Joe Posnanski is the NSSA 2011 National Sportswriter of the Year

On Monday, senior writer Joe Posnanski (@jposnanski) was named the 2011 National Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. This marks the second consecutive year that a Sports Illustrated writer has been honored, as Peter King was the 2010 recipient of the award.

Since arriving at Sports Illustrated in 2009, Posnanski has cemented his reputation as a prolific and highly-regarded storyteller. His “Curiously Long Posts” is one of the most widely-read blogs in sports and has earned him several accolades in the past year, including a National Headliner Award for Online-only Writing and a FOLIO Eddie Award for Best Online Column or Blog. Posnanski has also written memorable cover stories for the past two “Where Are They Now?” issues—on Hall of Famers Yogi Berra (2011) and Stan Musial (2010)—in addition to numerous columns for the magazine’s Scorecard and Point After. He has also been the regular back page columnist for GOLF Magazine since September.

Since the NSSA created the National Sportswriter Award in 1959, a Sports Illustrated writer has received the honor 20 times—the most of any organization. Congratulations to Joe!

Read the full story here.

Also in this week’s Sports Illustrated: Bill Cowher says he won’t be coaching anytime soon; the Lakers’ new coach is also a Dungeons & Dragons fanatic; inside the ugly ending to Cincinnati and Xavier’s Crosstown Shootout

You have read about Tim Tebow’s appearance on the cover of this week’s issue. Here’s what else readers can expect from the Dec. 19 issue, on newsstands now.


Bill Cowher’s demeanor—not to mention his jaw—is seemingly suited for a lifetime on the NFL sideline. Five years after retiring from the Steelers, Cowher is the first choice for any team with an opening, but he has no plans to coach again. In an interview with senior writer Joe Posnanski, Cowher recalls speaking with Bill Parcells before a 2003 game. In response to Parcells’s saying that coaching “is your life,” Cowher thought (page 82): That can’t be right. This is my life? This is all I’m ever going to be? There’s got to be more than this.”

Cowher has made a seamless transition into his new job as a talking head on CBS’s NFL game-day show. He is also very close with his daughters, Meagan and Lindsay, and involved in many ventures and charities. Cowher says: “I guess I’m not like others, who have regrets about not spending enough time with their families. I always spent a lot of time with family when I was coaching. I built my schedule around them. But it’s still different now. I am free to do things. You’re really not free to do things when you are a coach. You live inside a bubble. You spend every minute solving problems.”

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Four Sports Illustrated writers nominated for 2011 NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year

Recently, four of Sports Illustrated’s senior writers—Peter King, Joe Posnanski, Gary Smith and Tom Verducci—were named finalists for the 2011 National Sportswriter of the Year Award by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Since 1959, the NSSA has bestowed the National Sportswriter Award on the most illustrious names in the business. King was last year’s winner, marking the 20th time that a Sports Illustrated writer has received the honor—the most of any organization. SI’s list of winners includes:

  • Frank Deford (1982, 1984-88)
  • Peter Gammons (1989)
  • Rick Reilly (1991-92, 1994-96, 1999, 2001-2006)
  • Peter King (2010)

Voting is open to all members of the NSSA. Winners will be notified the week of January 9, and the list of winners will be released to the public no later than January 16. Congratulations to Peter, Joe, Gary and Tom, and best of luck.

Also in This Week’s Sports Illustrated: The Relationshp between Sports and 9/11 Ten Years Later, The Braves’ Historically Nasty Bullpen, An SI Writer Recalls Living with TCU Coach Gary Patterson and the Best Visitors’ Clubhouse in MLB

You’ve seen the LSU and Boise State covers for this week’s issue and read our list of the five college football games to keep an eye on this weekend. The Sept. 12 issue of Sports Illustrated also includes the following.


The games we watched played a substantial role in fostering a return to normalcy after 9/11. So what of sports’ role now? Do fans still use them to remember or to forget and escape? In looking back on the last decade, senior writer Tim Layden revisits two past profiles: the first on then-Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi and his three NYC firefighting brothers, the other on Pat Tillman while Tillman was still a star at Arizona State. Layden also looks at how the relationship between our healing and our games is not nearly as clear as it was ten years ago (page 34).

Says William (Spanky) Gibson, a 40-year-old catcher on the Wounded Warrior softball team that was profiled by senior writer Phil Taylor (@SI_PhilTaylor) in the July 4 issue: “What they do in those ballparks, it’s enough. Today’s society is so different. Everything is quick. Honor the veterans! Play the game! Go home! But here’s the kicker: Those fans are thinking about something for those few seconds. Nine-eleven or the war or servicemen. Then there will be another split second somewhere when it happens again. And those split seconds add up. And then they’ll see me getting gas somewhere, and they’ll come over and say ‘Thank you for your service.’ It happens all the time.”

To read the full online version of Ten Years, click here.

