FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, February 1st, 2015

NOTES & QUOTES FROM SUPER BOWL XLIX PRE-GAME SHOW ON NBC

“Gronkowski is healthy, he’s been a huge factor in the playoffs. I know that’s why Tom Brady is fired up about the game plan.” – Tony Dungy

“It’s hard for me to imagine Coach Belichick would lose three straight Super Bowls.” Rodney Harrison

If he’s implicated in this, and there’s something nefarious that did go on … he will have about as complicated a legacy as any big-name football player I can think of.” – Al Michaels on Tom Brady

“The league is opening a can of worms — and I think they’re about to find some worms.” – Cris Collinsworth on Deflategate

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Feb. 1, 2015 – Following are highlights from NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Game Show.

Bob Costas opened NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Game Show live from outside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., to preview the AFC champion New England Patriots facing the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Costas was joined on-site by NBC Sports’ Football Night in America team of Dan Patrick, Tony DungyRodney HarrisonJosh ElliottHines WardMike Florio and Peter King, and Sunday Night Football’s Al MichaelsCris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya. Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh joined NBC Sports’ Super Bowl XLIX coverage as a guest analyst.

Liam McHugh served as an on-site host at the stadium, Carolyn Manno and Randy Moss reported from the team hotels, and Doug Flutie appeared in on-field segments.

The Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Game Show also featured the events surrounding the Super Bowl, including an interview with halftime headliner Katy Perry; live musical performances from the NFL Experience; reports and interviews by NBC Sports’ popular figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski with celebrities attending the game; and reports from the festive atmosphere at the NFL Experience and Super Bowl XLIX Tailgate Party.

In addition, NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie conducted a live interview with President Barack Obama from the White House, and Costas interviewed IOC President Thomas Bach.

Click here to see Guthrie’s interview with President Obama:

http://www.nbcsports.com/football/nfl/what-does-president-obama-think-deflategate

Click here to see Costas’ interview with Bach: http://www.nbcsports.com/olympic-sports/thomas-bach-boston-has-very-strong-bid-2024-olympics

Interviews: During the two weeks leading up to the game, NBC Sports conducted extensive interviews with Super Bowl XLIX players and coaches for NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Game Show, including:

Following are highlights from NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Game Show:

PREDICTIONS

Ward and Dungy predicted that the Seahawks would win Super Bowl XLIX, while Harbaugh and Harrison picked the Patriots to win.

Harbaugh: “New England is going to win this game. Two reasons – Bill Belichick has something up his cutoff sleeve tonight for sure, and any team that beats the Ravens can win the Super Bowl.”

Ward: “I see Seattle’s defensive line dominating this game, the same way they did in last year’s Super Bowl against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.”

***

Dungy: “I like Seattle in a very close game. I think Bill Belichick is going to force Russell Wilson to win the game, and I think he’s going to scramble around and make some plays to do it.”

Harrison: “At the beginning of the year, I said Seattle will repeat. But when I looked at Bill Belichick, when he walked across this field, he looked focused. It’s hard for me to imagine Coach Belichick would lose three straight Super Bowls.”

Dungy: “Russell Wilson is 10-0 against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, and the number one scoring defense, which Seattle has, is 15-5 in past Super Bowls.”

Harrison: “I don’t know what all those stats mean, but I know this, they didn’t have Darrelle Revis, they didn’t have Brandon Browner and Jamie Collins is the best athlete on the field. I believe he can spy Russell Wilson and shut him down.”

In addition, Dungy predicted Seahawks QB Russell Wilson would win Super Bowl MVP honors, while Harrison selected Patriots WR Julian Edelman.

Costas: “Do Carroll’s Seahawks become the first team since the Patriots of a decade ago to win the Super Bowl back-to-back, or do the Patriots turn back the clock, and reassert themselves as the NFL’s gold standard. If they do, regardless of what you think of the controversies that surround them, the Patriots will further elevate both their coach and their quarterback in the pantheon of the game’s greats.”

