Two Super Bowl victories in three years and he was still underrated. Then he took a $5 million 2004 pay cut (he restructured his contract to help the Patriots get under the salary cap), beat golden-armed Colt Peyton Manning (again) and became, in one sweet, season-opening week, the Man.
Five months after having a liver transplant and two years after being relegated to B-games for Fox, the 74-year-old "voice of the NFL" called a graceful play-by-play on ESPN's Sunday night game.
Won in his return to D.C., but here's what really makes his motor run: Tony Stewart, the prize driver in NASCAR's Joe Gibbs Racing, has a solid shot to win the Nextel Cup as the "playoffs" begin.
Twelve backs rushed for more than 100 yards--the Jets' Curtis Martin led everyone with 196 yards on 29 carries--a record for the opening week of the season.
Baby's gettin' a new pair of cleats. Before his Eagles spanked the Giants, the coach, who is 46 and the father of five, inked a four-year contract extension for about $17 million.
You wanna talk hot? His girlfriend, 2004 Playmate of the Year Carmella DeCesare (center), recently had a bar fight with his ex, Kristen Hine, in Cleveland. And oh, yeah: He threw a TD and ran for another in the Browns' win.
We don't know who he is, either. But in a bumbling press conference after a 17--7 loss to Tennessee, Miami coach Dave Wannstedt talked about benched QB Jay Fiedler (left) and kept referring to the mysterious Mr. Jordan. Hmmm. Miami does have a new running back named Lamar Gordon. But as Wannstedt might say, He's no Ricky Wilson.
Wife Angie Harmon landed a role opposite Jim Carrey in Fun With Dick and Jane, but nothing's funny about this: The former All-Pro cornerback, 33, failed his Rams physical, nullifying his 2004 contract.
First he's dissed by Sapp and Keyshawn, then Bucs offense looks inept in loss to Skins. And Gruden, who went to Super Bowl in 2002, got less than 2% of the vote in SI poll (below) asking players, "Who's the best coach in the NFL?"
Named for Reliant Energy ("Your reliable choice for electricity"), facility hosts first opening-day loss in Texans' three-year history--and also goes dark for 10 minutes in midgame due to power outage.
Jim Mora won in Atlanta but Tom Coughlin (Giants), Dennis Green (Arizona), Mike Mularkey (Bills), Lovie Smith (Bears) and Norv Turner (Raiders) had downer debuts.
The ravishing 17-year-old Wimbledon champ bowed out early at the U.S. Open, losing in the third round. Hey Maria: If the tennis thing doesn't work out, you can always go back to the Chargers' training camp, where you made a splash last year (right).
SI PLAYERS POLL
For complete results and breakdown of the poll, go to si.com/scorecard.
Based on a survey of 354 players
Who is the best coach in the NFL?
Bill Belichick 45%
Bill Parcells 9%
Tony Dungy 8%
Dick Vermeil 8%
Who is the worst coach in the NFL?
Tom Coughlin 29%
Marty Schottenheimer 14%
Butch Davis 11%
Dave Wannstedt 11%
FAST FACTS: Despite Belichick's easy win in the poll, only 10% said he was the coach they'd "most like to play for." Dungy was the top answer to that question, with 19% .... Parcells received 6% of the "worst coach" vote.