“All their hood ornaments look great. The paint job is beautiful. The problem is the engine’s broken.” – Cris Collinsworth on the Eagles
“They have too many veteran players to be so inconsistent each week.” – Rodney Harrison on the Giants
NEW YORK – October 9, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and was joined on site for commentary by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-host Dan Patrick and commentators Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Peter King and Mike Florio covered the news of the NFL’s fifth week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., on the Jets-Patriots game and Jimmy Roberts profiled 85-year-old Summerville (SC) High School football coach John McKissick, who is in the midst of his 60th season and has won 591 games, more than any football coach at any level in history.
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Bob Costas interviews Packers WR Greg Jennings and TE Jermichael Finley
Collinsworth on Al Davis: “There has never been nor will there ever be someone that will have his perspective that has played so many roles in the National Football League. He is a decisive figure in many ways. He rubbed some people the wrong way, but I can tell you that to sit in a room with Al Davis and talk football with him was unlike anything I’ve ever done.”
Michaels on Hue Jackson: “We should all begin to remember the name Hue, which is short for Huey, Jackson…This guy has it together. He is 45 years old and this is his first head coaching job ever. That team is playing very hard for him. They had a very dramatic win in Houston today.”
Harrison on being impressed with Hue Jackson: “After such an emotional week, keeping these guys focused, going on the road, and winning in a hostile environment. I played in Houston and it’s very difficult to win there.”
Florio: “With the passing of Al Davis, there are questions about the ownership of the team. But through very careful estate planning and succession planning, the Davis family will continue to own that team. That is Carol Davis, the widow of Al Davis, and Mark Davis, the son of Al Davis. There won’t be tax issues. There won’t be partnership issues. The Davis family will own that team. And if you saw Mark Davis’ reaction today, he doesn’t seem like he’s going to be selling that team anytime soon.”
King: “There are a lot of owners in the league who would like to see them sell and would love to see the Raiders go back to Los Angeles and to be one of the two tenets…the NFL believes not just one but two teams could work in L.A.”
Dungy: “I too, like Hue Jackson, owe Al Davis a lot. I was a young assistant coach in 1989 and Al Davis hired Art Shell, the first African-American coach in the league (of the modern era). He gave guys like me hope.”
Harrison: “As a kid I always admired the Raiders. I always wanted to be a Raider because of the mystique, being a tough guy, the black and silver.”
ON NFC EAST
Dungy: “They’ve got a lot of star power, a lot of talent, but these teams cannot hold onto the football, they can’t protect the ball and they’re self-destructing.”
Collinsworth: “All their hood ornaments look great. The paint job is beautiful. The problem is the engine’s broken.”
Dungy: “We can simplify it in one word – mistakes.”
Harrison: “This team is so extreme…They have too many veteran players to be so inconsistent each week.”
Michaels: “I’ll tell you who’s a very happy guy right now, Mike Shanahan. Off-week, he watches the Giants lose to Seattle in the end and he watches Philadelphia lose. The Redskins are a team to watch.”
Dungy: “They look better and better as you’re watching the favorites, Philadelphia and the Giants, just turn the ball over and give up big plays on defense.”
Dungy: “You have to look at the job Jim Harbaugh’s done changing the culture, changing the mindset…Jim Harbaugh has made this team a contender. I think they’re going to win the West.”
Dungy: “They looked dead and (then) Tim Tebow came in the game…If I’m (John Fox), I do it tonight…Tebow’s a winner. Put him in there.”
King: “I just got off the phone with Tim Tebow and asked him if he’s done enough to win the starting job. He said, ‘Thank God I don’t have to make that call. I just went out and played with a lot of heart.’ I think that playing with a lot of heart will make John Fox give Tim Tebow the starting job two weeks from today after the bye week.”
Patrick: “Are we missing the bigger story here? Is Buffalo a little better than we thought?”
Dungy: “I think they are. They believe in their quarterback and defense.”
Harrison: “Defensively they give up a lot of yards, but they create turnovers…George Wilson made a big play against the Patriots and he made another today.”
