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Sports Roundup: LA Angels, Drew Brees, Jeremy Lin


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: Mark Teixeira of the Yankees gets five RBIs to beat the Angels. And if beating Angels isn't bad enough, Saints from New Orleans throwing money at Drew Brees. And why do U.S. lawmakers want to put the torch to U.S. Olympic uniforms? Howard Bryant joins us now, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine, joins us from New England Public Radio in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey, Scott, good morning.

SIMON: Fine. Good to be with you. Sorry.


BRYANT: Not very fine.

SIMON: Mark Teixeira got his RBIs on a pair of home runs. Does that put cold water all over the Angels now?

BRYANT: No, it doesn't. It means that they lost a game. This is going to be a great second half of the season. I think that you're going to see the Yankees are just doing what they do, which is when you have $200 million, eventually you're going to be better than everybody else over the course of 162 game season.

Whereas, the Angels are fine. They're a good team. It was nice to see the young kid, Mike Trout, on the big stage last night up in Yankee Stadium. And they've got a pennant race. They've got a play. You've got the Texas Rangers, who won again last night, who are two-time defending American League champions in their division.

And as we know, because we have a brand-new playoff format this year, everybody wants to avoid that poison game, which means you've got a one-game playoff for the third and fourth place teams in both the American and National Leagues. So you're going to have to work really, really hard to win your division so your entire season doesn't come down to one game.

So I think it's been a good test for the Angels. And once again, you're going up against the Yankees in New York, so it's as though losing the opener of a series is that big a deal. I think they'll be fine.

SIMON: Let me ask you about a couple of important contracts this week. Drew Brees and the Saints have reportedly reached a five-year deal. Why's it so important that a franchise that's gone from being America's Team to practically America's Most Wanted - because of the bounty scandal - for them to hold on to Drew Brees?

BRYANT: Well, I think it's important for a couple of reasons. I mean, the biggest reason is that it's a quarterback league. Look at what the Saints were before they had Drew Brees. No one was talking about them at all. Remember, they had always been the Ain'ts instead of the Saints. And then you get Drew Brees and you win a Super Bowl and you've been a Super Bowl contender ever since.

If you have a quarterback in the NFL, you can win a championship. It's not like other sports. So therefore you want to keep him.

On top of that, you want to keep him because he's been a tremendous leader on the team and a tremendous leader in the community. He is a leader. He is one of those very rare people who actually walks the walk.

Now, he didn't make himself particularly popular, because he's also a big union leader as well. And coming out of the lockout he was extremely vocal. And I appreciate Drew Brees more than I appreciate a lot of players in the league, because he stood up for the fact that, hey, I am your best player. This franchise has been - it's transformed itself since I got here. And so therefore you should pay me.

And especially in the NFL, where owners have the ability to not pay players and to cut their contracts and to keep them out, I'm a huge fan of Drew Brees. And he deserved it. He got what he deserved.

SIMON: We'll also mention Jeremy Lin signed a $25 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets and the Knicks will have to match it or not. But let me ask you about those U.S. Olympic uniforms. OK? I think with the beret and blazers they look a little like stormship troopers from some preppy galaxy. Are you a little surprised Ralph Lauren didn't say, it's 500 or so uniforms, just make sure they're sewn in the U.S.?

BRYANT: Yeah, I think it's all extremely political. However, I mean, I was thinking is there anything that I own that is made in the United States? So I thought they whole thing was very, very silly. But not surprisingly silly in an Olympic year and a presidential election year.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine.

Howard, thanks very much for being with us.

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