BOB COSTAS WITH TOM BRADY ON DEFLATEGATE

Bob Costas sat down with Patriots QB Tom Brady to discuss the recent Deflategate controversy.

Click here to watch Costas’ interview with Brady:

http://www.nbcsports.com/football/nfl/tom-brady-i-need-be-tough-enough-overcome-controversy

Click here to read the full transcript of Costas’ interview with Brady: http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/2015/02/01/transcript-bob-costas-interview-with-tom-brady-on-deflategate/

Costas was then joined by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who reacted to the interview.

Michaels: “I think back to the day after the Indianapolis game, and Brady goes on a radio show and doesn’t even know what anybody is talking about. All of a sudden, he’s playing defense in all of his press conferences, leading up to coming here to Arizona. He’s gone from defense to offense, which Cris will talk about in a second. I do know one thing – at the end of the day, if he’s implicated in this, and there’s something nefarious that did go on, and we’ll find out eventually, he will have about as complicated a legacy as any big-name football player I can think of.”

Collinsworth: “There was too much wiggle room in that for me. I mean, that’s an easy answer. If you have nothing to do with those footballs, you go, ‘Bob, I’m sick of this. I’m telling you right now, I had nothing to do with those footballs being under-inflated. And when you present it in that way, it’s very easy to feel like…what did Tom do?

“And now here we go into the Super Bowl game, and I honestly, after watching that, have more doubts about it than when we interviewed him. When I interviewed Tom Brady, this is what I said. I said, ‘Tom, look me in the eye. Look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t even remotely say anything to a ball boy, an assistant coach, somebody that may have interpreted that as, ‘I want you to go deflate the balls.’ He said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Just like that. That (interview with Costas) was the opposite of that.”

Costas: “And that was a few days after he talked to me.”

Collinsworth: “You talked to him first, and he did that, and then I talked to him the next day.”

Michaels: “That was the next day, the very next day. You did your thing on Tuesday, we were with him on Wednesday. So it was 24 hours later. Maybe it’s the difference between doing an interview you know will air on national television, and sitting in a room with a couple of people.”

Costas: “Last thing quickly, without minimizing this. If this is some other team, without the past history of its coach, without all of the success and resentment that comes with it, without heading to the Super Bowl, is it just gamesmanship and a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, or is it because it’s the Patriots that it’s that big of a deal?

Collinsworth: “Bob, I think the league is opening a can of worms – and I think they’re about to find some worms.”

Michaels: “To me Bob, it boils down to – are you bending the rules, or are you breaking the rules?”

Click here to watch Costas’ discussion with Collinsworth and Michaels:

http://www.nbcsports.com/football/nfl/cris-collinsworth-too-much-wiggle-room-bradys-answers

DEFLATEGATE

Dungy on Deflategate: “Well, it’s a shame it’s taking away from what’s going to be a great Super Bowl. We don’t know the facts. That’s the first thing. We can’t jump to conclusions. I will say that if anyone within the Patriots organization had anything to do with the balls being deflated, I think it severely damages their reputation.’

Harrison: “It kind of reminds me of 2007’s Spygate, when everyone was attacking our organization and our coach. It brought us closer together and gave us motivation. I can tell you this: Bill Belichick really wants this Super Bowl because he doesn’t want people to think that he can’t win big games unless he cheats.”

***

Harbaugh on rumors tipped off the Colts about underinflated footballs: “I’ve heard all of the rumors. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. It’s ridiculous. It never happened. I never made any call. Nobody in our organization made any calls. As a matter of fact, to make sure I had all the facts, I called (Colts Head Coach) Chuck Pagano and asked him, ‘Did anybody in our organization tip you off about any deflated footballs?’ and he said, ‘No way.’”

Harbaugh on if he had any problems with deflated or under-inflated footballs during his team’s playoff game vs. New England: “It never came up. It never crossed my mind. It was never an issue and I didn’t even think about it until I heard about it later.”

