Wednesday, May 20th, 2020


“These Games should be a celebration and a demonstration of solidarity of humankind and, as many are saying, a symbol of resilience of humanity.” – Thomas Bach on the Tokyo Olympics   

“It shocks you a little bit…(DeAndre) Hopkins is without a doubt one of the best players in the game.” – J.J. Watt on the DeAndre Hopkins trade

 “I don’t think that will happen. Pretty tough to test 100,000 people or 70,000 people, but there could be some social distancing and a percentage of some fans that could be in there.” – Jim Harbaugh on the possibility of playing college football in front of full stadiums

 “Sports are coming back, but they’ll never be the same.” – Tim Layden’s essay on the return of sports, available now on

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 20, 2020 – Mike Tirico hosted today’s episode of Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN and was joined remotely by:

    • IOC President Thomas Bach
    • Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh
    • NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth
    • Arizona Coyotes left wing and 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner Taylor Hall
    • NBC Sports INDYCAR analyst Townsend Bell


The Rich Eisen Show followed Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN, as host Rich Eisen was joined by:

    • Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia
    • Houston Texans defensive end J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and Steelers fullback Derek Watt


Following are highlights from Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN:

Thomas Bach on holding the 2020 Tokyo Games next summer: “It is a mammoth task to organize these postponed Olympic games, but I think we are in good shape.”

Bach on difficulties in rescheduling the Tokyo Games: “To adapt the Olympics to the post-Corona world — that means the messaging of the Games and the whole presentation of the Games has to be questioned…These Games should also be a celebration and a demonstration of solidarity of humankind and, as many are saying, a symbol of resilience of humanity.”

Bach on the IOC’s position of organizing the Olympic Games: “We have established one principle at the very beginning of all this discussion even before the postponement. This is that the Games must be organized offering a safe environment for all the participants.”

Bach on the IOC pledging $150 million to support international federations: “We will help these international federations to overcome their cash flow challenges they have because of this crisis.”

Matt Kenseth on returning to racing last weekend for the first time since 2017: “It was a good first day. It wasn’t really an opportunity I was expecting or really something that was on my radar…It was just a great opportunity and a great time for me.”

Kenseth on returning to NASCAR: “If there was ever going to be a chance to go drive again, this was it.”

Kenseth on his strategy in his first race of the season: “Thinking about Turn 1 and all that, and if you watch the start, I just went slower than everybody to get into Turn 1…Really my goal was to get through the first couple of laps without doing something dumb and setting ourselves back.”

Kenseth on the compacted NASCAR schedule: “For me, it is great because I have been out of the car for so long and I am not really worried about the physical aspect of it. For me, it is really good because I think the more time I can spend in a racecar, the more quickly I am going to learn, and we are going to learn together as a unit and a group.”

Jim Harbaugh on the future of college football: “If we can get the gyms back open in states where governors will open up gyms, then we can get the guys back in the weight room working out in small groups…Eventually you look at playing games, is that possible? That is the number one question that our players have, and we have.”

Harbaugh on games will be able to be played in front of full stadiums: “I don’t think that will happen. Pretty tough to test 100,000 people or 70,000 people, but there could be some social distancing and a percentage of some fans that could be in there.”

Harbaugh on Michigan football: “It has been a joy to coach our guys. We are a high-drive team. We are driving towards success and we want to put it over the top; just been kind of on that outside of the playoffs. We haven’t gotten in, and want to push that over the top. That is our mission.”

Harbaugh on how the proposed changes to allow student-athletes to leave college earlier and return with no penalty if they are not drafted would impact roster management: “If it is better for the student-athletes, the players, and their families, then you are happy to do that extra work…They should be able to decide when their professional career starts.”

Taylor Hall on the possible return of the NHL: “There are so many moving parts as you guys know…The people in the league have been great. They have some of the toughest jobs in the world right now deciding on when to come back and the logistics of it all.”

Hall on the possibility of returning with a 24-team playoff: “At the end of the day, I would love to play hockey for the Coyotes again this year and finish what we started, but we will have to see what happens.”

Hall on if he feels comfortable returning to play: “To be honest, I am pretty good with everything. I am comfortable taking a risk and coming back to play…I know they are not going to feed us to the wolves. They are going to set up regulations for us and they are going to have testing involved and make sure it is as safe as possible for us.”

Hall on “The Last Dance”: “I think it was so interesting to see their team dynamic and see that not everyone got along 100% all the time. It was all about winning and pushing yourself to the limit.”

Townsend Bell on what it is like for the racing community to not have the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend this year: “It is surreal. It’s the only way I can describe it. I think the way it really registers for all of us is the fact that I sit at home in L.A. and I have never been at home in May…The good news is we will be there in August for the Indy 500 and the INDYCAR schedule will start in a couple weeks at the Texas Motor Speedway.”

