Friday, September 28, 2012

Raiders secondary might be easy pickin's for Peyton

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Some say Peyton Manning isn't the quarterback he was before having to sit out last season with an injury. The Raiders -- and their banged-up, patched-together secondary -- will find out this Sunday.

While teams battle on the field, stadiums duel with pigeons, seagulls, bats and other flying varmints that terrorize fans and leave horrible messes

Recently at a Denver Broncos game, several fans in $250 seats were bombarded by pigeons all game long. As you can imagine, the fans weren't very happy. But, their situation isn't isolated. Across the country, fans deal with pigeons, bats, seagulls and other flying animals that can make their game experiences miserable. Meanwhile, for those who operate the stadiums, keeping one step ahead of these animals -- that can leave horrible, stinky messes -- is a full-time job. My story for's Playbook section:

Jets defense may be vulnerable to 49ers' rushing attack

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Last week, the 49ers got away from their running game in a loss to the Vikings. This Sunday, San Francisco may hand the ball off to Frank Gore & Co. early and often, because the Jets' run defense has been weak.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vernon Davis picking up where he left off in playoffs

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Tight end Vernon Davis of the 49ers is off to a great start, with four touchdown catches in three games. The seven-year veteran is finally starting to be mentioned by others around the league as one of the NFL's best at his position.

Huff hoping to learn from rough debut at cornerback

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Michael Huff's first game as a cornerback, after more than six seasons at safety, was admittedly shaky. But, he hopes to get better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In loss to Vikings, Niners' running game was AWOL

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have consistently been a balanced offense, even running more than throwing last season -- a rarity in the new, pass-happy NFL. But in Sunday's loss to the Vikings, the Niners inexplicably abandoned the rushing attack.

Raiders hoping Heyward-Bey can return soon

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The concussion and neck injury suffered by Darrius Heyward-Bey will have him sidelined for a while, until the Raiders can determine how the receiver is recovering from a hit he took in the Steelers game -- which resulted in injuries very similar to the ones he had last year after a blow in Minnesota.

Replacement officials have made their mark on NFL, 49ers

The horrible call to end the "Monday Night Football" game between the Seahawks and Packers may have a ripple effect across the NFL, perhaps spurring the league to make a deal with its regular officials so the replacement zebras can go home. The damage the replacements have done, however, may have a large impact on several teams, including the 49ers. My blog for the NBC Bay Area website:

Modern pentathlete Margaux Isaksen has rebounded from disappointment in London Olympics

Finishing fourth in the Olympics can be the worst experience for an athlete. So close, yet so far from the medal podium. For American modern pentathlete Margaux Isaksen, that was the case at the London Games. Since then, however, she's rebounded to win three gold medals at the Junior World Championships and says she's now highly motivated to win at Rio in 2016. My story for the U.S. Olympic website:

Monday, September 24, 2012

New starting tight end Myers is quite a catch for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Brandon Myers has caught every ball thrown his way so far in 2012 and has stepped up to become Carson Palmer's favorite target.

Is Moss experiment going sour? Let the speculation begin

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After Randy Moss answered a question about his playing time with a response of "next question," a flurry of  speculation arises that his attitude may be going south. The Niners so far are saying nothing to impugn Moss.

Benefits of new GI Bill provide veterans substantial help

The military isn't for everyone, but for those deciding to enlist after high school, the college financial-aid benefits of the post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans are substantial. My story for the Union-Tribune's college applicaion special section:

Niners run into a purple wall in Minnesota

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After a 2-0 start in which they looked impressive, the 49ers take a step back in losing to the Vikings in Minnesota.

Raiders stage comeback, beat Steelers for Allen's first win

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Sebastian Janikowski's field goal with no time left gives the Raiders a 34-31 victory over Pittsburgh, the first victory for Dennis Allen as an NFL head coach.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Former UCSD classmates have a vision, and have set their sights on making the perfect putter

Phillip Lapuz and Mike Buchfuhrer are a couple of smart guys with great educations. After grad school, each was on a path that could lead to big bucks and a nice office with a large corporation. Yet the two stepped off the path they were on to form Kronos Golf, a company that is producing hand-cast putters of the type that have stopped being made in the U.S. For these two, it's an exciting adventure. My profile on the former UCSD students for my On the Job series for the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Struggling Raiders hope to revive run game vs. Steelers

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Will the Raiders ever open some holes for Darren McFadden? So far, the answer has been no. But coaches and players are preaching patience going into game against Pittsburgh Sunday.

49ers, hoping for first 3-0 start since 1998, face Vikings

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco will have to stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and young quarterback Christian Ponder if it wants to get its third straight win to open the 2012 season.

