Thursday, January 29th, 2015


JAN. 28, 2015

3 P.M. ET

CHRIS MCCLOSKEY:  Welcome to NBC Sports Super Bowl XLIX Pregame Show conference call.  We’re joined by NBC Sports Executive Producer and pregame show producer, Sam Flood; pregame show co‑host, Dan Patrick; two‑time Super Bowl winners, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison.  Just one note, Dan Patrick is only with us for a limited time about 15 or 20 minutes, so if you have a question to Dan, please try to get it in early.

Also, we know that we did publicize that Bob Costas was going to join us, but unfortunately he had a last‑minute conflict and is unable to be on with us today.  We’ll begin with a moment with some opening remarks from our speakers and then a Q & A.

Let’s begin with opening remarks from executive producer, Sam Flood.


SAM FLOOD:  Thanks for joining us.  We’re incredibly excited about doing this game, this match‑up which seemed to be heading in that direction as the season came to the back end.  Rodney had Seattle in the Super Bowl the opening Thursday night of the season.  Tony came around a little bit later in the season, but Harbaugh was right there.

Our coverage plan has been going on for a long time.  We’ve been having meetings.  We had four surveys out here in Arizona as we built our plan for this, and then the real hard work started AFC Championship weekend where Rodney and a group of us were in New England to start doing feature stories for the Patriots, and Tony and a group was out in Seattle, and they spent four days out there in Seattle doing stories, talking to the Coach, talking to key players and putting together the elements that will tell the story of this game.

Rodney was in comfortable territory in New England doing some of his interviews, including something with two great defensive backs, Darrelle Revis and Rodney on the field talking about how to play this game, so a ton of neat elements.

Obviously, there is a story that’s taken over the Super Bowl a bit with DeflateGate.  It’s a developing story, and we’ll have appropriate coverage as the day progresses on Super Bowl Sunday.  Throughout our six hours, we’ll make sure we have the right amount of coverage and touch all issues surrounding that developing story.

Yesterday, Bob sat down for an interview with Tom Brady and the great Dan Patrick sat down with Russell Wilson.  Those will be signature interviews at the back end of the show.  The two star quarterbacks will be the back end of the show.

Dan has been out here since Saturday with the Dan Patrick Show. Anyone that hasn’t seen it yet on the NBC Sports Network, you should tune in.  The set they have across the street from the stadium here is stunning.  Both Tony and Rodney have been on the show already.  It’s a really neat place to have fun, see horses riding around, and hopefully at some point Dan will jump on a horse, because there is a visual we all want to have as blackmail material.

I pass it off now to the great Dan Patrick.  Dan?


DAN PATRICK:  Thank you, Sam.  Got out here on Friday and just taking the temperature of this city, not necessarily literally but figuratively, but the excitement once again, because it reminds us of when we were out here when Rodney was still playing in one of the great Super Bowl games of all time.  Even discussing that with Rodney today it’s still fresh in his memory.  It still hurts, but that’s what I love about with Tony and Rodney.  I get that feeling, they put me in the game.

We had Tony recreate his locker room speech on my radio show, and just that ability to be able to hopefully put them at ease to give our audience something that they can take away that’s different than other shows is what we try to do.  If it’s deflate-gate or Marshawn Lynch at media day, they’re topics that everyone is looking to find something that’s different or the next step.  Where are we taking you?  What’s different?  What is the perspective we’re going to give you?  That is the challenge ahead.  It’s been the challenge, and it will continue to be the challenge, but I’m excited.

I was actually asked how many Super Bowls I’ve covered.  I’ve lost track, which I don’t know what that says about me, but I’ve been fortunate to be around for a lot of these great moments and to be able to have Dan Marino on today and talk about his loss to Joe Montana who joins us tomorrow.  That’s what’s great, you get to revisit, but also take those who played before and ask them about who is playing now.

Tony likened Russell Wilson to a Joe Montana and this was early in the season, and I nearly came out of my chair because I’m thinking, wow, he’s putting him in the Joe Montana category?  And we’re seeing with two Super Bowl appearances in three years, maybe two victories, Tom Brady’s legacy with where he stands and Rodney telling me about how he would defend Tom Brady.  That’s fun stuff.  Exciting stuff, and hopefully that will resonate with the audience on Super Bowl Sunday.


