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Leading Off

Dec. 28, 2015
Dec. 28, 2015

Table of Contents
Dec. 28, 2015

INBOX
THE COMEBACK
The Lives They Led
  • From the Giant who became a broadcasting mainstay to the Moses who led Philadelphia to the promised land, from Tark the Shark to Mr. Cub to the Snake, indelible figures across a wide range of sports passed away in 2015

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Leading Off

PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY BOB MARTIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BILES)Marks of Excellence I'm just here to help the team.... Athletes mean it when they say it, but let's be honest: Individual achievements are a lot of fun. And on the list of moments that made 2015 memorable, these record breakers and milestone reachers rank high. 1. Simone Biles: first woman to win three straight all-around gymnastics world titles. 2. Alex Ovechkin: NHL's all-time leader in goals by a Russian-born player. 3. Alex Rodriguez: newest member of the 3,000-hit club. 4. Peyton Manning: NFL's all-time passing-yards leader. 5. Katie Ledecky: first swimmer to win the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle golds in a world championships. 6. Marcus Mariota: first QB with a perfect passer rating in his NFL debut. PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK MCDERMOTT/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (OVECHKIN)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY BRAD PENNER/USA TODAY SPORTS (RODRIGUEZ)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY JUSTIN EDMONDS/GETTY IMAGES (MANNING)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY THOMAS LOVELOCK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LEDECKY)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY KIM KLEMENT/USA TODAY SPORTS (MARIOTA)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY CARLOS M. SAAVEDRA FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JETS-BILLS)Technicolor Dreamboats Shining individual moments aren't the only images from 2015 seared into our brains. Good luck to those who wish they could unsee the NFL's garish Thursday-night Color Rush uniforms, which answered the never-asked question, What if Timothy Leary had opened a sporting-goods store? If nothing else, the unis kept Twitter busy coining descriptions for the combos. Jets-Bills (1) was the Christmas Bowl. Buccaneers-Rams (2) was Ketchup vs. Mustard. Titans-Jaguars (3)? Indescribable. PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY DILIP VISHWANAT/GETTY IMAGES (RAMS-BUCS)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP (TITANS-JAGUARS)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY JOE CASTRO/EPA (SHARAPOVA/KOKKINAKIS)Self on The Shelf The selfie is nothing new, but the possibilities of the genre expanded greatly in 2015 with the proliferation of the selfie stick. And annoying as the device can be when you're getting bonked in the head at Disney World or the Louvre, it helped some of the world's best-known athletes capture impromptu—and indelible—moments this year. 1. Tennis pros Maria Sharapova and Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open. 2. Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan at Gatorade's 50th-anniversary party. 3. Floyd Mayweather at a press conference announcing his September fight against Andre Berto. 4. Drivers who made NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, at Richmond International Speedway. 5. Usain Bolt and his 4 × 100-relay teammates after Jamaica won gold at the world track championships. PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE BOYLE/GATORADE/AP (MANNING/JETER/HAMM/JORDAN)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA/USA TODAY SPORTS (MAYWEATHER)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN LAWDERMILK/GETTY IMAGES (NASCAR)[See caption above] PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (JAMAICANS)[See caption above]