DUNGY & HARRISON NAMED AS ANALYSTS ON “NBC’s FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA”
“Just like I played the game, I’m going to be honest and I’m going to be forthright and I’m going to do it with passion.” – “Football Night’s” Rodney Harrison
“We’ll see about the maturity level. That is what I would question.”
– “Football Night’s” Tony Dungy on Jay Cutler
“If I were running a team, what I know about Michael Vick and what I’ve seen from him, I would definitely give him an opportunity to play.” – Dungy
“I think what happened to him is that he got caught up in somewhat of the dark side, partying, not prioritizing and making football his number one thing.” – Harrison on Vince Young
I’m pretty sure Peyton regrets now some of those comments getting out because you don’t want air your laundry, you want to keep it in house.” – Dungy on Peyton Manning
“That really gives Tom Brady the edge over Peyton Manning in terms of leadership.” — Harrison
NEW YORK – June 3, 2009 – Tony Dungy, the historic Super Bowl coach whose teams made the playoffs each of the last 10 seasons, unprecedented in this era, and Rodney Harrison, the three-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion, will join NBC’s Emmy nominated studio show “Football Night in America” as analysts. The announcement was made today on a media conference call by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports and Executive Producer, “NBC Sunday Night Football.” Both Dungy and Harrison were part of NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII pre-game coverage.
NBC Sports today conducted a media conference call with Ebersol, Dungy and Harrison. Highlights follow:
DUNGY ON JOINING NBC SPORTS: “It’s very, very exciting for me personally to be here. I have gotten to know the NBC people over the last few years doing ‘Sunday Night Football’ and in our production meetings; fortunately we were on quite a bit. I developed a personal relationship with Dick Ebersol that has been phenomenal and that has probably been the biggest part of my decision to come. It kind of reminds me when I went to Pittsburgh there was Art Rooney, Sr. and Chuck Noll, it’s the same type of thing learning and being in an environment where you know that your going to be treated well but your going to learn from the best .I look at it that way and am looking forward to it.
“The Super Bowl was a tremendous experience and I thought Sam Flood took some new guys and showed us what to do, was very patient with us and brought out the best in new people. That was exciting and was fun for me. When Dick came to me and said we can put this together and do it Sunday nights and I still would have the weekdays free, it became very enticing. I look forward to keeping myself involved in the game that I really love.”
EBERSOL ON HIS CONVERSATIONS WITH DUNGY: “I didn’t feel right about bringing it up with Tony while he was going through his season but his last game as it turned out, was our coverage of his playoff game in San Diego in January. The night before that game the visiting team had come in and we met with them at their hotel and when Tony was done meeting with us I followed him out into the hallway. I wanted him to know that he didn’t have to give up on football and if he ever chose television, I hoped at the time that he would pick up the phone and talk to me. Fortunately, about two weeks later, we talked about the Super Bowl being right next to his home in Tampa and boom it went from there.”
HARRISON ON WORKING FOR NBC SPORTS: “I’m ready like a sponge to sit and absorb information from Tony, to learn from all these great people here, with their wealth of knowledge and experience. Just like I played the game, I’m going to be honest and I’m going to be forthright and I’m going to do it with passion. It’s the only way I know and I know Tony feels the same. We are going to be honest, but we are going to be fair.”
HARRISON ON MEETING EBERSOL: “I really wasn’t too familiar with Dick Ebersol, who he was. For years I’ve seen him in production meetings and I just thought he was a tall guy with stringy hair and really bad jeans and a bad t-shirt, until Andrea Kremer informed me who he was. Recently I got a chance to meet him and I had to tell him, ‘Hey, I never really knew who you were.'”
EBERSOL ON AL MICHAELS SUGGESTING DUNGY: “I was in a car with Al Michaels after a game in San Diego early last season and I told him about one of the glaring weaknesses, which I blame totally on myself, is not having a coach in the studio for ‘Football Night in America.’ I asked him for his thoughts, and he said, ‘Well any idea about having a coach should begin and end with having Tony Dungy.’ So Al first put the thought in my mind.”
