A Bounty Program Has the Saints in a Heap of Trouble
Lenny Dykstra: The Centerfielder Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight
Distance Runner Rhiannon Hull is Put to the Ultimate Test
Virginia’s Defense Could Lead Them to the Dance
The Indiana Pacers Unassuming Seven
For all the wrong reasons, the New Orleans Saints appear on the cover of the March 12, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now. For three years, the NFL says, members of the Saints defense maintained an illicit bounty program, administered by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, that paid cash rewards for hits that injured opponents. Expect the league’s punishment to be swift and severe.
Senior writers Peter King (@SI_PeterKing), Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) and Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter)analyze the impact of the NFL scandal. According to a source close to Goodell, the commissioner’s reaction to the initial reports in the 2009 playoffs was, “God forbid this is true. This will be earth-shattering” (page 34).
To download a high res image of the cover click here
On the Tablet: SI.com piece on possible legal fallout from the bounty system.
HOW LENNY DYKSTRA GOT NAILED – DAVID EPSTEIN (@SIDavidEpstein)
On Monday, former Mets and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to 3 years in prison on charges of grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement. In a story based on interviews with law enforcement officials and personal and business associates of Dykstra as well as police and court records reviewed exclusively by SI, staff writer David Epstein traces the pattern of criminal behavior that ultimately landed Dykstra in jail (page 50).
Among the previously unreported details uncovered by Epstein are:
- Dykstra used his connection to Charlie Sheen to entice some of his associates into fraudulent activity. He said that Sheen and he were working on a number of ideas including an energy drink and promised his associates pieces a company that never existed.
- Dykstra got a model and mother of 5 named Jessica Costa into his scheme, convincing her to lease a Porsch 911 under her name that he would make the payments on, with her credit application. No one knows where the Porsche is now.
- A common associate in many of Dykstra’s plans was Robert Hymers, a onetime accountant who became infatuated with Dykstra’s lifestyle, said in an interview with police that one night while working late with Dykstra at the Intercontinental hotel in L.A., he fell asleep and when he woke up, his laptop was gone. Dykstra told him that a prostitute had come in, threatened him with a taser and taken the laptop. That laptop contained personal information of a person that Dykstra attempted to use credit checks for at two car dealerships.
On the Tablet: Podcast with David Epstein.
Rhiannon Hull grew up in Eugene, Ore., and was a member of the University of Oregon’s famed distance program. Hull excelled in athletics from an early age but running had a deeper impact on her life. It afforded her the ability to push her body to beyond human limits. She had a knack for volunteering first and figuring out what she’d gotten herself into later. One friend recalls, “She was the first to raise her hand for anything” (page 56).
This attitude is what brought her to Costa Rica in September 2011, as she applied to help start a private kindergarten. On the morning of Oct. 28, Rhiannon and her son Julian went into the ocean on Costa Rica’s Pacific shore only to be swept out to sea by a vicious riptide. Rhiannon’s strength and stamina allowed her to hold Julian above her head while battling the current for a full half-hour before two local surfers were able to rescue Julian.
FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE – LUKE WINN (@LukeWinn)
Basketball coaches at every level, including Pat Riley and Bob Hurley, have used former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett’s schemes to help teach their teams how to play defense. The defense, now known as “Pack-Line D,” was put in place by Bennett to neutralize the talent gap from his early days coaching for small programs. Today, his son Tony is using the same formula to help lead his injury-plagued Virginia Cavaliers to their first NCAA tournament appearance in five years.
Both Bennett’s don’t want anyone to think what they are doing is revolutionary though as Dick says, “We’re very respectful of the work that’s gone into developing defense, and the last thing that I want is to be thought of as an inventor of a defense that’s been played in many variations.”
On the Tablet: Dick Bennett’s pressure defense tape and Bennett’s “Pack-Line” defense DVD.
THE UNASSUMING SEVEN – IAN THOMSEN (@SI_IanThomsen)
When the Indiana Pacers take the floor, there is no superstar whom teams must prepare for. Instead, at 23–12, the Pacers are the rarity of the NBA, a contender made up of self-made men, none of whom is a dominant player night in and night out. This team has been assembled by president Larry Bird and guided by first-year head coach Frank Vogel, one of the NBA’s ultimate underdogs. Vogel, who says his team has “big-time talent,” also knows that his players push each other to be great.
His players don’t lack confidence. All-Star center Roy Hibbert believes he’ll be the most dominant big man in the game one day and told Thomsen, “I’m the best passing big man in the game right now. I can say that without fudging.”
On the Tablet: Youtube video of coach Frank Vogel on the David Letterman Show as a young kid.
NBA PLAYERS POLL
Who will win Rookie of the Year?
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers PG 75%
Ricky Rubio, T-Wolves SG 15%
Derrick Williams, T-Wolves SF 1%
Enes Kanter, Jazz PF 1%
Markieff Morris, Suns PF 1%
[Based on 138 NBA players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: Six other players received votes: Kings PGs Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas, Knicks SG Iman Shumpert, Cavs PF Tristan Thompson, Heat PG Norris Cole and Bobcats PG Kemba Walker (1% each). . . . Irving leads all rookies in scoring (18.5 ppg); two of the next three on that list—Nets SG MarShon Brooks and Pistons PG Brandon Knight—received no votes. . . . Irving’s three-point shooting ranks 10th alltime among rookies (minimum: 90 attempts); his 41-of-43 free throw shooting in February was the best in one month by a rookie since Chauncey Billups’s 41-for-41 in March ’98. . . . In a similar poll on Facebook, Rubio received 31% of the vote to Irving’s 62%.
After a 30-hour rain delay, NASCAR’s signature event, the Daytona 500 looked bleak until everything blew up, figuratively and literally. A six-hour spectacle filled with electrifying crashes, Danica Patrick drama, a jet-fuel fireball, behind-the-wheel tweeting and a thrilling finish left people across the country yearning for more. Because of the rain, the race was put in a prime-time TV slot on Monday night and it produced the most-watched Cup race ever on Fox.
Reigning Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart said, “The racing is better, the competition is as intense as it’s ever been, and fans are coming back. I’ve got a hunch that this is going to be one hell of a season.”
POINT AFTER: GOING ON THE OFFENSIVE – PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)
After the recent spike in ethnically insensitive comments in recent weeks, Phil Taylor questions the hypersensitivity of the sports community. Taylor says that “any comment remotely related to race or ethnicity is studied under a microscope for trace amounts of bigotry, and it doesn’t take much to build an instant groundswell or rage.”
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- CFB (page 27): Life After Luck – As spring practice approaches, Stanford has veteran players on offense who will prosper without you-know-who. @SIMandel
- NHL (page 31): Making a Trophy Case – High-scoring Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has reined in his go-for-broke style to become a surprise Norris Trophy contender as the top defenseman. (Michael Farber)
- Olympics (page 32): Jordyn Rules – Gymnast Jordyn Wieber’s victory at last week’s American Cup has brought the world champion’s supremacy into question rather than solidifying it. (Brian Cazeneuve)
On the Tablet: Truth and Rumors
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page)
- Maclin Davis (Nashville/Montgomery Bell Academy) – Swimming
- Saniya Chong (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining High) – Basketball
- Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich./Pioneer High) – Ice Hockey
- Whitney Gipson (North Richland Hills, Texas/TCU) – Track and Field
- Kamron Doyle (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Middle School) – Bowling
- KK Clark (Atherton, Calif./UCLA) – Water Polo