Transcript of NFL Network’s Conference Call with Analysts Deion Sanders & Michael Irvin to Preview Championship Sunday, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV
Here are quotes from the call with the transcript below:
“You pretty much have three of the best quarterbacks, probably future Hall of Famers, to play in this game, and then you have a young kid that’s wide‑eyed and wet behind the ears…” –Deion Sanders on the QB’s
“Two of the all‑time greats and the other two have something to prove.” –Michael Irvin on the QB’s
“I’ll give you back my mom and dad to play football with Peyton Manning.”–Irvin
“He’s going to be great for at least five to seven years. The reason is, he has instinct, mobility and one thing that people really don’t understand, he’s never out of position.” –Sanders on Darrelle Revis
“The challenge is being who you are. Often times people come from the football field and they get on television and they want to emulate someone else instead of perfect themselves. The next challenge is being able to be honest about your friends and former teammates and guys in the league who you know very well and being able to relate that information to the viewers; and to not only be entertaining, but informative as well. That’s not a challenge for me and that’s not a challenge to Michael. I think the honesty leaps off the TV screen.” — Sanders on the transition to broadcasting after playing in the NFL
“I like the fact that we are home with this Pro Bowl and giving the fans here who couldn’t afford to go to Hawaii an opportunity to see the players that they voted in.” – Irvin on the Pro Bowl in South Florida
See the transcript below to read how Deion and Michael ranked the four quarterbacks who will be playing on Sunday and more.
NFL NETWORK MODERATOR: I want to thank everyone for joining us for NFL Network’s call to preview the Championship Game, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. A few points before we turn it over to our two featured speakers is that on Saturday night at 8:30 on NFL Network, we will be re‑airing the Jets Super Bowl III win over the Baltimore Colts as part of our Super Bowl Classics this weekend.
Also wanted to mention that NFL Network had a very successful year last year and it was announced that NFL Network was the No. 1‑rated cable network in terms of growth in 2009. We increased our distribution by 31 percent, adding more than ten million subscribers last year.
I would now like to introduce NFL Network’s executive producer, Eric Weinberger, who will talk about our upcoming programming and introduce our featured speakers.
ERIC WEINBERGER: Welcome, everybody. I will be quick so I can toss is over to the two men you really want to speak to, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin.
We are so excited, and hardly to blame, with our lengthy coverage that we will be attempting this weekend. The shows have been so successful this year, we are extending our NFL Game Day Morning Show to six hours live this Sunday, mostly because the first two weekends of the post‑season our numbers in the morning have been up 100% and about 90 percent in total household. With that success, we are lengthening the show. We will go on at 9:00 am Eastern and go right up to kick off at 3:00 PM for the CBS game.
Super Bowl and Pro Bowl weeks, they are always very exciting for us, even more exciting this year with the new format, being in South Florida for two weeks. It’s incredibly exciting and for a viewer, it will just be an unbelievable culmination to another great season where viewers watched football in record numbers.
With over 50 hours of Super Bowl coverage that we will have in two weeks, we have about another ten hours of Pro Bowl coverage that leads us up to the Pro Bowl Sunday on ESPN. Deion and Michael will be key contributors to next week’s All‑Star week, which also includes another ten to 15 hours of Senior Bowl coverage from Mobile, Alabama. This is like a football fan’s dream, and on top of Senior Bowl, Deion will also be in the broadcast booth for Team USA high school stars against The World next Saturday (1/30) from Florida.
It is so exciting to have Deion and Michael, again, on the same team. The entertainment these two provide is unmatched. I think going into a championship weekend where these two Hall of Famers played against each other, played with each other, the insight that they can give to what goes on in a locker room on the field is just unmatched, and we are sure that the viewers know that.
So really without further ado, I am going to kick it to Michael first, but I hope that you all just unload some questions here and really get in the minds of these two guys who know this time of year. They know winning at this time of year, as well or better than anyone that you can currently speak with about the NFL.
