FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

BRIAN KELLY AND TOM IZZO ON RACE RELATIONS; DEMARIO DAVIS ON DREW BREES & PROTESTS — QUOTES FROM TODAY’S LUNCH TALK LIVE WITH MIKE TIRICO AND THE RICH EISEN SHOW ON NBCSN

“Talking about it is the first step, but it can’t be the last step. We have to have actionable things that we can put in front of our players and give them the opportunity.” – Brian Kelly on conversations with his players surrounding race

“Because of how I live at home, because of who I recruit, and because of what I believe in, it is very important to me. I think that the day and age should come where we’re all in this together.” – Tom Izzo on speaking out against racism

 “I think our locker room can very much be a model to the rest of the country of how we heal from our past.” – Demario Davis on learning from the Drew Brees situation

STAMFORD, Conn. – June 9, 2020 – Mike Tirico hosted today’s episode of Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN and was joined remotely by:

    • Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly
    • Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo
    • MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal
    • NBC Sports golf analyst & host of “Feherty” on GOLF Channel David Feherty

 

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

    • New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis
    • NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills
    • ESPN MLB Studio Host Karl Ravech

 

Following are highlights from Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN:

Brian Kelly on training for the upcoming season: “It is going to be different. We’re going to have to crank this thing up because we had virtually three months of inactivity with our football team…Safety and health are at the forefront of what we do, but we’re going to have to gradually get this football team back to a conditioning level that is really effective for playing this game of football. It’s going to take us a lot of time and that means that we have to be with this football team in July and in August to get them ready for September.”

Kelly on question marks surrounding Notre Dame’s 2020 schedule: “We play in a lot of NFL stadiums right now, so what is…the NCAA and what is the NFL doing relative to stadium capacity, because those are large stadiums and you’re sharing gates there. So, do those go back on campus?”

Kelly on conversations surrounding George Floyd within his team: “You look at, first of all, getting the pulse of your football team. Our team was at first angry, they were confused, there were a lot of raw emotions, and you want to get those out and give your football team a platform where they can speak, they can talk, and, most importantly, where they can be heard and then have actionable things take place. We’ve started a Unity Council on our football team so we could begin to look at things within our own program that we can get better at, where I can be a better leader for our football team, and we can take on this systemic racism that exists in our country today. What we could do on campus as a football team and as a university. Look, we failed, and we have to come to grips with that, so giving our players a voice — which we have through social media — giving them opportunities to understand where they can make a difference. Whether it’s in voter registration locally, whether it’s being involved in more national events as well…talking about it is the first step, but it can’t be the last step. We have to have actionable things that we can put in front of our players and give them the opportunity.”

Kelly on his football team as leaders on campus: “Our football team is 68% African American and in a university that is 80-20, and so they can make a huge difference because they are the leaders of our football team. So, when they become leaders of our football team and are respected by everybody on our campus, that is a strong platform to come from. So, we’re encouraging them for their voice to be heard and that resonates with them because they come to Notre Dame wanting their voice to be heard, so we’re just providing them their opportunity for that to happen and then giving them different platforms…I think dealing with these very, very important issues of safety and health, and systemic issues in our society, these life issues, are much more important and that’s what I’m hired for, these much more important issues.”

Tom Izzo on issues facing the future of college basketball: “I think we’ve got three or four of them with the G-League coming out now and changing things a little bit. Are they going to start paying players? Are they going to try to get them earlier? Is it a year or so? Are kids going to come right out of high school and be able to go? The transfer rule has been a big thing for me, I think it’s creating some issues. Then you’ve got the NIL and how is that going to work and keep some equity in what we’re doing? It’s going to be very difficult…Everybody wants to try to help the student-athletes, and yet — even with your own kids — what is helping them, what is hurting them? How much do you give them one way and how much do you not give them the other way?”

Izzo on his relationship with black players: “I probably wouldn’t be sitting in the house I’m in, I probably wouldn’t be in the job I’m in because I’m in a sport where there’s a lot of time 75, 80% of my players are black. So, because of that, coming from the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) where I came from, where I played against one black player in high school and then I’m in a sport where it’s just the opposite, and yet I believe that the first African American that I met was a guy named Mike Garland, who’s now been my assistant for 20 years. He’s my second-best friend. (Steve) Mariucci is my best friend…That’s where my education started and then my first recruit was a guy named Steve Smith…His mother and father were so good to me and so I have an appreciation. To take it to another step, I married a Hispanic woman, so I got to see it from a little different sides of things. So, I, like many, have not done as good a job as I should do in my job as far as that goes because sometimes you’re afraid to speak up and speak out, but I’ve learned a lot. I think I’ve got a lot to give in the next five years that I plan on doing even a better job of.”

