“There have been a lot of things that have been outlawed and you have to adjust.” – “Football Night’s” Tony Dungy on players adjusting to new NFL directives on hits
“This guy could be the defensive MVP of this league. He’s too good of a player to have this reputation.” – “Football Night’s” Rodney Harrison on James Harrison
“He is the most frustrated guy in America right now.” – “Football Night’s” Tony Dungy on Peyton Manning
“Take that LeBron!” – “Football Night’s” Dan Patrick on Cleveland’s game-winning field goal over Miami
NEW YORK – December 5, 2010 – Following are highlights from NBC Sports’ “Football Night in America.” Bob Costas hosted the show live from M&T Bank Stadium and was joined on site for commentary by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-host Dan Patrick, analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and reporters Peter King and Mike Florio covered the news of the NFL’s 13th week live from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios. Alex Flanagan reported from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on the Cowboys-Colts game.
EMBED NBC SPORTS VIDEO: Video highlights from “Football Night” and other NBC Sports programming are available to be embedded on media websites at NBCSports.com. Click on the following links for:
Football Night on hard hits
Patrick, Dungy & Harrison on the Falcons-Buccaneers
King on Brett Favre and Jon Gruden
Costas’ interview with Dick LeBeau
Costas’ interview with John Harbaugh
Florio on public comments by members of Steelers against new NFL directives: “Ray Anderson said that the league would prefer that these things be handled privately because publicly it can lead to misunderstanding and confusion among the people that hear what Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin have to say. Keep this in mind that although the Steelers haven’t gotten to this point yet, the same policy that applies to criticism of officiating by coaches could apply here as well. At some point, there could be a fine if the Steelers cross that line. We just don’t know where that line is.”
Patrick on players being fined for hard hits but not suspended: “There’s a lot of speeding tickets being handed out but nobody is losing their license.”
Florio: “Nobody knows because there is no formula, and that’s part of the problem here. Nobody knows which hit will send James Harrison into a suspension. The sense is that he is a repeat offender. At some point, there will be a suspension. We just don’t know when. I asked Ray Anderson would a suspension be imposed during the playoff push? He said, ‘It doesn’t matter when.’ I said, ‘What about Week 17? Would there be a suspension imposed for the post-season?’ Ray Anderson says, ‘We would suspend for the post-season if there is a hit that requires it in Week 17.’”
Dungy: “Mike, I don’t want to shoot the messenger. I do not believe that there is going to be a suspension in the playoffs. They don’t suspend guys in the regular season. The league’s history has been not to suspend. They don’t want to tip the balance of competitiveness. We had a situation when I was in Indianapolis, there was a play, last game of the season, John Lynch had a hit on Dallas Clark and we thought Dallas Clark was going to miss the playoff game. We wanted John Lynch suspended. They said, ‘There is no way.’”
Harrison on James Harrison: “I said it over a month ago, you should suspend this guy if he continues with these infractions.”
Dungy: “Everybody adjusts and it’s happened for years. There was a time in the National Football League that you could tackle by the facemask. The rule came in you couldn’t. The players had to adjust. You used to be able to have chop blocks, head slaps. There have been a lot of things that have been outlawed and you have to adjust, all players have, James Harrison will eventually, too.”
Harrison: “I was stubborn just like James Harrison. I was very prideful and I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to change my style of play.’ He’s comes out, he’s said that, but he has to change his style of play. You cannot continue to do that. I developed a bad reputation to the point that when I would enter the field, all the officials would say, ‘Hey Harrison, we’re watching you. We got you Harrison.’ James Harrison is too good of a player. This guy could be the defensive MVP of this league. He’s too good of a player to have this reputation.”
Collinsworth: “The defensive players are about to lose their minds over not only what is the foul, but these fines are driving them crazy.”
Dungy on Peyton Manning: “He is the most frustrated guy in America right now. He is not used to making mistakes that cost his team games. What is happening is he’s pressing too much. His offensive line is not quite in sync and he doesn’t have the running game.”
Harrison: “He’s pressing too much. He’s trying to make the big play.”
