'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, February 1st, 2015
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: February 1, 2015
Guest: Chris Valletta, Dave Zirin, Wade Davis, Kavitha Davidson, Anthony
Alessi, Brad Lamm, Jill Filipovic, Caitlin Y., Drexel Bradshaw
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question is did you see
how Lynch responded to questions this week?
Plus, the cash cow that is the NFL and the ladies of the league, but first
I have a confession to make. I love football.
Hi, everyone. My name is Melissa. I`m a fan. So, everyone, I guess it
all began when I watched my first football game. I mean, I was just a kid.
I loved to sit with my daddy in his big chair as he cheered his team and
ranted against the opposition.
Listening to him while he watched football was like being exposed to a
foreign language. I was dying to crack the code. Did someone hold? What
is offsides? But the real addiction started in high school. You see, I
was on the cheerleading squad and our team was great.
As in our star running back, Walter Henderson, went top to play for the
Green Bay Packers and win a Super Bowl. Great. And when you`re in a town
like mine that loved football and your team is fantastic, it`s hard not to
just go and give yourself totally to it and love everything about the game.
And I do, I love it all, the satisfying crunch of a brutal tackle stopping
an opponent in his tracks, the thrill of an unexpected interception,
shifting the energy of a contest and the beauty of a perfect touchdown rush
and the sheer abandon of these gladiators as they celebrate their victory
I am addicted to football. And I know it`s an addiction, because I just
can`t quit it, even though I know it`s bad for me. Even though I am fully
aware that indulging in all of football`s highest highs comes along with
the consequences of some very low lows.
Like the one-third of those gladiators who devote their lives to the sport
only to see their lives diminished and some cases cut short as a
consequence of their devotion to the game.
Last year "The New York Times" reported on the rates of brain damage among
retired players are materially higher than those expected in the general
population, and the players will develop these diagnoses at notably younger
ages than the general population.
I know this is happening even as I celebrate the collisions that start the
ticking time bomb that could one day explode in those players` brains. But
I keep coming back.
I keep coming back for the violent, physical aggression that is so
thrilling between players when it happens on the field. Even, as I know
the NFL fumbled its response to violence when players have turned it
against more vulnerable people off the field.
I can`t shake that football monkey off my back, even though there is plenty
of evidence that the product is not pure, because today, on the high
holiday of football worshippers everywhere, the integrity of the sport has
been tainted by the scandal of deflate-gate.
When the Seattle Seahawks face off against the New England Patriots it will
be in the shadow of an ongoing investigation into whether or not the Pats
underinflated footballs to their advantage in the AFC championship game.
And, no, not even that scandal will stop me from cheering on today`s
exhibition of football at its best. The camaraderie, the courage and the
leadership that we see exemplified on the field.
And although I always very much am aware of how football falls short of
those ideals every time the Washington team plays with its dehumanizing and
offensive name and logo, I`ll still be there in front of the TV, ready for
Because on gameday, football just brings out my inner addict. It just
calls to me. I`ve got no control over it, I`ve just got to go to it, even
though I know that this addiction of mine ain`t cheap.
This habit helps line the pockets of my main product pusher, the NFL, to
the tune of almost $11 billion, making it the most profitable pro sports
league in the United States.
And some of those billions are coming directly from my and your wallets,
thanks to taxpayer money that supports hometown teams and the hundreds of
millions of tax breaks enjoyed by the league, the teams, sponsors and
In fact, we are so sought in the thrall of this sports that on Super Bowl
Sunday, the NFL can guarantee a captive audience to sell to the highest
bidder. Year after year, the Super Bowl is television`s highest rated
And today marketers counting on all of us to keep watching through the
commercial breaks are shelling out a record $4.5 million for every 30
seconds of our attention because they know that when it comes to football,
we just can`t turn away, which is why I`m ready to admit it, I have a
Joining me now, Dave Zirin, sports editor for "The Nation" magazine and
author of "Brazil`s Dance with the Devil, The World Cup, The Olympics and
the Fight for Democracy," Wade Davis, former NFL player and executive
director of the "You Can Play Project."
Kavitha Davidson who is a sports columnist for "Bloomberg View," and Chris
Valetta, a former NFL player and author of "Team Works, The Gridiron
Playbook For Building A Championship Business Team."
Thanks to all of you for being here to share my addiction with me a little
bit on this Super Bowl Sunday. I want to start with you, Chris, on this
idea that football is a uniquely American sport.
You know, soccer is played globally, basketball is played globally, but
this crazy game is just ours. So I guess part of what I`m wondering is
whether that`s part of our almost irrational attachment to it as a people.
CHRIS VALLETTA, FORMER NFL PLAYER: It`s interesting. The first time I was
in New Zealand and I told somebody I played American football, they said
isn`t that the one that you`ve got to put pads on for? I thought that was
pretty funny, knowing the popularity of the sport here.
But it is an amazing spectacle in the United States. I am a former player.
I`m proud that I played the game and proud to represent the game. I like
to represent it for not just the sort of gladiator mindset on the field,
which I believe has some benefits.
But I also like to represent it for what it can take off the field and I
think that is actually a tremendous bridge that can be created. And I do
think that the NFL is in a power position to better build that bridge. I
think it`s been tarnished.
It`s been beat up, especially this year, but there are certainly some
opportunities to take advantage of the PR sort of nightmare that we`re
HARRIS-PERRY: I was looking back, kind of digging back into this
obsession. Teddy Roosevelt is kind of thinking through manhood and
American identity at the turn of the 20th Century. His own son playing for
the team, this was 1905.
There is Teddy Roosevelt`s team is injured, right, playing for his ivy
league team, and in that same year, 1905, 19 deaths caused by
intercollegiate football. But we didn`t stop. I mean, that`s 1905
including the president`s son.
We were like, well, yes, but this is our sport. Is there -- should we be
reforming it? Should we be fixing it or should we be trying to abandon it?
KAVITHA DAVIDSON, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": I think that we need
to kind of come to the realization that there is no such thing as safe
football. There can be such a thing as safer football.
The fact of the matter is the organization, the NFL and the NCAA as well
has not taken enough steps to make it safer and has actually taken steps to
deflect from the ways that can make it safer.
That said, you know, I think what Chris said is absolutely true, that there
are redeeming qualities in having football. There are great effects of
athletes coming off the field and everything. Those of us who criticize
the game and criticize the way that the power has corrupted the game as
much as it has just want to make it better, I think.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s always interesting to me that your response in part
to what you see as challenges in the game in the NFL around issues of
bigotry or pushing back make you want to open up the game to more people,
The you can play isn`t about let`s get rid of it, it`s about let`s expand
it and make it possible to get the kind of benefits that Chris talks about
of teamwork, of camaraderie, of individual sacrifice. So how do you square
Here are the challenges that I clearly see in it, that you were part of it,
and yet a desire to open it up to more folks.
WADE DAVIS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I would say America without the sport of
football is like breakfast without bacon.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, what would be the point?
DAVIS: Exactly. So why even keep living. But as Chris said, we`re both
biased. The sport of football has brought me so much. I wouldn`t be here
if it wasn`t for that. So I think we just have to focus on the positive
and really also think about what some of the other benefits that the NFL
I think they could move from like this one-time types of giving to more of
like a philanthropic type of model where it takes on the form of like the
Ford Foundation and creates kind of an institutional model.
Where they say, we have these issues of domestic violence, of addiction, of
brain injuries, right, and really start to invest in doing some systematic
changes that now we can say this sport isn`t just about greed but it`s
actually about doing some work to reform our entire world.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dave, I have to say I know what`s going to happen this
evening. We`re all going to tune in. When we tune in to watch the game,
we`ll also be watching on social media. For the first quarter or so, you
will not so much be watching the game on social media, is that right?
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, "THE NATION" MAGAZINE: For the first 20 minutes
I`ll be live tweeting an episode of "The Facts of Life." It`s my act of
civil disobedience as everybody tunes in to watch the Super Bowl.
It`s also a way to kind of say as much as I am a fan of this game that if
we lived in a sane world this sport would not exist. This is brain damage
for profit, that`s what it is. Science is not this sport`s friend. The
more we learn about it, the more we have to reckon with the fact that we
cannot wave a magic wand and make it go away.
If you prohibited football in this country, I mean, it would be like
prohibition in the 20s times 100. Imagine that there would be speak-easies
in Texas of 10-year-old children playing football. You have to know the
secret knock to see them play each other. It would be nuts if you tried to
HARRIS-PERRY: And also if it would be like breakfast without bacon, with
all due respect to my vegetarian and vegan viewers, it might also be like
less -- I mean, that some things that are not safe in life are also worth
being part of.
