NFL Playoffs, Baseball's Steroids Probe The NFL playoff picture will be settled this weekend, and one team will limp in. Meanwhile, baseball again faces its steroid problems.
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NFL Playoffs, Baseball's Steroids Probe

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NFL Playoffs, Baseball's Steroids Probe

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

NFL playoffs, steroids, bowls, bowls, bowls, lots to talk about this week in sports. Joining us is Howard Bryant. He is a staff writer for the Washington Post.

Good morning.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Linda. How are you?

WERTHEIMER: Good. First, let's talk about the NFL. There are five teams with a seven-and-eight record fighting for an NFC playoff spot. How bad do you have to be to get into the post-season?

BRYANT: Well, obviously, not bad enough. This is a battle for mediocrity. You'd think that when you have seven losses or eight losses on the last week of the season, you could make your vacation plans. But you've got too many teams that have a chance to make the playoffs. You've got the...

WERTHEIMER: Most likely to succeed would be what, do you think?

BRYANT: Most likely to succeed, I think, are the New York Giants - Tiki Barber's last game. And they've got - they're the only team that really has the best chance to win and need the least amount of help. Every other team, you have to come up with some crazy formula to get them in mathematically.

WERTHEIMER: Well, I think it doesn't hurt them that they're playing our own Washington Redskins.

Howard, we've had another twist in the ongoing baseball steroid scandal. An appeals court in San Francisco has signed off on the government's use of evidence, the names of 100 players who've tested positive for steroids. What does this mean for baseball, do you think?

BRYANT: Well, it means the story never ends. And it also means that finally, there's going to be some consequences to this whole story. You have the Baseball Players Association fighting an appeal, and I understand the players association's belief about privacy and about where does this go, how far does this story go to uncover the, you know, to uncover what they think is the - they think it's a scourge. We all know that it is.

But I think that the real issue here is when you get - when you go down this road and you have these reporters in San Francisco who are going to jail, and you have the players using their money to try and avoid the truth, it's a question of how far is the government willing to go to get to the bottom of this?

And I think that baseball is finding out that this story can't just be - you can't just bury it over the course of the season. Sooner or later, we're going to get to the end of this story. And now, if these players' names get uncovered - you've got a hundred players who've said that they didn't do anything, and now we'll find out. I think the real issue is what happens if we find out all 100 and if Mr. Barry Bonds is one of them?

WERTHEIMER: Let's look at college football for a second. Bowl fever, the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, number three Michigan faces number seven USC. Both teams are looking to prove something, like maybe they should be number one.

BRYANT: Yeah, maybe they should be number one. But the nostalgia and the - I like big stories. And I was really hoping that we were going to get round two of Michigan and Ohio State. I know that USC has been the team to beat the last couple years, even though they didn't win last year but they went to the championship game. And you know that Michigan really believes they should have beaten Ohio State. But I like rivalries. And it think that it would have been great for college football to have those two teams, Ohio State and Michigan, play one more time on the big stage.

WERTHEIMER: I'm with you. Thank you very much, sports writer Howard Bryant.

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