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June 2, 2015

Charles Barkley

Trent Dilfer

Chad Pfeifer

THE MODERATOR:¬† Trent has played in this event 16 times this will be 17.¬† He has eight top 10 finishes.¬† Trent, I don't know if you know this, but you have won $200,461 over the years.¬† And his odds from the Harrah's Harveys sports book, and there's all kinds of information in the back of the room.¬† Odds are 12‑1 to win the thing this year.¬† Trent was in the NFL for 14 years as quarterback for numerous teams, including Tampa Bay, where he was All‑Pro, Baltimore, where he led the Ravens to the 2001 Super Bowl championship over the New York Giants.¬† And also played with Seattle and Cleveland, and in his last couple of years was with the San Francisco 49ers where he helped Alex Smith find his sea legs.
This guy is one of the best guys we have at this tournament every year.  A really good guy and one of the sharpest football analysts that ESPN has.  He's great on TV and has worked hard to get where he is.  Ladies and gentlemen, Trent Dilfer.
TRENT DILFER:  Thank you.  Not used to hearing nice things about myself.  I have three daughters, all the negative stuff I'm hearing.
Fire away.

Q.  Trent, tell us a little bit about the condition of your golf game, what you expect to see from yourself and then talk about some of the other guys that you know are going to be playing in this tournament, what you think?
TRENT DILFER:¬† It's been a rough year for me.¬† It's probably been the worst year of golf I've ever had.¬† I've tried to make some massive swing changes, and they haven't really stuck right away.¬† Although I've seen some improvement in the last couple of weeks.¬† I've played in two tournaments the last three weeks, one an invitational at Whisper Rock, a two‑man tournament in Arizona where we finished second.¬† My partner and I made nine birdies over three days and an eagle.¬† And last week in San Diego I finished fifth in the celebrity event down there.
So I'm starting to see some turnaround.  The lack of distance off the tee kills me.  I tore my Achilles in 2002 and lost probably 40 to 60 yards off the tee since.
It's hard to keep up with these young guys that are swinging out of their shoes and driving it, you know carrying it 300 when I'm carrying it 255, 260.
But short game is sharp, and ultimately this thing will come down to how many 12‑foot putts you make.¬† I'm going to have a bunch of them over three days.¬† If they go in I'll compete.¬† If they don't, then I'll be like last year.¬† I'll be tenth or something.

Q.  We have a number of quarterbacks that are playing in this event, as you well know.  Obviously Aaron Rodgers, current NFL MVP.  Your sidekick, Alex Smith, and a few other folks.  And we talk about this quite a bit during the tournament that the quarterbacks think they are the best athletes, say they're the best athletes, and you've got a defending champion who used to be a quarterback.  So there's the setup?
TRENT DILFER:  We're the smartest, too.  (Laughter) it's funny, these guys get after it, man.  I remember being the young buck quarterback when Elway and Marino and Phil Simms was playing a lot of golf and Warren Moon.
I first came into the league and it was kind of like a rite of passage to be in the quarterback community, to play golf and play it well.¬† Then it went through a lull where nobody really played.¬† And now the young guys are starting to play again.¬† So I think it fits our mindset that ‑‑ the mechanics don't really fit.¬† That's the interesting thing.¬† The throwing mechanics and the golf mechanics don't really marry each other very well.
That's why most of us kind of have an over‑the‑top move.¬† We have a hard time tracking the club inside, because of our mechanics from football.¬† Doesn't carry over.
But I think our short games, the way they think through the game is all pretty similar and our competitive temperament.  And we are all deeply competitive and do what it takes to beat the next guy.  So I think that's why you see a lot of quarterbacks successful in this game.

Q.  I'm curious if you've tried to help Barkley out at all?
TRENT DILFER:  No, I can't even watch that.

Q.  But on the range he can hit good shots?
TRENT DILFER:  He does.  I saw somebody the other day asked me, last year I remember hitting balls with him on the far left corner of the range, and, man, his swing looked better than mine.  He can stroke it on the range.  I got a lot of voices in my head yelling at me all the time.  I can't imagine the voices he has in his head to create that move.  (Laughter) So it's tough to watch when you see him on the range hitting it so well and he goes out there and it's a struggle.

Q.  As a quarterback, what air pressure did you like for the balls (laughter) and how much were you able to manipulate that at all?
TRENT DILFER:  Let's make sure we say footballs.  I think this is the most sensationalized story I've ever seen in the National Football League, to be quite honest with you.
In 2004, there was kind of an understanding, there was a conference call amongst quarterbacks in the NFL and kind of an understanding you could do whatever you wanted to do with the footballs except turn them brown, because up until then they were‑‑ the league kind of controlled them and we were getting in a situation where you go to a game and you have ‑‑ the film was still on the ball, or one ball would be rock hard or one would be soft and there was no consistency.
And then they tried to introduce some footballs with synthetic laces which was a train wreck.  So it was real contentious.  I think it was'04, it might have been'05.  I think'04.  So I think Tom and everyone else has been working under that premise ever since.
The way it works you spend all week with the ball boys getting the footballs ready.  Some guys rub them down, some put dirt on them.  I had my formula that I taught to Alex Smith and Matt Hasselbeck, and they all liked it.  And we all had our way of getting the footballs ready.  And the inspection process was pretty simple.  The ball boys, two hours before the game, take it into the refs and there's 24 balls in the bag, 12 you're going to use and 12 that are backups.  And the rest are open the zipper and say, stick a needle in one, close enough, good, let's go.
How it got to this point, I have no idea.  I can't comprehend how this got this far, because in the world I lived in the NFL this was never an issue.  I don't know what else to say about that.  I can't believe it to be honest with you.  I've stayed away from the whole story just because I'm sickened by it.
It's harder to throw a ball that's deflated.  Science has proven it.  Sports science did a study on it.  Most quarterbacks would tell you it's harder to spin a soft ball.  It might be easier to hold on to in the colder weather, like people are talking about, but it's much harder to spin.  Most guys like them on the firmer side in terms of air pressure, the leather softens up.

