Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seth Jones, son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, could be the No. 1 pick in the next NHL draft

True, a lot of Seth Jones' athletic ability comes from his dad, Ronald "Popeye" Jones, who played more than 10 years in the NBA. But to Seth, a lot of the credit for his success goes to his mom, Amy, who told him that if he wanted to play hockey, he'd have to take skating lessons first. Now, the defenseman is a skilled skater and multidimensional player who could be the top overall pick in next June's NHL Draft. My story for USA Hockey:

Even when he wins, 49ers' Alex Smith is knocked by critics

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith was almost perfect in a win over Arizona, completing 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three TDs. Yet the folks who say he's a "game manager" won't go away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Moss making 49ers a more dangerous offense

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Randy Moss may only have 13 catches this season, but his impact on team's passing game goes beyond those stats.

A healthy Denarius Moore shows Raiders he's an impact player

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Denarius Moore had a tough start to the season after injuries slowed him in training camp and he was sidelined for the season opener. But now Moore is showing his talents at wide receiver, with TD catches in past three games.

Alex Smith nearly perfect as 49ers whip Cardinals

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith completes 18-of-19 throws and connects for three TD passes as San Francisco tops Arizona 24-3 in an NFC West showdown.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Improvement of defense a big factor in Raiders' resurgence

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: After giving up 30 or more points in three straight games, Oakland's defense has improved significantly and has been a big reason the Raiders are now 3-4 after a 1-3 start.

Raiders win second straight, get back into AFC West race

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: With a second straight win, this one over the Chiefs, 26-16, Oakland at 3-4 is suddenly alive in a weak AFC West.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The secluded coves and coastline of Laguna Beach are a special draw to visitors and a beautiful place for a weekend getaway

I've been up and down California, from Crescent City at the Oregon border to Imperial Beach next to Mexico, but somehow I'd never been to Laguna Beach. But on a weekend trip to the little Orange County coastal city, we discovered a beautiful spot with a character all its own and secluded beaches and coves unlike other areas in Southern California. My travel story for U-T San Diego:

Vonn ready to make history for U.S. ski team on the World Cup circuit this season

Lindsey Vonn has dominated alpine skiing the past few years and begins her quest for a fifth straight overall World Cup title in 2012-13 this weekend in the season's first event in Austria. But Vonn isn't the only story line. Julia Mancuso and a young American phenom also should make news, and veterans and Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety and Bode Miller return, also. A season preview of the World Cup season for

Niners expect bruising game with Cardinals

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco, just off a physical victory over Seattle, expects another fight with defensive-minded Arizona this Monday night:

In crazy (weak) AFC West, another win makes Raiders contenders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: At 2-4, the Raiders haven't been impressive. But with a win over the Chiefs Sunday, they will put themselves back into the division race.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Niners' offensive line is the team's overlooked strength

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco's offensive line might be the most overlooked aspect of the 49ers' success. One analysis says the team has the No. 1 line in football, particularly in the running game.

Lamarr Houston adding impact to Raiders defense

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Defensive end Lamarr Houston, the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week, is a high-energy player who keeps getting better and better, says head coach Dennis Allen.

Jeff Blatnick, who opened doors to Greco-Roman wrestling with his emotional victory in 1984 Olympics, is dead at age 55

Jeff Blatnick overcame cancer to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, then continued to be involved in wrestling for the rest of his life, contributing as a TV commentator, coach and administrator, as well as working with the U.S. Olympic Committee. He died at age 55 Wednesday of complications following heart surgery. My story on Blatnick for the U.S. Olympic website,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knapp gets kudos for halftime rant and adjustments

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Raiders QB Carson Palmer says offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was the spark for Oakland's comeback victory against Jacksonville.

Is a sprained finger the cause of Alex Smith's slump?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith says his sprained finger hasn't been a problem, but his offensive coordinator has a different spin.

