| RETURNED |
To a football field for the first time since he was paralyzed while making a tackle against Army on Oct. 16, 2010, former Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand (above), who led the Scarlet Knights out of the tunnel—on a scooter and with an ax in his lap to symbolize coach Greg Schiano's motto, KEEP CHOPPING—last Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. Following the accident, doctors had predicted that the then 20-year-old would never again be able to breathe without a ventilator. But with rigorous rehab LeGrand can now stand for up to 40 minutes at a time, and he has served as a radio analyst for Rutgers games this fall. On Saturday, after his entrance, LeGrand struggled to put words to the comeback. "I can't even explain it," he said. "It was a very emotional moment."
| DIED |
At age 72 of heart failure following surgery for esophageal cancer, Gene Murphy, who coached football at Cal State--Fullerton from 1980 until '92, when the school dropped the sport. Despite a shoestring budget that at one point had him helping to build bleachers, Murphy (right) turned the Titans, who had never enjoyed a winning D-I season, into a top 20 team in his fifth campaign. Over 13 years Murphy molded such future pros as Damon Allen (the CFL quarterback who ranks second all time in North American passing yards) and Mike Pringle (the CFL's alltime leading rusher) as well as 19 NFL players. Later the coach at nearby Fullerton College from 1993 to 2007, Murphy also helped launch the careers of NFL coaches Steve Mariucci, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson, along with Army's Rich Ellerson.
November 7, 2011
| DIED |
At age 77 of complications from a stroke, NASCAR patriarch Russ Wallace, father of Rusty, Mike and Kenny Wallace, who have combined for more than 700 top 10 finishes in the sport. An accomplished dirt-track driver himself, Russ worked as a mechanic, newspaper carrier and co-owner of a vacuum and janitorial-supply business in order to support his racing obsession, winning 200 races from 1974 to '78 in machines that his sons helped build and repair. Today that tradition is carried on: Kenny, the youngest of the brothers, will become the alltime leader in Nationwide Series starts with his next race; Mike recently won the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega and has been a fixture across all three of NASCAR's national tours; and Rusty, the eldest, is an ESPN race analyst after retiring in 2005 with 55 Cup wins and the 1989 championship to his name.
| SOLD |
At an undisclosed price, the Dubuque (Iowa) County baseball diamond and surrounding cornfields made famous by the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. Don and Becky Lansing, whose family has owned the property since 1906, listed the 193-acre plot—including the field built by Universal Studios and the two-bedroom house featured in the film—for $5.4 million in May 2010. Last week the property was purchased by Mike and Denise Stillman, a Chicago couple who plan to preserve the site's legacy by building a complex called All-Star Ballpark Heaven that will feature an indoor training facility and a dozen more fields, several of which will mirror major league ballparks.
| BROKEN |
By Penn State's Joe Paterno (right), the alltime NCAA D-I wins record, as the 84-year-old collected career victory number 409 last Saturday with a 10--7 win over Illinois. Still suffering from a sore right leg, shoulder and pelvis following an accident at a practice in August, Paterno coached from the press box while 62,000 Beaver Stadium fans endured a snowstorm to see Illinois miss a potential game-tying 42-yard field goal as time expired. With the win (which put PSU alone atop the Big Ten), Paterno passed Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson in the FBS record book. Across all divisions he now trails only 84-year-old John Gagliardi, still active at D-III St. John's in Minnesota, who has 481 victories.
| RESIGNED |
From USA Gymnastics and his local training club amid allegations of sexual abuse, Don Peters, 62, who coached the American team to a record eight Olympic medals in 1984—including Mary Lou Retton's all-around gold—a total that has not been matched by any U.S. women's Olympic team since. Peters, who worked from the SCATS gym in Huntington Beach, Calif., is facing allegations that he sexually abused at least three teenage female gymnasts in the 1980s. According to an investigation by The Orange County Register, the former gymnasts, one of whom would have been 16 at the time, came forward in September alleging that they had inappropriate sexual relations with Peters while he was their coach. USA Gymnastics has scheduled a Nov. 11 hearing to determine whether Peters (who has declined to comment and whose lawyer has deemed the matter private) should be banned from the sport.
Players in a lower-division Czech soccer match last week who were sent off with red cards before police, notified that the referee was repeatedly falling over, administered a Breathalyzer test that revealed the ref's blood-alcohol level as 0.194.
Wins in a row for the gelding Rapid Redux after his victory at Laurel Park last Thursday, tying the modern North American win streak record held by Peppers Pride and Zenyatta.
Percent of NCAA student-athletes who enrolled in school in 2004--05 who earned degrees within six years, marking the highest graduation rate ever, up from 79% for the previous class.
Vision of Standley Lake (Colo.) High School junior reserve quarterback Rhett Gutierrez, who is able to overcome his legal blindness by working within predetermined routes.
Average viewers for Game 7 of the World Series last Friday, making it the most-watched baseball game since 2004 and the most-watched Friday night telecast of any sort since the '10 Winter Olympics.
For divorce from Nets forward Kris Humphries, her husband of 72 days, reality starlet Kim Kardashian, who cited "irreconcilable differences," on Monday. Is it too soon to handicap whom the noted lover of athletes might pair with next? Not at all.
NFL PLAYERS POLL
Who has the funniest trash talk on the field?
Chad Ochocinco, Patriots WR 28%
Ray Lewis, Ravens LB 11%
Bart Scott, Jets LB 6%
Joey Porter, Cardinals LB 5%
Shaun Smith, Titans DT 2%
Nearly 40% of Ochocinco's votes came from defensive backs... .The art of banter, however, appears to be a defensive specialty: Ochocinco and Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith were the only two offensive players in the top 10... . The Chargers' Philip Rivers and the Bears' Jay Cutler (both with less than 1% of the vote) were the only two quarterbacks among the 79 players named.
Based on 265 NFL players who responded to SI's survey