DAVIS: But it`s worth it for us to watch as opposed to play. I was
watching the game the other day. Every Sunday I practice what Homer
Simpson calls the practice of ass horizonology on my couch. She said would
you let Jacob play this? I said, no, Jacob is not playing it. She said
how can you watch it? I said you need to leave.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause. Up next, how a billion here and a billion
there start to add up for quite the haul for Roger Goodell`s NFL?
And still ahead, how Nicki Minaj likes to pregame for the big game with our
guy, Craig Melvin, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went before the
press to deliver comments and take questions in his annual State Of The
League news conference. About 7 minutes into his opening statement, he
dropped this shoutout to one of the NFL`S media partners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Finally, on steps to grow the game and
serve the fans, we are excited about the success of Thursday night football
and the extension of our agreement with CBS. We have the best partners in
media, and together we will continue to develop new platforms, expand fan
interaction and deepen fan engagement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, according to a report in "GQ" magazine during Goodell`s
time as commissioner, he has been able to boost total league revenues about
65 percent, and he`s told his team owners that he wants to see those
revenues jump to $25 billion over the next 12 years.
The reason he`s able to be so confident in those estimates is due in large
part to that fan engagement and those media partners he mentioned. You
see, unlike the latest episode of your favorite show, NFL games are often
Because while you may be able to wait a day or two to find out just how
Olivia Pope manages her scandal of the week, we generally want to know
whether our favorite team won or lost in realtime, which means NFL games
are the one televised event where we likely won`t be fast forwarding
through the commercials.
And that makes the games very valuable for the networks that host them. So
much so that they`re willing to pay the NFL these premium prices each year
for the privilege, $950 million from NBC, $1 billion from CBS, $1.1 billion
from Fox, $1.9 billion from ESPN and a $1.5 billion deal with DirecTV,
which all adds up to more than $6 billion each year for Roger Goodell`s
So I know I have a football addiction, but I`m just saying my employer may
be jonesing particularly hard. Is there anything troubling about -- I
mean, is this just good ole free enterprise?
People want to watch it. We want to broadcast it. Everybody is making
money, here we go, or is there something that should make us go, oh, I feel
a little icky about those billions.
ZIRIN: I think there`s nothing wrong with feeling icky about these
billions rolling in. Part of the "GQ" story was the description of Bob
Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, saying, wait a minute, we`ve
got a problem with domestic violence.
And calls up the head of CBS and get us in front of us, get us a woman to
interview Roger Goodell. So the idea that it`s all stage managed because
professional football is now the tent pole of broadcast television.
And him bragging about Thursday night football when that`s the number one
complaint of the players association and the players shows how little Roger
Goodell has learned because of the extra injuries, because of the lack of
So he says he`s listening and that to me is proof positive Roger Goodell
hasn`t lenders a thing. When I saw his press conference, all I could think
of was talk about deflated balls.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dave Zirin for the win.
Let`s back out of whether the NFL is a good partner to communities. If in
fact players are saying, Thursday night problem is a problem for us. We
need our week-to-week. We need those full seven days because of the kind
of physical game this is.
Is there an argument to be made that that`s actually bad labor practice
even if it brings big money and an additional partner?
DAVIDSON: The NFL is the worst of the four professional sports leagues
when it comes to its labor practices. Back a few months ago, Richard
Sherman did a mock press conference where he kind of made fun of the
impetus for players to give media statements in the Marshawn Lynch context,
And one of the major things that he mentioned was, you know, you want us to
talk to the media, but you don`t want us to voice our displeasure with
Thursday night football games. You want to talk about player safety, but
you don`t want to talk about, you know, the damage that this is doing to
our bodies to have these extra games.
VALLETTA: I would say that as a player, you may agree or disagree, but in
games, in weeks that have shorter weeks because of Thursday night football
or what have you, the practices have changed dramatically in the NFL since
-- within the last five years.
HARRIS-PERRY: They`re taking off the pads.
VALLETTA: Pads are off, you`re wearing shells. It`s not nearly as
physical as it once was. Two-a-days or three-a-days that used to happen
back in the day. Those are almost gone for the most part. So I would say
that practices are adjusted to the type of schedule.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask real quick on the two-a-days and three-a-days, is
that gone just at the professional level? Because I swear I see the kids
are still out there in the high school level like particularly doing the
VALLETTA: Even at the high school level coaches, athletic trainers, and
municipalities frankly are becoming much smarter about the game, the safety
implicating of being out in the heat. Kids are out in shorts and t-shirts
for the first couple of days to get acclimated to the weather and then
graduate to shoulder pads and graduate a little further.
So monumental steps have been taken in terms of player safety during
practice, but I would say that, look, this is a -- the league has every
right to make money, we can`t argue that and it`s clearly in high demand.
There`s certainly no argument about that.
I would say that there`s separating the issue of the NFL and its ability to
be a gigantic business and also the issues of the day facing the NFL.
Domestic violence, murder with Aaron Hernandez and you`ve got child abuse.
Emotionally charged, aggressive, intense subjects that are certainly
addressing major issues within the NFL, but these are also major national
issues, not just NFL issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, stick with us, our guests are all hanging out
with us throughout the day today, but up next, fans and celebrities are all
flocking to Glendale. We`re going to take you there for a live report and
a glimpse of the party scene, Super Bowl Sunday in nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kickoff is still more than eight hours away, but the party
started days ago. Fans have been ramping up to game time with pregame
filled by selects and pregame performances. Some people are in Phoenix
only for the parties.
Joining me now from Glendale, a man who has attended some of these pre-
parties, NBC`S Craig Melvin. Craig, what`s going on there? It looks kind
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Melissa, let`s start
there. You`re right, it is very foggy. This was not in the forecast.
This is a fog that is so thick it`s actually stopped air travel into Sky
Harbor International Airport. That`s the big airport in Phoenix, ground
stoppage right now.
We expect that to be lifted at some point soon and we also expect this to
burn off as well. The forecast for game time this evening is supposed to
be just fine, mid-60s, the sun is supposed to be out.
In fact the dome here, they`re going to have the roof back so it should be
quite nice once the Seahawks and Pats take the field at 6:30 Eastern, 4:30
here. You mentioned the parties.
There have been a lot of them, Melissa Harris-Perry, a whole heck of a lot
of parties. And here`s the thing, you know, we have to get up for these
live shots on the east coast, but obviously the parties are in local time.
So every night we`ve been getting like two or three hours of sleep and I`m
not a young man anymore so it`s going to take me about a week to recover.
HARRIS-PERRY: You should be totally used to two or three hours sleep at
this point, right? This is not such a big deal. A year of that at this
MELVIN: He started sleeping through the night and it threw me off. Six
months ago would have been fine.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you about Nicki Minaj because I loved seeing
the two of you together. She posted a picture on social media with the two
of you together saying that you are dope, which I concur about.
MELVIN: Really? That`s nice.
HARRIS-PERRY: So tell me, what`s your party experience been so far?
MELVIN: So Nicki Minaj is performing at the Budlight party Friday night.
Budlight had this big party at the house of whatever because folks had to
demonstrate they were up for whatever so you have a thousand folks that
show up for this concert not knowing who was going to perform.
It was Nicki Minaj. So we sat down before the concert and she could not
have been more gracious. She is one of the biggest names in rap right now
in America. She`s about to kick off a big tour.
And I asked her whether for her the Super Bowl was about the game or
whether the Super Bowl was about the parties. Here`s what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELVIN: The Super Bowl weekend itself, is it about the game, is it about
NICKI MINAJ: For me it`s about the parties, of course, duh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELVIN: At least she was honest, at least she was honest.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have a question for you. If you had to pick, which is the
best, watching the game at home alone so people aren`t talking over it,
attending a Super Bowl party at a friend`s house or actually attending the
MELVIN: I know this is going to sound odd, but I -- like at a friend`s
house watching the game with people who want to watch the game. There`s
nothing worse than going to a Super Bowl with folks who don`t want to watch
the game and just want to eat and talk.
This is the second one we`ve been to. It`s a fantastic experience, love
being inside. But you don`t get to see the commercials, you can`t drink as
much as you want, you can`t eat as much as you want, you`re a bit
restricted, Melissa Harris-Perry.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So just in case our bosses are listening, Craig
doesn`t want to go to the Super Bowl next year.
