“Once you admit to bending the rules, disregarding the rules, then you open yourself up to all of these rumors.” – Tony Dungy on Patriots
“I can tell you absolutely as players that we had no idea.” – Rodney Harrison on ‘Spygate’
“He’s taking a victory lap here. This is almost like Cal Ripken with his consecutive games streak.” – Dan Patrick on Tom Brady’s entrance
“Are tranquilizer darts legal in the NFL? Because that’s the only the only way you can bring that guy down.” – Mike Florio on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
NBC Sports’ Week 1 Coverage Continues Sept. 13 with Giants-Cowboys NFC East Showdown on Sunday Night Football
STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 10, 2015 – NBC’s coverage of the 2015 NFL season began tonight with NFL Kickoff 2015 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., where the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dan Patrick co-hosted NFL Kickoff 2015 from inside the stadium and was joined on-site by Football Night in America analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, and Hines Ward, as well Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, and NFL Insider Peter King.
Pre-game coverage also featured performances by multi-platinum singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and Grammy Award-winning band Train live from San Francisco, as part of the NFL’s On The Fifty campaign, which is dedicated to celebrating the Super Bowl and commemorating Super Bowl 50.
Coverage included sit-down interviews between former and current players from each team, as Ward interviewed with Steelers WR Antonio Brown, and Harrison spoke with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.
NBC Sports Group’s NFL coverage began with a special 90-minute edition of Pro Football Talk at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, co-hosted on-site in Foxborough by Mike Florio and Paul Burmeister, alongside Sunday Night Football analyst Harrison, Ward, King, and Fantasy Football Live’s Kay Adams and Ross Tucker.
Pre-game coverage on NBCSN included Florio’s exclusive one-on-one interview with DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association. Click here to watch Florio’s interview with DeMaurice Smith on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.
Pre-game coverage on NFL Kickoff 2015 included an essay from Costas on the ‘Deflategate’ investigation. Click here to watch Costas’ essay on ‘Deflategate’ during NFL Kickoff 2015 on NBC.
Following are highlights from NFL Kickoff 2015 on NBC:
Patrick on Brady’s entrance: “He’s taking a victory lap here. This is almost like Cal Ripken with his consecutive games streak. He’s saying hello to everyone in this stadium.”
Harrison on head coach Bill Belichick’s calming effect: “Those players never panic because he never panics.”
Harrison on Patriot players’ possible knowledge of ‘Spygate’: “I was in charge of making all of the calls and adjustments in the secondary. I can look you two guys in the eye, and I can look the millions of people in the eye at home, and I can tell you absolutely as players that we had no idea what was going on. We didn’t know the plays.”
Dungy on judging the Patriots’ integrity: “I remember when I was a young player, we thought the Oakland Raiders wet the field down…when I got to Indianapolis as a coach, we got accused of piping in noise or turning up the heat…with the Patriots, there’s one difference, and that’s ‘Spygate.’ Because once you admit to bending the rules, disregarding the rules, then you open yourself up to all of these rumors.”
Dungy on Steelers defense: “They’re young. (Head Coach Mike Tomlin) is worried about mistakes. His word for tonight is simplicity. Keep it simple for those young defenders – let them play fast.”
Ward on importance of Antonio Brown: “I’ve been in the huddle with Ben when he’s told me, ‘Hines, I’m coming to you regardless of whatever coverage it is.’ There’s no way he’s not looking for number 84 tonight…if Antonio Brown doesn’t have at least 15 touches tonight, there’s no chance that the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New England Patriots.”
Dungy on Steelers’ offensive approach: “You’re not going to see a lot of running game. You’re going to see Ben Roethlisberger use his weaponry, and that’s the passing game and those wide receivers against an inexperienced Patriots secondary.”
King: “I don’t believe as of now that there’s any way that the Seahawks will consider trading Kam Chancellor…recent reports say they might be close in negotations. I don’t believe that they’re close at all.”
Florio: “You can almost stick a fork in the contract negotiations between the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning. They are closing in on a deal, and even though Manning has the leverage to be the highest-paid player in the NFL, he doesn’t want to be. I’m told he wants to be not perceived as greedy, and wants to leave enough money behind to help the Giants put a team around him. The goal is to get the deal done by Saturday, when they head to Dallas.”
