Dublin: 5°C Thursday 2 December 2021

Paul McGrath profiled, Ronda Rousey speaks out and all this week's best sportswriting

Also, the reaction among former NFL players to Will Smith’s latest concussion movie is analysed.

Paul McGrath features in this week's best sportswriting.
Paul McGrath features in this week's best sportswriting.

1. “I just feel so embarrassed. How I fought after that is such an embarrassing representation of myself. I wasn’t even fucking there.”

Ronda Rousey’s ESPN interview is a compelling read.

2. “The hulking man was screening Concussion, the Will Smith drama based on the true story of head trauma in football. As soon as the final credits rolled, the man in the back of the theater—one of 70 former players who saw the film last week—bolted for the exit. His reaction was as chilling as any line delivered by Smith’s character, Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and became embroiled in a drawn-out battle with the NFL.”

MMBQ assess the reaction among former NFL players to Will Smith’s latest movie.

3. “Football has a significant problem with the treatment of its players. The ability to kick a ball in a pleasing manner is mistaken for a skin thick enough to protect you from depression and addiction. Most supporters don’t care what occurs in a player’s private life, but woe betide them if it impacts on their ability to perform. So goes the repeated mantra of the comments section: ‘They’ve got so much money, how can they be depressed?’ A reminder, as if it should be needed – mental stability cannot be bought. Players are not robots.”

Check out Football365′s excellent profile of Paul McGrath.

4. “Kenny Stabler learned he had colon cancer in February. He was in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been renting a home since the fall of 2014 so he could watch his two grandsons play football for Chaparral High School. One is a receiver. One is a defensive back. Stabler called them his “grandsnakes.” In January, he had called Kim Bush, his partner for the last 16 years of his life, and told her of a consistent pain in his stomach.”

SB Nation’s William Browning remembers Kenny Stabler.

5. “Back in 1996, when Muhammad Ali went down to Pensacola, Florida, for an event with Roy Jones Jr. and spoke to thousands of schoolchildren bused in from around the county, Ali asked to go where Jones Jr. trained so they could playfully spar a few rounds.

“Even on good days, Ali’s speech was pretty limited, but he was still strong enough to move around and exercise back then. After Ali and Jones Jr. had circled one another in the ring and only really feigned jabs, at one point Ali smiled and gestured at Jones Jr. that he’d spotted a weakness.

“Ali imitated and exaggerated the flaw he’d discovered in Jones Jr.’s jab and left them both in fits of laughter at his shrewdness. Jones Jr. nodded after he’d caught his breath and confessed, “Yeah, you found it. But I’m so fast I can get away with it.”

Jonathan Brin-Butler on Roy Jones Jr’s Long Goodbye. 

6. “The “group of death”, a concept that sounds like it was named by an 11-year-old child listening to emo for the first time, was actually coined by Mexican journalists to describe Group 3 at the 1970 World Cup, which contained the defending champions England, the favourites Brazil, the two-time finalists Czechoslovakia, and Romania.”

The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew assesses what a group of death actually is.

McIlroy believes surgery will make him even better>

Know Your Sport? Take our weekly quiz>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

Read next: