“COVID-19 has the NFL in its grips, the same as it had Major League Baseball on its knees in late July…it’s the omnipresence of the disease that dogs every team, every day.” – King
“This is going to get hard. People have to realize it’s very likely that not every team will play 16 games.” – A team official to King on COVID-related scheduling changes
“If we have a game postponed and be inconvenienced that way, it’s miniscule compared to the bigger issue.’” – Broncos head coach Vic Fangio on COVID-10 and scheduling changes impacting his team
STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 12, 2020 – Peter King outlines the timeline of Sunday’s events which led to the NFL’s COVID-related scheduling changes, and recaps the news from Week 5 in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also hands out his weekly awards and speaks with Broncos head coach Vic Fangio after Denver’s Week 5 game was postponed.
Across NBC Sports this week, Peacock’s daily NFL programming 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. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Week 5.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
SUNDAY’S COVID-19 SCHEDULING CHANGES
King: “COVID-19 has the NFL in its grips, the same as it had Major League Baseball on its knees in late July. Even though the league’s had only 80 positive tests in daily testing of the league 2,460 players and far more team and league staffers in 11 weeks, it’s the omnipresence of the disease…that dogs every team, every day.”
King on Sunday morning: “7:30 a.m.…In a conference call with commissioner Roger Goodell, the 10 or so NFL senior staffers present get briefed by NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills, who talks about the two new positives.”
King on the NFL’s planning for potential schedule changes: “Football Ops executive vice president Troy Vincent had gone over scenarios with several teams on Friday in case of positives with Tennessee and New England…Now the TV folks would go over changes with the networks, football ops would go over changes with all the affected teams, and all would report back in a few hours to be sure all changes were okay before the league would announce them.”
King on how Broncos head coach Vic Fangio communicated to his team after Denver’s game vs. New England was postponed Sunday morning: “Fangio does three things: cancels the Broncos’ 7:30 a.m. special teams meeting, calls for a full-squad and organization team meeting in the middle of the team’s practice field outside for 8:15 a.m. MT, and tries to figure out what he’ll tell the team – including about how Denver’s bye week has disappeared.”
Fangio on the impact of scheduling changes: “In a weird way, I’m really happy it’s happening for our team. It identifies the whiners – who are the whiners. Who can’t handle adversity?…We want people who deal with this without the whining, who take this inconvenience as an opportunity to get better.”
Fangio on the impact of the virus: “My daughter works as a nurse at a military hospital in San Antonio. She’s in the military and she came down with COVID because she’s a nurse at a hospital…I’m just thankful that she has fully recovered from that. So, you know, that’s why I don’t get worked up about this stuff…If we have a game postponed and be inconvenienced that way, it’s miniscule compared to the bigger issue.”
One team official to King: “It’s a bad day, because we’ll have to move a bunch of games. But people have to realize the scale of what we are. We have been testing now for 10-plus weeks, and we have 80 positives. [It’s almost 11 weeks, and 85 positives.] And in our ecosystems, we have vulnerabilities…This is going to get hard. People have to realize it’s very likely that not every team will play 16 games.”
King on the Titans playing Tuesday night vs. the Bills: “Think of pandemic football. Think of what an accomplishment it would be if the 3-0 Titans (assuming they play) win Tuesday night against the 4-0 Bills…Tennessee hasn’t had a regular football practice in 17 days. The Titans worked out twice over the weekend…but neither could be considered normal.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday’s news: “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this NFL Sunday had more news than any NFL Sunday.”
WEEK 5 NEWS & NOTES
King on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s injury: “It was a Theismann-like bend and break…It was such an emotional moment. So many players from both teams looking crushed…One of the best quarterbacks in football would be in surgery within three hours of this moment, and would have questions haunting him about his return to football.”
King on Prescott: “Prescott was in a contentious contract dispute with the Cowboys, but he never allowed it to be bitter from his end…The sentiment everywhere Sunday night was how much people loved this fourth-round pick who rose to the occasion when Tony Romo got hurt and was lost a few months after Prescott was drafted. Pretty great, for the 135th pick in the draft in 2016.”
King on Washington QB Alex Smith returning to play: “What a moment. At the two-minute warning of the first half of Rams-Washington, Alex Smith entered the game to play football for the first time in 23 months…I think the race for comeback player of the year is over.”
King on Saints WR Michael Thomas, who reportedly punched a teammate at practice: “Hearing a lot about this, including the fact that teammates backed (C.J.) Gardner-Johnson in the practice dispute, and that this is a suspension more than another week off to rest an ankle injury…Thomas caught more balls last year than any receiver in history in one season, and his chemistry with Drew Brees is notable. The Saints need his greatness.”
Steelers rookie WR Chase Claypool, a native of Canada, to King after his four-TD performance: “Even though I watched the NFL growing up, the CFL was more attainable and more realistic. You see the Canadian guys in the CFL, but you don’t hear much about the Canadian guys going to the NFL and doing well.”
King on the Falcons firing head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff: “Quinn’s teams never seemed to recover from the horror of blowing the 28-3 lead to the Patriots; since that night, the Falcons are 25-30, and Quinn really is fortunate he got as long as he did to try to turn this around.”
KING’S WEEK 5 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Alex Smith, Washington, Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh, Robby Anderson, Carolina, & Derek Carr, Las Vegas.
King on Smith: “An incredible comeback story played out in Washington, regardless of the 30-10 loss.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams, & Patrick Queen, Baltimore.
King on Donald: “Another ridiculous day by a transcendent player… Amazing to see week after week that everyone knows Donald has a good chance to wreck the game, and yet he keeps wrecking them.”
Special Teams Players of the Week: Isaiah Rogers, Indianapolis, & Graham Gano, New York Giants.
King on Rogers: “The sixth-round rookie from UMass kept the Colts in the game at Cleveland with the longest play in the NFL this season, a nifty 101-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the third quarter.”
Coach of the Week: Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland.
King: “This is all you need to know about this award this week: The Cleveland Browns are averaging 38 points a game in their recent 4-0 run.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- Football Night in America: Week 5 Recap with Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, 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 and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET on Peacock.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss Week 5 and look ahead to Week 6.
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.