Four Vanderbilt University football players have been charged with rape and sexual battery, in connection with an attack on a woman on campus back in June. All four were kicked off the team and suspended from school. All have also pleaded not guilty and are out on bond. Now there new questions about a text message that suggests the current star quarterback was there too, and actually helped move the victim. There is a lot of secrecy surrounding this case, but Gary Tuchman did get some of the lawyers to talk.
A Native American tribe is asking the NFL to quote, "stop using a racial slur as the name of Washington's football team." For 80 years, that team has been called the Redskins, which obviously is offensive to many Native Americans. Recently President Obama weighed in on the controversy. Tonight, the AC360 Later panel has their say.
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David Gergen | BIO
CNN Senior Political Analyst
The country took a well-deserved time-out last night from bleak news about jobs, deficits, health care, Iran and the like. Even if you were pulling for Peyton Manning and the Colts, you had to agree that the epic upset victory by the New Orleans Saints was the best feel-good moment for the country in more than a year.
Drew Brees and the Saints did more than deliver a storybook ending to a storybook year. They made New Orleans a fresh symbol of the American spirit – what we can do as a people when we have our backs to the wall and join together in search of a comeback.
As almost everyone knows by now, Drew Brees is himself a story of overcoming the odds. Even though he was a high school star, most colleges weren’t interested in him as a player because he was so short – six feet in cleats, far below today’s stereotype. By grit and determination, he made it into the pros but four years ago, diving on a fumble, injured his shoulder so badly that no one wanted him except for the Saints, a team with such a sorry record that it was often nicknamed the “Aints” back home.
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Order is restored, stars aligned. The Alabama Crimson Tide reigns as national champion of college football. A valiant effort by a worthy adversary, the Texas Longhorns, fell short, and the Tide rolled.
Those of us with Alabama affections know, in our fervent hearts, that more went on the night of January 7 than a football game. Here was something close to a primal annual rite, visible on television everywhere electricity exists.
We gathered Thursday night around the electronic fire. Like tribesmen. The Elephant Men.
We ate some red meat, drank some beer. We ran through some tribal lore from our native land, shared stories that link us and our families and friends in our uniquely colorful history. We’re men of reason, but we employed every superstitious device we know: The same set of clothes, unwashed, we wore to the last gathering. The same halftime order of lucky chicken wings. We were as careful about seating arrangements as those who plan state dinners on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Wherever we sat the last time the Crimson Tide won … that’s where we sat Thursday night.
We’d been in the same seats at the same table in the same tavern for 13 games in a row this year. The University of Alabama football team – that fabled Crimson Tide – ran the table in 2009 on its way to the national championship.
We suddenly superstitious men who met at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta understand our behavior is shockingly counterintuitive. None of us carries lucky charms (that I know of). None of us makes our life decisions based on divinings of chicken entrails. No rattlesnake rattles or crystals.
CNN Senior National Editor
What’s the spread on the big game?
At this writing the University of Florida is a three point favorite to beat Oklahoma University for the mythical championship of college football.
But let’s consider another spread. This one has the Gators at minus-346 and the Sooners at minus-238.
What’s this all about? We’ll get to that in a moment, but first a digression.
Years ago, a half dozen or so sports fans who work at CNN had a heated discussion over lunch regarding college sports.
What is the purpose of a university, a cynic asked, to educate or to put a top 10 football team on the field?
Listen, that football team provides publicity for the school and brings in money that supports other, “lesser” sports, one stalwart replied.
Editor’s Note: He was a division 1 college football player with a pre-med degree… and now the highest distinction for any student: the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Myron Rolle has a difficult decision, head to the NFL or head to Oxford? Watch Don Lemon’s full report tonight on AC360°, 11p ET
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As interesting as you might find Myron Rolle's personal story and accomplishments, the bottom line is will he accept the Rhodes Scholarship, or go for almost certain millionaire status in the NFL? It’s a tough choice. What would you do?
I didn’t ask him right away. I wanted to save it. I enjoyed the suspense. And frankly, I really liked playing out the scenarios in my head. If Rolle takes the money now from the NFL, he could quickly realize his dream of helping needy children. And who knows if the NFL will even be interested when he returns from Oxford University in England? A lot could change in two years. A Rhodes scholarship, however, doesn’t guarantee riches. But it is an accomplishment that only a select few can claim. Former President Bill Clinton, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, General Wesley Clark, to name a few; have certainly made their marks on society. It’s a real moral dilemma.
I met Rolle for the first time at dinner in the player’s cafeteria in the stadium. Rolle wore a designer suit by Sean John and a Burberry necktie; which made me self-conscious about wearing blue jeans and an open collar. The rest of his teammates wore sweats and as they walked passed us mumbled, “hey Mr. President” or “hey Mr. Rhodes.” All in good fun though, it’s obvious how proud they are of him.
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Editor's note: Hear the full story of a football player kids can truly look up to - tonight on AC360 at 11pm ET.
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer
Professional and college athletes normally make the headlines or a feature on CNN for something negative: Michael Vick's dog fighting charges, Adam 'Pacman' Jones' numerous run- ins with the law, various college football players getting suspended for cheating, not making their grades, etc. So it is refreshing to see an amazing college athlete be featured for doing something positive.
Meet Myron Rolle, a Florida State University student athlete who is as good on the football field as he is in the classroom, and I mean that in the most positive way. Rolle graduated in 2-1/2 years, is now working on his masters degree with an eye on med school to be a neurosurgeon. He has dreams of opening a clinic in the Bahamas, where his parents are from. He also dreams of playing in the NFL.
Oh, and another dream of his? To study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Myron Rolle may just do all of the above, after being one of just 32 students to win the Rhodes Scholarship less than two weeks ago. The Rhodes Scholarship is generally a two-year expense-paid graduate study program at Oxford University in England, and it is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.