Belichick Or Brady, NWSL Fallout, Wiggins Vax Reversal | Crooked Media
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October 05, 2021
Belichick Or Brady, NWSL Fallout, Wiggins Vax Reversal

In This Episode

On this week’s Takeline, Jason and Renee talk to former NWSL keeper Haley Kopmeyer and CEO of Just Women’s Sports, Hayley Rosen about the fallout resulting from a bombshell investigation into sexual misconduct in the league by former coach Paul Riley. Renee and Jason also discuss whether or not Tom Brady feels like he lost after not scoring a touchdown against his former team The Patriots and try to figure out why Andrew Wiggins changed his stance on Covid-19 and got vaccinated.

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Jason Concepcion: Renee, the showdown of this young football season took place on Sunday in the rain at Foxboro. Tom Brady returned to his old stomping grounds for the first time since leaving coach Belichick and the Patriots for Tampa Bay, and it was much hyped, much promoted all week and the ratings for the game appeared to be way up compared to week three Sunday night. The Pats showed Brady a lot of respect, a lot of love during his entrance. The game itself was a grind-out affair, but the Bucs did win thanks to a late field goal. I want to ask you about this, so, wins and losses are how we record sports. OK? And Tom Brady got the win. The Bucs got the win. Yada yada yada. BUT, but, you know, Belichick came up with a scheme that frustrated Brady, who threw no touchdowns, also threw no interceptions. So do you think as an athlete he would play a similar game? Do you think Tom Brady feels like this is a loss or a win coming off of, coming off of this game?


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, so you kind of hit on it like as an athlete at all cost, you want to get the dub. Like people will say an ugly win is a win. However, we do know that Tom Brady is one of the most competitive humans out there.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Renee Montgomery: You can tell by how he treats his body. Like for you to eat just powder and dust—


Jason Concepcion: Powder and dust!


Renee Montgomery: You Know? So for you to eat that way and have that certain level of discipline, we just know that he will do anything to perform at the highest level. Like, that, we know that TB12. So under that context, I think that Brady wanted to throw about 50 11 touchdowns. He wanted to have, like so yes, he’s hyped to get the win. But I do bet that there was this little feeling on the inside of Brady, athlete to athlete. I think he had that little feeling after the game like, man, I mean, I could have played way better, you know? Like, I know that, like because that game was basically a Super Bowl game, you know? Like to me, it was like the hype around it. And let me just even set the table. So I’m leaving Connecticut, I covered the WNBA semis, hopped on a plane right after the game, and I turn on the TV just like everyone else on the plane—we’re all watching the same game. I thought that was pretty wow. When I went to the bathroom and looked at the back of the TVs of the people that I was walking by everyone—not literally—but there were so many people watching the game and I’m like, Yo, this is week four in the NFL and this game felt like a Super Bowl to me. Like that, it just had all the feels.


Jason Concepcion: Absolutely. Well, you know so much of what the experience of watching and talking about sports with your friends, with your co-host, with anybody—all those conversations essentially revolve around who do we credit for whatever happened? Is this a legacy game for so-and-so? Did this coach do the right thing or the wrong thing? And I think it’s particularly trenchant with an athlete like Brady, who who achieved so much as a member of the Patriots playing for Bill Belichick, who many will call the greatest coach in NFL history. It is a fascinating exercise. Like who, who is responsible for that winning? Who is primarily, who, who can you put it more on? Is it Belichick who provided the scheme and for many of those years achieved great success with a team that was, you know, not the most talented team in the NFL? Or is it Tom Brady who has been so consistent, so great, so perfect in his decision-making for so long that it’s, and then played to an age that you mainly see, you know, quarterbacks fall off or just from injury or other decline, lose a step in a way that threatens not just their career, but their ability to stay healthy on a week to week basis. And so I think, what we’re really saying is this was weirdly unsatisfying. You know what I mean?


Renee Montgomery: 100%.


Jason Concepcion: Like we wanted, it’s like Brady, he played OK, but he didn’t play great. And it would have either you wanted to see Brady come out and throw three touchdowns or three interceptions, so that we could say—


Renee Montgomery: It was literally in between.


Jason Concepcion: Bellicheck won or Tom Brady won.


Renee Montgomery: No one got an answer, is what you’re kind of hitting on is that no one really got an answer. Because if you look at the stat line, Brady was 22 for 43 for 269 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions. You look at Mac Jones and he was 31 for 40, 275 yards—six more yards than Brady, and we know he’s a competitive guy—two touchdowns, one interception. So when you see those numbers, obviously it needs to be noted that Gronk wasn’t playing. He has a cracked rib, a punctured lung, but.


Jason Concepcion: Crazy.


Renee Montgomery: I know when Tom Brady, I know when Tom Brady sees those numbers, he knows that those numbers are going to be read side-by-side. He knows that those numbers are going to be compared. Mac Jones. I heard on the broadcast that Mac Jones had like the second highest selling jersey in that area or something because the Patriots fans basically had to re up on their quarterback jerseys. But for Tom Brady to be as competitive as he is, yeah, you were either expecting fireworks to where, like you said, he goes off for three touchdowns, plays unbelievable. There’s a two minute drill and we know he’s going to march down the field.