MELVIN: That is not what I said.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ll go, I`ll go. All right, NBC`s Craig Melvin in
Glendale, Arizona. Thanks for showing up and hanging out with us a bit.
MELVIN: Good to see you, my friend.
HARRIS-PERRY: While temperatures at the stadium in Glendale will be in the
mild and even enviable 60s tonight, winter storm line us is headed to the
northeast with widespread snow and freezing rain. The storm is moving away
from the Great Lakes, but they`re not out of the woods just yet.
A snowstorm has been upgraded to blizzard status by the National Weather
Service. Some parts of the area could see 17 inches of snow. Joining me
now is NBC News correspondent, Kevin Tibbles in Chicago. Kevin, are the
winds really picking up there?
KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS: The winds are blowing the snow sideways. I just
want to point out that we really loved listening to Craig Melvin coming to
us from sunny, Glendale, Arizona, as we were waiting to come and deliver
this remarkable shot from the shores of Lake Michigan, which looks this
morning like a giant super gulp slushy at this time.
Temperatures are just below freezing. They`re going to plummet as soon as
the snow stops blowing sideways. I have no idea how many flights have been
cancelled at O`Hare Airport, but I can tell you that there`s probably more
than a handful.
And the city of Chicago has more than 350 snow plows on the streets today
trying to keep the roads open, but my advice would be just curl up on the
couch, start the fire and wait for the game to start. Don`t go outside,
take it from me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kevin, I just made a plea to get to the Super Bowl next
year, but I`m pretty sure you`re the one that deserves it. That weather
TIBBLES: Just save me a chicken wing out there, Craig Melvin.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kevin Tibbles in Chicago, please do try to stay warm.
Coming up, head injuries within the league and among our smallest little
pigskin players. But first, my letter of the week with a twist that I`m
telling you, you are not going to want to miss.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is the moment of the program each week when I send a
letter to someone whose actions or words have made me just have to respond.
But today a first, I am yielding the floor to nerdland favorite, Dave
Zirin. This week it is Dave who really has something to say and a letter
to send -- Dave.
ZIRIN: Don`t you hate it when a self-righteous pundit gets in front of a
camera and says to someone in power, sir or madam, if you have any decency,
you would resign. Allow me to join their ranks. The person in power I`m
addressing, the person I`m asking to break out the want ads and find new
work is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Dear Mr. Goodell, it`s me, Dave. After the scandal-plagued year that the
league just suffered through when everyone from Bob Costas to the folks in
Vegas assumed you`d be fired, it would be better for all of us if you just
No amount of spin, no number of media people rushing to your defense, no
series of public service announcements featuring NFL players saying "no
more" can hide a simple fact, 55 times since you became commissioner in
2006, a player in your league was arrested for domestic violence and 55
times you did next to nothing.
If not for a certain leaked videotape, Baltimore Ravens runningback, Ray
Rice would have been the 56th time you sat on your hands. When you wipe
away the lawyer speak about whether you saw the tape, or didn`t see the
tape, or didn`t see the tape, the fact remains that you are now connected
to dozens of cases where a woman or child was beaten by one of your
Not only have I seen you do next to nothing to curb this problem, you have
chosen to say next to nothing about the probable links between head
injuries, the violence on the field, and the violence that can visit the
families of NFL players.
Yes, the overwhelming number of players does not take part in violence
against women and, yes, domestic violence exists in many families where
head injuries are not an issue, but the connection is still real and the
league has done nothing, zero that I can find, to educate NFL families on
looking for the warning signs.
Yet you continue to praise your league and really yourself for making
domestic violence, quote, "part of the national conversation," end quote.
This is outrageous, kind of like praising Goldman Sachs for making
corporate greed part of the national conversation.
That`s why that`s Miko Grimes, the wife of Dolphins cornerback, Brent
Grimes, basically broke Twitter last week with a too profane for TV rant
against your league. I`m going to read some of her tweets anyway.
Ms. Grimes said, "The NFL is the bleepiest, shadiest, disrespectful,
professional sport in the world and as long as I breathe air, I will talk
bleep about them. You have these campaigns going on about domestic
violence and sexual assault when we all know that you don`t GAF about
I have friends that were beaten, thrown downstairs while pregnant, guys
arrested and the NFL suspended them one bleeping game? Now y`all care?
Ray Rice clocked his now wife on camera, then all of a sudden no more? Get
the bleep out of here, NFL.
I`m not being quiet about this bull bleep no more. Miko Grimes is right
and clear. No one should be quiet about this. If nothing else this last
year, we have all learned that the continued profitability of the league
means that NFL owners will protect and defend you no matter the moral cost.
Be better than your employers, Mr. Goodell, show the country that despite
all popular opinion to the contrary, there is still such a thing as shame
in this world. Say that the league needs to get serious in how it
discusses domestic violence and head injuries.
That the league needs to work in partnership with the players association
to figure out a new approach rooted in educating current players and caring
for those who have retired.
Make clear that your resignation is a precondition for making this
partnership a reality. And most of all, be honest in your resignation
speech that when it comes to issues of violence against women and head
injuries, you have been profoundly ignorant.
Be honest that you`re now damning quote when punishing the New Orleans
Saints that ignorance is no excuse should apply to you as well and then go
out and find a new job.
I would recommend seeking work at the Walter Reed Hospital ward that deals
with traumatic brain injuries. If the tragedy of your tenure as
commissioner has been ignorance, I garrendamntee that will clear it up
mighty quick. Sincerely, Dave Zirin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOODELL: We reported yesterday that concussions were down 25 percent this
past regular season continuing a three-year trend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during his annual
State Of The League address on Friday. But it`s worth digging into the
statistics on concussions a little more.
The commissioner noted that concussions were down 25 percent during this
past regular season, but toss in practices and preseason games and the
decline is a bit less dramatic, 12 percent.
And while any decline in this statistic is welcome news, the NFL still
reported 202 concussions. No matter what happens with head injuries in the
future, we must also contend with the past. More than 4500 former players
have sued the league, some claiming the NFL actively hid the dangers of
Now, even the NFL admits that it expects one in three retired players to
develop long-term cognitive problems. And just this week, researchers at
Boston University found that retirees who started playing tackle football
before the age of 12 had an increased risk of memory trouble and related
Clearly none of this is good news for football players or the league
itself. But the implications may reach even further, to the next
generation of players. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that
37 percent of Americans say they would steer their kids away from playing
football because they are worried about concussions.
We love football and we love our kids. Does all this mean that those two
loves are in conflict? Joining our table, Dr. Anthony Alessi, who is a
sports neurologist and a medical director at the University Of Connecticut
I want to start with you, doctor. This new report about 12-year-olds will
undoubtedly lead at least some people to look at the small ending study
and say, all we need to do is keep the peewees from playing and if they
start middle school, high school, it will be OK. Is that the right
conclusion to draw?
DR. ANTHONY ALESSI, SPORTS NEUROLOGIST: Melissa, you have to understand
that throughout time mothers were always kind of against their children
playing football, really. Let`s face it, but fathers have always won the
argument until now.
With this discussion about concussions coming up, mothers are starting to
win and more and more kids are getting lacrosse sticks and they`re playing
HARRIS-PERRY: Is lacrosse safer for their heads?
ALESSI: It`s not as much immediate contact. When you think of linemen,
you know you`re going to get hit on every play, so there`s a big difference
in the frequency of concussions. So you`re seeing fewer people.
As a matter of fact, Pop Warner said this year they have lost 25 percent of
their participants. So we`ve now empowered mothers and their argument and
fathers are starting to lose the argument.
HARRIS-PERRY: So if this is -- it`s an interesting case. My husband and I
were chatting a little bit about it this morning as we were prepping for
the show. Now, we have two daughters, but I asked so, you know, if we were
talking about our nephew or if we had a son, would we want him to play.
Look, the reality is, again, I know so many guys who were some of my
favorite people in middle school and high school in part because they were
kids, who played on the team and because they played on the team, for
example, they didn`t get into drinking in high school.
They were like, you know, special collective sweet, nice kids but I don`t
know, would I want my kid to play? How do I balance that?
DAVIS: You know, Melissa, I think what Vince Wilfork said is like the
shirt. It`s kind of all in the game, Yo. You know, to be honest that it`s
just a part of the game.
And we both know that it`s a risk that you take, but you fall in love with
the game. I really think that once you start playing the game of football,
there`s something psychological that really happens.
