A different view from the world of sports ….

Papal lessons

Pope Francis doesn’t know much football – at least not the Americanized version that favors blocking, tackling and third-down conversions rather than corner kicks, offside traps and penalty kicks.

But when Jim Harbaugh took his University of Michigan team to the Vatican last month, he  presented his Holiness with a Wolverine helmet tagged with a yellow sticker with the No. 266.

It was a sign of immense respect since Pope Francis is No. 266 in papal history. Meanwhile, for those of you who tend to think college football is a religion in itself, Harbaugh is only No. 19 on Michigan’s list of all-time football coaches.

Pope Francis was also presented a pair of Nike sneakers – retro Air Jordan 5’s with navy blue and maize accents. And clearly, he was so touched by the gifts that we’ll probably find both up for auction on the Vatican website entering the fall.

But the pope did grasp the hands of Harbaugh and his wife Sarah and asked them to pray for him. That kind of puts things in persepective, doesn’t it? The pope asking for prayers when it was Harbaugh who should have been hitting his knees?

Perhaps that humility will have a lasting impact on Harbaugh.

He at least bit his tongue when  Brandon Jacobs, who played one season for Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers, questioned  Harbaugh’s football I.Q. during a recent interview on CBS Sports Radio.

“Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing,” said Jacobs, who played in college at Auburn. “Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man.”

Harbaugh’s response came via Twitter:

“Biblical advice for @gatorboyrb Let all bitterness & wrath & anger & clamor & slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Jacobs, by the way, was a bit player with the 49ers near the end of his career, carrying the ball just five times for seven yards in 2012. But during his nine-year NFL career, he did win a pair of Super Bowls in five years with the New York Giants and finished with more than 5,000 yards rushing with 60 touchdowns.

Still, I think Harbaugh has history on his side in this spat. Yes, he and the 49ers did lose Super Bowl XVLII to his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens. But he was 44-19-1 with three trips to NFC Championship Games in his four seasons in San Francisco, so he had to know something about being a head coach even if his assistants taught the x’s and o’s.

He’s also 78-33 in nine seasons as a college coach, including 20-6 in two seasons with the Wolverines.

Sounds like Jacobs has picked the wrong fight to conduct on the airwaves and through Twitter.

Irish rule

Anyone who was surprised that Notre Dame rejected the latest offer from the   Atlantic Coast Conference to remove the asterisk from their league membership and become a full-fledged football partner hasn’t been paying attention to TV contracts and other revenue sources.

In 2015  – latest revenue figures to be released by the Department of Education – Notre Dame brought in $98.5 million in football revenue and had total earnings of $105.7 million in athletics.

Meanwhile, two of the ACC’s football powers can’t quite compete with those numbers. Florida State had football revenues of $55.7 million and total athletics revenue of $79.2 million. Clemson had $45.9 million in football revenue and $58.5 million overall.

Irish motivation is not likely to change as long as the school has a separate football TV deal with NBC through 2025 that pays $15 million per season, a bowl guarantee payout of at least $3 million, a partial share of ACC football revenue and a merchandising brand that keeps cash registers ringing.

Purse of the Bambino

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Auction-watchers are expecting another windfall when the Yankees’ copy of the 1919 sales contract — the one that landed them Babe Ruth from the Red Sox — goes up for bid at Lelands.com. The Red Sox version last sold for $996,000 in 2005.

“And four other Ruth player contracts — 1918 Red Sox ($1.02 million), 1921-23 Yankees ($537,750), 1931-32 Yankees ($384,000) and 1935 Boston Braves ($360,000) — have raked in $2.3 million in sales the past four years.

“Ruth’s combined salary in 21 seasons as a major-leaguer way back then, albeit in much different dollars: $856,850.”


From SportsPickle.com: “Study: NHL Game 7 overtimes now the leading cause of death among Canadians.”

From TheKicker.com: “NHL appeals to millennials with new ‘fidget puck’ in finals.”

From TheOnion.com: “Rookie first baseman nervous to chat with baserunners.”

 From TheKicker.com: “New TD-celebration rules drag Terrell Owens out of retirement.”

From SportsPickle.com: “De’Aaron Fox shooting up NBA draft boards after revealing his dad isn’t an asshole.”

From SportsPickle.com: “Is LaVar Ball the worst LaVar in the history of LaVars?”

On a roll

Roll a perfect game? No problem.

At least it wasn’t to Ben Ketola, who needed just 86.9 seconds to reach perfection at a bowling alley in Cortland, N.Y.

The 23-year-old from Preble, N.Y. was inspired after watching professional Tom Dougherty roll a 300 in less than two minutes (1:51.10) two years ago.

After much practice, he got his 12 strikes on his fourth attempt over the 10 lanes, running from lane to the next.    He averages a 225.

“It was fun to do. I honestly wasn’t expecting to do it,” Ketola told Syracuse.com. “I just wanted to see how quickly I could get across the house and get strikes.”

They said it

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, suggesting three things more intriguing than this year’s NBA playoffs: “1) Rice cakes; 2) Waiting for a YouTube video to buffer; 3) Company meetings.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Still five days away from the start of NBA Finals. But only a month or so away from the start of 2017-18 NBA pre-season.”

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Twitter, after a Braves game resumed after a 3-hour rain delay at 12:58 a.m.: “If Purgatory has a network, it’s showing the resumption of this game.”

Rocanville (Sask.) High School javelin thrower Chris Lonseth, to the nearby Moosomin World-Spectator, after breaking a regional-meet record that had stood for 59 years: “It feels good to beat something that’s older than dad, even.”

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on the Kentucky Derby: “They call it ‘The Run for the Roses.’ Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.”

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune, after Bears chairman George McCaskey said Jay Cutler epitomized what it took to be a Bear: “And I’m thinking, that means paid too much while delivering too little and failing to win a Super Bowl.”

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, on the bowler who needed just 86.9 seconds to roll a perfect game: “When I go bowling, it usually takes me at least 20 minutes to find the right ball.”


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