In 1961, Charlie Sifford became the first black golfer to receive his PGA Tour card. That's why, at 92, Sifford received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

The honor is the highest bestowed upon a civilian, and it's more than fitting for a man that entered golf at a time when the PGA Tour had a "Caucasians Only" clause, as noted by Bill Dwyre in a column for the Los Angeles Times.

But it's still bittersweet in some ways: Not just because Sifford had to be granted access in the first place, and not just because Sifford was never fully accepted into the golf world (he never played in The Masters, a barrier not broken until 1975). Sifford's PGA career is bittersweet because it didn't begin until he was 38. By then, much of his prime had already passed. Tiger Woods is 38, and injuries aside, his best years are well behind him.

Sifford turned pro in 1948 and won six Negro opens, including five straight from 1952 through 1956. He first tried to qualify for a PGA Tour even in 1952 and endured threats on his well-being. In 1957, he won the Long Beach Open against a field that included prominent, white PGA golfers.

Finally, in 1961 he made the PGA Tour. And that's where he stayed, winning PGA events in 1967 and 1969.

Sifford was a quiet man, preferring to speak through his performance. He was angry, but he tried to let that frustration fuel his desire. According to then-Times columnist Jim Murray, writing about Sifford ahead of the '69 Los Angeles Open that he won:

"Golf was not a game for ghettos. Neither did it leave any time for carrying picket signs, joining demonstrations or running for office. Charlie birdied, not talked, his way through society prejudice. He broke barriers by breaking par. His weapon was a nine-iron, not a microphone."

Most of the time, Sifford kept his teeth fixed on a cigar he often smoked while he played.

Sifford went on to enjoy the game for many years, winning the 1975 PGA Seniors' Championship and participating in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament, where he won as recently as 2000.

Now, Sifford is witness to a generation of golfers that grew up idolizing a black golfer in Woods. Before Woods was even born, it was men like Sifford who stuck with a sport and professional tour that was resistant to his presence.

What would Sifford's career have been if he could have been allowed on the PGA Tour earlier? Despite his Negro Tour dominance, it's hard to know for sure.

Instead, Sifford's legacy is one of breaking down barriers. While a more noble distinction than any golf trophy, Sifford's Presidential Medal of Freedom is also a form of atonement. He was never granted the chance to realize his full potential at the PGA level.

As Charlie Sifford is celebrated for the man he was, he should also be honored for the golfer he wasn't allowed to become.

It's a reasonable assertion that J.J. Watt could destroy almost anyone he comes face-to-face with. The gargantuan defensive end is on the verge of becoming a modern football anomaly -- not only is he dominant at his position, but he's become a force to be considered in certain offensive situations.

Despite his reputation as a physical beast, Watt prefers the mantle of "gentle giant" off the field. A frequent visitor to children's hospitals, Watt just opened his wallet to buy lunch for the Houston police and fire departments.


The pizzas were delivered with a letter from Watt.

"My Dad and Uncle were both firefighters, so I spent a lot of time around the firehouse when I was younger and gained a great deal of respect for both firefighters and the police fore along the way," Watt writes. "Y’all show up day in and day out, never knowing what the day might hold and never getting enough thanks for what you do, yet you continue to put others before yourselves and save lives because of it.

"I know it’s not much, but please enjoy lunch on me today."

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Sports fans have probably heard of Lauren Hill's inspirational story of making her college basketball debut despite suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.

Hill doesn't now how much time she may have, or whether she'll get to play college basketball again. But she's making the most of her opportunity to affect others.

Devon Still, a Bengals defensive tackle whose 4-year-old daughter is battling pediatric brain cancer, tweeted a photo of a surprise gift he received after practice:


Later, a local news station tweeted photos of Still's plan to reciprocate Hill's kind gesture:


Devon Still had already met Hill earlier this year when he visited her at one of her college basketball practices, and the bond has lasted.

With Western New York ravaged by snow storms, a Bills player and coach have made headlines for going out of their way to help Buffalo residents in need.

After three feet of snow hit the Buffalo area on Tuesday morning, the roads were covered in powder. On his way to practice Bills coach Doug Marrone noticed a stranded motorist on Abbott Road. So the 50-year-old Marrone pulled over his SUV and, along with a few others, shoved the vehicle's undercarriage from the snow that had surrounded it.

Marrone, who grew up in New York and played and coached at Syracuse, is used to battling the elements. When he was told it would be difficult to get to practice because of the snow, he wasn't fazed.

“All my life people have been telling me what I can’t do,” Marrone said, via the Buffalo News.

Marrone's kicker, Dan Carpenter, also played the role of good samaritan on Tuesday. Carpenter grew up in Montana and has seen large snowstorms before, and judging by a tweet he sent out it appeared as though he was enjoying the experience:


Carpenter and his wife on Tuesday shoveled a path to their elderly neighbors' home so they could check on the couple.

