At age 75, defensive coaching expert Bud Carson (above at Super Bowl X; inset in 1989) of emphysema. A master strategist renowned for his unpredictable schemes and midgame adjustments, Carson was the Steelers' defensive coordinator from 1972 to '77 and the architect of Pittsburgh's famed Steel Curtain defense. He later worked as an assistant for the L.A. Rams, Baltimore Colts, Chiefs and Eagles. After a two-year stint as head coach of the Browns--he was fired nine games into the 1990 season, with a 12-14-1 career record--he concluded that he wasn't cut out to be a head coach. "To be a successful head coach, you have to be a great communicator," Carson said in 1997. "I'm not that. I'm a teacher."
By a University of Illinois librarian, two missing volumes of the Chicago tabloid Collyer's Eye dating from the early 1920s that contain some of the first articles about the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Library staff realized that the copies of the long-defunct newspaper, a sports and gambling weekly believed to have broken the story of the scandal, had vanished this fall, while the White Sox were on their way to their first championship since the thrown Series. On Dec. 6 the Chicago Tribune published a story about the missing papers, and that night the editions were found on a study table in the library--though it was still unclear how they got there. Said Karen Schmidt, associate university librarian, "Whoever took them ended up doing the right thing."
By Sonics forward Reggie Evans, the first two minutes of the third quarter of Seattle's loss to the Knicks, because he was taking a league-administered drug test. Evans was supposed to take the urine test before the game; he forgot and began the process at halftime but didn't finish until the second half had started. (The Sonics led 50-41 at halftime but lost 104-101.) Last week the league announced that players will not be tested during games.
As manager of the Dodgers, former Red Sox skipper Grady Little. The folksy 55-year-old, who spent the last two years working for the Cubs as a special assistant and roving catching instructor, was given a two-year contract. In October 2003, Little was fired by Boston in the aftermath of a Game 7 loss to the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, a game in which he infamously left Pedro Martinez on the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning. Little was 188-136 over two seasons in Boston--the best winning percentage (.580) of any manager with at least two years' experience in the last 35 years. "I made a decision, and the results were bad," said Little. "What are you going to do? I went on with my life."
As a reserve police officer in Miami Beach, Heat center Shaquille O'Neal (above). The Big Sipowicz was inducted in a private ceremony last week after he declined to attend the Miami Beach Police Department's public event earlier in the day, saying he didn't want to take attention away from the other inductees. O'Neal, who was a reserve officer in Los Angeles during his days with the Lakers, had been training for the Miami Beach position for a year; although reserve officers receive a $1 annual salary, he's now authorized to wear a badge, carry a gun and make arrests. Said department spokesman Robert Hernandez, "He made it clear ... that he didn't want to just be a poster boy for photo ops, he wanted to get down and dirty and do the job."
By Redskins running back Clinton Portis, the latest alter ego in his weekly meeting with reporters: Bro Sweets. Last Thursday, Portis, who has been arriving at his press conferences in disguise most of the season, wore a yellow wig, huge glasses, fake rotten teeth and a huge parka--which hid kick returner Antonio Brown, who on cue would stretch out his hands to reveal a bag of candy through an opening in the parka. "Right now Kid Bro Sweets feels good," said Portis (right), who ran for 105 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 17-13 win at Arizona. "I ate some Reese's Pieces."
Without pay for Sunday's game against the Patriots, Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds. The 10-year veteran, who leads Buffalo in receptions, pulled himself out of Buffalo's Dec. 4 loss to Miami after watching teammate Lee Evans catch three first-quarter touchdowns. Moulds refused to reenter the game and twice told receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, "I don't have to do what the head coach says." A spokesman for Moulds said he left the field because of an Achilles' tendon injury and that Moulds wanted to have it examined by a trainer when Tolbert asked him to return to the field. The Bills sent a letter to Moulds saying that if there are further incidents, the team will take back a portion of his signing bonus.
By Tulane, half of its athletic program, to help the university cope with the financial costs of Hurricane Katrina. Women's swimming and soccer, men's track and cross- country, and the golf and tennis programs for both sexes were cut, affecting about 100 athletes--who will get to keep their scholarships. School officials said they were considering eliminating athletics altogether. (The NCAA granted Tulane a five-year waiver of the requirement that Division I schools field teams in 16 sports.) Since Katrina hit in August, causing $200 million worth of damage at the school's New Orleans campus, the football, volleyball, soccer and basketball teams have been competing on four different campuses in Louisiana and Texas. On Dec. 18 the women's basketball team returns to campus for a game in Fogelman Arena--the first college or professional sporting event in New Orleans since Katrina.
Of a heart attack at age 65, comedian Richard Pryor. Though best known for his groundbreaking, socially conscious stand-up, Pryor had more than 30 movie roles--including stock car driver Wendell Scott in 1977's Greased Lightning. In The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) he played an outfielder for a 1930s black barnstorming team who attempted many schemes (including masquerading as a Native American and a Cuban) to try to break into the major leagues. And in 1985's Brewster's Millions he played a minor league pitcher opposite John Candy (above).