Jessica Long, the golden girl of swimming, selected Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year

Jessica Long is just like any other 20-year-old, crashing at home for a few weeks and raiding her parents' refrigerator ... except she now has 17 Paralympic swimming medals, has graced the cover of magazines and worked as a model and has now been selected Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year a third time. My story on Long for

Thursday, September 20, 2012

His business is humming and his life is wired

Andrew McGuire started McWire Electric in 1999 in Santee, the same year he and his wife moved to the city. In the years since, the company has grown dramatically, fueled in large part by McGuire's early belief in the installation of solar energy systems. In a way, he followed in the footsteps of his father, also an electrician, and learned much of what he knows about the business -- and people --  from his dad. McGuire's profile for the On the Job series for the Santee Patch website:

If Vikings want to run, they'll have to go through Patrick Willis

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Since he came into the NFL as a rookie in 2007, Patrick Willis has been an outstanding linebacker. Now, with the run-oriented Vikings and Adrian Peterson ahead in a Sunday matchup, Minnesota will no doubt try to give San Francisco a heavy dose of run-run-run. Will Willis be up to the task?

Raiders patching up battered secondary

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: With the pass-happy Steelers coming to Oakland, the Raiders are vulnerable. Their starting corners already are lost, their backups have been torched, Michael Huff is being switched from safety to play some corner and the Raiders have signed a corner off the Packers practice squad.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raiders surprised by sloppy tackling in loss to Miami

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: New head coach Dennis Allen came to the Raiders with a reputation as a fine defensive coach, and he and his defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, stressed fundamentals this summer, especially tackling. But in losing to Miami Sunday, the Raiders' tackling was sloppy ... a surprise to many Raiders.

Frank Gore still seems to be playing in his prime time

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: About a year ago, some were thinking that Frank Gore was past his prime. Then, he took off and had one of his best seasons. Now, in 2012, he's off to another great start.

Monday, September 17, 2012

They were a Paralympics to remember

Never before had so many people attended a Paralympics or watched them on television, and the London Games lived up to all the attention by producing some memorable achievements by American athletes. The achievements of swimmers Jessica Long and Bradley Snyder, in particular, made their way into national headlines. A look at the greatest achievements by U.S. Paralympians in London for the website:

San Francisco's defense proving itself again in 2012

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In 2011, the 49ers defense was a force and the foundation of a 13-3 regular season. In the first two games of 2012, it's proven to be just as good in stopping Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in back-to-back weeks.

Raiders running game so far is nonexistent

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland was excited about getting Darren McFadden back this season, and figured its running game would be the foundation of its offense. Well, not yet. So far, McFadden can't find any holes and the new zone-blocking scheme has been blamed by some as the reason.

Dolphins pummel Raiders once again

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: How do you stop Reggie Bush? It might be a good idea never to ask the Raiders that question, because for the second straight game -- dating to last year -- Bush had a field day against the Oakland defense and the Dolphins beat the Raiders handily.

Niners efficient, balanced in victory over Lions

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In two games this young season, the Niners are showing they're a balanced, efficient and very dangerous football team. The latest win, over Detroit, showed good D, a fine passing game and strong running attack.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book review: "Surviving Survival" tells the tales of people who were changed forever by their brushes with death

After people have survived a tragic, horrific moment in their lives, then what happens? In "Surviving Survival," author Laurence Gonzales examines their lives from an anecdotal and scientific viewpoint, showing us how they face many battles, long after they've surviving a shark or bear attack, an attempted murder, cancer or the traumatic loss of a loved one. As Gonzales points out, our brains adapt and actually change in response to a threat, so personalities actually change after one of these incidents. My review of the book for U-T San Diego:

Friday, September 14, 2012

At Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Warhawks have become a national Div. III football powerhouse. The reason? U-Dub-Dub even tackles big rocks in practice

It's hard to achieve excellence at anything, and college football is no exception. But since Lance Leipold took over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football program in 2007, the Warhawks have played in every national championship game and have won four out of five of them. There are many reasons for their success: Leipold, facilities, good players and coaches, of course. But they also have a mantra -- "Pound the Rock" -- that tells something of their mindset. My story for's Playbook section:

After sloppy, disappointing opener, Raiders face the Dolphins

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: In their season opener, both the Raiders and Dolphins looked shaky. Now the Raiders have a chance to regroup and get a win in Miami Sunday before having to face the Steelers and Broncos in back-to-back weeks.

