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January 28th, 2013
11:11 AM ET

President Obama shares injury fears for young football players – fmr. coach Jack Crowe weighs in

In an interview released online Sunday with "The New Republic," President Obama said if he had a son, he would "have to think long and hard before I let him play football."

The president, a longtime Chicago Bears fan, added that he would like to see the NCAA think about “some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on.”

This morning Jack Crowe, a retired football coach who spent nearly 40 years coaching college football speaks with Soledad O’Brien about the president’s recent comments.

“I understand the president’s concerns and he’s qualified it by saying as a parent [and] that’s where the grassroots of football are...in the community,” Crowe says.

Crowe, who is also the former executive director of the American Sports Medicine Institute says, adds that those participating in youth football are probably most in need of education and research because “those guys who are coaching at that level don’t have a course in care and prevention to injuries. That’s the level I worry about the most.”

The longtime football coach reminisces on coaching his very first game and a player from the opposing team who the following week sustained a head injury that ultimately took his life. The week before the player died Crowe says his team “hit on [the player] a lot,” which was detrimental because the player “had a concussion in our game that wasn't recognized.”

Crowe says the issue is ultimately about how coaches are being trained and the medical support they have. He adds, “Games get covered by medical specialists but the majority of [injuries] happen at practice.”

For more information visit www.stopsportsinjuries.org for more on how to stay safe while playing sports.


Filed under: Football • Head injuries • Uncategorized
January 24th, 2013
10:50 AM ET

Will Manti Te'o be able to convince people that he was duped in the girlfriend hoax? NFL expert panel weighs in

On Thursday, those looking for answers regarding the bizarre story surrounding Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend might finally get them. The football star and his parents will officially break their silence when a taped exclusive interview with ABC News' Katie Couric premieres concerning the hoax first brought to light by sports blog Deadspin. During the interview Te'o's father Brian stuck up for the football player saying pretty adamantly that his son is not a liar.

This morning a panel of NFL experts join “Starting Point” to weigh in on the new developments, Te’o’s career and whether or not the 21-year-old football star was actually duped.

Sports Agent Doug Eldridge says Te’o’s future is a question of performance versus perception.

“It’s a question of how is Manti going to perform on the field," Eldridge says. "This is no longer a scouting issue. It’s a personnel issue.” He adds that NFL teams need to employ their investigation units to “look behind the scenes and [see] what really went into this.” On the perception side relating to Te’o’s marketability and future endorsements Eldridge says, “It’s a question of fan perception” and how they view him and his role in the hoax.

Former Atlanta Falcons NFL Player Chris Draft says as a football player the hoax is “a huge amount of pressure for Manti but he dealt with a lot of pressure throughout the season.” He adds that while the linebacker seemed affected during the 2013 BCS Championship game against Alabama, his poor performance was not necessarily all due to the scandal. Ultimately, Draft says Te’o “has to deal with it – he has to deal with it right now.”

ESPN Senior Writer and CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson says Te’o should have dealt with the situation weeks ago. “In December it makes all the sense in the world to me. In January that makes no sense in the world to me...Why would you let a month go by before you, before the University of Notre Dame, before your father who’s teary-eyed and saying you’re not a liar – why would you let a month go by before Deadspin outed you with this story?”


Filed under: Football • Manti Te'o • Sports
January 17th, 2013
11:46 AM ET

Should the media have done more to check on Manti Te'o's girlfriend? Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn weigh in

There are millions of questions this morning regarding the mystery involving Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o and his girlfriend. In September and October, Te'o told interviewers that his girlfriend and his grandmother had died within hours of each other. Te’o was then inspired him to honor them with sterling play on the field and ultimately led his team to a 20-3 routing of Michigan State.

Deadspin.com, acting on an anonymous e-mail it received last week, started poking around. Wednesday night the site released a report dismissing as a hoax the existence of Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kakua. This morning host of CNN's Reliable Sources Howard Kurtz and Daily Download Editor in Chief Lauren Ashburn join “Starting Point,” to discuss whether the media should have done more fact checking on Te’o’s supposed girlfriend.

"As this became a bigger story and as CBS was doing it and then 'Sports Illustrated' and ESPN and the others, you know you look back...it would have taken one phone call to discover that there was never any death notice," Kurtz says. "There was never any record of her birth...she didn’t go to Stanford.”

