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Saturday Sports: Antonio Brown, Soccer Vs. Politics, WNBA Playoffs


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: Antonio Brown is cut. And apparently politics and Major League Soccer don't mix. Down to the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us.

Hello there, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: You and I mix, Scott.

SIMON: Yeah, you and I mix, my friend. The Patriots have said goodbye - don't let the door hit you on your way out - to Antonio Brown. But it's - I mean, he was OK for one game for them. What happened?

GOLDMAN: They cut him yesterday, less than two weeks after signing him. You know, it was always a risk to sign him, Scott. He had this rocky ending to his nine years in Pittsburgh and his very short stay in Oakland this offseason. But as you know, the Patriots pride themselves on bringing in troubled players and having them snap to under the mythical Patriot Way, so they brought him in.

And after they signed him, the story got gravely serious. A lawsuit filed by Brown's former personal trainer accused him of rape. Then another woman who alleges Brown made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 2017 says Brown sent her a threatening - threatening text messages this week while he was a Patriot. And that reportedly was the last straw for New England. His agent said in a statement sorry things didn't work out. Antonio hopes to play for another team soon.

SIMON: Also in the NFL, starting quarterbacks have been falling like trees in a forest. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Nick Foles and, of course, Andrew Luck retired before he could be felled. Should Colin Kaepernick be waiting by the phone?

GOLDMAN: You're hearing more and more people say no. And that's after three years out of league with another batch of quarterbacks going down, as you say. And the calls are, you know, not going to come. Maybe teams think he's too expensive to sign. And they can trot out lesser and cheaper quarterbacks, or there's still concerned that he is politically toxic, even though the protests during the anthem issue has cooled down from what it was two, three years ago. Whatever the reasons, he's still not playing. And you wonder if he ever will.

SIMON: I have to point out - I'm sure some people will ask. So Antonio Brown with these very serious charges could be signed by another team. It looks like Colin Kaepernick won't.

GOLDMAN: Don't try and...

SIMON: Oh, we'll get to that if and when it happens.

GOLDMAN: Don't try and get logic out of the NFL, Scott.

SIMON: All right. I want to ask you about Major League Soccer fans in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Portland have made their own political demonstration.

GOLDMAN: It's very interesting. You know, we've been talking a lot about athletes making political demonstrations, like Colin Kaepernick. But now as you say, it's the fans doing it. An interesting story, a new Major League Soccer policy this season prohibits political displays by fans. And some fans in Seattle and Portland don't like that.

The fans have been displaying a symbol of the Iron Front. That was an anti-Nazi paramilitary group in Germany in the 1930s. Soccer fans say the symbol now is a statement against fascism and for human rights. MLS doesn't like it because the league says the Iron Front symbol also is used by Antifa, the antifascist group that sometimes engages in violence. So MLS and fan groups met this week to try to resolve the dispute. They didn't. They're going to continue the conversation this coming week.

SIMON: WNBA semifinals, Washington Mystics versus the Las Vegas Aces and the LA Sparks versus the Connecticut Sun, how do you see things?

GOLDMAN: Right now, Washington and Connecticut looking very good, appear headed to the finals, which would be appropriate. They were the top two teams in the regular season, and they're both up two games to none in their series. They're both playing very well. Washington has this year's MVP, Elena Delle Donne. It would be an entertaining final if they met.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Scott. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLEVER GIRL'S "JUMBO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.