Click here to see Harbaugh’s conversation with Costas: http://www.nbcsports.com/football/nfl/john-harbaugh-ravens-didnt-tip-colts-ball-deflation

***

Florio on Deflategate: “There is a lot we don’t know about Deflategate, but here is what we do know. The NFL already has concluded the footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game were underinflated, and I’m told that at halftime of that game the NFL determined that the Patriots footballs were under-inflated, and logged those numbers. Also, for the Colts, those balls were tested, record was kept, and those footballs used by the Colts were not underinflated.

“But, here’s the problem, no record of any kind was made of the air pressure inside any footballs before the game began, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made it very clear that he expects hard proof of tampering before any punishment is levied against his team. Now this process will still take several more weeks, and I’m told the NFL has retained multiple scientists to conduct experiments regarding air pressure inside footballs in various atmospheric conditions, and also to prepare the same way the Patriots claimed they did before that game.

“There have been reports that the NFL went into the AFC Championship Game intending to catch the Patriots in the act. I’m told the NFL learned of this issue during the game, no sting operation of any kind, and finally, two weeks into the Deflategate controversy, the NFL still has not interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick or Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“The NFL has retained outside investigator Ted Wells to participate in this process. Wells has said it will take several more weeks and at some point, findings will land on the desk of Commissioner Roger Goodell who will have to decide what to do. If there is a violation of league rules regarding the inflation of the footballs, Roger Goodell mentioned at his Friday press conference punishment that could include fines, loss of draft picks and even suspensions if there is conduct that undermines the integrity of the game. Now, we’re two weeks into this process, I am told the NFL still has not interviewed Patriots head coach Bill Belichick or Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. When they eventually do, and presumably they will be interviewed, things that Belichick and Brady have said in press conferences and interviews, quite likely will be their starting conversations with the National Football League.”

Tafoya on the Super Bowl XLIX game balls: “I’m outside of the room where the game balls for tonight were delivered and started being checked by the officials about an hour ago. We asked for our cameras to be able to capture that moment and that examination, but the NFL denied that request.

“Now in all, there are 108 game balls, 54 for each team, and all week, both teams were allowed to practice with those footballs, and prepare them to their own specifications – until Friday, when they were turned over to an independent equipment manager, Tony Medlin of the Chicago Bears. That is standard Super Bowl procedure, and he kept them in his custody from Friday until today, until they were delivered here for inspection. Of course, the focal point of that examination was the air pressure, which league rules mandate must be 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch. The game balls won’t be taken onto the field until 10 minutes before kickoff. They will still be under the supervision of Medlin.

“The ball boys are also neutral here. Again, that is common procedure for the Super Bowl. They’re being provided by the host team, which is the Arizona Cardinals, although the Seahawks and Patriots will each have one of their own ball boys on the sidelines. In a normal NFL game, each team would have about a dozen footballs, but this is the Super Bowl, so they want to rotate in as many footballs as they can, so they can give them to charities and sponsors. In fact, each of the footballs has a computer chip in it that authenticates that it was used in Super Bowl XLIX.”

PATRIOTS

Harbaugh on Patriots’ use of unbalanced offensive lines and different eligible receivers: “My beef was never with the Patriots. They can do and try whatever they need to try. The problem was the officials. Defense has the right to understand or know who the eligible receivers are. The problem was, the officials were showing the same signal for an eligible receiver as they were an ineligible receiver. They’re still trying to figure this play out. I guess in this game, they’re going to show a different signal for an ineligible receiver…there’s no question the officials are trying to catch up with these tactics.”

Harrison on Brady: “Well I could tell you the tone, but I’m going to let Tom Brady, my buddy, tell you the tone. He sent me a text, ‘I’m ready for the biggest game of my life, my mind is right, our team is focused, had a great week. We have a great game plan. Watch out.’ So I think he is ready.”

Dungy on Gronkowski: “This is the biggest difference between the last time the Patriots were in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski is healthy, he’s been a huge factor in the playoffs, and I know that’s why Tom Brady is fired up about the game plan…he is the most versatile tight end I’ve seen since Kellen Winslow (Sr.).”