Patrick: “You have to start wondering here, are they playoff worthy?”
Dungy: “They are. I still think they are going to win the last four. We’ll see what happens, but Jacksonville’s got the edge now. Uncharacteristic mistakes, Reggie Wayne dropped the ball in overtime before this that could have got them going. The leverage penalty, just mistakes you are not used to seeing from the Colts.”
Harrison: “These are the games that the Cowboys would normally lose. Now you see a smart Cowboys team, a team that’s very confident, a resilient team. Now they are starting to win these games.”
Patrick: “Give credit to Jon Kitna. He’s done a nice job there.”
Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Flanagan: “The first one (INT), I read his eyes and made a pretty good break on the ball. I don’t think he saw me. The second one, I got lucky. Mike Jenkins made a great play. That ball bounced to me. I was lucky to catch it.”
Harrison: “They are serious. They finally got over that middle hurdle of them going on the road and being able to win. I talked about two weeks ago their struggles in the red zone. They scored three touchdowns (today).”
Dungy: “Tampa is going to build off this. Raheem Morris is going to tell his guys, ‘This is probably the best team in the NFC. We played them twice. We should have beaten them twice and we’re right there. We just have to finish these games.’ Tampa has got a young team that you’re going to have to watch out for in the future.”
King: “I talked to Leslie Frazier, the Minnesota coach, after the game and he said, ‘Hey, I expected Favre to come back into the game.’ I asked him about this coming week, and he said, ‘Listen, I’ve seen Favre for 18 to 20 years, just like you have. I expect that he is going to be ready to play. He is our starting quarterback, regardless. If he is ready to play, he goes.’ We will find out Tuesday or Wednesday how he’s doing.”
King on Jenn Sterger investigation: “What I believe is that Favre is likely to avoid a suspension in this case. And, once more, because of the inordinately long time. Remember, this case was supposed to be cleared up by the end of October. Enough doubt has been cast on Favre’s involvement in the graphic photos that I believe that there’s a good chance he won’t be fined either.”
Patrick on Sidney Rice’s acrobatic touchdown catch: “That’s as good a catch as you will see all year.”
Dungy on Randy Moss: “Where’s Tom Brady when I need him?”
Dungy on Titans effort: “It was hard to look at.”
Harrison: “They gave up.”
Dungy: “They did.”
Patrick: “I think they licked a stamp, put it on the envelope and mailed it in.”
Dungy: “I still don’t think they’re a great team.”
Harrison: “They got physically dominated.”
Harrison: “If I’m the Bears, I’m concerned with the sacks that the offense line is giving up. I’m concerned about that pass defense. And if you look at their schedule the next month, I believe they will lose three of their next four games.”
Patrick on coach Todd Haley’s postgame press conference: “After the game, coach Haley issued a Hallmark greeting card.”
Harrison: “They are consistently bad at all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Offensively, they’re turning the ball over: interceptions, fumbles. Defensively, they’re scared, they’re soft, and they don’t want to tackle anybody. Special teams wise, they’re giving up blocked punts. Just terrible…(on lack of effort) (guys are) planning vacations and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t want to play anymore. I want to protect myself for next year.”
Patrick on game-winning field goal over Dolphins: “Take that LeBron!”
Patrick: “The Pete Carroll Seahawks are now bowl eligible at 6-6.”
Dungy on the fourth and one: “I really didn’t like the call…Run it up in there. Pound it in there. Make a first down on fourth and a foot.”
ON JON GRUDEN
King on if Gruden flirted with the University of Miami: “Oh, he flirted. There was a flirtation…I do believe that he would listen to one of two jobs. One of those is the San Francisco job…(The second job) I think that’s a guy (Gruden) who Mike Holmgren would be very interested in looking at.”
Michaels: “In a physical sport, these two teams get after each other unlike any two teams I can think of in the last decade.”
Following are highlights of Bob Costas’ interviews with John Harbaugh and Dick LeBeau:
Costas on a skeptical statement Harbaugh made about Ben Roethlisberger’s injured foot: Good thing you’re a coach and not a bedside physician.