So Deion, Michael, take it away.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Good evening and good afternoon. First of all let me thank you guys for taking the moment here, and I wanted to just say winning three Super Bowls, there’s nothing more exciting than this time of the year. I am so excited to be back on the air with the NFL Network, because of the 50 hours of Super Bowl coverage, it’s football at its best.
We will get a chance to talk about every detail of the championship games and Super Bowl games, and even what it means to be a Pro Bowler, and for me, I’ve got to tell you now, this has just been a great season, first year with the network, and more importantly, on a lot of things it, Deion and I have had endless conversations about the possibility of working together.
So I want to thank you, Eric and Deion, who know what it means to me to actually be sitting here on the set and to be discussing football and all of the little conversations that we have had on the practice field about how to attack teams; now getting the opportunity to share with everybody some of those private conversations, that’s how it goes ‑‑ about how do you transition and transfer that to the football field on game day.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be working alongside a very good friend of mine, and I think the world of him and I always called him one of the greatest athletes that I’ve ever been around, if not the greatest athlete, Deion Sanders.
So we are excited about it, guys. You won’t get any coverage anywhere else like you are going to get on the NFL Network, because I’m sure nowhere else, no one else will have the people that we are going to have being able to give what we are able to give.
So we are excited about it. Deion, and I know I didn’t say this to you, but I’m just excited about being on the same set, and finally, that dream being realized of you and I working together. So that being said, I pass it Deion if you have something to say, or we can go to the questions.
DEION SANDERS: Ladies and gentlemen, I just wanted to say on behalf of the whole NFL Network, and we are excited about the upcoming weeks of games, High School Game, the Senior Bowl, the Pro Bowl, finale of the Super Bowl, it’s amazing. Michael and I have been in some situations, Michael one more time than I have but I’m really excited about this.
You live and you dream about the playoffs, and it’s finally here and now you get into the finale of that, and we are excited, man. Both of us have had the opportunity to work on other networks, and I can honestly say in speaking for both of us, this is the best. We are open, we are not censored, we are not labored. We are just happy and ecstatic to get to work and share our thoughts with the viewers, as well as with one another, and we are just thankful to be a part of the NFL Network.
Q. The Super Bowl III telecast Saturday night, is that the replay of the NBC broadcast that you guys aired originally?
ERIC WEINBERGER: Yeah, it is the original broadcast. We aired it Super Bowl week last year.
Q. To two of my favorite men, as well as favorite analysts, Deion, if you would please as a shutdown cover corner, rate the four quarterbacks left in the final four, and Michael as a receiver rate them, that would be fantastic.
DEION SANDERS: First of all, let me tell you, by saying a shutdown corner, I don’t know what that terminology is. Last time I checked, the corner’s job was to cover. That would be just like saying Peyton Manning is a throwing quarterback.
DEION SANDERS: But going to the quarterbacks, man, you have a smorgasbord. You pretty much have three of the best quarterbacks, probably future Hall of Famers, to play in this game, and then you have a young kid that’s wide‑eyed and wet behind the ears by the name Mark Sanchez, really not even knowing where he is right now and not even understanding the opportunity and the severity that he may never get back to that point once again.
But Peyton Manning is a constant professional. He’s poised, he’s smart, he’s intelligent and he may go down in history as the best to ever play the game.
Brett Favre is an old gun slinger, old savvy veteran. He brings the 40‑year‑old man ‑‑ he makes me smile every time you hear his name mentioned when you’re on television because he’s a man’s man and I love him.
You’re talking about Drew Brees, all of the trials and tribulations being shipped aside from San Diego and landing feet first in New Orleans and he’s taken the NFL by storm. Should have been an MVP by now.
And with that combination of four quarterbacks there’s no telling what can happen. The only guy that you can question is Sanchez, and he has that old Trent Dilfer formula: Don’t lose it; you don’t have to win it, but don’t lose it. So I love this plethora of quarterbacks that we have in this game.
MICHAEL IRVIN: As a receiver, I see it ‑‑ when I see this, I see it as two guys, two of the all‑time greats and the other two have something to prove. You look at Brett and Drew Brees, Brett is one of the all‑time greats, Hall of Famer. But Drew Brees, he should feel like he still has something to prove.
Drew Brees is one of the top players, but you have to be and the only way that I would ever be construed as one of these top players is to get a Super Bowl ring. Sanchez, Peyton Manning, MVP, he will end up as one of the all‑time greats. Mark Sanchez, I’m just a young guy trying to crack into this.
So you still have two of all‑time greats going up against two of the quarterbacks that have something to prove. And I look at it from that perspective, and I say, wow.
Now, I would have loved three of those quarterbacks. I know Sanchez ain’t going to throw a party for me from that perspective, but there’s something to be said even about Sanchez. Deion says he has to make the most of it because he may not get to this point. That’s true because a lot of times, people don’t get back but you have to love this kid as a winner. People love playing with him, and I’ve sat with him. He’s engaging and I think that he’s going to do a lot of wonderful things in New York.
ERIC WEINBERGER: So each of you rank them one through four.
DEION SANDERS: In what aspect?
ERIC WEINBERGER: The quarterback, from a DB, from your perspective. Deion, who is the toughest to play against, No. 1, and who is the easiest, No. 4, and then Michael, who is the best long thrower maybe from wide receiver standpoint, No. 1 and No. 4 would be I guess Sanchez, you just said.
MICHAEL IRVIN: I’ll give you back my mom and dad to play football with Peyton Manning. The way he plays the game, we are coming out and we’ll see the coverage. Now, Peyton, you don’t have any reason not to get me the ball. You see the coverage, come to the play, call the play where I get the ball. I would do anything to play with Peyton Manning. That’s what he does.
Now, No. 2, I’m going to put Drew Brees because Drew Brees is a little younger and I think Drew Brees is very accurate, very accurate. If I’m looking at it as a receiver, I want to play with Drew Brees.
Now third person is Brett Favre and I tell you why. I think Brett Favre has done a wonderful, wonderful thing, in bringing Sidney Rice to the forefront and making him an All‑Pro receiver. But now I think the tables are flipped. Will Brett Favre need him, will Sidney Rice need Brett Farve to make him become an all-time receiver?
DEION SANDERS: Brett Favre because he has something that’s an intangible. You’ve got to believe in him, you want to believe in him, you want to see him win, you want to see him prosperous and you want to see him victorious.
Now I would go to Drew Brees. I’ve seen a bad Drew Brees right here on NFL Network against the Dallas Cowboys, but that is not the Drew Brees that I think we would like to see this Sunday. But he landed the No. 3 spot just for that reason. I saw him live with pressure amongst him and those William brothers, they are going to put pressure up the middle, up the front. He’s going to have to escape Allen, and that’s going to be a task for him to do. I think he can purposely do it but I don’t know, that’s a question mark there and last but not least Mark Sanchez. I don’t believe this kid knows where he is.
Q. Pro Bowl question, you guys were two of the premiere players in the 1990s, Deion, if you had to pick a scoring secondary from the previous decade, and Michael if you had to pick three receivers if you were building a team, two outside guys and maybe one slot guy from the 2000s, what guys would you pick?
DEION SANDERS: Oh, my God, that is tough, my man, from this decade currently? From the 2000s.
DEION SANDERS: Okay. Ed Reed to be a safety for certain, and my God, Brian Dawkins would be the other safety. On the corner it would have ‑‑ I would have to say at the corner back it would have to be Champ Bailey because of the body of work he’s put in, the body of work. I know Revis and Charles Woodson, they are superb corners, but the body of work Champ Bailey has laid, he has a tremendous foundation.
Q. And the other corner, Deion?
DEION SANDERS: Yeah, that would probably be Charles Woodson ‑‑ no, no, Al Harris. Al Harris and Champ Bailey.
