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On Newsstands Friday: ESPN The Magazine’s NFL Chemistry Issue

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e-121216-coverpromoOn the cover: So safe, he’s dangerous. Derek Carr is thriving as Oakland’s quarterback—a revelation given the rough go his brother David famously experienced in Houston. The younger Carr gives all credit to his offensive line. “I saw my brother in Houston have nothing. And I have our offensive line, which I think is the best in the NFL,” he says. We dive deep with Derek about the dynamic he has with his line—both on and off the field—and how that plays out in the locker room. One key to his breakout success has been how he performs when pressured; in years past, we saw a skittish QB that steps back when blitzed. This year, he actually steps up in the pocket and makes plays. The difference? Total faith in his O-linemen. By Mina Kimes (Link: http://es.pn/2ggQhTZ)

Forward: Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, experienced what can only be described as a tumultuous rookie season. Frequently benched by his oft-maligned and now-ex coach Byron Scott and the source of the infamous video in which teammate Nick Young admitted to infidelity, Russell, for a time, became persona non grata on the very franchise he was selected to lead in a post-Kobe Bryant world. This is the story of Russell’s fascinating upbringing in Louisville—and how his remarkably close relationship with his father, who to this day calls D’Angelo upward of five times per day, informed both the player Russell has become on the court and the man he’s become off it. By Baxter Holmes

Don’t Miss: Stadium Events is a classic video game only in that it is old. Released in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game is notable for the fact that players had to “run” and “jump” on a mat to simulate Olympic-style events. While the game itself is terrible, its value skyrocketed over the years because it became rare. This is the story of how one North Carolina couple changed their lives after finding Stadium Events at a thrift store; how an orthodontist in Indiana was willing to spend more than $20,000 just to add copies of the game to his collection; and about the hermit in Michigan who’s sitting on a stockpile of games that could change the collectors market forever. By Justin Heckert (Link: http://es.pn/2gbpWsh)

NFL Chemistry Issue Features and Highlights

The Myth of Team Chemistry

We go inside the Carolina Panthers’ locker room to examine the constituent parts of what we commonly call “team chemistry.” Carolina had its highest highs last year and is currently mired in a losing season. What better place to examine how team dynamics change with success or failure and how—and whether—the two are intertwined. Our theory: Success can breed good chemistry but not the other way around. By Dave Fleming

Inside the NFL Locker Room

An annotated display of the Panthers locker room, complete with descriptions of the best corner lockers. By Dave Fleming

Leading the Boom: Kam Chancellor

The Mag explores how a guy who temporarily lost the Seahawks’ locker room because of a 2015 contract dispute that resulted in two missed games has nonetheless emerged as the unifier of the team. It helps that Chancellor is a defensive star and an amazing athlete, but his athleticism alone doesn’t explain why his teammates gravitate toward him. We attempt to answer the question, “Why Kam?” By Eli Saslow

Unapologetically Richie Incognito

A profile of Incognito three years removed from his bullying scandal in Miami. He appears to be a leader in the Bills’ locker room, and yet he is still getting into fights on the field and recently admitted that he “has no interest” in talking to Jonathan Martin. How does a guy like this re-emerge as a leader, and what does it say about the locker room ecosystem? By Tim Keown

Pittsburgh Steelers Roundtable

The Steelers have had many conversations about how a diverse group of athletes gets along in a locker room. They discuss what it’s like to be racially profiled, how they feel about Colin Kaepernick and what white teammates should know about being black. By Jeremy Fowler

Additional Highlights:

  • Voices: Writer Jessica Luther explores the role of the college coach in this post-election world, particularly when it comes to the intersection of football and sexual violence. After the rhetoric and revelations of this election cycle, there will be a lot of talk about healing and uniting. Respect for women has to be a part of that conversation. Coaches can’t “stick to sports” anymore; they need to be engaged with what’s going on with their players and what’s going on in the world around them. And they need to realize their words and examples go beyond their own locker rooms—they’re also influencing the fans who cheer for them.
  • The Walk-in: For the latest installment in The Mag’s series on game day fashion, we feature Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.
  • The Truth: In this MLB labor column, just ahead of the winter meetings, Howard Bryant takes on baseball’s individual qualifying offer and how it’s becoming the equivalent of the NFL’s franchise tag. It’s unfair, and it’s gotta go. He contends that players should take a stand against it for the next CBA. By Howard Bryant (Link: http://es.pn/2fXdCZK)
  • Action Sports: In the world of motorcycle sidecar racing, a driver steers, while the passenger, known as the monkey, hangs off the side and shifts her weight to keep the bike balanced during turns at high speeds. We talked to the only all-woman team in the U.S. about their sport. By Alyssa Roenigk

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