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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Even with the Super Bowl coming up, all the football talk this week wasn't about the game, it was about the ball.

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Even with free agency, our professional leagues show a reliable sort of sameness from year to year. Oh sure, each season there are a few teams that surprise, but mostly, changes in the standings are evolutionary. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a league that looks so cockeyed as the NBA is this year.

First of all, it's just plain weird to see the two historically glamorous franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, both down near the bottom of the standings, while up top are teams that previously were nondescript also-rans.

Decades before the DVR and years before the first Super Bowl, a young television director decided to try something that would either amaze or confuse TV watchers: the instant replay.

With that, Tony Verna revolutionized the way we watch televised sports. He died Sunday at 81.

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If you have watched any football on television recently then you have watched a lot of instant replay.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, take a look at it, turnovers - a big key. Yeah, the knee's down. The left knee is down and then he comes out. That's a great look at it right there.

Oh, poor Boston. Where is Paul Revere when we need him to alert the citizenry? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is coming! The International Olympic Committee is coming!

Boston, lock up your municipal bonds and pension funds.

Testifying about a request for a protective order against him, race car driver Kurt Busch told a Dover, Del., court this week that his former girlfriend is an assassin. Patricia Driscoll, who dated Busch for four years, requested the order last November, shortly after their relationship ended.

Driscoll has also filed a criminal complaint against Busch, alleging that he grabbed her and slammed her head into the wall of his motor coach at Dover International Speedway last fall. Busch denies those claims, which the authorities have been considering separately.

The longtime host of ESPN's SportsCenter, Stuart Scott, died today at age 49 after a prolonged battle with cancer, according to the cable network.

Scott was famous for his enthusiasm and a bevy of catchphrases he mined in his commentary, including "Boo-Yah!" and "As cool as the other side of the pillow."

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Eric Westervelt. Time now for Sports.

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The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks will meet on Jan. 12 in college football's first national championship game based on a playoff system.

The headline in The Columbus Dispatch read: Get ready for Bucks vs. Ducks.

With help from Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State rallied from a 21-6 deficit to beat the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Thursday night, 42-35.

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Even if you're a fairly enthusiastic sports fan — someone who can identify sportscasters Jim Nantz or Joe Buck by tenor and intonation alone — you may very well have never heard the name Doc Emrick.

Mike "Doc" Emrick is the world's premier announcer for what is America's fourth team sport: ice hockey. For those who know hockey, or those aficionados who listen to a few minutes of an NHL game just to hear Emrick talk about blue lines or poke checking, he is absolutely revered.

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On January 1, a new state law goes into effect in California. It will limit the amount of contact in high school and middle school football practices. The state is hoping to protect young brains from football injuries. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

Warriors, Trail Blazers, Spurs Dominate NBA

Dec 28, 2014

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Bigfoot 4X4 is a legend in the monster truck world, but another truck is challenging its claim as first car crusher. The bragging rights are big deal in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Time now for sports.

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Several years ago, I wrote a sports Christmas story. It was about a greedy basketball superstar who, imbued with Yuletide cheer, helps save his small-market franchise.

A big-time producer wanted to make a TV movie out of it. So off I went to Hollywood to turn my story into a script and thereby, in keeping with the Christmas spirit, make a killing.

Let me tell you: It's hard to write a Christmas story about sport.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's talk monster trucks.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

The U.S. Women's National Soccer team finished its 2014 season with a second-place finish Sunday in the rainy final of the International Tournament of Brasilia. Brazil and the U.S. played to a 0-0 draw.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

How every week I look forward to saying, time for BJ Leiderman's Sports theme.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Soccer's governing body is meeting Thursday in Morocco, a day after the American lawyer, who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup, quit in protest at how FIFA handled his report.

Sports Illustrated named its sportsman of the year the other day, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants, which reminded me once again that you only hear the word "sportsman" anymore about the time when Sports Illustrated names its Sportsman of the Year. The term seems so archaic that it would be as if Time magazine annually chose a Gentleman of the Year.

Today, like every Sunday in the fall, millions of Americans are tuning in to watch some of the country's most popular sport: football.

And for several million of them, your regular ol' football game isn't fast-paced enough: They're tuning in to NFL RedZone.

NFL RedZone is the frenetic channel run by the NFL Network that, for seven hours straight, switches between football games in an endeavor to show every single score of as many as 12 simultaneous games.

Associated Press

Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State have been selected to play in the first College Football Playoff.  

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