Q.¬† You say it's the most sensationalized story you've ever seen.¬† Someone had to lend it credence if Brady ended up with a four‑game suspension?
TRENT DILFER:¬† You'd think.¬† I honestly don't‑‑ I'm flabbergasted by the whole thing.¬† I can't, for the life of me, understand how it got to this point.¬† I really can't.¬† And I'm not going to speculate on anything else.¬† I cannot believe it.

Q.  Have you ever played golf with Bruce Jenner?
TRENT DILFER:  I did not.  I've been around him at golf tournaments.  Never played in his group.  Don't know much.

Q.  You talked a minute about the quarterback's ability to play golf.  Of the four major pro sports do you think football players are the best?  I've seen a lot of good hockey players play too.  Is there one sport it seems more adept?
TRENT DILFER:¬† This is a contentious conversation.¬† We actually had a tournament out in Mississippi, I don't know, five, six years ago, that was ‑‑ the idea was to pit the four best football players and then hockey.¬† You couldn't necessarily get the best in each sport.¬† We won, by the way.¬† (Laughter) But it's hard.¬† I mean, there's some baseball players, obviously Rick alone counts for two.¬† Right, his success in the celebrity world.¬† Eric Gagne, who won last week in San Diego.¬† Mark Mulder.¬† They could put together a fierce team.¬† Hockey used to be able to put together a fierce team.¬† I don't know if they could anymore.
Basketball, they're the red‑headed stepchild of this.¬† Steph is their saving grace.¬† They'd have to recruit deep to put together a good team.
It's tough.  We take that very serious and at the end of this tournament we always look up how many quarterbacks are up there, how many baseball players are up there.  And it matters.
THE MODERATOR:¬† It's kind of interesting that Harrah's Race and Sports Book has listed a baseball player to win at even odds, a football player at minus‑$1.30.¬† So, there you go.

Q.  Trent, my wife will be proud of me, how old are your three daughters?
TRENT DILFER:  How old?  19.  She's a freshman at Notre Dame.  She plays volleyball there.  16, so just finished her sophomore year, and 13.

Q.¬† 16 and 13 will come back to you, believe me.¬† They'll be like the 18‑‑ you'll be king again.¬† Trust me on that one.
TRENT DILFER:  They're all fun.

Q.  Here's my question, speaking of baseball.  When did you make the decision to play football, to go pro?  Was there ever a decision?
TRENT DILFER:¬† Basketball is my favorite sport growing up.¬† I was more recruited as a basketball player than any other sport.¬† I pitched as my sophomore year in high school and hurt my shoulder.¬† And the doctor at the time kind of said, football or baseball.¬† And growing up, son of a football coach and all that stuff, it was kind of a no‑brainer to stick with football.
Turned out all right.  I'm glad I didn't go play basketball at Santa Clara, that's what I was thinking about doing.

Q.  Anybody who we have not seen play here or who you would like to see play here in this tournament?
TRENT DILFER:  Good one.  Anybody that I would like to see play here?  I think most of the guys and gals, it's great to see Annika play.  I'm excited to see Colt Ford play.  I just haven't played against him.
No, I think they do an incredible job here.  Mike and I were just talking about it.  You get a lot of friends texting you, saying, can you get me into Tahoe.  Bro, it's not that easy.  I'm biting my fingernails every year hoping I get the invite.
They do a pretty good job covering the whole landscape of celebrity and golfer.  I can't think of one off the top of my head that deserves to play in it that hasn't.

Q.  Russell Wilson, your thoughts on him, is he a game manager?  Is he an elite quarterback?  What is he and should he get a max contract?
TRENT DILFER:¬† Yes, he should get a max contract.¬† Considering who else has.¬† But I understand the team situation, too.¬† I understand that if you pay a quarterback $100million it really handicaps you a lot of other ways, re‑signing guys.
But he deserves it.  He's been a phenomenal player.  We're so wrapped up in the fantasy world these days.  And listen, I play too.  So I get it, the stats have become more important to the general fan.  He does so many other things that the stat line doesn't show to help his team win games.
The game manager, that thing started with me.¬† I thinkthere's ‑‑ I like what Steve Young says.¬† Steve Young, who is a Hall of Famer, one of the greatest players whoever played football, says 85percent of being a quarterback is being a game manager.¬† So I like it when he says that, game manager.¬† The difference is you have to have the 15percent when you can carry your team.¬† And the Hall of Famers do, and the great ones do.¬† And I think Russell has that 15percent also.

Q.  Ron told me he interviewed you earlier and that you and Steph Curry are members of the same club.  Who wins that $2 Nassau?
TRENT DILFER:  We've been pretty even at this point.  He doesn't get to play as much as I do.  He was actually out there in between one of the series, I can't remember, a couple of weeks ago.  His dad and his brother and him and a bunch of us played.  And for a guy that doesn't play a lot he can still put the tee in the ground and rip it.
I'm saying he makes golf look as easy as he makes basketball look.  It's just effortless for him.  And I think if he played a little bit more he'd be a guy that could be dominant in this circuit.  He's that kind of player.

Q.  You said before that golf fits in with a lot of quarterback's approach to a sport in general.  Is there a difference between how offensive and defensive football players approach golf?
TRENT DILFER:  I can't think of any defensive guys that are any good at golf.  Chuck Cecil back in the day was pretty good.  Urlacher is trying.  I will give Brian this, he's really worked hard on his game and he shows signs.  But that makes sense, middle linebacker/safety, they've got to kind of think their way through their game as well.
I think the most underrated aspect of golf, just my perspective, maybe it fits in this answer, is how you think your way around a golf course.  And I think strategists tend to do better.  A quarterback is a strategist, an inside linebacker is a strategist, a safety is a strategist.  Whether it's offense or defense.  Not many defensive linemen are strategist, it's basically hunt and eat.  (Laughter).
So I think it definitely suits those of us whose minds are a little more analytical, a little more strategy‑based.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
TRENT DILFER:  He's okay.  Lawrence played with a couple of balls in his pocket, too.

