Also from Sports Illustrated: The nicest player in the NFL, the trade that shaped the Division Series and Brandon Jennings’ Twitter hoops tour

You’ve seen all three of this week’s Oct. 10 covers and read about the rise of both the Lions and Alabama’s defense and seen our NHL predictions. Here’s what else is in this week’s issue, on newsstands now.

SI PLAYERS NFL POLL

Who is the nicest player in football? (page 17)

  1. Troy Polamalu, Steelers S….8%
  2. Drew Brees, Saints QB….6%
  3. Peyton Manning, Colts QB….4%
  4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR….4%
  5. Matt Hasselbeck, Titans QB….3%

[Based on 272 NFL players who responded to SI’s survey]

FAST FACTS: Polamalu, the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, is known for his devastating hits (any chance Joe Flacco voted for him?), but he has clearly made an impact with his personality as well. He, Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha (2%) and Broncos S Brian Dawkins (1%) are the only defensive players in the top 15. (Eight of those first 15 are QBs.) In a Facebook poll Broncos QB Tim Tebow (39%) was the fans’ pick for Mr. Nice Guy.

MLB DIVISION SERIES: MOVABLE FEAST – TOM VERDUCCI

The stage for the 2011 postseason was set long before Opening Day. Go back to ’09, when three of this year’s playoff teams—the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks—traded seven players. And unlike the postseason, everyone was sent home happy. Here is a full list of all the players involved and where they are now (page 46):

  • Yankees: Curtis Granderson (traded from Tigers)
  • Tigers: Phil Coke and Austin Jackson (Yankees); Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth (Diamondbacks)
  • Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy (Yankees), Daniel Hudson (White Sox; acquired for Edwin Jackson)
  • Cardinals: Jackson (traded from Tigers to Diamondbacks; traded to White Sox for Hudson, then flipped to St. Louis)

Says Tigers manager Jim Leyland: “It’s one three-way deal in which every team involved can legitimately say, ‘I’m happy we did it.’… That is the way it should always be when you make a deal in baseball. Everybody wins. But that’s not the way it usually happens.”

On the Tablets: Hotspots on how the eight postseason teams put together their 25-man Division Series rosters, with tallies of how many players were acquired through free agency, trade/waiver/Rule 5 draft and the amateur draft/amateur free agency. Also, a slideshow of all the action thus far from the four Division Series matchups.

BRANDON JENNINGS: WHERE IS EVERYBODY HOOPING TODAY? – LEE JENKINS (@SI_LeeJenkins)

If you’re in Los Angeles, that guy with the “Brandon Jennings” shirt at your neighborhood gym might actually be Brandon Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks point guard uses his Twitter account (@H00dFavorite) to announce his location in the morning, considers all offers and, if he chooses one, tweets the address for a game. He tells senior writer Lee Jenkins (page 52): “People want to touch you. They want to feel you and see how you really are. This is their chance to see us up close.”

Other notable quotes from the story include:

  • Jennings, on splitting his time between playing pickup and staying in NBA shape: “I shouldn’t be here. I should be in Milwaukee. With all due respect to the students of El Camino College [against whom he’s played pickup], it’s time to get ready for [Derrick] Rose.”
  • Mathew Rodriguez, one of the aforementioned El Camino students: “A lot of guys play for the money. Out here you can see who would play without it.”

On the Tablet: A gallery of Brandon Jennings’ life as an intern at Under Armour. Job title: Curator of Cool.

SCORECARD: TIME TO STAND UP – MICHAEL ROSENBERG (@Rosenberg_Mike)

DeSean Jackson did not ask his agent to make him a spokesman against bullying. He was inspired on his own after hearing the case of 13-year-old Nadin Khoury, whose favorite athlete happens to be Jackson. Unlike many athletes, Jackson has realized that as someone who can set the tone for what is socially acceptable, he can go a long way in fighting bullying. As he told SI contributor Michael Rosenberg (page 13):

  • “A lot of kids are scared to speak up, scared to tell their parents, scared to tell the teachers. At a young age, it’s so hard to do anything about it. I’m at a point where I’ve made it and I can help.”
  • “I’m just trying to prevent it. [Bullying] is not a job. It’s not going to help you in life.”

POINT AFTER: WHAT THE GAME NEEDS – JOE POSNANSKI (@JPosnanski)

Georgia State football coach Bill Curry still dares to be naïve. The 69-year-old, who had previous stops at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky, still has faith that college football can do more than make money and turn out NFL players. After all, a lifetime playing for and working with—among others—Bobby Dodd, Vince Lombardi and Don Shula has taught him everything he knows. Curry tells senior writer Joe Posnanski (page 84): “I do not claim any moral status beyond anybody else, but I didn’t want some guy to come see me and say, ‘Coach, I played for you 25 years ago. You’re the only male adult role model I ever had in my life. The IRS has taken my house now, thanks to you, because you taught me it was O.K. to cut corners.’ ”

THIS WEEK ON THE TABLETS

  • SI Digital Bonus: A Tsunami in the Office Place – Last Thursday competitive eating legend Takeru (the Tsunami) Kobayashi stopped by the SI offices for a very quick late-afternoon snack of a bowlful of hardboiled eggs and a jug of milk. How much did he put away? Watch the video to find out.
  • Leading Off: Close Up and Personal – 22 NHL players recently passed through SI’s offices. The photo strip for all of them can be viewed on the iPad app.
  • Inside Boxing: Third Man – Only two fighters are better pound-for-pound than Sergio Martinez. So why isn’t he a bigger name? (Chris Mannix, @ChrisMannixSI)
  • Off the Record: This week’s must-see moments in sports video.

INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS

  • NFL (page 26): Running Wild – For one day, the relentless pass-happy NFL was dominated by backs.
    (Jim Trotter, @SI_JimTrotter)
    • On the Tablets: Trotter’s predictions for Week 5.
  • College Football (page 30): Houston, One Problem – Behind Case Keenum, the Cougars have a chance to run the table and—just maybe—crash the BCS. Only their defense stands in the way. (Pablo S. Torre, @SIPabloTorre)
  • NASCAR (page 32): A Big-Time Save – In danger of becoming an also-ran, Jimmie Johnson ended his recent skid and put himself in the driver’s seat for a sixth straight cup title. (Lars Anderson, @LarsAndersonSI)

On the tablets, all of this week’s Inside columns also feature a Truth & Rumors feed specific to that sport, which updates in real time.

THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 25)

  • Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas/Aledo High) – Football
  • Melissa Sanger (Mullica Hill, N.J./La Salle University) – Soccer
  • Edward Cheserek (Kapker, Kenya/Newark St. Benedict’s Prep) – Cross-Country
  • Katie George (Louisville/Assumption High) – Volleyball
  • Steven Long (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lake Oswego High) – Football
  • Catherine (Cici) Bellis (Atherton, Calif.) – Tennis

Follow Faces in the Crowd on Twitter @SI_Faces


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