Jason Concepcion: Boom. Boom, touchdown, win yea.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah! Not kick a field goal. Go do the Tom Brady thing to do, which is like, punch him in the gut and yeah, look at him and say, you did it. So we didn’t get to see that. But something interesting that I heard Coach Belichick say was somebody asked him like, Well, what was it like preparing for Tom Brady, your first match up? And he was like my first match up? We played against him every day in practice. So to that point, that’s probably why Tom Brady struggled. Imagine for 20 years, like 20 years is such a long time. I think about how close I was with the UConn, everyone, the UConn staff, the UConn teammates, we were there for four years. When you think about 20 years, that’s the craziest thing. And yeah, Josh Allen was the number one top selling jersey. Mac Jones the number two top selling jersey, according to Fanatics. They had Kornacki on there! The Kornacki camp make it to the game.


Jason Concepcion: Let me just say that, here’s what, these numbers are cool, and they’re important. That said, I would add that what I think Brady is like, has a little bit of a different degree of difficulty because everybody’s got his jersey. Like the fact that he is the third most selling jersey means that people who have Brady jerseys are continuing to buy Brady jerseys.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, more Brady jerseys.


Jason Concepcion: Mac Jones out here jerseys for the first time. Congratulations.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, no. 100% context matters. But imagine being Mac Jones. I said that like as I was watching the game the whole time—


Jason Concepcion: I mean, that’s crazy.


Renee Montgomery: You’re caught up in something that you have literally nothing to do with. Like this game, all the things that you mentioned that are behind the game.


Jason Concepcion: You’re hoping nobody notices you in that game, like. And he played great. He played great.


Renee Montgomery: Just maintained, Yeah. You’re thinking, just maintain. And then he went out there and threw two touchdowns, one interception. But I would say his interception, it hit the wide receiver’s hands, and I, you know, I’ve always heard if it touches your hands, you catch the ball, because it bounced off, while he scrambled and it was it looked wacky, but we seen Patrick Mahomes excel at that type of pass. His wide receiver, it touched his hand so that one interception, I get it. It’s there. But I think like Mac Jones having to go on such a huge stage with everything in it. That was a Super Bowl game that Mac Jones just played a week four.


Jason Concepcion: I agree with you. And has that ever happened to you where you’re involved in a game where the figures that are also involved have such a history for so long that you were just like a passenger in it watching things happen? I mean, this is like, not only that, but there’s also the element of Mac Jones watching somebody who has been playing professional football since he was a child, since he was a little boy.


Renee Montgomery: He looked up, he probably looked up to him.


Jason Concepcion: There’s no way he couldn’t, you know what I mean? Like, there’s no way you could avoid looking up to him playing as a quarterback. Has that ever happened to you where you’re just like, Oh my God. There is that person?


Renee Montgomery: Well, mine wasn’t a person, but playing for the Minnesota Lynx, I felt like that a little bit because I walked into a dynasty. So it’s weird when you walk into a system that’s already flourishing because you’re looking at the system, you’re like, Well, what am I going to do here? Like, you guys got everything, you know? So I walked in a Minnesota Lynx team where they had already won two championships, and now I’m coming in in 2015 and like, what can I add to the mix? And we played the Los Angeles Sparks 2015 in the finals, 2016 in the finals, and 2017 in the finals. So yeah, I felt like there was already something there that I was walking into. And in 2015, 2015 we won in a Championship, 2016 I won’t want to talk about that. 2017, we won another championship. So I felt like as all of my teammates were hurling up like five, or we got like five rings, I was holding up the peace sign. Like baby, I got two! Let’s go! So I felt like it was something different going on for them because they had a big dynasty that they were building And I was just kind of like along for some of the ride. Even though I know I had an input, but it was like that dynasty was already there in the making. There was already rivalries and then I just came as a part of it. So yeah, I definitely understand that.


Jason Concepcion: I was really impressed by Tom Brady’s postgame interview on the field. He is so polished and so good at hitting the talking point:, respect for the Patriots, respect for the history that he’s had with Belichick, you know, celebrating the victory that his team, the Bucks, has won over the Patriots—but also like saying, Hey, they gave us a hard time. He does all of that, and he gives the interviewer absolutely nothing. No headlines. Let’s play it.


[clip of Tom Brady] I would say so much is made of, of our relationship and you know, as I said earlier this week, you know, from a player’s standpoint, you just expect the coach to give you everything he’s got. And as a, I’m sure, as a player that’s what he was hoping from me, but nothing is really accurate that I ever see. It’s all kind of a, you know, definitely doesn’t come from my personal feelings or beliefs. And I’ve a lot respect for him as a coach and obviously a lot of respect for this organization and you know, all the different people here that try to make it successful.


Jason Concepcion: He’s the best. He gives you nothing. He gives you absolutely nothing.


Renee Montgomery: Tom Brady, ladies and gentlemen. He is a businessman through and through. So let me tell you something about that number two Mac Jones jersey. Patriots fans are that large in number that you can jump like because we think about all the stars of the league. And think about, like not just saying, Oh, you already have a Patrick jersey, Patrick Mahomes—they have five alternate jerseys. So if you’re really a super fan, you can get a jersey at Patrick Mahomes every year. That’s why the NFL and the NBA changed their looks just so they know they want you buying more jerseys. That’s, just so people understand that. But Tom Brady is a master businessman. So when he walked into Gillette Stadium, what did he have on, Jason? Tom Brady, his new brand called Brady Brand, where is, the valuation is like a billion already.


Jason Concepcion: Crazy! Sell now Tom.


Renee Montgomery: The company, I’m telling you the numbers that they’re talking about, listen, it’s crazy. He walked in there fully branded from head to toe. He has on his jacket from his line. He has on his Brady hoodie, from his new line, his pants, his whole fit. He debuted his new line at the game. So when you talk about Tom Brady giving those stock answers, think about Mac Jones sales when Tom Brady’s done or, whenever he, who’s going to be one of his biggest fan bases? He, like right now, he’s politicking, is what we call it. He’s being very diplomatic because he’s a businessman. So whether or not this is sports or not, Tom Brady is going to say all the right things because now he has a whole brand that’s launching and we know how that goes. So he needs all those Patriots fans that might not want to buy a Buc jersey, they might buy Brady Hoodie or Brady Jacket.