Q.  For the young men coming into the league this fall anybody you're particularly excited about seeing?
TRENT DILFER:  I thought it was amazing how the Jets got, is it Williams?  Once the draft's over I put the draft to bed.  The defensive linemen for USC.  He's a polished guy that's ready to come in be a stud right away.
But a lot of is system‑‑ I think the message that I try to get around the draft is it's not as much about their physical characteristics, it's about the fit that they're going into, whether they're going to have immediate success or not.
Doesn't mean‑‑ it can be a weird fit early on and they have success later on.¬† But for a young guy to come in and be an impact player, it has to be a unique fit.¬† And there has to be a dynamic in the building that makes him feel comfortable, because it's really uncomfortable to go in as a rookie in the NFL and feel like you're going to be an impact player.
So I think Jameis has a chance.  I'm one of the few that think Jameis has a real chance to be very successful early on.  His game is suited for the NFL, far more than Marcus Mariota's is.
I think with the talent they have in Tampa, I think you could see Jameis have one of those quarterback seasons for a rookie that you don't see very often.

Q.  Who have you been working on your game with?  Who is your instructor?  And are you going to be ready?
TRENT DILFER:  Laird Small down at Pebble.  And he and his best friend, a guy named Tommy Masters, who's in Fresno, has been my instructor for a long time.  They're collaborating, that's how many issues I have.
Now, the biggest issue that I have‑‑ I lost the ability to rotate at the ball.¬† So it impacts with the longer clubs, I'm still kind of stuck.¬† So they're trying to get me to get into extension again, so I can get some hip rotation and get some club‑head speed with the longer clubs.¬† I have a degenerative knee, torn labrum in my hip, other stuff going on that limits it, so they're trying to find a unique way for me to generate some ground force again that I've lost over the years.

Q.  Looking at the list so far, who do you like?
TRENT DILFER:  From what I hear about Colt Ford he's tough to argue with.  Mark is playing really well, Mark Mulder.  I was with him at Whisper Rock a couple of weeks ago.
Smoltzy, he has the same issue here every year making putts.  Listen, I played with Rick in the second to last group Sunday.  And Rick's hitting it as good as he's ever hit it.  His short game is not as good as it was once was, but he's hitting it as good as he's ever hit it.
Rip's playing okay.  Rip and I tied.  I think Mulder has a chance.  I said it last year, if I were to bet on anybody but me I'd bet on Mulder.
THE MODERATOR:  Trent, thank you.
We're joined by Charles Barkley.

Q.  Charles, you have a large following from the crowds that total over 30,000 each year.  Did you notice last year that there were some large crowds also following Chad Pfeifer?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  You know, we didn't see a lot of each other.  We were playing at different times, just for the record, John.  But you know, it's well deserved.
I look forward to Lake Tahoe‑‑ this is probably going to be my favorite Lake Tahoe tournament ever because, John, I don't know if I told you, as soon as this tournament is over I'm having hip‑replacement surgery, so the rest of my summer is going to suck.¬† I'm going to be laid up for the rest of the summer.¬† So this is going to be probably my most fun time, because like I say, my summer is not ruined but it's ruined as far as ‑‑ that's going to be my last hurrah before I get my new hip.
But, Chad, we've had some conversations about my respect for anybody who has the guts to be in the service, and it's just going to be really cool to be back out there.  I look forward to seeing Chad again.

Q.  Chad, I know the invite was a surprise to you last year.  And has your life changed a little bit after having been invited and playing last year?
CHAD PFEIFER:  Being invited to the American Century Championship last year, as you said it definitely shocked me and I was grateful for the invitation.  Once I played in it, I was expecting to play well, and maybe not quite as well as I did the first day, but I was hoping to compete.
And then once being on TV and being out there on the leaderboard, I had a lot of people ask me about it.  And I got to explain to them how much fun it was and just what a great time it was.
So it was the recognition and the exposure I got being on TV was definitely something different than what I was used to.  But it was a lot of fun.

Q.  And the Golf Channel Big Break Series how did that work out?
CHAD PFEIFER:  That was a lot of fun.  Again, it was something that I wasn't used to.  Had a little experience being on TV at last year's American Century Championship.  But it's a whole different kind of show.  And obviously the tournament in Tahoe last year was a live event and the Big Break is, of course, filmed and taped and aired later.
It's a lot of pressure, a lot of people.  It's just a different kind of pressure that people face hitting golf shots.  I think a lot of it is you do a lot of waiting around filming the show, and then you've got one or two shots to, if you don't hit that one shot, you could be going home.
So it was a lot of pressure on the show.  And it was a lot of fun for sure.  But it was definitely different.

Q.  Chad, first of all, thank you so much for your service and your sacrifice for our country's freedom.  Can't ever thank you enough for that.  I wanted to ask you what your thoughts were last year after you took the lead in the first round and were you even maybe thinking it was a little easier than you anticipated based on that great first round?
CHAD PFEIFER:  I definitely didn't think it was easier or gonna be easier going forward after the first round.  But the first two rounds, I just kind of just played my game and just tried to have fun and play the course and it worked well.
And the third day, I would be lying if I told you I wasn't thinking about winning it, holding the trophy up.¬† But I just kind of got caught up in the moment and just realized where I was at and the people surrounding me and all the celebrities and all‑stars in the tournament, and kind of got caught up in the moment.¬† And I enjoyed it, though.¬† I would have liked to have won it, but I definitely had a great time and kept pinching myself knowing who was around me and playing golf in the tournament.

Q.  I know there were a lot of people that were sure rooting for you to win it last year.  Along those lines, do you think Rod Gorman is going to be going on a learning curve since he doesn't have much tournament experience, or do you really think he might be a threat to be right there on Sunday like you were last year?
CHAD PFEIFER:  I think one of the things that was in my advantage last year was being in pressure situations in war over in Iraq.  And I think there will definitely be a learning curve for Rod as he gets in, hasn't played much tournament golf, as you said.
But I don't think the pressure will get to him a whole lot.  The cameras, that might be a different story for him.  I don't know how he'll do with those.  But he, like myself, he's been in a lot more situations where, you know, there's a lot worse outcome than hitting a bad shot.

Q.  That puts it in perspective, doesn't it?
CHAD PFEIFER:  Yeah.  I think he'll be good.  It was kind of like how I went into it last year, I think if you can just have fun and just enjoy the moment, I think he could be up there as well.

