FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 12th, 2020

STEPHEN JACKSON ON GEORGE FLOYD; MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON NASCAR — QUOTES FROM TODAY’S LUNCH TALK LIVE WITH MIKE TIRICO AND THE RICH EISEN SHOW ON NBCSN

“I never thought that his death would put me in a position to lead 18 countries and all 50 states to protest at one time. I’m proud of that and I know he would have done the same thing for me.” – Stephen Jackson on leading a movement after his friend George Floyd’s death

“I think NASCAR has taken all the right steps to make sure everybody that comes to our races feels comfortable…I think for the sport going forward, for the future of our fans, I think it’s the right way to go.” – Martin Truex Jr. on NASCAR

 “This has been fun. We started the show, in large part, just to fill the void and because, as you saw, so many people were at home…As sports come back, we’re going to let us do what we normally do, and that’s cover sports…Thanks for enjoying lunch with us.” – Mike Tirico on today’s final episode of Lunch Talk Live

STAMFORD, Conn. – June 12, 2020 – Mike Tirico hosted today’s episode of Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN and was joined remotely by:

    • NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr.
    • Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher
    • ESPN Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play announcer and MLB Network host Matt Vasgersian
    • NBC Sports/GOLF Channel analyst Paul Azinger
    • NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury
    • NBC Sports horse racing reporter Nick Luck

 

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

    • Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was a friend of George Floyd
    • NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico
    • NBC Sports golf analyst & host of “Feherty” on GOLF Channel David Feherty
    • Actor David Costabile of Billions

Following are highlights from Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN:

Mike Tirico on today’s final episode of Lunch Talk Live: “This has been fun. We started the show, in large part, just to fill the void and because, as you saw, so many people were at home…As sports come back, we’re going to let us do what we normally do, and that’s cover sports…Thanks for enjoying lunch with us.”

Martin Truex Jr. on the opportunity NASCAR has to create change: “I think it’s a big opportunity. I think NASCAR has taken all the right steps to make sure everybody that comes to our races feels comfortable in where they’re at, who’s around them, how people act. I definitely stand with NASCAR in their decisions of what they’ve done. I know it’s a tough topic for a lot of people, but, I think for the sport going forward, for the future of our fans, I think it’s the right way to go.”

Truex Jr. on the atmosphere at Wednesday night’s race: “You think about all those things leading up into the race and on the grid pre-race and you kind of understand what’s going on around you and how big of a moment it really is — what kind of an impact it’s going to have on the sport going forward…Once you get in the car, you’re in the zone and you’re focused on what you’re doing in the racecar and you forget about all those things and you just focus on doing your job. But it’s definitely a big night.”

Truex Jr. on winning Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway without fans in attendance: “So, after my interviews and things, I didn’t even know where to go. I was like, ‘Where do I go? What do I do with my car?’ So, it was a little bit strange to go do that and take the victory lane picture with the clock by myself and the mask. You know, it’s tough for everybody right now, but I really would’ve loved to have been able to celebrate with my team. That’s probably one of my favorite parts about winning these races is just to celebrate with the team and thank them.”

Jimbo Fisher on recruiting and communication today compared to the past: “The way you recruit and the things you do now compared to, not just 25 years (ago), but compared to even five or six years ago…the ability to communicate throughout our world and for people to get their stories and situations heard is totally different. It’s a totally different person. It’s a more, I’m not going say individualistic person, but one who can express himself in so many different ways and so many avenues and has the outlets to be able to do that. So recruiting and communication, it’s changed drastically.”

Fisher on student-led protests at Texas A&M: “Our athletic department and our student-athletes had a group…we’ve talked in football, ‘Do we want to have a walk? Do we not?’ They wanted to encompass all the student-athletes in the university, not just football, which I think was tremendous. They put it together and did a really nice job with it. It was very well organized and very good messages.”

Fisher on what he’s learned from his student-athletes over the past few weeks: “As a coach, sometimes you hear all the stories and you see stories around your athletes that have to do with athletics, and you hear off-and-on the stories that happen when they’re away from you out in society. But then, I think it’s just the time and the movement that’s going on right now, is allowing kids to feel freer, to really open up about everything, all the little details. I mean, there are so many things that you say, ‘Wow,’ and you’re there to be supportive, but I always felt like we have been…At the same time, it’s an extremely educational process. I like to say, what you want to try to do is make sure that you can help create change and apply change to make sure change is happening in the future.”

Mike Milbury on players returning to training camp: “You’ve got to skate. It’s that simple…I think a big factor in how this thing plays out down the end of the line here is how well these guys are trained and coached during this training camp. (It’s) going to be really critical to get them on their toes and moving quickly.”

Milbury on strategy based on new rule changes: “Now with the rule changes and the up-tempo game that everybody wants to play, you have to incorporate the (third and fourth lines). You have to have that kind of depth. You have to have that kind of trust in your fourth line.”

Milbury on the top seeds playing in the round robin format: “I think it’s been proven that home ice advantage is not as critical as it might be. So, I think they need to get themselves in those three games to a point where they feel comfortable about the way their team is performing. You win, you lose, you draw, they’re going to have to try to play to win.”

