The Week In Sports

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The Peyton Manning sweepstakes are under way; will he wind up a mile high? It's been a warm winter in many places, but one of America's great winter athletes has never been hotter. And, March Madness ahead! Tom Goldman joins host Scott Simon to talk about the latest sports stories.


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And I wait all week to say: Time for sports.


SIMON: The Peyton Manning sweepstakes are underway. Will they wind up a mile high? It's been a warm winter in many places, but one of America's great winter athletes has never been hotter. And madness lies ahead. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us.


God day to you, Scott.

SIMON: And let me ask you about Peyton Manning, apparently paying a visit to Denver. You know, with the high altitude there he should be able to throw the ball into Kansas. And there's a team there that's half a player away from a Super Bowl.

GOLDMAN: That's right. Denver Broncos. And people may wonder, well, gosh, what about a certain God-fearing football miracle-working quarterback named Tim Tebow. But Tim Tebow apparently to the Broncos brass did enough things wrong during the year that the Broncos may want to take a look at a healthy Peyton Manning. And if he wants to come to your team you're thinking, wow, I could get a couple of really good years out of him. He turns 36 in a couple of weeks. He reportedly would like to settle on a new team soon, within the next week even.

SIMON: Apparently, the New York Jets have decided to take a pass because they resigned Mark Sanchez to, what was it, a three extension on his contract, just under $60 million. Mark Sanchez some weeks is as popular as the Boston Red Sox in New York. This was kind of a surprise, wasn't it?

GOLDMAN: The oft-maligned quarterback Mark Sanchez, Scott. It obviously is good to be oft-maligned. Yeah, just under $60 mil. And for Manning that means, you know, not going to New York, which makes sense. His brother Eli owns the Northeast and New York right now. So...

SIMON: It's not Winter Olympics year, so maybe a lot of people aren't paying attention to what's happening on the ski slopes. But maybe we should? What's going on with the great Lindsey Vonn?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, I think in the case of Lindsey Vonn we should pay attention. She continues to dominate her sport. Yesterday in Sweden, she won her fourth overall world cup title. That's more than any American, man or woman, has ever done. So, Scott, let's raise our ski poles to one of those athletes we only really take notice of every four years at the Olympics.

SIMON: I guess we've got to talk about - time to talk about March Madness, right?

GOLDMAN: Um-hm, yeah.

SIMON: Starting next week - of course, last year, VCU crashed the party at the Final Four. What do you look for the Cinderella teams this year?

GOLDMAN: Murray State out of Kentucky. Murray State has a lot of juniors and seniors on the roster and that theoretically means they can handle tournament pressure. There's a lot of buzz about the Wichita State Shockers, a very good defensive team. So those are a couple you can fill in on your bracket.

SIMON: What about some of the projected top seeds? You know, and, of course, we've seen people falling over in the Big East. What about - who among the top seeds look good?

GOLDMAN: Well, yeah, as you mentioned, Syracuse and Kansas took missteps last night in their conference championships. It remains to be seen whether that hurts with them seeding in the Big Dance. But, you know, the one program that continues to look really good is Kentucky. Twenty-three straight wins, number one in the country.

And, Scott, a lot of people sneer at another Wildcats team dominated by freshmen. They call them the Childcats. And coach John Calipari is looked at as a sleaze ball who recruits guys for a year and then sends them to NBA.

SIMON: He doesn't like you either, Tom, but go ahead. Yeah?

GOLDMAN: I'm saying people look at him that way. You know, he's the king of the one and doners. But in his defense, he's working the system well. You know, it's a system that forces often NBA-ready players in high school to go to college for a year when often they don't want to. And that leads to problems, NCAA violations.

Calipari says he'd like to have basketball players stay in college longer. He even offers suggestions how they can do it. So let's give him - cut him some slack. He's got a really good team this year, too.

SIMON: Our favorite cheese ball, NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.


GOLDMAN: That's sleaze ball. You're welcome.

SIMON: No, cheese ball.

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