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New NFL Record Holders Could Be Crowned This Season


And now it's time for sports.


MARTIN: The holidays are a perfect moment to sit back and turn on the game. Just in time, NPR's Mike Pesca is here to clue us into a couple of things to watch for today. Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey. And judging by the music, coming after the show, Kojak, Mannix and Beretta.

MARTIN: Maybe.

PESCA: Seventies cop music.

MARTIN: So, last night, a big NFL record was broken. Calvin Johnson - this is a big deal - a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions - he needed 182 yards to break Jerry Rice's record for the most receiving yards in a season. He did it. He got 225.

PESCA: Yeah. And I think coming into the game, there was actually a lack of fanfare about this record. The NFL and football in general has a weird relationship with individual records, especially not by quarterbacks. And it was kind of seen as maybe over the course of the next two games, Megatron - that's what they call Calvin Johnson - could break the record. But, you know, he just blew past, in a loss we should say, to the Atlanta Falcons. And even though we have heard on this very program that the wind sector is waning, the sports bloviation sector is not waning. And just a few weeks ago, the context of this is that Johnson was having some nerve damage and he actually dropped a couple of passes. And so people in Detroit were going a little nuts, including a columnist named Terry Foster for the Detroit News. He said Calvin Johnson has the yips, which has resulted in the drops. He is not playing like Megatron. There are reasons that go beyond excuses. Unfortunately, he has turned into Megadrop. Great turn of phrase. On his way to this record-setting, amazing season.

MARTIN: OK. So, as impressive as that is, there is another big record at stake: running back Adrian Peterson is nearing Eric Dickerson's record. He has two games to get enough yards. I mean, is this kind of strange that both these things are happening at the same time - the rushing and receiving records could go down in the same year?

PESCA: Yeah, it is strange. That's a pretty good observation, 'cause it tells us...

MARTIN: Well, thank you.

PESCA: ...something about the - absolutely - it tells us something about the state of football. I don't - I don't know if it's strange that the receiving record went down - but passing records are in jeopardy. Last year, Drew Brees set passing records. And it's a passing game. There are so many rules that favor the offense, and so many offenses that favor the pass. Rushing has become almost a forgotten or recondite skill, right? But Adrian Peterson is keeping it alive, and he's doing it without the help of a really good quarterback. He's doing it on a team that doesn't have a really good receiver, now that Percy Harvin goes down. He's like a one-man renaissance of rushing. I don't know if he'll achieve the record, but just doing what he's doing after an ACL injury that was supposed to keep him sidelined in the beginning of the season is quite impressive.

MARTIN: OK. So, do you have a curveball this week?

PESCA: Yeah, sure. Maybe you've seen this commercial...this is, there we go...


PESCA: ...some players dribbling. And listen, listen to what they're putting together.

MARTIN: I'm listening.

PESCA: Yeah.


MARTIN: Sounds...

PESCA: ...Christmassy.

MARTIN: Sounds like a Christmas carol.

PESCA: Yeah. It's the Christmas carol, "Carol of the Bells," which is...

MARTIN: I have seen this.

PESCA: ...yes - which is based on a Ukrainian folk song. That's why I wanted Slava Medvedenko to be one of the NBA players in the video. Alas, he was not, but they used guys like Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson and Dwight Howard. And they're all synchronized dribbling balls and they come up with this melody. I called the NBA, I said, you know, what anyone watching it would say: how do I get those jerseys? No, that's what they want me to say. How'd you do it? And it turns out the five guys were filmed separately. Think about this as you watch it, 'cause they're going to be replaying it over and over again on Christmas. The five guys were filmed separately, and how they did the synching of the dribbling was described to me as something like Guitar Hero. There were some flashing lights and the players were supposed to dribble as synchronized with the lights. And when they cut it all together, you get the "Carol of the Bells." You get Christmas cheer. You get commerce.

MARTIN: It's kind of cheating, but whatever. We'll give it to them. It's cool.

PESCA: It's what "Ebony and Ivory" of 2012, come on.

MARTIN: NPR's Mike Pesca. Hey, Mike, happy holidays.

PESCA: You too, Rachel.


MARTIN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.