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ESPN The Magazine 11.13.17

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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3 min.
tom brady’s water world

Senior writer Tom Junod on staying fluid while writing his cover story on the Patriots QB: It is easy to be skeptical about Tom Brady’s book. But perhaps he is more convincing than either I or my co-author Seth Wickersham would like to admit: After finishing The TB12 Method , we both started drinking so much more water that when we finally had a chance to ask Brady questions, we wanted to know how a man who drinks at least two gallons of water a day can still claim to sleep nine hours a night, given the insistence of nature’s calls. “Whatever lifestyle changes you may make comes with a bit of an adjustment period,” he counseled. Thus assured, we go on hydrating, wondering only why we ever doubted Tom Brady…

4 min.
the numbers

It’s peak autumn, deep enough into the NFL calendar to assess surprise seasons, terrific or terrible, and to predict second-half breakouts and declines that’ll leave you the champ of your fantasy league. The secret to your forthcoming success? Our old friend regression to the mean. Regression to the mean is the tendency for any extreme result to move closer to average when repeated over time. It’s the undertow that pulls results into bell curves across sports (and the rest of the universe). It explains the Madden Curse and why it’s harder to hit .400 for a month than for a week. It’s human nature for just about everyone to seek some deeper explanation for the blips and quirks we see before regression to the mean has a chance to take effect. In…

4 min.

On Sept. 26, federal prosecutors announced corruption charges against four NCAA assistant basketball coaches, the fruits of an FBI “pay for play” investigation that also ultimately resulted in Rick Pitino’s firing at Louisville. It was an unparalleled three-year probe, yet somehow it felt as if we’ve been here before. Since CCNY players shaved points in the early 1950s, the game has experienced a glut of misconduct that has ranged from the embarrassing (see: the 2009 extortion case that ensnared Pitino) to the criminal (the two Arizona State basketball players who pleaded guilty in 1997 to throwing four regular-season games). The first school to receive the “death penalty” from the NCAA was not the famously corrupt SMU football teams of the 1980s but Kentucky’s basketball team in 1952-53, after three players were…

17 min.
the spirit of miles bridges

I find myself, unexpectedly, at an informal Bible study in a nondescript Michigan State dorm room. I squeeze onto a couch beside two or three earnest-looking college kids. I think the spot I’ve claimed may have actually belonged to Spartans star sophomore forward Miles Bridges. There was this awkward thing that happened when I first arrived: I picked the seat out, plugged in my rapidly dying phone near it, then went to get some water. • In my absence, Bridges came to the spot on the couch, hovered over it, appeared ready to snag it, but then he got pulled away. And so I slipped back in. From his point of view, was it reasonable to suspect I just straight up took his seat? Yes. Did I do it on purpose?…

4 min.
the liberation of losing

These are not the lingering images you expect from a UConn season: The smallest player on the floor, Mississippi State guard Morgan William, hitting the shot just before the overtime buzzer. Thousands of fans—supporting the Bulldogs specifically and underdogs in general—erupting in joy. A locker room of dejected Huskies after their 111-game winning streak ends, and Napheesa Collier saying: “It happened at the worst possible time for us.” Skip forward several months, through redemption-seeking summer workouts, through a team trip to play exhibition games in coach Geno Auriemma’s native Italy. Then to Santa Barbara, California, for a USA Basketball camp in the fall, where Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, who led the Huskies in scoring last season as sophomores, held their own alongside other college standouts and WNBA pros. The sting of…

9 min.
at home at the house

On a home-game Saturday, a few hours before the 11 a.m. kickoff with Ole Miss, the Auburn family has come to get whole. Amid generations decked out in bright orange and dark blue, in Cam Newton jerseys and striped polos, Amy Beth Pressnell says she was whispered to by the Almighty: “We were just walking up toward the stadium, and it was like God was telling me to come in here.” Amy Beth is here because, like all the others, she grew up coming to the Waffle House. It’s parents weekend, so old and young are gathered to relive familiar memories and hear new ones. They stand in line, knowing that the wait is part of the game-day ritual. This Waffle House in Auburn is a healthy 15-minute walk from Jordan-Hare Stadium,…