Jason Concepcion: Is he the greatest athlete in team sports history? I mean we can put aside, like—


Renee Montgomery: Is he greatest athlete and team sports history?


Jason Concepcion: American team sports history.


Renee Montgomery: I’m trying to think because I feel like there could be oversight, but I know that typically the argument is the individual sport people, so I just know that that is typically when you think about this arena, when you think about tennis and different things—


Jason Concepcion: That’s a different, a different kind of thing, yes.


Renee Montgomery: Dif—completely different kind of thing. But he’s up there like, you know, he’s not off top of my head, just not thinking of anyone else. Like, you know, like, I know that there’s going to be the Abdul-Jabbar who has like rings for every finger and different things of that nature. But in our era, I think like he has to be up there.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, it’s interesting because, like, you know, Kareem averaged 20 plus until he was 40 plus. At the same time, you know, much like Brady now playing on a fully-stocked Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, you know, the last several years of Kareem’s career, he had Magic, he had Worthy, you know, he had all these other stars—it’s interesting, though. It’s like this kind of longevity is it’s truly insane. You know, it’s just amazing, especially in a sport in football where when you mention it, Gronk, Gronk has a punctured lung and a broken rib. Like, there’s guys out there trying to kill him every day and he’s playing at this age. It’s wild. It’s amazing.


Renee Montgomery: And can we just say, by the way, and everyone knows I’m into details, like I’m into details, I’m into marketing. The way that they used Adele’s Hello, the way that every commercial, Brady Subway commercial is in rotation. It was just like that whole broadcast I got to give them like a clap because that was like, we wanted a show. You know, like we, like when the ticket, the average price is like $1,000, $1,100, the average ticket price like was $1,101! Which ranks among the most expensive tickets for any sporting event in the Boston area history. When we’re pay, like when people are paying that much, I mean, like you got to put on a show. When we’re expecting the one affecting the return, you got to put on a show, And we know that we’re very critical if people don’t put on a show. So I want to make sure we give a shout out because I was entertained. I’m not going to lie. Even the guy that didn’t hold his own umbrella. I’m entertained. I’m entertained by it all. Like, whose hand is that? Why are you the only one not holding your umbrella? What is going on? I loved everything about it. All of it.


Jason Concepcion: Steve Belichick got some run on the cameras with his weird facial—


Renee Montgomery: Oh, those facial expressions made me very uncomfortable. I was like, Is he OK? Like, I was entertained.


Jason Concepcion: We talked about this in the pre-pro a little bit. You know, producers look, producers look for that. They’re looking for you to look as goofy as possible sometimes. They’re waiting for it.


Renee Montgomery: Oh yeah. And then once they found the fountain, they kept on going back to it. They’re like, Oh yeah, keep cutting back to that guy. And it was Rodney Harrison who didn’t hold his own umbrella. There was a mysterious hand that was sneaking into the frame that I mean and boy, was he thriving. He was chilling, you couldn’t tell Rodney nothing. I aint mad at it. If somebody, look, it wasn’t like that was a spur of the moment in a sense of somebody was right there ready to carry it. It was planned. Rodney, we do want answers, but you don’t have to give us the answers. But I would love to hear how one man on the broadcast is doing that. Like that, I just, I just want to hear like, how who, did anyone say something? Because, you know, I’m the type I was just in studio with Monica McNutt and Carolyn.


Jason Concepcion: Yes, you were. Great job. Fantastic job on ABC this Sunday!


Renee Montgomery: Yes! Thanks you! I’ll tell you right now if I have an umbrella that I’m holding with my hand, and Monica has an umbrella that she’s holding her hand, and then Carol, Coach Carolyn walks up with an umbrella holder? I got questions, man. Oh, okay, oh gee, like I would, so I like, So I just want to know, how did that play out? Just knowing athletes, knowing that space, that had to be, this is a running joke, probably now. To this day!


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: Last week, the National Women’s Soccer League was rocked by a report from The Athletic’s Meg Linehan in which two players accused North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion. Riley has since been fired, but the story continues. Many current and former pro players have come out in support of Sinead Farrelly, and Mana Shim. Players forced NWSL to halt games over the weekend, and the commissioner, Lisa Baird, has since resigned. Lots to get into in this story and more to talk about, and we’re joined by Hayley Rosen, CEO and founder of Just Women’s Sports, and former NWSL keeper for the Seattle Rain and Orlando Pride, Haley Kopmeyer. Thank you both for joining us.


Hayley Rosen: Thank you for having us.


Haley Kopmeyer: Thank you.


Jason Concepcion: Kop, let’s start with you. What was your initial reaction to the story when it broke?


Haley Kopmeyer: I mean, it’s horrifying. I don’t think there’s really many other words to describe what an awful, awful situation those women were put in, and just what, I mean, truly just a heartbreaking story it is. I think that it’s hard to put into words any other feelings other than just at first, just complete sadness and anger, really.


Renee Montgomery: No, I would agree. And like me reading this story, it was pretty, it was surprising and not surprising all at once. So Hayley, as a as a former player yourself and founder of Just Women’s Sports, you work with a lot of former athletes in the NWSL. So what was your just initial reaction when you saw what was going on?


