Play It Forward: Jan. 28-Feb. 3

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

SUPER BOWL XLVIII in New Orleans: San Francisco vs. Baltimore, 3:25 p.m., Channel 2:

One of the first volleys in the Harbaugh-vs.-Harbaugh Super Bro Bowl storyline was launched last week from the Twitter account of The Sporting Scene, which is the sports blog of New Yorker magazine: “A reminder that Jim Harbaugh was on ‘Saved By The Bell: The New Class.’ Your move, John.” Unfortunately, there was also a YouTube clip attached. Which brings the storyline to a screeching halt by leading us to believe that that Jim Harbaugh was the cousin of Screech. Which must also imply there’s some DNA shared with John Harbaugh. Oh, how this all must look so many years later.
As Chuck Culpepper points out on SportsOnEarth.com, trying to rank the Harbaughs in the entire world of sports siblings, John and Jim have a collective seven NFL playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances, a 78-33 NFL coaching record, one Orange Bowl victory, 26,288 NFL passing yards and 129 touchdown passes. And on his list, they rank 10th. (The winners: The NHL’s six Sutter brothers, one of whom has a Stanley Cup in L.A.) But it was the same writer who also said, a few days earlier, he was already weary of the storyline hype, and quoted John Harbaugh as saying: “You know what, I agree with you, let’s just cut that right now. We did that last year [when the teams played on Thanksgiving]. It got old last year. You’re right, move past that and let’s talk about the two teams.”
With that, the other storylines that’ll be beaten to death before the game is played:
== It’s the last game for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, so he says.
== Does NFL commish Roger Goodell need extra body guards in “Bountygate”-ville?
== When does Joe Flacco stop getting flack for not being an “elite” quarterback?
== What tattoo will Colin Kaepernick add if the 49ers win, if there is any real estate left?
== Does San Francisco realize it is 5-0 all time in Super Bowls?
== What’s really in a Hurricane cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s?

BEST OF THE REST:

MONDAY

GOLF: Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, conclusion of final round, 1 p.m., Channel 2:

Tiger Woods is left with some unfinished business because darkness fell and the tourney isn’t over. This will almost feel like the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open, won’t it? He’s got seven career wins on the course, including that major.

NHL: Kings vs. Vancouver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Replica championship rings for those who show.

TUESDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Onion rings for those who show. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sunday Q-and-A with Bill Cowher: No need to coach him on how to talk to the Harbaughs

Bill Cowher hopes to get the call this week from CBS, asking him to sit down with both Jim and John Harbaugh for an interview session that will be part of the network’s coverage of the San Francisco-Baltimore Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl-winning coach has some of his own catching up to do with Family Harbaugh.

With Jim, it might be reminiscing about the 1995 AFC Championship. Cowher’s Steelers weren’t able to post a 20-16 win against the Indianapolis Colts until Jim Harbaugh’s final Hail Mary toss was nearly caught by Aaron Bailey, but then fell incomplete. Jim says that game haunts him to this day.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher and wife, Kaye, greet fans during a parade celebrating the team’s victory in Super Bowl XL on Feb. 7, 2006. Kaye died of cancer in 2010. (AP photo by Mark J. Terrill)

With John, it’s recalling a USO tour in Iraq they took together with Jon Gruden, Tom Coughlin and Jeff Fisher, one of the first trips taken by a group of NFL coaches.

Cowher also might also ask John something he just found out: Why is Jim’s oldest son, Jay, working on your Ravens’ staff, helping out with the scout squad and other game-related logistics?

“No one’s even talking about that angle,” said Cowher with a laugh. “So not only may Jim not be talking to his brother John this week, but he might not even be talking to his son. How’s that going to work?”

Cowher, six years entrenched now as part of the “NFL on CBS” studio team, agreed to size up this 49ers-Ravens matchup based on his own experiences of having been to this big dance twice:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

It’s Out of the Question: Too much bickering for Bickerstaff

Getty Images

What’s a quicker solution than all the bickering about how the greater good would be served by the immediate firing of Mike D’Antoni (12-20 since he took over, going into tonight’s game) and subsequent re-promotion of Bernie Bickerstaff (4-1 between Nov. 9-18), giving the Lakers the best chance possible at this point to claim the final Western Conference playoff spot?
Have D’Antoni run practices, Bickerstaff does the in-game strategy, and Magic Johnson tweets about it on a need-to-not-know basis.
Remember, Magic did have a spectacular 5-11 record himself as the head coach to end the 1994 season?
Yup, it was enough to make him quit.

== Relatively speaking, wouldn’t Bickerstaff be the best hire for a relocated Sacramento Kings in Seattle, the city where he once had some moderate success 20 years ago, instead of any attempt to needle Jeanie Buss’ fiancé to return? Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sports media column version 01.25.13

What made it into this week’s media column:

How did the Dodgers decide to venture off into their own channel, and still get paid billions to do so? And imagine all the time to fill with endless “Brady Bunch” reruns featuring Wes Parker as the guest star. Plus the backlash of a Katie Couric interview, Michelle Beadle’s new NBC Sports Net gig, and Frank Deford’s reason to shake his head at what he sees in today’s press box.

What unnecessarily got left out, due to time, space and other platitudes: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

‘Well, either you’re the most naive person on the planet or this is the saddest story I think ever written’

Not to say it didn’t happen, but . . .

When ESPN broke into programming late last Friday to announce that reporter Jeremy Schaap had secured a 2 ½ -hour visit with former Notre Dame linebacker and presumed hoax victim Manti Te’o in Florida, but then agree to ground rules that there’s be no cameras or audio recording, can we be 100 percent sure that the two even met?

Could ESPN have Photoshopped those pictures released of Schaap sitting at some lunchroom table with Te’o?

Maybe the only thing that is transparent in Te’o’s decision to pre-tape an interview with Katie Couric, then have it air Thursday afternoon after some video and other transcriptions were released to the media beforehand is that this has all the earmarks of being orchestrated by well-trained publicist.

One, in fact, who works for both Couric and Te’o.

Publicist Matthew Hiltzik told CNN on Thursday afternoon that he  takes issue with those who have called Te’o a liar about his role in perpetuating the story of the dead girlfriend beyond the moment when he realized he had been played.

Lance Armstrong is a liar; Manti Te’o made one big mistake —  not telling his father the truth,” Hiltzik said, referring to a statement his father made in saying Te’o and the fictional Lennay Kekua had met in person.

Hiltzik also said it would have been “crazy and stupid and short-sighted” for Te’o to tell reporters that Kekua didn’t exist in interviews given before the BCS title game earlier this month because he was still sorting out the details.

So what did Te’o have to say for himself when giving the opportunity?

We sort of lost interest after hearing Couric’s first question: “What have the last few weeks been like for you?” Something caught our attention again when she asked whether he “was the most naive person on the planet, or this is the saddest story ever written.”

We choose both.

Couric had already gone off the rails 20 minutes in when she decided to ask Te’o if he was gay.

“No, far from it,” he said. “Faaaar from it.”

The audience laughed nervously. It sparked a #farfromgay Twitter feed that may have turned any kind sympathy toward Te’o into questions about whether he had come off as somewhat homophobic.

Nice help with the damage control, Katie.

Hey, just let us know when anyone gets around to a live interview with alleged perp Ronaiah Tuiasosopo – a name Couric couldn’t even pronounce during the Te’o talk.

Maybe Tuiasosopo’s publicist can at least get a phonetic  pronunciation guide delivered to Couric if she gets the call to stumble through this all again.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email