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Kevin Costner Opens Up on Sports Roles; Can Tiger Make a Comeback?; Girl, 9, Wins Youth Trophy at Augusta; Monitor Checks for Impact of Blows to the Head

Aired April 11, 2014 - 22:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether Oscar Pistorius will ever run a race, what his future holds will be determined in court. If convicted he's facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, on UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS, uncompromising. Kevin Costner opens up about his roles in some of sports most iconic movies and why they strike such a chord.

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: We can be very disappointed in sports, but once in a while, they also ring a bell to where we go this is what I love about it.

ANNOUNCER: Unchartered. The first female golfer to be crowned a champion at the formerly all-male Augusta National club wasn't an LPGA player but a 9-year-old.

KELLY XU, YOUNG GOLFER: It felt amazing, because this was the most beautiful course I've been to in my whole life.

ANNOUNCER: Unchecked. Is a small computer sensor the answer to millions of parents' worries about youth sports concussions or just a false sense of security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a risk there that someone will ignore an injury that is potentially dangerous?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST: Welcome to UNGUARDED, coming from our Atlanta studios tonight.

Kevin Costner is a two-time Oscar winner, but his life might have taken a very different path if his try-out for his college baseball team had gone a little bit better. While he didn't make that final roster back at Cal State Fullerton, his love of the game, any game, has stayed with him. From "Field of Dreams," to "Bull Durham," to "Tin Cup," Costner has created some of the most beloved characters in the sports movie genre, and this weekend, his latest entry, "Draft Day" opens in theaters nationwide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you to make a splash, Sonny. If you can't do it, then I have to do it.

COSTNER: Just to be clear here, you're threatening to fire me, right?

Your job is to coach the team I give you. They do it different in Dallas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they do. They win.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS: Well, why don't you start by telling us a little bit about the movie. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but it's called "Draft Day." So you guys kind of...

COSTNER: It takes place in a single day. I think the success in the movie is that, at the end of the day, it's not like they always had the plan. There's just something that happened that he decided to be himself, and when he did that, the universe started to open up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All that matters is what you think. Write your own story.

COSTNER: Feels like a classic but takes place alongside "Field of Dreams" and "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup".

NICHOLS: Now, you play the general manager of the Cleveland Browns in this movie. In real life, that is not necessarily a job that everybody is clamoring to have, and you show that at the beginning of the movie, right?

COSTNER: Yes. All of these guys' jobs, I think, are hanging like the sword of Vesophacles [SIC], you know. Like, oh, you really want to be the general manager? You know, maybe you won't have the job tomorrow. You've got to want that job. You've got to understand that it's a hot seat.

I just made a trade with Jacksonville. I'm on the clock. It's me.

NICHOLS: Why do you think that sports movies do such a good job of telling those bigger stories of America?

COSTNER: Well, the truth is, I don't think they do. I think they can. And so we can be very disappointed in sports movies, but once in a while they also ring the bell to where we go, "This is what I love about them. Come see this," right?

NICHOLS: You got to use real NFL players, names, teams in this movie.

COSTNER: Yes.

NICHOLS: I was speaking with Eli Manning recently, and he mentioned that you met he and Peyton when they were kids in New Orleans.

COSTNER: Yes. I was making JFK. And his father was -- and Olivia asked me to dinner, and it was really thoughtful, and I was away from home. And they were just boys, and I was a stranger. And it was like they couldn't wait to get out of the house fast enough. I mean, that's all you want to do: play sports until the street lights come on. And then your dad comes looking for you, in this case Archie goes looking for them.

So they were just -- it's been really fun to watch them. And really, how well Archie and his wife have conducted themselves with these guys; have made their way through this league not unbruised. They're, you know, beaten up. And in the press and a lot of things, but ultimately, you know, their character has survived, and they have outlasted their critics.

NICHOLS: Why do you think you're such a good fit for all of these sports movies?

COSTNER: I don't know. Maybe because I -- well, No. 1, I won't participate in a sport that I don't have an understanding of. So it would be ridiculous for me to do a hockey movie. I wouldn't do that. Because -- and so everybody who loves hockey would know immediately.

Because you know, people thought maybe Olivier was our best actor, right? But that doesn't mean he could throw a baseball. He couldn't out-act it. I don't care how good he was as an actor. If you can't throw a ball everybody knows, including the non-athlete.

So I feel like I have that, and I feel like I understand some things are authentic and when it starts to not ring true.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS: All right. If someone out there has the photo of Laurence Olivier trying to throw a baseball, I would love to see it.

We have got so much more with Kevin Costner coming up, including what he thought the first time he read the script for "Field of Dreams" and his favorite scene in "Tin Cup."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can make that shot. But not now.

COSTNER: Now. I'm playing it from right here. Now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLS: I'm Rachel Nichols, and welcome back to UNGUARDED, where we've been talking to two-time Oscar winner Kevin Costner. Costner may be more associated with sports movies than any actor working today. And as his latest, "Draft Day," opens this weekend, he spent some time with us, reflecting on his highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COSTNER: I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: Oh, my.

NICHOLS: So what is your favorite sports movie that you've been in? What's your favorite sports role that you've played?

COSTNER: Well, I can't -- I can't name it. Because you know, people talk about all the sports movies. I love "Plane Crash."

This guy starts me off with a breaking ball, I'm taking him downtown.

You know, Crash goes to hit a home run in obscurity. And there's something heroic about that.

"Love of the Game," for me, was, you know -- I just loved playing that character.

It's either going to be your night or mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh and 2, the count to Kenny Strout.

COSTNER: You know, I love going through those nine innings of his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the glove of Chappell (ph).

COSTNER: You know "Tin Cup," you know it was really important that he make that miraculous shot. What was more important, that it was the 12th shot. Not a shot to win the U.S. Open. The heroism, the sheer arrogance of hitting 12 balls, is why we fall in love with this loser.

NICHOLS: I know the guys on tour love that movie. What feedback have you gotten from Tiger, Phil Mickelson, any of those guys?

COSTNER: They just like the movie. You know, Ron Shelton created a movie where the guy doesn't hit the home run to win the game. The guy doesn't hit the golf shot to win it, and yet, they're beloved movies. They're guys who didn't succeed, except on their own kind of outrageousness.

COSTNER: I'd like you to meet Shoeless Joe Jackson. Joe, Terry Mann.

JAMES EARL JONES, ACTOR: It's a pleasure meeting you.

NICHOLS: Now, you're in "Field of Dreams" with our voice of CNN, James Earl Jones.

COSTNER: Yes.

NICHOLS: When you guys were making that movie, did you have a sense of how many people it would touch?

COSTNER: Well, I had a sense that it was good when I read it. But you never know how people are going to see it. I thought it was a magical script.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you build it, he will come.

COSTNER: All right. That's it. Who the...

I love being a guy who heard voices, you know, who like wants to get one out to Shoeless Joe, and it goes about four inches. He has to pick it up and say, "I'll -- I'm going to get the next one out to you."

NICHOLS: You tried your hand at owning part of a Minor League baseball team.

COSTNER: Yes, well I had a...

NICHOLS: Was that your own "Bull Durham." I mean...

COSTNER: For a minute I was involved with a team that got itself into trouble.

But I do love baseball, you know, but I am a guy that pushes all the chips into the pot. I've done it with movies. I've taken everything, the money I've had, and put it in a movie, you know, and people go, "Don't do that." You know? So I have -- I'm not a bluffer. I don't bluff.

NICHOLS: I know that you've done many different kinds of movies, but people associate you with sports movies in such a warm way.

COSTNER: I might have one more, but I've got to hurry up with it because if I want to be a player, I've only got about one more year.

NICHOLS: You're in management in this movie.

COSTNER: Yes.

NICHOLS: You have one more in mind coming up that you might still be a player?

COSTNER: I have one in mind. I have to get it written right. It's a pretty cool movie. But I'm just going to just -- I've got to keep it under my hat.

NICHOLS: You can't give us a little taste?

COSTNER: I can't give you even a little bit.

NICHOLS: All right. We'll have to come back to you for it.

COSTNER: You know why? Because you'll dig a lot.

NICHOLS: Well, you know how we are.

COSTNER: I do.

NICHOLS: We'll come back to you for it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS: Little tease there, right? I'm sure any new Costner sports movie, just like the voice in "Field of Dreams" says, if he makes it, they will come.

All right. Up next on UNGUARDED, we're going to head right down the road here to Augusta, where there's no Tiger Woods at the Masters this year, but a 9-year-old named Kelly Xu has been making up for that. She's been stealing plenty of hearts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NICHOLS: Welcome back to UNGUARDED. I'm Rachel Nichols. And we turn our attention now to Augusta, Georgia, and the most famous golf course in the country. Earlier this afternoon, I spoke to "Sports Illustrated's" Mike Rosenberg, who is covering the Masters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS: All right, Mike, last year at this time, you wrote "SI's" cover story on Tiger Woods, but this year no Tiger. He is out with yet another injury. Are we ever going to see the return of the dominant Tiger Woods who ruled golf or is that guy just gone for good?

MIKE ROSENBERG, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": Well, you know, I kind of look at Tiger like you look at the Beatles. It was a phenomenon we've never seen before, we're not going to see again. And now we're sort of in the post-breakup period.

And I think in this analogy, the part of Yoko Ono is played by, like, 300 women.

But that's done. I mean, he's never going to be the phenomenon that he was before, but I do think he's capable still of doing great work. And we saw that last year. He was the best golfer in the world when he was healthy. The question is whether he can be healthy?

And I think there's still a chance for him. He doesn't turn 39 until later this year. I would just like to see Tiger healthy for one year and see what he can do.

NICHOLS: Yes. Now you know everything there is to know about back injuries, I am sure.

And as you said, Tiger did end last year ranked No. 1 but once again, no majors. He is 38 years old. We know he technically still has time to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, but Tiger has been stuck on that No. 4 team for six years now. How likely do you think it is that he actually does do it?

ROSENBERG: You know what? I may be the last one that still says Tiger can do it but I really think he can. He was never like anyone before. I don't think it helps to compare him to even other great golfers like Arnold Palmer or Tom Watson or Nick Faldo (ph). He's just a different beast. And it's just, to me, a question of health. Can he get that back ready? Can the rest of him be healthy enough to have you know, ten or 15 majors where he's in contention and then just see how many he wins.

NICHOLS: All right. Well, he obviously won't be winning this weekend, but somebody will win the green jacket. What is the story line that interests you most out there right now?

ROSENBERG: At the moment it's possible that Sweden's own Jonas Blixt wins the Masters. A possibility that's exciting to literally dozens of people. So I'm not really looking forward to that as someone who has to write about this.

I think can Adam Scott win his second straight Masters, that's a question we have? Can Rory McIlroy win his third major and really establish himself as clearly the guy of his generation? Those are the two guys I look for going into the weekend that I think most viewers are going to want to watch.

NICHOLS: Most people never get a chance to be sitting where you are. They never get to go to Augusta. So just give us a sense. What is it like to be walking around the course, around the club, especially on Masters weekend?

ROSENBERG: Well, you know, you come here and you're blown away. You're just like, wow, this is nice. This is unbelievably nice. And then you just think this is so nice that I'm going to get kicked out. Because you really feel like you're trespassing. I mean, it is that exceptional.

But then you settle down, and it's just -- it's a spectacular setting. It's tremendous. Anyone that can come here and can spare like, you know, $17,000 to buy some tickets on Stub Hub, I highly recommend it.

NICHOLS: Well, thanks, Mike. We're going to be looking for your work on SI.com all weekend.

All right. And now I want to bring in a Masters champion and not only that the first female golfer to win at the formerly all-male bastion that is Augusta National.

Now, Kelly Xu is only nine years old but hey, she's got a trophy from the club, thanks to winning her age division at the first annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

Kelly, welcome.

XU: Hi.

NICHOLS: My favorite part when you won was you saying that you calmed yourself down from being nervous by telling yourself golf is something you've been doing your whole life. You are 9 years old. How big a part of your life is golf?

XU: Really big. It's like -- it's a hobby, but it's kind of more than a hobby. It's like -- I'm going to do this my whole life. And it's going to be part of -- it is almost my life.

NICHOLS: Well, if it's your life, tell me what it was like to win in a place like the Masters, which is considered sacred ground out there at Augusta?

XU: It felt amazing, because this was the most beautiful course I've ever been to in my whole life, and I get to go on the greens and win there, and it's very exciting for me.

NICHOLS: All right. Well, the real Masters champion gets a green jacket, of course. They get a champions dinner where they get to pick the meal for the whole club. Did you get a green jacket out of this?

XU: No.

NICHOLS: Oh, no. All right. We've got to get you fitted for one. I do know they asked you about the champions dinner. If you had one, what would you serve?

XU: I would serve anything that tastes good.

NICHOLS: Popsicles in there, a few cupcakes?

XU: Yes.

NICHOLS: Excellent. Good kid food. All right. There's going to be a lot of people wanting to play golf with you now, now that you're the first female Masters champion. Who out there would you most like to play golf with?

XU: I would really like to play with Condoleezza Rice, because she is like almost one of the most perfect role models. And I heard she's a really good golfer. And fortunately, I got the chance to talk to her on the welcome dinner. And she was really, really nice.

NICHOLS: Well, she's certainly a good person to pick. Now, she's had a few other jobs besides just being a golfer. When you grow up, do you want to be a golfer or do you want to be something else?

XU: When I grow up, I want to get a scholarship, go to a top university, like my parents did, and then if I'm good enough, after all of that practicing, then I'll go -- I'll try to go on the LPGA tour.

NICHOLS: I like it. You've got to dream big, aim high, right?

XU: Yes.

