Don Feria Brock Lesnar is one of the WWE's biggest stars.
# essential reads
How WWE went mainstream, Wilkinson's dilemma and all the week’s best sportswriting
Also featuring ‘Can boxing trust USADA’ and the lessons Graham Henry from winning the Rugby World Cup.

1. “Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone have regular wrestling beats now. Deadspin’s wrestling writing these days is often republished from Jezebel and Kotaku — Gawker Media’s partner sites on women’s issues and gaming, respectively. The environment for wrestling writing is wide open and thriving.

Wrestling fans used to joke (or complain) that sports outlets cover wrestling only when somebody dies. For years, that was true. But now ESPN covers WWE events with the same interest it once reserved for wrestling tragedies, even if the network doesn’t report wins and losses as fact. Brock Lesnar showed up in Bristol to hype WrestleMania and SummerSlam this year, and SportsCenter broadcast live from the site of SummerSlam on the day of the event.”

The Masked Man looks at how the Internet, nerd culture, and transcendent performers like Brock Lesnar helped wrestling go mainstream.

2. “In Britain, despite attempts to change the style of the game, there’s still the expectancy from fans and coaches that footballers work hard, cover the ground and be combative. So it’s staggering that walking football, in little under four years, has become so popular with players who have been shaped by an amateur culture that, more often than not, rewards fast and physical football above tactical nous or skilful bursts – particularly players in their 50s who cut their teeth on the lumpy British battlefields of the 1970s and 80s.”

Writing for The Guardian, Gregg Bakowski examines the growing popularity of walking football.

3. “I feel like I am breaking apart in terms of . . . in the early part of my career . . . if you said to me, “Describe yourself”, I would have said, “I’m a rugby player, I love training hard, tackling, I want to be this, I want to be that, I play for England”, and all that stuff.

“In the middle of my life, I would have said, “I’m a rugby player”, but also I would have spoken a bit more about family and life. But now, “Who are you?” is turning into . . . I wouldn’t say, “I’m an ex-rugby player or I’m this”. I’m basically . . . I don’t know. That’s the confusion.”

Jonny Wilkinson opens up to the Daily Mail’s Oliver Holt.

4. “Henry moved from school coach to province coach to Super Rugby coach. Then there was Wales. They lost in the World Cup quarter-finals in 1999. That was followed by a poor tour with the British & Irish Lions in 2001 that ended in a 2-1 defeat by Australia. Another spell with Auckland, in rugby rehab. Then, at last, the top job. Head coach of the All Blacks. In 2007, came the hardest defeat of all, another quarter-final defeat, by France in Cardiff. For Henry, it was a long road to the 2011 final. These are the pick of the many lessons he learned along the way.”

Graham Henry on the lessons he learned on his way to winning the Rugby World Cup.

5. “His bosses were furious. Roger Goodell knew it. So on April 1, 2008, the NFL commissioner convened an emergency session of the league’s spring meeting at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Attendance was limited to each team’s owner and head coach. A palpable anger and frustration had rumbled inside club front offices since the opening Sunday of the 2007 season. During the first half of the New England Patriots’ game against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium, a 26-year-old Patriots video assistant named Matt Estrella had been caught on the sideline, illegally videotaping Jets coaches’ defensive signals, beginning the scandal known as Spygate.”

ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr and Seth Wickersham look inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart.

6. “As you will doubtless be aware, his father was killed in the Burundian civil war, and the 10-year-old Berahino journeyed to England – alone – to be reunited with his mother and siblings who had already fled. But the authorities could not find them and he was put in a care home until a DNA test ruled that he was his mother’s son. Twelve years on, he’s only gone and undone all his good work by being a bit of a dick over a failed move to Tottenham.”

Marina Hyde of The Guardian assesses the recent criticisms of wantaway West Brom star Saido Berahino.

7. “Almost always, fighters who test positive express disbelief and maintain that the prohibited substance was ingested without their knowledge. In most instances, punishment has been minimal or there has been no punishment at all.”

Probably the most controversial sports article written this week, Thomas Hauser’s piece for SB Nation asks: ‘Can boxing trust USADA?’

8. “Ben Ryan is the coach of the Fiji sevens team and has seen first-hand the deception and duplicity used by unscrupulous agents to lure players abroad. “There are so many flaky agents around,” Ryan says. “Rugby league is doing some disgraceful things in Fiji — sending players one-way tickets to Australia on visas that don’t allow them to play professional sport, so they are immediately breaking the law. Then they outstay their visa, get deported and they are banned from going overseas ever again for work they might have done in the future. That is effectively a life sentence.”

Writing for the Telegraph, Daniel Schofield says the ’despicable’ abuse of young Pacific talent is a huge stain on rugby.

Steven Gerrard reveals Tottenham snub>

5 possible reasons why David de Gea decided to sign a new deal with Man United>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.