The NFL will always have a market for this -- for players because of
poverty that your marks are right there. That there are people who truly
believe that if my son plays a sport that they can take me out of poverty.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So that -- I have to say that`s kind of when I
popped up when you said moms don`t want their kids to play football because
I thought actually in many of the communities that I`m from, where I`ve
worked in, actually moms do in part because there is a perception that
there may be opportunities at least to get to college.
Maybe not to the pros, but as a track man so I`m wondering does this mean
that wealthy kids opt out to lacrosse sticks and poor kids end up with head
ZIRIN: What do Russell Wilson and Tom Brady have in common? They both
come from middle class families and stable homes. I think that will be the
pipeline that we see sever in the years to come.
HARRIS-PERRY: But Brady`s dad kept him out until he was 14.
ALESSI: As did Archie Manning. Archie manning did the same thing. So I
understand that youth football is not necessarily a ticket to the NFL.
ALESSI: As a matter of fact, many players didn`t play youth football. So
there has to be another reason to play youth football. That`s why I`m not
against abolishing youth football, but we need to work with information and
that`s our problem.
ZIRIN: And science is not the league`s friend. The more science we learn,
the more dangerous the league looks.
ALESSI: It depends on how you define science because a lot of the stuff
out there is not true science. Let`s face it, when you think of it, most
of the research we`ve done has been at the NFL and NCAA level. Nobody has
really looked at high school athletes.
Certainly no one has looked at youth athletes. The brain is different at
that level and yet when you look at the pyramid, there are 3 million youth
football players at grade school.
REID: We`re not doing research on those kids at that time.
ALESSI: Absolutely not. So we don`t have enough information. So it`s
hard for a mother and a father to make any decision without information,
and we don`t have it yet.
VALLETTA: I`ve got a 2-year-old little boy. I wish I had a dollar for
everyone that asks me are you going to let your son play football or not.
My answer is emphatically that it will be his decision, but the life
lessons learned in that game far outweigh the risks.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s talk about saying it`s going to be his decision.
There are all kinds of things we don`t let kids make decisions about
because we don`t think they can adequately address that sort of now cost
versus the long term. Heck, there are states where a teenage girl can`t
even get an abortion without her parents` consent.
VALLETTA: But the landscape is different today. Think about the landscape
of youth sports today even when I was a kid. You have today -- when I was
a kid we played every sport there was to play. Baseball, soccer,
basketball, we played football, we played everything, right?
It was go do it all. Now you have a single sport culture amongst 8-year-
olds. So you`ve got kids that are playing baseball 12 months out of the
HARRIS-PERRY: Because they`re trying to specialize.
VALLETTA: That`s the professionalization of youth sports. They want their
kids on that track in a way that I think can be very destructive for many
families. Not all the life lessons from football are good. It actually
depends on how the family processes those lessons and talks to their kids.
It can be very ugly.
ALESSI: People can me this all the time, should I let my child play youth
football. As you said, Melissa, you need to meet a parent. If the coach
is a knucklehead, get them out of there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Dr. Anthony Alessi for your comments and also
the rest of my panel for sticking around.
Coming up, who wants in. Bets on everything from the hair toss to Katy
Perry`s hair color during the halftime show. Just how much money is going
into gambling this weekend that`s up next so much on Super Bowl Sunday in
HARRIS-PERRY: For millions of Americans, wagering on the Super Bowl is a
big part of the big game. More people bet on the Super Bowl than any event
in American sports, putting money on the line from everything from the
point spread to who will win the coin toss.
This year fans can even bet on what color Katy Perry`s hair will be during
her halftime performance. The American Gaming Association estimates that
fans will spend $3.8 billion on a variety of Super Bowl bets and that
doesn`t include all those office pools and pretty much all of it is
In fact according to the American Gaming Association, the illegal market
for gambling is 38 times greater than the legal one. Still, most people
don`t consider that during big sporting events like the Super Bowl,
gambling is widely considered socially acceptable.
Many of the people who partake from loyal fans to local officials are in it
for fun, bragging rights, maybe a few extra bucks. But for the millions of
Americans who suffer from gambling addiction, Super Bowl Sunday can be a
Joining me now from Los Angeles is intervention specialist, Brad Lamm who`s
also the founder of Breath Life Healing Centers, which focuses on addiction
Talk to me a little bit about how tough a day like this is for people who
may be problem gamblers, considering how many people will be placing bets.
BRAD LAMM, FOUNDER, BREATHE LIFE HEALING CENTERS: Well, it`s all about the
thrill of the win, whether or not it`s a $5 bet at the grocery store or
hair salon, Melissa, or if you`re betting the house on it.
Estimates are there are 5 percent to 10 percent of people who will go big
on a day like this on Super Bowl Sunday will have a real problem with
gambling. So for clinicians it`s all about that rush, it`s that dopamine
experience that people get when they take money and hope for a big win.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me a little bit about why it`s a problem. So why
it`s a problem for people that have a problem. I understand that just like
you have alcoholism, but Dave was saying when you go to a prohibition,
sometimes you create more problems. So I guess I`m wondering why is
gambling on the Super Bowl illegal?
LAMM: Look, we know prohibition doesn`t work, but it`s a problem when,
going back to your idea of alcohol, your spouse goes to work on Thursday,
comes home on Friday. The paycheck is gone and it`s past midnight and all
the money is gone.
So a family knows immediately if there`s a financial problem as a result of
an alcohol or drug alcohol. The same creeps in with gambling for sure.
One of the troubles with gamblers, though, who are gambling addicts is they
show up at the point where they really need help and they have blown all
So sometimes the ability to get somebody treatment is just based on the
financial considerations of the family. I can`t tell you how many times
I`ve had that call of, we`ve spent all the money, can you help?
Have you ever known anybody that`s lost big and really gotten into
financial problems because of this thing that the rest of us consider no
big deal like gambling is not my thing. Give me a drink or drug and I have
problems with it, but gambling is not my thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: I had a beloved close family member, who had a gambling
problem. I guess part of what I`m wondering, though, is as a public
policy, right, we recognize we`re in this kind of social culture milieu, a
lot of people will be betting on everything from what`s going to happen on
the next play.
So is there a responsible way to recognize, folks are going to have a
couple beers, but some folks near them may be alcoholics. Folks are going
to be making some bets, but there may be folks near them who have a
gambling addiction. What is the socially responsible way to engage here?
LAMM: Well, I`d love to say that we can trust the government to end
prohibition, tax it, and then spend the money in responsible ways so that
people get treatment who have trouble with it, but we`ve seen pot
legalization has rolled out and the government, the state is not spending
money responsibly as they promised to help people who struggle with it.
I`m not for prohibition. I think that the prohibition creates even higher
stakes for the person who`s struggling with gambling addiction. But boy,
we sure have trouble when the government tries to spend money responsibly
to help people who are dying from it. Melissa, I have to tell you, you
look super cute. They just turned my feed on here and I just saw your
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
LAMM: I am tickled by it.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not every day that I can do my show, you know, in
nerdland like basically in pads. Thanks so much for joining us today. I
really do appreciate this point especially your point here about the public
I know John McCain has actually been calling for exactly the thing you`re
talking about, liberalizing the laws, taxing it, potentially spending it,
but it does continue to raise additional issues for all of us. Brad Lamm
is out in Los Angeles, who finds my outfit adorable.
And here in New York, I want to say thank you to Wade Davis, who is heading
off at this point but is going to -- is going to be working with me on
another big project I can`t wait to tell you about soon.
Also Dave, Kavitha and Chris are all coming back in our next hour. Once
you go football, you can`t go back. Coming up next, the league and its 50
million women fans including one woman who cannot, who will not forget.
There`s more nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and it is Super
Bowl Sunday. More than one million people are expected to watch the game
tonight right there in the stadium in Phoenix, Arizona. There will be as
part of this game including more than 50 million women who will be
watching. The NFL has realized in recent years how important its female
fans are to the game and to their bottom line. And they started actively
marketing to women who want more than tiny pink t-shirts with their team
logo. But it wasn`t so long ago that articles like this could be found in
your mainstream men`s magazines. "Make her a football fan, our four-
point plan to get her into the game and put an end to those inane questions
once and for all." My favorite part is how to explain the huddle, such
as esoteric football phenomenon that can only be explained in words that
women can understand.
