This is an article from the Dec. 24, 2007 issue
Portland is the NBA's youngest team (average age: 24), but it had won seven straight through Sunday, including an 11-point win in Denver, behind Channing Frye (above). "They whupped us," observed Nugget Allen Iverson. Said Frye to The Oregonian, "Life is good."
Not counting the one who sang White Christmas, there's Sidney (right), up to his usual tricks (13 points as the Penguins won eight of 11) and then some (page 70). And don't forget Packers rookie kicker Mason Crosby—whose 130 points (15 on Sunday) led the NFL.
Oh, babies! What a week for the Saints' linebacker. Three days after his wife, Jaclyn, gave birth to twin daughters, he helped New Orleans win with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and two sacks—the second inspiring him to blow a pair of kisses into the air. "That was for the girls," Fujita said. "In case they were watching."
Dolphins coach Cam Cameron exulted at midfield (and got a game ball from captain Jason Taylor) after receiver Greg Camarillo (right) caught the TD pass that ended Maimi's winless year. How big was it for young Camarillo? His father, Al, camcorded his postgame interviews.
The stars of HBO's Hard Knocks have had their share this year. Chiefs fans have begun wearing paper sacks, embarrassed by their team's seven-game losing streak—and young QB Brodie Croyle (above) is feeling bewildered. Said Croyle to The Kansas City Star, "I thought we would win by now."
There's Roger, of course, implicated by George Mitchell, and there's the Jets' Kellen Clemens, whose only pass attempt on Sunday resulted in a pick returned for a touchdown and a hit that ended his day with a rib injury.
Ouch! Rough stretch for the 49ers third-year QB. After learning he'd have season-ending shoulder surgery, he reopened his feud with coach Mike Nolan, saying Nolan dissed his toughness to the press and to teammates. Oh, yes. Smith is 2--5 as a starter in 2007. Said Nolan early this month, "I thought Alex was making progress up until this year."
Fledgling QB Chris Redman added to the Falcons' nightmare season—the Vick stuff, the losing, the bolting of Bobby Petrino—with an 0.0 passer rating in a 37--3 loss to Tampa Bay. And St. John's Red Storm hoops team lost at home to Niagara for the first time since 1963—when they were the Redmen.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
Who's the most intimidating defensive player in football?
Ray Lewis, Ravens LB....................33%
Shawne Merriman, Chargers LB.....14%
Julius Peppers, Panthers DE............6%
Brian Urlacher, Bears LB...................5%
Joey Porter, Dolphins LB...................5%
Players couldn't vote for a teammate.... Among voters aged 21 to 24, 50% chose Lewis.... More than 23% of QBs voted for Urlacher.... Not so intimidating is the above players' combined record this season: 25--44 through Sunday.... Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was fifth in the league with 120 tackles this year.
[Based on a survey of 278 NFL players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.