NICHOLS: Fantastic, Kelly. We really appreciate it. I'm sure we will be hearing from you more in the future.

And you, at home, do not go anywhere. Your children might not be golf prodigies but, hey, if they play any kind of sport, you are going to want to hear about a possible solution to the concussion crisis that's been plaguing young athletes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wear it on your head, and it's basically feeding information to an electronic monitor.

ANNOUNCER: UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS, partners with "Bleacher Report." Your teams, your sources. "Bleacher Report."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NICHOLS: Welcome back. I'm Rachel Nichols.

For years now, we've been hearing about the dangers of concussions in athletics, especially in teenagers. The research has gotten so scary, more and more parents are simply pulling their kids out of high-impact sports like football and hockey. But maybe soon they won't have to.

Alexandra Field brings us the story of a new device designed to help diagnose brain injuries, but how much of an impact can it really make?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the rough world of ice hockey, a sport where concussions have become all too common, players tough it out too often.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's definitely the stigma, fight through it. Work through it.

FIELD: But could new technology be a game changer? This is one of several products to hit the market that seems to indicate and keep track of the impact and number of blows to a player's head. Researchers are testing a range of these products, questioning how effective they are.

PAUL DAVIS, REEBOK'S CHECKLIGHT PROGRAM DIRECTOR: You wear it on your head. And it's basically feeding information to an electronic monitor.

FIELD (on camera): You're measuring acceleration and rotation?

DAVIS: We're looking at rapid changes in both of those features.

FIELD (voice-over): Concussions can happen when the brain moves back and forth or rotates inside the skull because of an impact. They're seen from the pros down to the juniors.

According to a study in the "American Journal of Sports Medicine," concussions account for 22 percent of injuries in boy's high school hockey.

(on camera): When was your last concussion?

JUSTIN STANLICK, COACH, WILDCATS HOCKEY TEAM: It was right at the end of the season. FIELD: What happened?

STANLICK: I went to the boards wrong, got hit from behind. Then -- then I saw stars and dizziness, and I called it quits after that.

FIELD (voice-over): But players who take a hit aren't always willing to sit out. Enter Checklight.

DAVIS: It's a flexible electronic device worn on your head for impact indication.

FIELD: A Reebok product equipped with technology, the basic would help players check their pride and get potential injuries checked out. The skull cap, with a sensor placed inside it, is worn under a helmet.

(on camera): It's really up to other players to notice what's going on back there?

DAVIS: That's correct.

FIELD: What's visible outside the helmet is a small LED panel that lights up when a collision occurs. Yellow for a moderate blow, red for a more significant impact.

(on camera): An impact that might cause a concussion for one player might do almost nothing to another player. So how does one size fits all work?

DAVIS: We basically designed ranges, and we put them into bundles of sort of moderate and more severe incidents.

FIELD: What is the impact threshold?

DAVIS: There's no specific threshold that would say you're concussed or I'm concussed.

FIELD (voice-over): And perhaps that's the problem. Researchers testing this and similar products say it is unclear what force causes products to trigger after an impact, or worse, not to trigger, and that more testing needs to be done to determine just how accurate these devices are.

But Reebok says the lights are triggered based on an algorithm that calculates the severity of the impact.

(on camera): If you get hit in the head and you don't see the light go off or if you get hit in the head and you get a yellow light, is there a risk there that people would ignore an injury that is potentially dangerous?

DAVIS: We would like people to treat both a yellow and a red, a moderate, more severe trigger light with the same sort of caution. Something significant happened and just -- just take the time to get checked out.

FIELD (voice-over); Competitive athletes might not want to be benched because of a blinking light. But a yellow light, or even a red one, doesn't always mean game over.

Justin Stanlick coaches the Wildcats junior hockey team in Randolph, New Jersey. This season the team put Checklight to the test.

(on camera): Have you seen some lights on the ice?

STANLICK: Yes. We've had a couple of them light up yellow so far. We've had the boys checked out by, you know, the trainer, if it's at a game, or the coaching staff if it's at practice.

FIELD: Some people are going to wonder if -- if Checklight can be abused. If you're going to see, you know, teenage boys thinking it's a good idea to light each other up. Are you seeing that?

STANLICK: It kind of goes away after the first, you know -- first little bit of getting used to having the technology. They stop that pretty quick.

FIELD (voice-over): If Checklight or similar technologies are proven to be effective, the hope is that in a rough game tough players won't be left with permanent damage.

Alexandra Field, CNN, Randolph, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS: Thanks, Alexandra.

That's it for us this week. You can follow me on Twitter, like us on Facebook or visit us on the web at CNN/unguarded. We will see you back here next Friday night on UNGUARDED, where the end of the game is just the start of the story. Good night.