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.

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Team Philly vs. Team Melo: Recapping “The Battle of I-95″

Earlier today, SI.com announced that its production of “The Battle of I-95” — an exhibition game featuring 16 NBA stars that aired online at SI.com yesterday night, live from the Palestra in Philadelphia — resulted in more than 235,000 video streams. This was the first live basketball game ever produced and streamed by SI.com and featured SI staff writer Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) providing insight and analysis from courtside, where he was joined by Newsday’s Alan Hahn in the second half. Mannix also conducted pregame interviews with the team captains, Hakeem Warrick (for Team Philly) and Carmelo Anthony (Team Melo).

The game featured the strongest compilation of star power since the NBA Finals this past June. Headliners included All-Stars Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Tyreke Evans in addition to Philly hoopsters Kyle Lowry, Lou Williams, Mardy Collins, John Salmons, Wayne Ellington and Ronald “Flip” Murray.

Read and watch more about “The Battle of I-95″ by clicking through to the following links:

  • Video: Top 10 highlights from the game
  • Photo gallery: Team Melo vs. Team Philly
  • Game recap: LeBron, Carmelo, Paul fall short to Team Philly in “Battle of I-95″
  • Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham): Tribute to Philly’s proud basketball tradition
  • The Point Forward/Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala): Sights and sounds from the Philly-Melo showcase

An Insider’s View of the NBA Lockout: Q&A with Ian Thomsen

With the resolution of the NFL lockout yesterday, the number of North American professional sports leagues embroiled in a labor crisis is down to one. So what to make of the current state of the NBA? Senior writer Ian Thomsen (@SI_IanThomsen) – who profiled National Basketball Player’s Association President Derek Fisher in last week’s issue – answers some of our questions about the issues at hand and what to expect.

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On the Tablets: What Are the Second-Half Keys for Every MLB Team? Tom Verducci Has the Answers.

There are at least a dozen baseball teams with realistic chances at postseason play. So what will it take for each team to realize those October dreams? Few people know the answers to those questions as thoroughly as award-winning senior baseball writer Tom Verducci. And readers on the tablets this week are in luck. For this week’s SI Digital Bonus, Verducci spends one minute each on the 30 MLB teams and breaks down everything you can expect from now to the end of the regular season—and in some cases, beyond. Can the Phillies’ rotation be beat? Is Boston’s pitching strong enough? Will the Rangers run away with the AL West? Are the Pirates—yes, the Pirates—for real? Download the tablet version of the July 25 issue to find out.

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Also In This Week’s SI: Derek Fisher the Negotiator, A 10,000-Mile Road Trip Through Baseball and Ryan Lochte Challenges Michael Phelps for Swimming Supremacy

Derek Fisher Provides SI a Front Row Seat to the CBA Negotiations

Loving Baseball: A Weeklong 10,000-Mile Odyssey by Joe Posnanski

Ryan Lochte Challenges Michael Phelps for the Title of World’s Best Swimmer

(NEW YORK – July 20, 2011) – As mentioned in yesterday’s post, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo graces the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, dated July 25 and on newsstands now. Other highlights from this week’s issue include:

DEREK FISHER WANTS THE BALL – IAN THOMSEN (@SI_IanThomsen)

In recent weeks, Lakers guard Derek Fisher—who is also the president of the National Basketball Players Association—invited SI to a series of exclusive interviews concerning the NBA labor situation. At a June 30 meeting with NBA management and owners, Fisher objected to the proposal of waiving underperforming players with long-term guaranteed deals without having to pay the outstanding balance on their contracts. Fisher’s rationale is as follows (page 46): “They talk about the money they have locked up on the Eddy Currys and the ­Stephon Marburys, and that it would free up money for everybody else. I don’t follow that type of thinking, and it’s going to be hard for me as president of the players’ association to ever sign off on any agreement that would put us in that position.”

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