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Saturday Sports: Free Agents In The NFL, The Patriots, Tiger Woods


Finally, time for sports.


SIMON: The NFL suddenly powered by free agents. Are the Pats running out of gas? And the return of the Tiger (imitating tiger roar). Joined now by NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman, who's somewhere in Minnesota - actually, Minneapolis. He's pretty easy to find. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thanks. A little over three weeks into the season. Free agents are getting contracts. Among them, let me ask you about safety Eric Reid. This was kind of a surprise, yes.

GOLDMAN: Sure is. And it is not just any free agent signing. Eric Reid, former San Francisco teammate of Colin Kaepernick's. He followed Kaepernick's lead and was the second player to take a knee during the national anthem protests. And he also filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, like Kaepernick, after he wasn't signed as a free agent.

But the Carolina Panthers needed a good defensive back. He's a good defensive back. You know, and Carolina has gone to saying this is a business decision. But it's still significant. And it's notable that the new Carolina owner David Tepper, this hedge fund billionaire - he's been very outspoken against President Trump, which, as you know, is a rarity in the club of NFL owners, and very supportive of protesting players. In a TV interview this month, he said these are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men.

SIMON: Which obviously introduces the question, does this mean Colin Kaepernick is somewhere in the immediate horizon?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, you know, there have been rumblings about that. It is hard to predict, of course. He is the symbol for player protests. And, you know, it's going to take a lot still for a team to sign him even though things seem to be going, you know, the other way as far as kind of, you know, we haven't really heard much about anthem protests so far this season. Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers. The quarterback went down last week with a season-ending knee injury. San Francisco's head coach said when asked about, hey, there's Kaepernick out there - he said, no, he doesn't fit our system. So still nothing with Colin Kaepernick.

SIMON: Looking across the league, the Pats, who, of course, were in the Super Bowl earlier this year have a losing record at 1-2. Now, of course, let's not get carried away. It's early in the season. But is this just a slow start, or is the team beginning to fade, save for its quarterback?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, recent history says let's not get carried away. But there are danger signs. They've lost two straight. That didn't happen in those earlier slow starts. The defenses look bad. Tom Brady cannot do it alone. He's operating with a subpar set of wide receivers. And he's not getting much help from his running game. You throw in the recent new book about New England head coach Bill Belichick which says, according to an unnamed source, that Brady has had it with Mr. Grumpy Belichick and wants a divorce. You know, maybe this is the time the dynasty is starting to come apart. Either way, there's going to be a lot of interest in tomorrow's game against division rival Miami. The Dolphins are undefeated. And they're leading the division.

SIMON: Golf. Ryder Cup, again, in France this week. And once again, Tiger Woods is getting a lot of attention on the course.

GOLDMAN: Which is not the norm with the Ryder Cup, this wonderful every-two-year team event. You know, but this year, there was a ton of focus on Tiger after he won last weekend for the first time in more than five years. So that attention was warranted. That Tiger mania quieted with the start of competition yesterday. Plus, he didn't play well. In fact, the entire U.S. team, after a strong start, was outplayed by the Euros. But Scott, beyond this weekend, there's still going to be a ton of excitement for next season when the golfers are back at it for themselves. And Tiger Woods should be in the mix to win major tournaments again.

SIMON: As we noted, you're in Minnesota there to follow the green-winged, teal duck migration story, which I know you love.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Yeah. Yeah. And I'm exhausted. These little fellows are hard to keep up with. Let me tell you.

SIMON: (Laughter) Hard to put the mic under their wings, yes. OK. Yeah.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) No, Scott. I'm here on a very serious mission. I'm following American Flat Track, which is dirt track motorcycle racing. Now I was interested by one of the top riders being a woman. You know, there's this old stereotype of women riding on the back of motorcycles, hanging onto their boyfriends. Well, some women certainly love to ride recreationally. And 27-year-old Shayna Texter is one of the best racers in American Flat Track. So I'll be doing a story on her and the sport later this week.

SIMON: We'll look forward to it. Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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.