Playoffs Offer Aging Legends One More Chance
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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NFL playoffs continue this week and the most compelling characters could be a couple of graybeards trying to get one more chance in the Super Bowl. ESPNs Howard Bryant joins us. Howard, thanks very much for being with us.
Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Good morning, Scott. Happy New Year.
SIMON: And happy New Year to you. Of course, I mean Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings. Now, Kurt Warner had a historic game last week with just four incompletes but five touch-down passes. But he had to throw so many touch down passes because the Cards defense is like a screen door.
Mr. BRYANT: Yeah, exactly, its going to be an amazing weekend of football game. The only thing that I ask of these players is that they cease and desist with their life and death metaphors with whats going on in Haiti and just play their games. But, I think that this is going to be one of the best, best football playoffs going because you have so many motivated teams. You have got a great story line with Brett Favre trying to get there one more time. Hes been to two Super Bowls but hasnt been to one in 11 years.
And Kurt Warner - lets not forget that the Cardinals are the defending National Football Conference champions. They lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl. You know, its not necessarily an upset. Theyre just defending their crown. Youve got the Dallas Cowboys who finally won a play-off game. And they are the best team going in in their conference. And then youve got two other teams that are trying to do something that theyve been trying to cap off for a while, which is the Chargers trying to finally get over the hump and go to the Super Bowl.
And the Colts, who blew a chance at going undefeated, seemingly on purpose.
Mr. BRYANT: And now theyre trying to win the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.
SIMON: Heres a great line up. Can I talk about Kurt Warner?
Mr. BRYANT: Kurt Warner is tremendous. And lets not forget that when he left the Rams, people thought his career was over. He went to the Giants and didnt do a whole lot there. And he was a backup in Arizona and was supposed to...
SIMON: Yeah. But you know what he did do, he accepted his backup status. He helped the quarterback that he was supposed to tutor.
My point is, everything I read about Kurt Warner convinces me that he is just a sterling human being, up to and including all of his activities in the community. And he plays so well at the age of 38. Tell me hes not on steroids.
Mr. BRYANT: Well, I always steer clear of talking about what stellar human beings these athletes are, because I dont know them outside of the field. I only know them in their office. But for everything that weve seen, he is a tremendous, tremendous individual and I agree with you.
Most players who have won back to back MVPs would pout and complain when they were made a backup. Some of them wouldnt even play at all. I remember Allen Iverson had threatened to retire instead of being made a backup. He wouldnt even sit on the bench for a few minutes. So it does show a complete lack of ego on his part, and the fact that he can still play at this level is also great.
SIMON: Yesterday Gilbert Arenas the Washington Wizards entered a guilty plea for bringing guns into the team locker room. He said he did it to get them out of his house in Virginia and out of reach of his children, and he brandished them just as a joke. Is he finished in D.C. and/or the NBA?
Mr. BRYANT: It would seem so that he needs at least a new start. Hes got too much talent to be finished in the NBA. I think one of the problems that we have in the sports department is we try to make things so simple. This is not a simple case. We have a drug cult - I mean not a drug - a gun culture in our society. And I think that it trickles into the sports leagues. I remember when I had breakfast with Tony Dungy a couple of weeks ago and he said when he was coaching the Colts, he asked how many players in the room had guns and the whole team raised their hand.
SIMON: Oh my.
Mr. BRYANT: So this is something that hes going to have to deal with and be responsible for but at the same time I think theres a larger question at work too.
SIMON: Well, next time I have breakfast with Peyton Manning, Ill ask him. I had lunch with Tony Dungy. Howard, thanks so much.
Mr. BRYANT: My pleasure.
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