Bell on the lasting memories of last year’s Indy 500: “I think it was just the intensity and the ferociousness of (Alexander) Rossi and (Simon) Pagenaud going at it all race long at the front…Those two guys, it just seemed like the rage was 10 out of 10 for them all race long…I think just the battle of intensity and rage, if you will, that day, was something I will never forget.”

Bell on where he sees INDYCAR going this summer: “The industry, we felt like we were riding such a wave of momentum in the offseason. We had ratings up last year on NBC Sports…One thing I have learned about the racing business — I have been in this business through the .com bomb in the early 2000’s, the great recession in 2008, and now this pandemic — and if there is one thing I have learned about racers, it is that we know how to adapt. We have core survival instincts.”

Following are highlights from The Rich Eisen Show on NBCSN:

Matt Patricia on the Lions’ offseason: “We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible in these un-normal times…Our players are doing a great job staying engaged.”

Patricia on how he’s approaching this offseason with his coaching staff: “I rely heavily on my (coaching) staff…I really encourage everybody, first and foremost, to enjoy their family and be blessed for what we all have. Safety and health for everyone is the most important thing. On top of that, to grow as a coach, think outside of the box…and become better coaches.”

Patricia on the Lions discussing trading the third overall pick in the NFL Draft: “Honestly, there was zero opportunity to move…Everyone postured and played their cards very well and in the end, everyone just sat where they were…For us, we were fully prepared and ready to make sure we got the best guy that we wanted, and that was definitely Jeff Okudah.”

Patricia on CB Jeff Okudah: “I knew the fundamentals and techniques that he was being taught were very similar and almost identical to some of the stuff we do…When we got a chance to meet the young man and spend time with him, find out his character and background, what a wonderful person he is; really great on the field, but even better off the field.”

Patricia on drafting RB D’Andre Swift: “With him still being on the board, it was really a situation (of), ‘Hey, I can’t believe he is still there and if he is still there, we are going to take him.’…Dynamic in the run game, explosive, big playmaker, but also can catch the ball out of the backfield and put pressure on the defense.”

J.J. Watt on the Texans offseason trade of DeAndre Hopkins: “It shocks you a little bit…Hopkins is without a doubt one of the best players in the game. It’s always tough to lose a guy like that, but at the same time, we also have guys coming in that I’m looking forward to working with.”

T.J. Watt on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin: “Coach Tomlin is a standup guy…The number one thing I love about him is his transparency. He treats everyone fairly. He’s just a great players coach…(and) great leader.”

J.J. Watt on hosting Saturday Night Live on Feb. 1, 2020, which will be presented on NBCSN Tuesday, May 26, at 10 p.m. ET: “It was a blast. Saturday Night Live is one of the most iconic shows on television, so just to have that opportunity…It was really something that I’ve never experienced in my life…the chance to do that was really special.”

T.J. Watt on J.J. hosting SNL: “It was a really great opportunity for J.J. to show everybody his funny side. We get to see it on a daily basis, but he did an amazing job…on the biggest stage in TV.”

J.J. Watt on how origins of co-hosting the new Ultimate Tag show with his brothers: “It’s a perfect opportunity for my brothers and I to work together. We have this rapport where we rip on each other, but also bring the best out of each other and that really came together in hosting the show. It turned out to be a lot of fun and we were able to spend a ton of time together.”

T.J. Watt: “The coolest part for Derek and I was that J.J. even thought to include us in his show…At first, I was nervous because I had never done anything to this magnitude, but to be able to commentate and spectate a truly once in a lifetime experience with two of my brothers…was awesome.”

Derek Watt: “It was a very cool opportunity for us. (It) started out rocky but came out much better at the end.”

Following are highlights from Tim Layden’s essay on the return of sports, ‘Sports are coming back, but they’ll never be the same,’ available now on

Layden: “Last weekend sports haltingly resurfaced, more than two months into the global COVID-19 pandemic….There were no spectators at any of these, creating scenes that were vaguely dystopian, yet curiously soothing.”

Layden: “Major U.S. sports are planning to return soon. Or not soon. Or possibly not at all in the near future, because in talking with public health professionals for this story, I learned one thing above all else: There is still much about the virus that is either not known or not well understood, an information gap that time will shrink at its own pace.

But on sports coming back soon? Probably.

Because we need sports.”

Layden: “Each day for sports is both a hopeful step back toward the known, and a tentative venture into the unknown. Whatever emerges in the coming days, weeks and months will be an experiment, but pieces of it will endure…It’s much too soon to know precisely what sports – or society – will look like on the other side. Except that it will look different.”