“The first thing he said was, ‘Is everything OK?’,” Roy Noble, 88, told the News. “I thought that was really nice.”

Kaela Carpenter posted this photo of Noble, who was a Prisoner of War during World War II:


Carpenter told Noble that he would make sure to check on him during the storm.

“He’s going to come around and check on us,” Noble said. “He and his wife gave us their phone number and she wants us to call them if they have any problems – you don’t see people like that anymore. We’re going to reward him someday. He’s a helluva nice guy.”

Noble and his wife, Lorraine, are celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary in the spring.

Despite the best efforts of the Bills, if the snow doesn't clear up their game against the Jets may be pushed from Sunday to Monday.

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A Cincinnati Bengals fan missed out on a football caught by tight end Jermaine Gresham for a touchdown, but she ended up getting much more in the aftermath of a bizarre incident at the Superdome in New Orleans.

After catching a 1-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton midway through the third quarter of the Bengals' 27-10 win over the Saints, Gresham jogged over to the stands and tossed a ball to Christa Barrett, who was wearing a No. 18 A.J. Green jersey.

Alas, a man dressed in Saints gold intercepted the toss and kept the ball for himself.

When asked why he wouldn't give back the football the man, identified as Tony Williams, had a curt answer:

"Because I caught it," Williams said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's very simple, I caught the football."

Williams would go on to give the ball to his grandson:


As for Barrett, things didn't turn out too bad. She ended up getting a football from a representative of the New Orleans Saints organization:


Gresham was asked about the scene after the game:

"He should be ashamed of himself," the 26-year-old told an Associated Press reporter.

But the two-time Pro Bowler went further, finding Barrett's sister on Twitter and apologizing for the incident:


Barrett has become somewhat of a viral star and she was even featured on the local news in New Orleans:

Laquon Treadwell had a Saturday no football player deserves. In the fourth quarter against Auburn, and at the end of a 20-yard reception that was initially called a touchdown, Treadwell was dragged down and brutally broke his leg while dislocating his ankle.

Treadwell had to be carted off the field with his leg in an air cast. The star receiver was in clear pain and discomfort. Even worse, his would-be touchdown was reviewed and ruled a fumble. Ole Miss went on to lose the game, and Treadwell's season is over.

Treadwell wasn't the only one upset. One 7-year-old fan, whose favorite player is Treadwell, was also distraught by what happened.

He decided to write Treadwell a letter that the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, published.

Dear Laquon,

You are my favorite Ole Miss football player. I enjoy watching you every week. For Christmas I am asking Santa to bring me a #1 jersey. I’m so sorry you hurt your leg and ankle. I hope you get better soon.

Your #1 fan

Tanner Harris

Tanner's mom helped him write the letter, and they mailed it to the Ole Miss athletics department.

The family hasn't heard if Treadwell has received the letter, but Tanner's father, Josh, told the Clarion-Ledger that "We hope it will be a pick-me-up while Laquon goes through a really tough time."

The inspirational story of Lauren Hill, the 19-year-old Mount St. Joseph College forward with an inoperable brain tumor, gripped the sports world the past few weeks.

Hill has been told by doctors that she may not live past December, and she made it a goal to play in one game for her team. Despite constant headaches, dizziness and weakness, Hill accomplished that mission Sunday. Her incredible fight drew the attention of LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire and a host of other athletes.



What an incredible moment to witness in person! Lauren Hill, you are a true inspiration!! #1moreLauren

A video posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

It's a good time to be a Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman.

Weeks after the Cowboys' stellar group of linemen were each rewarded with an iMac from running back DeMarco Murray, quarterback Tony Romo presented the big guys with another, more expensive gift.

With the team traveling to London this week to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, Romo gave each of his linemen and tight ends a Louis Vuitton bag:


"They're taking care of us this year," left guard Ronald Leary told ESPN. "We appreciate it."

The gifts reportedly set Romo back five figures:


That's just a drop in the bucket, however, for a man who recently signed a seven-year deal worth $119.5 million.

While Murray presented the offensive linemen with computers after breaking an NFL record by running for 100 yards in his team's first seven games, Romo's gifts came after the QB encountered a bit of adversity. Last Monday against the Redskins, Romo was sacked a season-high five times and took a knee to the back that forced him to sit out Sunday's home loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

On the whole, the Cowboys' offensive line has played stellar. After an Oct. 12 victory at Seattle, left tackle Tyron Smith became the first offensive linemen in a decade to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain was an undrafted free agent who has only tallied nine tackles this year and plays mostly on special teams. But the 22-year-old rookie from Cal has already found a heartwarming way to make his presence felt in South Florida.