49ers vs. Lions matchup isn't about 'Handshakegate'

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Much ado was made about the tiff last season between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz, but Sunday night's matchup between the Lions and 49ers is more about the Lions trying to knock off one of the NFC's best teams.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raiders eager for Moore's start vs. Dolphins Sunday

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Denarius Moore had to miss Game 1 of the season because of an injury, but his return this Sunday has the Raiders excited about what he brings as a deep threat.

How can 49ers contain Lions' 'Megatron'?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area: Though Tarell Brown is only 5-10, he'll be matched against Lions' super-sized, 6-foot-5 receiver Pro Bowl receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson on Sunday. How will he contain Johnson?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cheney's 21-strikeout night was also a testament to stamina and a bygone era when pitch counts weren't kept

Today, when pitch counts and innings thrown are carefully monitored, Tom Cheney never would have put himself in the history books. But 50 years ago today, the journeyman pitcher for the Washington Senators pitched one of the most amazing games ever, throwing 228 pitches in a 16-inning complete-game win over the Baltimore Orioles while striking out a major-league record 21 hitters. Five decades later, the Orioles' Boog Powell says he can still remember how Cheney's curve was so sharp that night, he swears it made a sound as it went by. My story for's Playbook section:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Niners' wideouts are no longer forgotten

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Last season, there were many games the Niners receiving corps was a forgotten group. Now, it looks central to the team's offense.

Raiders' once-vertical game goes horizontal in opener

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: In Oakland's season-opening loss to Chargers, the team's passing game was mostly focused on short passes, a departure from the past.

Raiders' loss is an instant replay of 2011 performances

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Too many penalties, a key fumble and mistakes on special teams are too much to overcome in Oakland's season-opening 22-14 loss to the Chargers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

49ers' QB Alex Smith appears even better in 2012

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In 2011, much-maligned quarterback Alex Smith became an effective NFL player for the first time in his career. Now, it appears Smith has taken another huge step forward, following the 49ers' 30-22 victory over Green Bay in the season opener.

Raiders cloaked in mystery heading into 2012 opener

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: What kind of team will the Raiders be in the 2012 season? It's almost impossible to know. Almost half the roster is turned over, the organization is new from top to bottom and several key injuries on offense leave the team with a giant question mark over it as it gets set to kick off the season against AFC rival San Diego ... a team also with many questions.

49ers open season with big win over the Packers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Was 2011 a fluke? Apparently not. The 49ers open the 2012 season with a convincing win over the Packers in Green Bay.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Opening 49ers-Packers clash is a severe test for both

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers and Packers, two of the NFC's strongest teams, meet in the season opener, a huge test for both right out of the gate.

Sometimes, it's a long road home from the Olympics

U.S. sprinter Carmelita Jeter, who won a gold, silver and bronze in London, is finally back home, able to relax and reflect. But it's been an exhausting route for Jeter -- and many other American Olympians -- who stayed in Europe to compete in several races after the London Games before heading back to the States. My story for the U.S. Olympic website:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First act in 49ers' Moss experiment is Sunday

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Randy Moss says he's pumped up for the season opener Sunday against the Packers, and the Niners are excited about Moss. They believe the 35-year-old can still be an impact player.

Raiders hoping Palmer again can be an elite QB

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Quarterback Carson Palmer's performance has dipped a bit in recent years, but the Raiders are betting Palmer, 32, is still the guy to lead an effective offense.

John Elway was one of the best QBs in NFL history, but 30 years ago he showed as a minor leaguer that he could have starred in baseball

Thirty years after watching John Elway play for the Oneonta Yankees in the New York-Penn League, his manager and former teammates still rave about the raw talent he showed and the qualities of leadership that he showed. All believe Elway could have been a fine major league outfielder and a good hitter, with power and speed. And that throwing arm? As you might expect, it was sensational. My story for's Playbook section:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Forbes report shows 49ers are up, Raiders are down

Daily report for NBC Bay Area website on 49ers and Raiders: Forbes Magazine shows 49ers' franchise worth is rising, after a turnaround and a new stadium deal. The Raiders? Not so much.

Harbaugh's new baby arrives on a 4-9er day

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Is this an omen? Little Jack Harbaugh was born on Sept. 4, the fourth day of the ninth month, making him a 49er through and through.

Raiders' receiving corps thin going into opener

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore are still hobbling and even rookie Juron Criner tweaked his ankle this week, so going into the 2012 season opener vs. the Chargers, the receiving corps of the Oakland Raiders is thin.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Raiders' roster still being tweaked before opener

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Just days before the 2012 opener, the Raiders continue to make roster changes; in the latest move, DeMarcus Van Dyke has been released in favor of veteran corner Joselio Hanson, formerly of the Eagles.