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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 26 April, 2019

The new face of Six Nations TV coverage and more of the week's best sportswriting

Some of our favourite reads from the past seven days.

On the next table, Bill Foulkes shook our hands, a generation of football writers who maybe didn’t know the story as well as we should have done, and started going through his own memories, half a century on, of that seminal, awful night on the runway of Munich‑Riem airport. Foulkes was one of the survivors who had pulled others from the wreckage but there was absolutely no way he was willing to portray himself as a hero. We were only a few minutes in before this formidable old centre‑half – “tough as teak”, Charlton remembered him – was struggling with his emotions and reaching for a glass of water. Of all the memories of covering Manchester United, all the matches and trophies and air miles, it was certainly quite something to sit opposite these men at the club’s training ground 10 years ago, building up to the 50th anniversary of the Munich tragedy, and listen to their accounts of the day that changed their lives.

Daniel Taylor writes for The Guardian ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

60th Anniversary Of The Munich Air Disaster - European Cup - Quarter-Final Second Leg - Red Star Belgrade v Manchester United The Manchester United team that was involved in the Munich air disaster. Source: S&G

Beginning in the late 1890s, Heisman helped spread the growth of the game like a coaching Johnny Appleseed through jobs in Ohio, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas. A tireless innovator, Heisman, promoting the forward pass, divided the game into quarters and, in 1898, came up with “hike” as a way for an entire team to know when the ball would be snapped into the backfield. Before then, backs used silent gestures to begin plays. Heisman, a part-time stage actor who had been trained as a lawyer, prized gifted oratory and preferred a dynamic sound that would spring his charges into action. Hike fit the bill and also aptly described what was happening: a ball hiked backward from the ground.

– Bill Pennington on the origins of one of the most recognisable terms in American football for the New York Times.

For nearly a decade, Shiffrin’s performances have belied the digits on her birth certificate. Four years ago, when she was 18 and already renowned for her precocity, she earned the gold medal in slalom at the Sochi Games, becoming the youngest winner of the event in Olympic history. As of 28 January, she had 41 titles on the World Cup circuit; only one skier — Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria — had as many victories at age 22 (and Shiffrin still has two months and at least a dozen races to set the mark). Last year she won the World Cup overall title, awarded to the skier with the most total points across all five disciplines (slalom, giant slalom, downhill, Super G and combined) and indicative of the best skier on earth. In races often decided by the blink of an eye, she sometimes wins by a nice, cleansing yawn.

– An aggressive state of mind helped Mikaela Shiffrin conquer her anxiety on the slopes, writes Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden.

Switzerland Alpine Skiing World Cup Mikaela Shiffrin Source: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

On a recent December morning Dachau is silent and haunting. A gentle snowfall paints the parade grounds and the 32 austere wooden barracks a bright white. Of the estimated 200,000 prisoners interned in the five-acre camp, more than 32,000 were known to have died here, their bodies burned in a red-brick crematorium, buried in mass graves or stacked like cords of wood outside the barbed-wire fences. This is where Landauer was brought in November of 1938, when he was arrested and charged with only one crime: being a Jew.

– Kurt Landauer, a Holocaust survivor, played an integral role in shaping, and then saving, soccer powerhouse Bayern Munich, writes Kevin Baxter of the LA Times.

He’d weave his way into Newstalk. Do a few sports bulletins on the Sunday night graveyard shift at first, then a slot as a researcher on the Eamon Keane lunchtime show, filling in for Laura Whitmore who was auditioning for MTV. At the time his knowledge of current affairs amounted to little outside of Dublin mid-west politics, he was winging it at the start, but he’d make up for it. Every morning he’d be up at six, devouring the papers and morning radio shows. In the evenings he’d bring the papers home with him and highlight every page of them with lines that wouldn’t necessarily inform the next day’s show but just to get his knowledge up to speed. By six months he was there. Good enough for the meticulous Keane to rate him anyway, and then for The Right Hook to approach him. All the time though sport was still a passion and worrying was still his nature.

– The Irish Examiner’s Kieran Shannon spoke to Joe Molloy as he prepared to front TV3′s Six Nations coverage.

inpho_01120227 Joe Molloy Source: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Jamieson is a retired Olympic swimmer, who won a memorable silver medal at London 2012, and he knows what it is to be consumed and almost ruined by sport. He pushed himself so hard in training he suffered heart problems and, when he retired last year, he spoke movingly of how he had struggled with depression as an elite athlete. Now, in a boxing gym in Battersea, where Jamieson has spent the morning talking to young coaches who work with disadvantaged kids, the 29-year-old Glaswegian’s clear thinking stems from him escaping dark places.

– The Guardian’s Donald McRae speaks to swimmer Michael Jamieson, who went from the high of an Olympic medal to the dark lows of depression.

The Patriots are, simply put, awesome in the fourth quarter. They have erased a double-digit deficit in four play-off games in the Brady-Belichick era. No other quarterback in history has done that more than once. They erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter in the AFC championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and erased a deficit in last year’s Super Bowl that, at the start of the fourth quarter, was 19 points. But this goes beyond the score line: During the Jacksonville game, three of the four fastest Patriots plays happened in the fourth quarter, including Dion Lewis’s fourth-quarter run (17.6 miles per hour) to gain a first down and seal the game. There are many areas in which New England’s supposed edges are overstated; Belichick himself has said that he thinks that “play-off experience” is useless. Superior conditioning, though, is a real, tangible edge. New England’s ability to come back from impossible odds is directly tied to it. In large part, the Patriots’ tendency to do some of the wildest things the sport has ever seen is due to the simplest thing in athletics.

Kevin Clark of The Ringer explores why the New England Patriots never seem to know when they’re beaten.

‘I remember actually crying and thinking, ‘I’m never going to play for Dublin again”

Former Munster scrum-half embracing new role after being forced to retire at 28

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