“The 2020 season isn’t art. It’s an endurance test.” – King on the impact of COVID on the NFL season
“The forfeit concept doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a part of the game. Lots of issues with it, even if a team suffers some positive tests by ignoring strict adherence to protocols.” – King on possible COVID-related forfeits
“Amazing to see that the 12-week AFC wild cards would be Cleveland, Miami and Indy – just ahead of Baltimore, Las Vegas, New England.” – King on the playoff picture
“The more I watch Henry, the more I think he’s got the physicality and the hole-picking of Earl Campbell. What power, and what balance.” – King on Titans RB Derrick Henry
STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 30, 2020 – Peter King discusses where the NFL stands in the COVID-impacted 2020 season in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also hands out his weekly awards, discusses the news and notes from around the league in Week 12, and remembers late Dallas Cowboys coach Markus Paul.
Across NBC Sports this week, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Week 12.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the 2020 season: “79 games left. Eyes on the prize. Eyes on 256, then 13 in the playoffs. Delays only mean more days to swab out positive tests. The 2020 season isn’t art. It’s an endurance test.”
King on Week 12 COVID storylines: “A head coach and two GMs were fired in a 28-hour span over the weekend, but COVID events blew those three headliners away. Baltimore being down 20 players going to Pittsburgh; Denver suddenly losing all four quarterbacks to COVID protocols…and the 49ers being told suddenly they were being booted out of their home because of county protocols and forced to find a new place to play.”
King on the NFL season: “The football’s been good, mostly. You know what’s struck me? Some of the best games have been played under pretty tough circumstances…Scoring’s up, penalties are down. Players seem happier not beating themselves up as much in practice.”
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to King: “The thing with virtual that helps a lot – it gives us time to be separated, to stay at home in our own comfortable space, avoiding COVID and also gives us time to rest our bodies, or do treatment while we’re in meetings. As far as my teammates and how we like it, so far we love it.”
King on the possibility of COVID-related forfeits: “The forfeit concept doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a part of the game. Lots of issues with it, even if a team suffers some positive tests by ignoring strict adherence to protocols. If a game’s not played, does the perpetrating team get a loss in the standings, and does its foe that week get a win just for having the good fortune of being on the schedule that week?”
King on Ravens-Steelers being postponed twice: “The changes were due to the virus infecting several players and staff members, and then not slowing down in time to play either Thursday or Sunday in the league’s estimation…I’ve been told the Ravens are okay with taking their medicine. They’d prefer, of course, to switch the game to Jan. 10, but also realize they don’t have much of a leg to stand on.”
REMEMBERING MARKUS PAUL
King on Paul: “I didn’t know Markus Paul, the Dallas strength and conditioning coordinator who died last Wednesday after suffering a medical emergency on the job Tuesday morning. But I’m blown away by the league-wide tributes to the man and the player (the man mostly)…Something about the tenor of hurt upon his death made me sad that I never got to meet or know Paul.”
Daryl Johnston, Paul’s teammate at Syracuse, to King: “As captains, I was the emotional one, he was the calm one. He was the voice of reason everyone went to…He was so great at disarming any situation with a huge smile and his voice of reason. I can tell you that most of the guys on that team really had Markus up on a pedestal and felt like I did: ‘Why can’t I be more like Markus?’”
Scott Pioli, a Syracuse graduate assistant when Paul played, to King: “I’ve been around football for a long time now. This might sound amazing because of my years in New England, but Markus and Daryl Johnston were the best two football captains, together, I’ve ever been around…Markus always talked people into doing the right thing.”
Michael Strahan, who played under Paul on the Giants, to King: “Markus just touched you. There was so much of him you admired. The smile, how he soothed you. We’ll miss him…[voice trailing off] Miss him.”
Cowboys DB Jourdan Lewis to King: “I’m just messed up right now. I was so close to him. He was more than just a coach. He taught me how to be a better athlete. But we’d finish lifting and a few us would just sit there, maybe for an hour or more, and listen to his stories. They were about football and his career, but also about life.”
WEEK 12 NEWS & NOTES
King on the current AFC playoff picture: “Amazing to see that the 12-week AFC wild cards would be Cleveland, Miami and Indy – just ahead of Baltimore, Las Vegas, New England.”
King on the Titans: “I think there are days, and Sunday was one of them, when I think Tennessee could beat Kansas City or Pittsburgh to reach the Super Bowl.”
King on the Buccaneers and Falcons: “Two very big things may depend on Tampa’s two meetings with Atlanta in the final three weeks of the season: a playoff berth for the Bucs, and the realistic chances of Raheem Morris to get the full-time gig with the Falcons.”
King on the field of available general managers: “Sense I get from conversations with two veteran team executives over the weekend: The field of general managers is better than the field of coaches.”
King on Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky: “If the Bears want to afford him one or two more chances that, pressed to the wall, he can discover something no one’s seen since 2018, I guess their mammoth investment in him is worth it. But it’s over for Trubisky in Chicago, barring a Hail Mary.”
King on the NFC East: “That Daniel Jones hamstring injury did not look good for the Giants. Nor did Colt McCoy in relief. With Washington about to embark on a three-week dungstorm of a schedule (at Pittsburgh, at San Francisco, Seattle), my guess is six wins takes the NFC East.”
King on the Jaguars: “Jaguars fire GM Dave Caldwell. That’s all? … Coming within 10 minutes of a Super Bowl in 2017, allowed Caldwell to hang around this long. A matter of time before the same fate befalls coach Doug Marrone.”
King on the Lions: “Nothing should be off the table for the moribund Lions, including divorcing Matthew Stafford. I’m not positive it should happen, but it’s crazy to say to new coach/GM candidates: You’ve got to keep Stafford…The simple fact is that sometimes in football, a franchise needs to be blown up.”
King on the Texans’ next head coach: “Though it’s a factor that the front office is in shambles and they’ll be at a major draft disadvantage with first and second-round picks in 2021 traded away, Deshaun Watson is a fantastic magnet. In the midst of all the Houston mayhem, Watson’s having his best year.”
KING’S WEEK 12 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City, Derrick Henry, Tennessee, Deshaun Watson, Houston, & Antonio Gibson, Washington.
King on Henry: “The more I watch Henry, the more I think he’s got the physicality and the hole-picking of Earl Campbell. What power, and what balance.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Jeremy Chinn, Carolina, Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers, Jimmie Ward, San Francisco, & Jabal Sheard, New York Giants.
King on Chinn: “What’s that saying about every time you watch a game you’ll see something you never saw before? Pretty sure the two-TDs-in-two-defensive-plays qualifies. What a day for Chinn in the awful 28-27 loss: 13 tackles too.”
Special Teams Players of the Week: Brandon Wilson, Cincinnati, & D.J. Wonnum, Minnesota.
King on Wilson: “For the second season in a row, Wilson, a sixth-round safety from Houston drafted in 2017, returned a kickoff for a touchdown…That single play kept the undermanned Bengals in the game.”
Coach of the Week: Arthur Smith, Tennessee (offensive coordinator).
King: “Remember the story I told you about Smith from training camp? GM Jon Robinson told me, “He zigs when the defense zags.” Such an apt description of Smith.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- Football Night in America: Week 12 Recap with Ahmed Fareed, Rodney Harrison, Chris Simms and Mike Florio
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show 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, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss Week 12 and look ahead to Week 13.
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.