Hayley Rosen: I mean, I think exactly what you and Haley were saying, like, first off, it’s a total gut punch. Like I, that was a heavy day at Just Women’s Sports and we rounded up as a team. And I think as we weren’t surprised, it’s still sort of shakes you, shakes your core, and it’s shocking, even though it’s not. And you know, we talked a lot about how, you know, you know exactly how this happened. Like you just do. And you see it, it’s not, unfortunately, it’s not just the NWSL. It’s in college, it’s at the youth level. I mean it, it’s a really major problem and it’s systematic and it touches way too many people. And I think in some ways, though, it’s a reminder of why we’re here. You know, we talk a lot at Just Women’s Sports about hype, not [unclear] and you know, let’s get these women paid, let’s cover them, like they’re amazing athletes. We talk about all the positive sides of it. The other side of it is, you know, without journalism holding these entities accountable, this shit can happen, right? And so we need people, we need people like Meg. We need organizations like Just Women’s Sports, you know, holding these institutions accountable. And you know, that’s a really big reason why we’re here.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, the NWSL and any sports league, for that matter, are just simply not incentivized to investigate themselves. Kop you played for seven years was a keeper until 2019. The story mentions allegations of toxic environments fostered by other coaches throughout the league. Do you feel like this is an issue that extends farther than than we’ve seen so far? And how do you, how is this able to continue for so long?


Haley Kopmeyer: You know, I, I think sadly, the NWSL was set up to foster this sort of environment, and I think that’s kind of the sad truth of, you know, there’s low wages, there is no guarantees in your contracts, there’s you’re fully dependent on these organizations to make less than minimum wage. And there’s constantly this belief fed into you that you should be happy to be here and you should keep your mouth shut and put your head down and work and do what the coaches tell you. Do what your owners tell you. Do, you know, do whatever you can to make it [unclear] because there’s no guarantees. And you know, I think it starts there, right? You know, the first the first year in the league, I had an $8,000 contract and it was taken from me in the middle of the season. You know, it was just like in a meeting. That’s, and that’s how it works. And I think that sort of just, that, if that’s your structure, that fosters situations like this very sadly to occur.


Renee Montgomery: You know, it’s interesting you say that. And because media plays a big part in everything. We see right now with the minor leagues in baseball, the conversation is being brought up that these are not livable wages, these are not good livable situations. And had the media maybe been making more light of—like you said, the NWSL is set up for that—had the media maybe been making more light of it, maybe some of these things can be prevented. But Haley, I’m curious how, like, how have you felt about the response of the media to this story now that everything’s coming out knowing, kind of to what Kop said, that this was bound to happen with the way things are set up. Like how do you feel the media’s response to this was?


Hayley Rosen: I mean, I think the media has been all over this, which is, it’s a good thing, right? We need attention, we need to bring light to this, we have to talk about it, root it out and move forward. That is, I think, an issue in women’s sports, we see that the media shows up when they’re scandal. You know, when the March Madness thing happened, media showed up. They loved it. It drove clicks. It was, you know, interesting headlines, like women’s sports news coverage year round for so many reasons, but this is one of them, right? Like if there’s eyes on this face, if there’s eyes on the coaches and the teams and the leagues, this stuff won’t happen, or it’ll happen less. Right? And so that, yes, show up now. Let’s talk about it. Let’s root it out and let’s work towards change. But show up year round. And I mean, this is why we’re Just Women’s Sports. This is why we exist.


Jason Concepcion: There have been a lot of social media statements from current and former players that are currently out there. Megan Rapinoe notably posted “burn it all down” in response to, you know, some of the details from this story. Have either of you spoken to players, and what is, what are those conversations like? What are people thinking right now?


Haley Kopmeyer: I think that’s a great question, and yes, I have spoken with some current players, some former players. You know, I think first and foremost, there’s just some grieving. You know, it’s a sad situation and I think it’s a lot to process. And, you know, I think there’s players who have played, you know that have played for this coach and, you know, maybe haven’t experienced the same abuse, but can also, again, it’s kind of that same idea of shock, not shock. And that side of it, I think is is really horrifying. And I think at this point, you know, yes, burn it all down. At the end of the day, I think everybody still wants a league, but I think the structural change has to come, and I think that’s what everybody wants and they want the people that swept this under the rug to be held accountable. You know, it is one thing to remove a Lisa Baird and a Lisa Levine and to fire Paul, but they aren’t the only people who knew about this. And those people are still, those people still have jobs. And I think that’s something that players want. They want accountability in this.


Renee Montgomery: You know, it’s interesting because accountability, it was the word for 2020. I remember that people kept on talking about it just we were talking about it when it came to policing in a civil manner. But accountability is a word, and I’m glad you brought it up because when you talk about it, it needs to happen on every sector of every life. Even teachers need to be accountable for, you know, like every coaches need to be accountable, leagues need to be accountable. And to that point, there is, there’s no doubt that there’s so much work that needs to be done. How does the League move forward to protect players better now that we know the problems, now that we know that there’s still people there that might have known—how do we move forward from this? And Kop, I mean, let’s just start with you because I want to hear from both of you, and let’s start with you. Like, what’s the next step forward?


Haley Kopmeyer: I mean, I think obviously going through with this investigation, having it done at the correct levels, removing the people who were complicit in this, I think that’s the first step. And then I think the second step is, you know, currently the players are undergoing their very first CBA as a union.


Renee Montgomery: That’s big. That’s big.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a huge


Haley Kopmeyer: Yeah, it huge. That is literally happening as we speak, like bargaining today for players rights and job security. And, you know, they’ve used the statement “We’re taking our power back.” Right? This is this League is about the players. It is not about the coaches, it is not about the front office. It’s not even about, you know, all of us who have gone into media, it is about them. And I think this CBA is so important. It’s job security, it’s financial security. It’s freedom to be able to leave a situation if you feel unsafe. And it’s also, you know, believing that if you speak up about something that your voice will be heard. And I think there’s, you know, 30 things on the table right now that this CBA is covering and it is, it is key that every single one of them go through because it is, it will root out so many of these problems.


Jason Concepcion: Both of you have been talking about the structural issues of play. And I think that’s important because, you know, I think for people who maybe aren’t checked into this story or are just learning about it, they see, well, the commissioner is a woman like, does that not fix the problem? The complaints about Mr. Riley were raised in 2015 through official channels, and you would imagine with what else is going on in the broader culture, the MeToo movement, that that would be a open space for these allegations to come to the fore. And yet they did not. Why? Like what, is it simply because the NWSL is in this survival mode where, oh my god, anything, any bad news, you can’t, you got to think about what could happen to the League and, what is it that structurally that causes this to happen? Because I think that is important and something we need to continue to drill down on because it’s not just about representation in this, in this particular space or any space.


Hayley Rosen: I mean, I think like on the most basic level, I think you touched on it, I think the League is in survival mode, you know, and this is the longest standing women’s professional soccer league we’ve had in the US. And I think there’s some decision making that’s fear based. And I think that as we go forward, we have to build with the players in mind. And there’s a lot of decisions that are made, very few made with the interest of the players in mind. And I think that’s going to be a shift in mindset. But I think like, you know, [unclear], this is not just the NWSL, like, why does this stuff happen in, you know, all over, right? You talked about the MeToo movement, like this is like structural from every aspect of our society. Why does this happen to women, period? You know, why do we—and it’s just like, it’s very, the whole thing just hits home so hard because I think—and not to make this about myself, but I feel like I saw in youth, I saw collegiate, I saw professionally and now I see and work, you know, you see it with being the only woman in the room or with VSs or, you know, all of it. It’s everywhere in our society and it sucks, and we need to call it out and we need to change it. And we need to change how we work with women, view women in our culture.


Renee Montgomery: It’s very interesting you say that because Jason knows what I’m about to say because in our preproduction meeting, I literally said, You know, being a woman, it’s so, it’s such an obstacle. Like, if you want to get to the top of your profession, like you’re going to have so many obstacles. One, just the fact that you’re a woman, that’s an obstacle. But then as you’re climbing the ladder, you’re going to run into, Oh, here’s a guy, he’s a little bit weird here, watch out for this situation. You go to a next, when you get to another platform: watch out for this person, Watch it. Like at every turn, whether it’s an actress and it’s trying to get casted for a role to where it’s a professional athlete trying to live out their dream and be a professional athlete—at every level, you see, women have to fight these obstacles just to do their job, just to be a woman in the workplace. So I always say, like every woman knows a woman that has a story, and that’s a problem to me. And so I mean, I love that Just Women’s Sports are here. So I wanted to to say, Hayley, what should listeners expect to hear and where can they get more content covering women’s sports at your outlet? Because to your point, the fact that you’re saying Just women’s Sports, like the name of it says everything.


Hayley Rosen: And listen, like, this is not about me or anything else besides these players right now and rooting this out and working towards change. But this really is why I think platforms like Just Women’s Sports are really important. And we’re not the only ones doing this work. There’s a lot of amazing journalists out there that are covering this space. And I think, you know, as long as you know, 4%, less than 4% of media attention is going to women’s sports, there’s going to be problems. And that’s why we’re here. That’s why there’s amazing journalists like Meg doing the hard work. And we’re all going to keep pushing to make this a safer space for women. And eventually on like the positive note, get these women paid! So there can be more owners of teams and leagues and all of that.


Renee Montgomery: I love it. I love it. I love it. Shouts to WNBA Twitter, and all the journalists out there that cover sports. It matters. They’re Hayley Rosen and Haley Kopmeyer of Just Women’s Sports. Thank you for joining Takeline.


Hayley Rosen: Thank you so much for having us.


Haley Kopmeyer: Thank you both.


[ad break]


Renee Montgomery: So, Jason, we had a change of heart in the NBA, and after claiming he would not get the COVID vaccine, and even having a religious exemption denied by the NBA, Andrew Wiggins was reported to be vaccinated now. We should note that the NBA recently announced that the players who missed games in cities that require vaccination for events like basketball games would not receive game checks. That means Wiggins stood to lose a good chunk of his $31.6 million salary this year. He’s vaccinated now. The Warriors clearly want to move on. But Jason, do we think that it was money that got Andrew Wiggins to change his mind? Or perhaps someone in the Warriors organization, a family member—how do you go from asking for religious exemptions and getting the vaccination in pretty much a week?


Jason Concepcion: Well, I’ll say that I think the religious exemption was, my read on that was this was the Warriors kind of like doing their due diligence for Andrew. Like, let’s let him go through all of his options until he gets to a place where he sees, OK, I can’t pursue that avenue, can’t pursue that avenue. Now it’s do I get vaccinated or do I stand to lose a game checks for every home game because of the particular laws in San Francisco and California? I, it was surely, a big part of this is surely the millions of dollars that he would have missed out. I mean, that’s, you know, it’s a free country, right, but that freedom comes with, you have to pay for it in a certain way. Like there are, there are repercussions for your actions and for your decisions. And if Andrew Wiggins wanted to remain unvaccinated, he would have, it would have cost him a significant amount of money. That money would have meant his agent and his reps lose money, his lawyers lose money, to say nothing of his family and the people around him that he supports. All of that stuff matters, but I just want to celebrate Andrew Wiggins. Like, good. Congratulations. I think that we can glean from the timeline here that he got the Johnson & Johnson one shot because, you know, if, the season starts October 19th, so if they were getting the Moderna or the Pfizer two-shot process where it’s a shot and then four weeks in and another shot, he would probably have missed two weeks of the NBA season. So this will allow him to not miss any games. And I would imagine for any of the other holdouts, this week is going to be pretty crucial for them to make a final decision about whether they’re going to get the Johnson & Johnson shot that will allow them to not miss any games. But I’m glad that this happened and congratulations to him.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, definitely.


Jason Concepcion: This was, you know, I think the questions about it were absolutely fair. And I understand that Andrew and Draymond and the other players who’ve been asked these questions are probably tired of them. Why can’t we talk about basketball, etc.? But, this is important, and it’s important for any of the, any number of reasons that you can learn about by reading the front page of every single newspaper in the world.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: And you know, we’re still living in a country where hospitals in certain regions of the country are being overrun by cases, notably Alaska. It’s important. And so I’m happy that this happened. Congratulations to Andrew Wiggins. I’m thankful. Now your teammates don’t have to answer any questions, which as we saw from, you know, Draymond’s comments they are annoyed about. But I’m glad that this, I’m glad that this happened. What do you, what do you think moved Andrew forward?


Renee Montgomery: No, for sure. Well, before I get to what moved Andrew, I think that, you know, you hit on something. Like this is a celebration, because when you think about the NBA having 95% of its great number vaccinated, nationally we only have 56% of Americans vaccinated. And to your point, have we had that 95th percentile like the NBA, we wouldn’t have those full hospital beds. We wouldn’t have, we would, we would have normal concerts probably.


Jason Concepcion: We’d be outside right now.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, we would start to feel some level of normalcy. Here’s the kicker, if we had that percentile, we might not even be talking about this with the NBA. It wouldn’t even be a thing in sports anymore if we had a lot of people like the NBA does. Only roughly 40 NBA players don’t have the vaccine. So if we could talk about those percentages when it comes to America, that’s a, it is a celebration in that aspect. So, you know, like, I’m sure people are missing their brunch, their boozy brunches. You know, Jason, you’re stealing in tables. I know that people are missing those things, and it’s because if we could get to that 95th percentile, we could be there. But you know, I think it was a combination of everything that changed his mind. Honestly, I think that it was like, Oh Lord, if I’m missing half of my checks, that’s crazy. Then you got your family and we know that NBA players, and look, this was for me too, when I opted out in 2020, the hardest part for me was that I knew that I had a family that was depending on me. So I’m like, all right, so it’s a pandemic. My women’s college basketball job got canceled because the tournament got canceled. I was calling 3×3 tournament, canceled. I was calling NBA Summer, canceled. So I literally had no jobs, and then I opted out of the only job I had. So I do understand that there’s a certain level of: what are we doing because people are depending on me. I think that also two players don’t want to be on home confinement, and what the NBA rules ,with the NBA rules I know that that was one of the biggest things last year that the players felt like they were literally on house arrest, can’t really leave the hotel, getting tested every two seconds. I think that that, along with just the pressure that the whole world is talking about you and like we know, like we know now that sports—look at the politics, you know how they say like politics run the world, well politicians are talking about everything going on in sport. Sports are running the show. So you’re Andrew Wiggins, your Kyrie Irving, literally, everyone is talking about you.


Jason Concepcion: A good rule of thumb for me is whenever Ted Cruz agrees with something, I disagree with.


Renee Montgomery: Why did Janelle say she would throw up in her mouth a little bit if he—[laughs]


Jason Concepcion: You mentioned the rules for players who are unvaccinated, right? So the NBA, it would just have been tough. Some of the rules include daily testing before entering team facilities or interacting with players and staff, must undergo lab-based game-day testing, no indoor dining in the same room as other players or tier one personnel, six distance of feet between the unvaccinated person and any other player, masks in all situations when indoors in team facilities, have to have a separate locker room, must remain at their residence while at their home markets, and they can’t go out on the road. This is a, it’s a high bar. It’s a high bar for anyone who wants to go this route. But again, there are going to be consequences for deciding to go this route and man it is, the NBA made it tough for people to decide to do this, and I think fairly so, I think this is appropriate considering what we’ve seen in this country with approaching 700,000 deaths. So Draymond Green was asked about Andrew Wiggins and in the course of a pretty long answer, you know, said, among other things, I think there’s something to be said for people’s concern about something that’s being pressed so hard, like why are you pressing this so hard? He also said, like, you know, you wouldn’t ask, you wouldn’t ask Andrew about like the polio, whether he got the polio vaccine or not. What did you think of those comments?


Renee Montgomery: I think that you can make an example of everything like, you know, like, but it doesn’t necessarily make it makes sense. So, yeah, like, I get what you’re saying, kind of. But no, because when there’s a public like, there’s rules to be in public, there’s rules of engagement to be a citizen. There’s rules like, for instance, if you smoke in the airplane, they’re going to kick you off. Like, Yes, your prerogative. Yes, you’re right. If you smoke in an, anywhere. You know why? Because we found out that smoking is harmful to others and they don’t want the smoke in the air. So while it is your right and your choice to do whatever you want because we’re Americans, smoking is not your choice because your smoking is a hazard to other humans. So it’s like, while, of course, like people are trying to say, Oh well, America’s supposed to be the land of the free. Yeah, we are. And we went the other free people to be safe while they’re out being free. So it’s like any, there’s always a way to use an example to get your point across. But to me, you still have to make it make sense and it doesn’t make sense. It’s the same way schools, I have a son. He has to have all of his vaccines, all of his shots, or he’s not allowed in the school.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, it’s like unless you’re going to go out and play in an astronaut suit, you know what I mean? [laughs]


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my God.


Jason Concepcion: Then you kind of have to, you kind of have to adhere to the rules that everyone else who is breathing that air inside that building have to adhere to. And to the kind of, you know, on the one hand, I get Draymond’s annoyance at having to answer a public question about Andrew Wiggins. Forget what the behind the closed doors conversation are. I’m sure that there were conversations between Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andrew and the teammates of every other player who is deciding to remain un vaccinated. I’m sure those conversations are going on. So to answer a question about a teammate in public like that, I get it. It’s annoying. That said, like we don’t talk about polio because it was eradicated by vaccine.


Renee Montgomery: Eradicated!


Jason Concepcion: You know, like it’s just like we can’t, that’s not a good, that’s not a good way to parry this. Like we don’t talk to, we don’t ask Draymond whether he’s asking Andrew about his partner’s pregnancy because pregnancy is not contagious. You know, like, we don’t, when Bradley Beal said, Hey, you know, like, I’m fine, I got it, and then I lost my sense of smell but other than that, everything’s fine. Like, that’s, man that, that’s your, that’s your nervous system! That’s a nerve that runs down from your brain to your nose, like this is concerning. And again, people real people are being impacted by this all the time, a lot. So I get that players are annoyed, they’re annoyed about having to answer questions for other people, but this is a topic of intense interest because of everything we’ve seen over the last two years. So these questions are not going away. Do you think, like at what point, can you picture right now, Renee a point, where we just don’t, we don’t ask about this anymore? Where this is just over. I mean, this feels like man, we’ve been doing this two years already.


Renee Montgomery: I would love to get to the point of polio, to where we are eradicated.


Jason Concepcion: Yes!


Renee Montgomery: Like, you know what I mean? I would love to get there. But when I look at the numbers and look, we’re at 56% vaccinations, knowing that a lot of hospitals have no more beds, knowing that a lot of hospitals are declining people from coming in, knowing what we know, I’m terrified that, because if we know all of this information is readily available on the internet and we still have people saying they’re doing their own research, we still have people saying it’s fake news, we still have politicians getting the vaccine but saying bad things about the vaccine—I’m scared because people, like unfortunately, people believe people on TV. Like it’s, like whether or not they should


Jason Concepcion: It’s the world, it’s the world we live in. Yeah.


Renee Montgomery: It’s the world we live in. So when you have politicians, when you have even a Draymond Green trying to shed light from his point of view, it’s not good because there’s going to be somebody out there that’s like, you know what? That’s a good point. And no, it’s not a good point. It’s not a good point.


Jason Concepcion: On that tip, like, I’m doing my own research thing. I get it. And I think that’s important to like—


Renee Montgomery: You get it!?


Jason Concepcion: I get it in the sense that I think it’s important to harness one’s curiosity to learn about things.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: But like, is your research peer reviewed, like are you releasing your research so that other people can check it? Are you releasing it so that other scientists that research can look through it and decide whether your findings are accurate or not? That’s what’s going on with these vaccines. Like peer reviews, huge testing groups like 90,000 people tested, that’s one of the largest testing groups for a modern vaccine trial. Unless your research is being released so that other people can look through it and combine it with their own research and see that it’s accurate, you’re not actually researching. You’re just Googling stuff. You know what I mean?


Renee Montgomery: 100% But then when are you going to conclude your research?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, when is it over?


Renee Montgomery: Like, I’ve heard players, like, when do we get the results? Because I mean, I’ve seen people that’s been researching for months like, is there any end date? Should I give you a final data turn in your work? Like, is there, like, when do we get the answer from the people that saying they need to do more research? When does the research paper, when is it due? When si the research due?


Jason Concepcion: That’s a great question. And even if, listen, I understand, the research is ongoing. Can we get some of the findings now?


Renee Montgomery: We need an update! What have you figured out to this point!?


Jason Concepcion: Yes!


Renee Montgomery: To this point. Are you on the right track? Like any statistics in there? Is it just quotes from other people in there? Because I’ve seen that too. Like your statistics, your research is all other people’s quotes that know just as much as you. What!? It’s not Dr Fauci. They’re not researching nothing, Dr. Fauci said. It’s like, Oh yeah, I heard this guy say that. Yeah, what about that? Oh, I heard this guy say he got COVID, but he only lost his smell, his sight, his touch, his breathing. But what about that!? When is the research due?


Jason Concepcion: Dr. Fauci being a great example of a person who sits atop these various streams of research that come into his office like on a daily basis, and then he is digesting those facts. Listen, again, I support people being curious and learning about things. But if you say that you’re doing research, release the research. That’s all I ask.


Renee Montgomery: Run it!


Jason Concepcion: Let’s see the research. I want to see the footnotes. I want to know, I want to if it’s peer reviewed.


Renee Montgomery: Because I can go get some research. And I know they’re going to like, Oh, let me see your research. No problem. If anybody want to ask me that, I’m gonna send you a hundred thousand links. Actually, I’m gonna send you what to type into the Google search to give you all the information you need. Death by COVID. Type that in. That should give you all the information you need because again, it’s kind of like, you know, everybody should at this point almost know somebody that’s affected by COVID. Everybody in the NBA knows Karl Anthony Towns, so they know somebody personally who was affected by COVID. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the OGs, came in there, and I mean, he just said it and quote, “the ignorance that has been perpetrated and the misinformation that has been spread around everywhere has made it impossible for people to get an understanding of what is going on.” People who say they haven’t finished doing their research yet really haven’t done any research!


