ESPN Radio’s season-long coverage of the 2017 college football campaign will culminate with a 22-game postseason bowl schedule, including all matchups from the College Football Playoff, capped by the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T on Monday, Jan. 8, with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Monday Night Football play-by-play voice Sean McDonough will call the final game alongside analyst Todd Blackledge, with reporters Holly Rowe and Ian Fitzsimmons. ESPN Radio’s on-site studio coverage will be hosted by Marc Kestecher, with analyst Trevor Matich.
ESPN will provide multi-day, multi-platform coverage of the early National Signing Day period as the 2018 freshmen class is the first recruiting class to have the choice of utilizing the new signing period that runs for 72 hours beginning Wednesday, Dec. 20 and concluding Friday, Dec. 22.
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown will be on the road for just the second time in the program’s 32-year history. This Sunday (Dec. 17), the three-hour NFL pregame show (10 a.m-1 p.m.) will originate from Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 in Pittsburgh, down the street from Heinz Field, site of this weekend’s much-anticipated New England Patriots (10-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) AFC matchup.
Last night’s Monday Night Football game averaged 11.8 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen, helping ESPN win the night among all networks in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54) for the eighth time this season.
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show will travel to Pittsburgh for the New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers AFC matchup
“It’s amazing to see the love for Ryan Shazier that is in the league right now. Not just these two teams, but everywhere I go it is all anybody wants to talk about.” – Cris Collinsworth
“That has to be encouraging to Jacksonville fans. Blake Bortles, in a big game, showed up.” – Tony Dungy
“If I were Eli Manning, I would ask for my release.” – Rodney Harrison
“The current thinking, I am told, is that Aaron Rodgers will return when he is eligible to come off of Injured Reserve and play. That would be next week against the Carolina Panthers.” – Mike Florio
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 10, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Week 14 Sunday Night Football matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC. Mike Tirico opened the show live from inside Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was joined on site by the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya.
Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. Paul Burmeister reported from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif., on the Eagles-Rams game. Football Night also included Dungy’s interview with Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.
Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:
Tirico on Ravens-Steelers: “In talking to the players and the coaches on the field, they all take a great deal of pride that this is a rivalry out of respect. It is not the nasty nature of what Pittsburgh-Cincinnati has turned into over the last few years. They also — on both sides from shirts to shoes to signs — have Ryan Shazier on their mind tonight. We know he will be watching and we are all thinking of him as well.”
Collinsworth on Ryan Shazier: “It’s amazing to see the love for Ryan Shazier that is in the league right now. Not just these two teams, but everywhere I go it is all anybody wants to talk about. (And) not only a great, great player, but a great guy, and we are all thinking about you right now.”
Dungy on the loss of Ryan Shazier tonight: “I was (in Pittsburgh) two weeks ago. I sat in a defensive meeting, and Mike Tomlin made every comment to Ryan Shazier…Now Vince Williams has to do that plus be that sideline-to-sideline tackler. It’s going to be a big blow to the Steelers, but I think they rise up and play emotional football tonight.”
Dungy on Suggs: “He plays the role of the showman, but he’s really a smart football player.”
Dungy on Ryan Shazier: “It’s been emotional for the Ravens also. I talked to Terrell Suggs. He said when he saw the play — as bitter as this rivalry is, Pittsburgh-Baltimore — it was no longer Ravens-Steelers. He said that’s a brotherhood where all (players) felt it. They’re going to be emotional as well.”
Dungy on the impact of the Eagles win: “(They) stayed in first place…and winning a game without your quarterback, the defense showed up, and made the play at the end. This was a big, big win on the road. They did not want to lose two in a row.”
Florio on GM situation: “They will start with a new GM. They will wait until after the season because former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is consulting with ownership. Look for former Panthers GM, Dave Gettleman, also a former employee of the Giants and a close friend of Accorsi, to be the front runner. Nick Caserio, the Patriots VP of Player Personnel, and also Eliot Wolf, the Director of Football Operations in Green Bay, (all) candidates to be GM. If it is Gettleman or Wolf, keep an eye on Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz as the possible next head coach. If it is Caserio, there will be plenty of speculation and rumors about Josh McDaniels making a jump to the Giants.”
Dan Patrick: “If you were interviewing for this job, and they said they were going to bring back Eli Manning, would you take this job?”
Tony Dungy: “I would, if I were interviewing, and believe me, I am not (laughter). If I was, I would say, ‘I think he can get this team back to the playoffs. Get the defense healthy, get those receivers healthy, and we can be a playoff team. Let’s go one more year with Eli.”’
Harrison: “If I were Eli Manning, I would ask for my release because I want to go somewhere that I am appreciated, and there is a sense of uncertainty around the organization, and just a fresh start would be great for him.”
Patrick: “Everybody had high hopes for this team. You [Rodney] talked about their defense at the start of the season. We thought maybe they are a Super Bowl caliber team, so that is why I thought, maybe, they bring him back.”
Harrison: “It is just time to move on. He is not appreciated there. They do not respect him. You saw what they did to him last week. I just think it is time for him to move on.”
Harrison: “I would not want to play them because I saw them standup to the bullies. This is a team that can run the ball, they are physical, and they have got a lot of athletes on the defensive side of the ball. You cannot be one-dimensional trying to play against them.”
Dungy: “Blake Bortles played very well against that Seahawks defense. They are going to get a home playoff game. They are going to win the division. If you want to go into Jacksonville and beat them, you better be able to run the ball, and you better be able to stop the run.”
Dungy: “That has to be encouraging to Jacksonville fans. Blake Bortles, in a big game, showed up.”
Harrison: “It just looked like Minnesota was very tired – three straight road games. Never did I think that Carolina could run for 200 yards against this defense.”