TONY DUNGY:  I was out in Seattle for four days, and the thing that struck me, is this is a team that’s very confident.  I competed against the Patriots a lot.  They’re a confident group.  They know how they do things and they expect the other things to kind of adapt to them.  I got the same sense from the Seahawks.  We’ve been built a certain way.  We play our defense.  We’re going to play our offense and run the ball and throw play‑action passes and do what we do.  I think it’s going to be a tremendous match‑up, but I was really impressed by the mental toughness and the camaraderie and the confidence of that Seattle group.


RODNEY HARRISON:  Yes, I spent some time out in New England in the divisional game as well as the AFC Championship game.  It gave me an opportunity to meet with some of the coaches and meet with a lot of the players as well as the staff.  One message that they continue to tell me each and every week is that you would like this group of guys.  They’re tough.  They’re mentally tough.  They’re physically tough.  It’s a close‑knit group, and they always liken it back to the days of ’03 and ’04 when we won back‑to‑back championships, and even Coach Belichick told me the same thing.  He said you would really enjoy this group.

Obviously, there is a distraction with Deflate-Gate going on and the one message whether it was Tom Brady or Vince Wilfork, they said we’re close and we don’t allow the outside distractions take away from our focus.

Bill Belichick from day one, he preaches staying focused and not worrying about the outside distractions.  I think this will bring them closer as a team.  I’ve had a chance to talk to a lot of players and what they’re doing is they’re using this as a rally cry.  They’re coming together.  They’re a close‑knit group, and they’re excited about the opportunity they have on Sunday.  It should be a great game.


For those of us watching Super Bowl before Tom Brady was born, is it truly enough to do in a new way or do you follow a somewhat familiar formula that the networks do and try to give people a good show and not worry about reinventing the wheel? 

DAN PATRICK:  I think there are certain topics and you have to understand what audience you have and what time do you have it during the day?  We’re a lot broader before we start in the first couple of hours, and then all of a sudden, you get two hours to kick off, and it changes.  You almost put your game face on.  And you’re also, and I think we prided ourselves on Football Night in America of trying to give you a different perspective.  Not to say the other shows don’t do this, but our objective is we treat you with the respect that you already know the game.  Now we want to add to that.

We don’t take it for granted that you’re going to know everything about Deflate-Gate, but even if you’re new to this or your wife or girlfriend or your mom is watching it, at least put it in layman’s terms for you to understand why this is a big deal, so that’s the goal.  I think there are formulaic ways to go about this. Also, with Sam Flood and Mark Lazarus, they have allowed us to color outside the lines and say what else do you have?  Who do you want to bring in?  If you have Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir and they’re on the red carpet, that’s just fun.  Then it gets towards game time, and Rodney’s on the field with Darrelle Revis.

I sit down with Russell Wilson, and he puts you right into a game against New England in his rookie season that really changed his career.  Bob is asking Tom Brady about Deflate-Gate, the appropriate time, the appropriate questions, and hopefully it will show through on Sunday.


SAM FLOOD:  I think Dan said it beautifully, and that’s what we’re trying to do is tell good stories and entertain people. The closer we get to the game the more we are locked and loaded on this football game, and giving people the key things to look at with Tony and Rodney.  The addition of Coach John Harbaugh adds a really unique element to this. Then we’ve got our Super Bowl MVP in Hines Ward who is going to have some good insights as well.  It’s a nice mix of talent to be able to accomplish all of this. Again, we’ve got some entertainment elements that are different.  Dude Perfect was out with Odell Beckham and Hines Ward with some incredible trick shot stuff.

If you’ve ever Googled Dude Perfect, imagine what will happen once they air this on the Super Bowl pregame show.  They usually get about 5 million hits per element that they do.  I will bet they’re over for what they do on Sunday.


DAN PATRICK:  I wanted to add one more thing, being around Rodney and Tony, they don’t know they have a treasure trove of information, stories, tidbits, and this brings it out in them.  I’m sure it will be powerful for Rodney to return to the scene of the crime.  Tony telling me the storey of how he wanted to send a message to Devin Hester when they kicked off the Colts against the Bears, and he was determined they were going to put a hit on Devin Hester and knock him down and say welcome to the Super Bowl.  Hester 13 seconds later is in the end zone.

