Tom Goldman

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This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


This week marked one of the biggest dates on the American sports calendar: the start of a new NFL regular season, with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons. But there was a third player in the game, too — a musical one.

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The new NFL season is upon us, but the league can't shake some unfinished business. And the Williams sisters hit the hard courts of the U.S. Open. Hard-headed analysis already from Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

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And it's time for sports.

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SIMON: The NFL is back - well, preseason anyway - and has some rule changes. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman gets our head in the game. Tom, thanks very much for being with us.

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CTE has been part of the national lexicon in the U.S. since the 2015 movie Concussion dramatized the discovery of this degenerative brain disease among football players.

American tennis player Serena Williams will play in the Wimbledon Ladies singles final for the tenth time on Saturday. She is favored against Germany's Angelique Kerber to win her eighth Wimbledon singles title. And Williams has lost only one set in her six matches so far.

"There's a sense we've seen this movie before," says Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Jon Wertheim.

Croatia has advanced to its first-ever World Cup final in men's soccer. The Croatian National team came from behind and upset favored England 2-to-1 in a semifinal match decided in extra time on Wednesday in Moscow.

Croatia was supposed to be a tired team coming into the match.

Its previous two games went to extra time and then emotionally draining penalty shootouts. But if anything, the grueling lead-up to the clash against England solidified Croatia's mental toughness, which served the Croats well on Wednesday.

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At the World Cup in Russia, it finally happened.

It took a record 37 matches, but Tuesday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Denmark and France played to a scoreless tie. Or if you want to sound like someone who knows futbol, a nil-nil draw.

It was the tournament's first. According to FIFA, international soccer's governing body, the 36 matches that preceded Tuesday's double goose eggs "smashed" the previous record, when it took 26 matches at a World Cup to finally get to a scoreless tie.

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With a few minutes left in game two of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, this past Sunday, something unremarkable happened: Quinn Cook scored.

It was a layup, and it happened when the game already was decided and the bench players, like Warriors reserve guard Cook, were on the court. Unremarkable. Still, there was Cook in a Warriors uniform, playing and scoring in the Finals. Kind of amazing for those who followed his story.

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DETROW: Tiger Woods made his much-anticipated return to the Masters this week, and Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher who can hit, is tearing it up for the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles.

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy ended his drought in convincing fashion Sunday.

The four-time major tournament winner went on a final-round birdie binge to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla. It was his first victory since 2016. McIlroy pulled away at the end with five birdies on the last six holes for an 8-under par 64.

As dominant as his win was, McIlroy shared the spotlight with Tiger Woods, who finished eight shots back.

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GONYEA: Tiger Woods is building another comeback, and the Paralympics are intersecting with global politics. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins me now. Good morning, Tom.

The Paralympics begins a 10-day run Friday in South Korea, featuring the world's best athletes with disabilities. Close to 700 athletes are gathered in Pyeongchang, where they'll compete in six sports, including alpine skiing, biathlon and snowboarding.

Most of these athletes have dramatic stories — about succeeding in sport despite physical disabilities, and about the journeys that led them to South Korea.

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Today, at the Winter Olympics, Team USA did not get the results it was hoping for, in skiing or in men's figure skating. We have two reports from our Olympic team in Pyeongchang, beginning with NPR's Tom Goldman.

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