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Leading Off

Dec. 29, 2014
Dec. 29, 2014

Table of Contents
Dec. 29, 2014

INBOX
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
NFL
HOCKEY
  • BU center Jack Eichel has the speed, skills and temperament to become a top draft pick and change an NHL franchise for years to come. But first the 18-year-old would like to finish his freshman year of college

SOCCER
  • F√∫tbol fever reached an alltime high in the U.S. during the World Cup this summer. So, where to from here? The answer will depend a lot on three newbies

SPORTS SCIENCE
The Lives They Led
PRO FOOTBALL
POINT AFTER
Departments

Leading Off

SIX PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. BORIS STREUBEL/BONGARTS/GETTY IMAGES 2. RICK RYCROFT/AP 3. KEVIN JAIRAJ/USA TODAY SPORTS 4. GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 6. DAISUKE NAKASHIMA/AFLO/ZUMAPRESS.COMMaking Their Marks Championships are the lifeblood of competition, but there's no denying that moments of individual glory—like, say, Peyton Manning's setting the alltime NFL touchdown pass record in October—are to be savored too. For the record, here are some of the top history makers of 2014. 1 Dennis Kimetto, Kenya World marathon record: 2:02:57, Sept. 28 2 Katie Ledecky, U.S. World records in the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle: Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 3 Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, RB NCAA single-game rushing record: 427 yards, Nov. 22 4 Kevin Durant, Thunder, F NBA record for consecutive 25-point games: 41, April 6 5 DeMarco Murray, Cowboys, RB NFL record for consecutive 100-yard games to start a season: eight, Sept. 7 through Oct. 27 6 Lionel Messi, Barcelona, F UEFA Champions League career scoring record: 74 goalsFOUR PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. STEVE MITCHELL/USA TODAY SPORTS 2. WESLEY HITT/GETTY IMAGES 3. RICK BOWMER/AP 4. KIM KLEMENT/USA TODAY SPORTSThe Future Is Now Whom will we be talking about in 2015 and beyond? We can start the handicapping with a look at the newest faces on the biggest stages. In '14 these were the youngest players in each of the four major pro sports. 1 MLB (min. 20 games played) Rougned Odor, Rangers, 2B Age: 20 2 NFL (min. 10 games, one start) Brandin Cooks, Saints, WR Age: 21 3 NBA (min. five games played) Dante Exum, Jazz, G Age: 19 4 NHL (min. five games played) Aaron Ekblad, Panthers, D Age: 18FIVE PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. #THINGSTIMHOWARDCOULDSAVE 2. JOHN IACONO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3. ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 4. DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, GLENN PINKERTON/LVNB/EPA 5. LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/GETTY IMAGES (HERRERA)Search Party Last week Google released its Year in Search report, an analysis of the people and trends that the U.S. Internet audience went looking for most often. Here are the sports figures who had the largest digital footprints in 2014. 1 MOST SEARCHED MEME Things Tim Howard Could Save The U.S. goalkeeper's virtuoso performance in a World Cup loss to Belgium (16 saves) set off a viral wave celebrating his preventive powers. 2 MOST SEARCHED MLB PLAYER Derek Jeter The retiring Yankees shortstop was the majors' most popular player by any measure: jerseys sold, commercials, tributes.... 3 MOST SEARCHED ACTIVE NFL PLAYER Richard Sherman He was already a star, but the Seahawks cornerback's profile skyrocketed after his post--NFC championship game rant to Fox reporter Erin Andrews. 4 MOST SEARCHED NBA PLAYER Paul George The Pacers' All-Star forward attracted an audience after he broke his leg in gruesome fashion at Team USA's pre--World Cup scrimmage. 5 MOST SEARCHED GIF Miguel Herrera The animated sideline antics of Mexico's coach were impossible to ignore during the World Cup; Internet users paid homage to them with GIF treatments that perfectly captured the crazy.