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ESPN The Magazine 02.02.15

ESPN The Magazine is for the NEXT generation of sports fans who want to stay on top of the athletes, teams, topics and upcoming events in their own sports world. The Magazine celebrates not only sports, but the cultures and lifestyles that are an integral part of them - all with ESPN's unique personality and authority.

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access_time2 min.
insider spotlight

Buck I Guy (né John Chubb) wasn’t born in Ohio Stadium. He arrived two and a half miles down the road from it in Columbus’ White Cross Hospital in 1960. It was a Saturday, which is fitting, because he’s spent nearly every fall Saturday since then at the Shoe. Somewhere along the line—circa 2002, Chubb says—the uniform started to take shape. First, a thrift-shop cowboy hat. Soon, a 6-foot cape. Then a custom 1970 Chevy Impala—not that he has to worry about the ride. Chubb has never lived more than 15 minutes from what is now Woody Hayes Drive. So it’s no surprise that, when asked about his persona, the 2014 ESPN Fan Hall of Fame inductee says: “I was Buck I Guy long before the outfit. To quote Lady…

access_time3 min.
the ticket

Every year cities across the country battle for the chance to host the Super Bowl, pledging great sacrifices in exchange for a prize of dubious worth. This municipal dogfight reminds me of my favorite reality show, The Bachelor , which also features overeager contestants vying for the heart of a demanding suitor. Much like the women on The Bachelor , host cities adhere to an invisible script. The Super Bowl is an honor, they say, a fount of riches—which is why I was surprised when Jerry Weiers, the mayor of Glendale, Arizona, recently told me he doesn’t expect a windfall when his city hosts the big game in February. In fact, he says, “I totally believe we will lose money on this.” The NFL thrives on the perception that football is…

access_time3 min.
the numbers

The Pro Football Hall of Fame just doesn’t know how to evaluate wide receivers. Offenses have been opening up for the past quarter-century, dramatically increasing the importance of the passing game and the value of superstar wideouts; 10 receivers surpassed 1,300 yards this season, up from just one (Jerry Rice) in 1990. But the Hall has inducted only six receivers in the past 10 years. It has snubbed two all-time greats, Marvin Harrison and Tim Brown. And its list of finalists for 2015, announced on Jan. 8, doesn’t include Isaac Bruce, who is fourth all time with 15,208 receiving yards, or Torry Holt, who has more receiving yards per game (77.4) than any other retired player in NFL history. Clearly, many Hall of Fame voters feel that recent statistics deserve some…

access_time1 min.

Carefully cultivated on the NFL’s only retractable field, the grass is always greener at University of Phoenix Stadium. Still, the league is taking no chances when it comes to preparing for Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona. The NFL is uprooting the Cardinals’ home turf (shown here making its final exit after the Fiesta Bowl, at a breakneck speed of 0.125 mph) and resodding it with a carpet of hybrid Bermuda grass overseeded with perennial ryegrass. “More than a year of planning and preparation is put into play in a three- to four-week window,” says NFL spokesman Michael Signora, “culminating on Super Bowl Sunday.” An entire year to grow grass? Truly, a sod state of affairs. —ASHLEY MELFI 9,450 Total weight, in tons, of the entire field, including the movable tray. 7…

access_time9 min.
red zone alert

Poor Brandon Bostick. The Packers tight end will have to spend the offseason staving off permanent goathood after allowing Seattle’s onside kick to ricochet off his face mask near the end of the NFC championship game. But if you want the real reason the Seahawks were able to pull off their miracle comeback, look to their play inside the 20: Twice in the first quarter, the Packers drove to the Seattle 1-yard line, and twice the Packers settled for field goals. In the second half, Pete Carroll made the Packers pay, using equal parts moxie and creativity. He called a fake field goal from the 19, then deployed a slick read-option late in the fourth that let Russell Wilson sprint untouched into the end zone from a yard out. One…

access_time4 min.
preparing for takeoff

ON FEB. 1, at 3:30 p.m. MT, Tyler Ellison will take his place atop the University of Phoenix Stadium, 19 stories above the ground. The U.S. Air Force major’s mission: Make sure that six F-16 aircraft piloted by his Thunderbirds teammates come screaming across the Arizona sky at the perfect moment. “If I do my job right, then they will pass over just as the national anthem singer hits the last note,” says Ellison, the operations officer for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. “To complete that task, though, takes a lot of cooperation from a lot of people.” To pull it off, Ellison will be perched high among the supercolumns, steel trusses and all manner of antennae that make up the retractable 360-by-240-foot opening above the playing field—with more than…