Q. Could you tell me why you pick Harris?
DEION SANDERS: Al Harris, his first Pro Bowl was last year. Doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t say much. Very underrated, but Michael Irvin can attest to this. This guy over the last several years would be the best corner in the game. Only guy that took a man, the top receiver, top opposing receiver on the opposing team man‑to‑man each game flip side, the reason Charles Woodson had a rebirth from Oakland is because when he went to Green Bay. He was take a second receiver and got his confidence back. Then he was able to overtake Al and take the top receiver. That’s why Charles is Charles now, but Al Harris has been the best corner over probably the last several years.
Ed Reed, I had the luxury of playing with him, I saw him on a day‑to‑day basis and Brian Dawkins is a dog, played in the same division as the Dallas Cowboys. I watched him closely for years, and he is a constant professional. On and off the field he knows his assignments and he doesn’t miss tackles. He makes plays and he is a fierce competitor.
MICHAEL IRVIN: I’ve got to take into account the talent that I’m looking for but also the system that the talent was in as he performed this last decade, you see what I mean. I don’t want to duplicate. I could see Randy Moss…let me give you my Top three and then I’ll put a team together. Top two would be T.O. and Randy Moss, why not?
So it’s hard for me not to take both of those guys, but the reality is Randy Moss is your top guy. T.O. is still going to want to go up top, because functioning where both of these guys is going to be a bit difficult, Randy is going to want everything that goes up top and the ability to get up top.
Putting a team together, I would have work both of those guys in, TO and Randy Moss, T.O. having the ability to work the intermediary, 20 yards in and everything and those routes. But as I rack my brain here on the third guy ‑‑
DEION SANDERS: I’ve got him for you.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Wes Welker.
DEION SANDERS: You forgot Marvin Harrison.
MICHAEL IRVIN: And Marvin wasn’t a part guy ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑
DEION SANDERS: Marvin was great.
MICHAEL IRVIN: I didn’t hear enough of Marvin doing the slot to make me say that he can work ‑‑ in the slot. And without having that guy that’s going to just be an intermediate guy, and ‑‑ because these other two guys are knock them off the top kind of guys. A 20‑yard route runner because I don’t think Randy is going to become that. I have to turn T.O., into catch 20 yards, 17, 18, and ‑‑ Randy Moss, you take care of everything over 25. I want to work the whole field.
DEION SANDERS: Tim Brown.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Too old.
Q. For Deion, if you would, may I ask you your thoughts on the Darrelle Revis and just how good he might be able to become?
DEION SANDERS: I think he’s going to be great for at least five to seven years. The reason is, he has instinct, mobility and one thing that people really don’t understand, he’s never out of position. He’s never high. He plays low. He has great balance. I’m not going to say he’s a speedster, but he has a burst, and he knows the integral parts of the game. He’s a studier. He takes his work home with him. You’re not going to worry about him going to jail after practice or something absurd like that.
He is a constant professional on and off the field, and his work habits are second to none. I just feel elated about this kid, his potential.
MICHAEL IRVIN: I got a chance to watch the piece that Deion did with him and I then I had an XO that I was looking at on Darrelle Revis and he were comparing him to another top corner, might have been Lem Barney. You can see in the XO, we had them lined up on the run coverage on a wide receiver and the guy was releasing, Barney as he got ready to turn, his feet came really high off the ground each time he got ready to turn and run.
Revis, watch him when he plays, his feet never comes off the ground. Because when you’re playing cornerback, you have to cut immediately right into the next cutting ‑‑ if your feet are coming high off the ground it’s going to take time to get off the ground and make the cut. Revis, he stays low, so he’s already ready to make the cut. You should watch this on Deion. Deion, by the fact that he’s scooting, he kept his feet low on the ground, so when it’s time, as soon as you make a cut ‑‑ because their feet are on the ground all the time. Just little things. We’ll give you this free, next time you need something like that, you watch it on TV.
Q. Deion, have you gotten to know Darrelle at all?
DEION SANDERS: Yes, over the last couple of years. Ty Law told me about this kid when he got into the league, and I had been following him since then, and we started text messaging probably about a year ago. And I reach out to him often. I mean, often, often, at least twice a week, and he’s a great kid, man.
