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Chicago Dominates The Week In Sports


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon and to the strains of BJ Leiderman's theme, it's time for Sports.


SIMON: (Growling) Grit - athletes are supposed to have it at all levels - suck it in, you've got to play hurt, just keep on going.

Two of the biggest athletes in America who play in a famously gritty big city have raised a ruckus by seeming just a little, I don't know, fussy.

Our man Tom Goldman joins us. Thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Speaking of being fussy, hi.

SIMON: (Growling) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, a great athlete from a gritty neighborhood there, can't seem to play two games without getting injured and he made some comments this week that have raised questions.

GOLDMAN: In an interview he talked about missing games, which he's done so much over his short injury-filled career and Derrick Rose says when he sits out games it's not because of this year, but instead he's thinking long-term, when he's finished playing. He said he doesn't want to be sore going to kids' graduations or sitting in meetings and Scott, the response - predictably - has been negative. Fans, commentators question his dedication and whether he appreciated a life which seems pretty good.

SIMON: And let me quote from the philosopher Charles Barkley who said, he says, "I limp around but I go home to a big old mansion. There are people who work harder than Derrick Rose who go home to a shack."

He says, "There are consequences to what we do for a living. We've got the best life in a world. Derrick Rose is making $20 million a year. He got a couple of bad knees - that is disrespectful to maids, to people who are in the army." And let me just say, look - there are people who work in factories, hospitals, farms, for a scintilla of what pro athletes earn, they get a few sprains and they keep on going. Isn't that part of the appeal of sports?

GOLDMAN: Sure it is and you know, fans are quicker to anger these days though if an athlete doesn't live up to that idealized image. That's because there is this huge gulf now between fans the pro athletes because of the money that you mention. You know, it probably would've been better in that interview if Rose first said something like, well, I need to sit out and manage my minutes to ensure I'm healthy in May and June so I can help the Bulls make a run for the title - but he didn't say that and in fact, when he was asked later about the controversy he didn't back away, he stuck to his initial comments, which you have to kind of admire. Most athletes wilt when there's a whiff of controversy.

SIMON: Yeah. Jay Cutler - speaking of controversy - he is reportedly quarterback of the Chicago Bears, although I haven't seen much evidence of that. He has been accused of not caring while the Bears have been beaten by, I think a cumulative score of like, 150-2. What's it look like to you?

GOLDMAN: You know, it's hard to tell what's truly inside a person. Cutler always has looked mopey and that's not going down well right now that the Bears are in this free-fall. Cutler had his problems during this recent swoon. He's thrown interceptions, he's lost fumbles and because optics mean a lot, Cutler's negative body language on the sidelines is making the situation seem worse so maybe he should try to channel a little Mike Ditka or Mike Singletary - a couple of those legendary fiery Chicago Bears. It's like the Rose situation, we want our athlete heroes to run through fire or at the very least, look and sound like they want to.

SIMON: And meanwhile, things are not looking up in Tallahassee, are they?

GOLDMAN: Tallahassee law enforcement and Florida State football - a troubling alliance between the two allegedly continues, according to The New York Times. Times already has documented how law enforcement officials in Tallahassee didn't do a good job of investigating an alleged rape by Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston back in 2012. Now there's a new report about an alleged car accident in which the Florida State players, who apparently caused it, fled the scene and instead of it being treated as a hit-and-run, they got a couple of tickets. If this is true, it's another apparent case of a college football team getting special treatment.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.