Matt Vasgersian on the odds of an MLB season taking place: “I’ve been confident throughout this and maybe I’m being a bit of a Pollyanna here, but I just think that there’s way too much at stake on both sides for somebody not to make the kind of concession that’s required to get the season in right now. The Commissioner has at his disposal the opportunity to implement a 50-game schedule, that’s a last-case scenario. Nobody wants to see this sport condensed to 50 games. It’s not organic to the way this thing goes…It’s not a great litmus test. That’s why they’re both actively engaged in trying to make this happen.”

Vasgersian on a possible 50-game season: “I think that if there’s a 50-game season, I would hope that it would come prior to an expanded playoff format because that would kind of get the bad taste out of your mouth. If we get an NHL-style tournament with 16 teams competing, or whatever the number might be, that to me is an exciting thing, and I’m holding out hope that that actually takes place.”

Vasgersian on how players entering professional baseball are impacted by the situation surrounding Minor League Baseball: “If you’re a high school kid and you have a chance to go to college, I think that college opportunity is probably more lucrative than taking a $20,000 flier to go play short-season A Ball next year someplace. But if you’re a college senior and in the absence of a chance to go play overseas, you might consider that opportunity and you might sign that $20,000 minor-league free agent contract just to go show somebody you can play someplace. It’s really a very unusual time that the game is in right now.”

Paul Azinger on players competing without spectators: “I don’t think it’s going to be hard on these guys to adjust to no fans. I think maybe the big adjustment will be when the fans come back and how they are going to react with the fans and how…social distancing works out. But no fans for these guys, I think, is something that they’re embracing, and they love it.”

Azinger on Harold Varner III at this weekend’s Charles Schwab Challenge: “Guys like Harold Varner, they know this is an opportunity for them to come out here and play good. He’s got honestly more spotlight on him, for obvious reasons, but the golf ball, you know, once you get ‘pro’ by your name and you’re on the PGA TOUR, there’s no discriminating out here, he knows that. But he’s going to let his clubs do the talking, I think. Harold Varner, I know him. He’s a good kid, he’s smart and he can really play, and he’s got a lot of guts. And if you get a chip on his shoulder, watch out for Harold Varner.”

Azinger on Bryson DeChambeau: “I just can’t believe the size of the man, and the fact that what he’s doing is actually contributing to greater distance and greater speed. A lot of times when you see a guy increase in size like that, they lose their flexibility and elasticity. He’s got to be careful because longevity is a big part of golf. You want to be here a long, long time, and he’s playing golf and getting his body ready like he’s in here for the short haul…I’m not sure if he’s going to shorten his career or not by getting strong and big like this, but you know, if he breaks the mold, he’d be the right guy to do it. Everything he does is his own land.”

Nick Luck on next week’s Royal Ascot on NBC and NBCSN: “What I love about Royal Ascot is that it marries up the best of the ancient tradition of her majesty, the Queen, leading friends and family…in carriages up the famous Royal Mile that’s been going on since 1711…The very best of sport and the very best of horse racing and sport that Ascot have endeavored to make better and better. The event has a contemporary feel to it now, whilst retaining all that tradition, and of course this year, we’ve got an occasion with no occasion. So, what do you do? Do you recoil from that or do you try to go as big as you can? I’m really pleased that Royal Ascot have embraced this concept of ‘Royal Ascot at home.’”

Following are highlights from The Rich Eisen Show on NBCSN:

Stephen Jackson on when he first met George Floyd: “I don’t know the exact time, about 20, 25 years ago. I was at the end of my high school years…and a friend of mine…he brought him down and said, ‘I have a homeboy in Houston who looks just like you and he played basketball too. He was an athlete too.’ When he brought him down to Texas, our first reaction was, ‘Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?’ because we looked that much alike. The conversation from there built onto a friendship of him being one of my biggest supporters. We addressed each other as twins from that day on. I got a lot of videos that I have been watching now and it’s just making me really emotional because he was someone that really supported me without any motives, you know what I am saying? He was a genuine supporter. Somebody that showed so much love had to die by somebody that showed so much hate. He didn’t have to go out like that.”

Jackson on when he first heard about George Floyd’s death: “I was on the couch and my daughter was at my house. I was asleep on the couch with my daughter…I had a video from my girlfriend’s mom — we talked about police brutality a lot, me and her — and she sent me a video and I’m half asleep when my phone rang or vibrated and I looked at the video like, ‘They killed another brother.’ You know, not even paying attention. She lives in Minnesota…and I’m just thinking it’s another video from her. As I close the video, I put my phone back down and my phone vibrates again, and I see that I have like 25 or 20-something messages and I open a message from my friend, Mike D., and it said, ‘Did you see what they did to your twin in Minnesota?’ It instantly clicked, and…I just got up screaming, starting to punch some stuff, scared the mess out of my daughter. I kind of lost it for a good 10 minutes because I instantly saw myself down there and I didn’t think that could happen to him…It put me in a place where, from that day on, I don’t know how I feel, what direction I’m going, I really just feel like I’m going in circles. Since that day on, I’ve just been in shock, kind of. It was a crazy day that day.”

