ThePostGame recently caught up with the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints and one of the unofficial hosts of Super Bowl XLVII.

***

ThePostGame: What were your expectations going in, and how has this week compared to what you thought it might be like?
DREW BREES: I knew this week would be busy. I've spent a lot of time at the media center and over at the NFL Experience. We’ve got a lot of corporate relations gigs that we’ve been taking advantage of as well as a big foundation party on Friday night that we've been planning for. It's a charity concert featuring Nelly and D.J. Swizz Beatz that will raise money for Hurricane Sandy. Our foundation has committed $1 million to benefit organizations in the northeast that are trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy devastation.

And really just playing host. This is our town. We want to showcase it the best we can. It's truly been a great week thus far. The weather’s been fantastic, the city's alive and people are starting to filter into town and it looks like everybody’s having a great time. The restaurants and the live music spots are hopping and ready to roll.

TPG: Congrats on another Pro Bowl season. I've read that one of the stains that you'd like to save is the lei stain from your Pro Bowl jersey. What's special to you about that mark, and what is the "Save it! or Wash it in Tide?" campaign about?
BREES: First of all, Tide has been just a great family brand, one that we’ve always trusted. Especially with three little kids, you can imagine the amount of wash that we end up doing with those three little guys. Whether it's the finger-painting stains or the juice stains or the cheese cracker stains or the mud and the dirt and the grass stains, we're pretty busy.

Tide has a campaign during the Super Bowl, which is really trying to spark the debate as to, “Save it!" or "Wash in Tide?” campaign. Just the thought that everybody has those nostalgic items, like the jersey that you wore in a game or a costume that you wore that you can’t bring yourself to wash. For whatever reason it's got that sentimental value. What is it that you have that you would save or wash in Tide?

I have my Pro Bowl jersey that I still haven’t washed. I always just pack it in my bag right after the game so nobody takes it. My wife and I have a jersey that my son Baylen wore in a Pampers commercial back when he was not quite 1. Right before we made our Super Bowl run in 2009 we did a Pampers Super Bowl commercial in the Superdome. He was rolling around in his jersey and it was so cute. We haven’t washed it yet.

TPG: A lot of people have different thoughts about what should happen with the Pro Bowl and how the league can improve it. If you were in charge, what would you do with the game?
BREES: I would keep it in Hawaii forever. First of all, if you look at the ratings right now, it gets more viewership than the World Series. So the viewership is pretty strong.

It's great for the state of Hawaii and the fans there. They don't have a professional sports team, but they’re huge football fans. So whenever we go out there, it's always a very warm welcome. They love having the players out there, they love having the game out there. They take great pride in it, it's great for their economy. And it's great for the fan base out there.

And also the reward and the honor of being a Pro Bowl player is significant. I think guys take a great sense of responsibility when we go out there, experience that and play the game and represent the game the way we should. And make sure that it's the quality that we want to represent. I think all in all, it’s just one of those traditions that should remain.

TPG: On the whole it was a frustrating season for you, your teammates and Saints fans. But now that things are beginning to return to normal, how do you look back at this past year, and what’s your mindset moving forward?
BREES: There are a lot of things that we can take from this last year in regards to what we learned. I think that there are things that maybe we don't even appreciate right now that we can draw upon later on or that maybe we won’t fully realize until we get down the road a little ways.

But there are certainly ways that we can benefit. I think that's the way you have to look at it. There's nothing we can change. We're not going to make any excuses. The season didn’t go the way that we wanted, but we still have, in my opinion, all the pieces in place to really make a strong run next year and for a long time. What we need to focus on is the future.

Three years ago you were starting your first Super Bowl. Both guys this year are in that same position. What's your advice for a quarterback starting his first Super Bowl?
BREES: Embrace the moment. Embrace the opportunities throughout the week and just enjoy it as much as you can.

There's a lot of things about the week that are kind of a pain. You've got a media frenzy, so you're responsible to do quite a lot of media obligations and such. The microscope is kind of on you. The city is crazy and you can't roll up places without getting mobbed.