Q.  Is your golf game where you need it to be?  And was the Golf Channel Big Break competition an experience that really helped you to improve?
CHAD PFEIFER:  Yeah, my golf game's good right now.  It was definitely an experience that I can learn from and take a lot of things from.  Like I said, there's a lot of pressure on the show just because you're hitting one shot at a time.  But there's a lot of things from the show that I can take and apply it to tournament golf.  And I think it can help me in the long run in my career.
MODERATOR:  By way of explanation, Rod Gorman is the winner of the Warrior Open, the George W. Bush Presidential Centers Warrior Open.  American Century has resolved to invite the winner of that tournament each year, and Rod beat Chad this past November in Dallas to earn that invite.  So Rod Gorman, another disabled vet who will be in the field this year.

Q.  Charles, glad to hear there's nothing wrong with your vocal chords?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I'm on vacation.  The season ended like a month ago.  That's what it seemed like.

Q.¬† I'd love to get your thoughts on this upcoming series, and I guess secondarily to see if you still are skeptical about the Warriors being able to win because they're such a jump‑shooting team, maybe you could elaborate on that?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Sure.  I think they have been very impressive.  Steph obviously has been fantastic.
I think they're better defensively than I thought they were.  But I think their bench has been amazing.  I think their bench has been amazing.  I think that's probably the thing that surprised me the most, how good their bench is.  But they've done a fantastic job.
And one cool thing about these finals, you've got two great fan bases.  So somebody's going to get great joy, whether it's in the Bay Area or Cleveland.  So I'm really excited for those two fan bases.
With that being said, I still like Cleveland to win the series in six.  I think Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov could have a huge series.  I like J.R. Smith and Shumpert coming off the bench.
And I just think it's LeBron's time right now.  So as great a season as Golden State has had I'm taking the Cavaliers in 6.

Q.  Charles, if you were designing a defense against the Warriors in this playoffs, I know no one can stop Stephen Curry, but what do you do to slow him down, to handle at this moment things like that?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I think you have to go at him offensively.  You can't just let him play one end of the court.  And Kyrie's got to be very aggressive because Steph moves so much.  He might get in foul trouble, he might wear down as the series goes.
They pretty much had a cakewalk so far, to be honest with you, through the Western Conference where I think it surprised a bunch of people.  But I'd be really aggressive with Steph on the offensive end.
He's going to get some numbers.¬† But I just think‑‑ I keep running Shumpert at him.¬† I start the game obviously with Kyrie going at him offensively.¬† And then I'm going to put Shumpert on him and try to physically beat him up a little bit.¬† Even J.R. going to beat him up a little bit.¬† He's just a hell of a player.
I think the difference in this series is going to be Tristan Thompson and Mozgov.  I think those guys are going to have terrific series.

Q.  Trent, you are a scratch golfer.  You're a guy who is competitive in this tournament every year.  And Michael Jordan once said that once he got out of the game, in his playing career, he thought he'd have a crack at winning this Celebrity Tournament because he'd have more time to practice.  You're retired now in terms of playing.  I'm not suggesting you have a lot of time on your hands, but is there any agreement with Jordan that now that your football career is no longer an issue that you might be able to put in the time to win a tournament like this?
TRENT DILFER:¬† I think I'll have some time in a few years.¬† Having three girls in the house, teen‑aged daughters, I think takes away from the opportunity to really put enough time aside to justify working on your golf game.
My life gets very busy with the broadcast stuff and just other demands on my time.¬† I enjoy‑‑ I just love to compete.¬† And when you lose your sport, so now that I'm not playing football anymore, I need something to compete at and golf is the thing.¬† I wish I could play hoops, I wish I could play racquetball or tennis.¬† My body won't allow me.¬† So basketball is the drug of choice, so to speak, when it comes to competing.
And I think there will be a time, maybe in my late 40s, early 50s, where I can really dedicate much more attention to honing my game.

Q.  Everyone is familiar with Mr.Barkley and the interaction that he enjoys with the gallery.  But I'd ask you as someone who gets to observe it, what do you observe about that interaction?
TRENT DILFER:  Charles is the best.  His ability to engage with fans, have fun with them, make this a great experience for everybody involved, there's just nobody like him.  He's the best on TV and that's why he's the best in person is that he has this engaging side about him that makes everybody feel comfortable around him and resonate with him.
I've enjoyed my time around Charles over the years, and I can see why he's the fan favorite here in Tahoe and pretty much everywhere he goes.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Thank you very much, Trent.  I appreciate that.

Q.  Charles, getting back to the NBA Finals.  If the Warriors do win, what do you think they'll be able to pull it off?
CHARLES BARKLEY:¬† I think their depth‑‑ I mean, they're not even‑‑ their depth is amazing.¬† I think that's the one thing that probably caught me off guard.
They're actually‑‑ if you take away Klay and Steph, I think they're better‑‑ that's no disrespect to anybody‑‑ they'd be bringing guys on the bench who are all‑stars.¬† That Livingston kid has been fantastic.¬† Obviously Iguodala has been fantastic.¬† They're not even playing David Lee, basically.
I forget the big kid who is playing very well right now.¬† I mean, their depth totally surprised me.¬† And I think that's going to‑‑ LeBron is going to have to play well, four games, if the Cavs are going to win this thing.¬† LeBron will have to go crazy for four games and dominate it mentally and physically.
But I won't be totally shocked.  I won't be totally shocked if Golden State wins.

Q.  One other thing you said earlier you'll be real happy about either fan base, you've had a fun rivalry going with the Warriors fans for several years, and back to 2007 when they were doing the we believe stuff.  Could you describe how fun it is to get under their skin?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I'm just having fun.  I think people don't realize we get paid to have fun on television.  We want people to watch.
We never care who wins.¬† They've got a tremendous fan base‑‑ listen, we played them a couple times in the playoff.¬† They've got a tremendous fan base.¬† And it's been great to see that.
And obviously Cleveland, man, us old heads we got mad at LeBron the first time he left Cleveland because winning in Cleveland is a lot more significant than winning in Miami.¬† And those people in Miami, their fair‑weather fans.¬† Those people in Cleveland, man, those people they love their sports.
Like I say, whether it's Golden State or whether it's the Cavaliers, it's going to be a really great thing‑‑ first of all, to be honest with you even ‑‑ obviously one of these teams is going to lose.¬† It's been amazing for their fan bases anyway.¬† But obviously one's going to get the parade and everything.¬† But it's been a great year for anybody from Cleveland or anybody from Golden State.¬† They've got tremendous fans.

