Airwaves: Giving thanks to the Bay Area sports scene

I always wonder what to write about this time of year. We still have a great amount of time before the Super Bowl is played and the BCS is still more than a month away. So staying with tradition, we all have a lot to be thankful for in the world of sports nationally and locally. Of course, the cynics would say and write that between the A’s, Sharks, Warriors, Raiders, 49ers and Giants there isn’t much to be thankful for on the local scene, but I disagree:

– We should be thankful that we are on this side of the ocean and not in some foxhole in the desert.

– We should be thankful we live in a country and area where we can basically, if within the law, do and say what we want.

– We should be thankful we have a great sports radio station in KNBR (680 AM). I have traveled a great deal this year and there are some real bad sports radio stations out there.

– We should be thankful that KNBR has wonderful hosts like Ralph Barbieri, Tom Tolbert and, of course, Gary Radnich. Throw the great Tony Bruno on that list and you will not find a better group anywhere in the country.

– We should be thankful for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. This concept is a good one and has provided all of us with a huge amount of local coverage and commentary.

– We should be thankful we have two outstanding universities in the area that are playing high-level football this fall. Although Cal won the Big Game, Stanford has had a fantastic year.

– We should be thankful that we have one of the country’s hidden secrets in basketball. Yup, the St. Mary’s hoops team is an exciting group to watch. Athletic director Mark Orr has been magical with the entire sports program out in Moraga.

– We should be thankful we have De La Salle High School in this area.

– We should be thankful John Madden is a Bay Area resident. I miss Madden on TV, he can still be heard each morning on KCBS (740 AM) radio. Thank you, Doug Harvill, for supplying that.

– We should be thankful that on any given Saturday or Sunday, we can view almost every game being played that day.

– We should be thankful that there are a ton of bowl games yet to played and a whole bunch of NFL playoff games in the near future.

– We should be thankful to the “technology gods” who have developed cameras and high-definition TVs that literally make watching the games almost better than being there in person.

– We should be thankful we all have family, friends, co-workers and teammates that care about us!


‘Blind Side’ has its ups and downs

Zipping around the airwaves:

– I am not a fan of sports movies. Of course, there have been some great ones: “Hoosiers,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Knute Rockne,” to name a few.

But there are a lot more bad ones in the archives than good ones. I saw “The Blind Side” the other day, and it is average. Maybe because of my football background, I am too critical of football movies. The story is the moving, true tale  of a youngster, Michael Oher, who basically goes from being homeless to a first-round NFL draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens. The book, which shares the same title as the movie, was written by “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis.

Oher is played in the movie by newcomer Quinton Aaron. The lovely Sandra Bullock plays the mom who brings Oher into her family and basically looks after him. Bullock does not fit the role. She needs to stay with her hip, sarcastic, perky, action roles that she has played. Aaron stated in an interview that he had never met Oher. I find that strange.

If you are playing a person that is your age who is alive and well and living in this country, wouldn’t you and the director go see him and visit him? Weird!

– If the Comcast-purchasing-NBC deal actually happens, it will send shockwaves throughout the TV and entertainment world. Locally, you wonder what NBC would do. Will Raj Mathai join Greg Papa on a local talk show?

– With the kind of money that Comcast has, they could make a strong run at competing with ESPN for sports programming.

– Congrats to Monte Vista (Danville) linebacker Dave Wilkerson, who was selected to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Jan. 2. This game features the top 80 high school players in the nation.

Wilkerson, who is being heavily recruited by every Pac-10 Conference school, is a bone-crushing tackler. The game will be televised live by Fox College Sports and replayed 10 times by FCS and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Cal alum and ex-Cal assistant football coach Ron Hudson will coach the East.


On target

Once again the NFL commissioner is making all the right moves. Shortly, Roger Goodell will kick off the first version of the NFL player advisory forum. Goodell and newly appointed adviser Tony Dungy will conduct a series of meetings around the country, getting input from present day players covering a wide range of NFL issues. Between the commish and Dungy, this is a very positive step for the league and the players.



Mike Singletary
The very emotional and serious 49ers leader is becoming a very good head coach. “He cries a lot. I know that shatters perceptions,” Singletary’s wife, Kim, said recently when asked about the coach when he is at home. I do not love everything Singletary does, but he didn’t draft Alex Smith.

Karen Hardy
“I don’t think the Raiders have the best reputation for the way they operate in general. I am not trying to be mean, just an observation,” the former Santa Clara planning board commissioner said when responding to a rumor the Raiders might be a co-tenant in the new 49ers’ stadium. Now, if that ever becomes a reality, believe me, it will be interesting to say the very least.


One to watch

Today on CBS at 1:05 p.m., the Jacksonville Jaguars come to S.F. to play the 49ers. Now this game has no real league significance nor will it make or break either of these two teams’ average seasons. However, the guy roaming the sidelines for Jacksonville is a Bay Area native. Hayward High School’s very own Jack Del Rio is the coach of the Jags. I know his family will be out in mass to welcome him home. Here is wishing Jack the best of luck and welcome back to the Bay Area.


Sports by numbers

1-4 49ers’ record on the road this season

16 Combined points the 49ers have lost their four road games by

3-2 49ers’ record at home this season

Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at

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