“I’m always for second chances for guys who are repentant, who admit their mistakes and they’re remorseful, but I would not claim Kareem Hunt if I were coaching now.” – Tony Dungy
“Forget Defensive MVP, this guy should be MVP. He’s the best football player in the NFL. He should be able to win both.” – Rodney Harrison on Rams DT Aaron Donald
“He should be in the MVP conversation for what he’s done this year.” – Chris Simms on Chargers QB Philip Rivers
“I’m extremely disappointed…To not let him finish out the season, to me, it’s ridiculous.” – Tony Dungy on the Packers firing head coach Mike McCarthy
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 2, 2018 – Mike Tirico hosted the Week 13 edition of Football Night in America tonight from NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., in advance of the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tirico was joined on the set by analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, and Chris Simms, as well as NFL Insider Mike Florio. Liam McHugh co-hosted Football Night on site from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was joined by the SNF team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
Tafoya interviewed Chargers QB Philip Rivers, DE Joey Bosa, WR Keenan Allen, and head coach Anthony Lynn for a feature titled “Meet the Chargers.” McHugh conducted pre-game interviews with Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who said, “Anytime you’re playing at night, it adds a little more juice to the game.” A taped piece also examined the relationship between Rivers and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who were both first-round picks in the 2004 NFL Draft.
NBC Sports also paid tribute to its longtime cycling commentator Paul Sherwen, who passed away this morning. A transcript of the segment is below.
Following are Notes & Quotes from the Week 13 edition of Football Night in America:
Harrison: “The question is, can the Chargers play on the big stage with all the pressure? … Typically, when they’ve been in this situation, they’ve choked.”
Michaels on if the Chargers are resonating in Los Angeles: “It’s probably their biggest game in at least five years…The Rams are going to get most of the publicity (in Los Angeles), especially right now, but this tonight is a huge game for the Chargers on so many levels.”
Simms on QB Philip Rivers: “He should be in the MVP conversation for what he’s done this year, what he’s brought to this offense. He’s extremely aggressive. He’s as tough as they come in the pocket. He’s always looking for the big play.”
Harrison on rookie S Derwin James: “He’s been their best defensive player. What he’s been able to do, come in here and have the impact (as a rookie), is really very difficult. I didn’t start until my third season. He is a rookie doing all of this.”
Michaels on the abnormally warm temperature in Pittsburgh: “I was thinking about an aloha shirt tonight, but I couldn’t find one in the closet.”
Dungy on the Steelers recent struggles and the opportunity tonight: “Are they going to go out and play December football? Are they going to protect the football? Are they going to have no blown coverages? Or are they going to play sloppy like they have the last two weeks?”
Florio on Kareem Hunt: “This all started back in February when Hunt was accused of assaulting a woman in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel. The NFL investigated, but the NFL got nowhere. The alleged victim didn’t return phone calls from the league and the league couldn’t get its hands on a video tape. The hotel had it, but wouldn’t give it to the league. The hotel would have given it to law enforcement, but law enforcement didn’t want it, so the NFL really had nowhere to go by way of getting external evidence.
But the NFL didn’t talk to Kareem Hunt, and the league’s position is they wanted to get other evidence before bringing in Hunt to have that conversation. So, months pass and on Friday TMZ publishes the video of Hunt shoving and kicking the woman in the hallway of the Cleveland hotel.
Things move very quickly after that. The NFL put Kareem Hunt on the Commissioner Exempt List, which means suspended with pay. The Chiefs then quickly said they would be cutting Hunt, which they did officially on Saturday.
Now moving forward, the question is, what happens between now and Monday at 4 p.m. Eastern? That’s when other teams can claim the contract on waivers, and the one team to watch there, the Cleveland Browns. The GM of the Browns, John Dorsey, was the GM of the Chiefs when Hunt was drafted back in 2017.”
Florio on Kansas City pursuing a running back: “I’m told C.J. Anderson is going to visit the team, take a physical and maybe become the newest member of the Chiefs, and fill that spot that was vacated when Kareem Hunt was released.”