Q. I was going to ask you, his uncle, Sean Gilbert, seems to be such a powerful, positive influence in his life. What is your take on that and what that is meaning to this young man’s career?
DEION SANDERS: I’m sure his maturation process has been expedited because of that. And there has to be someone in your life that has do be able to tell you no and that means no, and I think Sean Gilbert provides that for him. He’s been there and has done that, and admires him and loves him sincerely and there’s no hidden agenda and that’s very important with today’s athletes. In today’s athletes, that’s a whole different key out there right now.
Q. You mentioned Senior Bowl and you’ll be a couple of hours from home for the Super Bowl coverage, but we have two players from your hometown in the Senior Bowl, Nate Alan and Terrence Cody, and I have to wonder what you think about how Fort Myers where you’re from used to only have you and maybe one Williams in the league, and now at the start of the season, 18 players from Naples or Fort Myers were in training camp.
DEION SANDERS: I think that’s tremendous and a testament to the coaching and the youth activities in that city because it all starts from somewhere. It represents it well. I mean, do not ‑‑ that’s the enormity of Jevon Kearse, what he brought to the League and out of Fort Myers and out of the same high school I matriculated from, Edgerrin James, how much he meant.
When you have successful guys that come from one area and are able to come back and respect it and are seen in the cities, I think it just inspires and encourages others to do so, not only in the inner cities, just throughout all of the Fort Myers area.
Q. Talk about the transition from playing to it TV analyst, and was it a difficult one or was it a challenge at all or did you fit right in from the get‑go?
DEION SANDERS: Well, the challenge is being who you are. Often times people come from the football field and they get on television and they want to emulate someone else instead of perfect themselves, and then the next challenge is being able to be honest about your friends, former teammates and guys in the league who you know very well and being able to relate that information to the viewers; and to not only be entertaining, but informative as well. That’s not a challenge for me and that’s not a challenge to Michael. I think the honesty leaps off the TV screen, and you can relate it and he can articulate his thoughts at a very nice pace.
It’s wonderful. That’s why I thank God, I really do, for the NFL Network. I mean, I was on another network and I didn’t have the flexibility and the freedom to do the things that I can do here and I’m very happy and elated about this relationship.
Q. Deion, just curious, last month when the Jets and Colts played, Peyton did not shy away from going after Revis now. You could argue now Peyton is the best offensive player in the league, and Revis the best defensive player in the league, wondering how you saw that match up playing out on Sunday.
DEION SANDERS: I tell you what, I think it’s going to play out, early, because last week in the game, the reason they didn’t have being ‑‑ they didn’t jump out leaps and bounds versus the Baltimore Ravens is because they didn’t involve Reggie Wayne into the game plan. It’s almost like they went into half‑time and they made ‑‑ they said what are we doing, we have not thrown Reggie one ball, he doesn’t have one catch, let’s get him involved. And they came right after half‑time and got him involved with the first two passes like back to back plays and they can’t wait that time period to get Reggie Wayne involved and Reggie Wayne will have Darrelle Revis in front of him unless Rex Ryan decides to double Reggie Wayne and then put Revis on another side of the field.
But I tell you what, it’s going to be a great match‑up. They are going to have to face each other and you are going to have to build Reggie’s confidence up right off the bat, and it’s probably going to be an inside route, something safe on a double move and that’s one thing that Michael can attest to: When you are playing against a good corner and Michael, you can elaborate on, this one thing you need him to do is to stop his feet and to start again.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Now that’s the game, the interesting thing here, too, and I look at this match‑up and I know, you know, in the first match up, he didn’t get as many looks, but the game, what they were not planning on doing a whole lot in this game ‑‑ this game was different.
Deion hit on it, but the reality is, Peyton Manning has to play the next five or six, seven years with this guy over here being his No. 1 target. He cannot let these guys believe there is somebody on the other side that will stop him from throwing the ball to him. He can’t go into the game, not only this game, but as they move forward. You know, these are conversations that ‑‑ these are conversations that I had with Norv Turner and Troy Aikman playing somebody like Deion. We cannot let the rest of our team see that we are not going to go at someone, because I always say, you attack a man’s weakness if you want to beat him but if you attack his strength, you can break him. And you can’t allow that to break, the not for the receiver, but the rest of that team. Very important.