Q.  This question was originally directed towards Trent.  But Phil ignored me during the initial Q&A.  So I'll have any of you jump in that feel like you want to or have the time or inclination.  Trent, I know you have access to all kinds of great golf courses, have played a lot of great golf courses.  How does this one stack up in your opinion at Edgewood Tahoe.  And try to separate if you can the tournament experience from the actual playing of the golf course?
TRENT DILFER:  I think it's a good golf course, the setting, the backdrop, I think adds gravitas to it obviously.  I think it's a much better golf course all the way back, if you go play on a Wednesday afternoon with the men's club here and go play it from 7500 yards with the elevation, it's a big boy golf course.
We play at an appropriate distance for the quality of golf that we're going to be playing during the week.  But it definitely takes some of the design features away from some of the holes on the course.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I played some of the best golf courses in the world.  I've been blessed to do that.  And as far as scenery, I don't think you get much better, better scenery than you do at Lake Tahoe.  It's a wonderful city.  It's a wonderful place.  But some of the views are just pretty cool.
But let's be realistic.  The best thing about the tournament is the people.  I mean, the fans, they're always amazing.  You get to follow somebody you want to follow.
I mean, if I'm a Trent Dilfer fan I get to walk close to him for three days.  If I'm a Michael Jordan fan or Aaron Rodgers fan, I mean, how often do you basically get to take a stroll with some of your heroes?  That's pretty cool.  That's the best thing about the tournament.

Q.  Trent, I'm sure you're aware of the, I don't know if it's a movement out there, but aware of the fact that there's some moms out there that are worried about putting their kids, getting them started in the game of football.  You've got guys retiring early because of head injuries.  Are you worried at all about the future of the game, not short term, but long term?  And secondly, do you know of anything specifically that the NFL is doing to address this issue?
TRENT DILFER:  I think the game is as safe as it's ever been.  The NFL is doing a lot.  There's a lot of programs teaching the younger ages how to tackle safer, not use the head as a weapon.  It's hard.  I had 14 concussions when I played and Charles knows me pretty well.  You can see the effects of all 14 when you spend time with me.
But I feel bad that the game's under attack.¬† I think where the game is going and why it will continue to get safer is I think it will move to a non‑contact sport during the week at the high school and college, maybe the pro level, where they won't allow any contact during the week.
The only contact will be on the weekends during the games.  I think there's a lot of companies that are bracing for that, developing gear around those type of practice habits.
A lot of the studies I've seen show that the big issue is the cumulative effects of the head‑to‑head collisions, especially in the interior lines.
It's not the big‑blow hits that you see in the secondary, it's the interior linemen that are banging heads on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at practice.¬† If can you eliminate those I think the game gets better.¬† I think football ‑‑ with respect to all sports ‑‑ I think football is the ultimate team sport.¬† I think it teaches you about being a man and being productive member of society, about being a future influencer more than any other sport.¬† And I hope that it continues on the path we're on to stay safe that more kids get involved, not less.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Football is a contact sport.  I don't think there's any way you can play football and not get concussions.
But I do agree with Trent, it's probably as safe as it's ever been.  And we need sports, because you know the way they're ripping these kids off to go to college now, how much they're charging to go to college, which is a travesty and a joke in this country.  Do you know how many people get a free education because of sports?
And we need sports.  Think about it:  Most college teams have close to 100 players on that.  For those kids, how many of those kids could actually afford to go to college without getting in tremendous debt if it wasn't for football?  That's why I love sports, man.  Just because I made it, but still I think I would have got an education, had a better life than an uneducated person.
But we need sports.¬† I do agree with Trent, we can't be practicing‑‑ you can't be hitting during the week‑‑ and I would take it a step further.¬† I wouldn't let any kids play football, that's just my personal opinion.¬† People can agree or disagree.¬† I wouldn't let any little kids play football.¬† I wouldn't let kids play until they got to high school at the earliest.¬† That would be my personal opinion.
That's what I think.
TRENT DILFER:  I agree with that.  I think one of the biggest shames is the Texas teams of fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth graders playing contact football.  There's no need for it.  They're only learning bad habits.  They can play flag football.  Play other sports.  Play basketball, run track, play baseball, play golf, play lacrosse, all those other sports are awesome, too.
You can learn all you need to learn from your freshman year on in high school.  Charles, I appreciate that because that's something I've been saying for years.  These little league programs are a travesty.
Chad, I got an announcement coming out Friday but I'll break it to you now.  I think we've had a conversation about how much I respect and admire what all you soldiers do.  So I just got a new contract.  And my goal is always to, I try to give a million dollars a year away to charity.
So I was going to announce Friday, I didn't know you were going to be on the conference call, but I'll announce now.  I'm announcing Friday that I'm giving Auburn another million dollars.  I'm giving Wounded Warriors a million dollars and I'm giving Morehouse University in Atlanta, each one of all a million dollars.  And I just want to thank you personally for having the stones to go to war, and I think it's a joke the way they treat our soldiers.
And I had made up my mind the next time if I signed a new contract that I was going to give you guys a million dollars.  And AT&T will get over that.  I'm just glad to talk to you today and announce it to you today.
CHAD PFEIFER:  That's awesome.  That shows how great of a guy you are.  That's awesome.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Thank you, my brother, for your service.
I was going to announce it Friday, but, John, I told you what the soldiers mean to me.  And I just think it's a joke the way we treat our soldiers.  I did a USO tour a couple of years ago, and it was one of the most unique things I've ever done in my life.  And I was going to announce it Friday that I'm going to give Auburn another million dollars, I'm going to give a million dollars to Wounded Warriors, and I'm also giving a million dollars to Morehouse University in Atlanta.

