Former NFL linebacker and Super Bowl champion Najee Goode joined Gary Payton and Warren Sapp for this week’s episode of BetUS Unfiltered, where the crew and host Dawn Lupul discussed the future of the NCAA and the changing landscape of college athletics.
The cast then zoomed in on the topic of top players increasingly bypassing college altogether for a quick paycheck in the G-League or elsewhere prior to the NBA draft.
“That’s what it’s coming to,” Payton said. “They don’t want to go to college because they don’t want to go to class. If they’re going to give you $500,000 just to play basketball coming out of high school–”
“Go set your mama up with a nice house and then go to work, because you’ve got another contract in front of you,” Sapp interjected. “Why would you go to college?”
When asked about what the NCAA might look like five years from now, Goode reiterated the importance of solving the name, image, and likeness problem in college sports.
“I think the NCAA would make more if they would implement a system to compensate the players because then you’ll get the players coming back to school,” Goode said.
Later, the topic shifted to the upcoming NFL Draft and where Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields may ultimately land.
“I think Fields is either going to go to the Jets or to my team, the 49ers,” Payton said. “We’re not going to pass him up if he’s there.”
Many prognosticators have Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence penciled in at No. 1 overall to Jacksonville, but Sapp said he’s not entirely convinced.
“I’m just not sold on Trevor Lawrence over there in that offense, because he played with some super brothers,” Sapp said of the Clemson QB. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
“I’m down here in Jacksonville, so they’ve got Trevor Lawrence chatter everywhere,” Goode added. “But I like Fields, definitely. The game watching him against Clemson, [Fields and Lawrence] go toe-to-toe, man.”
After Goode signed off, Sapp and Payton took on the topic of hot takes, starting with a discussion of Stephen A. Smith and the ESPN analyst’s recent criticism of Russell Westbrook for not having won a championship.
It’s a familiar topic to Payton, a Hall of Famer who didn’t win a ring until he was 37. Said the Glove: “When people would come to me and they want to heckle me, I do like this: ‘Man, I won when I walked in the door.’”
“But I’ve never heard one of those guys say they were a champion when they walked through that door,” Sapp responded, referring to past NBA greats who retired without a title. “I won when I put my Mama in retirement. That’s what this is about.”
When the topic of Payton’s own pursuit of a championship came up, he recalled an important conversation with his father that he says changed his perspective on his own accomplishments.
“I didn’t want to [retire] without it, but I had gotten caught up in that same crap about how you’re not a Hall of Famer unless you win a championship,” Payton said. “And my daddy sat me down and said, ‘Look here, … don’t you listen to no one else. You’re my son, I raised you up. You’re a Hall of Famer in my life, you’re a Hall of Famer in these streets out here in Oakland. You’re a Hall of Famer to these dudes growing up, they look up to you.
“And when he said that, I don’t care about no championship, man,” Payton continued. “If it happens, it happens, if it don’t, it don’t. So what?”
Sapp didn’t hold back when the discussion turned to the NFL, which officially added a long-rumored 17th game to each team’s annual schedule.
“You already know the players have lost,” Sapp exclaimed when asked about the winners and losers of the deal. “They traded everything to smoke weed. They didn’t get lifetime insurance, they didn’t get anything. And now you’ve got another week, and you didn’t get no added roster, you didn’t get more guys on the field? … That’s gonna be some ugly football.”
Lupul then asked Payton about played 82-game seasons in the NBA and how it compares.
“They’re beating themselves down every week,” Payton said. “Football is crash, crash, crash. We’re running up and down, but it ain’t what they’re doing, hitting each other’s helmets, running into each other like two cars at full capacity. That’s a lot. That’s a lot on somebody’s body.”
However, Payton also said it was important that he played whenever he was physically able to do so.
“I was always built to play 120 games,” Payton said. “I played 40-something minutes a night. I knew how to get my rest and work it the way I need to work it. I knew some days I needed to take off of practice, but I wasn’t spending my time taking off games, because that’s when people are coming to see me. They paid for a ticket to see Gary Payton, so I’m going to give you everything I’ve got.”
For that and more, including Sapp’s 99 seconds on COVID-19 vaccination and the return of tailgate season, check out the entire show.