“I’ve been around a lot of crazy stories in the NFL in my 35 years covering the league. But the last nine months in the life of Antonio Brown is right up there.” – King on Antonio Brown
“Anyone who knows Jon Gruden knows he’s got to be frustrated over his best offensive weapon being disabled because of the freaky frostbite injury and fuming at Brown being AWOL.” – King
King Also Speaks with Sean Payton, Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur and DeAndre Hopkins
FMIA Also Features Training Camp Visits to the Steelers, Saints, Packers and Texans
STAMFORD, Conn. – August 12, 2019 – Peter King shares his thoughts on Oakland wide receiver Antonio Brown, who recently filed a grievance against the NFL to continue to wear his old helmet which goes against NFL protocol, in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com.
In addition, King continues his training camp tour with a stop in Pittsburgh, where he speaks with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin about his coaching future and the team’s outlook without Brown.
King also travels to New Orleans and receives a tour of the Saints’ new training facility from coach Sean Payton, visits Green Bay to talk with Aaron Rodgers and new head coach Matt LaFleur, and chats with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in Houston.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
ANTONIO BROWN’S HELMET
Peter King: “For Brown to be fighting this is just crazy. According to Adam Schefter, Brown had a two-hour grievance hearing Friday with an independent arbitrator, arguing that he should be able to wear a helmet he has been wearing for more than 10 years.”
King: “There isn’t much the league and players union agree on without reservation, but the current helmet protocol, the outgrowth of a $60-million investment by NFL owners in 2016 to improve helmet technology and reduce head trauma in players, is one of those things.”
Retired wide receiver Doug Baldwin on helmets: “If you have a helmet out there that is proven to be safer in a number of different ways, why wouldn’t you wear that helmet? In the grand scheme of things, I want to make sure I have all the marbles that I was born with to experience life and to enjoy life with my family and with my future children.”
King: “Anyone who knows Jon Gruden knows he’s got to be frustrated over his best offensive weapon being disabled because of the freaky frostbite injury and fuming at Brown being AWOL because the NFL is trying to make football safer for him.”
King: “The Steelers have to be the happiest team in the league right now. They don’t have a great player, but they do have a sane, undivided training camp.”
King: “I’ve been around a lot of crazy stories in the NFL in my 35 years covering the league. But the last nine months in the life of Antonio Brown is right up there.”
King: “Last year felt like mayhem from the start, with the Le’Veon Bell holdout marring the start and the Antonio Brown no-show in Week 17 marring the finish. Something had to give. That something was letting Bell walk, and the trade of Brown to Oakland. I think the Steelers are better off without both.”
King: “I’m bullish on the Steelers and the cheerful/optimistic Ben Roethlisberger – who, camp observers say, has been genuinely happy this summer – having a prolific season again…It’s understandable that he will miss the great Brown, but I also am told he is supremely motivated to prove he can be just as great without Brown than he was with him.”
Mike Tomlin on his future: “I love the job. I love the challenges it presents…In terms of longevity, I don’t think a lot about longevity. I just like to feel the urgency of now…I just want to be a really good football team here in 2019.”
Tomlin on the Steelers’ post-Antonio Brown era: “The winning, the losing, the challenges of the journey, is where the test will be. I feel really comfortable with this group, but time will tell with that story.”
SAINTS CAMP & NEW FACILITY
King on the Saints’ new facility: “It’s the kind of jewel, and this is the kind of team, that I believe could make Sean Payton a Saints lifer… The way Payton showed off this place for us, with such pride and excitement, I started to think he could grow old here, and be very happy.”
Payton on how the facility helps the team win: “I think what happens on the field is a byproduct of all the things that take place prior to the game – how we teach, how we practice, how we draft, how we put together a coaching staff. The facilities and the equipment sometimes is…affirmation that we’re committed to being real good. We’re committed to excellence.”
Payton on his 14-year tenure in New Orleans: “I think our game’s changed a lot and I think we’ve changed very quickly with it. How we teach a player today is a little different. The players are still coachable. I would say the player we identify with today who we feel like makes a good New Orleans Saint is the same player in ’06. That hasn’t changed.”
Payton: “The facility, it’s much like our computers. You might think you’ve got a recent one, and then in a very short period of time you’re like, [it’s obsolete]. It’s a little bit like those new Teslas. it’s fascinating.”
King: “Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur, vet quarterback and rookie coach…It’s got to be odd for LaFleur, who wants to play more of a tempo offense than Rodgers is used to, to come into Green Bay and tell one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, in his 15th NFL season, ‘Let’s do it this way.’”
LaFleur on his relationship with Rodgers: “From a play-caller’s mentality, I’ve always viewed that relationship as more of a partnership, because he plays the toughest position in all of sports, and you want to always be sure he’s comfortable with all that’s going on.”
Rodgers on LaFleur: “I tell him all the time, ‘You’re the boss.’ He usually retorts with the same, ‘No, it’s a partnership.’”
Rodgers on the new offense: “The NFL is a copycat league and there’s a lot of similar concepts. But it’s definitely different than the last 11 years and we’ve been doing. It’s fun. It’s stuff you’ve seen the Rams do and Atlanta do and San Fran. We all watch football. We’re all fans.”
Hopkins on how he trained his hands as a kid: “This is something I haven’t told many people, because it’s embarrassing. We always used to catch flies with our hands. I was the only one who could catch ‘em. One-handed, two-handed. I actually studied flies. I’d watch ‘em. ‘How do you catch flies?’ They fly up. If I can catch that, I can catch anything.”
Bill O’Brien on Hopkins: “There are games when he gets his jersey ripped off. Teams are so physical with him. What makes him special is so many plays are contested. People are draped on him, and he comes down with it.”
King: “I think the Texans need to trade for Washington left tackle Trent Williams, who is unhappy in Washington and threatening to not play this year. Houston’s time is now…He’d strengthen the only true weak point of this team.”
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 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 NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.
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