Q.  Harrah's has you at 5,000 to 1 to win this tournament do you have a better chance to win the lottery or this tournament?
CHARLES BARKLEY:¬† I have a better chance of winning the lottery, man.¬† You know, golf to me, do I want to play better golf?¬† Yes.¬† Man, I'm 52 years old.¬† I've exceeded all my expectations in life.¬† And I played golf ‑‑ think about it, I'm probably going to play golf with two guys who are really cool, like last year I played with Larry the Cable Guy who was awesome.
I always play with Kevin Nealon, and it's like the funnest three days of golf I have all year.  Hey, listen, I'm not worried about winning that golf tournament.  But it's fun just being there.
THE MODERATOR:  Charles is 5,000 to 1.  Trent is 12 to 1 to win.  Chad is 12 to 1 also to win.  Mark Rypien is among the favorites along with several others.

Q.  Following up on the conversation before, Charles, did you ever have a concussion playing basketball, and what do you think of the approach that the NBA is taking right now as far as concussion protocol goes?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Let me say this.  We had a little argument on the show last week.  We can't compare a basketball concussions to football concussions.  That's really unfair to football players.
Trent touched on something.  I think he's 100percent correct about these offensive and defensive linemen.  I've all told you this story.  I played football one day and I realized these guys are crazy.  And I was on the defensive line.
And I quit after one day.  Because you get your bell rung 10 to 15 times a day at practice.  You see stars, which is a small, quote/unquote, small concussion.  And I've had basketball concussions.
I think we do a disservice to football players to act like do you have a concussion, yeah.  But don't compare basketball concussions to football concussions.  Steph Curry was back out there, he's all right.  I think Klay will be ready to go.  He got his bell rung a little bit.
But I think we do a disservice to try to compare basketball concussions to football concussions.  And this notion that the Golden State Warriors want to put their two best players in harm's way, I think that's overkill.  Those kids are going to be fine.  But let's don't try to compare basketball concussions to football concussions, because that does a disservice to football.

Q.  First of all, bless you on your generosity.  That's really cool.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Thank you very much.

Q.¬† The second thing, you're setting a great example.¬† The second thing, I think you tap‑danced around the question earlier about you've made point all year that a jump‑shooting team can't win the NBA championship.¬† To that specific point, have you re‑thought that in light of what the Warriors have done this year?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Whether they prove me wrong or not that's to be determined.  You know what's interesting, Scott, I've said the same thing for 30 years.  I want my team to go inside/out.  And for some reason you've got the dude down here in Houston talking about analytics.  And I've always been the same.  I want my team built from inside out.  I think what the Warriors has done is amazing.  The only thing is the Warriors bench is better than what I thought it was.  They're better defensively than what I thought they were.
But it's my notion that I'm not being big on jump‑shot teams, it's just my philosophy, I want my teams to get‑‑ two things, if you're a big team, you get layups and dunks and you get the other team in foul trouble.¬† That's just my philosophy.
If they prove me wrong I'm going to say, hey, great job, I was wrong.  But they have played fantastic.  They have played fantastic.  But my notion that I want my team built inside out, you know, I think that that's just my philosophy.

Q.  You're not wearing the same clothes you were 30 years ago maybe it's time to readjust the thinking on that?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  You all win it I'll readjust it, but I told you I thought the difference in this tournament, this series was going to be Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mosgov.  If they beat them to death on the boards, which I think they've got a good chance of doing, it will still grow back.  You've got to have some big guys down low.  So that would actually help my point even more, if they lose to a team that's much bigger than they are, which I think is going to happen.
If I'm wrong, I'll shake their hand and say congratulations to the Warriors.

Q.  It's like the Warriors are kind of like you and golf because a lot of people say you can't win this tournament because you're nothing but a flashy driver and your short game is whacky?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Let me tell you something, you know, I gotta tell you something, Scott.  The doctor did tell me this:  I'm not going to win this tournament this year but next year I'm going to win this thing, I think.  When I went to get all the tests ran on my hip, the doctor didn't know me from Adam.
He says I will tell you this, and you might think I'm full of it, he said you're going to be a much better golfer.  I said, doc, what the hell are you talking about?  He said your hip only rotates at 10 percent.  He said and I know you think I'm joking, but your hip only works at 10 percent.  When I get you a new hip you'll be able to make a full turn.  He says you probably haven't been able to make a full turn in 20 years.  And I said that's about right.  Hopefully next year when I get my new hip I'm going to win this thing.  I'm going to go deep at Lake Tahoe next year.

Q.  When is the surgery?
CHARLES BARKLEY:¬† Two or three days after Lake Tahoe.¬† I've got to tell you something, the doctor says, you're going to do this thing right after the season.¬† I says, oh no, I'm not missing Tahoe.¬† I said you can forget that.¬† I did.¬† They wanted me to start ‑‑ I'm done pretty much now ‑‑ I've got to work two games of the Finals for NBA.TV.¬† But they wanted to do the surgery next week.¬† I said, clearly you haven't seen me play golf at Lake Tahoe.¬† I'm not missing Lake Tahoe.¬† And that's it.¬† I'm going to play Lake Tahoe, and I'm going to get it done a couple of days after that.

Q.  [Inaudible]
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I'm not trying to compete.  I think it's just a beautiful place.  I do, I just think that it's a beautiful place.
I think the kids, the people up there, they're so full of energy.¬† I know I suck at golf.¬† But I've got hundreds of people walking with me, encouraging me.¬† And it's the weirdest thing: ¬†It's like‑‑ and normally people actually they're saying, Barkley, you suck, but these people actually they're trying to cheer me on.
I think to be honest with you, when NBC gave me the camera, because I thought it was really unfair for us to go to Lake Tahoe and just go up there and gamble and drink and play golf.
So John and the guys gave me a camera.¬† Remember they had all those bad fires up there, and I walked around for three or four hours and interviewing people trying to let people‑‑ and then I took all the firefighters out to dinner and drinks that night.¬† And I think from that point on the people said, man‑‑ because I care about that area because, like I say, we just [lost audio].
When I saw those houses burned down, that was probably one of the most traumatic things I've ever seen all my life.  And the people were obviously devastated but they were so thankful that I took the time out of my schedule like we just can't come up here and just have fun.
And from that point on they've just been very supportive of me.¬† And I appreciate that.¬† And I do‑‑ that's the first thing I put on my calendar every year.

