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The world champion Irish wrestler, Michelle Smith revisited and the week's best sportswriting

Plus, why the 1916 Philadelphia A’s might have been the worst team ever.

Michelle Smith flies the Irish flag at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center after winning her second gold medal.
Michelle Smith flies the Irish flag at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center after winning her second gold medal.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

1. Nike signed LeBron James to the company’s first lifetime endorsement deal last winter. If we are to believe his business partner Maverick Carter’s intimations, the contract is worth more than $1 billion. Yet when the Cavs touched down in Cleveland the day after Game 7, there was no swoosh in sight. James emerged from the team plane wearing a vintage pro wrestling T-shirt that had nothing to do with Nike.

Chris DeVille of The Ringer looks at how LeBron James gives a boost to rappers, students, and the rest of Ohio.

2. In the summer of 1991 Sam Allardyce received a phone call that would change his life.

“I said to him: ‘Sam, my name is Father Joe Young, I am an Irish priest and the chairman of Limerick — and I am hoping you will be manager of our football club,” laughs Father Young.

“He said to me: ‘Are you f***ing with me, Reidy?’. He thought I was Peter Reid playing a trick on him!”

The Telegraph recall the life-changing moment when Sam Allardyce joined forces with an Irish priest.

3. A letter appears in the player’s locker one day, if the season is in progress. In the offseason, it arrives at his home, via FedEx. His agent and the union receive copies via e-mail, too. The NFL Shield is there at the top, and it’s requesting that the player report to the league offices at 345 Park Avenue, in midtown Manhattan, for a meeting with the commissioner, Roger Goodell. Attendance is mandatory. Sincerely, NFL senior vice president Adolpho A. Birch III. The player has been officially summoned to the NFL equivalent of the principal’s office.

Tim Rohan of Sports Illustrated looks at what it’s like to get called into the NFL equivalent of the principal’s office.

4. “There was a wooden bench made of bats and studded with baseballs. Otherwise there was nothing in Connie Mack’s office to suggest that he managed a major league team. Befitting a man who wore a suit and tie in the dugout, Mack decorated his office inside Shibe Park in a style you might call Accountant Gothic. There was a big oak desk, a wooden filing cabinet and a high-back swivel chair. By accident or design, players who paid a visit to the room got the feeling that they were there for a business meeting. And players had many such meetings in that office during the mid-1910s.”

1916 Philadelphia A’s might have been the worst team ever, writes Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated.

5. For a time in the mid-1930s, Danno O’Mahony was arguably the most famous Irishman in the world. And he was certainly one of the few West Cork men who made his living in tights.

Danno had a vast army of admirers. And a legion of sworn enemies. Their black ranks included Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Steve “Crusher” Casey, Bronko “The Red Menace” Nagurski, Chief Little Wolf and The Infamous Flying Dusek Brothers.

Josef O’Shea looks at the unlikely success of Cork-born wrestler Danno O’Mahony.

6. “Remarkably, Smith – on her own – finished above Great Britain on the medal table for the Atlanta Olympics.

“But many have airbrushed her from Ireland’s Olympic history, due to her four year ban for tampering with a urine sample imposed in 1998.”

Writing for Buzz.ie, Kieran Cunningham revisits the controversy-laden story of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith at the 1996 Olympics.

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Meet Ireland’s Olympic Team: Men’s hockey>

‘It’s my decision’ – Irish swimmer Ryan defiant amid allegiance switch criticism>

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