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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The new NFL season is upon us, but the league can't shake some unfinished business. And the Williams sisters hit the hard courts of the U.S. Open. Hard-headed analysis already from Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: (Laughter) Why, thank you.
SIMON: The unfinished NFL business, of which we have spoken week after week - Colin Kaepernick is going to get his day in court. Of course, he accuses NFL owners of colluding to keep him out of football. Does the decision of an arbitrator to let this go to trial have what I'll refer to as any Robert Mueller potential to reveal things about the NFL?
GOLDMAN: I haven't heard that name mentioned in this until now, Scott, but it does have that potential. A lot more evidence will be presented in a hearing that could happen before the end of this year. NFL owners, coaches, other officials may have to reveal confidential material. And no highly protective group, like the 32 NFL owners, wants that or wants to be grilled by lawyers. Now, the arbitrator, who, this week, ruled the case should move forward, he'll preside over the hearing. There won't be a jury. So some say this gives Kaepernick an advantage since the arbitrator already has decided there's enough there there to proceed. But there's also the possibility - excuse me - that a more complete study of evidence and testimony by witnesses shows collusion actually didn't happen.
SIMON: Actual football question now. We have a number of previously injured NFL players who are going to come back to their teams this week - Odell Beckham Jr., of course, Deshaun Watson of Houston, the Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. What kind of expectations do we have?
GOLDMAN: I have huge expectations because several are on my fantasy team. But, from a purely objective standpoint, Scott, there are very high expectations for this group. They're all fantastic playmakers. Football is the ultimate team game, of course. But a few players stand out...
SIMON: Tom, I thought we were the ultimate team game here on this show. But go ahead. Yes.
GOLDMAN: Well, we are. But the NFL is a close second.
SIMON: All right.
GOLDMAN: And a few players stand out and can determine the outcomes with their performances. And these guys are in that select group. Watson and Carson Wentz - they were looking like the head of the class of the next generation of great quarterbacks before both were felled by torn ACLs last season. Now, Deshaun Watson is ready to go week one. Carson Wentz's status is still up in the air since he's had less time to heal. His surgeon is preaching caution, saying that missing a few games over a projected 12 to 15-year career isn't that big a deal.
SIMON: Williams vs. Williams last night; Serena won 6-1, 6-2. It was merciless. But let me - they handle it with such conspicuous regard and love for each other. I am so impressed by it.
GOLDMAN: They do.
SIMON: Let me ask you - who is ranked below them in women's tennis? Because Serena's 36, Venus, 38.
GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, we saw this at Wimbledon when the top 10 seeds fell out in, like, the first week, and the women's draw was in shambles. We've seen at the U.S. Open so far - the top two seeds have fallen. So after Serena, we don't see a lot of players coming to the fore, and I think we're going to need that. But for now, we're going to enjoy Serena because she's looking real good.
SIMON: Yeah. Tom Goldman, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.