Killion: Bay's biggest football star? Kid Luck


Killion: Bay's biggest football star? Kid Luck

Ann KillionCSNBayArea.comWhos the most famous active football player in the Bay Area?

Its not even close. And its not a member of one of our professional football teams.

The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is a 21-year old architectural engineering major from Stanford.

Andrew Luck.

Luck doesnt come off as the most famous football player in the land. He doesnt act like the hottest collegiate athlete on the globe. He doesnt carry himself like a guy that has the most powerful sports league in the country swooning over him.

He looks at himself as just a college kid, said his coach David Shaw.

And he is just a college kid. Speaking to the Bay Area this week, Luck was just a regular guy, albeit a nervous one. His knee jiggled spasmodically the entire time he was answering questions at a Bay Area football media day. He pulled on his fingers. He seemed like hed rather be just about anywhere else.

Hes the rare player that doesnt like all the attention, Shaw said. He just loves playing football.

Football will be different this season at Stanford. There are changes and there are ridiculous expectations. Improve on a 12-1 season? Compete for a national championship? Even a year ago, no one would have dreamed up such stuff. But last year and Lucks performance changed Stanfords world.

NEWS: Stanford sixth in Top 25 poll, Sooners No. 1

One expectation is that Luck the Heisman runner-up last year will win the trophy awarded to the most outstanding player in the land.

I try to take that in stride, he said. I understand, playing this position and being there last year, its natural for my name to be brought up. Im more focused on our team goal of winning a Pac-12 championship.

Another change is that there will be even more of the focus on Luck, without Jim Harbaughs larger-than-life presence distracting the spotlight.

Hes full of energy, he had a lot of attention on himself, Luck said of his former coach. He would walk in and command a room. Coach Shaw is a little more laid back, quiet.

That seems more in line with Lucks personality. Hes pretty laid back and doesnt seem to fully embrace the spotlight. At Pac-12 media day, he got a lot of attention for growing an Amish style, no-mustache beard. There was even a split screen image circulated comparing Luck and Brian Wilson.

But Luck showed up last week clean-shaven.

It was impulsive, he said of his decision It had to go.

He paid appropriate homage to the King of Facial Hair.

I do fear his beard, Luck said of Wilson.

Luck will get his degree next spring, shortly after he becomes the top draft pick in the 2012 draft, barring some unforeseen development. Hell get a year free of being badgered about whether or not hell turn pro. But that wont change the pressure that surrounds him, both this year and in the draft.

Luck is not a Twitter guy so he hasnt seen the hashtags circulating among Twitter-users who follow lousy NFL teams, particularly 49er followers. Those users have started to tag their tweets Suck4Luck. Translation: be lousy enough to get the top draft pick and win the Luck sweepstakes.

That seems a little stupid to me, Luck said.

Luck came back to Stanford to enjoy his final year as a college student and one more year in the Stanford jersey, though he notes that he wont be getting melodramatic, about his final Cardinal days.
REWIND: Stanford's Luck NFL-bound after this season

This will be a high stress year. Already the all-time Stanford leader in winning percentage, completion percentage and passing efficiency, Luck is closing in on other school records. And with both Oregon and USC reeling with NCAA issues, Stanford has a chance to do something special in the conference and in a bowl game.

Luck said he just wants to get better: at footwork, at reading defenses, at being a leader. He said he still gets nervous before games.

I dont throw up, he said. Im a little turned off by that. I try to stay cool and collected. I used to get a little more excited, but Ive mellowed out a little bit.

While he talked, his knee jiggled non-stop.

The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is still just a kid.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun


A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.

Magic Johnson to run Lakers front office, Mitch Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson to run Lakers front office, Mitch Kupchak fired

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin "Magic" Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," Jeanie Buss said. "Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness."

"It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family," said Earvin "Magic" Johnson. "Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions."

Jeanie Buss added, "I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again."

Regarding Mitch Kupchak, Jeanie Buss stated, "We are grateful for the many contributions Mitch has made to the Lakers over the years and we wish him all the best."

With regard to fellow owner and brother, Jim Buss, Ms. Buss said, "Jim loves the Lakers. Although he will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded. Our fans deserve no less."

In addition to the changes made within the basketball department, the Lakers also announced they have parted ways with John Black who had been the Lakers Vice President of Public Relations. Chief Operating Officer Tim Harris will immediately begin a search for a replacement. Jeanie Buss added, "We thank John for his many years of service."

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