A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 10:20 A.M.
Super Bowl Sunday is usually a day of fun for the American sports fan. Gather with friends or sit with family and watch the game (and commercials). Yesterday was no different for most of you, I'm sure. And it was a game worth watching, with the Giants scoring late, Tom Brady trying to drive the Patriots down the field as time expired and a Hail Mary to end it all. Throughout the day, the nation's eyes were transfixed on its television sets. And it was the day NBC picked to show the country Steve Gleason's fight with ALS, which you can watch below. Read on.
• Found the above video last night and thought about writing about it then. But I was too emotional. So I decided to wait until this morning to share my thoughts. First a bit of backstory. As you probably know, Steve Gleason grew up in Spokane, attended Gonzaga Prep, where he was a football and baseball standout, and then traveled down the road to Washington State, where he played both sports as well. After leaving the Cougars, he played in the NFL, most notably in New Orleans with the Saints. Never a star but always a team player, he did have his moments, as Peter King's report details. After retiring, Steve probably would have receded into the background of our lives if not for the cruel blow life dealt him not all that long ago. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal nerve disorder.
• All of that has been covered in this space before, as was Steve's football-season trip to Pullman to raise the Cougar flag and wave the Team Gleason flag, all the while being watched by his mom, Gail, who works with WSU athletes in academic support. Though Steve's goal then and now is to inspire, to show ALS patients that, to quote the Team Gleason website, they “can not only live but thrive after this diagnosis,” his circumstances still bring sadness and pain to the surface. It's not easy to watch the video above, to talk with Steve or anyone in his family, without letting your emotions go. It's not what he wants, that's obvious, but it is what it is. At such times I've always felt it's not how you feel but how you respond. If you want to react with a prayer, if that's your way, great. If you want to make a donation, you can on the website. Or if, like me, you just want to keep Steve's one statement in your head as you go through your day, the one the video ends with, then that's fine too. “Because we all have a timeline, Peter. Most of us don't live like we have a timeline.” I think it will make my life better and for that, I thank Steve.
• OK, let's get back to the game. We have a bunch of links for you. As most of you probably saw the action, we're not going to link game stories. But the links we've had in these past three sentences have been to a bunch of columns from the New York Daily News and the Boston Herald, from guys who have seen the Patriots and Giants all year. … That being said, I want to talk commercials, as they were the point of emphasis to about 40 percent of the viewers in my home – and an interest to me as well. We have a poll below asking your opinion on the best ones (I still vote for the longer version of the Jerry Seinfeld/Acura commercial I had up yesterday, but the short one that showed on the show is in the poll as well). Did you like the dog chasing the Volkswagen? Or the supermodel who morphed into a Fiat (I drove a Fiat for a while and the mechanic who worked on it weekly certainly didn't look like that woman)? How about Betty White telling folks her eyes were up here? Anyhow, vote. You can see all the ads here on YouTube if you want to refresh your memory. … The halftime show had another controversial moment, though I didn't notice it (and I watched). … As for the rest of the day in sports, we cover it below. But let me warn you. There isn't a lot.
• UPDATE: Do you want to go to the GU/Loyola game at the Kennel on Saturday? If you're a college hoops fan, this week's current-events quiz is a winner: A lucky entrant will win two tickets to Saturday's Gonzaga men's game against Loyola. And the overall winner will take $50 to the Davenport Hotel. Good luck to everyone! You don't have to win the news quiz to get the ticket, just participate. Click here to take the quiz.
• Gonzaga: About all we have to pass along is a link to Jim Meehan's day-after post from Pepperdine, which might have gotten lost yesterday in the Super Bowl flotsam and jetsam.
• Washington State: Breaking news from Pac-12. The conference has extended commissioner Larry Scott's contract through 2016. You can read more below. … Christian Caple has more Cougar and conference news in his morning post. … There is more on Gleason's story from Brian Floyd on Coug Center. … Can Oregon win the conference title? Thursday, when they host Washington might tell the tale. By the way, the Ducks lost at Colorado after a game-ending foul was ruled, by replay, to have occurred with 0.1 on the clock. I know it isn't a celebration technical, but it has some of the earmarks of karma. … ESPN has its weekly power rankings. … And Ted Miller does a post-signing day power ranking on the ESPN.com Pac-12 football blog.
• Here is the Pac-12's release on Scott …
WALNUT CREEK, CALIF. - The Pac-12 Board of Directors, consisting of all 12 university presidents, unanimously extended the contract of Commissioner Larry Scott through 2016 with options to add additional years in the future, it was announced today.
During his first two years, Scott orchestrated a rebranding of the Conference with messages of innovation, excellence, and the advantages of West Coast location at its core, and led it through expansion for the first time since 1978. His leadership efforts helped deliver equal revenue sharing for the first time in Conference history, secure a landmark media rights agreement with FOX and ESPN and led to the creation of the Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network. Most recently, Scott has developed a globalization initiative that will allow the Conference to pursue new frontiers for the member institutions. The initiative has started with the Pac-12 exploring athletic, academic and cultural exchanges in China.
“My fellow board members and I are delighted to have reached a long-term agreement with the commissioner to continue his excellent work on behalf of the Pac-12,” said Ed Ray, President of Oregon State University and Chairman of the Pac-12 Board. “We are on the brink of a period of extraordinary accomplishment and excellence throughout the Pac-12 and Larry’s continued leadership and vision for the Conference are critical elements in realizing that potential.”
Scott, 47, became the sixth commissioner of the Conference on July 1, 2009. He came to collegiate athletics after serving six years as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (Women's Tennis Association), where he helped generate unprecedented growth and popularity for women's professional tennis on a global scale.
• Chiefs: No news but a fun feature from Jess Brown on a Chiefs' goalie and a sports writer of the same name. Worth reading.
• And that's our report for this fine Monday morning. Hope we didn't bum you out too much. We'll be on the radio today with Dennis Patchin and Keith Osso (you can listen at 3 p.m. here) talking about the Super Bowl. Of that I am sure. Until later …