On the Tablets: A link to Layden’s story on the Andruzzi brothers, A Patriot’s Tale.

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Another Letter to Miami Asking Them to Drop Football, Why a 154-Game Season Would be Good for Baseball, Jim Harbaugh Channels the Spirit of Bill Walsh, The Day That Damned the Dodgers and More from the Aug. 29 Issue

You’ve seen the Brewers “living the high life” on this week’s cover. This week’s Aug. 29 issue also includes the following:

1. Time for Miami to Get Real: Sixteen years ago, senior writer Alexander Wolff asked then University of Miami president Tad Foote to dismantle a Hurricanes football program that had run amok and then some. Now, history has repeated itself. Read Wolff’s updated letter – this time addressed to Donna Shalala – addressing the Nevin Shapiro scandal by visiting Sports Illustrated’s official Facebook page. Click “Like” at the top of the page if you are not already a fan, then click “Fan’s Only” on the left-hand side of the page to read Wolff’s letter.

2. The 154-Game Solution: Senior writer Joe Posnanski argues that shortening the MLB season by eight games would not only shorten a season that seems endless as it is, it would also lend proper context to the home run records warped by the steroid era.

3. Jim Harbaugh: The new Niners coach is looking to the past and embracing the teachings of Bill Walsh – who, like Harbaugh, also made the jump from Palo Alto to the pros – hoping to achieve the same level of success as San Fran fans hope they’ve finally found a worthy successor.

4. The Day That Damned the Dodgers: When Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten into a coma in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day, it marked the latest black eye for a once-proud franchise. Senior writer Lee Jenkins finds out more about what the team – and the city of L.A. – have done in response.

5. 2011 U.S. Open Preview: Senior writer L. Jon Wertheim lists seven players to keep an eye on and takes a closer look at what makes the last tennis major of the year so profitable – and why U.S. tennis is in the dark ages in spite of that.

6. Which manager would major league players most like to play for? 291 players weighed in for this week’s MLB Players Poll.

Read on for more.

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Also In This Week’s SI: A Ponzi Scheme in College Hoops, Get Ready for Bryce Harper and a 14-Year-Old Aspiring Sportscaster Going to School Via Robot

Inside the Ponzi Scam That Has Rocked College Basketball

Bryce Harper Is Ready for the Show—But Are We Ready for Him?

The Sportscasting Dreams of a Boy Attending High School Via Robot

Who Is the Most Entertaining MLB Player to Chat with on the Base Paths?

(NEW YORK – July 27, 2011) – In addition to the post-NFL lockout package touted on the cover, this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated—dated Aug. 1, 2011 and on newsstands now—includes the following.


Some of the biggest names in college basketball entrusted their money with David Salinas, who committed suicide on July 17 amid a months-long investigation into his businesses, including the J. David Financial Group. They are now part of a scam that bilked $55 million from investors both inside and outside the sport. On the hoops side, the duped investors range from national figures (Texas Tech’s Billy Gillispie, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Gonzaga’s Mark Few) to assistants (Gonzaga’s Ray Giacoletti) to NBA players (Warriors forward Ekpe Udoh and former Wizards swingman Cartier Martin). The damage done to those coaches’ and players’ finances is not the only aftereffect of this alleged Ponzi scheme (page 50).

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In This Week’s SI: The Mavs, The Rangers’ Lefties Pitch Forever, The Life of A College Basketball Recruiter and More

Matchup Nightmare Dirk Nowitzki Takes Down the Lakers

The Debate Over Head Injuries in Sports Rages On

Lefty Relievers: The Men Who Pitch Forever

A Confluence of Strange Events Produces This Year’s Derby Winner

Meet the Cerebral Coach Who Saved the Lightning

Inside the Long and Lonely Grind of a College Basketball Recruiter

Jason Kidd leads the Mavericks’ fast break on the cover of the May 16 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands today. It is the first cover for either Kidd or the Mavericks since the March 3, 2008, issue, when the cover story was Kidd’s midseason trade to Dallas. 

The Mavericks have emerged as the hottest team in the playoffs thanks in large part to Dirk Nowitzki—one of the toughest matchups the NBA has ever seen. At the end of every season, Nowitzki returns to a tiny gymnasium in the German village of Rattlesford and works with his mentor, 65-year-old Holger Geschwindner, to refine his game. One summer, they implemented the step-back jumper that Nowitzki used to devastating effect in Dallas’s sweep of Los Angeles.  Lakers veteran Joe Smith said (page 36): “I’ve never seen anyone else in my life take a shot like that. I don’t think anybody can block it.”  

Geschwindner, currently residing in Nowitzki’s upstairs guest room in Dallas, will not be going back to Germany anytime soon.  With a week of rest on the calendar, the two will have ample time to add another tool to his arsenal of basketball moves.

Follow Lee Jenkins on Twitter @SI_LeeJenkins. To read the full online version of It’s a Mav, Mav, Mav, Mav World, click here.

