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Armstrong top male athlete

For Lance Armstrong, 2003 was a year of personal and professional struggles and triumph. Divorce divided his family. A crash, dehydration and some admittedly poor riding nearly cost him a record-tying fifth straight Tour de France title. But just when his dominance teetered near its end, Armstrong fought off Jan Ullrich of Germany to put himself in position to become the first rider to win six in a row in 2004. Armstrong was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for the second straight year, beating out San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds. Armstrong received 26 first-place votes and 174 points to Bonds's 10 first-place votes and 59 points . . . The Atlanta Falcons have received permission to interview San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora for their head coaching job. Mora, the 49ers' coordinator for five seasons, and son of former Indianapolis and New Orleans coach Jim Mora, was a finalist for the 49ers' top job last season . . . Troubled forward Eddie Griffin, released Dec. 19 by the Houston Rockets, said he has agreed to play for the New Jersey Nets . . . New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, 73, was released from Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Hospital last night, a day after he collapsed at a memorial service for football great Otto Graham. A spokeswoman said Steinbrenner, 73, was in good spirits when he left about 8 p.m. "He's doing great. All the tests were normal," Steinbrenner's doctor, Andrew Boyer, said . . . The Dallas Stars assigned defenseman Trevor Daley and left wing Mathias Tjarnqvist to Utah of the AHL.

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