Just to get that kind of feel from them, and they’ll have more of that and even John Harbaugh with his Super Bowl experiences.  I don’t even know what to expect from him.  But I will tell you, Super Bowl Sunday brings out something different in the analysts, because it takes them back to when they were there.


Tony and Rodney, with this whole Deflate-Gate going on, does it make you view Bill Belichick’s accomplishments in a different light? 

TONY DUNGY:  I’ll speak to that first.  No, I don’t view anything different now because you have to find out what happened.  I think there are a lot of assumptions or possibilities.  No one knows.  I wouldn’t form an opinion one way or another until the facts come out.

RODNEY HARRISON:  I’ve known Bill Belichick over a decade.  Everything, all our interactions and everything that he’s ever told me or said to me, it’s always been with the highest integrity.  He’s always been very truthful and honest with me, and I have no other reason to believe otherwise.  We’ll see what happens day to day, different things are coming out, but for now I love Bill Belichick, I trust him, and I think you saw that in his speech.  He was very emotional, and he was direct.



Rodney, the fact that he’s come out so strongly, do you think Bill Belichick cares about the way he’s portrayed and the way he’s viewed?

RODNEY HARRISON:  Well, he’s really never cared about the way he was portrayed.  I think it was fair.  He had to come out as a head coach and leader of the Patriots organization.  I think it was fair to the fans and to the NFL family.  That was something that he wanted to do.

I only saw Bill, really the tone in his voice and the emotional side of Bill when he delivered a pre‑game Super Bowl speech to us.  That is the only other time I really saw him as emotional as he was at that press conference.  That tends to make me believe that he was telling the truth that he didn’t have anything to do with it, and that he hates that his team is in this situation being a distraction before the biggest game of their lives.


Tony and Rodney, from your perspective as a coach and safety, how difficult do you think it would be defending Rob Gronkowski as a safety and game planning against him? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  I had an opportunity to watch the 2012 game, and I saw Kam Chancellor, and what he tried to do was play off coverage several times against Rob, and that’s not the way you can stop him.  With his size, rare speed and athleticism, 6‑feet, 230 pounds, you have to come up and you have to jam him and use that to advantage as a safety.  Rob Gronkowski is a big man.  He’s 6’7″, 280 pounds with the pads on.  But you definitely have an advantage.

When you watch tape and see guys jamming him and because he’s so tall, he doesn’t really have the balance.  If you jam him up under his shoulder pads, you can knock him off his routes, swarm down, and I think that’s something they’re focused on.  But I tell you this:  Kam Chancellor, you hear him talk, all his speeches.  He’s going to get up in his chest and he’s going to play very aggressive and physical with him.  I’m looking forward to seeing that match‑up.

TONY DUNGY:  I never had to coach against Rob, but the only guy I could compare him to for game planning was Kellen Winslow.  He is just a different physical specimen.  If he plays in a normal tight end position, he’s faster, he’s more athletic than the linebackers and the safeties he’s going against.  They can put him outside, and now you get him with corners.  He’s bigger and stronger.  If you put your linebackers out there, your big people are out in space, in a place they’re not used to playing.  It’s very, very difficult to match‑up man‑to‑man.  He would be a headache to game plan against, and he’s shown that all throughout these last couple of years.


Dan, with a six‑hour pregame show, plus halftime and postgame, you’re looking at roughly ten hours on Sunday.  How do you prepare for that? 

DAN PATRICK:  Well, I think you get caught up in the adrenaline, believe it or not.  I looked at it as this Herculean task, but what prepared me was hosting the Olympics where it’s live TV.  You don’t know exactly where you’re going, what events, what’s going to happen, what transpires.  In the pregame show, we have it mapped out, so I’m not waiting for a result.  That helps you.  You get to halftime and you’re excited because you have a halftime show and what just transpired, and then the postgame I’m handing out the Super Bowl trophy.

I go back to when the Steelers won, and I’m on the sidelines.  I think I’m giving the trophy out to the Cardinals.  All of a sudden in the final two minutes, Ben Roethlisberger has one of the great moments in Super Bowl history, and of course Santonio Holmes with the catch in the end zone, and I’m up on the podium handing out the trophy to the Steelers.

It can be a frenetic pace, but I get caught up in that because this is as close as I’d ever come to playing in a game, and that excitement and adrenaline will carry you.  I’ll be exhausted once I hand out that trophy.  I’ll feel like I’ve played, but I’ll get caught up in the emotion.