Raiders take advantage of Jaguars fumble in OT

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders had to rally from 14 points down in the second half to send the game into overtime, then took advantage of a Jags fumble to set up the game-winning field goal in a 26-23 victory.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When she's racing, paratriathlete Erica Davis is like a stalking tiger

Erica Davis has a deep competitive streak. Not only does she not like to lose, she doesn't want to trail anyone, in training or on the race course. The national champion paratriathlete, who's going against an international field for the first time in the Paratriathlon World Championships, also has her eyes focused on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. My story on Davis for

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alex Smith not sharp (again) in win over Seattle

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website. What's up with Alex Smith? Over the past two weeks, 49ers' stable-as-a-rock quarterback has shown some cracks.

In battle of 1-4 teams, Raiders have edge over Jaguars

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Both teams are 1-4, but the Raiders have a bit more positive vibe going for them as they prepare to play the Jaguars Sunday.

Niners rebound from loss to beat Seahawks

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers, after losing to the Giants Sunday, faced a short week and a formidable foe. But on Thursday night football, S.F. beat Seattle 13-6.

Thirty years ago, Stanford students put out a fake newspaper at Cal that reported the NCAA had overturned the Golden Bears' famous Big Game victory

Usually, history is written by the victors. But when Stanford lost to rival Cal in 1982 on a lateral-filled, last-second kickoff return that has become known as "The Play," the losers simply re-wrote history by publishing a fake Daily Cal and distributing it on the Berkeley campus. The fake paper reported the NCAA had overturned The Play and awarded the game to Stanford. And the Stanford students involved in the prank 30 years ago are still laughing about it. My story for's Playbook section:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One-time fish out of water, Mark Barr, is now thriving in triathlon and aiming toward 2016 Paralympics

In just two short years, Mark Barr has made the transition from swimming to U.S. champion in paratriathlon. Now Barr is competing at the world championships for the first time and aiming toward competing at Rio in 2016 when triathlon makes its Paralympic debut. My story for;

Raiders' improvement after bye reflects well on Allen

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Several people say Dennis Allen has the 'It factor' as a head coach. Oakland's performance after its bye week may be an indication those folks know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gold-medal rower Taylor Ritzel, and other U.S. Olympians, have personal reasons for joining the fight against breast cancer

Since losing her mother two years ago to breast cancer, Olympic rower Taylor Ritzel is determined to make a difference in the fight against the disease. She and other members of the U.S. team in London are raising awareness about breast cancer and helping to raise money for research to find a cure. My story on Ritzel for the U.S. Olympic website,

Much-improved Seahawks a formidable foe for 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Rookie QB Russell Wilson, a strong running attack and aggressive, physical defense make the Seahawks a tough foe for the 49ers on Thursday night.

Yes, he's a surf instructor; but Jason Weber also uses the waves as an 'empowerment tool' in his ocean therapy sessions

Jason Weber is more than a surf instructor, offering ocean therapy sessions as well. From his line of thinking, if a person can conquer his or her fears about learning to surf, that person can then open other doors of opportunity in life. He's come to teach his beliefs after years of surfing, the study of meditation and yoga in India and in conquering his own fears. My story on Weber for the "On the Job" series in the San Diego Union-Tribune's North County edition:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alex Smith trying to shake off bad game, get ready for Seattle

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After throwing three interceptions in a loss to the Giants Sunday, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is trying to regroup and get ready for the Seahawks Thursday night. If history is an indication, he should be OK.

Raiders concerned about return of penalty problem

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Dennis Allen so far this season had gotten rid of one longtime Oakland problem: penalties. Until Sunday, that is.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Raiders lost, but improvement was noticeable

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland improved in several key areas after its bye week. Though the Raiders lost to Atlanta to drop to 1-4, they're encouraged by what they saw.

Harbaugh now faces biggest challenge with 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After his team was pounded by the Giants Sunday in a 26-3 loss, Jim Harbaugh must get his team regrouped in just three days before the resurgent Seahawks visit for a Thursday night game this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Niners overpowered by Giants in NFC title game rematch

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco falls flat -- and is flattened -- in a 26-3 loss to the Giants in highly anticipated rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game.

