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At age 58 while undergoing experimental treatment for a rare, fast-moving cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, Mike Heimerdinger, a former assistant coach with the Broncos, Jets and Titans. Heimerdinger (above) was diagnosed with cancer in November 2010 while he was offensive coordinator at Tennessee, a position he held from 2000 to '04 and again from '08 to '10. During that time the Titans made four playoff appearances and quarterback Steve McNair was cowinner of the NFL MVP award, in '03. Heimerdinger began his NFL career in 1995 as the wide receivers' coach in Denver under Mike Shanahan, who had been his roommate and teammate at Eastern Illinois. (It was Heimerdinger who called an ambulance after Shanahan suffered a potentially fatal kidney injury during a spring practice.) The Broncos won two Super Bowls during Heimerdinger's five seasons in Denver.
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For more than seven hours in New York City last Saturday and again for more than five on Monday, representatives of the NBA owners and the players' union, without reaching a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. With 43 preseason games already canceled, and the expectation of more to follow, discussions centered on whether the owners would give up their insistence on a hard salary cap in exchange for concessions by the players. The two sides were also still divided over the split of Basketball Related Income (BRI), which includes most of the revenue collected by NBA teams, ranging from ticket sales to TV fees to concession take. The owners' offer was for the players to receive 46% of the BRI—down from 57% in the last agreement—while the players countered with 54%, a gulf that represents several billion dollars over the proposed 10-year agreement. The two sides planned to resume talks on Tuesday.
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From complications of a pulmonary illness at age 69, Peter Gent, a former Cowboys wide receiver whose experiences with the team inspired his 1973 novel, North Dallas Forty. Gent (below) played basketball at Michigan State in the early '60s and was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets but pursued pro football instead, though he had not played in college. He was signed as a free agent by Dallas in 1964 and in his best season, '66, had 27 receptions for 474 yards and one touchdown. Gent retired from the NFL at age 26 in '68, and five years later published his first novel, which provided the reader with an eye-opening narrative on the inner workings of pro football. The best-seller dealt with the seedier side of the sport, both on and off the field, including the pain experienced by players and the parties, drugs and sex they used in an attempt to mitigate it. Gent helped write the screenplay for the '79 movie based on his book, which starred Nick Nolte.
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To fight in California, 52-year old Dewey Bozella, who served 26 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 1983. Bozella (below) was exonerated in 2009 after his case caught the attention of the Innocence Project and new evidence was unearthed by lawyers at the firm WilmerHale, who worked on the case pro bono. A promising amateur boxer before his conviction, Bozella later became the light heavyweight champion of Sing Sing prison. After receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in July, in recognition of his battle to prove his innocence, Bozella said it was his dream to have a professional fight, calling it a "once in a lifetime opportunity." With the help of Golden Boy Promotions and 46-year-old light heavyweight world champ Bernard Hopkins—who trained with Bozella in Philadelphia for three weeks—Bozella was licensed and will make his debut on the undercard of Hopkins's title defense against Chad Dawson in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.
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At age 74, 13-time PGA Tour winner Dave Hill, after a long battle with emphysema. Hill joined the PGA Tour in 1959 and got his first victory at the Tucson Open two years later. His career accelerated in '69 when he won three tournaments, played in his first Ryder Cup and was awarded the Vardon Trophy for the Tour's lowest scoring average. During his career, Hill became equally well known as a colorful critic of the game, most famously in '70 when he compared the Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of that year's U.S. Open, to a farm, "missing only 80 acres of corn and a few cows." In his '77 book, Teed Off, Hill also took issue with the attitude of entitlement with which he felt his fellow Tour pros carried themselves. Hill won his final tournament in '76 and retired from the PGA in '79. He continued to play on the Champions tour, winning six tournaments.