I’ve been in this job now, 23, 24 years I’ve seen all these pregame shows, and often they’re not very good.  How do you plan it in a way that you think it’s going to be good?  I know you can’t plan a bad show or you don’t want to plan a bad show.  But how do you do all the balancing act?  Early on you’re going to get the fluffier stuff, and maybe you’ll get the Ritz Cracker stuff.  I don’t know if you have that this year.  But can you insure that this is a good show? 

SAM FLOOD:  I think we’ve got the right people on the show, and the most important thing is the story tellers we’ve got with Dan, Bob, Tony, Rodney, John Harbaugh, Hines Ward, Tara and Johnny, and Josh Elliott has some really nice stories and opportunities to tell stories to people.  I think it puts us in a great position to succeed.  Our job is to execute it just like a football team has to execute.

I think our game plan entertains but also most importantly at the back end of the show gets you thinking about football and thinking about the whys.  23 we can tell you and fore shadow why things are going to happen in this football game, we’ve done our job.  And I think there are no finer people to do it than Tony Dungy, who has coached the Super Bowl winning team.  Rodney Harrison who has played on two and played in other Super Bowls that he didn’t win, and then John Harbaugh.  So it’s a pretty powerful group of people that can get the insights.  By the way, we have the MVP in Hines Ward.


Also in bringing John in, excuse me, I came in a little late.  But were you looking at a number of coaches and first one to say yes?  How do you choose John Harbaugh? 

SAM FLOOD:  John Harbaugh was targeted before the season began because he’s got the Super Bowl experience and he is an engaging personality and it’s an easy selection.  After we did ‑‑ after they got knocked out in the divisional round, that was our first thought was to reach out to John. Fred Gaudelli, who has the great relationships across the league, got it started. John is flying out here in a couple of days and is really looking forward to it.  He and Tony have a great relationship, and they’ve talked a few times about this opportunity.


Was it pretty much nailed down if he doesn’t get to the Super Bowl, he would be in the Super Bowl pregame show?

SAM FLOOD:  Yes, that was the hope.  And having just played the Patriots three weeks prior, it gives us an incredible insight on this team in this timeframe.  So there is a real relevance to this, and that’s why we think it’s an extra good add to the team.


Mark had mentioned yesterday that a request was put in for Roger Goodell for a pregame chat.  Have you heard on that?  Also I noticed Pete Carroll was down for the pregame, but Belichick is not.  Did you all request Bill? 

SAM FLOOD:  On the commissioner’s side we have put the request in.  Right now it does not look like it’s going to happen.  Then the back end of your question was about Belichick?


Why Carroll but no Bill on the pregame?

SAM FLOOD:  We had interviewed Bill prior to this story blossoming.  Bill will be in the show on some elements, but we do not have the direct conversation about the issue.  We are doing it a slightly different direction there.


Rodney and Tony, I’m doing a story on Pete Carroll’s years as the Patriots head coach.  Rodney, first, if I could ask you what your recollection was of that period of time.  I think there is a feeling out there that they were not successful years, yet he didn’t have a losing record.  When Rodney’s done, Tony, if you could talk a little bit about your impressions of Pete when he was with the Patriots?

RODNEY HARRISON:  Well, I wasn’t around.  I played in San Diego from ’94 to 2002.  But the one thing when I think about Pete Carroll I think of all the challenges he faced over the last couple of years, you talk about all the great athletes and the fantastic football players that he has on his football team, but it takes a special coach to be able to get all that talent together and get those guys to jail.  They went through some adversity earlier in the year, and it was because of the head coach as well as some of the leaders on that team coming together and banding together and saying, hey, guys, we have to play for one another.  It’s not about individuals and it comes from the top.  It comes from a head coach.  I think Tony can speak to that.

Pete Carroll has had the college level.  He’s had success on the pro level.  Sometimes when you start this game, it’s a very difficult game to bring players together and believe in what your concept is.  However, I think he’s done a wonderful job of that, and I think you’ll see the result of it the last few years.