So that’s why this matchup is going to be an intense matchup, and I think ‑‑ I don’t think Reggie is the kind of guy that will hold on to what happened the first time. Revis is up for the challenge. This is going be to one of those great match‑ups, because also, Reggie is not as light ‑‑ I’ll use that word ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ and he’s quick in and out of his breaks. I like some of the tall receivers that Revis has to work with, so it’s going to be a unique combination of strength and speed for Darrelle Revis, and I want to see how this thing pans out.
Q. With regard to the Pro Bowl being before the Super Bowl this year, do you think that’s a plus, a minus, is it something that you’re looking forward to from this stand approximate point?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Well, you know, let me tell you something. I’ve always, you know, admired and I don’t mind saying it, and the game is ‑‑ All‑Star Weekend is the week after, and I know Deion, you play basketball games and all of those things, and I enjoy going to Hawaii, but I’ve always admired what the NBA had, and I used to always say, wow, unless Hawaii would be ‑‑ the Pro Bowl would be in the States, we would get a chance to see this and I like it that they are putting it in the same city as the Super Bowl.
Now, that being said, if you’re in the Super Bowl, you’re not going to have an opportunity to play in this game. I think I would have missed some of it ‑‑ but I assure you, I like this format and as long as you get me out there, I was supposed to be here, but I have that another game next week, it’s all good.
I think it’s great for the fans. You know, and I think it’s great for the game because there’s no telling. No need to go back to go to Hawaii in a few years, but when you go back now, you’re going back and going to have a greater and new appreciation for what they have, because they won’t have had it. They won’t have had it for a couple of years.
So I like the fact that we are home with this Pro Bowl and giving the fans here who couldn’t afford to go to Hawaii an opportunity to see the players that they voted in.
DEION SANDERS: I like it 100% for a number ‑‑ many reasons, many reasons. First of all, there is no following the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the finale. You can to the play a World Series and then have another game after the World Series. You can’t have the NBA Finals and then play another game after that. You cannot do that.
So the Super Bowl is the finale. Someone wants to see another football game shortly thereafter, they have forgotten ‑‑ some of the guys have the gotten out of shape, and it’s easy to get out of shape after a couple of weeks, and some of these guys went home right after the season. They were not fortunate to go to the playoffs.
And now you have to to try to get back in shape to play a game way in Hawaii where you have to take your whole family where it’s going to cost at least a grand. So I really like it. I like the ticket prices are very affordable. Not everyone can make it to the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is crazy. The ticket prices are crazy, but it’s worth it, it’s worth every minute of it.
But to be able to afford to go to the Pro Bowl and to see everybody is like the best of the best in one melting pot, and that’s something that I can’t wait to take my kids to. I can’t wait for them to go. They have never been over to Hawaii, my youngest kids, to see a Pro Bowl, but they will be in Miami to see this Pro Bowl. I’m happy and elated about it, I really am.
Now, when the guys ‑‑ one last thing. The guys playing in the Super Bowl, they want to get an opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl, but some of them are angered anyway. If you lose the Super Bowl and you made the Pro Bowl, I don’t feel like it, I’m upset; and then you have to disturb a guy that didn’t plan on going to get him up and get him over there with that last minute call. So it’s allowing them to play in the Pro Bowl, I like that part of it, also.
MICHAEL IRVIN: And also with the economy doing what it is, what the NFL is doing, it’s giving you an opportunity to get more bang for the buck. If you’re going to spend money coming down to the Super Bowl, Wednesday or Thursday, why not just say I’m coming in the Friday before, and I can do both games, I can get to see the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl for the same ticket price.
You see, as opposed to going to Miami for the Super Bowl and then having to pay all of that money to go to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. You can get your fix by doing one ticket price and going and be here for all, both games. I thought that was a great coup for the NFL.