Right Field

The Handshake Heard ’Round the World

Oh, please. This is giant nothing burger, yet Peter King of Sports Illustrated finds the time to waste electrons on the post-game kerfuffle between Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz over a kinetic handshake:

The postgame handshake is supposed to be an example of the sportsmanship the NFL stands for, which is why I think the NFL has to discipline both coaches in the wake of what happened Sunday. On all the TV shows, including my stint on NBC, as much attention (maybe more) was paid to the bizarre sights of an orgasmic Harbaugh and a losing-it Schwartz than to an incredible game between two of the best teams in football, and certainly there were more sound bites pertaining to the fight than to what happened in three tense hours of football at Ford Field.

At NBC, we not only used the accusatorily mellow sound bite of Schwartz and the mea-culpa bite from Harbaugh, but also looked at the Baltimore-Houston game. Instead of celebrating another great game by Ray Lewis or another steamroller game by Ray Rice, Jim’s brother John, the coach of the Ravens, joked about fights he got into when he was a kid with Jim. Not blaming us; the coaching confrontation was the wildfire story of the day at 7 p.m., for better or worse, and our job at NBC was to mirror that, cover it from all angles, and reflect what everyone was talking about.

Point is, the actions of Harbaugh and Schwartz took away from a great football game. I don’t care who started it, or who was most at fault. Fines will be fine, but there’s something else the league should do: Make each coach either do a PSA about sportsmanship, or appear at a school, with the local media covering it, to talk to student athletes about the importance of sportsmanship. Sorry if I come off like your nerdy, ancient high school gym teacher, but the NFL will be taking the easy way by taking $15,000 from each coach and leaving it at that. Make this a teaching moment.

Orgasmic? Um, OK.

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