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Sports: Patriots Vs. Tebow's Faith; Bonds Sentenced


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos face Tom Brady and the Boston Patriots this weekend. Will angels on high find it hard to choose? An NFL wide receiver is indicted for drugs - selling, not even using. And Barry Bonds will have to spend a month in his mansion under house arrest. I think I know a pizza delivery guy on the West Coast who's going to have a very happy holiday. Joined now from member station WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts by ESPN's Howard Bryant.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you doing?

SIMON: You know, it's getting hazardous to use that theme anymore, because all the sports stories are about indictments. They're - well, let's get to what - I want to talk about hockey first, because one of the saddest stories to me over the past year - the biggest star in hockey, the great Sidney Crosby has been away from the game after a concussion. He came back. He played gloriously. He's now taken himself out of game because he doesn't feel right. You've also got Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Jeff Skinner all have head injuries. What kind of concussion problem does the NHL have?

BRYANT: The NHL has a concussion problem that is as big, if not bigger, than the problem in the National Football League. I think that you have the exact same type of physicality in the sport, where bigger, faster, stronger has finally become too big, too fast, too strong. And the game is simply not - the players aren't - they're too physical. The sport itself cannot handle the type of pounding.

And if you look at the type of hits, it's not the I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out. I mean, some of the hits that these guys have taken - when Sidney Crosby got his first concussion, or the one that kept him out last season, it wasn't even a huge hit. It didn't look very bad.

But the problem is is that the game itself has simply - the players are too big, it's too quick and the hits are just - they're too much for the human body.

SIMON: We'll talk about this for the rest of the season. NFL: the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow play the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. Now, let's try and ignore all the national debate about Tebow kneeling, expressing religious feeling on the field. It's a football game. The Patriots are great, but they've been limping a bit. The Broncos may seem incomplete, but they're hot.

BRYANT: I think the Broncos are actually going to win this game because I think the Patriots are so beat up and they can't play defense. They haven't been a good defensive team all year. And for all the talk about Tim Tebow, for all the talk about what the Denver Broncos are doing, they do two things that you have to do to win football games. They run the ball and they play defense.

And if you do those two things, you're going to be in every game for the most part, and especially if you have a quarterback who doesn't do anything for three quarters and then turns into Johnny Unitas in the fourth quarter.

So I think it's going to be a very, very difficult game for the Patriots. And I think it's going to be a really difficult game for them because in the fourth quarter the Broncos run the ball and the quarterback runs the ball. And if the Patriots aren't physical, I think Denver's going to run right over them. But the Patriots also have Tom Brady and that makes up for a lot.

SIMON: Yeah. Chicago Bears receiver, now former Bears receiver, Sam Hurd arrested on federal drug dealing charges. I want to point out he was with the Dallas Cowboys for many years before that. How serious could this case be?

BRYANT: Well, this can be serious across - obviously it's - when you're trying to buy millions of dollars a month in cocaine and marijuana, at least according to the investigation, it's devastating for him naturally.

And it's going to be devastating for the league because part of that charge - part of the criminal complaint - has him essentially or allegedly trying to sell to other NFL players, which means you've got a scandal. You've got a drug dealer in one of the clubhouses.

Obviously, you don't take everything or anything in a police report as fact because it's only one side of it. But if any of this is true, if any of this investigation is true, I think playing football is the last thing that Sam Hurd's going to be worrying about.

SIMON: Barry Bonds sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, two years of probation for giving misleading testimony before a federal grand jury eight years ago about steroids. Our Tom Goldman is going to report on that in a moment. Is this a sentence you expected?

BRYANT: Well, I didn't think he was going to go to jail. I mean, none of these guys went to jail, except for Greg Anderson. I think the hard part is is that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were supposed to be the end of the steroid era in baseball and we could all move on. Now, you've got Ryan Brown of the Milwaukee Brewers failing a drug test. So it never ends. But Barry Bonds, I think this is exactly what people thought was going to happen.

SIMON: ESPN's Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.