Harrison: “They’re fighting for a playoff spot. I don’t understand this offense. I know they fired the defensive coordinator. Maybe they need to think about making a change on the offensive side (Bill Musgrave) because this guy had 31 yards at halftime. They only gave Marshawn Lynch the ball seven times for 61 yards.”
Dungy: “I’m going to stick up for the coaches a little bit. They fired the defensive coach. They still don’t tackle anybody with a new coach. The offensive coordinator can’t call (running) plays when the offensive line doesn’t block…They didn’t show up today.”
Dungy: “The Chiefs did play well.”
Harrison: “Give them a lot of credit. This is the most passion they’ve played with in the last month.”
Harrison: “I like the San Diego Chargers to win the division.”
Dungy: “Los Angeles…(laughter)…I like the Chargers, too. Great quarterback play from Philip Rivers, and I love that defense.”
Florio: “The current thinking, I am told, is that Aaron Rodgers will return when he is eligible to come off of Injured Reserve and play. That would be next week against the Carolina Panthers. Keep this in mind, it was four years ago that he missed a total of eight weeks, when a left collar bone was broken. If he returns next Sunday against Carolina, it will be a nine-week absence for Rodgers. For now, the thinking is we will see him next week.”
Florio on concussion protocol procedures regarding Tom Savage’s injury: “I am told that the people on the sidelines did not have access to that video when the decision was initially made to let him go back in the game. That may be one of the things the NFL looks into — why wasn’t that video available, why wasn’t that factored into the decision?”
Dungy on Jimmy Garoppolo: “My only question to my old safety John Lynch is, ‘What took you so long to put him in the game?’”
Florio: “There are people around the league who say that (John) Dorsey eventually will say to Jimmy Haslam, ‘Look, if you want to do this right, you have to let me hire my coach.’ Nobody knows yet who Dorsey would hire, but there’s a belief that Dorsey knows exactly who he’d hire if he gets the green light.”
ON BAKER MAYFIELD
Florio: “Everybody loves this kid. The comparison everyone wants to make with Baker Mayfield is Johnny Manziel. But the people I talk to – Russell Wilson is the name you hear. A couple of caveats though: Mayfield is less athletic than Wilson, and also maybe a little more reckless with his body.”
TONY DUNGY WITH TERRELL SUGGS
Suggs on his first defensive meeting with the Ravens: “Man, there were so many personalities, there were so many legendary people that you only see and heard about, and you watched them on TV. I watched Ray Lewis win a Super Bowl two years before it. It was just like, ‘Wow, now I’m sitting in the same room with them.”
Dungy: “How did those guys break you in?
Suggs: “Oh, man, one was a pie in the face.”
Dungy: “Who was that?”
Suggs: “Ray Lewis. My first day of training camp, got a pie in the face. It was just like, ‘Hey, you’re a young pup right now. Now you’re up here with the big dogs.’”
Suggs on teaching the younger players about the Ravens defense: “The beauty of youth. I just kind of try to tell the young guys, ‘Cherish every moment, man,’ because there are going to be some seasons when you’re not in the hunt and you’re pretty much just playing to be playing. Now, we’re in the hunt, so, it’s to cherish it, man. These big games, these December games that mean something, you’ll remember every one.”
Suggs on how he refers to the Steelers: “The team in Pittsburgh.”
Suggs on what he calls Ben Roethlisberger: “He’s 7.”
Dungy: “Just 7?”
Suggs: “He’s 7.”
Suggs on who Baltimore needs to stop: “Well, there’s two of them. 26 (Le’Veon Bell), that’s first and foremost.”
Dungy: “First guy you got to stop?”
Suggs: “Yeah. He’s probably the only guy who’s going to touch the ball more than 7. So, 26, then 84 (Antonio Brown).”
Suggs on if he knows any of the Steelers’ audibles: “No, I don’t. I like when they think that I do. I like when Ben tries to call something and I may just say something just to make him think I know it.”
Dungy: “Do you know some things by formation?
Suggs: “I know they’re sliding to me.”
Dungy: “Well, you’ve got to believe that.”
Suggs: “I know they’re sliding to me. I know I haven’t had some one-on-ones in a long time. Tell Ramon Foster to mind his own business. Tell (David) DeCastro to mind his own business and let’s have at it.”
Suggs on playing at Heinz Field: “I love it. It’s my coliseum. It’s my Madison Square Garden. To me, besides my own stadium of course, to be a villain, to go somewhere on an opponent team, I don’t think there’s any place better.”
Suggs on the response he’ll receive at Heinz Field: “I love the boos.”
Dungy: “You think there’s going to be some?”
Suggs: “Oh, yes.”
Dungy: “Do you give it back to the fans?”
Suggs: “No, I play into it. I love it all. Rather they’re yelling for me or against me. I’m loving it.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot will be live in Philadelphia, on Saturday, Dec. 9, ahead of the Army-Navy matchup. The premier college football pregame show will originate from XFINITY Live, in proximity of Lincoln Financial Field.
Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield won the night at The Home Depot College Football Awards presented by GILDAN on Thursday, taking home the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Maxwell Award for college player of the year. Mayfield also won the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, announced live on SC6 with Michael and Jemele prior to the show. Minkah Fitzpatrick, junior defensive back for the Alabama Crimson Tide, was awarded both top honors for a defensive player: The Chuck Bednarik Award for college defensive player of the year and the Jim Thorpe Award for nation’s best defensive back.
The College Football Playoff Selection Show from Noon – 4 p.m. ET on December 3, was the most-viewed four-hour CFP Selection Show ever.
ESPN has created an interactive fan experience to celebrate college football fandom. The College Football Playoff Locker Room will travel to three cities in the next few weeks and give fans an opportunity to get in on the college football action and win prizes, including a chance to go to one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games.