tv Tavis Smiley PBS February 2, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PST
tavis: good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. when the steelers and packers square off this sunday will will cap off a year of record tv ratings for pro football and cement the nfl for the premier sports league in the u.s. and as one of america's most successful businesses. a preview of sbole and a look at the state of pro football with rod woodson, the former steeler great and hall-of-famer now covers the sport for the nfl network. also tonight, talented singer-song writer amos lee is here. his latest project is getting terrific reviews and it's called "mission bell." later on, a special acoustic performance from amos. we're glad you've joined us. rod woodson and amos lee coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james.
>> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley d. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: rod woodson spent 10 of his seasons with the pittsburgh steelers before going on to help the ravens win a super bowl title back in 2001 in 2009 he was inducted into the pro
football hall of fame and serves as one of the lead analysts for the nfl network. he joins us leading up to the big game from the headquarters of the nfl network. good to have you on this program, sir. >> thanks for having me on. i appreciate it. tavis: i was just thinking, i shouldn't be talking to you. you went to purdue, i went to i.u. this is not a good thing. >> oh, yeah. you know, that's tough. tavis: you -- >> you know what i tell people who went to i.u.? nobody's perfect. nobody's perfect. tavis: and this is what i tell people who went to purdue. my two favorite teams are i.u. and whoever is playing purdue. >> that's about right. it's a hated rivalry. tavis: we got that out of the way. now onto the love part of the conversation. let me start by asking the obvious question, what do you make of the game this sunday? >> it's going to be a great game. you look at two of the best defenses, first of all, in the national football league, talking about the pittsburgh steelers and the green bay packers, the number-one scoring defense is the pittsburgh steelers and the number-two scoring defense is the green
bay packers. there's a lot of story lines because you have the kevin green for the green bay packers and daren perry who is the defensive back for the green bay packers. both those guys played for the pittsburgh steelers back when i played there and also dom capers who is defensive coordinator for the packers, he was in pittsburgh when i was there in 192, then he left and then we also have to remember that mike mccarthy, his family's from pittsburgh. so there's a lot of storylines there. i think it's going to be a great game because you have two of the best defense notice national football league. tavis: the question is whether or not these are the two best teams, did the two best teams make it to the super bowl this year, do you think? >> a lot of times the records don't indicate who the is the best team, at least in my eyes. i've been saying since probably
midseason the green bay packers are the most dangerous team in the n.f.c. i believe that whole heartedly and it's because the defense was playing that much better as the season went on and they have a quarterback who's really hot, really good, aaron rodgers. he's playing really good football. they have a receiving corps that's outstanding. to me, in my eyes, even back then, they were the best team in the n.f.c. then when you go to the a.f.c., you talk about the pittsburgh stealers -- steelers, i thought it was going to be the steelers or the baltimore ravens and i sprinkled in a little bit about new england because i knew the steelers had trouble beating the patriots. but what happens that new england loses to the jets, the jets lose to the steelers who beat the baltimore ravens. at the end of the day in the a.f.c., i think the best team did go to the super bowl and represent at the super bowl, the a.f.c. it's going to be a great game. i think two of these teams are very similar on the defensive side. a little different on the offensive side because i think the green bay packers are more explosive and score a lot of points against any dess if --
defense. tavis: you mentioned aaron rodgers. you've been hearing these stories, days before the big game, all sorts of stories swirl, about the word is that he's hurting just a little bit in that game against the bears. he took a couple of good hits. did not throw a touchdown later in the game after being hit. what are we to make of the story that rodgers may be hobbled just a little bit? >> well, the good thing about this is that he has two weeks to recover. and he did take a shot against julius peppers. he took a nice shot, hit him in the chin, made his lip bleed a little bit. he got fined for that hit. but once you have 14 days to heal, i think he's going to be fine. most guys -- he didn't have a concussion, he looked great at the end of the game even though he didn't throw a touchdown pass but i think he's a gritty guy, he's from chico, california. he went to a community college before he went to cal-birkly. this guy's been through it. he understands what it's like to win. he wants to be a part of it. he was a fan of the old 49ers when joe montana and steve
