Weekly Sports Chat: Dallas Cowboy Suspended, Track And Field Goodbyes

Aug 12, 2017
Originally published on August 12, 2017 2:24 pm
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And it's time for sports.

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SIMON: The great Usain Bolt takes a final bow today, running on Britain's relay team at the World Championships. The great distance runner Mo Farah will also join him for a final curtain. But first, new NFL season's about to get underway in less than a month - and perhaps without one of its big stars. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: Latest news about football and domestic violence, subjects that are too often linked in recent times. Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys running back, leading rusher in the NFL last year - suspended the first six games for the upcoming season because of a charge about domestic violence.

GOLDMAN: Right. The backstory - a woman Elliott was involved with alleged he committed multiple acts of violence against her a year ago. Elliot denied it. He was never arrested. And prosecutors didn't press charges because of what they called conflicting and inconsistent information. But the NFL did its own investigation with outside legal and domestic violence advisers and decided there was evidence of violence on Elliot's part. And under the new domestic violence rules, the NFL can suspend even if there's not a criminal conviction. Elliott is expected to appeal. Now, Scott, a couple of things about this.

The NFL has been criticized, rightly so, for its handling of domestic violence cases. Certainly, you know, you remember the Ray Rice case in 2014. That was a huge misstep. But this time, the NFL appears to have done it right. It was a thorough year-long investigation, a strong first-time punishment. Also, this does not reflect well on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a man who, as you know, was just inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For months, he's been saying there was nothing to the allegations against his star running back. Jones is one of the most powerful owners in the NFL. For him to be sending messages that domestic violence doesn't exist when the league says it does shows there still are problems with how the NFL deals with this.

SIMON: More happily, although with a tinge of sadness, Usain Bolt runs a relay tonight. And he says his amazing career is over. Eight Olympic gold medals, I don't know how many world championships. Contemplating the world of track after Usain Bolt is gone, is that a little bit like - I don't know what - guacamole without jalapeno?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter).

SIMON: I just came up with that. I - sorry. The editor's cringing, but yes.

GOLDMAN: That's really good. Oh, my God. No, I love it. There are a lot of gloomy predictions, which aren't altogether fair. If track can escape debilitating doping scandals - a big if - there are lots of exciting athletes out there who can keep fans engaged. Take yesterday's 3,000-meter steeplechase in London. American women won gold and silver, a one-two finish in a distance race in a major championship. That hadn't happened since 1912. But athletes like Bolt are rare. He dominated for nearly a decade he captivated the entire world with his Olympic performances, with his smile and charisma. They're going to miss him.

SIMON: And another goodbye tonight, the great distance runner Mo Farah.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. The Great British runner born in Somalia. After tonight's 5,000 meters, he will retire from track racing and focus on marathons. Farah hadn't had the global impact of Bolt because, you know, maybe because sprints are so explosive and exciting and a fan favorite, but he has become the world's best distance runner. He's a huge star, very popular. He's also been dogged by doping suspicions, all of course he denied. But certainly in London tonight on his home track, they'll cheer long and hard and hope for a win in his final race.

SIMON: NPR sports correspondent - sports correspondent, boy, what a gig - Tom Goldman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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