild-card berth.
--That Phillies fans who threw batteries at J.D. Drew left the
Vet to find their DieHards dead.
--That a TV remote could be programmed to selectively mute Jerry
Names removed this year from the waiting list of nearly 50,000
for Packers season tickets.
Fee that Browns fan John Big Dawg Thompson paid to adopt his new
Double plays grounded into by Cal Ripken--eight short of Hank
Aaron's major league record.
Square footage of NFL Films' new Mount Laurel, N.J.,
headquarters, which is being built by Roger Staubach's real
estate development firm.
Chariot-race spectators the Circus Maximus held in Nero's time,
according to archaeologists working in Rome.
Approximate value of endorsement deals Brandi Chastain has signed
since her World Cup-winning goal.
Amount a Little League assistant coach in Ashland, Ore., gave his
players as a reward for base hits in an all-star game.
World record for casts in 24 hours, set by Brent Olgers of
Macon, Ga., with a push-button fishing reel.
SWEET 6 TEENS
Nineteen-year-old Sergio Garcia looked like golf's next immortal
at last week's PGA Championship, but not every teenage sports
sensation lives up to his promise. Here are half a dozen whiz
kids and their varied career trajectories.
Joined Monsters of the Midway as 19-year-old out of Colgate in 1936
Hitchhiked to Chicago, played guard and linebacker for
George Halas at $150 a game
All-Pro guard from '38 through '43 helped Bears edge
Redskins 73-0 for 1940 NFL title
Midway Monstering interfered with his medical training,
so he retired after '43 season at age 26
A prominent Burbank, Calif., surgeon, Dr. Dan made Pro Football
Hall of Fame in 1965 and died in '95
Lefty hurler 15' gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning vs. Cards on
June 10 '44
Instantly dumped, he went back to high school and didn't return
to the majors until '52
Never a Cy Youngster but went 17-12 in 55 his best year
Finished 135-117 with 3.90 ERA before moving to Reds
Still signs off, "This is the old lefthander, rounding
third and heading for home"
First pro basketballer to skip college ball joined ABA's
Stars at 19 in '74
Elbowed by teammate for putting hand over heart for
pregame Pledge of Allegiance
Jumped to NBA in '76; won three league MVP awards, with
Rockets and Sixers
Sixers re-signed him in '93 for mission impossible:
mentoring Shawn Bradley
Retired since '94, he'll watch Moses Jr., 19, play guard for
Texas Tech this season
At 17 youngest Oiler had 46 goals as WHAs 79 Rookie of
Hip-, body- and skull-checked by goons dying to intimidate the
An alltime Great One at 21 as he racked up 212 points in
Postseason scoring king missed playoffs in his final two
years with rotten Rangers
With the usual waiting period waived, he'll skate into
NHL Hall of Fame in November
Only 16 when she beat Chris Evert to win '79 U.S. Open
None-in '77 the human backboard won the first pro event
Named AP's female athlete of '79, the year she got her
Back and shoulder woes forced retirement when she was
Mom of two makes big cake as TV talking head and won't
turn 40 until 2002
At last week s PGA he became the youngest golfer to lead
Withdrew from 99 St. Jude Classic with a really horrible
Already the European tour's fifth-ranked player in his
Tournament schedule leaves him less time to watch
Saturday morning cartoons
Most likely to succeed David Duval as golf's fearless Tiger tamer
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Hackers replaced the Tennessee Titans' home page with the message
GEZONDHEID IS A NEW DUTCH GROUP.
Now that Steffi Graf has announced her retirement--this time she
says she really means it--is a Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi showdown
at the U.S. Open too much for bereft tennis fans to hope for?
Visit these sites to get the most out of the millennium's last
The Open's official site will have real-time scoring, detailed
match stats, video highlights and player bios, along with a photo
gallery offering 20 new images each day. Better yet, snap your
own shots of an Anna Kournikova backhand or a Patrick Rafter
smash with one of three virtual Slam Cams.
A must for Agassi fans, this unofficial homage to America's
resurgent favorite offers stats and facts supplemented by a
potpourri of action shots and audio and video clips. Replay
match point of Agassi's first Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon in
'92 or hear his tearful victory speech at the '99 French Open.
Pete's Place, official site for the No. 1-ranked player, has
the latest scoop on Sampras, his career stats and a feature that
allows you to review his performances on any surface against top
tour rivals. Check out the 15-second video clip of Sampras's
transformation from bucktoothed boy into debonair pro and the
family album shot of a teenage Pete sporting a Don King hairdo.
Fraulein Forehand has played her last major, but you can relive
her career on this personal site. Though full of action shots,
what makes this fan page a standout are the off-court photos of
Graf. One shot shows her cavorting with a killer whale and
another riding an elephant.
sites we'd like to see
On-line charity site for millionaire golfers griping about meager
Ryder Cup stipends.
View archival footage of the Orlando Magic roster's incredible
three hits in a mop-up pitching stint: "He should have to go
back to 2,998."