Harrison on Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski: “Bill Belichick had Adam Vinatieri, who I think is the greatest kicker of all-time. He got rid of Adam, he trusts this guy…this game is going to come down to a field goal. All of the Patriots (Super Bowl) wins have been about a field goal. I think this guy can make a clutch kick.”

Harrison on Bill Belichick’s philosophy regarding a repeat Super Bowl win: “We never talked about it. He always said one game at a time. Each year it’s a new team, a new roster. Don’t worry about repeating, just focus on one play at a time.”

SEAHAWKS

Peter King on Richard Sherman: “The girlfriend of Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman is due any day with the couple’s first son. I texted Sherman this morning, and I said ‘Has the baby come yet?’ And he said, ‘I’m playing in the Super Bowl. My son must be excited because he is showing a ton of movement, and I said, ‘you better hope that he holds off until Monday.’ He texted back and said, ‘He will.’”

Harbaugh on Russell Wilson:  “The key to the read-option is the guy who’s running it, and that’s the quarterback. He is a coach’s nightmare. He’s smart, he’s athletic, and he can execute…the Patriots know that they’ve got to keep him in the pocket in the passing game, and they’ve got to defend the read-option. So as far as the read-option goes, they’re going to have somebody on him every single play, and that’s going to be disciplined football. As far as the pass rush, keeping him in there, it’s a ‘cage rush.’ You can’t rush past him; you’ve got to rush to him. That means physical, bull rushes through the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks.”

Dungy on Seahawks: “They compete at everything, whether it’s ping pong, one-on-one basketball, practice, it’s always competitive. The biggest example I got of that was the NFC Championship Game, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are banged up, and they come back and play great in the second half.”

Dungy on Seahawks K Steven Hauschka: “Steven was having a great year. He hadn’t missed a kick on the road all year until he came into this stadium, his last road game of the season, and he missed three times. Rodney talked about the field and the footing, I wonder if that’s in his head…he’s got to get back on track, he may have to make some big field goals tonight.”

Dungy on the desire to repeat Super Bowl wins as a coach: “I was going to retire after Super Bowl 41, and we all talk about ‘let’s come back and try to win another one.’ That was our goal; we didn’t shy away from it.”

Hines Ward on Seahawks S Kam Chancellor: “I watched Kam Chancellor warm up today in this big bulky knee brace…you can best believe Tom Brady is going to attack Kam Chancellor in the passing game.”

Harrison on Chancellor: “With that bulky knee brace, he doesn’t stand a chance of defending Rob Gronkowski.”

COSTAS ON NFL OVERTIME RULES

Costas, following clip of the final play in Super Bowl XXXIV, on NFL overtime rules: “Of course, if [Kevin] Dyson had broken that tackle, the game would have most certainly gone to overtime, which, in nearly half of a century, has somehow never happened in a Super Bowl. But someday, maybe tonight, it will, which will mean that with the stakes at their highest, we’ll be confronted with the NFL’s badly-flawed overtime rule.

Yeah, they improved it a little by eliminating the possibility of a game-ending first possession overtime field goal, but, as we saw in this year’s NFC title game, it’s still possible for a team to win the coin flip, score a touchdown, and the whole season ends for the losing team without them ever possessing the football…really? This, in a league that will look at a second-quarter play in a Week 6 game from eight different angles, that measures within a millimeter for a first down – and then, in the Super Bowl, they’re okay with a coin flip disproportionately influencing the outcome?  There has to be a better way, and there is.

In the post-season and post-season only, play ten minute overtime periods until there is a winner at the end of one of them. This gives you all of the competitive and dramatic elements of a real game. Clock management, strategy, changes of possession, you know…football. Now, there’s plenty of time to correct this before Super Bowl L, but in the meantime, let’s hope that an otherwise epic Super Bowl XLIX isn’t decided in random, gimmicky fashion tonight.”

SUPER BOWL XLIX