DUNGY ON GIVING THE SHOW A COACH’S PERSEPECTIVE: “I am looking forward to trying to bring a coach’s view of the big picture to the fans. I think one of the enticing things about this is that we are going to do a lot of explaining why things happen. By 7:15 we will know what happened during the day and the challenge is going to be explaining the whys and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
HARRISON ON FORMER PLAYERS GOING INTO BROADCASTING: “Certain guys you definitely respect their opinions but other guys I felt like they were afraid to come out and really tell the hard truth, and as an analyst, it is your job be fair but honest. And sometimes you have to be brutally honest with guys who you have played with, guys that are your friends.”
HARRISON ON COVERING THE PATRIOTS: “If there is a question in week eight or week 10 when the Patriots play against the Colts and Tom Brady is not performing, everyone is going to question his knee, and if I feel like it’s his knee that is bothering him then I’m going to have to mention that and Tom would have to respect that. As a player you have to respect the fact that you are going to be criticized and that’s something that I’m not afraid to bring. When I played I didn’t have many friends and I’m sure I’m not going to make a lot of friends now, so that’s just what it is.”
EBERSOL ON CHANGES TO FNIA: “In the format of the show we have failed to clear out enough time to discuss football. We have been too locked in on highlights for every game. We will still have highlights for every game, and every big game of the day will get special attention, but there will be much more emphasis on the whys of what happened in that game than we have had in the past.”
DUNGY AND HARRISON DEBATE PEYTON MANNING’S COMMENTS ABOUT THE INDY COACHING SITUATION:
DUNGY: “I was a little surprised to see some of the remarks in public. One of our things was to keep everything in house. I’m pretty sure Peyton regrets now some of those comments getting out because you don’t want air your laundry, you want to keep it in house.”
HARRISON: “That really gives Tom Brady the edge over Peyton Manning in terms of leadership because he’s a guy that if this went on in New England he wouldn’t come out publicly and he wouldn’t make a big fuss about it. I think as a leader on a team, you being Peyton Manning, a Hall of Famer, you need to keep it in house. You have so many guys looking up to you and once they see the panic on your part, then all of a sudden they start getting nervous. I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning but this is a guy at times that needs to control his emotions and not allow these things that should stay in house, get outside of those walls.”
DUNGY: “I’m not so sure of calling that panic but it is a frustrating situation and the assistant coaches are trying to figure out exactly what is happening with this pension plan and where it’s going. It has forced two coaches to retire when they didn’t want to. What was going to happen, how this was all going to play out, this is a very, very frustrating situation. But I think it will be handled well and I think they will be coming through it in pretty good shape.”
HARRISON: “But as a player your job is to play football; you can’t control some of the political aspects of what’s going on and I know Peyton is frustrated but you have to understand this is OTAs, not even mini camp yet so there is no sense of panic yet, it’s still early. These things can be worked out. I mean he has been running this offense for 11 years, it’s not like it’s new to him. It just disappointed me being that it’s so early in the off-season that he would come out publicly and say these things. For him to publicly come out and publicly get upset like that I just thought it was a sense of panic.”
DUNGY ON THE COLTS: “Jim Caldwell is a tremendous mind and is going to be a great coach. He is going to have a challenging schedule early on and dealing with those expectation of being able to go on the road and win is going to be the test. They are going to be up to it but it’s funny how the schedule has been laid out. Those challenges are right there early and it’s going to be important for them to get off to a good start because if they don’t it’s going to be, ‘Coach Dungy would have done this, would have done this differently.’ They are going to have to put that behind them and realize it’s a different era now.”
DUNGY ON THE ASSISTANT COACHING SITUATION IN INDY: “The assistant coaching situation right now in the pension plans it’s very frustrating to everyone. I have talked to a number of assistant coaches that aren’t happy with the way things are going and the decision that they are supposed to make and it has disrupted things. One of the things that we had in Indy that was great, we had stability.”
DUNGY ON JAY CUTLER: “He’s a very talented guy who can throw the ball very well but quarterbacking is so much about leadership and so much about doing things under pressure. There is going to be a lot of pressure on him in Chicago because he’s been viewed as the missing piece of the puzzle to get them back to the Super Bowl. We’ll see about the maturity level. That is what I would question, and some of the things that happened leading to him leaving Denver. That would concern me as a coach.”
