Banner tactics, Ali, Lineker on MOTD; it’s the week’s best sports writing

Put the kettle on and get stuck into this lot.

Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

1. “On his second day in America, in late July, the 23-year old NFL hopeful showed up to Colts training camp wearing what looked like soccer cleats—yellow with orange highlights and a flap over the laces. Coaches and scouts didn’t know what to do with him; he’d never swatted a blocking pad or assumed a three-point stance. He could hardly catch a football, and he couldn’t throw one without eliciting snickers or winces.

“You couldn’t even bear to watch,” general manager Ryan Grigson recalls.”

MMQB’s Robert Klemko on the Indianapolis Colts’ efforts to convert a South African rugby player into a ‘pass rushing monster’.

2. “Draw a graph. There was no way that Clare’s effort would have gone so high and then would drop like that and stay there for the rest of the game. They got ragged for a while but they were always going to come back with something. They had a lean period but it was never the case that Clare weren’t going to score again before the end of the game and the problem for Cork was what they would have left when that did happen.”

Donal Óg Cusack‘s column has been a very interesting read all summer. Here’s his final effort for

3. “Lineker has presented Match of the Day since 1999. Even with a three-year break, when the BBC lost the rights, he has done the job for longer than Des Lynam, his accomplished predecessor. A staunch defender of the programme, and its maligned analysts, he has been derided over the years for pretty much everything from blandness to weak jokes. He is, however, respectful of the way Gary Neville has transcended the jaded art of football punditry. The former Manchester United defender has offered a freshness and clarity on Sky which critics argue is lacking on the BBC. Lineker resists the charge passionately – but scrutiny of MOTD has intensified following the recent announcement that Alan Hansen, once hailed as a bitingly incisive analyst, will leave the programme after the World Cup next summer.”

Donald McRae of The Guardian sits down with the former England striker and TV presenter, Gary Lineker, to talk Match of the Day.

4. “As a designer, that was my first experience of typography. Obviously when I was eight years old I didn’t know what typography was. But I do remember trying to recreate “Schmeichel” in Umbro’s slab serif script in my school sketchbook. After pleading with my mum, she kindly bought me a replica top with the Danish super-stopper’s surname printed on the back. When she gave it to me I remember crying my eyes out because the letters weren’t the correct “official” font. Thankfully, 20 years later, my mum understands my fanatical attention to typographical detail.”

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

Rick Banks on his two passions; football and typography. No wait… it’s actually interesting.

5. “Back then boxing was the nexus of sports and politics and culture. The heavyweight championship meant something. When Jack Johnson got it, the first black man, that was a big scary thing for a lot of white people. Now it’s kind of a sideshow. It’s so noisy now. It’s competing with MMA. The fact that Muhammad Ali was pretty much accepted as the world’s most recognisable face in 1974 is pretty amazing. Who’s that now? It must change every fifteen minutes. But whatever boxing has become, fame has become something else, too. It’s just a blizzard now.”

Filmmaker Sam Green on the ‘trials of Muhammad Ali at Esquire.

Schweinsteiger’s back — the Germany squad to face Noel King’s Ireland next

David Moyes: I’m the right man for Manchester United job


About the author:

Read next: