Thursday, June 4th, 2020


“This has to result in a change of hearts and attitudes. That’s how this is going to get solved… and the only way that’s going to happen is communication.” – Tony Dungy on improving social injustice

“I’ve talked to 25 coaches the past week. Everyone is on Zoom calls, talking to their team, having team meetings. The past three days, no one is discussing X’s and O’s, offseason programs.” – Dungy

“We’re at a point right now where we have to decide, as a country, what are we going to do? Are we going to truly be about change, or are we just going to offer lip service and make people feel comfortable until this happens again?” – Anquan Boldin

 “In many cities, you don’t necessarily have big business, so sports teams and universities are the business…Think about all the ancillary businesses that are absolutely dried up.” – NBC News Senior Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle on the financial impact of the sports void

STAMFORD, Conn. – June 4, 2020 – Mike Tirico hosted today’s episode of Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN and was joined remotely by:

    • NBC Football Night in America analyst Tony Dungy
    • PGA TOUR golfer Jim Furyk
    • Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith
    • Five-time NTT INDYCAR Series champion Scott Dixon
    • NBC News Senior Business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle


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

    • Former NFL WR and co-founder of the Players Coalition Anquan Boldin
    • Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix


Following are highlights from Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN:

Tony Dungy on improving social injustice: “This has to result in a change of hearts and attitudes. That’s how this is going to get solved. It’s not going to get solved by protests, it’s not going to be solved by [saying], ‘We are going to win the streets back by dominating the streets and getting people back in order.’ This is going to be done by a change of hearts, and the only way that’s going to happen is communication — talk, listening and trying to see everyone’s point of view. How can we come together as a country and make this country better?”

Dungy on Drew Brees’ comments and apology: “We have to listen. One of the things I was struck by, that was the first time I heard the whole quote (by Brees), and all I heard for many hours was the first part, ‘I disagree with anyone who kneels for the National Anthem.’ So, hearing the whole thing, I feel differently by it. I am a friend of Drew Brees as well. I would love to have a conversation with Drew, and I think I will and explain to him why I see it as proper and I think a little differently when people kneel. But we have to be careful we don’t let this whole thing get going in another direction. Drew and I may disagree whether to kneel for the National Anthem or stand with my hand over my heart, but we agree on what has to change and we agree on what we have to do to make our country better. So, we can’t be afraid to say what is on our mind, we can’t be afraid to listen and disagree and have a civil conversation and move forward. Yes, Drew feels like he could’ve said it a lot differently. He did apologize for that and I respect that. As a Christian, I think that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to accept apologies when they’re given from the heart and I believe this was from the heart…When I hear the whole comment, I would love to talk with Drew. Yes, I hear what you’re saying, now here’s what I feel when the National Anthem is played. Yes, I had relatives in the military, and I understand all of that, but this is not about the military, this is not about the flag. This is about something different and let’s have that discussion. We can do that, and we have to do that if we are going to get this situation solved.”

Dungy on athlete activism: “I absolutely do think they’re seen in a different light now. I’m old enough to remember Muhammad Ali in 1967, and when he did not step forward and go into service, he was vilified and many people thought that it was un-American. And then five years later or six years later after the war, he is looked at completely different. He became a hero for those of us standing for human rights. I think the same thing is happening with Colin Kaepernick, and not just Colin, but all the guys who were kneeling…We did some shows and talked to young men on why they were kneeling and what their purpose was, and it was beautiful. But now it is maybe being seen in a different light and maybe understood a little bit better. That is what we have to walk through.”

Dungy on a coach’s role during this time: “I’ve talked to 25 coaches the past week. Everyone is on Zoom calls, talking to their team, having team meetings. The past three days, no one is discussing X’s and O’s, offseason programs. This is what they’re talking about and it has to be this way. These coaches are saying, ‘Men, we have to stay together, we can’t let this fracture us.’ There are going to be different feelings, different ways of approaching this, but we are all on the same page. We want to see America better, want to see the cities we live in better and how can we, as a team, stay together, with different ideas and backgrounds, but the same goal? We want to win a Super Bowl on the field, and we want to make our city a better place to live off the field. How can we do it together? That’s what coaches have to emphasize.”

Dungy on the importance of coaches: “I think it is going to be absolutely critical for coaches to deal with this. Talent doesn’t win in the National Football League, unity and togetherness wins. If you’re not unified and you’re not together, you’re going to have a tough time functioning this year. If I’m a head coach right now, that is the first thing I am talking about with our players. How can we come together and be unified as we go forward? How can we have some action steps and goals in mind, but let’s not get fractured? Let’s be a group of young men wanting our country to be better.”

