Column Includes Memories from King’s Last Interview with the Late Packers Quarterback
“We appreciate and remember one of the great quarterbacks of a bygone era, a five-time world champion, a man who must not be forgotten when the roll is called for the all-time great quarterbacks.” – King
FMIA Also Features a Talk with Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden and a Look at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Upcoming Tribute to Former NBC Sports Executive Dick Ebersol
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 28, 2019 – Peter King’s latest edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, remembers Packers quarterback Bart Starr, who passed away Sunday morning at the age of 85.
The column also features highlights from King’s conversation with Oakland head coach Jon Gruden on draft weekend, when the two discussed the Raiders’ offseason, their draft strategy and how the Antonio Brown trade came together.
FMIA includes praise for former NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol as he prepares to accept the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award later this summer and King’s belief that the NFL may miss a potentially historic opportunity to play a regular-season game in Canton, Ohio in 2020.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
REMEMBERING HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK BART STARR
King: “In his last interview – and that is a stretch, really, because the ‘interview’ was 23 courageous and arduous words long, and it lasted well over an hour – Bart Starr tried to accomplish his goal just as hard as he tried to burrow in for the biggest touchdown in the history of the Green Bay Packers in the Ice Bowl. Two strokes, a heart attack and a brain-scrambling disease called aphasia can make uttering 23 words like climbing Kilimanjaro.”
King: “I had come to Birmingham to convey the level of the relationship between Aaron Rodgers, 34, and Starr, 84. Though they were a half-century apart in age, they had a bond… This (interview) was for Aaron. Anything for Aaron. Bart and Cherry Starr, his wife of 64 years, loved Aaron Rodgers… he would try to say:
You are a strong leader
Cherry and I are admiring you
Because you are one of the finest men we have ever met.”
Aaron Rodgers on getting a letter of encouragement from Starr in 2008: “It meant so much, coming from a man who had been in my shoes with this team. I was a big football fan, and big Packer fan. Here was Bart Starr, writing to me. It always meant a lot to me, because I knew I had the support of one of the greatest players of all time.”
King: “Today, we appreciate and remember one of the great quarterbacks of a bygone era, a five-time world champion, a man who must not be forgotten when the roll is called for the all-time great quarterbacks… I say we should remember just as well the grace and determination and humanity of Bart Starr.”
A CONVERSATION WITH JON GRUDEN
Gruden on Raiders’ 2019 first-round pick, running back Josh Jacobs: “There’s a lot of untapped football in there that no one’s seen yet. We felt he was one of the top players in the draft, honestly.”
Gruden on the rumors that the Raiders wanted to draft a quarterback: “We all loved Kyler Murray. That doesn’t mean we were gonna take him… There was a lot of speculation that we were gonna take a quarterback. I kept watching a guy on NFL Network saying we’re going up to get Murray. Then he says we’re going up to get Haskins. Then he says we’re going up to get Lock. We’re trading Carr. I don’t understand it.”
Gruden on the Antonio Brown trade: “We’re at this nice event, I got my wife… They got beautiful makeup on, beautiful dresses on. But me and Mike Mayock are over there at the event, working on a trade for Antonio Brown. ‘What’s the deal, man? We getting him?’ It was great though.”
PRAISE FOR DICK EBERSOL
King: “Kudos are in order for Dick Ebersol, the longtime NBC Sports executive who, along with Denver owner Pat Bowlen, invented the Sunday night football package that now has been the king of prime-time TV for eight years running. (“Sunday Night Football” has been the highest-rated TV show in the country every year since 2011.)”
King: “Bowlen wanted NBC to get the package, I’ve always thought, because he knew Ebersol could deliver Al Michaels and John Madden in the booth in 2006, and Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth in the studio. It took some wrangling on a lot of levels to make that foursome the key to the NBC talent pool, but Ebersol made it happen.”
King: “I think moving the best prime-time game of the week from Monday to Sunday probably will be what people remember about Ebersol and the NFL. But I have always thought the most important thing for TV fans was flex scheduling… Ebersol was insistent that NBC and the league have the ability to be able to change the game that looked like stinkers to more competitive or more attractive affairs.”
Read the rest of the column here.
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.
—FOOTBALL MORNING IN AMERICA—