young was there. so he understands about winning football and he took that to green bay, he's playing great football right now. tavis: speaking of story lines, you mentioned a number of story lines earlier and i'm glad you walked through them because there are many that many people might not be aware of and there's one i want to add to the list and get your take on this. i'm excited about the game this sunday because it celebrates something very unusual in sport and that is race and class. and by race and class i mean this, you obviously have an african-american coach, mike tomlin, who is in charge of the steeler team. 38 years old, the youngest coach, the first african-american to take two teams to the super bowl. that's a great story about what happens when you give people of color a chance not just to play the game but to coach the game. and i love the rooney family for that rooney rule that allows this to happen now, hopefully more often in the future. there's the race element. then there's the class element. green bay, the one team that doesn't have a super rich own who are is using this as a
writeoff, 112,000 shareholders, the community loves this team -- owns this team. i love the celebration of race and class in this game, although there ain't nobody talking about it. >> we really don't like talking about the -- especially the race aspect of it because they had the rooney rule in place in the national football league and the sad thing about it is that we need the rooney rule in the national football league. they don't want to hire or seems like at times the best coach is not hired but the great thing about it is that you're going to give minorities opportunities to interview and if anybody's ever talked to mike tomlin personally, this guy makes you feel good about yourself. i remember when i first met mike, the first thing he said about me or the first thing he said to me was, hey, you guys set the standard in the national football league, you set the standard here in pittsburgh. and now we need to live up to that standard. and when i got there to pittsburgh, we knew that we needed to live up to the standard they had back in the 1970's with the team who won
four super bowlless. so he's a great man with his words, he's a great motivator. then the flip side of that, you go to green bay, you talk about a small town who don't have a lot of money and they love the green bay packers. very similar to pittsburgh, but pittsburgh's a little bit bigger city. those two story lines you just talked about i think are going to be great. nobody wants to talk about mike tomlin because everybody thinks we've gotten over this issue about race and head coaches having an opportunity. but i would still think that we still need to talk more about it because we don't have that many general managers who are black, we have no owners of color yet. so hopefully one day we'll get to that point, we won't even have to have a rooney rule and that we can get past the race, looking at head coaches or who can be the best head coach in the national football league. tavis: whatever race these shut down the minute the super bowl is over over this collective bargaining agreement. the owners have one point of view. the players have another. talk to me about it. >> you know, it's -- i think it would be a sad day if the national football league went to a work stoppage and this is
a great product. as a matter of fact it's a sport that everybody wants to watch and be a part of. and go to the games. and to be in this aspect, you know, because i came in 1987. there was no free agency, the money was ok, it wasn't like it is today. and i think to really -- to break up the golden goose and make that golden goose -- put him in the pin and you can't let him lay any more golden eggs, it would be a shame. i think what has to happen -- the fans don't feel sorry for the players or the owners because most of these guys, both parties are making a lot of money. now you got to ask yourself, can both these parties put their egos aside and do what's best for the national football league and that's continue to play football? hopefully that happens, you know, march 3 is the day that the collective bargaining agreement ends. hopefully they can push that
back. they get something worked out and eventually they'll play football this year. tavis: so there's a great debate, as you know, whether or not we ought to add two games to the schedule. one, what's your take on whether or not there ought to be two games added, number one? and number two, at what point do you start to dilute that great product that you just referred to, the nfl as, if you add more games than can be handled by the players or the fans? >> i think there has to be a give-take. you look at adding two more games to the regular season to have 18 and for the last several years they've talked so much about protecting the players, protecting the players. the green bay packers who are going to the super bowl put 15 guys on i.r. this year. that's the most in the national football league this year. 15 guys and they only had 16 games. so if you move to 18 games, how do you protect the players? so i think there has to be a give-take. if you give two more games in and you have 18 games, i think you have to cut back your o.t.a.'s.