TONY DUNGY:  Yeah, I’ve known Pete a long time.  He and Monte Kiffin coached together.  Monte coached with me for a number of years.  I got introduced to Pete through Monte.  Very similar defensive philosophy to me.  We played him as a head coach in Tampa when Pete was there in New England.  We played against them.  They were a very good football team with Curtis Martin and some really good players.  The fact that maybe they didn’t get to the Super Bowl, I’m not sure what the case was there, but Pete did a good job in New England, did a great job at USC, and has put out championship teams on the college level and the NFL level.

Being out there the four days I was there, his players enjoy playing for him.  They enjoy the fact that he allows them to be individuals with a focus on the team concept.  He’s done a tremendous job.


We’ve got to the how and why how John Harbaugh got involved in the pregame show.  But Coach Dungy, I’m wondering what a present‑day coach can add to it in having John on there? 

TONY DUNGY:  Well, a present‑day coach can add an awful lot, and you can ask them about preparing for these teams and who you have to take away and what types of things you would do.  I think John’s going to bring tremendous value that way just talking about defending the Patriots, attacking the Patriots.  Defending the Seahawks, attacking the Seahawks.  I think we’re going to have some great not only fun with him, but informative things where he can get on that clicker and diagram plays for the fans and the audience and say here is the problem.  Here’s what makes it tough defending Rob Gronkowski because of A, B, and C and he was just doing it three weeks ago.  That’s what I think they add.

SAM FLOOD:  And he saw the trick play element, and he’s seen it tackle eligible and a lot of different things the Patriots have done in the playoffs.

TONY DUNGY:  That will be one of the things we talk about.  Knowing what you know now, going back would you defend it differently?  How do you prepare for this?  It will be great.


He’s being mentioned as almost like a fourth cast member.  Is he going to be a big part of this or just a few segments? 

SAM FLOOD:  No, he’s going to be spread throughout the show.  The intent is he’s going to be part of the halftime and postgame as well.  He’s totally engaged in being part of this team.  He’ll do some of the show with Bob.  He’ll do some of the show with Dan.  But he’ll have time with Tony and Rodney and Hines.  We think that is a great way to spread his knowledge around.

TONY DUNGY:  The first telecast that I did was the Super Bowl in Tampa.  Mike Holmgren and I were guest coaches and James Harrison, we had a big debate at halftime.  I thought it was a great play by the defense and well set‑up by Dick LeBeau, and Mike thought it was a bad play by Kurt Warner.  We had a great discussion about what went on that play.  That is the kind of things that coaches like John can bring.

SAM FLOOD:  By the way, that’s one of the reasons Tony got hired full‑time is how well he did on that show, and how well he did in the halftime.


Tony, what do you think about the way Marshawn Lynch deals or doesn’t deal with the media?  What advice would you give him on that? 

TONY DUNGY:  I had a player like that in Marvin Harrison.  Marvin did not like to talk.  He was very quiet and a little afraid of the cameras.  What I talked to Marvin about was it’s part of the job.  It’s like lifting weights and going to meetings, it’s like practicing.  It’s like playing in the game.  It’s a part of what you have to do.  Just go out there and do your best and we’re going to be fine.  Marvin took that, and he was never one who was going to give long answers.  He was never going to have his own press conferences.  But he came around and did a good job.  I think that’s how I would approach it.  Every coach is different.  Every player is different and their relationship with their players.

RODNEY HARRISON:  I had a little different take on it.  Obviously, I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and I’ve dealt with guys that didn’t really want to deal with the media.  When I look at Marshawn Lynch, I look at the tremendous platform and the opportunity that he has.  He has a lot of people and a lot of kids looking up to him.  As an African‑American man that has seen his grandparents not able to have that same platform or to even go out and struggle to try to get an education and get held back for not being able to do certain things, it’s just very frustrating to me when you have the type of opportunity that he has and not to utilize it.  Because there are a lot of kids and a lot of young people that look up to him that he could really influence.

So, yes, it’s important.  It’s his job, but also he has a tremendous platform and opportunity to really influence the youth, and that’s what it’s about.  As much as he may not think that he’s a role model.  They’re kids, they love skittles because of Marshawn Lynch.  They’re kids that are running in the backyard and trying to do different things that he brings each and every week.  When you play in the National Football League, it’s not just about breaking tackles and scoring touchdowns, but it’s about representing your culture and representing everything that the people before you have worked so hard and struggled so you can have certain opportunities.


