News and Sound Bites from the Championship Sunday Edition of NFL GAMEDAY MORNING
“IT’S SPECIAL. I DON’T THINK I QUITE APPRECIATED IT AS MUCH AS I SHOULD HAVE WHEN I WAS IN ST. LOUIS.” – Cardinals QB Kurt Warner
“I’M BORING AND I’M PROUD OF IT.” – Ravens QB Joe Flacco
“DONOVAN MCNABB HAS BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT. HE’S LIKE A WHITE RHINO – A RARE BREED. HE CAN RUN, THROW AND DO EVERYTHING.” – Warren Sapp
“ARE THE PHILADELPHIA FANS EVER SATISFIED?” – Steve Mariucci
NFL GameDay Morning is the longest, most comprehensive NFL pregame show on TV airing Sunday at 11:00 AM ET on AFC and NFC Championship Sunday. Warren Sapp, Marshall Faulk and Steve Mariucci alongside hosts Spero Dedes and co-host Alex Flanagan with news reports by Adam Schefter, bring fans the latest news, injury reports, pregame analysis and game previews on NFL Network. Special player correspondents Willie McGinest and Antwaan Randle El provided additional analysis from Sunday game sites.
Marshall Faulk 1-on-1 with Cardinals QB Kurt Warner: NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk sat down with Cardinals QB Kurt Warner for a candid discussion with his former teammate to discuss what it feels like to be back in the NFC Championship Game:
“It’s special. I don’t think I quite appreciated it as much as I should have when I was in St. Louis.” – Warner on being back in the NFC Championship Game
“To be playing as well as we are, it’s exciting, even at my age. I feel a little younger than I did a few weeks ago having this opportunity and knowing what the possibilities are.” – Warner
“The whole situation was over the year, my wife would continuously say, ‘How much longer do you want to do this? I just want to see you walk off the field healthy.’ When I saw that situation with Anquan (Boldin)…I had never seen it up close and personal. So, I think up until that point in my career, I felt like most players and felt like I was invincible. But that situation made it more personal for me and made me think of all those things my wife had said.” – Warner on contemplating retirement after injury to Anquan Boldin in week four against the Jets
“I know there are days during the year when I think, ‘man, this is hard. I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. I don’t know if I want to put in this much work.’ Even when you go out on Sunday and accomplish something, it’s more like, ‘whew,’ instead of an excitement and a joy (when you win)…it’s like, ‘good, I lived up to the expectations this week.’” – Warner on the difficultly of staying motivated to play
“Throughout the year, I had some question marks on what kind of team we were, whether we could play consistently week in and week out. Now, it just seems like we put it all together and we’re playing our best football.” – Warner on the Cardinals
“I think it would be special to me because of the path it took to get there. When we won a Super Bowl (in St. Louis), it was special because of the path that it took me to get there. Because how long or bumpy the road was and how many people didn’t give me the chance to do anything like that. I think this one would be special because of those same reasons.” – Warner on what winning a Super Bowl with the Cardinals would mean to him
“Nobody believed that we could be here. Nobody believed that I could be here. Anytime in life in any area when nobody expects you to be somewhere and you’re able to be there, it’s very gratifying.” – Warner on leading the Cardinals to the NFC Championship Game
**To access the video link of Faulk’s conversation with Warner, please visit:
Kara Henderson sits down with Ravens QB Joe Flacco: NFL Network’s Kara Henderson sat down with Ravens rookie QB Joe Flacco to discuss his calm persona and embracing the role as a leader with the Baltimore Ravens.
“It’s just who I am and the way I’ve always played. Just because I’m in the NFL now and the games have a little more at stake, I’m not going to treat it differently.” – Flacco on his on-field calm demeanor
“My mindset leaving Pitt was, ‘it’s a new beginning.’ I want to play in the NFL and the only way to do that was if I could get on the field in college.” – Flacco on his decision to transfer from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Delaware
“I was coming from a small school and people doubted that I could play in this league. I just wanted to prove that I could play in this league.” – Flacco
“I’m boring and I’m proud of it.” – Flacco
**To access the video link of Henderson’s conversation with Flacco, please visit:
Schefter’s News Reports:
· There have been 10 head coaching changes this season. If Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards is dismissed, the number will move up to 11 and that will be an NFL single-season record. In Tampa the Buccaneers owners had been thinking about a coaching change for the past three weeks and really, the past couple years. Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen had no idea their dismissal was coming because early Friday morning they signed Joe Barry to be their linebackers coach for next year. Gruden’s signature was at the bottom of that contract. Barry flies back to Detroit and when he lands, he finds out that the man who signed him to the contract no longer works for Tampa. Clearly, the Buccaneers ownership knew what they were doing when they made this move because right away they hired Raheem Morris as their new head coach and Mark Dominik as General Manager. They fired Gruden and Allen specifically to hire Morris and Dominik and never made contact with anyone else for the positions. Despite the speculation, the Buccaneers never contacted Mike Shanahan.
