Saturday sports: March Madness begins; Browns acquire Watson despite harassment suits
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it's time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: March Madness upon us. Brittney Griner is still being detained in Russia. And a controversial trade in the NFL. We're joined now by NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: March Madness began this week. The upsets began to arrive. Saint Peter's - small school in Jersey City. Saint Peter, by the way, as you know, the patron saint of fishermen, shipbuilders and locksmiths.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, I did know that.
SIMON: What did - really? What did they do to Kentucky?
GOLDMAN: They beat them.
GOLDMAN: And it's the Saint Peter's Peacocks. I'm assuming when we talk next in a couple of weeks, you will have devised a Peacocks chant. But that - the 15th seed...
SIMON: You got me going right now. OK. Go ahead, yeah?
GOLDMAN: (Laughter) The 15th-seeded Peacocks beat the No. 2 Kentucky - beat No. 2, Kentucky - biggest shocker in the men's tournament so far through the first round. There were several other exciting games, but, you know, Scott, no real mayhem, with office brackets being shredded everywhere. That's when it's great, when there's anarchy.
SIMON: But let me ask you about Mike Krzyzewski. Of course, it's last tournament appearance for Duke's storied, imminent and widely admired coach. What's the outlook for that team?
GOLDMAN: So far, so good. Duke won its first-round game 78-61 over Cal State Fullerton - not a surprise. Duke's a No. 2 seed like Kentucky - Cal State a 15. But you know, Scott, it was a necessary win. The Blue Devils lost Coach K's final home game and then the conference championship game a week later. He said he thought his players were paying too much attention to him and his imminent retirement. They were playing tight, so they needed to forget about him, just play ball, and they did that versus Cal State. Next up tomorrow, a meeting with Michigan State and another coaching legend, Tom Izzo.
SIMON: Brittney Griner, great American WNBA superstar, still detained in Russia. What do we know about the latest?
GOLDMAN: According to TASS, her detention on allegations of drug smuggling is being extended to May 19. That's 13 days after the start of the WNBA season. It's also reported she's seen her Russian legal adviser several times, that her physical condition is OK. You know, Scott, meanwhile, there's concern that her case isn't being talked about more in this country. Critics say if an NBA star were in the same position, it would be everyday news.
SIMON: Let me just add, I've been told - trying to find out about this by sources - diplomatic sources at the State Department doesn't encourage a lot of attention to her detention right now, as they routinely don't in these cases. They tell family and friends that could be counterproductive to getting officials to actually...
SIMON: ...Release her. Tom Brady is back after two weeks of retirement. There's that story. The Cleveland Browns announced they're acquiring a quarterback, and that shakes a lot of people up.
GOLDMAN: A very good quarterback - Deshaun Watson - supremely talented. You know, he sat out all last season with legal problems. Nearly two dozen women, massage therapists, accuse Watson of sexual misconduct and even assault. He denies it. About a week ago, a grand jury decided not enough evidence to criminally charge him, and that opened the floodgates for teams wanting to sign him even though he still faces more than 20 civil lawsuits and possible suspension by the NFL. Scott, the Cleveland Browns are going to take a lot of heat for this. But, you know, in the NFL, if you want to contend for a title, you need a top quarterback, apparently even one with a ton of baggage.
SIMON: And Mikaela Shiffrin - she's really a winner, isn't she?
GOLDMAN: Oh, she won her fourth overall World Cup alpine skiing title this week (laughter) after a pretty disastrous Olympics in which she was notable for her humor and honesty in failing so publicly - a nice comeback for her.
SIMON: Tom Goldman, thanks.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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