Quote, "Huddle, explain that this is identical to female group trips to the
restroom. Once there, women decide on the play for that evening, whether
it`s calling dibs on the guys they find attractive or concocting a plan to
ditch their dates." Whew. Okay. For real, locally things are getting a
little bit better in that regard. That "Men`s Fitness" article is from a
few years ago and a few months ago when "Men`s Health" tried to do a
similar thing, the twitter backlash was swift and severe. And wouldn`t you
know, the original article is now nowhere to be found. People have gotten
wise to the fact that women are fans themselves. Not the football widows
or dim-witted girl friends or whatever their stereotypes are out there.
Women make up about one-third of the NFL millions of viewers during the
regular season and the playoffs and nearly half of those watching the Super
Spending on NFL women`s apparel increased more than 75 percent from 2010 to
2013, partly because the league got wise and started offering a more
diverse set of options for their women fans. In fact, the NFL owes women
viewers a lot. The league`s overall viewership has increased only because
a record number of women are watching. Men are actually fallen off. If
the NFL has a future, it`s probably wearing a pink jersey. And yet this
year, when you think of the relationship between the NFL and women, it is
one woman who comes to mind. Janay Rice whose NFL`s mangled management of
the caught on video incident of violence perpetrated by Baltimore Ravens
running back Ray Rice against his then fiancee now wife Janay that is the
definitive NFL women`s moment of the season. The league initially
suspended Rice for only two games after video surfaced of Rice dragging his
fiancee`s unconscious form out of a hotel elevator.
The punishment was less than other players received for using illegal
drugs. It was only after the public saw the full video of the incident,
including the sickening image of Janay hitting the elevator floor after
being struck by Ray Rice that the league was pressured to suspend him
indefinitely. And when they finally did take more definitive action, will
they ran afoul of what most folks see of fair labor practices. The
league couldn`t punish Rice for the same transgression twice and a judge
didn`t buy the NFL`s claim that Rice had somehow misled Commissioner Roger
Goodell about what had happened in that elevator. That Goodell could have
possibly thought it was anything but Rice lashing out in a moment of
brutality. Rice was reinstated to the NFL in December. He`s now a free
agent and can be signed. It was a hard year for Janay Rice. The violence
she suffered compounded by the intense media scrutiny of her and her family
and the potential loss of her now husband`s livelihood. It was a hard year
for all women who love football to see gender-based violence so poorly
addressed by the league they generally love and gender-based violence was
just one issue that plagued the league this past year to prompt a question
to Commissioner Roger Goodell about how tough the year had been on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NFL: It has been a tough year. It`s been a
tough year on me personally. It`s been a year of what I would say humility
and learning. We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity,
but more importantly it`s been adversity for me. And that is something
where we take that seriously. It`s an opportunity for us to get better.
It`s an opportunity for us -- for our organization to get better. So we`ve
all done a lot of soul searching, starting with yours truly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I just can`t. Joining the table now, Dave Zirin, sports
editor with "The Nation" magazine, Jill Filipovic, senior political writer
for Cosmopolitan.com. Kavitha Davidson, sports columnist of Bloomberg View
and former NFL player and author Chris Valletta. Jill, it was a hard year
for the commish. He`s been soul searching.
JILL FILIPOVIC, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, COSMOPOLITAN.COM: He`s been
feeling really bad for himself.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just -- really?
FILIPOVIC: Yes. It`s pretty offensive for him to really center that
entire conversation on himself. You know, I think the NFL has a real
opportunity here or maybe had a real opportunity to make a difference in
the conversation about domestic violence, I mean, something that one in
four women is going to experience in her life. And it would have been nice
for them to really look back and do a real reckoning on how they went wrong
to realize they will not the first or they will not be the last institution
to screw this up. And to make some sort of, you know, public effort to
show how they`re actually really going to change going forward and I don`t
think we saw that here.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, and yet it is worth noting that despite sounding
just strikingly like the guy from BP -- actually I want to play him for
just a moment. Because remember BP, where people died on the platform and
then, I don`t know, you know, the oceans were polluted and people were
living with -- remember this moment?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, FORMER BP OIL CEO: The massive disruption it`s caused to
their lives. There`s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I`d
like my life back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So he wants his life back and the commissioner has had a
hard year. And so I`m sort of disgusted. But you know what I`m going to
do this evening? I`m going to watch the Super Bowl.
DAVIDSON: I`m going to watch the Super Bowl. I think all you really need
to know about the NFL`s capacity for reform and Goodell`s impetus from
reform you can get from that one press conference. He leads off in a year
where we`ve dealt with domestic violence and sexual assault and concussions
and pain killers, he leads off talking about the extra point, you know,
because that`s what really matters. He never once to actually explicitly
said domestic violence in that entire press conference. She kept referring
to it in vagaries like these issues and I think it`s really hard to see
that they`re actually taking this seriously. They`re going to run this
very powerful domestic violence ad today during the Super Bowl. And while
it`s nice to see that they`re giving public attention to it, it also just
kind of looks like the NFL is just throwing money at the situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause and listen, just because -- in case folks
haven`t heard I want to listen to the PSA that you`re talking about. Let`s
take a look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Half pepperoni and half mushroom.
911 OPERATOR: You know that you called 911. This is an emergency line.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you know how long it will be?
911 OPERATOR: Hey, ma`am, is everything okay over there? Do you have an
emergency or not?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
911 OPERATOR: And you`re unable to talk because --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right, right.
911 OPERATOR: Is there someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
911 OPERATOR: Can you stay on the phone with me?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALLETTA: So I was part of the former player committee that met with
Commissioner Goodell in order to advise him on restructuring the personal
conduct policy. When he walked in the room, I had never met him before in
person. We were not paid for this. It was literally he brought people
together to say what can we do. And when he sat down at the table, I will
say he addressed the room in a manner that acknowledged the fact that
there`s been a major screw-up that has occurred and he put it on himself.
But he did also put it on himself to surround himself with people and a
group that could offer major revisions to the policies. He recognized that
it was a failure. And do it in a way that is going to make the most long-
term generational impact possible. When we realize that 83 -- there was an
83 percent increase in call volume to the national coalition for domestic
violence hotline after the Ray Rice video was released, we can acknowledge
the fact that the NFL and this issue with Ray Rice has put the issue of
domestic violence front and center.
ZIRIN: No, no, no. TMZ put the issue of domestic violence front and
VALLETTA: Understood. They released it. But here`s what I`m saying. I`m
saying that the issue of domestic violence is now a major hot button in the
NFL, like it or not or whatever reason. And the NFL is in a power position
to take lead on the benefits for social change with domestic violence.
ZIRIN: Well, I agree with that entirely but it`s not Roger Goodell. He`s
not going to be the person to do it. He`s not going to lead people out
of the wilderness that he brought people into. What I was noticing during
his press conference was Frank Luntz lurking in the background, the
republican spinmeister who told us all that global warming we just call it,
sunshine time. And he used the word integrity 21 times. I mean, it was
incredibly robotic. And the one time he broke from script, what was it to
do? Was to throw nasty shade at CNN`s Rachel Nichols, the woman in the
audience, an amazing reporter, who asked him about the conflict of interest
in these cases. And that`s when the mask slipped a little bit. He`s up
there talking about integrity. He`s up there talking about all that he has
learned but when you get to the end of the day, it`s about is the register
moving and everything is a reactive pr race.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask exactly that. Given that, I mean, so we
reported earlier in the show about how many billions have come in. That if
you`re a business and you`re looking at the bottom line, yes, there`s been
a lot of scandal, there`s been a lot of problems, but at the bottom-line,
this guy is doing the job you brought him to do. He`s made it more
profitable and more money coming into the NFL. So when he`s asked, do you
think you should resign? He`s like no.
DAVIDSON: And that`s really what it comes down to. I think we need to
remember going back to the Ray Rice thing with all of the public outrage,
it was when sponsors started to talking, to speak out about this that the
league actually felt the need to address this in some somewhat meaningful
way. You know, I think that that`s really important when you talk about
female fans and female dollars.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so it`s TMZ and sponsors as opposed to women fans or the
NFL actually doing it.
ZIRIN: Right. He`s a 19th century commissioner in a 21st Century world.
He does not realize that we are now an open media and that people are
going to be talking about these things and circulating videotapes and you
can`t do this authoritarian spinmeister Frank Luntz approach to running a
DAVIDSON: And maybe reactive I think is the point as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So I`m wondering if I go back to Wade Davis
saying, we have to change the model of how we respond to these questions,
you know, I keep thinking about the October pink wash that happens in the
NFL and the kind of breast cancer narrative and we care about women and
whether or not that starts ringing hollow to women fans in the context now
of what we see.
