👋 Happy Friday! Let's sports.
Clockwise, from top left: Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Johnny Robinson, Gil Brandt, Ed Reed, Pat Bowlen, Tony Gonzalez. Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Tomorrow night, eight football legends will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio (7pm ET, ESPN). Let's pay homage to some of the best to ever do it.
Champ Bailey, CB
Tony Gonzalez, TE
Ty Law, CB
Kevin Mawae, C
Ed Reed, S
Johnny Robinson, S
Gil Brandt, Cowboys executive
Pat Bowlen, Broncos owner
🚨 Tweet of the day: In a candid SI feature, Pelicans VP of basketball ops David Griffin called his time with the Cavaliers "miserable" and said he doesn't think LeBron is "the same animal anymore about winning." ... Oh no, David, what have you done?! Revenge-mode LeBron is now activated.
📚 Long read: A 13-month investigation by ESPN's Outside the Lines resulted in the arrest of former Olympian turned track coach Conrad Mainwaring, who was accused of molesting 41 boys over a 44-year span. This is journalism.
🏈 Headline of the day: Broncos Coach Vic Fangio Passed His First Coaching Test, But Not His Kidney Stone (WashPost)
🏒 Today I learned: The 1919 NHL season remains the only season in North American sports history where the playoffs took place, but there was no champion. Influenza was involved.
⛳️ Watch this: Long-drive champion Maurice Allen crushed a ball across Niagara Falls, accomplishing a feat that many considered to be impossible (John Daly tried and failed in 2015).
The 2019–2020 NBA season is poised to be one of most wide open campaigns in recent memory, and teams are spending like it, Axios' Michael Sykes writes.
P.S. … Are you a data nerd? We partnered with Sports Reference on this story, and they have their own stats-centric newsletter. Check it out.
Clemson received 59 of 65 first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll, giving the Tigers the top spot in the preseason coaches ranking for the first time ever.
11-25: 11. Texas A&M, 12. Washington, 13. Oregon, 14. Penn State, 15. Utah, 16. Auburn, 17. Wisconsin, 18. UCF, 19. Iowa, 20. Michigan State, 21. Washington State, 22. Syracuse, 23. Stanford, 24. Iowa State, 25. Northwestern
Blake Leeper, a U.S. Paralympic athlete who was born with legs missing below the knees, wants to compete at the Tokyo Olympics next summer — but track's governing body, the IAAF, is fighting to keep him from doing so.
The backdrop: The question of whether a disabled runner could compete against able-bodied runners appeared to be settled when South Africa's Oscar Pistorius was permitted to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.
The debate: Within the track community, it's universally accepted that blades help with straight away speed. But it's also universally accepted that they cause slower starts, so the advantages and disadvantages could ultimately cancel out.
What Blake is saying:
"You know how somebody says walk a mile in my shoes? I tell people to walk a mile in my legs ... [S]ome days my legs are swollen. They're sore. They're bleeding. They're bruised."
"Anybody that faces a disability, to look them in the face and say they have an advantage is just crazy to me. If that's the case, you'd see a lot more people amputating their legs."— Blake Leeper, per WashPost
Go deeper: Two-minute doc about Blake (Vimeo)
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images
Seven years ago today, Michael Phelps won gold in the men's 200m medley at the London Olympics, becoming the first Olympian to ever win 20 medals.
Only two players in NFL history have led the league in rushing yards and won the Super Bowl in the same season.
Answer at the bottom.
"Freestyle football" is the art of doing tricks with a soccer ball, and for the last 11 years, Red Bull has put on an annual global competition called Red Bull Street Style because of course they have. Classic Red Bull event.
Have a great weekend,
Kendall "I miss Phelps" Baker
Trivia answer: Emmitt Smith (1992, 1993, 1995) and Terrell Davis (1998)