Battles And Bashes: What's News In Sports

From the NFL's ban on head-to-head hits, the change in the playoff structure and predictions for the Super Bowl, A. Martinez from member station KPCC joins NPR's Arun Rath to discuss the latest in sports news.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath. A. Martinez is the co-host of Take Two on member station KPCC and is a regular on sports radio KSPN here in L.A. A. joins us in the studio today to talk sports. A., it's Super Bowl weekend, so what's your prediction for tomorrow?

A. MARTINEZ, BYLINE: Well, all right. I've been going back and forth on this one. I think it's going to be a very close game, very evenly matched. It is the best offense we've seen in quite some time in the Denver Broncos and one of the better defenses we've seen in the Seattle Seahawks. So I got a feeling that it's still going to be Denver by about three points, about a 23-20 game. I think Peyton Manning will finally have his second Super Bowl.

RATH: I can't imagine two teams I would rather see facing off in the Super Bowl than these two.

MARTINEZ: Seattle's defense has stifled opponents all season long. They have just been absolutely dominant, and they choke opponents right at the neck. And Denver's offense is prolific. No one's ever seen an offense like that with the points they score and how quickly they score. So it'll be a nice contrast in styles when their offense goes against their defense.

RATH: So looking back over the year in football, helmet-to-helmet hits, they've been banned. According to the NFL, there were 228 concussions this season, which is a 13 percent drop from 2012. So problem solved?

MARTINEZ: I got into contact with some players in the NFL - some wide receivers, some running backs - and they were mentioning to me that instead of defenders going at them above the waist - maybe at their chest or at their head - they were starting to go down low toward their knees. And every single one of these football players that I spoke to would rather these defenders go at their head.

I asked them point blank. I said, would you rather have a concussion or a knee injury? And they all said, you know what, I can get through a concussion. If someone takes out my knees and blows it out, I may never play again. Football's a very dangerous sport. It's the possibility of danger. It's the possibility of someone getting hurt or someone delivering a big blow. That's part of the appeal of a sport like football, regrettably.

RATH: Speaking of changing rules in football, there is some rumbling now about changing the playoff structure for the NFL.

MARTINEZ: Right. There are 12 playoff teams, and the NFL is considering adding two more. Now, they won't be able to get that done for next season or possibly the one after. But the move is - or at the least the sentiment is - to try and add more playoff teams for a couple of reasons. Number one: each extra playoff game generates millions and millions of dollars for each of the cities that are involved and also for the television revenue. But it also adds a little bit layer of excitement in terms of cities that maybe have teams that just missed the playoffs.

Well, if all of a sudden, you've got a couple of extra spots to fight over, that means a couple of extra markets that are still interested in the season, but the playoffs will get watered down. And a team that maybe gets hot at the end of the season that isn't considered one of the best teams from game one all the way through game 16 might all of a sudden go on a roll, get into the Super Bowl, and you're thinking, well, were they really truly the best team. But if you tell a football fan I'm going to give you more football, they're never going to say no.

RATH: Before I let you go, I want to switch gears to basketball. As of today, Adam Silver is the new NBA commissioner, succeeding David Stern. What does Silver's new job mean for the NBA?

MARTINEZ: Well, he's got to continue what David Stern has established over the last 30 years. And it won't be that big of a stretch because Adam Silver has been at David Stern's side for the last 20. And some of the things that Silver will have in front of him is, number one, to repair the relationship that was frayed a little bit when the NBA players union and the league could not come up with a deal and there was a lot of games that were missed and they had to have a shortened season. So that's the first thing he would have to address.

And the other part of it too is addressing the draft, because there are certain teams in the NBA that are accused of tanking, of losing games on purpose so that they would have a higher possibility in the draft lottery the following season. Possibly address the playoff structure as well, because you know that the Miami Heat, you know, the Oklahoma City Thunder, you know that the best teams are pretty much in, and that takes a lot of the fun and spontaneity out of the playoffs.

RATH: A. Martinez is the co-host of Take Two on KPCC. A., thanks. Enjoy the game tomorrow.

MARTINEZ: Oh, absolutely. Thanks a lot.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: