| DIED |
At age 59 after a nine-month battle with colon and liver cancer, former Dolphins and 49ers receiver Freddie Solomon (above). A quarterback at the University of Tampa at a time when black players were scarce at the position, Solomon was drafted in the second round by Miami in 1975, then traded to the 49ers, where he played his last eight years, winning Super Bowls XVI and XIX. Despite having nearly 6,000 career receiving yards, he was best known as the player who Joe Montana first targeted during a play late in the '82 NFC Championship Game against the Cowboys; when Solomon slipped on the turf, Montana turned to Dwight Clark, who made the game-winning grab known now as the Catch. Later in life Solomon worked with at-risk kids through the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office.
| RETIRED |
After 19 MLB seasons, the last 17 with the Red Sox, 45-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Drafted in 1988 by the Pirates as a first baseman, Wakefield (right) first experimented with the eccentric pitch when his manager, Woody Huyke, told him that he wouldn't make it as a position player. "I just want to be able to say I tried everything I could to make it," he said at the time. And make it he did, with an immediate splash, winning eight of his nine decisions as a rookie in 1992, when he also won both of his starts in Pittsburgh's NLCS loss to Atlanta. Two years later he spent an entire season in the minors, going 5--15 before the Red Sox picked him off the scrap heap in 1995. With Boston he won 186 games, third on the team's alltime list behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens (tied at 192), and picked up two World Series rings, in 2004 and '07, the first of which was made possible when, during Game 3 of the '04 ALCS, he gave up his Game 4 start to pitch in relief in Boston's 19--8 loss to the Yankees. That move saved the Red Sox' bullpen for a 12-inning victory the next night. With Wakefield's retirement, the Mets' R.A. Dickey becomes the majors' only knuckleballer.
February 27, 2012
| ARRESTED |
On drug charges, four TCU football players: junior linebacker Tanner Brock, junior safety Devin Johnson, junior defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and sophomore offensive tackle Tyler Horn. The arrests came after a surprise drug test, administered on Feb. 1 by TCU coaches and triggered by a recruit's assertion that he would not attend the school because of player drug use. According to affadavits, all four student-athletes are charged with "delivery of marijuana" and in conversations with undercover officers two players estimated that between 60 and 82 of their teammates would fail the drug test. (Five players, reportedly, failed the test.) In addition to the four football players, the six-month investigation turned up 13 TCU students who were selling drugs; all 17 have been suspended.
| DIED |
At age 74 of an apparent heart attack, John Fairfax, who in 1969 became the first oarsman to cross an ocean alone when he traversed the Atlantic in a rowboat, and who three years later became the first to row across the Pacific, this time with his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook. A daredevil since his youth, Fairfax (right), who was born in Rome and moved at a young age with his mother to Argentina, ran away at 13 to live in the Amazon jungle and would come back to Buenos Aires to sell animal skins. He later hitchiked to Panama and spent three years as captain of a pirate ship, smuggling guns, whiskey and cigarettes all over the world. In the 1960s he moved to London and decided to act upon his childhood dream of rowing across an ocean. His trip in '69 from the Canary Islands to Hollywood Beach, Fla., took 180 days; his later journey, from San Francisco to Australia, took 361 days, during which time Fairfax and Cook were presumed dead. Fairfax spent most of the rest of his life in Las Vegas, where he supported himself playing baccarat
| DETAINED |
By German police for nearly seven hours last Sunday after a melee at a press conference that followed his unanimous-decision loss to Vitali Klitschko, British heavyweight Dereck Chisora. After the fight Chisora took exception to heckling from fellow Brit David Haye, a former world champion who had crashed the presser in hopes of challenging Klitschko. When Haye claimed to the crowd that he could knock Chisora out, Chisora walked off the stage and put his fist on Haye's jaw. Haye responded with an elbow to Chisora's face, then hit Chisora with a bottle. Chisora was released without charge; Haye returned to England before authorities could question him.
Own goals conceded by second-division Brighton in its 6--1 FA Cup loss to Liverpool last Sunday.
Shutouts in 2011--12 by each of Blues goaltenders Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, making St. Louis the first team in NHL history with a pair of six-shutout netminders.
30, 17, 7, 4, 3
Points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks by Hawks forward Josh Smith in a Feb. 15 win over the Suns. Since the latter two stats were first kept, in 1973, only one other player has reached all of those marks in one game: LeBron James, in 2008.
Free Big Macs handed out to students last week by first-year Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers. On Feb. 11, Chambers called for his players to run out the clock on a 67--51 win over Nebraska, unwittingly spoiling a Bryce Jordan Center deal under which fans would earn free burgers when PSU scores at least 70 points.
NBA games played through Feb. 16 by Ben Wallace, who broke Avery Johnson's record for the most by an undrafted player since the NBA/ABA merger.
By Fox, the 500th episode of The Simpsons, which, in its 23-year existence, has included sports references ranging from curling to CFL and featured cameos by Joes surnamed Frazier, Namath and Montana. Here, SI's favorite sports-centered episodes, the airdates of which affirm a widespread belief: Like the NBA and the NHL, it was better in the '90s.
Homer at the Bat, 1992 Mr. Burns wants Honus Wagner and Mordecai Brown for his softball team; he settles for Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs.
The Homer They Fall, 1996 Homer's ability to absorb a blow lands him in the ring with Tyson knockoff Drederick Tatum in this Raging Bull parody.
Bart Star, 1997 Nepotism rears its yellow head when peewee coach Homer sees a star QB in Bart, who almost finds inspiration in Broadway Joe.
NHL PLAYERS POLL
Who is hockey's nicest player?
Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings C 9%
Ray Whitney, Coyotes LW 7%
Shane Doan, Coyotes RW 7%
Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings D 6%
Martin St. Louis, Lightning RW 5%
Ducks RW Teemu Selanne was tied for fifth in voting (5%).... Detroit had four players in the top 11 (also: Henrik Zetterberg and Patrick Eaves), more than any other team.... The Hurricanes' Brian Boucher was the only goalie in the top 10—and the only American.... Not a single player under 30 made the top 10. Average age in that group: 36.... In a similar poll on Facebook, Datsyuk took 54% of the vote; no other player had more than 11%.
Based on 179 NHL players who responded to SI's survey