Kevin Blackistone On Sports

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The NFL is deep in the playoffs, college football coaches are jumping ship, and the NBA is suspending a gun-wielding player. And that all means it's time to check in with Kevin Blackistone, columnist for AOL Fanhouse and regular on ESPN's Around the Horn. Blackistone fills in host Guy Raz on the latest from the sports world.

GUY RAZ, host:

Now, Kevin Blackistone, first it was the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco twittering from the locker room. Now, it's a computer writing sports stories. Is there anything left for you to do?

Mr. KEVIN BLACKISTONE (Columnist, AOL Fanhouse): There better be. And I went to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and if they continue with this program, they've gotten their last alumni check from me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: That is Kevin Blackistone. He is a sports columnist for AOL and ESPN commentator. And Kevin, the NFL playoffs kicked off this weekend with a pretty dramatic start.

(Soundbite of football game)

Unidentified Man#1: And there it is, rookie coach, rookie quarterback come on the road to win, and the Jets will advance to the playoffs.

Unidentified Man#2: The Dallas Cowboys, for the first time in 13 years, win a post-season game.

RAZ: Both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets look pretty impressive.

Mr. BLACKISTONE: I wasn't surprised by the Dallas Cowboys, but I was surprised by the New York Jets. Here is a team coached by a rookie coach in Rex Ryan who just a few weeks ago, after a loss, pronounced his team out of the playoffs. He didn't know how the NFL works. And then they got into the playoffs, and he immediately announced that they were the team to beat for the Super Bowl.

A great win for them. Mark Sanchez, the rookie quarterback - one of the few rookie quarterbacks to actually win in the playoffs - just a year ago at USC was criticized by his coach at the time, Pete Carroll, for leaving to go to the NFL. Pete Carroll said he wasn't ready. Well, guess who's laughing now?

RAZ: Is this a kid that we should be looking out for for the next few years?

Mr. BLACKISTONE: Oh, there's no question. I mean, Mark Sanchez has star power written all over him. He's going to get better in this league. Sanchez has got charisma. He's mobile. He's smart. He's got a Latino background, which is very nice in the NFL, and going to be a great role model, I think, for kids from Hispanic backgrounds.

RAZ: Now, you mentioned Sanchez' coach, Pete Carroll, at USC. It turns out that he may be jumping to pro football, to the Seattle Seahawks. Why would a guy who has such a sweet deal in L.A., you know, the big school, the big money, big talent, move back to the pros when he had trouble there as a coach in the '90s?

Mr. BLACKISTONE: Pete Carroll may be just ahead of the posse. The NCAA, for a number of years now, has been USC football programs for rules violations, particularly those going around the recruiting and retainment of Reggie Bush. Pete Carroll had a rocky year, to say the least. In his tenure there this year, he's said to be in disagreement about how the program is going with the athletic director, Mike Garrett. And an opportunity came his way, and it sounds like he's going to take the money and run.

RAZ: Kevin, finally to a story that's really gripped NBA fans here in Washington, D.C. and really across the country, the Gilbert Arenas story. He's accused of bringing guns into the locker room at the Verizon Center. He's been suspended indefinitely. What does it say about his future in basketball?

Mr. BLACKISTONE: Well, I think his future as a Washington Wizard in particular is over. And now, he's actually facing a criminal investigation, which, who knows, could lead to jail time down the road. So this is a - this is really a horrible situation that Gilbert Arenas, a guy that everybody really has enjoyed throughout most of his career, has gotten himself into. And it's something that the team and the league absolutely cannot tolerate.

RAZ: That's Kevin Blackistone. He's a columnist for AOL Fanhouse. He's a commentator on ESPN's "Around the Horn" and all-around weekend sports guy for us here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Kevin, thanks.

Mr. BLACKISTONE: Thank you.

RAZ: And one more thing before you go.


RAZ: Did you watch the Liberty Bowl about a week ago?

Mr. BLACKISTONE: I saw so many bowl games, I'm not even sure.

RAZ: Well, did you see that computerized coin toss at the beginning?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BLACKISTONE: Oh, I did see that.

RAZ: So do you know what was up with that, Kevin?

Mr. BLACKISTONE: I sure don't.

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