State of the League with NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson
Costas Previews Super Bowl XLVII with Football Night in America’s Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison
Costas Tonight is First Show To Originate From Studio 3 at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.
“Players go out there with the understanding that they are going to subject themselves to some physical play. Our job is to make sure it’s not unnecessarily physical or unnecessarily dangerous play.” – Ray Anderson, NFL EVP of Football Operations
“The Ravens are battle tested. Year in and year out they are knocking on the door, and they are extremely well coached… I think the Ravens are going to come out victorious.” – Larry Fitzgerald on Super Bowl XLVII
NEW YORK – Jan. 30, 2013 – Bob Costas, a 24-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s preeminent interviewers, welcomed NFL players and executives to Costas Tonight to discuss the current state of the NFL. Costas Tonight: State of the NFL will examine major topics including: player health and safety; the Rooney Rule; and a preview of Super Bowl XLVII.
Costas Tonight: State of the NFL, which was recorded on Tuesday, is the first show to originate from Studio 3 at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn. It airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
Costas was joined in studio by NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, and former RB Thomas Jones, who recently revealed he will donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute to be studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
In addition to his interview with current and former players, Costas spoke with NFL executive vice president of football operations, Ray Anderson about player safety, the Rooney Rule and proposed changes to the rules of the game.
Football Night in America’s Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison joined Costas to discuss the state of the league and look ahead to Super Bowl XLVII.
Costas also interviewed noted psychiatrist and leading expert in the field of brain science, Dr. Daniel Amen.
Additional content from the show can be see online at NBCSports.com when the show debuts.
Costas spoke with Dorsett, Fitzgerald and Jones about the current gun culture in the league and the number of players who own or carry handguns.
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from the show. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In exclusive interviews airing Thursday night on Costas Tonight on NBC Sports Network.”
Ray Anderson on football being fundamentally dangerous no matter what type of changes the league makes to the rules of the game: “It is a very physical game and that is part of what the appeal is and it always has been. Players go out there with the understanding that they are going to subject themselves to some physical play. Our job is to make sure it’s not unnecessarily physical or unnecessarily dangerous play. It’s naïve to think that football will have its appeal if all the physicality is taken out.”
Anderson on minority hiring and the Rooney Rule: “We were not pleased with the results. I believe there is some tweaking of the Rooney Rule that we need to look into. We need to do more appropriate development and training, so that our pipeline for African-American coaches, in particular, is more robust. The Rooney Rule has a place, we have a real need for it, we have to do better. The results this time around were a disappointment and we have some work to do.”
Tony Dungy on the Rooney Rule and none of the open positions in the NFL going to minorities: “I think the system is broken. Not just looking at it from a minority standpoint, but I can tell you from head coaching standpoint. What we are doing now is not working. Twenty-one head coaching changes in the last three years. In 2009, there were 11 new head coaches hired and only two of them made it through three years. So we are not picking the best candidates. I think the owners are feeling the pressure to hire that rock star candidate and they are under pressure to move very, very quickly.”
Fitzgerald on whether he thinks he lost his only opportunity to win a Super Bowl: “No, I’m always optimistic. We play every single season and our goal is always the same, which is to hoist that Lombardi Trophy. Every year I step on that field I feel like I have the opportunity to go out there and do it against all odds. I always feel that way and that is never going to change.”
Fitzgerald’s Super Bowl pick: “I think the Ravens are going to win the football game …the Ravens are battle tested. Year in and year out they are knocking on the door, and they are extremely well coached… I think the Ravens are going to come out victorious.”
Fitzgerald on his upcoming season for the Arizona Cardinals: “There’s always questions leading into a season. We have a fresh new coaching staff. I know coach (Bruce) Arians is bringing in a great staff, and I’m looking forward to what he’s bringing to the table.”
Jones on donating his brain to be studied: “The game is something that we love; it’s the number one sport in the country. But, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are human beings. To see all these guys take their lives because of CTE and the concussion situation that’s been a big issue, it doesn’t mean I can’t do something in support of research to help kids or players after me. This is the part of the game that people don’t want to address.”
Jones on whether he would have preferred his Bears defensive teammates to have legally hit Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl: “I would rather the teammate legally splatter him. Why? Because, number one, it’s a mentality. Now he’s going to worry about getting hit the next time and he may throw an interception. He may overthrow the ball, he may under throw it. The game is 75% mental, as well, so it’s an intimidation factor. The aggression can also cause players not to play up to their level because they are scared of being knocked out. We come up together we worked as hard as we could to make it to this level of football so you’re not trying to end someone’s career. But in between those white lines, nobody’s safe. I think every player can say that.”
Fitzgerald on Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan not benching Robert Griffin III: “That’s part of the decision process that the head coach has to make, but as a player, you never want to come out of the game. Regardless of what the situation is, you understand your teammates are counting on you. You put in a lot of time and preparation to go out there and perform at the highest ability. You know injuries are going to happen. You know that’s just part of the game and you got to push through. I understand why RGIII didn’t want to come out of the game, or any other player.”
Dr. Amen on a study he did on 135 players: “Even people who reported no concussions at all had significant trauma in their brain.”
Amen on the NFL’s improved response to the concussion issue since Roger Goodell was named commissioner of the NFL: “No question… In front of Congress he (Goodell) said that the league was studying the issue. Two months later, they completely changed their position, in larger part because of their own study. Now there are concussion posters in every major locker room in the NFL. I have seen a shift and I have been very pleased about the shift.”
Dorsett on Dr. Amen’s interview: “I’m glad to see that the NFL, the owners in particular, have owned up to the (fact) that there is a concussion problem.”
Dorsett on his last concussion: “One of the last concussions that I had; it was against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ray Ellis. I didn’t see him and it was like a freight train hitting a Volkswagen, he blew me up. And yet, I go to the sideline and they go in at halftime, they check my eyes, but they throw me back out on the field. As a football player that’s the culture we grew up in. I was taught and the way I always felt was that if I can walk I’m going to play. But if I knew some of the things that I know now, I would have had a different attitude about all that. But the owners knew about that.”
Costas: “So you think they (owners) did know then even when you were playing? You think they knew?”
Dorsett: “Absolutely. And that infuriates me that they would put me back out there in harm’s way.”
Rodney Harrison on his post-NFL career and fears about his injuries long term: “I’m 40 years old. I’m scared to death what may happen to me 10-15 years from now.”
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