Dungy: “I’m always for second chances for guys who are repentant, who admit their mistakes and they’re remorseful, but I would not claim Kareem Hunt if I were coaching now because he lied to his coaches, he lied to his owner when he was asked directly about this – that would not sit well with me as a prospective coach.”
Dungy on the NFL not speaking to Hunt during its investigation: “I absolutely don’t understand that. When I was coaching, we had team rules, everybody has them. If one of my players was accused of breaking a team rule, the first thing I would do is go talk to him and ask him what happened. For the NFL to have this violation, or accused violation, of their personal conduct policy and no one ask him, I can’t fathom that.”
Tirico: “And to the question of what happens in the future, maybe a suggestion down the line: when you go on this Commissioner Exempt List, as Hunt is now, that puts a timeout on your transactions so teams can avoid this situation, like Washington, and go out and get a guy while this is all going on. Let’s just wait until the process plays out.”
Dungy on the firing of Mike McCarthy: “I’m extremely disappointed. This man won a Super Bowl for you. He’s coached playoff teams. They’ve been excellent. To not let him finish out the season, to me, it’s ridiculous…I just don’t think you treat a Super Bowl-winning coach like that.”
Harrison: “To me, the bottom line is, it was time. I know he’s a good guy, he had a lot of success, but I look at Aaron Rodgers – he was not playing with any enthusiasm. The offense was predictable … And I just look at the players’ body language. They just didn’t play with a level of enthusiasm.”
Harrison on Rams DT Aaron Donald: “Forget Defensive MVP, this guy should be MVP. He’s the best football player in the NFL. He should be able to win both.”
Dungy on home-field advantage in the playoffs: “And that home field is so important because we’re seeing these explosive high-flying offenses aren’t as great on the road. So, it’s incumbent on the Rams next week going to Chicago to play a big game, get a win, and stay on top.”
Dungy: “In the AFC, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, who is the best team? Everybody forgets about the Houston Texans. They’re the hottest team going, nine in a row today, playing great defense, and running the football; a forgotten formula in the NFL.”
Dungy: “Watch out for these Seahawks. They are gelling at just the right time.”
Harrison: “I think they’re done…I think it’s over for them.”
TAFOYA’S INTERVIEW WITH RIVERS, BOSA, ALLEN, AND LYNN
Tafoya: “The Los Angeles Chargers. How would you describe this team’s identity?”
Rivers: “I think our identity is really our togetherness, our toughness, our grit.”
Allen: “I’d say just domination…any way we can dominate.”
Lynn: “Tough football team. Tough.”
Bosa: “So many games we’ve been in for the past few years and we just couldn’t quite pull them out, and we’re finally finishing those games.”
Tafoya: “Who is the emotional heartbeat of this team?”
Lynn: “The emotional heartbeat? You know we have a few guys with a big heart, but emotional heartbeat would be Philip Rivers.”
Allen: “Phil definitely brings the passion.”
Tafoya: “I’m sure you are aware of the feeling out there – the Chargers are so talented and they come so close, but they always fall short…”
Rivers: “I think that there’s a little bit of that sense now…that we’ll go make a play. Whether it’s a sack, whether it’s a catch, we’re going to figure it out and make the plays we need to make and all the guys believe that.”
TRANSCRIPT OF NBC SPORTS’ TRIBUTE TO PAUL SHERWEN
“We pause now to remember a cherished friend and colleague here at NBC, our cycling analyst Paul Sherwen, died this morning at his home in Uganda at age 62. Paul was a two-time British National Cycling Champion in the 1980s whose love for the sport radiated through television screens for decades since. This past July was Paul’s 40th Tour de France — 7 as a competitor and 33 as a commentator. His warm, energetic style enlightened even the most informed viewers, and welcomed newcomers to the sport he loved and championed so much. Our thoughts are with his wife, Katherine, and two children. We’ll miss you, Paul.”
—FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA—