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NFL Playoffs Kick Off New Year

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NFL Playoffs Kick Off New Year

Sports

NFL Playoffs Kick Off New Year

NFL Playoffs Kick Off New Year

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This is the last week of pro football's regular season. Next week, the playoffs begin. Guest host Jennifer Ludden talks with Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, who also offers his 2011 sports resolutions.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, Host:

Time now for football.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LUDDEN: Howard, we know you have some resolutions for the sports world. We'll get to those in a moment. First, let's look at Sunday's games. Who's playing to be a spoiler and who's playing to win?

HOWARD BRYANT: And, of course, you've got a game in the NFC as well which is not a spoiler game, it's a winner take all game between two mediocre teams - St. Louis and Seattle. If Seattle wins, they will be in the playoffs. If St. Louis wins, they get in. And of course, if Seattle wins it'll be the first time that a team with a losing record, 7-9, will actually win a division and make the playoffs.

LUDDEN: Hmm. OK, but, Howard, you know, for the uneducated in football like myself, explain what is the point of being a spoiler?

BRYANT: And also, believe me, all these guys know each other. A lot of these guys went to school together. There's a bragging rights element to this too, of being the one to knock one of your rivals out of the playoffs. And so at least in the off season, even if you didn't have a good season, at least you can remind your buddies that you were still good enough to keep them from reaching their goal too.

LUDDEN: OK, Howard, you are now the Zeus of the sports arena. Let's ask you, what New Year's resolutions do you have for the sports world?

BRYANT: Which means no rock music when you're going up to hit. No music when your closer is coming into the game. No pyrotechnics and the exploding scoreboards and such. Just the old times. Old organ music and the PA announcer announcing who's coming up to play. I think that the sensory overload - we can get that six days a week. I think Sunday should be nice and quiet.

LUDDEN: Bring back the Cracker Jacks?

BRYANT: And last but not least, I would think something for the fans. I think that both in the NBA and the NFL, going into 2011, you have potential work stoppages in both. You could have two leagues on strike. And I think that the most important thing for them would be to think about the fans and realize that the game only has value if the fans keep coming. And you really don't want to send the message to the fans that this game is no longer valuable.

LUDDEN: Sounds like something good to hope for. Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN the magazine, ESPN.com, and ESPN the party hat. Happy New Year.

BRYANT: Happy New Year, Jennifer. My pleasure.

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