Kurts says the university’s role is "pathetic." "Notre Dame officials said they found out December 26th it was a hoax [and] allowed other news organizations to go forward without saying a word and to perpetuate this myth, this piece of fiction as if it was a real story," he says.

Ashburn points out that “the role of social media reporting in the Deadspin article is fascinating.”

"All of the pieces started to come together and...as reporters learn more about the functions of social media the opportunity for doing real reporting on via Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts exists,” she says.

Ashburn admits that the story of Te’o and his girlfriend was a “puff piece” and not “Enron, it still journalism. You still have to get the facts right.”


Filed under: Article • College • Football
January 17th, 2013
10:38 AM ET

Deadspin editor on Te’o girlfriend hoax: ‘I don’t believe Manti Te’o could be that dumb’

What started as a story of heartbreak leading to a college football star overcoming tragedy is now being called a hoax riddled with questions.

The story which defined a college football team's season was originally about Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o, losing his grandmother and his girlfriend within 24 hours of each other and going on to lead his team to victory and an undefeated regular season. That inspiring story quickly fell apart after a report that came out Wednesday night by sports website Deadspin.com dismissing as a hoax the existence of Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kakua. This morning on "Starting Point," Deadspin.com's Timothy Burke weighs in on his report and the reactions and statements that followed.

Burke was originally tipped off by an email Deadspin received last week regarding Kakua, and says he and his colleauges started researching the story on Google. Burke says after searching for “Lennay Kakua,” they could not “find any evidence of this person that isn't attached to stories about her being Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend – she did not exist.”

Shortly after the report went viral the university held a press conference saying Te'o was the victim of a "elaborate hoax." Burke says he is not surprised and “Notre Dame has to stand by Manti Te’o. That’s what Notre Dame does.” He adds, “It would not be accepted by their community, by their boosters to throw him under the bus. They’re going to stick by him.” On the other hand, Burke says if he could have offered advice to Te’o and the university he would have told them to not respond to the report and “ignore it because anything that they say is going to be evidence to be used against him.” He says, “Either Manti or his father were lying about how he met her in the first place.”

The Deadspin report also focuses on Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who Burke describes as “a former star quarterback in high school who was supposedly offered scholarships to play in college and never did.” Burke says friends and relatives of Tuiasosopo said he was “doing the Lennay Kakua fake online profile for several years and that he’s caught other people in his trap but that they caught on way earlier than Manti Te’o did.” Burke says this information in addition to the fact that Te’o and Tuiasosopo knew each other and spent time together made him question, “how dense would Manti Te’o have to be to realize this was his friend who was behind the account the entire time?” He concludes by saying, “I don’t believe Manti Te’o could be that dumb.”


Filed under: Article • College • Dating • Football • Manti Te'o
December 7th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn on whether veteran sportscaster Bob Costas crossed the line

Veteran sports caster Bob Costas is used to reporting the headlines – but the newsman made his own this weekend after an on-air rant landed him in hot water.

His comments about gun control and domestic violence in the wake of the tragic murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher sparked instant and intense backlash, causing many to ask the question “should sports journalists editorialize on the news of the day?”

Howard Kurtz, Host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” offers that while Costas had the right to address the issue his mistake was trying to do it in a 90-second spot.  However, Lauren Ashburn of “The Daily Beast” disagreed, telling Soledad we need to “get politics out of sports.”

So what do you think?  Check out the video above, and then sound off in the comments below!


Filed under: Football • Gun control • Sports
September 26th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Fmr. New York Giant Tiki Barber: NFL commentary is not about the players or teams – it’s about the referees

Outrage is growing over the botched call seemingly heard 'round the world’ when replacement refs handed the Seattle Seahawks a win over the Greenbay Packers Monday night. One New Jersey politician is looking to pass a bill that would bar replacement refs from refereeing New York Jets and Giants games. Other politicians are weighing in as well. On Twitter Tuesday, President Obama wrote: "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon. –bo." GOP nominee Mitt Romney also chimed in, saying” "I'd sure like to see some experienced referees ... come back out of the NFL playing fields." This morning on “Starting Point,” New York Giants retired running back, Tiki Barber gives his take on the replacement refs and whether they should be removed.

Barber says the current situation with the NFL replacement refs is revealing “of what’s happening around the NFL for the last 3 weeks. Barber also says the NFL commentary is not about the players or teams but about the referees which is ultimately detrimental to the league.


