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. “That’s about when I started crying. I don’t cry. I don’t say that proudly or with any shame, it just is, I am not an outwardly emotional person. But there, alone in a Phoenix hotel room, staring at a computer screen, I sobbed. I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Joe Posnanski writes a blog post explaining the process behind picking a topic for his Sports Illustrated back-page column. This week it wasn’t so tricky. The column on the Tuscon shootings is here.

2. “A footballer walks into a bar, orders a beer, and joins some friends from work to drink it. Little does he know however that the barman recognises him, reckons he shouldn’t be there, grabs a phone and starts making some calls. Shortly after, before the drink has been finished, the footballer’s manager is on the premises.”

Ewan MacKenna meets former Hill 16 idol Mark Vaughan. Possibly in Cafe en Seine.

3. “Between his own performance and that of his team, Roethlisberger has more or less enjoyed a free ride from the media over the course of the season, but lest Big Ben be lulled into a false sense of security, even he is surely aware that is about to change. Roethlisberger had better enjoy the temporary respite offered by the fortnight before the Super Bowl, because once the teams hit Texas this Sunday there are going to be 2,000 reporters waiting like piranhas to revisit the story.”

The Irish Times’ George Kimball has a warning for Big Ben as the Super Bowl looms.

4. “More sensible folk have likened the FF leadership soap opera to a couple of bald men fighting over a comb, though hailing from the toy department of this paper, I’m obviously more inclined to see the accurate comparison as being with the plight of West Ham.”

Liam Mackey draws parallels between a relegation-threatened, team of spoofers and… West Ham.

5. “He said he was sorry for what had happened. He said it several times. But the more he said it, the more the undertone of exasperation in his voice made him sound like someone saying, with ponderous emphasis: “I’ve said I’m sorry, all right?” and not meaning it at all.”

God knows, there’s been plenty of ink spilled this week on the Keys and Gray debacle and there’s plenty more in the newspapers this morning. But Richard Williams picking apart Keys’ radio appearance is excellent.

6. “Back in 2004 Gray came to Dublin to promote his autobiography, doing a string of interviews during his visit. An amiable and thoughtful fella he was too, as he sat in the Shelbourne Hotel chatting about his life. Granted, he had a book to sell, so he was hardly going to be obnoxious, but there was a bit more substance to the fella that all those tabloid tales had suggested, not least the one about him having two sons called Jamie with two different women in the space of four months. Now, that’s what you call a complicated life.”

Before Keys fell on his sword, Mary Hannigan wrote a fascinating piece on Gray.

7. “My apologies for turning this column into a game of Hangman, but it is unavoidable if I am to use a phrase that is often bandied about in business negotiations. The saying is: ‘Loyalty is what they **** you with’.”

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The Daily Mail’s Des Kelly piddles all over Steve Bruce’s disingenuous lament for a lack of loyalty from Darren Bent.

8. “This matchup is loaded with star power and I think it is pretty clear that these are the two top defenses in football. Of course, this list will create a stir, and feel free to blast me for it. But below, I will justify why I have every player where I do — although those guys at the caboose of this train are awfully difficult to really get a bead on considering how little they have played. My apologies to them and their families.”

Like Nick Hornby’s music nerd hero in High Fidelity, sports fans like to make lists. Once again ESPN rank the 100-odd players who’ll suit up for the Super Bowl this day week. 

9. A.J. Daulerio was surprised that $12,000 could fit into a single envelope. “I thought I’d need a hockey bag,” he recalls, sort of kidding. It was early October, and Daulerio, the editor of the sports Web site Deadspin, had requisitioned the brick of 120 crisp hundreds to pay an anonymous source. In return, the source would hand over the voice mails from Brett Favre and photos he’d allegedly snapped of his penis and sent to Jenn Sterger, a Jets sideline reporter, during his one season with the team.”

We’d be lost without Deadspin around here. GQ profiles the man responsible for all those ‘dong shots’. It’s pretty dark stuff. Thanks to Ciaran for the heads-up.

10. It’s not really reading – but in the same magazine, GQ’s coolest athletes cover shoot piece is pretty nice.

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