Jackson on how George Floyd’s death is causing change around the world: “It makes sense to me because he was a protector and provider for everybody. Everybody that knows him, knows he will give his last to anybody…The last couple of conversations we had, when we talked about a year ago, was about his daughter and him being in Minnesota and changing his life. He wasn’t one of those friends that called me for money. He needed clothes and suits for job interviews and stuff like that. He was really changing his life, man. So, I’m not surprised that his death is going to be meaningful and his name and death is not going in vain. I’m going to make sure of that. I never thought that his death would put me in a position to lead 18 countries and all 50 states to protest at one time. I’m proud of that and I know he would have done the same thing for me. His death has been a blessing, and it’s also changing his daughter’s life. So, I’m looking at all of the positive things that’s coming out of his death because that’s all you can do right now since you can’t bring him back. But I just wish things could have been different.”

Jackson on the action he’d like to see: “At the end of the day…you know that I’m a guy that the same respect that I ask for and the same love that I give, I expect in return and give that back to everybody I meet, regardless of what color you are. That’s what I stand for and everybody that stands for that, everybody that stands for love and stands for right, I just want them to stand on the side of me and fight for what’s right, and that’s just equal justice. It’s really — the world has lost common sense kind of because what makes me emotional and makes me hurt, is that it’s common sense to treat people right. I don’t understand why I have to lose a brother or why my niece has to see her dad die for the world to see, for people to understand that all you have to do is to treat people the way you would want to be treated. It’s really common sense. So, I’m a person that stands and I told every race that I love them and mean it, and every race has told me the same and I believe it. If you stand for that, if you stand for what’s right, stand with me and fight for what’s right and that’s equal justice. That’s for everybody to be equal. That’s for everybody to be treated right, and that’s what I stand for. I’m not a politician, I never want to be a politician. I’m just somebody who loves everybody, and I think there’s more people that love than more people that hate, and that’s why everybody is standing together. That’s why you’re seeing change. That’s all I ask for.”

David Feherty on the PGA TOUR’s return: “I thought it was great…This is much better and enjoyable than I expected it to be. The golf was so good, these guys came back with a vengeance ready to play.”

Feherty on current tournament leader Harold Varner III: “He’s one of the most popular kids out there. He’s got a terrific sense of humor, really smart, a terrific young player and a great character. He’s a joy to be around.”

Feherty on the idea of players being mic’d up: “With no fans, I think it’s a terrific idea. Actually, even with fans, I have been in favor, maybe not the players, but the caddies so you get that interaction. Quite often, it’s more important what the caddy says. You get the peripheral around it as well. It’s certainly something worth thinking about.”

Feherty on the advantage for the new players to the PGA TOUR: “One of the things that I think is sort of an advantage to the new players is that the only golf we have seen on television like this is college golf. You get the kids out there and there aren’t that many people around. Some of the new recruits from the Korn Ferry Tour or wherever it may be, they may have a little edge there or be a little more at home compared to some of the established players.”

Mike Tirico on looking back at classic games he has called during the pandemic: “The one that I did actually sat down and watched was the return from Katrina New Orleans game back in 2006. 55 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. That was our third Monday Night Football game at ESPN, so that was game three in that run for me. I was doing play-by-play with Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser. I kind of watched the game afraid of watching it now, 14 years later, because hopefully you get better at what you do 14 years after the fact. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, I must have been terrible here’ and the game was so enjoyable to watch. I thought Tony (Kornheiser) was just the perfect person to have there that night…That was a great memory for me and looking back on all those encore broadcasts.”

Tirico on the importance of sports after Hurricane Katrina: “That night reminded me that sports have such a civic pride. Almost nothing else carries. That night in the Superdome there were white and black, female and male, every religion you can imagine, and people that were this great big stew and collection of people that would identify themselves differently on a census box. They were all wearing New Orleans fleur-de-lis and New Orleans Saints stuff and were all there to celebrate. That event showed that New Orleans was ready to be open for business again, more than any event.”

Tirico on watching NBC’s Belmont Stakes special last week: “When American Pharoah won the Belmont (Stakes), Tom Hammond — who was so great covering the Triple Crown races and covered so much horse racing, has a degree in equine science — Tom said that was the loudest he ever heard a sporting event. To watch that few minutes after (American) Pharoah wins the Belmont because it was a 37-year wait, as Larry Collmus, the race caller, called that moment. To watch it again, I know he’s going to win, but I’m still going to watch this.”

David Costabile on getting starstruck by boxer Deontay Wilder on the ‘Billions’ set: “For me, I got to meet the heavyweight champion of the world (Deontay Wilder). I rarely get starstruck…the woman that does my makeup said, ‘Go up and talk to him and say hi.’ I said, ‘I can’t because he’s the heavyweight champion of the world.’”

Costabile on his love of boxing: “I’ve loved boxing since I was a kid. I used to watch (Muhammad) Ali with my dad.”

–NBC SPORTS–