“It’s a shame…He just can’t help himself.” – Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians to King on Antonio Brown
“They are the 21 days that should have tried Rams’ souls. Instead, these last 21 days revived Rams’ souls.” – King on Rams winning last four games
“I’d say it’s Aaron Rodgers with a dental-floss-thin lead over Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor and Tom Brady.” – King on the MVP race entering Week 18
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STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 3, 2022 – Peter King discusses the situation surrounding wide receiver Antonio Brown and recaps being on-site for the Rams’ win at Baltimore in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, pays tribute to John Madden and Dan Reeves, hands out his Week 17 awards, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the Buccaneers and head coach Bruce Arians: “Arians took a big gamble with Brown last year, and he made a significant contribution to a Super Bowl win. Arians took a bigger gamble this year after Brown used a phony vaccination card, got suspended for three games by the league, and the Bucs allowed him to stay on the team post-ban…Now there’s no turning back for either man.”
King: “It’d be stunning if Brown, barring a major turnaround in his life, got another chance in the league after blowing this golden one and his previous three with the Steelers, Raiders and Patriots. And Arians will be forever known as the man who drew his line in the sand, then changed his mind on Brown, and got burned by Sunday’s insubordination…Brown may need professional help, but it’s impossible to project that from the outside. What he did Sunday was irrational and almost scary.”
Arians to King on Brown: “It’s a shame. I feel bad for him. He just can’t help himself.”
King on the sideline incident leading to Brown leaving the field in the third quarter: “Arians said he asked Brown to go back in the game. According to Arians, Brown said, ‘Nope. I’m not going in.’ … Whatever the reason, Arians told me he was ‘very’ angry with Brown, who went to the bench area and began taking off his jersey and pads.”
Arians on Brown’s reaction and if other players were aware: “He had that look in his eye that I haven’t seen for a long time…I don’t think Tom (Brady) knew. I knew and Mike Evans knew, but if anyone else did, I don’t know that. We kept playing the game.”
Arians on the Buccaneers come-from-behind win over the Jets: “It’s all a credit to Tom (Brady). Give the Jets credit. They played their asses off, but Tom never blinked. He’s the MVP of this league.”
King on the Buccaneers receiving corps: “Prime wideout Chris Godwin, out for the year with a knee injury, and now Brown, are two of Brady’s favorites – and maybe THE favorites. Without them, look for Brady to work long hours with (Cyril) Grayson, Jaelon Darden and Tyler Johnson to be sure they’re ready when the postseason begins.”
LOS ANGELES RAMS
King: “They are the 21 days that should have tried Rams’ souls. Instead, these last 21 days revived Rams’ souls…Forty players, coaches and football staff – more than any team in the league – tested positive for Covid…With all that, the Rams had to go 4-0 in this stretch to have a realistic chance to pass 10-2 Arizona and be in position to win the division.”
King on the Rams’ Week 17 win: “Facing the Ravens on Sunday at the big Crabcake, the Rams’ crazy 20-19 win – keyed by superstar acquisitions Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. – finished the crazy schedule stretch…Going 4-0 in that three-week stretch is one of the great accomplishments this season by any NFL team, particularly in the hazy time of the record number of Covid positives.”
Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth to King on dealing with Covid issues: “The blessing in disguise over the last three weeks is we’ve got guys playing that never played. We’re relying on guys that we’ve never had to rely on before. There’s almost this adversity, this belief system of anybody can get in there and we can be okay…It’s made us have this little resolve that maybe we didn’t have as early in the year. We were a good team, but maybe something was missing. We’re more complete.”
King on the Rams’ Covid issues: “The Rams are thriving in this ridiculous time. And about 35 of their players, having tested positive in December, now do not have to test through the end of the season…Think how handy that will be if the Rams advance in the playoffs. Half the roster can practice and play with an uncluttered mind.”
King: “The Rams aren’t perfect. Matthew Stafford turned it over three times for the second straight game Sunday…But it seems the more the Rams play together, the more they go into a sort of happy survival mode. Vets like Miller and Beckham both seem so happy to be on a contender, and their play reflects it.”
King on Rams WR Cooper Kupp: “As the Rams retained control of first place in the NFC West Sunday with the 20-19 win in Baltimore, the play of wideout Cooper Kupp continues to be one of the stories of the year in the NFL…Kupp is the NFL’s best receiver in 2021, and he’s also just what they thought they drafted in 2017 – a receiver with a quarterback’s ability to see the field in an egalitarian way.”
WEEK 17 NEWS & NOTES
King on John Madden: “I got a lucky break early in my sophomore year at Sports Illustrated, 1990. John Madden agreed to let me ride with him on his bus, his Hyatt suite on wheels, from his home in the East Bay near Oakland to his apartment at the Dakota in New York City. Three thousand miles…When you’re together for 55 hours, captive in a comfy silver tube, it tends to promote interesting conversation.”
King on Madden and his cross-country travels on the bus: “He thought all people who wanted to work in public life should see the country like this. He was maniacal about it. After taking the trip, I agreed wholeheartedly. Today in particular. That was Madden. He wasn’t a political person. But he opened his eyes. He was an observer of the human condition, and he liked what he saw.”
King on Dan Reeves & his Pro Football Hall of Fame case as a player and coach: “Reeves deserves a bust in Canton…The Hall asks voters to vote for coaches as coaches, and players as players. The twain does not converge…It seems silly to separate a person’s accomplishments.”
King on Giants head coach Joe Judge: “I’m re-thinking my categorical statement that Joe Judge should be back coaching the Giants next year…John Mara has to give serious consideration to blowing it all up again. I’m not saying he absolutely should. I’m saying I now think everything is on the table about the Giants future.”
King on the MVP race: “One week to go, and I’d say it’s Aaron Rodgers with a dental-floss-thin lead over Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor and Tom Brady.”
KING’S WEEK 17 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati, Tom Brady, Tampa Bay, & Trey Lance, San Francisco.
King on Chase: “His 11-catch, 266-yard (a single-game club record for yards by a receiver), three-TD game was huge in the Bengals’ biggest statement win in years, 34-31 over the formerly top-seed Kansas Citians…Get used to it. The Bengals sure look like they’re here to stay.”
King on Lance: “There’s so much riding on Lance’s play as the sun sets on this season, and San Francisco would like to have a good feeling entering Lance’s sophomore year.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Robert Quinn, Chicago, & Chandler Jones, Arizona.
King on Quinn: “The Bears’ leader and team conscience proved he still had a great season in him after getting just two sacks in his first Bear season in 2020.”
Special Teams Player of the Week: Andre Roberts, Los Angeles Chargers.
King: “With the Chargers holding a 20-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, Roberts ended any hope Denver had of coming back (it was slim) by breaking a 101-yard return for a touchdown. He also had a 47-yard return for the Chargers.”
Coach of the Week: Shane Bowen, Tennessee.
King: “What a rude awakening for the Dolphins, who came into Nashville with playoff hopes alive thanks to a seven-game win streak. Bowen designed a plan that held Miami to 256 yards, sacked Tua Tagovailoa four times and pressured him 11 more.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.