Jason Concepcion: Facts. I mean, facts. Big facts from the, from the big fella. Couldn’t have said any better. Andrew Wiggins, I’m happy for you. Congratulations.


Renee Montgomery: Send me the research! When is it due? Everybody, send me the research.


Jason Concepcion: Release the research. Everyone who is said that they are doing their research, release the research. We want to see where you’re at with that research.


Renee Montgomery: Show your work!




Renee Montgomery: You know what time it is. I’m not going to tell you anymore, wen you all hear that, you already know that we got a little something to tell you all. The stories that didn’t make it due to time. We like to call them Buzzer Beaters, and I’m going to get the party started because it’s WNBA playoff time, baby. There’s a, you know what? This time of year, I’m a Christmas lover, so that’s the most wonderful time of the year. But this area that we’re in right now, where’s the WNBA playoffs? NBA is starting. NFL is in the thick of it, week four—o me, this is like the second best [sings] It’s the most wonderful time. So I decided to say the least, on Wednesday, I’ve been covering the WNBA semifinals in studio, like I said with the crew, Monica McNutt, Carolyn Peck, the OGs and it’s really been like as good as advertised. But I don’t even think that does injustice. Like the first game, game one went into double overtime. There were records broken. Sloot, there it is! She broke the assist record with 18 assists. So it was like jam packed. It was exciting. The games were star studded, if you’re into that sort of thing. Half of the Raiders team was at the [unclear] game, game one. Chris Paul. Devin Booker. Jae Crowder. They, I mean, these games were, if you love sports and you love the stars of the sport, the WNBA playoffs have that. And I’m flying back tomorrow for game four of the semifinals, and I’m excited. I’m excited. I think that it’s going to look good. And then on top of that, on Friday, I fly to Memphis to cover Hawks because their preseason game—that’s I’m talking about! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Half of the week is WNBA. The other half NBA.


Jason Concepcion: It’s beautiful.


Renee Montgomery: Like, it’s a beautiful thing, Jason! What’s going on over there?


Jason Concepcion: It’s beautiful. I would like to talk about the show that is, it’s taking the world by storm to such a degree that a broadband supplier in Korea sued Netflix because the show crashed their servers.


Renee Montgomery: What!?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, I’m talking about, I’m talking about the Squid Game. You mentioned what a magical time of year it is. As soon as, I’m on episode five, right now, I’m currently in mid binge, last night, I ordered my Squid Game costumes for Halloween. I have both the pink guard jumpsuit with the mask and I got a little water gun that’s going to spray paint black and I and I got the green and white jumpsuit with the number and I got the the T-shirt underneath with the number. I’m ready to go. I could be, I’m playing both sides of this thing. I’m ready to get in the Squid Game. And I’ll be honest with you, I think, I think I would dominate the squid game.


Renee Montgomery: Really?


Jason Concepcion: I think I would, I think I’m ready. I would know right away what was going on before—.


Renee Montgomery: So you know games before you saw those games. I mean, red light green light, of course we all know that, but—


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, no, I didn’t know the games, but there’s a there’s a movie called Battle Royale, which is an adaptation of a novel by the same name, a Japanese movie and also a Japanese novel came out in 2000. Very influential. And the vibes are very similar to Squid Game in that it’s this nonzero kind of competition where the losers get killed. Went on to influence The Hunger Games. And so as soon as I started watching Squid Game, I was like, Oh, I know where this is going. I know exactly.


Renee Montgomery: Wow, that’s kind of like a cheat code a little bit because I too—well, are you not finished yet? I just heard—


Jason Concepcion: I’m on five. Don’t say anything. I’m on five.


Renee Montgomery: You can’t do a review halfway through, What?!


Jason Concepcion: They just said, well, this is more about my Halloween costume, which I cannot wait for it to arrive.


Renee Montgomery: Okay.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what it is.


Renee Montgomery: And I guess this is the time where we talk about that I too watched Squid Game. I binge watched it on my day off on Saturday, watched the whole thing. And I did exactly what Jason did. So imagine the marketability of this show that after—you only watch five episodes and you were like, Got to get the costume!


Jason Concepcion: Got to get the costume.


Renee Montgomery: I watched the whole season, boomp, but we need a family entering the Squid Game. Junior, Serena and myself, we will enter the Squid Game. I ordered the costumes for the full fit for the family. Imagine the marketability of this! I saw a tweet about this, Jason, that said that this show could be the highest rated Netflix show ever. Now, I don’t know if you guys know how big of a deal that is. Netflix has some of the biggest shows out, and especially I love a good Netflix Original, so Netflix has some heavy hitters. So for Squid Game to come through, dubbed over, with the captions that don’t match, I’m like . . .


Jason Concepcion: They don’t match. They really don’t read sometimes. But that’s OK. Come see me in my green tracksuit on Halloween. That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to subscribe to Takeline Show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode. Plus, subscribe and listen to my comics, movie and TV podcast X-Ray Vision. Check it out!


Renee Montgomery: OK!


Jason Concepcion: Goodbye. See you next week!


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


Jason Concepcion: Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show was produced by Carlton Gillespie and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Our contributing producers are Caroline Reston, Elijah Cohn, and Jason Gallagher. Engineering, editing and sound design by Sarah Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter 4, and our theme music is produced by Bryan Vasquez.