I think the big thing is just establish a routine for the week, because you're in a different place. Establish that routine, where you can go to get away and relax and clear your mind but also study and focus. And just embrace it. Embrace the opportunity to talk to the rest of your team, to talk about the journey that it took to get there and how excited you are to be in that situation.

TPG: Where will you be watching?
BREES: I'll be watching from home. I won't be at the game or anything. We usually just kind of hunker down and watch the game in a nice, quiet place.

TPG: Lastly and most importantly, what will you be eating this weekend?
BREES: [laughs] That’s a good question. I'll usually grill out. I might grill some burgers or something like that. And just kind of chase the kids around and try to watch as much of the game as I can.

Full Story >>

Coming off a disappointing turn at the London Olympics, Lolo Jones has quickly gotten back on track -- but in a different sport.

The 30-year-old Jones, a two-time Summer Olympian as a hurdler, and her U.S. teammates won gold Sunday in the combined bobsled-skeleton team event at the world championships in Switzerland.

After the Olympics, in which Jones finished fourth in the 100 meter hurdles, she had a much-publicized tryout with the U.S. bobsled team. And now Jones has aced her first test.

Jones' gold medal comes in an event that combines four disciplines: Women's and men's bobsled as well as women's and men's skeleton. Jones participated in women's bobsled, serving as the brakewoman for Elana Meyers.

While this is Jones' first bobsled gold medal, it is actually her third gold at the world championships. Jones finished in first in the 60 meter hurdles at the World Indoor Track & Field Championships in 2008 and 2010.

In case you were wondering, were Jones to qualify for the Winter Olympics she would not be the first athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter games. Far from it, actually. At least eight Americans have pulled off the feat before.

Full Story >>

ThePostGame recently caught up with the CBS broadcaster and former first-round draft pick of the Indiana Pacers. In addition to his work in the booth and as the Vice President of Player Relations for the Pacers, Kellogg is currently touring on behalf of the Capital One Cup, an NCAA Division I athletic award given annually to the top men's and women's college athletics program.

***

ThePostGame: By a lot of measures the Big Ten has become the top conference in the country. You played in the conference and have been around it for a while, is this the highest level of play you’ve ever seen from the Big Ten?
CLARK KELLOGG: I would have to look at some years way back beyond the last 10 or 12 to make that statement. Clearly it's one of the stronger years, particularly at the top. I think when you look at the top 10 teams, other than Nebraska and Penn State. Penn State suffered a terrible injury to Tim Frazier for the year, which really puts them in a tough spot. Nebraska is just trying to build its program on the basketball side.

But you look at those top 10 teams, you've got 6 of them that are ranked, and then Purdue is always going to fight and win some games that you don’t expect them to win. And Illinois has had a terrific start to the season in spite of being [2-4] in conference play right now. It's certainly as strong as it's been anytime in the last seven or eight years, I'd say.

TPG: Speaking of the top of the Big Ten, Indiana is having a spectacular season. They're near the top of the Big Ten and the Capital One Cup standings, along with North Carolina, Stanford and Maryland. What's your take on how that competition is going?

KELLOGG: We actually just released the fall standings, and North Carolina is leading the women's standings, along with Penn State. They're both tied atop the Capital One Cup Standings. On the men's side, we've got three teams that are locked in in first place: Alabama, Indiana and North Dakota State. Indiana won the men's soccer championship and Alabama and North Dakota State both won football championships.

That bodes well for what the race is going to look like as we go through the winter sports and then the spring sports. And ultimately we'll have a program on the men's and women's side that will earn the Capital One Cup Trophy and a combined $400,000 in student scholarships to go to the winning programs.

I'm looking forward to it, it's always a fun race. The last two years, we've had Florida win the men's Capital One Cup Trophy and Stanford win the women’s Capital One Cup Trophy. So we'll see if somebody can crash the party on those two schools.