- Jon Gruden has three years left on his contract, so there is no rush when it comes to what he decides to do. When you begin to look beyond this upcoming year, there are certain situations where he absolutely could be and will be in play, but right now Gruden has three years on his contract and is in no rush to make a move.
- The hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams had an impact on two New York franchises. The Giants lose their defensive coordinator and head coach Tom Coughlin knew that he could be in this situation. Coughlin had lined up and spoken to Dom Capers before and will talk to others on their staff. The New York Jets are the big benefactors because Rex Ryan was also in play in St. Louis and since the Rams went with Spagnuolo, which leaves Rex Ryan up for the Jets once the Ravens season ends. Spagnuolo’s move to St. Louis could also impact the Eagles coaching staff because Spagnuolo would like to bring Eagles quarterback coach Pat Shurmur on as his offensive coordinator and maybe the Eagles wide receivers coach David Culley. Those Eagles coaches are under contract and they’ve had no discussions on what they will do with those coaches and whether they will allow them to go.
- There are some people who would like to see the NFL revise the Rooney Rule and it looks like the league may have to consider doing that this offseason to avoid the type of situation that unfolded in Cleveland. Browns owner Randy Lerner came out and said that he wanted to hire an NFL head coach that had experience at this level before. The only minority coach that he interviewed was Mel Tucker, his defensive coordinator that had never coached at the NFL level as a head coach before. The Browns went ahead and hired Eric Mangini with Tucker being the only minority candidate that they interviewed. The NFL during the offseason may look to close that loophole because the Browns cooperated with the letter of the law, but not with the spirit of the law.
- The Philadelphia Eagles explored the idea of trading for Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin last spring, but the Cardinals were unwilling to part with him. One of the players Philadelphia was floating out there was disgruntled CB Lito Sheppard. Sheppard will now be facing the team that he could have played for, as will Boldin. Where this Boldin story goes in the future is still uncertain because the Cardinals have over $40 million in salary cap room, so they clearly could make something happen for Boldin and make him happy. Boldin has said before that he doesn’t want to re-sign with Arizona, however Super Bowl and playoff runs have changed players’ minds before.
- Barring the unforeseen, Mike Shanahan will not coach in 2009. Detroit, Cleveland and the New York Jets all called Shanahan and Jerry Jones continues to stay patient with his coaching staff. Shanahan is looking for a situation where there’s a good competitive personnel team on the field and a good front office. Right now, nothing has presented itself to Shanahan that he would be interested in taking.
- The New York Giants have already lost defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was named head coach of the St. Louis Rams. Now it is possible they could lose their offensive coordinator. Kevin Gilbride met this week for close to seven hours with Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. Davis likes to pick the brains of a lot of different people, so it may not be anything more than that, but Gilbride is still in consideration for the Raiders head coaching job along with Tom Cable and Winston Moss.
- Nobody ever could have, or would have, predicted that one single play cost multiple teams playoff spots, Super-Bowl winning coaches their jobs, and changed the course of NFL history. But it did. Go back to the San Diego-Kansas City game on Dec. 14, when the NFL’s single most significant play of the season happened. With 1:13 remaining in a game that San Diego trailed 21-16, Chargers P Mike Scifers attempted an onside kick. It bounced into the hands of Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe – and bounced out. Had Bowe held on to the onside kick, Kansas City would have won the game. Instead Bowe dropped it, Chargers WR Kassim Osgood recovered it, and San Diego pulled out an improbable 22-21 victory. Had Kansas City won the game, it’s very likely that Chiefs president Carl Peterson would not have resigned the very next day, leaving open the job that went to Scott Pioli. Had Bowe held on to the onside kick, San Diego would have lost the game and Denver would have clinched the AFC West title that day, meaning Broncos coach Mike Shanahan would not have gotten fired and Josh McDaniels would not have gotten hired. Had Kansas City won that game, San Diego would have traveled to Tampa the next Sunday as an eliminated and dead team instead of a rejuvenated and dangerous one, meaning the Buccaneers would likely have won the game and clinched a playoff spot. But San Diego won and Tampa continued its tailspin that led to the firing of Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen and the hiring of Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik. Had Tampa beaten San Diego, then Philadelphia would have been eliminated from the playoffs, not playing in the NFC Championship Game it is today. It all goes back to one play, one single play. If Bowe holds on, Shanahan stays on, San Diego goes home, Norv Turner might be in trouble, Gruden advances, Philadelphia sits, and history changes.