Izzo on how he can use his platform to help others listen and understand more: “What I’ve been really excited about is when I watch the protests — I’ve done nothing but watch TV, called former players…I’ve tried to take different eras of Spartans that I know that I think can help me do a better job of, ‘What can we do?’ When you watch what’s happening, for the first time in all the years that I’ve watched different things go on, there seems to be a lot more white people involved, and my guess, because of the platform I have, I’m one of those. Do we ever do enough? I don’t think we ever do enough, but we’ve got to do more than we’ve done. That’s what I want to be part of. Everyone wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It’s very cliché to say, but because of how I live at home, because of who I recruit, and because of what I believe in, it is very important to me. I think that the day and age should come where we’re all in this together…I think maybe our country can learn from sports a little bit and maybe from a locker room because I think that’s very, very important in us making progress ahead. I don’t go into a locker room and say that player is white and that player is black. I say that player can help me win this way, that player can help me win this way, that player can do his job and then we put it all together and boy, because of it, we’ve won a lot of Big Ten championships and we’ve been to Final Fours. So maybe we can all learn from sports…The way systemic problems have been, maybe sports can help a lot and I think maybe you’re starting to see some of that, but I give the credit to people, people out there that have helped a lot. There’s getting to be so many people joining in on this, it’s almost great to see it.”

Ken Rosenthal on the 2020 MLB season and negotiations: “I do expect that there’s going to be a season. Now the question is, what kind of season is it going to be?…The better option for baseball, for the union, for fans, is for the two sides to agree and not have a unilateral position…The owners made a proposal yesterday, the union is expected to make a counter-proposal by tomorrow. At some point, they have to get going here, because time is wasting.”

Rosenthal on financial issues of a shortened season for players: “One way around this would to be to play a longer season at perhaps some kind of cut…All I know is the players want their full, prorated salary. Where this goes? I’m not sure. Basically, to this point, they’ve been talking almost different languages, not really making proposals that the other side considers realistic. It’s a problem and at some point, they either get a deal or (MLB Commissioner Rob) Manfred imposes a short season…and that is really not in the best interest of anyone.”

Rosenthal on tomorrow’s MLB Draft being cut down to five rounds: “I believe it’s significant and I believe you’re chasing players from your sport…I don’t know that’s a healthy message to send when your sport is fighting for every athlete.”

David Feherty on the weather at this weekend’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club: “It’s going to be tortuous out there and very, very tricky…It’s going to be a challenge.”

Feherty on the difficulty for players returning to competitive play this weekend: “This is almost twice as long as they would normally get on a winter break. There’s an itch here that a lot of these players are going to feel and they’re going to want to scratch it, that’s for sure. They’re dying to go…Players are dying to go and spectators are dying to see it, but it’s going to be very strange out there. It’ll be a different experience for these players playing without a crowd, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we have a surprise winner this week. Maybe somebody from the Korn Ferry Tour.”

Feherty on playing without spectators in attendance: “The last time most of these players played under these conditions was in college…It’s an unknown quantity. Whether it will be more suspenseful for the players or less, there’s certainly a possibility there will be less adrenaline…This is such an experimental thing.”

Feherty on grouping top players together this weekend: “I think that’s a terrific idea having all of these top players in groups together. It’ll provide a little bit of atmosphere…that might be missing otherwise, and they’re so competitive that they really want to beat each other and they’re good friends…It’ll be really interesting to see how they get on out there in these marquee groups.”

Following are highlights from The Rich Eisen Show on NBCSN:

Demario Davis on the Saints team meeting after Drew Brees’ comments: “I never share what goes on in team meetings. I don’t think anybody should talk about something that is private. As it pertains to Drew (Brees), as it pertains to kneeling, as it pertains to (Colin) Kaepernick, it is like we are making the same mistake we made in 2017 when we took the conversation to something it should have never been about. I think the world outcry happening around the world right now and black people and, more specifically, around police brutality and making sure we change the way we do policing in black communities especially. We need to spend more time talking about that and how we find solutions to that. All these people speaking out, these are conversations we should be having. First, talking about should players be kneeling, what is somebody’s stance on this, what is somebody’s stance on that? Let’s just talk about the issue at hand and find solutions. Let’s not let the conversations be dominated by anything except that.”

Davis on potential player protests during the season: “We have a lot of time until fall. Let’s just talk about the protests going on right now. There are much more extreme protests happening in the streets right now. You have millions of people protesting and marching in the streets, not just in America — millions of people of all ethnic groups, millions and millions of people all around the world from different countries taking to the streets and marching, specifically on behalf of black people and bringing justice to the cops that are responsible for the death of George Floyd, the cops that are responsible for the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the cops responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor and that is what the conversations should be around. Why are we talking about a form of protest that may or may not take place in the fall when there is a much greater protest? There are more people in the streets than there are in the entire NFL. Why aren’t we talking about this global outcry that is going on that players are actually participating in? Why are the players in the street? Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the form of protest they are taking now. Why are players speaking out now? Why are players being engaged in their community, and meeting with legislators and meeting with activists right now? Let’s just talk about that.”

Davis on possible next steps: “I think we should look for justice for these families and understand we can’t really bring justice to these families because we can’t bring them back — that would be real justice. We can honor these families in first convicting these cops that are responsible for these murders, and I think that would go a long way towards being symbolic that change is on the way. After we convict these cops that are responsible, we change the way we do policing in America. We in America know how to respond to crisis. After 9/11, we changed the way that we go through airports. You will never go through an airport the same, we changed up the entire process, changed the way that the TSA workers check you. So, we certainly change the way we do policing in our country. I think there are a ton, a ton of good police officers. We need to find a way to empower those good police officers to help eradicate the police departments of bad cops. I think we need to find a way to empower prosecutors to be able to prosecute bad cops when they do wrong things and there will be a greater sense of accountability. There is a bill on the floor right now that is about to be passed — that we are hoping to get passed — that puts an end to qualified immunity that pretty much lets police officers move untouched. So, things of that nature that help us change the way we do policing in our country. I think that is first, then we need to attack — racism is in the heart, but we can attack the racial injustice structures that exist in our country. All the people that are moving and want to help the black community, this is how. Let’s begin with justice and let’s put an end to black people being brutally murdered in the streets, and then let’s work to end all these racial injustice structures that exist in our country.”

Davis on his relationship with Brees: “I think for any growth to happen there has to be bridges, so that is two sides coming together. I think there has to be sides that admit to wrongdoing and say you are going to prove with action that your words and your desire for reconciliation is there, and on the other side there has to be grace. From there you have to move on and focus on the bigger mission, which is all of us working together for that end goal. So, I think our locker room can very much be a model to the rest of the country of how we heal from our past. There has been wrong that has been done against a specific people group, and there has to be action first to say you want to reconcile and their actions showing there is a desire for reconciliation, and then there has to be a grace that allows that reconciliation to happen. And then once that bridge has been formed and working together, then we can work together towards a solution and live peacefully in a house together.”

Davis on Brees’ statement to the President: “I would encourage all of America and Drew to follow up on those words. Drew made a statement where he is pretty much saying he has overlooked the black community and wants to start looking to help it. I would encourage everybody in America to follow, and if Drew does that, that is leadership and then America has a model to follow of what that should look like. This problem that exists in America is going to take all of us to fix it and that is when we have peace. That is what I meant by Drew, when I said it is leadership for him to say what he is going to do, but leadership is most importantly marked by action and I think that he has an opportunity to lead America in what action should look like and in assisting in helping alleviate the burdens of the black community.”

Davis on if he thinks Colin Kaepernick should get signed: “I would go as far to say that — though it does take away from the ultimate conversation — I would go as far to say as it pertains to having a problem with Colin Kaepernick taking a stance against police brutality, that he is definitely owed an apology by the NFL and everybody else who said that they were on the wrong side of it and said he shouldn’t have taken that stance. I definitely think he is owed an apology. So, what that looks like after that I don’t know, but I definitely do believe he is owed an apology.”

Dr. Allen Sills on the NFL’s protocols for returning to facilities: “A tremendous (amount) of research, review, discussion and collaboration went into that. We had a number of join task forces that were set up between the NFL and the NFLPA bringing together medical experts, infectious disease experts, team doctors, athletic trainers, players, all those voices putting together…with one simple goal in mind, which is how we can mitigate risk and try to keep players, coaches and staff and everyone as safe as possible?”

Dr. Sills on the NFL considering hosting all teams in one location: “We all did not feel we could take a six-month season…and ask everyone to stay isolated at one location away from family, away from social network support structure. That just felt like an impractical request.”

Dr. Sills on the possibility of putting a medical mask on the facemask of a helmet: “We are exploring a number of different options…All ideas are on the table and all ideas are being looked at.”

Karl Ravech on the discussions to bring MLB back: “It has literally become a CBA conversation. The CBA doesn’t expire until 2021. This should be solely about getting back on the field during a pandemic.”

Ravech on the failed discussions between players and owners: “You had an opportunity to be back on the field before others. You had an opportunity to make this unique and memorable. You had an opportunity to experiment and yet you are mired in arguments you had in 1981, 1994. It doesn’t resonate, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It is a blown opportunity.”

Ravech on commissioner Rob Manfred’s preference in negotiation: “I think he prefers a deal. I think he prefers a deal that benefits the owners, but I think in the end, he prefers a deal versus this 48-game idea.”

–NBC SPORTS–