Tony, both of these coaches are second‑chance coaches.  You know, they coached for other teams first.  Do you think ‑‑ what would you say about second chance coaches?  There are like 11 of them in the league, and then there are 20 first‑time coaches.  What are the advantages of you being one yourself of having gone through this once and getting a second chance? 

TONY DUNGY:  I think you do learn a lot from your experience.  I thought I was a pretty good coach when I was 40 years old and thought I was ready.  I was shocked at how much better I was at 47.  I won a lot of games after I got fired and I went to Indianapolis.  So what you learn is that the situations and how things play out.  Because you get fired doesn’t mean you’re a bad coach, doesn’t mean you weren’t smart.  It means it wasn’t the right situation.

These guys are proof of it.  I mean, they are two of the top 5 coaches in the league.  I think everyone would agree, and it didn’t work out in their first stop.  But I have to credit the ownership of Seattle, the ownership of New England for saying I’m not going to worry about past practice or what people thought or people’s assumptions.  I’m going to hire the person who fits for what I want to do and these guys have done a tremendous job.


Rodney, Dan Patrick said earlier that the last Super Bowl in Glendale still hurts for you.  How often do you think of the helmet catch?  When you think of it, you were right on David Tyree.  Do you think about what you could have done differently? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  I thought about that for seven months after the play as well as pretty much the rest of my life since ’07.  The one thing that stands out for me outside of that David Tyree catch was the fact that my good old buddy Junior Seau who I played 12 years with, nine years in San Diego and three with the New England Patriots, I felt like I let him down.  I’m sitting here with two Super Bowl rings and I’m very proud of them.  But I was hurt and disappointed because I felt like I couldn’t make that play so my buddy who should be a first ballot Hall of Famer that he wouldn’t get a ring like this.  It’s very disappointing.

It’s just ironic how here we are in Arizona and he might have a chance to go into the Hall of Fame right here, as Dan said, at the scene of the crime.  So as I look at it, I keep things in perspective.  My spiritual side has kept me grounded and really humbled me and put things in perspective.  I understand it wasn’t my fault, but I still that competitive side makes me feel like I should have made that play.


It’s not like he burned you on that play.  You were right there.  What more could you have done? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  It’s funny, because we had a lot of lost opportunities.  We dropped three interceptions.  We had a fumble towards the sideline.  Ahmad Bradshaw, we slipped past that.  We had two 300‑pound guys, and basically had Eli Manning, and I couldn’t make the play.  So some things in life you have to chalk it up to it’s not meant to be.


One other thing, New England and Seattle both have great defensive backs.  Which one is better? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  Talking about the entire secondary?


No, Sherman or Revis? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  I would take Sherman over Revis.  One thing about Sherman, he has better ball skills than Revis.  I think that stands out that he has the best ball skills than any cornerback in the league.  When you look at Darrelle Revis, he’s really impressive, because what he told me was he’s now just feeling good about his knee.  It’s not like his knee was a hundred percent.  But he gives that defense a versatility that they haven’t had since they had Ty Law.  And even Darrelle is a better one‑on‑one defender than Ty Law who is a great cornerback and in the Patriots Hall of Fame.  He can play in the slot.  He can play left corner, right corner, and every week he favors or shadows the best receiver.

Richard Sherman is relegated to the left side, and that’s what he does.  He’s very good at it.  If you want to be considered the best, you have to be able to cover the best on a consistent basis no matter where they lineup.


Revis told you his knee’s feeling better this week he told you that? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  Just in a conversation he told me he feels like he’s back.  I’ve suffered ACLs and things of that sort.  And it takes two years to really feel comfortable, so I’m really happy for him.


Tony, I was wondering what you thought of the buck’s decision to hire Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator?  How do you like that call? 

TONY DUNGY:  Well, I have a lot of confidence in Lovie Smith, and I know he looked at the whole landscape and he’s going to do what’s best.  We competed against Dirk a lot when he was at Jacksonville.  He does a lot of things.  I’m a Buccaneers fan, so I’m hopeful that they get that offense going.


What kind of offense do you think he’ll bring here?  Do you think it will be similar with that four verticals he had in Atlanta, do you think? 

TONY DUNGY:  I’m not sure.  But as a coach, you look at your team and the weapons you have.  And I know he’s going to utilize Vincent Jackson and the young receiver Mike Evans, he’s going to use them to get the ball.  Doug Martin, a lot of it will depend on who the quarterback is.  But I think he will do a good job of tailoring his attack to the weaponry they have.