Following are highlights from Pro Football Talk on NBCSN:
Harrison on QB Tom Brady: “He’s one one the most mentally tough guys I’ve ever been around. But he’s still human. He still has feelings. Just imagine waking up every day and instead of thinking about your workouts and thinking about your routine, thinking about lawyers and attorneys…that’s the thing I’m most concerned about with Tom Brady, not having his routine
Florio: “The Commissioner wanted Tom Brady to not be here tonight. Tom Brady is here tonight, by order of a federal judge – and the Commissioner isn’t. It all got twisted upside down at some point over the last few weeks.
Harrison on injuries on Patriots offense: “It’s next man up. It’s the same time. If you listen to Bill Belichick, even when his suspension was uplifted, he said, ‘It’s no big deal. Tom’s back. On to Pittsburgh.’ It’s no big deal because he doesn’t show emotion…that’s the thing that really keeps players calm. Tom Brady’s not panicking.”
Tucker, a former Patriots OL, on difficulties of playing on New England’s offensive line: “I played for five teams – by far (the Patriots were) the toughest team mentally to keep up with things. You’ll hear it, where Brady will say ‘Rita-Omaha-Blue-Go.’ When he said ‘Rita,’ he totally changed who you’re blocking…in that tenth of a second, you better mentally know that you’re blocking somebody else. It’s not like that anywhere in college.
Peter King on emotions of Patriots fans: “It’s conjecture-related. It’s anger-related. Driving in here a couple of hours ago, there were already anti-Goodell signs. I think you’re going to hear a lot of vengeance out of this crowd. I think you’re going to hear a very loud crowd, and I think you’re going to see a great game out of Tom Brady…if he wasn’t playing tonight, it would’ve been venomous.”
Florio: “What does it say that the Commissioner of a major sport can’t attend any game any time he wants? Are we starting to get desensitized to it?…the idea that you have a Commissioner that is under siege for any reason is just odd.”
King: “I think you’re going to see the new COO Tod Lieweke come in…he’s already made a bunch of decisions now that he’s going to be executing in the next few weeks, and I think you’re going to see a change inside the league office. I don’t know who yet, but I think some people are going to be changed up, (people) that are going to be close to Roger Goodell.”
Florio on QB Ben Roethlisberger: “Are tranquilizer darts legal in the NFL? Because that’s the only the only way you can bring that guy down.”
King on Steelers defense: “The last three times they’ve played, the New England Patriots have averaged 37 points per game…the Pittsburgh Steelers, in my opinion, are bereft of talent in the secondary, and I think Tom Brady is going to come out early and often and try and strafe them from the opening gun.”
Ward on his memories of the Patriots-Steelers rivalry: “Going against Ty Law. He was a guy I just hated as a football player, because he was so competitive and he was a great cornerback. During the 2000s, we had our battles going back and forth…but those are the memories I’ll always cherish…I hated Rodney. We were both voted the most hated guy, the dirtiest player…he was a guy that when you crossed the middle, you had to worry about him at all times.”
Ward on WR Antonio Brown: “When Antonio Brown first came to the Steelers, I always prided myself on being the hardest working guy on the field, and was always the last one to leave the field. One day I was leaving the field, and I look back Antonio Brown was still on the field. He continues to have that work ethic now.
ROB GRONKOWSKI WITH RODNEY HARRISON
Following are excerpts from Harrison’s interview with Gronkowski:
Gronkowski on Brady handling ‘Deflategate: “It’s kind of hard to say he’s more motivated and focused, because he’s always motivated and focused. I couldn’t really tell you a time where I’m like, ‘He’s kind of backing away from the game, I don’t think he really wants to be out here.’ There’s never been a time where I’ve seen him like that.”
Gronkowski on how he processes criticism: “I used to take it as, ‘What’s going on, why are they coming at us like that?’ Now I just take it as, ‘We’re the New England Patriots, we’re a big deal.’ We’re the top dog team…even if it’s not a controversy, they’ll make it one.
ANTONIO BROWN WITH HINES WARD
Following are excerpts from Ward’s interview with Brown:
Brown on when he earned Roethlisberger’s trust: “The Ravens game in the playoffs my rookie year. I remember the play we called was a stop route, but Ben changed the play and said, ‘Hey, let him run the go.’ He hit me down the sideline, and we got the momentum…from that moment, he knew he could count on me.”
Ward: “Are you the best wide receiver in the NFL?”
Brown: “Yeah. I can do it all. Running, catching, route precision, knowing my assignment. I just do it the best.”
Brown on the New England secondary: “I think they’re a bunch of young guys who are trying to establish an identity. Malcolm Butler and some young guys who are super excited and trying to make a name for themselves.
Ward: “Can any of the Patriots cornerbacks can cover you one-on-one? I don’t think they can.”
Brown: “I don’t think they can either.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–