FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, December 27th, 2015

NOTES & QUOTES FROM FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA – WEEK 16

 “Yes, I probably will. I’m that angry.” – Peter King reporting what Peyton Manning said to him in response to a question about whether Manning would sue Al Jazeera

“I would be shocked if it was true for one overriding reason — his feeling of responsibility for young people.” – Tony Dungy on the Peyton Manning HGH story

“We always talk about people outsmarting themselves when they play against Bill Belichick. Guess what, he out smarted himself.” — Rodney Harrison on Bill Belichick’s decision to kick off to start overtime

 “The Jets are built for playoff football.” – Hines Ward

 “It’s the best thing to happen to them. It takes a lot of pressure off them.” – Harrison on the Panthers’ first loss of the season

“That’s as good a defense as we’ve seen. That was an overwhelming performance.” – Dan Patrick on the Cardinals’ defense

STAMFORD, Conn. – December 27, 2015 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., and was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, and NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward.

Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched weekly studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insiders Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBCSports.com, and Peter King. Carolyn Manno reported from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on the Packers-Cardinals game.

NBC Sports NHL commentators Kathryn Tappen and Mike Milbury reported from Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots and the site of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. The annual outdoor game will be played this Friday on New Year’s Day between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America:

ON THE PEYTON MANNING HGH STORY

King: “I talked to Manning and he said to me, ‘I did not take or receive human growth hormone.’ He also refused to discuss anything about his wife’s medical condition or whether she received anything from this clinic. And I asked Manning if he intended to sue Al Jazeera over this report and he said to me, ‘Yes, I probably will. I’m that angry.’”

Florio: “It would be a case for defamation of character. For public figures, it’s a very high standard. Also, the pre-trial discovery process allows that plaintiff’s life to be an open book. Just ask Roger Clemens, it turned his life upside down when he filed a defamation case several years ago. The actions that are attributed to Manning are technically violations of the law, but from the NFL perspective it gets a little murky. The NFL’s had no comment on this. Don’t be surprised if they investigate. But two important facts to keep in mind here: first, back in 2011 there was no testing for HGH; and, during the lockout, from March through July, there arguably was no rule against HGH use because the players weren’t employed by the NFL.”

King: “Both Manning and the operator of the anti-aging clinic maintained today that the informant worked at the clinic only in 2013. I talked to the Al Jazeera reporter late this afternoon who did this story and she told me that they have confirmation from the clinic that the informant’s employment records say that he worked there in 2011.”

Dungy: “I would be shocked if it was true for one overriding reason — his feeling of responsibility for young people. He and I talked a lot when things would happen, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, that story in baseball, and we had other issues in football. He knows that he’s a role model for young people, for young kids. I just don’t think he would do it for those reasons because he knows what it means to young people that look up to him.”

Harrison on being suspended for HGH use for a groin injury in 2007: “I used it. I never had an issue with my groin ever again. It wasn’t smart. I put a foreign substance in my body and I don’t know the long-term effects. I have a black cloud over my career. I played 15 years and that doesn’t feel good. That’s embarrassing. But also I look at the kids, my kids and the kids that look up to me, and now I have to tell them why I did it. Maybe I can use this opportunity to let them know it’s not worth it, point blank, period. It’s just not worth it.”

Patrick: “And you got great advice to tell the truth.”

Harrison: “Mr. Kraft, the best advice I got…he pulled me to the side and said, ‘Rodney, this is my only piece of advice. I will support you, as long as you tell the truth. Make sure when those investigators come in here, you tell the truth.’ That’s the same advice I would give Peyton Manning.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/peyton-manning-will-probably-sue-al-jazeera-hgh-report

ON PATRIOTS

Harrison on Bill Belichick’s decision to kick off in overtime: “I’m always putting the ball in Tom Brady’s hands, especially with a healthy Rob Gronkowski.”

Dungy on the poor offensive line play: “This is why Bill Belichick elected to kick off to start that overtime. He wanted to play defense because Brady was under so much pressure.”

Harrison on offensive line struggles: “Moving forward in the playoffs, you’re going to face Kansas City, you’re going to face the Denver Broncos, teams that can get to the quarterback. If I’m Bill Belichick, I’m highly concerned.”

Dungy on if he agreed with Belichick’s overtime kickoff strategy: “I really do. I thought it was good strategy — play defense and then you can win with a field goal from (Stephen) Gostkowski.”

Harrison: “Play defense, with all those different weapons that they have, those big wide-receivers? No, you’ve got Tom Brady, you’ve got the best quarterback possibly in the history of football, and you’ve got a healthy Rob Gronkowski. And we always talk about people outsmarting themselves when they play against Bill Belichick. Guess what, he out smarted himself.”

ON JETS

Ward: “The Jets are built for playoff football. They have a good defense and a balanced offense…I think they have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The problem is I don’t know if I can trust Ryan Fitzpatrick down the stretch. He’s a little too inconsistent. He’s having a great year, but I don’t know if I can trust him.”

ON CHIEFS

Collinsworth on Andy Reid: “One of the great coaching jobs we’ve seen in sometime. That team was done. They were on the deck and out, and now they’re in the playoffs.”

Dungy: “No one is going to want to play these guys…I like these guys in the playoffs.”

Harrison on Alex Smith: “He is a threat running the ball, a legitimate threat.”

Harrison on Arrowhead Stadium: “Loudest place I’ve ever played.”

ON STEELERS

Collinsworth: “The Ravens won their Super Bowl today and may have knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs.”

Harrison on why they lost: “They were still celebrating last week’s win against the Denver Broncos and they took this team lightly.”

ON PANTHERS LOSS

Harrison: “It’s the best thing to happen to them. It takes a lot pressure off them. They no longer have to worry about answering questions about an undefeated season.”

Dungy: “This loss shows, for the rest of the NFC, how to beat Carolina. You’ve got to be able to protect your passer.”

ON FALCONS

Dungy: “Usually when the Carolina Panthers play, we’re talking about Cam Newton, the MVP (candidate), but today Julio Jones was the best player on the field.”

ON CARDINALS

Collinsworth: “Who’s playing better right now than the Arizona Cardinals? This team, offensively right now, is just so explosive.”

Dungy: “This is what Dwight Freeney has brought. They don’t have to blitz to get pressure.”

Patrick: “That’s as good a defense as we’ve seen. That was an overwhelming performance.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/carson-palmer-calls-cardinals-defense-phenomenal-vs-packers

ON PACKERS

Harrison: “I’m starting to get a little nervous. That could be a team that goes one-and-done in the playoffs.”

ON TEXANS

Harrison reacting to J.J. Watt’s post-game comments on their victory: “Relax, J.J. Watt. You just beat Tennessee with a backup quarterback.” (laughter)

Harrison: “This is a team I still don’t believe in with Brandon Weeden (at quarterback). You cannot get me to believe in the Houston Texans.”

ON RAMS

Harrison on Rams being 2-0 vs. Seahawks this year: “They’re not afraid of them…When they go on the road or if they play at home, they know they match up well with them because of that speed they have.”

Dungy: “Good physical running game, they don’t put a lot on the quarterback, and they have a fast enough defensive line to chase Russell Wilson down. That gives (Seattle) problems.”

Patrick: “It’s got to be frustrating for Rams fans to see this and say, where is this all season long? That defense, the running game.”

ON SEAHAWKS

Harrison: “Because they made the playoffs, it didn’t seem like they came out with that sense of urgency.”

ON LIONS

Harrison on Calvin Johnson’s status with team: “He’s not the same player we’re used to seeing and at the same time he’s making so much money. They need offensive line help to protect Matthew Stafford because that’s your prized asset.”

Dungy: “If I’m Jim Caldwell, the first person I want to see back is myself.” (laughter)

ON GIANTS

Collinsworth on last week’s Odell Beckham-Josh Norman situation: “Tom Coughlin could have halted the thing, but let’s face it, we saw both of those players on several occasions looking at the referees and going…do something here.”

Dungy on if Coughlin should return: “The problem is not with Tom Coughlin and his coaching, they just don’t have any defensive playmakers and that’s been their problem all year.”

Harrison: “I have to disagree…They have too many issues in the locker room. Whether it was JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), dealing with that situation, whether it’s the defensive lineman that got cut over the headphones (Damontre Moore), the way he handled Odell Beckham, I just don’t think his message is getting throughout the locker room…It’s time for a change. He’s 70 years old; he had a storied career, a future Hall of Famer. It’s time for a different voice in that locker room…They haven’t made the playoffs in four years. I’m not trying to get the man fired or anything like that, but at the same time it’s all about accountability.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/what-part-did-refs-play-odell-beckham-jr-josh-norman-events

ON VIKINGS

Harrison on Teddy Bridgewater: “If they expect to go far in the playoffs, they’re going to have to ride him, not Adrian Peterson, as crazy as that may sound.”

FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA