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Gobble Up Some Thanksgiving Football

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Gobble Up Some Thanksgiving Football

Sports

Gobble Up Some Thanksgiving Football

Gobble Up Some Thanksgiving Football

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131465639/131465659" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Turkey Day's afoot, and that means football! NPR's Scott Simon and Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine preview the Thanksgiving games and talk about the latest news from the NFL.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

It's time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: The Bears. The Bears. Hey, did I mention the Bears? All right, didn't win the Super Bowl but they did beat Miami 16 to zip this week. They're seven and three and leading the NFC North. And I know I'm not going to get a chance to talk about them for the rest of the season.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: So ESPN's Howard Bryant joins us. How are you, Howard?

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Goodness, Scott. He's giddy. He's giddy. It must not be baseball season. Your Bears are in first place.

SIMON: I can't - but you know what? I've got to say, I don't think they could beat Boise State.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Boise State won 51-zip last night over Fresno State.

Mr. BRYANT: Yeah, pretty impressive.

SIMON: A fact that they're not number one...

Mr. BRYANT: They still won't get a chance at the national championship game.

SIMON: Yeah, thank you. I'm glad to hear you say that. But okay, back to the Bears. Okay? Can they last?

Howard, are you there?

Mr. BRYANT: I am right here. I'm sorry. I could barely hear you. But the Bears are in great shape. I think the most impressive thing about them is despite their quarterback, whom I'm sure you've pulled out a few hairs watching Jay Cutler...

SIMON: He gets intercepted more than a mobster's phone calls. Yes?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I think with them is that they're playing - they're doing what the Bears have always done. Whenever there's been a good Bears team, the Bears play defense. The Bears are giving up only 14 and a half points a game. It's really tough to beat a football team that's giving up so few points.

And also, I think the thing about them as well - they've got a game lead in the division on Green Bay, but also they're 4-1 on the road. That's the part that you really - that's when you know you're a good team, when you can go away from home and you can win. Because you know when the weather changes and it becomes a really difficult place to play in Chicago, then you've got the weather advantage there as well.

So I think that, dare I say, things are looking up in Chicago right now.

SIMON: I don't think you've ever said that in our conversations.

Mr. BRYANT: 2005.

SIMON: The most impressive football played this week, though, Michael Vick of the Eagles. Now, he gets out of prison after running a dog fighting ring. Now making appearances for the Humane Society. And he is playing the best football of his life.

Mr. BRYANT: Yeah, he's playing the best football of his life. And he seems rededicated to actually caring more about his talent and caring more about his gifts. And I think he's made the - I think he's made a great transformation.

I'm very cautious, however, because this is one of the things that we tend to do in sports is because now that a player is playing well, then suddenly all is forgiven. And I think that all can be forgiven with Michael Vick for what he did. But his football playing abilities and what he's done off the field should have nothing to do with each other.

And I'm always one of those people who's a little skeptical about the reclamation story, simply because would we be saying these things had he not been playing well or had he not been in the league right now? Would we even care about him had he not been in the league right now?

As always, this is a talent business. And when someone is recognizing their talent through good play, suddenly everything else follows in kind of a contrived script. So I stay away from both. I would imagine that I try to separate the two.

But Michael Vick is playing the best football of his career. He's the best football player in the league right now. And I think that this is the real reason - when the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on him he was a bargain basement commodity and the gamble was that if he is any bit close to what he used to be as a player, this is going to be a steal. And he was better than the quarterback that they had - Donovan McNabb.

SIMON: Yeah. Two games - how many games? Three games on Thanksgiving.

Mr. BRYANT: Oh, yeah. Three games on Thanksgiving. Two that are worth caring about. You've got the Patriots and the Lions. It's a good - the Detroit Lions, as much as we like to laugh about them because they've been so horrible, they're not a bad team. And that's going to be a difficult game for the Patriots.

SIMON: All the games they've lost seem to have been just by, you know, three or six points.

Mr. BRYANT: Exactly. And Detroit is - their differential - they are 2-7, but they are averaging 24 points a game and giving up 23 points a game. So everything is close for them.

And the other game that's going to be a good game is the Bengals and the Jets. Two - you know, the Bengals are going in the other direction. But both the Patriots and the Jets are in such close races this year in the AFC East that you have to pay attention to each game.

SIMON: Yeah. Let me - have we see the last of Brett Favre?

Mr. BRYANT: I hope so. I hope we have, because it's time. I think he should have retired last year. I think that when you're...

SIMON: After last year.

Mr. BRYANT: After last - I think he should have retired after last season. He game his best in the NFC championship game, which, of course, ended in an interception. And it was just time for him. It's time for someone else. That's a championship team. And they're not going to be in championship contention this year. It's time to go.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com, ESPN the magazine and ESPN the turkey baster.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRYANT: As always.

SIMON: Somebody snuck that in the script. Nice talking to you also. Thank you.

Mr. BRYANT: OK, Scott, we'll see you.

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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