There's four excellent pieces of sports writing to note here with two from ESPN the Magazine and two from Sports Illustrated.
The ESPN features came from the September 3 NFL Preview issue and both dealt extremely well with the important and much discussed idea of the negatives of the game weighed against the positives. The lead story was a J.R. Moehringer essay "Football is dead. Long live football" that featured the subtitle "Concussions, lawsuits, death -- but fans are still cheering" followed by 120 points to consider about America's most popular sport.
Additionally, David Fleming wrote the piece "Neither saint nor sinner" that looks at Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and the suspension the NFL gave him from the Bountygate scandal while he was a New Orleans Saint. Tremendously interesting story that similar to the Moehringer piece delves into the good as well as dark side of pro football.
Switching to a different sport, two Sports Illustrated pieces a few months apart shared for me the common bond of being very good writing about baseball superstars. The recent August 27 issue had Angels 21 year old outfield Mike Trout on the cover and the story within was "Kid Dynamite" by Tom Verducci. It was an well written piece and brought to mind past pieces I've linked to on phenoms Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Trevor Bauer.
Going a while back in time, but also on a baseball superstar was the June 11 SI cover story "The Curse Of Bigness" by S.L. Price on Josh Hamilton. The piece featured the same type of great in-depth writing that Price seems to always provide and showed a fascinating portrait of Hamilton. Some of the stories told showed character tendencies towards the dramatic and attention craving and that certainly doesn't make Hamilton a bad guy, but does seem to tie into his past drug and alcohol addictions and the possibility (certainly not the guarantee, but possibility) of future struggles.