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Special Issue – Fans Take Over ESPN The Magazine


Plus: Super Bowl XLII Preview and the 8 Smartest Football Bets


RELEASE THE HOUNDS! The Magazine offered a bunch of fans the best seats in the house – and gave them just three rules: act like pros, write down everything you see and, whatever you do, no cheering in the press box. Highlights of The Magazine’s fan reporters on the job:

* Laura Daubenspeck, financial consultant – dispatched to Raptors at Celtics:
o I spotted an old man sporting a Super Bowl ring. Turns out it was Tom Brady’s dad. Intrepid reporter that I am, I meant to ask him, “How serious are Tom and Gisele?” Instead, I offered him my chips and soda.
* Casey Harverstick, pharmaceutical project manager – dispatched to Rockets at Spurs:
o “I head to the locker room. They say most visitors’ locker rooms aren’t very nice, and they’re right. Steve Francis, who didn’t play, stares at me like I owe him money. Two feet to my left Yao is sitting in a chair giving interviews to nine reporters. They’re eye level with him. To my right, Dikembe is holding court in boxer briefs and a dress shirt. I think I make this out: “And the referee gave me a technical foul for wearing red underwear.” He sounds like Cookie Monster.
* Tim Riley, music executive – dispatched to Duke at Notre Dame (football):
o This was the scene from the press box: To my right, a guy was brushing his hair. The guy in front of me was on eBay. I walked by a guy looking at girls in lingerie (no kidding) on his laptop. Then the guy next to me started downloading music to his iTunes. I know my Irish had a tough year, but do reporters ever watch the game?
* Matt Rosenberg, technology sales executive – dispatched to 49ers at Bears:
o Why were all the players in the locker room during the national anthem, our tribute to our nation? Shouldn’t someone do a story on this? I was outraged.

* Joshua Siegel, real estate acquisitions – dispatched to Vikings at Giants:
o In the Giant’s locker room after the game, some players linger unusually long without clothes because they seem to know that most reporters don’t feel comfortable asking questions when an athlete doesn’t have pants on.

MY FIRST CRUSH. Freeskier Kristi Leskinen is dotty about her Steelers. Prick the finger of NASCAR’s Elliott Sadler and he will bleed Tar Heels blue. The Magazine visits with five athletes who kick butt in the real world, but they still get their kicks by being fans. Stacey Pressman reports.

FORMULA FOR FAILURE? If you’re an NBA team (say, the Wolves) and you subtract your heart and soul (say, KG), you might energize other fans (say, Boston’s) and leave your faithful wondering how it adds up. Ric Bucher reports.

DUPED. A sports star reaches out to a sick little kid, and both of their lives are changed. You’ve heard that story a hundred times – just not quite like this. Eric Adelson reports.

WOULD THE REAL O.J. MAYO PLEASE STAND UP? People have been talking about the USC freshman for years, but do any of them actually know what they’re talking about? The Magazine decided to find out. Luke Cyphers reports.

A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP. For 352 days a year, Ron and Lara Ezell have the perfect marriage. Those 13 other days – when Auburn or Alabama takes the field – are a whole other story. Ryan McGee reports.

FAN VS. WILD. The Magazine dropped a NASCAR fan file miles from Martinsville with $20 in his pocket and 24 hours until the Subway 500. His mission? Score a ticket to the race – and live to write about it. Hampton Stevens reports.

NO TICKET? NO PROBLEM. So you’d do anything to score tickets to the big game? The Magazine’s team of scalpers gives you the ins and outs of getting in. Jeff Johnson reports.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES. If the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl matchup doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat, just follow The Magazine’s prop-bet guide – bet the farm that Tom Petty will perform “Free fallin”. KC Joyner, Eddie Matz and Aaron Schatz report.

ROOTING IS FUNDAMENTAL. You know Jets fans aren’t rooting for Belichick & Co. in the Super Bowl. Turns out, the same goes for fans of the Eagles and Cowboys and Seahawks and Steelers and … Eddie Matz and Lane Strauss report.

CAN’T BEAT ‘EM? CURSE ‘EM. As Giants and Pats backers descend on the desert for Super Bowl XLII, it’s hard to imagine a team more in the need of some good luck than the Cardinals. But if you ask the football-mad folks in one Pennsylvania town, that luck isn’t arriving anytime soon. Dave Fleming reports.


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