This is an article from the Aug. 4, 2008 issue
The Bears are back—and so's their elusive kick returner. After a long impasse Devin Hester got a $40 million contract extension ($15 million's guaranteed), and Chicago's clearing the way for the third-year jitterbugger to become their No. 1 receiver.
He takes it, and he dishes it out. The intractable welterweight (right) pounded previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto to snag a belt and a payday worth more than $1.5 million. Next up? Well, the Oscar-watch is on, but De la Hoya may not want to visit Margarito-ville.
At the 71st Soap Box Derby in Akron, girls won five of the six trophies—an unprecedented haul for the fairer sex. The youngest winners were 11, and 16-year-old Courtney Rayle of Washington, D.C., was the oldest. Said Courtney to the Beacon Journal, "This has been my dream ever since I can remember."
Forget the last-place pull-up in the Belmont—the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner (right) is back and breezing. He went six furlongs in 1:10.86 (that's fast, folks), ahead of Sunday's Haskell Invitational. His sore feet? Brown swears (via his translator, trainer Rick Dutrow) that they feel fine.
The Steelers are up and running—but not so their massive Pro Bowl nosetackle. Casey Hampton arrived way overweight (when he's in shape, he's 6'1", 325 pounds), sputtered on a conditioning test and got banished to the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Out of control. During a minor league brawl, the Peoria Chiefs pitcher tried to wing a baseball into the other team's dugout but instead clocked a fan on the forehead. The fan went to the hospital; Castillo, 21, went to jail. He faces time, and a fine, on a felonious-assault charge.
Despite a late rally the San Jose SaberCats' bid to repeat as Arena Bowl champs was scotched by the Philadelphia Soul. Why didn't the final score (an arenaesque 59--56) go San Jose's way? Said QB Mark Grieb, who threw an interception and fumbled a ball into his own end zone, "We just made too many mistakes."
The long shot Belmont Stakes winner (left) couldn't follow up. In his first race back, the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, Da'Tara set a scorching pace but faded to last. Jockey Alan Garcia to Albany's Times Union: "He wasn't going to run nowhere."
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Which rookie player has impressed you the most?
Geovany Soto, Cubs C 21%
Evan Longoria, Rays 3B 16%
Edinson Volquez, Reds P 16%
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox OF 12%
Jay Bruce, Reds OF 10%
Volquez, who pitched in parts of the last three seasons with Texas, is not technically a rookie; his Reds teammate Johnny Cueto (7th, 3.5%) was the only other pitcher among the top 10 vote getters.... Soto's 17 homers and 58 RBIs through Sunday led NL rookies.... Longoria's 19 homers were the most among AL rookies.... Ellsbury's 35 stolen bases led the American League.
[Based on a survey of 449 MLB players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.