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The GAA's role in the NFL's future and the craziest stunt in wresting; it's the week's best sportswriting

Why would you go outside when there is so much good stuff you haven’t read yet.

Put on the kettle and enjoy some of the week's best sportswriting.
Put on the kettle and enjoy some of the week's best sportswriting.
Image: Peter Byrne

1. Over the past two weekends, I have been deeply invested in a single football match. The two teams played to a tie a week ago. They played each other again this weekend, in another epic game, and the proper team won. The two teams were Kerry and Mayo, and the game they played was called “football” — Gaelic football, to be specific, in a semifinal match in the annual All-Ireland championship.

I watched the first game a week ago Sunday, at a place called P.J. McIntyre’s in Cleveland. As a good son of north Kerry, and the grandson of a shepherd girl from the hills around Listowel, I cheer for the Kingdom every year. (Historically, Kerry has been the Dallas Cowboys of the circuit.) P.J.’s was a Mayo bar, but I found one group of people in the green-and-gold gathered in one corner of the joint, so I tucked myself in with them.

We saw one of the most compelling games I have ever watched on television. Mayo played for the championship last season, and Kerry was said to be rebuilding with young talent, but Kerry played Mayo off their feet in the first half. Mayo was further hampered when right half-back Lee Keegan got sent off with a red card on a call so terrible that everybody in the bar booed, even the guys watching golf in the back. But, playing 14-on-15, Mayo stormed back to take what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, only to have Kerry rally late with a goal (three points) and a point (a kick through the uprights) to force the draw and a replay of the game this past Sunday.

Grantland’s Charles P. Pierce discusses just how the GAA may well represent the future of the NFL.

2. One night, in June of last year, the indie pro wrestling company Chikara blinked out of existence, and it did so in spectacular fashion. The main event of Aniversario: Never Compromise, an internet pay-per-view, was drawing to a close. Icarus, a smarmy, detestable heel who’d battled the odds and became a fan favorite, was facing Eddie Kingston, a hulking Yonkers-bred bruiser, for Chikara’s Grand Championship, a title that Kingston had held since the company introduced it more than a year before.

Icarus had Kingston locked in the Chikara Special, a funky submission hold used only by Chikara wrestlers, and Kingston seemed ready to tap out. But before he could submit, Wink Vavasseur, the company’s dastardly rich-kid authority figure, ordered security goons to rush the ring and shut the show down. They did, going so far as to kick out spectators and provoke what onlookers described as a near-riot. And for a long time, that was it for Chikara.

Tom Breihan brought us the true story of the craziest stunt in the history of pro-wrestling on Vice.

3. Schefter attended zero games last year and rarely talks to athletes face-to-face, yet he’s the reporter who keeps beat writers up late at night, the most prolific news-breaker in America’s most popular sport. As the NFL season prepares to kick off Thursday night, “According to Adam Schefter” has become a phrase every football fan knows all too well.

With more than three million followers, Schefter, 47, has a larger Twitter flock than any other ESPN personality — and nearly double that of any other NFL reporter. Social media exists somewhere at the crossroads of Schefter’s high motor and a nation’s endless appetite.

Others certainly contribute important reporting to the game’s biggest headlines, but on a day-to-day basis, whether a transaction impacts your favorite franchise or just your fantasy team, no one is more important than Schefter. He lives, breathes and eats the NFL. If he slept, he’d sleep it, too.

Rick Maese of the Washington Post profiles the seemingly ubiquitous Adam Schefter and explains just how the NFL reporter operates.

4. I don’t mean to sound like the guy who bemoaned the demise of the buggy whip by decrying the advent of the automobile. The electronic means of communication we have are marvels, but we must find some way to bend their use to thoughtful and significant journalism that might be a bit slower in arriving before our eyes but will so much better nourish our brains. It’s essential to our world, our country and ourselves that we have well-informed citizens.

This is a human problem, not a technical problem. I couldn’t care less if SI exists as an entity on paper 10 years from now, but I care immensely that the spirit of the magazine as you and I knew it lives on in whatever form SI and other publications with high standards might appear then. I’ll add here that I’m delighted that the current editors of the magazine have rededicated considerable space to the sort of long-form pieces that made SI’s reputation.

On his own website, Jeff Pearlman interviews Peter Carry about the legendary editor’s time in charge of Sports Illustrated and the golden age of sports journalism. 

5. Just 16 days after the Premiership final, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in basketball’s NBA Finals. It was a moment of redemption and revenge for the Spurs, who had been precisely 5.2 seconds away from being crowned NBA champions a year earlier only for the same Miami Heat to dramatically score a tying three-point shot before winning Game 6 in overtime. Miami would win that seven-game series in the decider in 2013, but the Spurs overwhelmed them 4-1 in this year’s finals.

For Saracens coach Mark McCall, he watched the Premiership final back as soon as he could bring himself to do it. The pain needed to be experienced, bottled and used as a driving force. Then came the case of the Spurs. Their heartbreak the year previous became part of their tapestry. McCall wants a similar reaction from his side with the pain being used as motivation.

Saracens coach Mark McCall is profiled on ESPN Scrum about his rebuilding job with the Premiership outfit.

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