TPG: It seems these days that the landscape of college athletics is really changing due to conference realignment. Conference realignment is driven mainly by football, but in your eyes what does the shifting conference scene mean for basketball?

KELLOGG: I'd first say it's a bit disheartening that this kind of movement is taking place at a rapid-fire pace and really across the country in a big way. I know there's been conference realignment and movement in the past, it's not something new, but it's happening far more frequently and with more schools being involved.

And that's disheartening on some levels. You lose some rivalries and you lose the natural geographic connections between leagues. It certainly smells of money grabs because these conferences and schools are trying to position themselves for the best TV contracts they can get. Obviously all of that is part of the equation, and we're part of it. We at CBS and the other folks that carry college sports are involved in wanting to have the best competition that we can have on the air.

It's a situation of multiple dynamics. As far as how it impacts basketball, it's gonna have an effect. I'm not sure exactly to what degree, I think the top teams that have perennially been top teams are going to continue to be based on resources, success and tradition. They’re going to continue to excel, it's just a matter of where they’ll be excelling now as the conference arrangements shift.

I'm not quite ready to say it's terrible and awful, we'll see how it plays out. But clearly it's changing some of the natural boundaries that once existed. But that's where we are, and we just have to kind of adjust to it and recognize that there's not a whole lot that any of us can do to stiff the tide. That's the way the train is moving right now.

TPG: Switching gears to your work with the Indiana Pacers, a lot of people might not be familiar with what you do for the organization. For those who don’t know, how long have you been with the team, and what are your responsibilities?

KELLOGG: Well, I've had multiple positions. I was drafted here back in 1982 as a player and spent five years doing that before knee injuries cut short my career. After retiring back in 1987, I started my broadcasting career with the Pacers. I did radio for the Indiana Pacers for two seasons and then just finished 24 years of Indiana Pacers television two years ago.

Three years ago I took a job as Vice President of Player Relations, and that's the role that I serve now in terms of helping our players in their development and growth away from basketball. Community involvement, self-education, basically helping our guys develop in areas away from the game that will serve them while they're playing but also prepare them for when the ball eventually stops bouncing.

I'm more than busy between college hoops broadcasting and my work as a Vice President of Player Relations here with the Indiana Pacers, in addition to my role as Advisory Board Member of the Capital One Cup. As my wife says, "You've got too many jobs."

TPG: You've spent a lot of time with some very talented basketball players, including the President of the United States. How would you rate his basketball skills and knowledge of the game?

KELLOGG: I would give him high marks in both. Really high marks. He has a tremendous passion for the game and knowledge of it. You can tell he’s more than just a fan of the game, he's a student of the game and a player of the game. I have not played an actual game with him, but I've seen clips and I’ve heard from people that have. They say he knows what he’s doing out there, he understands the way to play. I can tell from my interaction with him that he's definitely got a sweet left-handed jump shot. There's no question about that, as he was able to take me down in a game of P-O-T-U-S we played a few years ago. And that was legit, he can shoot it.

He actually wasn't bad at talking a little trash while he was shooting. I have great respect for him as our Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States, but he raised my level of respect even more when he started spitting a little trash at me while he was knocking down jumpers.

TPG: Are there any plans for a P-O-T-U-S rematch in the works?

KELLOGG: [laughs] I think his plate is extremely full as he embarks on this second term and looking to make an impact on the lives of those of us here in the country and around the world. So if it happened I would welcome it, but if it doesn't I would certainly understand.

Full Story >>

In the wake of the recent suicides of several former NFL players -- Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Shane Dronett to name a few -- many people couldn't help but wonder: Could these men have been saved if the athletes' conditions had been diagnosed during their lifetime.

Although the ability to identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) in living players remains a work in progress, researchers say they have taken a significant step toward that reality.

A group at UCLA used a brain-imaging tool to examine five NFL veterans who had sustained at least one concussion. Two of the players were identified: Fred McNeill, a 59-year-old former Vikings linebacker, and Wayne Clark, a 64-year-old former quarterback. Three others have only provided their age and position: a 73-year-old former guard, a 50-year-old former defensive lineman and a 45-year-old former center.

