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Lee Petty

NASCAR’s early days were frolicking and carnivorous, but Lee Petty was a refreshing, out of the ordinary member of NASCAR’s wild bunch. Petty was never regarded as one of NASCAR’s hardest chargers. Instead, he was the great calculator, applying the strategies of a chess player.
“I have to finish in the top three cars to make money,” Petty said in a 1954 interview. “I have to finish among the first five to break even. After that, I’m going in the red.”
Petty drove to finish — and to finish well. An opportunist, Petty ran well enough to become NASCAR’s most prolific race winner when he finally hung up his goggles for good in 1964. In his career, he won 54 times, and finished in the top 10 an incredible 332 times in 427 career NASCAR Grand National starts. It is a record of consistency that may never be approached.
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Petty won the NASCAR championship three times, in 1954, ’58, and ’59. During the heavy factory participation in the ’50s, Petty’s independent team lacked the pure speed of the industry-supported outfits, yet he still racked up more than his share of victories.
In ’58 and ’59, Petty won 18 races and finished second 10 times. He led the NASCAR National points standings virtually all the way for two years running, holding the top spot after 92 of the 95 races — another record that may never fall.
“We were not like some of the others,” Petty said several years after his retirement. “Some of the other boys, they drove and took everything out of racing they could. We have put it back. When a sponsor quit, some of the other boys quit. They spent their money for pleasure. We spent ours to build. Everything we’ve done has been aimed at racing. We started under an ol’ reaper shed with no floor in it and we built it up. That was probably what I was most proud of.”
Petty was born in Greensboro, N.C., and enjoyed all sporting activities. “Played basketball, football, anything competitive,” Petty said in a 1970 interview. “That is what I like about racing. It just caught my fancy because it was competitive. I got into it as a hobby first and just stayed with it.”
Petty was one of the 33 participants in the inaugural NASCAR late-model event on June 19, 1949. He drove a huge Buick Roadmaster, a car Petty claimed “me and some buddies had gone in on together.” In the race, Petty lost ?control and flipped. The car came to a halt in a battered heap, wheezing steam and oil. Petty climbed out, shaken but uninjured, sat on the track, and peered into the distance dejectedly.
In one of racing’s grand quotes, Petty recollected his feelings at that moment: “I was just sitting there thinking about having to go back home and explain to my wife where I’d been with the car.”
“Pappa” Lee decided that the Buick was too heavy and bulky for the tight corners of most of the short dirt-track speedways. He opted to build a lightweight Plymouth with more user-friendly handling characteristics. He scored his first career win at Heidelberg, Penn., in the 1949 season, and registered at least one win each year in his first 13 seasons of NASCAR Strictly Stock and Grand National competition.
Petty was one of the few pioneer drivers whose career made it to the progressive 1960s. He was able to ride the bumpy transition from the dusty bull rings to the lightning-fast superspeedways. When the Daytona International Speedway opened in ’59, Petty drove an Oldsmobile to a two-foot victory over Johnny Beauchamp. With no photo-finish camera in place, NASCAR officials took three days to declare Petty the winner in the thrilling side-by-side finish.
Two years later, Petty and Beauchamp hooked bumpers in the closing stages of Daytona’s 100-mile qualifying race and both sailed over the wall. Beauchamp was treated at a hospital and released. Petty was gravely injured.
Petty’s electric blue Plymouth landed in a smoldering heap outside the Daytona track. His injuries included a punctured lung, multiple fractures of the left chest, a fractured thigh, a broken collarbone, and numerous internal injuries. He was in the hospital from Feb. 26 until June 17.
Petty buckled his helmet for just six more races after his Daytona accident. In his comeback appearance at Martinsville in the Virginia 500 on April 22, 1962, the old master finished an impressive fifth on the 1/2-mile paved oval. He also had two other top 10 efforts before bowing out for good. “I drove again just to prove I wasn’t scared,” Petty quipped.