FILIPOVIC: Yes, I mean, I think that there`s obviously something to be
said for awareness raising campaigns but they have inherent limitations and
I feel like the domestic violence ad, you know, kind of in response to the
Ray Rice thing. It`s nice to raise awareness. Awareness is a very
important first step but we`re aware of domestic violence, we know it
happens. So what is the NFL going to do next? Where are they investing
resources? What are they doing about all the other sexist ads that do
create this kind of culture of misogyny around professional sports? How
are they paying their cheerleaders?
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to stop you right there because we have an answer
to the question that you just put, how are they paying their cheerleaders.
In fact, we are going to talk about that when we come back. The
cheerleaders, they share the field performing alongside the pro football
players and yet, according to a lawsuit, some are paid less than minimum
Also still to come, why prod pa-to-be, Richard Sherman, is not the only dad
getting all the attention today.
HARRIS-PERRY: For anyone who`s never been to an NFL game live, for those
of you who only watch it on TV, know this, all that time during the time-
outs, the commercial breaks, the debates over a call on the field, there
isn`t much to watch on the field. But just off to the side is one of the
most fun and entertaining parts of it all, the cheerleaders. The NFL
cheerleaders make the atmosphere what it is. They rev up the crowd, they
look pretty on camera, and actually they work pretty damn hard. And yet
many cheerleaders who are paid by their respective teams, not the league,
say they are paid close to nothing. The Oakland raiders quietly started
paying their cheerleaders minimum wage this season for the first time
ever. That`s $9 an hour. Minimum wage in California. And that`s a raise.
A 156 percent raise.
Because before this change, cheerleaders who have sued the team say they
were paid just $125 per game for ten games, paid in a lump sum at the end
of the season. That`s it. They claim they were not paid for any of the
myriad other duties of the job, including practicing, appearing at a
required ten charity events a year and posing for the team`s swimsuit
calendar. The cheerleaders say they were in effect paid less than $5 an
hour. And in September, the raiders agreed to settle a class action
lawsuit brought by its cheerleaders and will dole out about $1.25 million
in back pay. But some of the raiderettes rejected that settlement and are
pursuing their own lawsuits.
One of them joins us today, Caitlin Y., Oakland raiderette end a plaintiff
against the team, and her Attorney Drexel Bradshaw. So nice to have you
DREXEL BRADSHAW, ATTORNEY: Thanks for having us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Caitlin, you are not only suing the Raiders but you`re
actually suing the NFL itself. Can you help to understand what it is
you`re hoping to accomplish with that?
CAITLIN Y., OAKLAND RAIDERETTE: Yes. That`s correct. So, my lawsuit
includes the entire NFL because there`s cheerleaders on close to 32 teams
and we all need to be paid according to the law and treated with respect.
And I want to make sure that I`m not just helping my own teammates but I`m
hoping all girls across the NFL.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me just pause for a moment. I have much more to
talk about with you but I do want, since you are in fact suing the NFL
itself, let me just show you this statement by the NFL. I`ll read it here
so that we can see it. The clubs determine if they want to have
cheerleaders and their role. The league has no role in their selection,
duties, hours or wages. So the NFL is saying, this is a team matter, this
isn`t our issue.
CAITLIN Y.: Right. They are. But it is. I mean I believe in their
constitution they say something of that nature.
BRADSHAW: The question whether the NFL is a joint employer with the teams
is a legal question and I think the evidence pointing most directly to that
is on the face of the NFL constitution where it directs what cheerleaders
can and can`t do off the field. We haven`t even begun to begin the process
of learning all of the internal memorandum between the NFL and its member
teams, about how they direct in fact much more the cheerleader conduct that
what happens on and off the field.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. I think that`s fascinating. Let me ask you a
little bit about that, Caitlin. So, what is it that you are being told as
a raiderette about what you can do, can`t do. This idea that it`s not just
when you`re in your uniform. Help us to understand that.
CAITLIN Y.: So being a cheerleader you have to keep up your appearance,
you have to stay in shape, you have to keep up your dance skills. We are
role models in our community so there`s a lot that they expect of us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold on for me just one second. Jill, I want to come out to
you because this has actually hit the California State legislature at this
point. A California state lawmaker seeking to grant some basic labor
protection saying, look, these are people who are working. Talk to me.
Why don`t we see cheerleaders as -- look, I was a high school cheerleader,
I take this very personally. Why don`t we see them as workers, as
laborers, as people who are part of the game?
FILIPOVIC: I think we actually see them as kind of accoutrements to the
players. You know, we don`t look at them as athletes. When you watch
what they do on the field, I mean, they are incredibly impressive athletes.
They dedicate an enormous amount of time. As Caitlin just said, they`re
expected to also behave a certain way off the field like the players
themselves. So they really do have this kind of year-long set of
expectations but then they`re getting paid, you know, pennies. Because I
think there was this perception that they should feel lucky that they are
the pretty girls and the cool girls and, you know, they`re cheering for the
boys. And, you know, that should be some sort of exalted status and that
should be enough payment. And it`s not. I`m glad to see this is finally
becoming a labor issue.
HARRIS-PERRY: I also wonder if part of it is, you know, many other sports,
it keeps showing up in the NCAA too. There`s kind of a women and a men
version of it. So, you can play women`s soccer or men`s soccer. Women are
men`s basketball. We can have arguments about whether or not they are
equally resourced but at least the sports exist at something we can talk
about but there isn`t really a women`s football alternative. So the only
role for us if we`re not allowed to be the athlete is to be the athletic
supporters. And so, you know, I`m wondering if part of it is we just don`t
see an equality there.
DAVIDSON: Well, that`s absolutely true. I think that the purpose of
cheerleading and also ice girls in the NHL, it`s another issue --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, right.
DAVIDSON: -- where we`ve had some lawsuits about their treatment and their
compensation. It kind of just reinforces that these sports are by men and
for men and women only exist as the accessories and even the female
reporters for example only really exist on the sidelines.
DAVIDSON: The women executives only exist in ancillary roles. So I think
that`s a really big part of this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Caitlin, let me come back to you and just ask, so in the
end, what is a win for you? I mean, what kind of change are you hoping to
effect with this continued suit?
CAITLIN Y.: Well, I hope that we all see league wide change across the
entire NFL and all NFL cheerleaders are paid according to the law and
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Caitlin Y. and to Drexel Bradshaw in San
Francisco. There is still more to come this morning.
The MVP of Super Bowl press conferences and trash talk. Nerdland style.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I`m just here because I host this show, you know.
They call it Melissa Harris-Perry. My name is Melissa Harris-Perry so I`m
here, all right. I mean I`m here so I won`t get fined, okay? I`m just --
I`m here so I won`t get fined. Look, I`m here so I won`t get fined. And
one more thing, I`m not Eric Holder. No, senator, I am not Eric Holder.
Still to come this morning, the value of message repetition as learned this
week from both Marshawn Lynch and Loretta Lynch. But up next, a little
game we like to call hometown trash talk with two very special players.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Ari Melber, Garfield High School, MSNBC`s "The
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Steve Kornacki, Boston University, by way of -
- regional high school, host, "UP."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Trash talk. Nerdland style when we come back. I`m just
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So there was this time when Steve Kornacki was on his show
"UP" and he was gloating about his New England Patriots beating my beloved
New Orleans Saints. So I ran on the set and I choked him a little. I mean
not too hard. Yes, that happened. Well, this year I have to admit it,
Steve`s team made it and mine didn`t. So I sat down with my colleague to
talk a little sports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Since 2001, ending of the 2014 season, the Patriots have missed
the playoffs once. Excuse me, twice. This is the sixth Super Bowl that
they`re going to in that span. They have won three Super Bowls. I don`t
think anybody else can match that kind of just consistent dominance.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you think as dynasty as you are that you guys are ready
KORNACKI: I think -- I`m not sure Seattle is ready for New England.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have another colleague from Seattle. You would trash
talk to that colleague?
KORNACKI: That`s not trash talk. This is truth talk. Here`s what I would
tell him. Do you want to know the difference between Boston and Seattle?
HARRIS-PERRY: I do.
KORNACKI: All right. Boston, we got "cheers." Seattle, they got the
HARRIS-PERRY: I think I`m going to go talk to our colleague about this
KORNACKI: I`d like you to do that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ari Melber.
MELBER: Nice to see you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good to see you.
MELBER: How are you doing?
