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Week 9 NFL Roundup And Dusty Baker

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Still four undefeated teams in the NFL. We'll get to football. But first, the Washington Nationals hired Dusty Baker as their manager this week, an old baseball gentleman who talked a lot about life. Pleased now to be joined by Andrea Kremer, correspondent for HBO's "Real Sports" on the NFL Network. Welcome back, Andrea.

ANDREA KREMER, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. Nice to be on with you.

SIMON: Well, nice to be back with you. Dusty Baker talked about his family, how excited he is to be working in a diverse city. But I wonder - he will be the only African-American manager in Major League Baseball. And a sport in which 29 percent of the players are Latino, there's just one Hispanic manager, Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves. So is this a small step forward that just points out how far Major League Baseball has to go?

KREMER: Well, you know, you wish that there were quantitative measures for these things, Scott, and to an extent there are. There's something called an Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. And they actually issue a racial and gender report card for each of the major league sports.

And believe it or not, going into the season, the 2015 major league season, baseball got an A on the issue of racial hiring practices. Let's see how that turns out for 2016. But you know, one of the metrics of that is managers and there's no doubt that they have to do a better job in being more representative of what the body of players looks like and they have got to do a better job of getting minority representation.

SIMON: I wonder if any of the other major leagues do a better job of it, particularly, let's say, given the experience you have reporting in the NFL.

KREMER: Well, the NFL, for example, in 2003, they instituted something called the Rooney Rule, named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who's the chairman of the league's diversity committee. It requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs. And then, several years later, they added they also have to be interviewed for senior football operation jobs.

And, you know, I talked to a bunch of minority head coaches. I said, look, is this just the NFL trying to be politically correct? And they said, look, you know, we understand that they're going to hire their own, but if nothing else, even if they are just doing it to be politically correct, I'm getting the interview experience, I'm refining my skills, I'm making the connections, and you know what? Maybe that owner's not going to hire me this time, but he may recommend me to one of his peers the next time out.

SIMON: Let me ask you about the NFL season. We're nine weeks into it and there are four undefeated teams. The Patriots - you know, who's surprised? The Broncos - a little maybe more surprising, but still well within the realm of probability. But what's powering the Cincinnati Bengals?

KREMER: Yes, and don't forget the Carolina Panthers. They are the fourth team.

SIMON: That too.

KREMER: Right, exactly, you know, this to me is my big surprise at the midseason point, Scott. Four undefeated teams in the NFL for the first time in the history of the league and in Cincinnati, you know what? They're not thinking about going 16 and 0. They're thinking about going 1 and 0, as in Marvin Lewis, the wonderful head coach of the team, won a Super Bowl ring as an assistant, never won a playoff game as a head coach. And then there's the Redheaded Rifle Andy Dalton. And, you know, what? He has never won a playoff game either. So in Cincinnati, they're not thinking about can we go undefeated? They're already worried can we even survive, can we even thrive in the playoffs. And believe it or not halfway through the season, that's what they're talking about in Cincinnati with their head coach and they're quarterback.

SIMON: They do have the best helmets in the game, got to say.

KREMER: They do, you got to love those colors, especially in the fall, Scott.

SIMON: Exactly, Andrea Kremer, NFL Network and HBO's "Real Sports," thanks so much.

KREMER: Always a pleasure, Scott, nice to talk to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.