Harbaugh: We always joke, ‘We’re coaches. We’re not doctors, but we play doctors in press conferences.’ To us, it doesn’t matter. Maybe he’ll be a little less mobile. That’s fine. We’ll see. You’ve got to defend the second play. The first play you have to defend because this guy is a pinpoint, accurate passer. But this guy gets out on the run, out on the perimeter and can throw strikes. That’s tough for us. We know him better than anybody else and we know how hard that is.
Costas: Ryan Clark told Peter King this week, “The ultimate respect I can give the Ravens is, if I couldn’t play for Pittsburgh, I’d want to play for Baltimore. We play football like it’s supposed to be played. So do they.’
Harbaugh: That makes me proud. That’s what we’ve been talking about. I think it starts with teammates and coaches who care about one another and believe in one another. We put the other guy first. That’s what they stand for. That’s what our program is about. If other teams recognize that, then that’s a good thing.
Costas: There are a number of people around the league, and a few of them are on the Steelers, who are saying, ‘We’re not sure the way the game is supposed to be played anymore.’ Do you share that concern?
Harbaugh: It’s clear cut how the game’s supposed to be played. Going helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet against defenseless players is no longer part of the game. There’s no question in my mind that our team has figured it out and most of the league has figured it out, and, shortly, everybody will figure it out.
Costas: So you have no problem with the league’s directives?
Harbaugh: No. I support them. I think it’s exactly right. There are some situations where you have a player who will catch the ball and duck his head, and a player is already committed to a tackle. But the league’s not fining for that. You may get flagged for that because it’s hard in real time for an official to determine what happened but players don’t get fined for that. It’s when you go to the head against a defenseless player or to the knees against a defenseless player that you’re going to get fined.
Costas: You have on your roster one of the legendary hard hitters in football history in Ray Lewis. No problem for Ray Lewis to play the game the way he’s always played it under these new directives?
Harbaugh: Ray’s adapted. Ray’s done a great job. If you look at Ray Lewis’ hits, they’ve been in the strike zone. They’ve been below the shoulders and above the knee. They’ve been hard hits. They’ve separated players from the ball. It’s been what Ray Lewis football is all about. To me, that shows you the greatness of this guy and the ability of guys to do it. He’s 35 years old and he’s adjusted.
Costas: So from this I getting that anybody can do it. James Harrison, if he wants to, can figure it out and make the adjustment.
Harbaugh: He will. James Harrison is a good guy. He wants to play the game the right way. He’ll figure it out.
Costas: A regular season game doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Harbaugh: You’re making me nervous now. We’re excited about it. We talk about building a team that’s built for December and built for January. This is just our kind of game. Our guys are just the men for the job. We can’t wait to play in this game. Plus, we love playing the Steelers.
Costas: Take us back to Canton last summer. After 52 years in the league as player and coach, you’re finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. What did it mean to you?
LeBeau: It was an unforgettable moment, that is for sure. The memory that will stick with me the longest: Coach Tomlin and the Rooneys aloud our football team to be there with me. For me to be able to share that special moment in my life with the guys who really made it possible, it was an unforgettable moment.
Costas: Is the game more violent now than it used to be?
LeBeau: The game is not more violent for sure. The game was pretty violent when we played.
Costas on increased coverage and scrutiny: Could you get away with things a couple of decades ago?
LeBeau: There’s no question about it. All the rules that are in place now for player safety evolved because it wasn’t all that safe for some of us playing. It’s all for the good.
Costas: Do you, as James Harrison’s coach, have a problem with the NFL’s new mandates?
LeBeau: Oh, I do not. The safer you can make any enterprise that any of our people are engaged in. Safety is paramount because life is precious.
LeBeau on reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ to the Steelers from memory: I did that for the family for several years and one day I said, you know, this football team is really my family too. I did it for the defense and the head coach heard about it. He said, ‘Why don’t you do it for the whole team.’ I said sure.
LeBeau then recited the following passage to Costas from memory:
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top his coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.”