Commentary

THEY'VE GIVEN THEIR BODIES OVER TO THE SPORTS THEY PLAY. BUT THE HEARTS OF THESE FIVE PROS WILL ALWAYS BE TRUE TO THE ONES THEY LOVE.

Updated: July 10, 2012, 3:44 PM ET
By STACEY PRESSMAN

THE FANS STRIKE BACK

MY FIRST CRUSH

THEY'VE GIVEN THEIR BODIES OVER TO THE SPORTS THEY PLAY. BUT THE HEARTS OF THESE FIVE PROS WILL ALWAYS BE TRUE TO THE ONES THEY LOVE.

BY STACEY PRESSMAN

KRISTI LESKINEN

FREESKIER/STEELERS FAN

ROOTS My dad got signed by the Patriots, so football has always been big in my family. I grew up near Pittsburgh and everyone there is crazy about the Steelers. It's impossible not to get swept up.

HIGHEST HIGH A change in emotion creates the biggest high. That win over the Colts on the way to the Super Bowl two years ago-with Jerome Bettis' fumble followed by Ben Roethlisberger's tackle-was the most exciting game I've watched.

LOWEST LOW Bill Cowher is the rudest person I've ever met. At the 2006 ESPYs, I asked him for a photo and he said, "What are you doing? Get out of here!" I think it had to do with personal issues.

OBSESSION During the Super Bowl run, I'd plan my skiing around Steelers games. I'd ski early, come in to watch the game, ski at halftime, watch more, then ski after. Oh, and I have Steelers fight songs on my computer.

PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS BUCK

BRAD PENNY

DODGERS PITCHER/HORSE RACING FAN

ROOTS As a kid in Oklahoma, I loved riding horses. After my dad took me to the track, I got hooked on racing. The adrenaline rush when your horse goes into the gate is amazing. I would go to the track when I played for Florida, and I started buying race horses when I signed with LA.

HIGHEST HIGH My first horse raced at Hollywood Park in 2005. We were playing at Kansas City so I couldn't watch, but my trainer called to tell me we won. My first race ever and the horse wins? That's pretty cool.

LOWEST LOW I won a bunch of money off Barbaro, but his getting hurt took away any satisfaction. He was on his way to winning a Triple Crown. To see him break his ankle was awful.

OBSESSION I'm a partner in five horses in LA and five in Oklahoma. I get more nervous following my horses than I do when I'm pitching. But my favorite thing is just being around them and petting them. It's like being back in Oklahoma.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRYCE DUFFY

C.C. SABATHIA

INDIANS PITCHER/RAIDERS FAN

ROOTS I became a Raiders fan because of my dad. We're from Vallejo, which is near Oakland. Even after the team moved to LA we'd drive down Saturday, stay at my aunt's house and go to the Coliseum. Now I go to games with my son-that's Li'l C next to me.

HIGHEST HIGH Sure, they got blown out in the Super Bowl in 2003, but just going to San Diego for the game and seeing all the Raiders fans downtown was great. It was fun until the game started!

LOWEST LOW It has to be the past three seasons, because they've lost at least 12 games every year. I get killed in the clubhouse because I talk the most crap-until the season starts.

OBSESSION When I go to a game, I like to get there by, like, 7 a.m. to tailgate. I made it to only two games this year, but I watched every other game on TV. I skip everything for the Raiders; if their game is on, that's my first priority.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUGLAS ADESKO

ELLIOTT SADLER

NASCAR DRIVER/NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS FAN

ROOTS I grew up in Virginia, but my dad's a Tar Heel. He's been giving money to Carolina's booster club for almost 40 years, so we get four seats right under the basket. I had all kinds of Carolina stuff as a kid. I even got Michael Jordan's autograph, but I wasn't smart enough to keep it.

HIGHEST HIGH Nobody gave us a chance to beat Michigan's Fab Five for the 1993 national championship. The way it happened-Chris Webber calling the illegal timeout-was so cool. One of my best times as a fan.

LOWEST LOW I was at the Duke game in 2004 when Chris Duhon went the length of the floor to beat us. I remember standing on the sideline thinking, Man, are we ever going to beat those guys?

OBSESSION Before I started driving, I went to at least 20 games a year and never missed the ACC tournament. Now I'm always checking on the team online. If they're playing during a race, my crew chief keeps me updated.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUGLAS ADESKO

T.J. HOUSHMANDZADEH

BENGALS WIDE RECEIVER/BOXING FAN

ROOTS I was probably 12 or 13 when I got into boxing. I haven't figured out why I liked it so much. It's sad, but maybe it's the violence. When it's not violent, I like the aspect of outsmarting a guy.

HIGHEST HIGH Muhammad Ali was on my flight once. He was walking up to people in the airport and throwing punches in the air. I just watched; I wanted to leave him alone. He was interacting with people more than they were with him.

LOWEST LOW When Sugar Shane Mosley (that's him facing off with me on the right) lost to Vernon Forrest, I felt like I lost! I get butterflies during a fight if I want a guy to win. I even start to sweat a little, but that's how you know you're into it.

OBSESSION I watch every fight out there-HBO, Showtime, Friday Night Fights, Tuesday Night Fights. We were on the road when Mosley fought Miguel Cotto, and our coach, Marvin Lewis, wouldn't let us buy the fight as a team. So Brandon Williams, who was on IR, texted me round-by-round updates.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELLE LEVITT

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