i think you have to add to the roster because you have 53 guys on the roster, so you have to expand the roster to maybe 60 so now you have more to pool from but i think there has to be a give-take. i think it will be a tough sell to have 18 games on the schedule because you keep talking about safety, concussions, hits to the heads and you want to add two more of those games, it's a violent, tough sport. and i just don't think that's going to buy and sell and i don't think any of the players who are playing in the game today really want that to happen. but if it can be a mutual compromise, i think both teams and both parties can benefit from it. tavis: right quick here, 30 seconds to go. we talked about one quarterback in the game, aaron rodgers. the other, big ben. talk to me quickly about how the season started for him with all the drama that he quite are a frankly brought on himself but yet he puts his team back into the super bowl one more time. >> you know what, he needed to grow up and he did grow up. and everybody in the locker room said, he has changed his ways for the most part and that's a great thing.
he's always been a really good quarterback and he's on the verge of being a great quarterback. if he can go to the super bowl and win that game, i think that puts him on that upper etch lon of quarterbacks -- echelon in of quarterbacks. he makes a lot of plays for his football team, he makes plays down the field. that's one of the main reasons they're back in the super bowl. they have a quarterback who understands how to prepare and how to win the big games. tavis: lead analyst for the nfl network, nfl hall-of-famer rod woodson. rod, thanks for sharing your insights. good to have you on the program and have a good week. >> i appreciate it, thank you for having me on. tavis: my pleasure. up next, amos lee. stay with us. please to welcome amos lee back to this program. he's just released his latest c.d. it's called "mission bell" and it features artists like willy nelson and lucinda williams. in a moment he'll perform.
first, some voost for the song "jesus." that >> ♪ i never thought you hated me but i never felt so unloved yeah jesus can you help me now jesus can you help me now o jesus can you help me now o jesus can you help me now so i never feel so unloved so unloved ♪ tavis: that's a cold piece. that's a cold piece. >> thanks, man. tavis: i've never felt so alone, gee cuss you can help me now -- jesus, you can help me now. >> yeah, i wrote that the day my grandfather died. it's about him more than anything else. i don't even know if that's how he was feeting at the time but that's how i was feeling for
him. tavis: does amos lee ever struggle with being so open about that kind of lyrical content? reliving -- we live in a world where nobody wants to be preached to. there's always that line between being daring and prove ets. i love that track. >> to me it's just all story telling. it's a character and a feeling. there's nothing more to it than that for me other than, like, somebody living with conviction, that to me is -- that's what i want to write about. those are the people i want to be around. tavis: this is the fourth project. >> it is. tavis: number four. >> yeah. tavis: how do you distinguish the fourth one from the first, the second and the third? or is there a groove that you're in now and you're comfortable? >> there's a distinction for sure. the first record's kind of always like a magical thing because first of all you don't really know what you're doing. nobody's told you anything good, bad or indifferent really about it, you know what i mean? so you're kind of going with
it. the second and third really for me it was finding my seat. i look back on them and there's some stuff i really love on them and some stuff i'm not as crazy about. this time i went in and i wanted to make sure i had the song. so i feel like this time the songs are more -- it's a better idea from the beginning to the end, there's consistency there. i think the songwriting has grown in a lot of ways and as a performing i feel more comfortable in the studio than i did before. tavis: what is it you're hearing that you're not so happy about and how does it feel to process your way through that? >> yeah. well, for the second and third records especially, there were some songs think a wrote that weren't really done. they were kind of done but they weren't really done and there was sort of a want to follow up a record with a record and i always want to put recordings out, i always want to put the music out there for people but there were songs that weren't ready and i put them out there
when they weren't ready. tavis: when you say a song isn't ready or done, i know that what that means in the kitchen. you put something in the oven, you pull it out and can see whether it's done. how does one do that with a record, with a song? >> i don't really know that there's any real rules for songwriting. for me it's just that when i go back and listen to it i can hear there are places in songs where the lyric wasn't quite formed yet or maybe the bridge wasn't quite right or whatever it might have been. it helps -- it helped me on this record to really sit down with these songs and get in the studio with an i-4 not -- with an eye for not only lyrical content but arrangement because that ultimately helps the lyric. tavis: you can, can amos lee, hear amos lee getting better on project number four? >> it feels better to me. the record itself feels solid. i mean, i feel like there's never a moment when i'm listening to the album where
