3 Stories: NFL Protests/NCAA Scandal, CTE Research, Twins

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Should we be surprised that NFL owners like Jerry Jones (center) have supported players following President Trump's comments about the NFL? (Matt York/AP)
Should we be surprised that NFL owners like Jerry Jones (center) have supported players following President Trump's comments about the NFL? (Matt York/AP)

Last weekend, more than 200 NFL players sat or kneeled during the national anthem. Then on Tuesday, the FBI announced it's been investigating corruption in college basketball. And those weren't the only big stories from the week in sports.

ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. and The Ringer's Claire McNear joined Bill Littlefield for this week's edition of 3 Stories You Should Know.

1. Rick Pitino, Kneeling In The NFL And More

Head coach Rick Pitino is out at Louisville. NFL owners have joined their players in protest. And sports fans and analysts have expressed shock. Don Van Natta Jr. wonders whether the news should really come as a surprise.

Repeatedly over the years, anytime a scandal hit Louisville basketball, Rick Pitino expressed a similar kind of stunned surprise. This is a coach who survived not one, but two sex scandals — the most recent one two years ago when a book reported that potential recruits reportedly were consorting with paid escorts. Pitino said he was stunned by the allegations and knew nothing about it. And earlier this week he said it again about the allegation that $100,000 was paid through Adidas to one of his top recruits. Only this time the shock and surprise didn't save Pitino's job.

Surprise and shock were also all over my Twitter feed Monday night, after I tweeted out a photo of Jerry Jones kneeling with the Cowboys in Arizona before the playing of the national anthem. "Wow," the Twitter people said. "Never thought Jerry Jones would kneel for anybody." Again: Why is there so much surprise about something so obvious? The president of the United States had attacked NFL players who protest during the playing of the national anthem. Like, the players, they had their own reasons for joining arms during the national anthem or even, like Jerry Jones, taking a knee. Unity, yes. Supporting their players, sure. Pushing back on President Trump's attacks on the game, absolutely. But these protests and the attacks are also very bad for the NFL's business. And to be blunt about it, some of the owners were also motivated to lock arms with their players to try to protect the NFL's $14 billion in annual revenues and the billions of dollars in equity in their clubs.

2. The Latest In CTE Research

Boston University researchers announced this week that they're one step closer to diagnosing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients. Claire McNear wonders what this means for the sport and fans.

How many players will keep going once they know the damage that's already been done? How many players will find out that they have CTE before they even get to the NFL and just decide not to go to the pros at all? How many parents are going to let their kids keep playing when they can see very, very explicitly, like they never could before, what's happening? I think this is the beginning of the end for football.

3. Minnesota Twins Make History

Also this week, the Minnesota Twins became the first MLB team to qualify for the postseason after a season in which they'd lost more than 100 games. Bill Littlefield would like to thank the team for, once again, demonstrating baseball's knack for giving spectators something they've never seen before.

Baseball, of course, has been around for more than 100 years. We can still look at each other from game to game and say, 'Hey, that's never happened before. I've never seen that.' To quote my old friend Tim Kurkjian, "That's the beauty of baseball." It's one of the beauties of baseball, at least. Would I be off-base to say baseball leads the league in providing opportunities to see something you've never seen before in any given season — maybe even on any particular game night?

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This segment aired on September 30, 2017.


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