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Sports: Clemens' Trial, NFL, College Football

SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: And I love sports. Perjury charges, bar brawls, speeding. In fact, I'm working on a TV pilot.


SIMON: Law and Order: Sports. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us.

Hi there, Tom.


SIMON: Let's begin with Roger Clemens, because a federal judge ruled on Friday that Mr. Clemens got to stand trial again on perjury charges for his testimony before a congressional committee on steroids. Now, this is an expensive and time-consuming case. Roger Clemens was a baseball pitcher. He wasn't a corporate executive, wasn't an elected official. Why is this case important to prosecutors?

GOLDMAN: Well, I think, you know, it's important for prosecutors and I think the U.S. district judge who ruled yesterday it's important to uphold the law. And these are pretty serious charges. There's some say that Clemens if he's found guilty of the charges you mentioned could go to jail.

So, you know, after this crazy scene in July when U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in the case because prosecutors presented evidence that Walton previously ruled they couldn't, he decided yesterday that they can go ahead with a second trial. He figured that the prosecutors didn't deliberately disobey his orders. In legalese, they just screwed up. So now he set a second trial date for next April 17th. Clemens' lawyers can appeal. So that date is not cast in stone.

SIMON: And I want to ask about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Is he inconsistent, let me put it that way, for letting the former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel slip back into the NFL as some kind of a consultant after being drummed out of college football while his former quarterback, Terrell Pryor, has to sit on the sidelines for a few games?

GOLDMAN: Well, we shall see. That's the big question. When Pryor was - who was going to serve a suspension had he stayed at Ohio State for his involvement in that scandal, he would've faced a five game suspension. When he entered the NFL recently, Roger Goodell said, well, you'll serve that suspension up here. Welcome to the league.

And people said at the time, well, if say Jim Tressel gets a job, the coach, in the NFL will he be equally suspended? Tressel got a job yesterday with the Indianapolis Colts. Now everyone's waiting to see what, if anything, happens.

I emailed an NFL spokesman yesterday with that question about possible equal punishment. The response, late on a Friday: We just became aware of this report and we'll look into it to determine the facts.

SIMON: Today, first day of the college football season. A couple of chastened powerhouses meet in Cowboys Stadium. LSU and Oregon will both have star players out. Along the sidelines, both teams are going to have doctors, trainers and bail bondsmen.


SIMON: I beg your pardon.

GOLDMAN: Good one.

SIMON: Yeah. It's kind of hard to know who's playing the game, isn't it?

GOLDMAN: It is. Number 3 Oregon, number 4 LSU, most highly anticipated game today. And really, Scott, what self-respecting college team isn't starting the season with players suspended. The question is which team is hurt more. LSU is missing its starting quarterback and a top receiver. Oregon is missing a top punt returner and defensive specialist. I'm actually going to give LSU the nod here, because that starting quarterback wasn't so effective last year. And they've got a really good offensive line to protect the replacement quarterback.

SIMON: Yeah. All right. Let me correct myself. The college football season started on Thursday. Wisconsin had a great game, didn't they, come to think of it?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, they did.

SIMON: How my boys at Boise State can't wear blue uniforms on their blue field. What's that? What, the Philadelphia Eagles aren't going to be able to wear green uniforms on a green field?

GOLDMAN: I know. I know. And god forbid they bring in the Blue Man Group for halftime entertainment.


GOLDMAN: Chaos in Boise, Scott. But, you know, you and other Boise State fans are really hopeful about this season. They've got a lot of seniors. They've got a great quarterback in Kellen Moore. And they're hoping that finally the little team that could can break through and get to that BCS Championship game.

SIMON: I hope so. Roll, Blue, Roll. Go Broncos. NPR's Tom Goldman.

Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.