**To access the video link of the Schefter’s ‘Around the League’ report:
Quotes from NFL GameDay Morning:
“He’s always been the glue that keeps them together. He’s been the one constant in Philadelphia.” – Warren Sapp on Eagles QB Donovan McNabb
“Are the Philadelphia fans ever satisfied?” – Steve Mariucci
“This reminds of the Indianapolis Colts when they went to the Super Bowl. Their defense took a lot of grief. They couldn’t stop the run, they couldn’t stop anybody. But when it came to the playoffs time they peaked and it made a huge difference on their run to the Super Bowl.” – Player correspondent Willie McGinest on the Cardinals defense peaking in the postseason
“I was shocked when this came down. I was disgruntled, to be quite honest, because here is an organization that let Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy go, two guys who are pretty good coaches that have brought a lot of success to that team.” – Steve Mariucci on the firing of Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden
“Spagnuolo is a good coach. We’ll see how good a head coach he is. A good offensive or defensive coordinator doesn’t make you good head coach.” – Faulk on Rams hire of Steve Spagnuolo
“If I had to make a pick, I would have went with Leslie Frazier.” – Marshall Faulk on his pick for the St. Louis Rams head coaching position
“These coordinators have got to find a way to apply pressure, sack and hit those quarterbacks today.” – Mariucci on the key to the Eagles-Cardinals game
“I believe the up and coming years will make him a shoe-in. The question of whether Kurt Warner is a Hall of Fame quarterback will not be asked, it will be answered.” – Faulk on Cardinals QB Kurt Warner
“Joe Flacco is unflappable. He is not intimidated by this blitzing scheme and defense.” – Mariucci on Ravens QB Joe Flacco facing the Steelers defense
“Totally different. The receivers with the Rams were finesse players, really fast guys who didn’t like contact. The receivers he has now are very explosive, aggressive and physical. They really go after the ball. They are bigger and stronger.” – McGinest comparing QB Kurt Warner’s receiving corps with the St. Louis Rams in 1999 to his current Cardinals receivers
“Donovan McNabb has been here and done that. He’s like a white rhino – a rare breed. He can run, throw and do everything.” – Sapp
“If experience was it, Peyton Manning would be here playing in Championship Sunday, but he’s not.” – Faulk
“I have no idea how you play with one arm, but he’s doing it.” – Faulk on Ravens WR Derrick Mason
“We’ve watched Joe Flacco and he has exceeded expectations for a youngster, but sooner or later a rookie is going to be a rookie.” – Mariucci
“He’s a veteran. You have to surprise him.” – Faulk on the Cardinals defense vs. McNabb
“This game will be decided by a field goal.” – Mariucci on Ravens vs. Steelers
“He is the backbone of this team.” – Player correspondent Antwaan Randle El on Steelers WR Hines Ward
“Donovan McNabb is on a mission to get what Kurt Warner already has.” – Mariucci on his pick of Eagles over the Cardinals.
On NFL.com the following video clips from NFL GameDay Morning are available for viewing:
Deacon’s Pulpit: Hall of Famer Deacon Jones weighs in on Sunday’s championship matchups.
Cardinals Report: Kara Henderson and player correspondent Willie McGinest report from University of Phoenix Stadium.
Championship Sunday Memories: Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp and Steve Mariucci talk about playing and coaching on Championship Sunday.
NFL GameDay Morning begins the NFL Network schedule this weekend. Following NFL GameDay Morning will be NFL GameDay Scoreboard at 6:00 PM ET and NFL GameDay Final at 10:00 PM ET.
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