Filed under: Football
September 25th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on Campbell's ad, salsa and his career

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is not just a star in the football field, but in a new ad campaign for Campbell’s Chunky Soup. And while the Superbowl champion holds the team record for most receiving yards in a season, he is happy to describe himself as a “Mama’s Boy” for the ad. Cruz joins Soledad O’Brien live on “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the new Campbell's campaign and his career.

In the ad, Cruz is seen speaking to the “team mascot” who convinces him to have Campbell’s Chunky Soup. A trip-up reveals that his “mom” and “grandma” are underneath the costume. But Cruz reveals that the two women featured in the commercial are not actually his mother and grandmother! Even so, Cruz was excited to be a part of the ad. “Campbell’s Chucky Soup is such a tremendous campaign to be a part of,” Cruz says, “and I’m just humbled to be one of the athletes that they chose to be a part of it.”

O’Brien asks Cruz about his signature salsa dance on the field. The New York Giants wide receiver says it resulted from the advice of one of his coaches who told him to represent his culture when he gets in the end zone. Cruz describes the moment he took that advice during week three of his NFL career. “So, I get my first catch, I’m going up the sideline, I’m about three yards away from the end zone. I look up, and I’m like, ‘Man, I got to do this dance now.’ So I break out the dance.”
The rest is history. “It was a feel good time,” Cruz says.

The obvious next step might have been to compete in “Dancing with the Stars” but Cruz turned it down. Cruz says it is something he feels could hopefully happen down the line. “I wanted to focus on my career.” he explains. “I wanted to focus on football, focus on my craft that I was doing at the time.”

For now, Cruz is just grateful to be a New York Giant. “I’m excited to go to work. I’m thankful that I have a job,” he says. He says if it were not for that week three game a year ago, “Who knows where I’d be?” So I wake up thankful everyday, brushing my teeth, excited to go to work.”

Cruz also shares his thoughts on whether the replacement refs really blew the game for the Green Bay Packers game.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Football
August 23rd, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Fmr. Washington Redskins football coach Joe Gibbs on his journey from the NFL to NASCAR

Coach Joe Gibbs is a double threat. The former football coach who led the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl titles is now finding immense success leading champions on the NASCAR racetrack.

When asked his secret to success, Gibbs says it all about surrounding yourself with good people. "In football, if I picked the right football players, they made me look good,” Gibbs tells Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning. “It's the same thing over here in racing.”

As a team owner, Gibbs is all-consumed with racing now and the competition ahead.  “We’re in a battle,” Gibbs says. “We’re coming down here with three races left, trying to get into the playoffs.”

Gibbs racing team is now gearing up for the next track of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the IRWIN Tools Night Race, where four lucky fans will be awarded the “Best Seats in the House.”


Filed under: Football • Sports
August 22nd, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Fmr. football legend Warren Sapp honors his teachers in his new memoir 'Sapp Attack,' and the unique challenges of performing on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp is known for his rough plays on the football field.

Now he is taking his attacks off the field and adding a new title to his name – author.

In his newly released memoir “Sapp Attack,” the former football player covers his years at the University Of Miami and his 13 seasons as an NFL star, noting all the people that helped in his career.

“I had some great teachers and I had some great coaches to help me along the way," Sapp tells Soledad on "Starting Point." "I wanted to acknowledge them because when you take off and you leave a small little town like Plymouth and go down to University of Miami...now you’re in Tampa and now you’re on the world stage and you’re doing all this...you have to look back and say there was some beautiful people that helped me get out of that little town.”

Sapp also talks about his experience in becoming runner-up on "Dancing with the Stars."

“You have to be able to move your feet and I had a beautiful partner,” Sapp says. “Normally when I show up at a stadium to dance there’s two 350lb men trying to take my head off. She wanted to dance with me!”


Filed under: Football
August 17th, 2012
11:41 AM ET

ESPN's Bryan Curtis breaks down the rules of college football fandom

In his new article called "Acceptable to Be a Fan" on ESPN's grantland.com, Bryan Curtis discusses the rules of college football fandom. Curtis says it’s acceptable to be a fan if you graduated from the school, flunked out of the school and taught at the school. Also if your child attends the school or you wanted to go to the school but was prevented, then Curtis says you are also a real fan.

On the other hand, if you grew up down the street from the school, you have family that went to this school but you yourself did not attend or went to an Ivy League institution instead - then you cannot be a fan.

ESPN's Bryan Curtis explains.


Filed under: A little fun • Article • Football
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