Raiders improve, but not enough, in loss to Falcons

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland showed some improvement after its bye week, and had a chance to beat the unbeaten Falcons, but came up just short.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Raiders are committed to run game vs. Falcons

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: After a bye week and extra practice, the Raiders are hoping to get their running game on track Sunday, but beating the 5-0 Falcons will be a tall order.

49ers eager for Sunday's rematch with Giants

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: It's just one game on the 2012 schedule, but for the 49ers, Sunday's game against the Giants is an opportunity to get back at the team that knocked them out in last season's NFC title game. Both teams have good QBs, strong defenses and play physical football, so Sunday's game could go down to the wire.

Harbaugh's message to his 49ers: Beware of little guys with bad messages, particularly Mr. Freddy P. Soft

According to 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Frederick P. Soft is 4 inches high and sits on players' shoulders, telling them how good they are. Harbaugh lives in fear of Freddy P. invading his locker room and infecting his players. My story for's Playbook section:

Sometimes, cats & dogs are purrrfect companions; at San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, cheetahs and dogs are best friends

Cheetahs would rather run than fight, and why not? They're the fastest land animal in the world. But they're extremely skittish. So, for four decades the zoo and Safari Park in San Diego have been pairing cheetahs with relaxed, affable pound puppies. The cheetahs take their cues from the dogs and figure everything is OK, and there's no danger. The dogs, meanwhile, get a lifetime playmate. The mixed marriage is a winner for both. My story on the big cats and smaller dogs for the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kyle Williams eager for rematch with Giants

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Kyle Williams, who flubbed two plays against the Giants in last season's NFC Championship Game loss, is excited about the opportunity to play them again this Sunday.

Raiders plan to stick with the run vs. Falcons

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders haven't found their running game yet, but it's possible they could get it going against the Falcons, who are 27th in the NFL in rushing defense.

Idaho's little Kibbie Dome might be college football's most different venue

In Moscow, Idaho, far from the beaten path of major-college football, Idaho's Vandals play in the Kibbie Dome, the smallest-capacity stadium in big-school football. It's a place like no other, where the wooden roof, translucent panels and just over 16,000 seats create a unique atmosphere. And today, while college football programs jockey for position, moving from conference to conference, the Kibbie is perhaps emblematic of the haves and have-nots in the Football Bowl Subdivision. My story on the Kibbie Dome for's Playbook Section:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Former Hawaiian kid is now attacking the frozen slopes on his snowboard

After losing his leg in a traffic accident, Evan Strong -- already a competitive skateboarder -- decided to say "yes" to everything that life offers. After getting used to his prosthesis, he plunged back into skating, then took up cycling, rock climbing, surfing and snowboarding. Now the U.S.'s top para-snowboarder is looking forward to competing in the debut of snowboarding in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. My story for

Olympic swimmer Vanderkaay basking in London afterglow

Peter Vanderkaay has competed in three Olympics and won four medals, including two golds. Now that he's back in his native Michigan, pondering his next move, he can look back at a long Olympic swimming career and feel blessed for the experiences he's had and the people he's met. My story for the U.S. Olympic site,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Raiders hope Carter can give pass rush a jolt

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Andre Carter, elected to the Pro Bowl last year with the Pats, recently was signed by the Raiders as a free agent. They hope he can help their weak pass rush.

Niners' Alex Smith keeps getting better and better

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Two years ago, 49ers fans were showering Alex Smith with boos and calls for his backup. Today, Smith leads the NFL in passer rating and is 17-4 over his last two seasons.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Raiders McKenzie doesn't like losing, but is patient

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie is frustrated by the Raiders' poor start but is trying to be patient and concentrate on the big picture.

Niners' offense is run by an 'evil genius'

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Greg Roman had never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL before coming to the 49ers. Now, Roman is the so-called "evil genius" behind a unit that's steamrolling through the NFL.

49ers' offense clicking on all cylinders in win over Bills

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco sets record for offense with 621 yards in 45-3 blowout of the Buffalo Bills.