DUNGY ON VINCE YOUNG: “I am a big Vince Young fan and I have gotten to know him from playing against him twice a year. He did a tremendous job at the University of Texas leading that program and he was on his way in Tennessee but some things happened. He is going to have to recover and rebound and reestablish that leadership. Right now, I think the team does look at Kerry Collins as being the leader and that is going to be a hill he is going to have to climb. It will be interesting to see if he does it. I am pulling for him and I hope he does. He is a good person and I think he can develop into a big time quarterback, but right now I think you have to say Kerry Collins is the leader of that offense.”
HARRISON ON YOUNG: “Unfortunately for Vince Young this is not the University of Texas, this is the National Football League. You have to win here and you have to win now. Obviously he is a very talented guy. I think what happened to him is that he got caught up in somewhat of the dark side, partying, not prioritizing and making football his number one thing. I think a lot of these young kids nowadays come into the league and think they can survive on talent alone, and it’s not that way. Like coach Dungy said, yes he has the physical ability, but leadership is more about putting in the work consistently, showing up everyday, mentally being able to handle pressure, the ups and downs and being that consistent leader such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Will this guy ever start again? I feel like he will, but I think that right now he is going through an important time in his career and life where he is really learning how to be mature and learning how to be a young man in the National Football League under so much scrutiny and pressure. So this is a critical time for him. If he doesn’t become a starter in the next two years, you’ll find him as a career backup.”
DUNGY ON MICHAEL VICK: “I do hope Michael gets the opportunity to come back for a number of reasons. I think that he has paid for his crime and I think that he deserves a second chance. He is a talented young man and he has a great story to tell. If he does come back and make it, it can be very inspiring to young people who make a mistake, to realize that one mistake doesn’t doom you. So I do hope it happens, I’m not sure what the market is going to be, it is just going to take a special situation, a team that is really looking for a certain type of quarterback, and a strong organization because there is going to be some backlash against him. But he deserves it and I think if he gets a second chance, he’ll do well and he’ll be a different type of Michael Vick off the field, which is key.
“If I were running a team, what I know about Michael Vick and what I’ve seen from him, I would definitely give him an opportunity to play. If I needed a quarterback, I would not be afraid of his past.”
Dungy recently retired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after making the playoffs in each of his last 10 seasons (7 with Indianapolis; 3 with Tampa Bay). Dungy’s crowning achievement came in Super Bowl XLI, when he became the first African-American coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory as the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears. A former NFL defensive back, Dungy is one of only three men to win Super Bowls as both a player and head coach joining Mike Ditka and Tom Flores. Dungy is the author of the best selling book “Quiet Strength,” as well as a children’s book. His third book “Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance,” was recently released.
In Dungy’s six seasons as head coach of the Bucs, his teams made the playoffs in four of those years, reaching the NFC Championship Game in 2000. In his 13 seasons, Dungy’s teams posted a losing record just once, his first season in Tampa Bay.
Off the field, Dungy is renowned for his contributions to the community – both for civic and charitable causes. In August 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dungy a member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The 25-member council represents leaders from government, business, entertainment, athletics and non-profit organizations committed to growing the spirit of service and civic participation.
Harrison retired today from professional football after a 15-year-career in which he made three Pro Bowl appearances and is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 career sacks and 30 career interceptions.
Prior to joining the Patriots, Harrison played nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers. In his rookie season, the Chargers made the Super Bowl but lost to the San Francisco 49ers. Renowned as a clutch performer, the hard-hitting safety had seven interceptions in 13 career NFL Playoff games. Harrison’s 2008 season was cut short due to injury.
Off the field, Harrison’s Patriots’ teammates honored him with the 2006 Ed Block Courage award for the player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. In 2005, he participated in an officiating internship at NFL Europe’s training camp in Tampa, Fla., to learn more about the responsibilities of an NFL referee in anticipation of a potential post-football career. Harrison is an avid Madden football player, often competing anonymously against fans online.