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Willie Davis

A ticket to “Siberia” turned out to be Willie Davis’s ticket to stardom.
The Cleveland Browns drafted Davis out of Grambling on the 15th round in 1956. He played a couple of years of Army football before joining Cleveland in 1958.
For two seasons, he was used sometimes at offensive tackle and sometimes at defensive end, but slowly his playing time increased. He seemed to have a future in Cleveland when suddenly he was traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1960.
Cleveland coach Paul Brown had often threatened his players with a trade to longtime doormat Green Bay, then considered the NFL’s Siberia. Davis (born 1934) did not know why he was being punished, but for a time he even considered retiring.
But under coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers were about to experience a renaissance. They had managed their first winning season in over a decade in 1959. Davis decided to report.
When he arrived in training camp, coach Lombardi quickly assured him that he had engineered the trade because he needed a top-flight defensive end and he thought Davis could fill the role. “Willie, we have seen some films of you where your reactions are just incredible,” Lombardi explained. “We feel with your quickness, you can be a great pass rusher.”
Installed as a regular defensive end, Davis was able to use his intelligence, speed, agility, and size (6’3″, 245) to become one of the best in the business. He was All-NFL five times and also chosen for a like number of Pro Bowls.
He and Henry Jordan formed the “pass rushing” side of the Packers’ outstanding defensive line, while Dave Hanner and Bill Quinlan (later Ron Kostelnik and Lionel Aldridge) concentrated on stopping the run. The Green Bay defense was a major factor in the Packers winning five NFL championships and six division titles in eight seasons. A great team leader, Davis did not miss a single game during his 12-season career.

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How NFL Review Rules Work

The final seconds of the game — the quarterback throws to the end zone: touchdown! No, the official is ruling the receiver was out of bounds. Now comes the agonizing wait while the play is reviewed.
This scenario has become a common feature of NFL football. It’s made possible by the review rules, also known as the instant replay rules. The rules give the officials on the field another set of eyes to get calls right. With high definition and super slo-mo, those eyes are often much keener than those of any official or fan.
Review rules have sometimes generated controversy. Some fans and team owners prefer to keep the human factor in the game. Officiating errors are part of the history and lore of the league, they argued. Others felt that reviews slowed the game too much, especially for fans sitting in Buffalo’s icy Ralph Wilson Stadium in December.
The rules have their origin in the invention of television instant replay, which was first used in the broadcast of the 1963 Army-Navy football game [source: Starkey]. Once fans at home had access to replays, bad calls by the officials became embarrassingly obvious. The league was pressured to use the replay tool to get them right.
But the first review rules didn’t come into effect until 1986. They put the decision to review under the complete control of a video-review official in the booth. Many thought the system was arbitrary and took too much time. It was abandoned in 1992 [source: Long].
After several disputed calls during the 1998 season, revised review rules returned in 1999. The new rules gave coaches the power to call for a review for most of game. They assigned the referee, not an assistant in the booth, the duty of making the decision. These rules were renewed with minor revisions until 2007, when the league made them permanent [source: Associated Press].
But not all plays are reviewable. Read on to find out which are, and which are not.

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Is a Punching Bag a Cardio Workout?

Boxers use the punching bag to work on their hand speed, instincts and endurance. It is a dynamic tool that gives fighters a great cardio workout. The punching bag is one of the most traditional tools used in boxing, and many outside the sport use it to work out and improve their overall cardiovascular conditioning. This exercise provides a cardio workout because it elevates your heart rate, uses a number of muscles in cooperation and has a rhythmic quality.
The way to hit the speed bag properly is to jab it consistently with your left hand. Make sure your left shoulder is facing the bag. Throw your left hand at the center of the bag and then let it hit the back rim, rebound to the front rim and then the back rim again before you throw another pitch. Hit the bag with two left jabs and then follow with a right cross. Keep going in this manner for three minutes at a time. That mimics a boxing round. Take a one-minute break and then repeat the drill.
Hitting the punching bag increases your speed, timing and endurance. It also increases your confidence. Once you learn how to hit the speed bag regularly, it usually results in the knowledge that you can defend yourself if you need to. As you do this, you increase stamina and endurance as you build an effective cardio routine.
In order to throw punches rhythmically and continuously, you must have your weight balanced on the front of your feet. To get an effective cardio workout, throw sequenced punches while remaining balanced. Left-left-right or left-right-left are typical patterns. In order to ensure that you get a great cardio workout, breathe properly as you hit the bag. Many new fighters tend to hold their breath as they begin a sequence and quickly exhaust themselves. Breathing regularly and through your nose will allow you to punch the bag with a purpose.
In addition to helping you get an impactful cardio workout, you can build strength and definition in your chest and arms when hitting the punching bag. Your muscles respond quickly when you have a full workout on the bag. You will feel fatigued at the end of two or three rounds, but your arms and shoulders will develop fully when you push yourself.
While you will feel tired when you hit the punching bag, you are not likely to get injured from your routines. The punching bag offers little resistance, and that is good for the bones, tendons and joints in your hands when you do the punching. Always wear hand wraps and bag gloves before hitting a heavy bag and hand wraps when using a speed bag. Although light in nature, the wraps are integral for protecting your joints.