Dungy on team ownership roles: “I think that is so huge. That was one of my criticisms during this whole kneeling process that we had a couple years ago. I felt like…if I was still in the game, if I was still coaching, I would have asked our owner to come down and meet with our players. Let’s talk about what’s on their mind. Hey, if we don’t want them kneeling for the National Anthem, let’s not take that one and half minutes before the game, let’s give them a platform. I’ll give up 20 minutes of my press conference time. Will our owner facilitate that for our players and give them some time maybe on our local TV station to talk about what’s on their mind, why they are hurting and what suggestions they have? I think our ownership has to be involved and they have to become part of the solution.”

Dungy on how athletes can impact change in their cities: “So much of it is the emphasis that we put on it. I know in Tampa and Indianapolis, we had a number of guys who did awesome things out in the community and we covered some young men at different teams who were trying to be part of the solution and going and visiting police precincts and trying to pull team groups together and visit there and have the police come in and talk to these young people. There’s so many things that can be done, but just using that voice and that personality, I think we’re going to have a number of creative things that can be done, but it’s got to start in ways that we can change hearts and we can change attitudes. I can’t wait to see what our players are going to come up with. I think we’ll have some things that we’ll be really proud of.”

Stephanie Ruhle on social and economic injustice: “The protests sparked around George Floyd, but they’ve also exposed so much more that needs to be addressed. That’s around income, education and equality. It’s about the last 10 weeks, the entire country has been on lockdown and look at the jobs number. Another 1.8 million people today applied for unemployment, so that’s over 40 million people. When you dig into the numbers, it is disproportionately African Americans. Why? Because those people have lower-paying, service worker jobs. Between February and March, we saw one in five black women lose their jobs. This takes us back to opportunity, education opportunity. We have to start addressing these injustices because in the last couple of days we’ve seen a lot of influencers in the African American community speak out and so many of them are in sports. Our answer can’t be that the only influential blacks are in the sports world. CEOs in America are able to work right now because they can work from their home offices. We’ve got to address these income inequalities from the beginning because so much of this unrest is rooted in financial instability.”

Ruhle on the impact of sports on local economies: “In many cities, you don’t necessarily have big business, so sports teams and universities are the business…It’s not just the teams, owners and fans like us missing watching the games. Think about all the ancillary businesses that are absolutely dried up that we’re not even thinking of and they don’t come back until sports come back…We are in such a tender moment. A really sad part of this, connected to sports and restaurants, that’s what connects us. One of the few things where there is a sense of community is eating together, drinking together and sports together. Right now, we are losing all of that…Maybe all of this coming together, is an opportunity to start to solve this.”

Jim Furyk on how he has spent the pause in the PGA TOUR season: “For the first six weeks, no clubs. Everything went away. I putted a lot in the background, but no golf course. Our family decided to hunker down at home and the silver lining was great quality time…The past couple weeks, getting ready for Colonial (next weekend) I’ve been working hard and I do think we are a sport where you can socially distance…I was nervous about it, but it’s worked out so far.”

Furyk on the atmosphere and fans at the Ryder Cup: “I think it’s one of the things that separates that event from the rest in the entire world. The roars, the cheers, the home and away matches you don’t see anywhere else. The players just love that atmosphere…It would be sad to see it played without fans.”

Mike Smith on his 2018 Triple Crown: “It means I can die right now and be happy. It’s life-changing when you’re blessed enough to pull something like that off. Still to this day, it’s the most unbelievable feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Smith on employees at the horse track: “They’ve always been the unsung heroes. Without them, the game couldn’t go on at all…We’re all a family and it’s brought us even closer together.”

Scott Dixon on Saturday’s 2020 NTT INDYCAR Series season opener on NBC at 8 p.m. ET: “I think it’s difficult for the teams and everybody in the industry, but what is normal right now? The biggest thing we have to focus on is that we’re extremely lucky to be back racing…Things will look a lot different, none of us have been on track since February or March. It’s a one-day in-and-out exercise. Short practice and qualifying straight into the race. It’s definitely going to be difficult for these rookies.”

Dixon on advice heading into Saturday’s race: “Texas is definitely its own beast. It’s high stakes and a high-bank oval. Being out of the car, I think there is a lot of built-up tension…Take your time. The race will take a while to play out, figure your car out, be aware of your surroundings.”

Following are highlights from The Rich Eisen Show on NBCSN:

Anquan Boldin on the past week: “I think I’m at a point now with what’s going on in our country of trying to pinpoint the problems that we’ve continued to come across time and time again in this country. Obviously, you have to be sleeping under a rock in order to not know what’s going on in our country right now, especially with that what happened with Mr. (George) Floyd, what happened with Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery recently. The thing that keeps coming back is how does this keep happening and how does it keep happening without accountability? And I think that’s the question that I’ve been looking at and trying to answer, and I think for so long we’ve missed the mark. We are talking about community policing, we’re talking about body cameras. We’re talking about all of these solutions and none of them hit the mark. You can do all of the community policing you want, and you have a situation — let’s just say you do community policing for 10 years and you have a situation like what happened in Minneapolis happen. All of the work that you’ve done and your department has done for the last 10 years with community policing goes out the window when there is no accountability for what’s happening. The reason I say that is because there’s a fight in this country that has to be had. A lot of people have avoided that fight and the fight that I’m talking about is qualified immunity. That’s the thing that nobody is talking about.”

