"The Takeout" travels to the Super Bowl

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Super Bowl this week, where he talked about politics, football — and the politics of football — with an array of football greats, commentators, politicians and media personalities descending on Atlanta for the game.

The Los Angeles Rams take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Former Atlanta Mayor and Congressman Andrew Young stopped by the Takeout booth to talk with Garrett about the big game, and about one of the biggest clashes between sports and politics in recent years, the NFL player protests. Following the example of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, some players have kneeled — instead of standing — during the national anthem, in a silent but visible protest of police brutality and racism. It attracted the attention of President Trump, who has often criticized the protesters.

Young told Garrett on "The Takeout" this week that he really admires Kaepernick, "but I don't like to integrate sports and protest."

"I was in Congress with Jack Kemp, and we cooperated on a lot of things — he was a conservative Republican, and I was a liberal Democrat," Young recalled. "But, I asked him, Jack, 'how is it you got so straight on race?' And he said 'I was quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and the five guys who blocked for me all happened to be black. And if I had a racist bone in my body, all they had to do was let a shoulder slip and that bone would have been broken.

"It puts life on such a firm, equal, solid level. The team that wins here, is going to be the team that is most a team, for the whole 60 minutes," Young continued, adding, "If they are not a team, they will not win."

"I wish the kid was making $10 million playing for somebody," Young said of Kaepernick, but he believed that the player should let his performance do the talking."

Interviews will be released throughout the weekend in podcast form — subscribe to The Takeout podcast for updates on interviews with: Joe Theismann, Malcolm Mitchell, Kathy Ireland, Scott Joblonski of StubHub and Bill Reiter of CBS Sports.

CBS Sports' James Brown will be hosting the Super Bowl for the ninth time. He talked about how football players are more publicly political than they have been in the past.

"Many athletes for years did not like being kept in a box — colonized, marginalized," Brown told Garrett. "These guys are citizens, there to be involved in the fabric of their communities."

Brown also discussed Mr. Trump's criticism of football players for kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

"They're pro-justice," Brown said about the athletes, countering the idea that the protests are anti-police. Brown was joined by former Patriots player Rodney Harrison in another segment of the interview.

Garrett also spoke with DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association, the union which represents football players.

"While I love football as a game…these are people who go to work every day," Smith said about football players, who are prone to severe injuries. "In the same way that a coal miner is concerned about his working conditions, I care about the field conditions for our players." He added that the NFLPA doesn't make "any apologies for being a sharp-elbowed union."

Smith also discussed players' protests, saying that the NFLPA exercises its duty to "protect our players' rights." He discussed reaching a detente with the NFL over a dropped policy that would have required owners to fine kneeling players, and praised players for having "civil discourse in their locker rooms."

Other guests on "The Takeout" this week include football legend and sports commentator Joe Thiesmann, CBS Sports anchor Dana Jacobson and former Patriots player and activist Martellus Bennet.

For more of Major's conversations at the Super Bowl, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko, Jamie Benson and Sara Cook

CBSN Production: Alex Zuckerman, Eric Soussanin and Grace Segers

Show email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast

Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

First published on February 1, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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