Tony, what is your call on that quarterback?

TONY DUNGY:  I already gave my opinion.  I’m hoping they draft Marcus Mariota, but I don’t have a vote.


Tony and Rodney, can you give me your thoughts about the quarterback match‑ups as well as the running back match‑ups? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  When I look at the quarterbacks, they’re very similar in terms of their leadership and the way they carry themselves and the respect they have from their players.  Tom is more of a pocket passer.  Russell is a guy that can kind of do the read option, and he’s shown even with the mental toughness after throwing four interceptions to be able to hang in the pocket and make some beautiful throws toward the latter part of the game to get them in this game shows his mental toughness and his skill set.

But the thing that I love about both these quarterbacks is the way they carry themselves and they always deflect attention off themselves and they make it about the team.  It’s not about them.

TONY DUNGY:  I think it’s a beautiful match‑up as Rodney said.  Different physical characteristics, but I would use two words to characterize both quarterbacks, poised and clutch.  They both play with tremendous poise, and they both make big plays in the fourth quarter when their team needs it, and that’s what you want from the quarterback.  The running backs, I’d use one word for both those guys, LeGarrette and Marshawn, physical, powerful.  If they turn these guys loose you’re not going to have defensive backs that want to tackle either one of these guys.


Is this one of the best running backs match‑ups you’ve seen in Super Bowl history? 

RODNEY HARRISON:  I wouldn’t go that far with LeGarrette.  He had a really good championship game.  But a guy that’s done it on a consistent basis has been Marshawn Lynch.  I don’t think it would be fair to Marshawn Lynch to even compare to other running backs with him.  He had a tremendous game, but he has to be able to come back and repeat it on the biggest stage.  He went through a lot, and he should be really proud after the charges and getting dismissed from the team in Pittsburgh to come in and being fortunate enough to get on a great team in the Patriots and now he has an opportunity.  But he has to be able to do it on the big stage.  That is how you make your name.


Coach, with Bill Polian up for the Hall of Fame, I just wanted to get your thoughts on how deserving he is just in your time with him and coach. 

TONY DUNGY:  Fantastic general manager.  I wouldn’t have had nearly the success that I had without Bill there.  One of the best listeners I’ve ever been around, and a great talent evaluator.  I thought Marvin Harrison should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer last year, but I certainly think Bill should go in.  You look at putting three organizations, four Super Bowls in Buffalo, a Super Bowl in Carolina. Two Super Bowls in Indianapolis.  What more can you say?  He was kind of the common denominator of all of that, a fantastic GM.  I’m hoping and praying he gets in.


Sam, you mentioned Deflate‑Gate in your opening remarks.  Just wondering, as far as the Super Bowl story goes, how unusual of a topic this is, and how much of a curveball it was to prepare and incorporate this into the pregame? 


SAM FLOOD:  You’re prepared for every story.  This is a unique one, and it obviously impacts the way we’re able to do it throughout the show, and we have to touch it throughout the show because it is a relevant topic.  We’ll adjust and more information will come out as we get closer to the game.  We’ve got to make sure that we cover the story and make people aware of everything that’s going on.

Suddenly the footballs of this game are a story.  So you’ve got to think that way, and different than other games.  You don’t really think about the footballs, but where were they before the game?  How were they brought out on the field.  How are these footballs different than the footballs used during the regular season or a playoff game?  They’re all kinds of little things that you normally wouldn’t think through.  But with our team and our group of talent, we’ve had plenty of conversations about how we want to do this and how we want to have the story arc of this go throughout the show to make sure we’ve progressed the story into the game.


So will you have a special feature on the footballs for the Super Bowl? 

SAM FLOOD:  No, but we have some ideas on how we’re going to treat the footballs when they arrive at the stadium and when they’re on the field.  We want to be in the moment as much as possible, because the live moment is the most important.  We’re the only people in the world where you can come and access the moments leading up to this football game so we need to make sure we service that portion of the audience and that portion of the story as best we can.  So let’s utilize what we have in terms of location, and the place everyone wants to be on Sunday, it’s here in Arizona.  And we’ll make sure we take you there and take you to the places to see the things and hear the things you need to hear to get ready for the game.