Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin’s gold medal performance in the slalom: Imagine being 18 years old and actually fulfilling expectations? Her victory was almost anticlimactic.
2. Michael Sam’s news conference at the NFL combine in Indianapolis: The linebacker/defensive lineman from Missouri says he wants to be known as a football player instead of a gay football player. Locker room Neanderthals beware. Sam strikes me as someone who is smart, thoughtful and tough, and doesn’t intimidate easily.
3. NBC’s compelling account of the Sept. 7, 2011, airline crash that killed the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team: The piece, which aired during prime time Saturday night, conveyed the community’s affection for what was one of Russia’s elite hockey teams at the time, as well as the generosity and charitable nature of several of those who perished and the emotionally devastating impact the crash had on the region. Superb journalism.
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4. Barry Bonds’ return from exile: Given that Bonds was among dozens of players (that we know of) who used performance enhancing drugs during baseball’s big-boom era, the Giants might as well let him back in the building. Financing for the ballpark, by the way, was secured after Bonds was lured to the Bay Area during free agency. There is no harm in allowing one of the game’s greatest hitters to work with players during a week of spring training. Who knows? The Giants’ free swingers might gain some strike zone discipline. And Bonds might have been so humbled by the PEDS controversy, so eager to please and be allowed back in, members of the organization might even find something to like about the guy.
5. Finally, the Cleveland Browns’ alleged courting of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh: Why wouldn’t the Browns pursue Harbaugh? Three appearances in NFC Championship games and one unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl don’t make Harbaugh the next Bill Walsh. But think back to the lousy decade before Harbaugh’s arrival. Does anyone really want to revisit the days of the coaching carousel that left Alex Smith’s head spinning? Harbaugh can be difficult, but he’s obviously pretty smart. If the 49ers offer a reasonable extension, it would hard to imagine him walking away from a talented team that he helped assemble and a beautiful new ballpark that he watched being built, almost day by day.