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Super Bowl And Skullduggery: The Week In Sports


Time now for Sports.


SIMON: It's the weekend we've been waiting for - Luton Town play Cambridge United in some kind of game. And tomorrow, Katy Perry is the halftime show at the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks play at some point, too. Howard Bryant from espn.com and ESPN the magazine joins us from the studio of New England Public Radio in Emily Dickinson's hometown.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Two best teams in football playing tomorrow, yet most of the week we've talked about court cases, investigations and...


SIMON: That was a deflating object.


SIMON: Did you worry?

BRYANT: I thought you took a nap on me, Scott.

SIMON: (Laughter).


SIMON: Oh - there. There goes the other one. So, what does that mean?

BRYANT: Well, what it says to me is just how badly the NFL has taken their season. It's been a terrible year for them. It really is a shame if you're a big football fan, if you're a football fan at all. Because this is what we are looking for, pretty much since Thanksgiving. You've got the two best teams. The Seahawks are the defending champions. The Patriots were the best team in the AFC. The Patriots have been the team to beat for the last 15 years in the AFC. And really, they are a budding dynasty. They are a dynasty. And what are we talking about? We're talking about inflated or deflated footballs. We're talking about one player, Marshawn Lynch, who doesn't speak to the media and hasn't spoken to the media in years. We're talking about him not talking, when there are plenty of wonderful interviews on the Seattle Seahawks - Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor. There are a lot of great guys on that team, a lot of smart guys on that team. And it's really just emblematic of how poorly the NFL has handled their own product. This is your signature event. And I haven't really heard anybody talking about the game itself. I can't wait till tomorrow so all the rest of this stuff goes away.

SIMON: And yet, like, 150 million people all over the world are expected to see the game. Sponsors are going to pay about as much for a single ad as it costs to build an aircraft carrier.

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: Well, I - all right, let's get to the game, OK? I see Tom Brady and the Pats on offense and I think, nobody beats them. Then I see the Seahawks on defense and I think the same thing. How do you see it?

BRYANT: I think we're going to get a great game. I have been saying pretty much - even though I am a Bostonian, tried-and-true - I've been saying pretty much since October that I wouldn't bet against the champs. And the Seahawks are the defending champions. And my rule of thumb when it comes to playoff football is I'll take defense over offense any day of the week. And I think that the defense at the end of the day is going to come through for Seattle. And also, it wouldn't surprise me if the Patriots won. And I really don't think that there's a real favorite in this game. Everybody - both teams are motivated, everyone has something to play for here. I think it's going to be a fantastic event. I hope it doesn't turn into the debacle we had last year with Denver. I just want to see a great game and I think we're going to get one.

SIMON: We haven't made predictions in a while. I'm going to try one, OK? I'm going to say New England 31, Seattle 24.

BRYANT: Interesting. I said 31-20. So we're close.

SIMON: Oh - except you're in the other direction, right?

BRYANT: I'm the other direction, yes.

SIMON: OK. Before we go, Serena Williams won - what is it, her 50th Australian open today?

BRYANT: (Laughter). Tremendous. Serena wins her sixth Australian Open. Nineteenth Grand Slam title, breaking the tie with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Sixty-fifth career title. And let's not forget, she's got 13 Grand Slam titles with Venus Williams, as well, her sister. So they've got 32 titles together. It's an amazing effort. She controlled the match throughout, even though it turned in to be a real classic because Maria Sharapova, who hadn't beaten her in the last 15 times, gave a real effort. But at the end of the day, Serena and Venus together - the greatest pair of siblings American sports has ever produced. What a match. Fantastic.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of espn.com and ESPN the magazine...


SIMON: (Laughter). ...Thanks so much for being with us.

BRYANT: (Laughter). Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: BJ Leiderman does our theme music. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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