HARRIS-PERRY: I was just having a little conversation with our friend and
colleague, Steve Kornacki. He said to me that this tells you everything
you need to know about the Super Bowl. Boston had "cheers." Seattle had
MELBER: First of all, "frazier" was a great show. If anything, I think it
was more gentle than cheers because cheers was located to a bar, right?
Which isn`t necessary we spent all your time.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what do you think of Boston as a city, though?
MELBER: I would say Boston is the nicest horse and carriage you`ve ever
seen. But it`s still a horse and carriage.
MELBER: And Seattle is a fast eco-friendly sports car.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to ask Kornacki about that. Nice shoes.
I had a little chat with Ari Melber about your spin-off point and he says,
well, basically Boston is a spin-off of Europe. It`s old, it`s musty, it`s
basically, he said, like a really nice horse and carriage.
KORNACKI: Well, first of all, by old I think you mean historic. If you
want to know where this country started, where it got its start, where
all these things we learn about in school come from, you go to Boston. If
you go to Seattle, you get really pretentious coffee, you get a completely
useless landmark called the space needle that they put up like 50 years.
Oh, this is going to get tourists. They`re all going to come see this big
building and guess what, it`s like the 58th biggest building on the west
coast so nobody ever goes to that. And what do you get? You get rain.
You know, tell him this, if you`re going to go back and talk to him again,
tell him that I don`t even want to talk to him until he apologizes to all
of America for grunge.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s basically no part of your city that Kornacki did not
just come for.
MELBER: Is that his thing, to come with the really original stuff, the
Seattle rain joke? That is tough. That is just -- gets me right there
HARRIS-PERRY: And then the final thing was he said he doesn`t even really
want to talk to you ever again until you apologize to the whole country for
MELBER: That`s fair.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s implied in the current news cycle that it may also be
true that Seattle has bigger and firmer balls than Boston. Have you found
that to be true in your experience, Ari?
MELBER: This is what I will say about football. The Patriots got caught
cheating before the Super Bowl. Seattle didn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Ari there, of course, is referring to spygate, the
investigation into the underinflated balls is still under way. My thanks
to Ari and Steve for participating in that little bit of very nerdlicious
Up next, nearly naked ladies and dads who shop.
HARRIS-PERRY: Millions of eyes will be glued to the TV screen tonight for
the gridiron action, the commercials and of course the halftime show.
After weeks of rehearsal Katy Perry will perform sharing the stage with
Lenny Kravitz and another star reported to be a surprise guest.
Joining me now from Glendale, Arizona, NBC`s Craig Melvin. Craig, what`s
the latest scoop on tonight`s performances?
MELVIN: Well, here`s the thing. The surprise perhaps has been ruined a bit
because it was revealed, this is yesterday or the day before Missy
Elliott, the Grammy award-winning hip-hop star rapper, she is going to be
joining Katy Perry as well along with Lenny Kravitz for what has become the
biggest 12-and-a-half minute performance every year for the entertainer
lucky enough to get chosen. Here`s the thing, here`s what folks don`t
realize about the halftime show at the Super Bowl. It hasn`t always been
this blockbuster spectacular that we`ve grown accustomed to.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes, I remember when it was bad.
MELVIN: Yes! Marching bands and like seedless performers and things like
that. Really, in 1993 when Michael Jackson brought the house down, that
sort of changed the game, for a half time performances. Since then we`ve
seen Prince, Beyonce, of course. Last year Bruno Mars, and the record
sales for these artists who perform at halftime historically skyrocket
right after the performance. For instance, Bruno Mars last year, up 90
percent in the days after he performed. Beyonce was up as well 60 percent.
So in the past, you know, the NFL used to pay these folks to show up. Used
to pay them big money. Now it`s not the case. I mean, the NFL pays for --
or the advertiser, in this case Pepsi will pay for the production costs,
but the artist gets the free pub and they like to think that that makes it
more than worth it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, so they work like the cheerleaders, just not for a lot
of pay. NBC`s Craig Melvin in Glendale, Arizona. Let`s hope that fog
burns off soon so you guys can have a good night out there.
MELVIN: It`s supposed to burn off around noon.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good. Very good.
Richard Sherman may end up having a very, very big night tonight, and I`m
not just predicting a Seattle Seahawk championship. Richard Sherman is
also due to become a daddy any day now. Now, his coach has given him the
okay to skip the Super Bowl in favor of the delivery room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If he`s faced with that decision, we`ll support him and
we`ll see how that goes. You know, wish him luck and I can`t wait to see
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And Sherman hasn`t said which he would choose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SHERMAN, SEAHAWKS CORNERBACK: I think he`s going to be a
disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So media and social media have been offering a lot of
opinions about what is the right thing to do. But Sherman is not the only
father getting attention this Super Bowl Sunday. Advertisers are
celebrating dads in a big way in a trend that`s being dubbed advertising.
Yes, that`s a thing now. Honestly it`s kind of heart-warming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Dad!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I hate it when the commercials make me cry. Of
course advertisers aren`t completely abandoning the adage that sex sells.
Just take a look at this Carl`s Jr. spot that already has people talking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Nothing between me and my 100 percent all natural,
juicy, grass-fed beef.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Introducing the all natural burger. The first ever in
fast food, with no antibiotics, no added hormones and no steroids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So that one made me cry too, but for a different
reason. Look, I mean, on the one hand diversifying reached an even wider
group of men. It`s probably a smart move. I presume there are some dads
out there who appreciate being portrayed as hands-on loving parents and not
just sex-craved consumers. But let me throw this out there. Almost 75
percent of women say they are the primary shoppers for their households and
we know that the Super Bowl audience is pretty equally divided between men
and women. So ultimately is dadvertising actually just the newest way of
marketing to women? You know, I watch the dad commercial with my husband
this morning when I was prepping. He was not so moved by that ad but I was
like oh, I wanted to go buy dove products, right? And I wonder if the
dadvertising is actually momvertising, you know, still trying to get women
to purchase the products.
FILIPOVIC: Yes. I think that`s certainly a part of it. That, you know, I
just watched that ad too and was like ohhh.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Uh-mm.
FILIPOVIC: You know, but I do think it also reflects changing family
dynamics in the U.S. That dads now do spend more time with their
children than they ever have before since we actually started studying
these things. That`s very real. And so I think advertisers are probably
latching on to two, you know, different but overlapping trends, you know.
One of which is this change in what dads do in the home. And you know, in
the second is the fact that women do still sort of dominate when it comes
to family consumer spending.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder if we could get the two dad. Like, I mean, I`d
like to see, you know, advertisers kind of go out on a limb a little bit
for what, you know, modern families look like, which is increasingly not
just a dynamic of one man, one woman and their bio kids but far more
ZIRIN: And all these ads are profoundly heteronormative. And it`s even
very rare in these ads. But you have a biracial family. And as far as the
Carl`s Jr. thing, first of all, if you`re bragging that your hamburger
doesn`t have steroids, there are bigger problems in this country than that.
And also Super Bowl and sexism, I mean, it goes together like Bill
Belichick and skirting the rules. It`s what happens as part of the package
of Super Bowl Sunday. And my experience of it is that when I`m at a Super
Bowl party, progressive-minded men and the women, they roll their eyes and
that`s when they find time for the bathroom break. And so if the NFL is
actually serious about having a broader audience, a more diverse audience,
they need to mind their ads a little more.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do they really? Because what the progressives do at my
Super Bowl party is they hate watching, right? So they`re like oh, my
gosh, what is -- now what is going to happen? What is going happen now?
But they`re certainly watching it.
DAVIDSON: Well, they`re absolutely watching it and that`s the whole point
but I think what you see in both of these ads is like, you know, when are
we going to have Paula Abdul doing the halftime show because it`s one step
forward, two steps back.
ZIRIN: We come together because opposites attract.
HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. You see in this ad I think an actual attempt to
kind of combat this hegemonic hyper masculinity that has plagued the league
and that is contributing to all of its problems with domestic violence and
everything. And then you see that completely thrown out the window with an
ad like Carl`s Jr. and the way that cheerleaders are treated and the way
that women on the sideline and reporters are treated and the fact that
we`re really just kind of hood ornaments when it comes to the games.