i'm straying off into negativeland. where i'm going like, oh, man, i can't believe that happened. but ultimately i think it was because of the sort of preparation i made with the songs more than anything else. and i'm not sure if you can watch yourself on tv or if you go back and watch old episodes -- >> i try not to. >> right. exactly. so it's kind of like that for me, too. hopefully, you know in a year or two, if i see you i'm not like, oh, man. tavis: i don't know when and where we'll see each other a couple years from now but when we saw each other last it was at that farmaid. it's always a great event but last year, 2010, the 25th anniversary of farmaid. i was honored to have been asked to host it. so i was honored to be the host of it last year. of course we saw each other there. you killed it last year. >> thanks, man. tavis: i see that you got your friend willy nelson on this
project. >> yeah. i got lucky. what happened was i wrote these songs and did i a lot of singing on my records before, it was just kind of me doing the backgrounds and this time i wanted to incorporate some other voices to sort of vary it up a little bit. i just kind of had a wish list of people and everybody said yes. so it work out great for me. but then they asked me to play farmaid and he came out and did one with me and what can you say? tavis: you killed it. it was a great performance. speaking of legends, you spent some time with one of my friends, bill withers. one of your idols. and what did withers tell you about songwriting? >> we talked about a lot of things. it was a long -- it was a great talk. he's a great dude. and he didn't really say much about songwriting. at the end he basically was just like, you know, i've heard what you do and, i mean, it's
cool. basically that's it. i don't know that as a songwriter you really ever want to be telling another person what they're supposed to be doing anyway. there's this whole sort of like culture now that's all about, like, weighing in on everything. and i don't know, you just got to trust that the people are going to learn on their own, i guess, sometimes. if you have something real meaningful to say then yeah. tavis: but when folk like willy nelson weigh in, when folk like bob dylan weigh in and say that you're one of the great song writers of your generation, that's the kind of weigh-in you want. >> if you're going to weigh in, you want to weigh in there. tavis: yeah, you want weigh-in from willy nelson. i got the regular c.d. and the l.p. thing. >> just for the d.j.'s, for the party kids who want to mix it up. but you know, i love lionel. i started really listening on
vinyl. i like getting it out and putting it on and turning it over. i have a friend of mine who's a little bit older than me who said that back in the day, you know, he was doing his bess a-- business and sometimes that sort of broke the moment a little bit turning a record over. but i like it and i like the idea. i love it. tavis: have you heard amos lee remixed to your point and actually liked it? >> no, i want to. i would love for people to remix some songs of mine. i've been waiting for that. i'm sure i'd like it. i don't do it as much anymore, i used to go on youtube and watch people cover the songs because it's like, sometimes for me it's like, when you sit around too much and you are too dwelling on what you're doing, it's refreshing to go on and listen to other people take on your songs and sing them. it revives the joy in them for me. tavis: what's funny about your point of going on youtube, you go on youtube right now, this thing is just dropping and there are already folks on youtube covering your stuff already.
how's that possible? the record is just dropping. >> it's a different age. they probably have my record before i had it. tavis: you go on youtube literally you can see people covering amos lee's stuff already and the project is just coming out. i suspect that means in the months and years to come a whole lot of folk will be covering stuff on this project. it's the fourth one, it's a good one. from amos lee it's called "mission bell." glad to have amos back on this program. up next, a special performance from amos lee and it's good to have you here. >> thank you. tavis: my pleasure. here is amos lee performing "windows are rolled down. enjoy, good night from los angeles and keep the faith. ♪ look up child the world is born
hey windows are rolled down ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, join me next time with renowned surgeon and author. plus, emmy-winner actress blythe danner. that's next time. we'll see you then. >> all i know is his name is james. and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james.
>> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.