Dungy: “I talked to Leslie Frazier during the week and I kind of suggested that Christian Ponder starting might be better for the Eagles than Donovan McNabb starting. He immediately said, “No. Donovan has the faith of the locker room.’”
ON AARON RODGERS VS. BRETT FAVRE
Dungy: “Brett Favre beat me an awful lot when I was at Tampa, but I would take Aaron Rodgers as a coach because he can do all the things Favre can do but he doesn’t turn the ball over.”
Harrison on who he’d rather face: “Brett Favre because he gives you a lot more opportunities at interceptions.”
Following are highlights from Bob Costas’ interview with Packers WR Greg Jennings and TE Jermichael Finley, and Rodney Harrison’s interview with Tony Gonzalez:
COSTAS: Your first two years in the league were Brett Favre’s last two with the Packers. Is Aaron Rodgers better than Brett Favre was at that point?
JENNINGS: Bob, you’re going to do that to me? (laughs). Obviously Brett was able to jumpstart my career. He was very experienced when I got there so obviously he had the upper hand from that standpoint but…
COSTAS: It’s more of a collaboration right now between you and Rodgers.
JENNINGS: It’s definitely more of a collaboration. Long-term, I’m going to have to nod my head to A-Rod.
COSTAS: Last week you said, ‘Hey, I’m not getting the ball enough,’ but the Packers scored 49 points. Do you wish you’d zipped it?
FINLEY: I don’t know where all that came from about me not getting the ball. I guess people see me snapping my helmet or clapping my hands and want to write what they want. I’m excited. I’m just excited to get back on the field.
COSTAS: So you’re cool?
FINLEY: I’m great.
HARRISON: Who’s the best tight end to ever play the game, including you? I feel like you’re the best.
GONZALEZ: Obviously, the receiving part of it, I’ve done well. I’d like to think that I’ve been able to be a complete tight end and hopefully that puts me right at the top with everybody else.
–NBC Sports Group–
Bob Costas’ Halftime Essay on Al Davis
Over the last 24 hours, even those too young to recall the enormous accomplishments and aura of Al Davis’s Raiders of an earlier era have been made aware of Davis’s unique place in the game’s history: coach, GM, commissioner, owner, perpetual litigant and general pain in the assets to the league he constantly challenged and frequently sued — sometimes with good reason, sometimes out of a reflexive combativeness that seemed to know no bounds.
Al Davis was many things — not all of them admirable. That’s why he was so fascinating, and until recent years, so formidable. For a generation, his Raiders weren’t just committed to excellence, they consistently achieved it and in distinctive fashion as Davis created a sanctuary for misfits and miscreants and let them flourish in an us-versus-the-world atmosphere tinged with cloak-and-dagger paranoia. That approach created the Raider mystique, and then in later years, undermined it.
Al Davis was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Brooklyn, graduated from Syracuse yet somehow spoke with a vaguely southern drawl, part of what you might call an unusual personal style. He was a progressive, who broke ground with the hiring of Hispanic and African-American coaches, and a high-ranking female executive. But he was also petty, allowing personal vendettas to undercut, and then drive away significant figures like Marcus Allen and Mike Shanahan, while his once great franchise slipped into disarray.
He was compassionate and generous, and sought no public recognition for his many acts of kindness. If he liked you, he was also great company, but if you got on his bad side, for whatever reason, watch out.
He was simultaneously a visionary who influenced the game on and off the field, and a throwback, who hung on much too long, perhaps because as he himself acknowledged, he had no real life outside of his family and football.
Don Shula once said of his old adversary, “when you call Al Davis devious, he considers it a compliment.” For his part, Davis, who probably revered Machiavelli as much as Madden, often said he’d rather be feared than respected or loved. A true appreciation doesn’t ignore that fact, it recognizes it along with all the contradictions and complexities.
For better and for worse and everything in between, Al Davis was an American original. He deserves to be long remembered, not because he was a model, but because he mattered.
He was a rebel, a renegade, a Raider…and we will not see his like again.