Q.  You have kind of a different agenda then or a different motivation, I guess, than guys like Jerry Rice or Trent, golfers who have visions of winning?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Those guys are really good golfers.  And the thing is they're really nice guys also.  And I'm not just saying that because Chad and Trent are on here.  I spent some time around both of them.
But I've been coming to Tahoe all these years.  There was only one guy who was an asshole, and he's never coming back again.  But everybody else is fantastic.  But they are.
Everybody else is fantastic.¬† Their families are cool.¬† Like I say, in all the years I've been coming, there was only one guy who was not nice to the fans and wasn't nice to the other celebrities.¬† Dude, we're just here to play golf, why are you like this‑‑ we're like, yeah, yeah, man, we have to have a conversation, this guy can't come back here anymore.¬† He's never been back.

Q.  You can't tell us who that is?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  No, I'm not telling you who it is.  Stop it.

Q.  Do you think Steph Curry is ever going to win this thing?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I don't know because I don't know how much time he's going to have, because he's probably busy for the next two weeks.  And I'm not sure he's going to have enough time.  He probably ain't touched a golf club since last summer.
Even though he's a terrific golfer I'm not sure he's going to have enough time because he's probably only going to have about three weeks.¬† Because I think it's going to be six‑ or seven‑game series.¬† And he probably‑‑ he's not going to go play golf the next day.¬† Probably going to take a couple of days off.¬† He'll probably want to take a vacation with his family.
So I don't know how much time he's going to have to work on his game between the end of the championship and Lake Tahoe.  So that's the dilemma for him.

Q.  I wasn't talking so much this year, I'm talking in general.  He's obviously got the skills.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  He's a hell of a player.  But I'm saying, this is a very young team with probably the exception of maybe [[indiscernible]], he's up there.  But they've got a very young team.  I expect him to go deep in the playoffs for the next X amount of years.

Q.  Are you surprised that the Cavs with a guy like LeBron are going into the NBA Finals considered underdogs by Las Vegas?  And the second one is LeBron said yesterday that he's playing better than he ever has.  Do you believe that's the case and where have you seen the biggest growth from him this year?
CHARLES BARKLEY:¬† Listen, this is a pick'em series.¬† I'm picking them because of him.¬† Like I say, he's at the peak of his super powers right now.¬† I don't know if he's playing the best he's ever played.¬† I mean, the guy just, man, guy just one of the 10 greatest players I've ever seen in my opinion.¬† Right now I got him number seven on my all‑time list.
He can move a step closer to Kobe if he's able to win this thing this year.  I've always said my top five, Michael is one, Oscar is two, Bill Russell, Kareem, and Wilt, top five.  I've always said this, they're never going to change, my top five.
And I've got Kobe six and LeBron seven.  Jerry West, Elgin Baylor.  You've got Magic, Larry, Tim Duncan right up there.  But the guy's already the greatest player ever lived.  He can move a step closer to Kobe if he's able to win.
The one thing that's interesting, you know how full of it the media is.¬† See, if LeBron doesn't win, I can already hear the critics.¬† This guy's lost‑‑ because this will be the fourth time he's lost in the Finals, not the notion that he's been to the Finals all these times.
You know, there's that negative media out there that's going to be like:  This guy has lost it, quit comparing him to Kobe and Michael, blah, blah, blah.  I'm just going to enjoy watching him play.  And I think all these guys, I was one of the guys who criticized him from leaving Cleveland.
And I just, because I'd rather not win a championship in Cleveland than go somewhere else, because that fan base is amazing, and to have a guy that great being born in that city, you just can't write a better story.
If he's able to come back and lead them to a championship for the first time in 50 years, it would be amazing.  It would be amazing.  But they've got their hands full with this Golden State team, and I told you, I'm only picking the Cavaliers because of that guy.  That guy is on a mission to bring Cleveland the championship.
I know Steph and all those other guys, they're on a mission to bring San Francisco Golden State a championship, but man, just watching this guy play is an honor and a privilege.

Q.  Chad, you were about 30, 35 to 1 last year.  Are you surprised after your fifth place finish that you're listed at 12 to 1?
CHAD PFEIFER:  No, not really, I guess.

Q.  You were four points coming off of second.  You were plus 61 and second at 65 at a tie with Rick and Sorenstam.  I'll be honest I was surprised you were listed at 12 to 1.
CHAD PFEIFER:¬† No, I think‑‑ obviously I surprised a lot of people just because they weren't familiar with me last year.¬† I think playing in the tournament last year and then getting the exposure and then being on the Big Break, you know, obviously I'm not a household name, not a whole lot of people know me still.¬† But I think people associated with the American Century championships and some of the fans out there now know still maybe not know my name but they might remember that one‑legged golfer.
So I think I've surprised a few people and I guess I'm not surprised at all that I'm 12 to 1.

Q.  What do you think Sergeant Major Gorman will do this year?
CHAD PFEIFER:¬† I think he'll‑‑ I mean, I think he'll be good.¬† I hope the biggest thing he just has fun, and I'm extremely grateful to be invited back.¬† And last year's experience will be one to remember my entire life.¬† So I just hope he has an amazing time at the tournament and is something that he'll remember I'm sure he will for the rest of his life.
So it's an amazing tournament and amazing venue.  It's a lot of fun and, like I said, I was still extremely grateful to be a part of it and looking forward to it again this year.

Q.¬† Charles, first of all, I'm surprised, man, you're not picking a former Philly team the Warriors to beat‑‑ come on?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  First of all, I'm not that old.  I didn't even remember they started in Philly.  You must be old.  But they did start in Philly.  You are correct.
You know what, it's a toss up series, but can you beat LeBron four times in a week.  It's like can you beat Michael Jordan four times in a week.  And I just don't know if you can.  I don't.  I just don't know if you can.  And it's going to be a hell of a series.
The NBA did screw this thing up, though.  This thing should already have started.  It shouldn't be all these days in between.  It's going to be a great Final.  And we had all this energy going and then to take eight days off, that's a little disconcerting for me.  But still got another 48 hours, man, killing me.

