A Press Democrat Blog

Old School

Robert Rubino connects current sports news with the past

Harbaugh vs. Manning

On Nov. 29, 1998, when Peyton Manning was a 22-year old rookie, he faced the Baltimore Ravens, led by 35-year-old quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Final score: Ravens 38, Colts 31. Harbaugh led a 17-point fourth-quarter rally. On Sept. 26, 1999, Manning, 23, and Harbaugh, 36, were once again opposing starting quarterbacks, as the Colts visited the San Diego Chargers. Final score: Colts 27, Chargers 19. Manning led a 14-point fourth-quarter rally.

The Harbaugh and Hemingway column

Some sportswriters called it a Harbaughism. Except it wasn’t a Harbaughism. It was a Hemingwayism. And you’re missing the point if you ask “What team did he coach?” Ernest Hemingway, of course, was a Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner in literature, an author who’s been dead for 50 years but whose work is still studied in high schools and universities throughout the world and revered by aficionados of original, groundbreaking fiction. This was news, a coach quoting a literary giant.… Read More »

Coaches, Hemingway, Shakespeare and World War II

When Jim Harbaugh quoted Ernest Hemingway on Sunday in the wake of the 49ers’ excruciating 20-17 overtime loss to the Giants in the Winner Goes To The Super Bowl game, it was unusual. Football coaches rarely quote a literary giant. But there have been exceptions. Paul Westhead, the former pro and college basketball coach, used to quote Shakespeare to his players. Magic Johnson famously interpreted one such exhortation by saying something to the effect, “You mean, get it to the… Read More »

Harbaugh and Hemingway

Some sportswriters called it a Harbaughism. Except it wasn’t a Harbaughism. It was a Hemingwayism. “This team is not defeated by any stretch of the imagination,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told the media in the wake of last Sunday’s excruciating disappointment, a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the Winner Goes to the Super Bowl game. “A man can be destroyed but he can’t be defeated as long as he knows that there’s hope.” “A man can… Read More »

49ers-Giants playoff history column

If Sunday’s game is anything like the last time the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers squared off in the postseason, hold on to your chin straps. It’s going to be a wild ride. Sunday marks the seventh time the Giants and 49ers have met in the playoffs. The previous six games have included classic thrillers, nail-biting defensive squeakers and a couple of kick-butt routs. They’ve spanned 30 seasons and included several future Hall of Famers and big-name coaches.… Read More »

Jim Harbaugh/Monte Clark

I don’t want to jinx the 49ers or coach Jim Harbaugh, I really don’t,  but when I look at the Niners’ 7-1 record through the first half of Harbaugh’s first season as head coach, I can’t help think back to 1976. That was Clark’s first year as head coach of the Niners, a team that was coming off three straight losing seasons. Back then, the NFL regular season was 14 games. Clark’s and the Niners’ record at the halfway point:… Read More »

Harbaugh and Payton

As 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh congratulated Saints coach Sean Payton Friday night after New Orleans’ lopsided but meaningless preseason win, I couldn’t help but recall the first time Harbaugh and Payton crossed paths, sort of. It was 1987, and Harbaugh was an NFL rookie quarterback with the Chicago Bears. Payton was an NFL scab QB with the Bears. The players’ were striking for improved wages, benefits and pensions, and the NFL owners decided to use strike-breaking players, called “replacements” in… Read More »

Walsh vs. Brown, part 4

Bill Walsh, who died in 2007, is part of an nfl.com video about his tense professional relationship with Paul Brown, when Walsh was Brown’s offensive coordinator (1968-75) with the Cincinnati Bengals. In the video, giving his interpretation of the clash of coaching titans (Brown passed over Walsh for the Bengals head-coaching position), Walsh said Brown felt a coach had to have “the bearing and formality to be a taskmaster (and that) nobody could have this intellectual approach to the game… Read More »

Walsh vs. Brown, part 3

In a compelling six-minute video on nfl.com, narrator Steve Sabol points out the branches on the Paul Brown coaching tree include Super Bowl winners Weeb Ewbank, Don Shula, Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh. But, emphasizing the friction between Walsh and Brown when Walsh was Brown’s offensive coordinator at Cincinnati (1968-75), Sabol says “Walsh was no disciple. He was a rebel.” One spot in the video has Brown saying “no, no,” in response to Walsh requesting that quarterback Ken Anderson be… Read More »

Walsh vs. Brown, part 2

Bob Trumpy was a four-time Pro Bowl tight end during his 10-year NFL career, all with the Bengals, all but two with Bill Walsh, when Walsh was offensive coordinator under head coach Paul Brown. In an intriguing six-minute video at nfl.com, Trumpy says: “West Coast offense was born in Cincinnati  … totally the invention of Bill Walsh.” The video shows a sampling of plays the Bengals ran under Walsh and plays the 49ers ran under Walsh. Delayed draws, swing passes… Read More »