The researchers were searching for buildup of a protein called tau, which essentially strangles brain cells. Sure enough, tau deposits were found in each of the players' brains. Researchers said the protein was concentrated in areas that control memory and emotions, which is consistent with the location of the tau found in the autopsies of deceased players.

The findings, published this week in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, are the first on living ex-NFL players that have identified tau. While the study was very small (only five players participated), one of the originators of the research says it is a step in the right direction.

"I’ve been saying that identifying CTE in a living person is the Holy Grail for this disease and for us to be able make advances in treatment," Dr. Julian Bailes, co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill., told PBS. "It's not definitive and there’s a lot we still need to discover to help these people, but it's very compelling. It’s a new discovery."

The study was financed by a $100,000 grant from the Brain Injury Research Institute, which was co-founded by Bailes.

Experts agree that broader research is needed to come to any conclusions. That has been difficult due to a lack of funding, but more and more money is being directed toward similar studies. Last year the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health for brain injury research.

And while there is still much work to be done, the UCLA study is undeniably a good start.

“This is the Holy Grail if it works. This is what we’ve been waiting for, but it looks like it’s probably preliminary to say they’ve got it," Dr. Robert Cantu, a senior adviser to the NFL's Head, Neck & Spine Committee and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, told PBS. "But if they do have it, this is exactly what we need."

Full Story >>

Tags:
NFL

Papa Ndao might be the quietest player on the St. Joseph's basketball team, but he sure knows how to make those around him erupt.

The soft-spoken sophomore forward brought a sold-out Hagan Arena and his teammates to their feet as he out-jumped two opponents to tip in an errant shot on Dec. 28 against Iona. The basket gave the Hawks their largest lead of the night, capping a 13-2 second-half run, and punctuated a halt to a two-game losing streak.

Yet while the St. Joe's faithful roared and pumped their fists in celebration, Ndao (pronounced "now") calmly put his head down and ran to the other end of the court preparing to play defense unaware that Iona called a timeout to stop the bleeding. It was a team-first move that aptly defines Ndao as he embraces his role as St. Joseph's sixth man.

"I'm not worried about scoring," said Ndao, who has played in all 12 games this season, averaging 7.6 minutes off the bench. "We have people who can score the ball. I'm just worried about making the right play at all times whether on defense or on offense. I just want to be involved as much as possible. It's not my time yet. So I want to embrace my role. For now I'm not the go-to guy, so I'm going to push my teammates to their full potential and do what I can to help us win. It will be my time soon and I just have to keep doing what I'm doing to be ready."

When it is Ndao's time to crack the starting lineup, it will cap an improbable journey spanning nearly 4,000 miles from Dakar, Senegal, to Philadelphia.

Like most kids in the West African nation, Ndao grew up playing soccer, which is still one of his favorite sports. As Ndao sprouted into his 6-foot-8 frame, however, his height as well as the speed and agility he picked up on the soccer pitch, drew the attention of SEEDS Academy instructors. Soon thereafter, Ndao enrolled in one of Africa's most elite basketball boarding schools with the hope of playing NCAA basketball and earning an American college degree.

"I always wanted to play at the highest level, but I never imagined myself sitting here in Philadelphia actually getting the chance to do it," Ndao said.

The SEEDS Academy opened in 2003 through the efforts of Dallas Mavericks executive and former Senegalese basketball star Amadou Gallo Fall. Through partnerships with Nike, the NBA and FIBA, SEEDS, which stands for Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal, provides year-round academic and athletic development for its students before placing them at an American prep school. Currently, more than 20 SEEDS graduates are playing college basketball in America.

SEEDS provided Ndao with opportunities to travel the globe playing basketball and become accustomed to other cultures. Ndao also learned to speak English, French and Spanish as well as how to read and write Arabic.

He credits his experience at SEEDS with easing the transition to American life.

Full Story >>