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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 »

Harbaugh’s instant success

No matter the result of the 49ers-Ravens game on Thanksgiving, Jim Harbaugh is coach of the year. Sure, anything is possible, although a sudden collapse by the 49ers seems as likely as Jim Schwartz starting a Detroit chapter of the Jim Harbaugh Fan Club. So it’s a tad premature, so what? You know it’s a foregone conclusion: Jim Harbaugh is NFL coach of the year. It’s rare when a first-year coach guides a team to a winning record a year… 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 »

49ers-Ditka connection

A lot, perhaps too much, has been made of the 49ers making a so-called Bill Walsh connection with their hiring of Jim Harbaugh. OK, the Niners hired Walsh out of Stanford in 1979 and they hired Harbaugh out of Stanford in 2011. That’s more like a coincidence than an actual connection, isn’t it? If anything, the Niners seem to be continuing their Mike Ditka connection. Ditka was the Chicago Bears head coach from 1982-92 and had a .631 winning percentage… Read More »