On the Tablets: Up-to-the-minute video highlights of the NBA playoffs.

Scorecard: Head Games – Ben Reiter (@SI_BenReiter)

When former NFL safety Dave Duerson took his life, he shot himself in the chest—and not the head—so his brain could be examined for medical research. Duerson was certain that his football career left him with an irreversible brain condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Last week, researchers at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy confirmed Duerson’s beliefs. But since CTE cannot be tested for until after death, it cannot be proved that it plays a role in causing depression or other symptoms; there are other more likely and treatable causes of depression. And so the debate about the effect of contact sports on the human body continues (page 14).

To read the full online version of Head Games, click here.

The Men Who Pitch Forever – Ben Reiter (@SI_BenReiter)

In the last two off-seasons, Texas Rangers G.M. Jon Daniels has given contracts worth a combined $10 million to two men in their 40s, Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes. This seems like an odd strategy as baseball gets younger, but Oliver and Rhodes are both lefthanded pitchers, allowing them to sustain long careers and high value. For the past six seasons lefties have a .238 batting average against Oliver while they have hit .214 against Rhodes throughout his career. Says Oliver (page 54): “If you’re lefthanded and you’re breathing, you can pitch forever.”

To read the full online version of The Men Who Pitch Forever, click here.

On the Tablets: Video of Oliver’s role in a historic baseball event, plus Ben Reiter discusses his story and other MLB headlines in a Sports Illustrated audio podcast.


After riding 21–1 longshot Animal Kingdom to victory in the Kentucky Derby, jockey John Velazquez publicly promised to “take care” of fellow jockey Robby Albarado, who was originally slated to ride Animal Kingdom before a prerace injury kept him out. While a piece of Velazquez’s 10% winner’s share of $141,180 is nice, the disappointment for Albarado is still palpable. Recalling the conversation he had with trainer Graham Motion last Friday morning, Albarado says (page 44): “Graham said they were going to make a change. I took Friday off to get well for [Derby day], but I guess that backfired on me. It’s going to take some time to get over this. Very disappointing. I lost the mount on the winner of the Kentucky Derby.”

To read the full online version of Chance Meeting, click here.

On the Tablets: A multimedia look at the pageantry of Derby Week.


Mired in a deep funk after winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning is the surprise of this postseason thanks to the cerebral coaching of Guy

Boucher and his innovative 1–3–1 neutral zone trap. Starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson says Boucher’s coaching reminds him of another X’s-and-O’s innovator (page 48): Right after I got here [in a January trade], I would close my eyes when Guy was talking, and I would hear Jacques Lemaire [who popularized the neutral zone trap while leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 1994–95 and coached Roloson with the Minnesota Wild from 2001 to ’06]. The way Guy sees the game, thinks the game—he’s not afraid to do something that nobody’s ever done before, and Jacques was the same way.”

To read the full online version of The Brain That Saved Tampa Bay, click here.


If you’re a college basketball recruiter, your life is a series of long, lonely and often fruitless road trips. You miss your kids’ birthdays and Little League games
and recitals and are forever at the mercy of a high schooler who might have a tough time choosing what to order at Taco Bell, let alone where to spend the next few years of his life. But assistant coaches endure such trials for one important reason: A successful recruiting class gets them one step closer to being the one who calls the shots (page 60).

To read the full online version of Recruiter, click here.


To Seve Ballesteros, who died last Saturday from a brain tumor, golf was about making art and creating something unforgettable. Senior writer Joe Posnanski
  recalls a practice round during the 1997 Ryder Cup, where Ballesteros served as the European captain. Ian Woosnam’s ball was buried in the woods, with seemingly no way out—for anyone but Ballesteros, of course. Eyeing a tiny crack between the tree’s branches, he chipped out to safety. But that was Seve: He could see the opening others could not see. He could always find his way home (page 70).

To read the full online version of Spellbound by Seve, click here.

On the Tablets: A Leading Off slideshow extension of Seve Ballesteros’s memorable life.


• DaJuan Coleman (DeWitt, N.Y.) – Basketball                          • Cheryl Murphy (Jamaica, N.Y.) – Karate

• Morgann LeLeux (New Iberia, La.) – Track and Field              • Bob (Hap) Hazzard, Phil Kerr, Bill Reeve and Hans

• Chrys Jones (Harrodsburg, Ky.) – Track and Field                   Wendel (Southeast and Central Maine) – Swimming

Follow Faces in the Crowd on Twitter @SI_Faces.



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  • SI Digital Bonus: The Greatest Rap Session in Baseball History – In this Peter Gammons piece from April 14, 1986, Wade Boggs, Ted Williams and Don Mattingly rendezvous to talk about what else? Hitting.
  • Off the Record – This week’s top moments in sports video: LeBron ditching Space Jam, an inspiring first pitch, a tumble from a snowmobile and Rafael Nadal at his best.


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