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How to Become a Better Defender in Football & Soccer

Soccer by nature is a low-scoring sport involving lengthy battles for the ball and field position. Those low scores make defenders very important to the success of a soccer team. Playing defense is not the most glamorous job and defenders rarely score or make the headlines, but often they are the difference between winning and losing. By focusing on fundamentals and learning some tricks of the trade, you can become a better soccer defender.
Study film and tape of offensive players to get an idea of what moves you will see. Even if the film is tape of professional leagues and not someone you will face in real life, you can better see how to slow down and stop an offensive player and then implement those strategies.
Watch the ball and your opponent’s waist so you know where he is going at all times. By focusing on the ball and his waist, you will not be fooled by any trick moves or hesitation dribbles he might use.
Take angles to cut off the offense and stay in front of your opponent. Taking angles means that you run to a spot to cut off the ball instead of chasing the player in a straight line, while positioning yourself between your opponent and the goal at all times.
Keep your balance, stay on your feet and learn to play at different speeds. US Youth Soccer notes that staying balanced and learning to slow down from a sprint are important parts of stopping the ball. Teach PE adds that staying on your feet and using controlled aggression while trying to tackle is important. Tackling refers to trying to steal or tackle away the ball from your opponent. Leaving your feet or being too aggressive can give her a clear path to the goal.

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Drills to Make a Child a Better Baseball Hitter

Successful batting requires a whole lineup of skills including strength, coordination and confidence. Coaches can help their young players develop those skills through creative batting drills. It’s important to vary the drills to practice different aspects of batting — and to keep kids interested.
This drill uses a tee to help batters hit in a variety of locations, according to QC Baseball. The coach places the tee in the middle of the plate thigh high to the batter, and the batter swings a few times. The coach moves the tee closer in for a few swings, and then moves it out for an outside “pitch.” She also varies the height of the tee so the batter gets used to hitting high and low pitches. During this drill, the hitter should visualize a real pitch. He should look at where the pitcher would stand and imagine an actual windup and pitch, with the ball ending up at the tee.
BaseballCorner.com recommends this drill to improve a batter’s thinking process and reaction time. The coach has several balls, each painted a bright color. He picks up a ball and puts it in his glove without letting the batter see it. Right before he pitches, the coach calls out a color. The batter should swing only if the coach has called the correct color.
This drill helps batters develop strength in the top hand of their grip, according to Hastings Little League in Hastings on Hudson, New York. Strength in the top hand is important because the top hand guides the bat toward the ball. The coach softly tosses a ball above the batter’s waist. The hitter holds the bat with only her top hand and tries to hit the top of the ball, sending the ball straight to the ground.
In the short-toss drill, the pitcher can deliver the ball to the batter with greater control, according to Hastings Little League. The coach stands about a quarter or third of the way closer than usual to the batter and uses an L-screen for protection. He throws the ball to the batter several times at a steady speed. From this distance, the batter can improve his skill level and work on a quicker bat.

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Emmitt Smith

Emmitt J. Smith III excelled at football at every level. He was a consensus All-American running back and prep Player of the Year by Parade and USA Today as a senior at Escambia (Florida) High School.
At the University of Florida, where he was an All-American and three-time All-SEC selection, he established 58 school records in three seasons, including a career rushing mark of 3,928 yards.
Joining the Dallas Cowboys as their No. 1 draft pick in 1990, Smith (born 1969) was even more sensational. Almost immediately, he emerged as one of the game’s greatest performers.
Though not exceptionally fast, Smith combined quick moves with the power of a fullback. No one was more determined to reach the end zone.
A Pro Bowl choice in each of his first six seasons, Smith is the only player in NFL history to rush for more than 1,400 yards in five consecutive seasons.
In 1995, he added to his ever-growing list of accomplishments when he set a new NFL mark for touchdowns scored in a season, with 25.
At the same time, he compiled a career-best 1,773 yards rushing. Hardly one-dimensional, his 62 receptions in 1995 marked the fourth straight season in which the versatile running back caught 50 or more passes.
How valuable is Smith to the Dallas offense? Well, while football is more than a one-man sport, the Cowboys through 1995 were 62-8 in games where Emmitt had 20 or more carries and 43-5 in games where he gained at least 100 yards rushing. His 20 postseason touchdowns are an NFL record.
The pinnacle of Smith’s career as a rusher came on October 27, 2002, when he broke boyhood idol Walter Payton’s all-time career rushing mark. Smith carried the ball for two more seasons before retiring at age 34 with 18,355 yards rushing.
When likened to Hall of Famers Payton and Jim Brown, Smith used the comparisons as motivation. “When my career’s over,” he would say, “I want to be able to say … no, I want to have the new kids, the new backs, say, ‘Boy, we have to chase a legend to be the best,’ and they’ll mean Emmitt Smith.”
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