Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 11°C
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The Sunday Papers: the best of the week’s sportswriting
Stick a pot of coffee on and put your feet up. Here’s some gems you may have missed this week.

IN NO PARTICULAR order every Sunday, we flick back through the week’s newspapers, websites, blogs and magazines to bring you the best sports writing.

1. “Apparently, laundry bags had gone missing and a large bottle had been removed from behind the bar after the night porter had gone to bed and there was a witch-hunt to find the culprit with Noisy (Noel Murphy) in the role of Hercule Poirot.”

Hugh Farrelly sits down with David O’Mahony who won his first and last cap with Ireland against Italy in the last days of the amateur era.

2. “Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism. That’s right, for all the F-15 flyovers and flag waving, football is our most successful sport because the NFL takes money from the rich teams and gives it to the poor teams… just like President Obama wants to do with his secret army of ACORN volunteers.”

Famed American satirist Bill Maher is on an unmerciful wind-up here. He’s right though.

3. “‘It’s all quite deliberate in terms of the style we’re trying to do,’ Early says over coffee on a Tuesday morning a couple of weeks later. ‘It’s all based around conversations. In between pieces, there’s always five or six minutes of bullshit.’

Murphy and McDevitt, sitting opposite him, laugh. ‘What?’ Early asks.

‘It’s the word ‘bullshit’ I’m not too happy about,’ McDevitt retorts.”

It’s been another bad week for the printed word unfortunately.  She’s not a sports journalist but Una Mullally of the Sunday Tribune – now in receivership - sketched an accurate portrait of the team which produces the excellent Off The Ball on Newstalk.

4.  “You get cynical in this game pretty easily. You meet idols with feet of clay, the clay ending somewhere in the mid-thigh region. Loveable icons with the disposition of a rattlesnake suffering from ulcers.  Last week, though, your columnist sat down with a real-life Harlem Globetrotter.”

The Irish Examiner’s Michael Moynihan is sprinkled with a leetle bit of magic - just ‘cross 110th St.

5. “Ben Jones is on his back for a split second before he’s off like a rocket. He whips the brim of his cowboy hat and it helicopters towards the wall of the arena, setting down softly in the chewed soil. He’s trucking towards the octagonal stage in the center of the arena. Half sprinting, half skipping, he’s putting most of the weight on his right leg. It almost looks as if that’s the strange way Jones always runs. His whole body is a bit stiff and awkward. However, the fact that he just came crashing to the dirt after spending eight seconds on the back of an ornery 1,500-pound animal might have contributed to his hobble.”

You guys and gals know about Norman Einstein’s right? There’s always something worth printing out and reading on the commute home. Unless you drive to work.

I could’ve picked anything form this month’s edition but a piece on bull riding by the wonderfully-named Graydon Gordian stood out for obvious reasons.

6 “Did your jaw drop right into the pretzel bowl as he broke records against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football or when he beat the New York Giants almost single-handedly? If so, did you then feel guilty about lauding a man who’d systematically tortured and murdered dogs — a man who had dispensed so much cruelty? But, then, did the guilt pass quickly because, well — did you just see that play?”

Time Magazine. Michael Vick. It’s gonna be good.

7. “He saw the game the way no player before him had. Tactics we take for granted today — curling after entering the offensive zone, setting up behind the net (his “office”) and using it as a pick to keep defenders at bay, even bouncing the puck off the posts or the back of the net to fool defenders — were unheard of before Gretzky came along.”

Wayne Gretzky turned 50 this week. wrote a love letter to The Greatest.

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8. “The good news is that 30 years from now, nobody will remember Ben Roethlisberger. His winning touch won’t mean a thing. There will be no reporters suckling at his tit.

He will be gone and forgotten, except perhaps by the college student whose life he so clearly traumatized on a March night in Milledgeville, Georgia But maybe time has come to let bygones be bygones. Maybe Big Ben is a different Big Ben. So good luck in Super Bowl XLV. May the Packers break your legs on the first series of downs.

Which will prove there is indeed a God who cares about football.”

Hey Buzz Bissinger of the Daily Beast – and acclaimed author of Friday Night Lights – tell us what you really think of Big Ben!

9. “Only old  floodlights can make that sudden clunking sound, like an old, rickety lever being pulled down to spark the countless bulbs to life. A hunched Vince Lombardi hustles out to centre stage and we, the Broadway audience, become his team, taking a knee, hushed and intimidated, waiting for his words.”

Our own John Riordan in New York went to the theatre this week – la-dee-la! – to see the Broadway portrayal of the legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi. The Irish Examiner column is here.

10. “What struck me was how many people wanted to recommend good books. And, I have to admit, another thing that struck me was how many of these good books I had already read. I am a heavy reader — not just in weight* but in number of books — but it seems that there is a community of us who are reading and loving many of the same books. And so, I made Twitter a promise that I would mention a few of the recommended books that I have read and loved here on the blog.”

Joe Posnanski is a wonderful writer. But he’s a great reader too. He’s complied a list of his recommended books on his site that is worth saving, I reckon.

Let us know if you read anything you read in the sports pages this week, that we should add.