Boldin on ‘qualified immunity’: “What I mean by that is there is language in, number one, the Supreme Court, and there is language in union contracts that allows for officers to not be held accountable. So, number one, in the Supreme Court — which is actually something that I think people are starting to look more into as of recently…One of the things that’s really jacked up is prosecutors, like attorneys — your state attorneys and your district attorneys — these prosecutors who have complete immunity. Meaning, no matter what they do, they’re not held accountable.”

Boldin on policing: “A lot of people don’t know that there are contracts between cities and the unions, the police unions, and there’s a lot of language in the contracts that allow for officers to go unpunished. Every contract has different language in it, but there’s two parts to those contracts. There’s one part that talks about the financing and there’s a second part that talks about the discipline and that’s where we as a nation have to start looking because what kind of system allows an officer with 18 prior complaints — two of them being shootings — to continue to be on the force?”

Boldin on how people can act to help: “I think there are a lot of actionable items because, unfortunately, we don’t have a justice system. We have a legal system, and legal systems are completely different than justice systems. So, when we’re talking about actionable items, I think one of the easiest things to do is, number one, to register people to vote, but also to educate people on why you’re voting, who you’re voting for, and what they stand behind…There are a lot of people on those ballots, a lot of people who you don’t hear anything about…Yes, you will have your  presidential elections, but your local elections are those people who will directly impact you on a daily basis and I would challenge people to not only find out who those people are, but find out what their job entails and find out what policies they stand behind.”

Boldin on the Players Coalition: “As the Players Coalition, we’re an entirely separate entity from the NFL. The Players Coalition is a player-led initiative that is fighting all the injustices in this country and we stand on four different pillars: education, economic advancement, criminal justice reform, and police-community relations. For us, those are the four places where we’ve placed our efforts trying to combat the injustices in this country.”

Boldin on the role sports can play in society: “I think sports could play a huge role…In order for that to happen, people have to be open and honest. I think a lot of times, we beat around the bush on certain subjects. We’re not completely honest about things that go on and then the conversation — I keep hearing people saying, ‘There’s a conversation that needs to be had.’ I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it because I think we all know what the problem is. So, it’s not so much of a conversation, and I’m at the point now where I’m kind of tired of talking and I’m more about putting action to what it is that we’re talking about.”

Boldin on if he’s interested in running for office: “No, not at all…For me, it’s about helping those that don’t have a voice and I know we say you can do that from office, but a lot of times when people get into office they seem to be handcuffed with what they can do…We have to shine a light on those things that are truly the problem, those people that are truly the problem, and I think until we do that and deal with the real issues…and unfortunately if we don’t, we’re going to be right back here again because you have to understand, this isn’t the first time this has happened. This isn’t the first time people in America have protested. This has gone on throughout our history, and people are outraged for quite some time and then it feels like everyone gets back to their normal way of doing things. I would hate for this moment to pass and there not be any type of change come about from it because we’re at a pivotal point in our country. Either we’re going to fight this, or we’re not. Either we’re against this, or we’re going to accept it. So, we’re at a point right now where we have to decide, as a country, what are we going to do? Are we going to truly be about change or are we just going to offer lip service and make people feel comfortable until this happens again?”

Boldin on Drew Brees’ comments: “If I were in that locker room, I would tell Drew, ‘Unfortunately, you have not been listening.’ From the moment players started kneeling, they had to repeatedly say it’s not about the National Anthem, it’s not about the flag, and players have told you why they are kneeling. I think every time somebody did an interview, they first started off by saying it’s not about the flag, it’s not about the flag, it’s not about the anthem. It’s about African American black men and women dying far too often at the hands of law enforcement. So, if you took what you just said from the conversations that we’ve been having over the last couple years, number one, you haven’t been listening at all to what your brothers in the locker room have been saying. You’re trying to tell a group of people how they should handle the injustices that have been happening to them since the beginning of this country. That’s disheartening, and it makes you wonder are you really about trying to bring about change, or do you just want things to be comfortable in the way that you do them?”

Chris Mannix on the NBA’s plan to return: “They have a got a format right now. I don’t think they have crossed all the hurdles yet. We still have to get the players on board, and I believe they are going to have a call tomorrow to discuss this format with the leadership committee.”

Mannix on the health and safety protocols of the NBA’s plan to return to play: “Health and safety protocols have to be negotiated directly with the union…the particulars, at least as of 20 minutes ago when I was texting with two general managers, are still unknown to a lot of people.”