VALLETTA: Okay. Recent reports have also shown, you know, depending on
what your goals and objectives are with these ads that some advertisers are
pulling out because, you know, you`re either going after your brand or
you`re going after results. If you want actual sales out of a Super Bowl
ad, pull out because it doesn`t work.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So this -- one of the reasons I really wanted you at
the table was to talk about this GoDaddy ad. So, GoDaddy have been
criticized for its sexism in the past but this new GoDaddy ad that got
yanked was making people angry because of what seemed to be an animal
cruelty narrative. But here`s this poor little dog, it makes its way all
the way home. It seems like it`s going to be this heart-warming moment but
when the doggy gets home, it turns out that they`re just going to sell the
dog, right? People were livid. They yanked it. But do you know why I
know this whole story because I`ve seen it 40,000 times on all the morning
shows. And I`m thinking, well, GoDaddy just won because they didn`t have
to pay, right? They got all this free -- I mean, we`re doing it for free
ZIRIN: I mean if that was their objective, and clearly it was a brilliant
move. I actually did see that ad, and I got to tell you, when I saw the
little dog I kind of caught it out of the side of my eye. When I saw the
dog running down the side of the highway and a car go flying past, I was
like oh, my gosh, this isn`t effective, it didn`t work for me. But, you
know, clearly it is a big, massive business and it`s either in the business
of building a brand or building a response.
VALLETTA: And haven`t we learned that America loves dogs, hates people? I
mean, hasn`t that lesson been pounded home a lot?
HARRIS-PERRY: A little bit, yes. I mean, like a little bit. And given
that the GoDaddy had been in some other, oh, what`s the right words for it,
real serious problems around animal cruelty issues, you had to believe that
they knew this, that it was actually the pulling of it that was the thing
that was planned.
FILIPOVIC: Well, I mean, GoDaddy in the past several years has released a
series of incredibly sexist ads and so it`s really striking to me that we
see ads that had incredibly offensive for trails of women, that treat women
like objects, you know, for advertising internet, you know, access which
you think it would kind of be a gender and neutral thing. And those sexist
ads, I mean, you know, they also get some level of outrage but GoDaddy
isn`t pulling them but as soon as it`s a dog, then we care.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look, for all the sexist ads, I do love the like a
girl thing that is also going to happen tonight. And so, I mean, that`s
the sort of, you know, fun counter is this idea that, you know, that
because there`s an expectation of going together, you know, the sort of
sexism the Super Bowl going together, that if you do the like a girl piece,
then that also gets attention because here is this idea of, you know, young
girls empowered, running like a girl, throwing like a girl, like being
empowered in the context of --
DAVIDSON: Right. But I think that it`s still kind of notable that despite
the fact that female fans are on the uptick and the fact that we`ve kind
of, you know, agreed that women do make the purchasing decisions and are
active, we need to be activating those dollars, the predominant line in
most of these commercials is still courting men. We are still talking
about football in the context of male fans and largely ignoring women and
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. We`ve got a little bit more on our football
Sunday. Up next, we`re going to play a little game, so get ready. And you
can join my panel in guessing which Lynch is which after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. This week the United States Senate and the American
sports media had a lot in common. Really, they did. Let`s start on
Capitol Hill, where members of the Senate Confirmation Committee finally
got their opportunity to put the tough questions to a lawyer named Lynch.
Loretta Lynch. The President`s nominee for Attorney General. Then we can
pop on over to Arizona, where members of the American sports media finally
got their opportunity to put the tough questions to a player named Lynch,
Marshawn Lynch, the running back of the Seattle Seahawks. Both Q&A
sessions ended up being quite memorable and it allows us to stage our very
own competition right here in Nerdland. Which Lynch is which?
Now, all of my guests have a paddle. On one side, there is a photo of
Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch. On the other side, a photo of
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Here`s what I`m going to do. I`m
going to ask a question, and my panel is going to hold up their answer, and
it`s going to be a little harder than you might think at home. After all,
both Loretta and Marshawn Lynch have been invited to the White House
because of their success on the job and both have been commended for work
in their respective fields. But I have faith in our panel that they can
figure out which Lynch is which.
Okay, let`s start. The questioning was a bit tense in both Q&A sessions.
And at some point, someone, one of our Lynches said this. I don`t know
what story you`re trying to get or what image you want to portray me as.
Was that Loretta or Marshawn Lynch?
ZIRIN: Got to be about that action, boss.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right? We`re going with Marshawn. Anybody else? That was
a Marshawn or?
FILIPOVIC: I`m going to go Loretta.
VALLETTA: I am too. Marshawn doesn`t like to say anything flippant.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. All right. We got a split decision here. The
answer actually was Marshawn. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARSHAWN LYNCH, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I don`t know what story y`all trying to
get out of me. I don`t know what image y`all trying to portray of me. But
it don`t matter what y`all think, what y`all say about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It would have been gangster if Loretta Lynch had said it
though. Right? I would have loved to have her -- and you did, moments,
kind of feel that with her in the Senate. All right. Here`s the second
one. One of our Lynches faced questioning about what we`re going to call a
teammate. A teammate who`s got into trouble for being a little outspoken
in recent years. Was that Marshawn Lynch or Loretta Lynch who faced tough
questioning on that?
ZIRIN: That was Loretta Lynch.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, okay. I get it. I can totally get why you think that
it would be Marshawn.
DAVIDSON: I mean, between Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett and all the
fantastic people on the Seahawks who were actually speaking out about
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean, last year it was all about Richard Sherman
saying way too many words, right?
DAVIDSON: And this year, you know, Michael Bennett was very, very
forthcoming about talking about the NCAA and all of the problems that go
into college sports and Richard Sherman has been as well and, you know, has
been very outspoken about Marshawn Lynch`s right to not speak, actually.
HARRIS-PERRY: But that said, I just want to say, it actually was -- you
guys were right. It actually was Loretta Lynch. So, let`s just quickly
take a listen to her talking about her teammate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: The attorney general refers to himself as the
President`s wing man, suggesting that he is not -- does not exercise
independent legal judgment as the chief law enforcement officer for the
country. You wouldn`t consider yourself to be a political arm of the white
house as attorney general, would you?
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: No, Senator, that would be a
totally inappropriate view of the position of attorney general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So I loved it, right? Because it did feel like at certain
ways -- you know, we heard in the kind of land of football, are they
talking about the wrong things? But here we were in the land of American
politics, you know, are you blocking for your team here basically?
ZIRIN: Yes. Absolutely. And she got high feet, as Marshawn might say.
So there you go.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. One of the Lynches used repetition as a way of
kind of keeping the questioners from getting what they wanted out of the
press conference. Which Lynch was that?
ZIRIN: All right. This is a pretty easy one.
VALLETTA: I`m going both.
FILIPOVIC: That`s true, right?
ZIRIN: I`m going both.
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, I think that we can go both. Let`s listen first
to Marshawn Lynch doing his repetition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARSHAWN LYNCH: So y`all can sit here and ask me all the questions y`all
want to. I`m going to answer with the same answer. So y`all can shoot if
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What`s the answer?
MARSHAWN LYNCH: I`m here so I won`t get fined. I`m here so I won`t get
I`m here so I won`t get fined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was classic. What did you guys think ultimately?
VALLETTA: I mean, look, he signed a contract, okay. And contractually,
he`s obligated to be in front of the media and speak to the media. Now, I
understand through some friends and the like that Marshawn Lynch has an
issue speaking with the media. He doesn`t like it, he`s not good at it,
he`s uncomfortable. And I get that. He should have voiced that opinion
when he was signing the contract. He could have potentially negotiated
that. That`s number one. Number two is, I truly believe that the skills
of presenting yourself well and actually representing yourself and speaking
in public and communicating are actually highly transferable to the rest of
the world and the rest of your life. I think that the NFL could actually
help him media train, actually give him some skills so he can learn how to
do it. But that was a mockery.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet it was also ultimately classic. I think we could
say both because Loretta Lynch did repeatedly also keep telling people, I
am not Eric Holder. Thank you to Dave Zirin and to Jill Filipovic. Also,
thank you to Kavitha Davidson and to Chris Valletta. That is our show for
today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you next
Saturday 10:00 a.m. Eastern. And don`t forget, you can watch the Super
Bowl showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
Tonight on NBC, 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Right now, it`s time for a preview of
"WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hey, Alex, what`s going on?
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": How could we forget? I
mean, only unless you`ve been living under a rock. Right? Anyway,
everyone, a dangerous snowstorm is hitting the Midwest, moving east at a
time when many people are going to be on the roads. We`re going to tell
you how bad it`s going to get?
What happened to Whitney Houston`s daughter? The very latest as she
remains in a Georgia hospital.
Plus, what could be the most alarming commercial you`re going to see during
the Super Bowl tonight. We`ll take a look. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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