Before every home game, McCain gets onto the field early and scans the stands for a young fan. McCain will then take that lucky youngster onto the field and give him or her the tour of a lifetime.

For McCain, who never attended an NFL game as a kid, the gesture allows him to give a child an experience he or she will never forget.

"I  just always wanted to be able to go to a game," McCain told the team's website. "Just try to give back. It's just something they’ll be able to remember for the rest of their lives. Impact them as much as I can. I love kids. Kids are my weakness. Whatever I can do to send a smile, I'll do it."



McCain says he'll try to give the child a pair of gloves and, if possible, walk them over to meet their favorite player. A few weeks ago a pair of fans got to meet Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.


For McCain, the gesture not only allows him to help a child live out a dream, he says it also has become an important part of his pregame routine.

"It just helps me get my mind right,” he told the Dolphins' website. “I go out there probably 30 minutes after I get there (to the stadium). I’ll go eat and I’ll go on the field, get a feel for the weather, loosen up my cleats, and then I’ll start searching. If I don’t see a kid, I’ll go back into the locker room for a little bit, stretch for about 30 minutes and I go back out on the field. So I make sure I find somebody.”

Nothing about Jack Mook is soft.

The detective's 22-year career with the Pittsburgh police force followed service in the Army after high school. In his spare time, he volunteers as a trainer at Steel City Boxing Gym, a nonprofit organization serving youth on the city's North Side.

It's a fitting hobby for Mook, whose name sounds suited for a 19th century bare-handed pugilist. And it's through boxing that the unmarried Mook met brothers Joshua and Jessee Mook.

About six years ago Mook began working Joshua, who was 9 at the time. The detective assumed a mentorship role with the boy, who became a regular at the gym's daily workouts.

One day, though, Joshua stopped coming. Mook didn't know why, but he decided to find out. He hit the streets in search of Joshua. What he found was a young boy in distress.

As Mook first told CBS News, Joshua physically exhausted. He had dirty, unkempt hair with bare spots blotching his scalp. His eyes were sunken and fatigued -- Mook told CBS News that Joshua "looked like a 40-year-old man who just lost his job."

When the detective tracked Joshua down, he had him take a seat in his car.

Mook asked him what was wrong. Joshua was never a crier. But now, he broke down.

Through tears, he described the home conditions he and his younger brother, Jessee, were suffering through. How they had to sleep on the floor in a room covered with dog excrement, and how Joshua was sleeping as much as he could -- going to bed as early as possible to pass the hours until he could go back to school.

Mook resolved to do something. He told Joshua to stay strong and protect his brother. Meanwhile, Detective Mook went to work.

***

An initial review by a caseworker concluded that the boys' living conditions were fine.

Mook disagreed. He saw their home situation as fraught with neglect and abuse. So he didn't give up.

The case cracked open when the relative caring for Joshua and Jessee got into trouble with the police. When that happened, Mook seized the opportunity: He requested an emergency order making them their foster parent.

That was about two years ago. The arrangement was an immediate success: Joshua described his first night sleeping in Mook's home as the best he'd ever had.

Eventually, city officials came to Mook with a proposal: An opportunity to fully adopt Joshua and Jessee.

For a 45-year-old with no wife, no kids, and no commitments beyond his own job and interests, the proposal was life-changing -- and in a way not everyone would embrace.

As he explained to Today.com, Mook didn't hesitate:

"Right away I said, 'Let’s do this.'"

***

Mook sees it all the time in Pittsburgh: Troubled homes breed troubled kids that grow up into troubled adults.

He knows that, without his intervention, that was a likely outcome for Joshua and Jesse.

"Without structure and discipline they’d be put in juvenile detention and probably jails later on," Mook told Today.com.

Instead, the boys -- now 15 and 11, respectively -- have a much brighter outlook. They have a childhood once again, and they look forward to growing up into decent, respectable adults.

Most importantly: They now feel safe.

That doesn't mean the new way of living comes easy -- and that goes for both Mook and the two boys. Since the adoption was finalized September 16, making Jack Mook the legal father to Joshua and Jesse, the family of three feels a sense of comfort even as it works to figure out their "new normal."

Mook is tasked with much more than just training the boys at the gym. He has to feed them, clothe them and make sure they're keeping their grades up. The detective is a strict disciplinarian and is focused on teaching them to be self-reliant.

Meanwhile, the boys still refer to Mook as Coach. They maintain a relationship with their biological parents -- something Mook wanted for them. But their father figure is a cop moonlighting as a boxing trainer with something like a soft spot.

Maybe a better term is "tough love."

"You're a Mook. Alright? You happy? Good," Mook said to the boys after the adoption was made official, per CBS News.

Then he cracked: "Now you're going to go home and cut my grass."

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