Q.  Growing up in Camden I couldn't not remember the Warriors playing and starting in Philadelphia.  You have two rookie NBA coaches.  Do you think there will be any major mistakes that would cost a game or two?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  Not really.  Listen, man, I think Steve has done a fantastic job.  Obviously I know Steve from my TNT days.  He's a great guy.  I think Coach Blatt, I don't understand why he's been under all this criticism all year.
He's done a fantastic job.  I think that the thing that saved the Cavaliers, gotta give the GM some credit, going out and getting Timofey Mosgov, changed their entire team, changed their entire time getting Timothy Mosgov.  Made them a legitimate big team.  They were just too small.
That's why I think that's gonna be the difference in this series, but it's going to be‑‑ it's exciting.¬† It's going to be great for the NBA.¬† I just hope the series lives up to the hype.¬† I love to see six‑ or seven‑game series.¬† And the two stars are great guys.
Steph is a great guy.  And LeBron is a great guy.  And I think people know that I love Klay Thompson.  If I needed one basket, I'd probably go with James Harden.  If I needed a basket at a defensive stop, I'm going with Klay Thompson.

Q.  Quick American Century question for you, last year you finished with a minus 98.  Looking back through my records, it seemed to be about the worst you had in Stableford scoring.  Do you think maybe you might break 100 this year?
CHARLES BARKLEY:¬† You know, I actually think‑‑ I think I'm going to play better this year.¬† I mean better than what is the question.¬† You know what, the most important thing of the weekend is winning money at the blackjack table.¬† That is the most important thing when I go to Lake Tahoe.
If I get out of there and don't lose a lot of money on the blackjack table, it's been a great trip for me.  I mean, I get to walk 18 holes a day with two other celebrities, which is pretty cool.  But the most important thing at the end of the week I just want to make sure I have won money or didn't lose money.  That's the key to my entire weekend at Lake Tahoe.

Q.  Chad, I was wondering, sounds like you are scheduled to come be the Grand Marshal in Caldwell's 4th of July parade in July and play in the Boise Open.  Is that still happening and do you have any other plans for your time back in the Treasure Valley?
CHAD PFEIFER:  Yeah, I have been asked to be the Grand Marshal of the Caldwell 4th of July parade.  So that will be fun.  Always love being back here in Boise Caldwell area and then, yeah, hopefully get into the Boise Open and perform well there if I get in.  And then the week after the Boise Open I'll be back there in Tahoe for the tournament.
So just we're going to be spending a lot of time with our family.  That's one of the big reasons we moved back up here for a couple of months.  Both my wife and I's family are all from this area.  So it's just nice to be back home for an extended period of time, not just three or four days.  So that's the biggest plan.
I'll still be focusing on my golf game and trying to get into some other professional tournaments.  But, yeah, we're just enjoying our time here in Boise and looking forward to the summer.

Q.¬† I've read some stories obviously that kind of your long‑term plan is to try and make the PGA TOUR.¬† Is that still the plan and have your experiences over the last year with the Big Break discouraged or encouraged that plan?
CHAD PFEIFER:  They've encouraged it.  One of the questions I had going into the Big Break was how was I going to compete with some other guys trying to make it to the TOUR.  And I didn't feel as though I played my greatest when I was filming the show and not playing my greatest and still competing with those guys, gave me a positive outlook and takeaway from the show.
And then, yeah, still my dream is still to make it to the PGA TOUR and I'm just working hard on my game and trying to take the steps necessary to reach that goal.  So I've got two little boys now, which makes it a little tougher as Trent was saying focusing in on his golf, he's got three girls and it's tough to put in the time.  But it's just like the work him and Charles did in their careers, trying to make it to the top level.  I'm sure their days got longer whether it was waking up early or staying up later trying to work out or just doing the steps necessary and obviously with me missing my leg, I've got my work cut out for me.
But I'm willing to take all the steps necessary and put the work in to try to reach that goal.  So that's still the goal and the task at hand.  And I'm just enjoying everything that I've earned along the way and the opportunities I've had, including the American Century Championship.

Q.  Charles, the other question I had on this series coming up, actually talking to [indiscernible] about this, talking about the experience, Cleveland comes in, LeBron has been to the Finals before, and he's going against a team with minimal experience here.  Is that a factor at all at this point, the jump shots don't fall, they stop falling, the element of poise and composure, is that overdone, or do you think that's something that there might be something to that?
CHARLES BARKLEY:  It's interesting you asked me that question.  I've never thought about that when I played because I was already a star when I got to Phoenix.  And there's no doubt in my mind the guys on my team froze up for Game 1.  There's no doubt in my mind we lost that first game.
When I've thought about it throughout my past.  Like I say, when you're a star at a certain age, I was already 30 years old at the time.  I just came off the Dream Team, so I don't feel any pressure myself.
But there's no doubt in my mind the bright lights got to us in Game 1, to be honest with you.¬† I don't know how Golden State is obviously going to react.¬† But there's no doubt in my mind‑‑ and I obviously played it in my mind 100 times, there's no doubt in my mind, because we lost the first two games at home with Chicago at one, two out of three and then lost.¬† But I believe had we won one of those first two games, but it's irrelevant.¬† But I do think‑‑ I just don't know.¬† But I'm not going to assume that they're going to be nervous.
They're going to be nervous.  But, listen, Steve has been there a lot.  I'm pretty sure that he spent a lot of time probably talking to Phil Jackson or Coach Popovich and found ways to make these eight days go by, because this is the longest layoff in NBA history.  But I'm pretty sure, Steve [indiscernible] were the two greatest coaches of all time, Pop is, and Phil Jackson.  He's probably brought out a bunch of tricks from those guys.  I just don't know the answer to your question, to be honest with you.

Q.  You remember the famous 2002 series, the Lakers, Doug Christie came out later and said the Kings had the home court advantage in Game 7.  And Doug came out later and just basically said he froze, that he choked; that he hoped to get back in that situation again, that he would have learned from that.  That he wasn't the only one in that series.  I just wonder about that, the first time.
CHARLES BARKLEY:  I think what it is, to be honest with you, you just get so hyped up and you can't relax and play.  I do.  I don't like the word he used, "choked," but I think if you have never been in a situation, I think you get so hyper that you just can't relax and play.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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