FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 3rd, 2020

LAMAR JACKSON & JOHN HARBAUGH SPEAK WITH PETER KING IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“It’s win or go home. And I’m tired of going home. I just can’t wait to get back in that same spot and perform at a whole ‘nother level.” – Lamar Jackson on the Ravens’ recent playoff losses

“He even said to me, ‘Coach, coach, we gotta be playing…We should be playing in this game.’ That’s all he carries around with him, 24/7.” – John Harbaugh on Jackson after failing to reach the Super Bowl last season

“The organization is inventing a semi-bubble. Beginning Wednesday, the team has contracted with the Loews Hotel to rent four floors…so that most of the team’s 100 Tier 1 and 2 employees and many of the players would be able to quasi-quarantine in the luxe hotel till opening day.” – King on the Saints’ COVID-19 plan

STAMFORD, Conn. – August 3, 2020 – Peter King speaks with Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson about the team’s playoff losses and his motivation heading into the 2020 season in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and discusses COVID-19-related updates from around the league, including the Saints’ plan to create their own semi-bubble environment at a local hotel.

Across NBC Sports this week, PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms airs from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET every weekday on NBCSN, with King joining on the show tomorrow and NBC Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison making his weekly guest appearance this Wednesday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast prepare for the upcoming season.

Listen to King’s full conversations with Jackson and Harbaugh later this week on The Peter King Podcast.

The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

LAMAR JACKSON & THE RAVENS

King on Lamar Jackson and Super Bowl LIV: “Lamar Jackson did not watch the Super Bowl. The game was on his home turf in south Florida for the first time in 10 years, and Jackson loves football, but he couldn’t bring himself to watch. Not the biggest surprise, really; players who think they should be playing in the game often don’t watch it – just hurts too much.”

King on Jackson’s leadership: “Jackson, in his MVP season, became the unquestioned leader though he did it in a (Tom) Brady way – quietly, with an easy confidence, letting others tell the loud jokes. Those others often looked to Jackson for approval. It’s tough to own a locker room at 22, but from what I saw (and what I heard from others in there), Jackson managed it.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on Jackson’s MVP award: “He enjoyed it and it did mean something to him, and I think to his teammates. He said that. But he even said to me, ‘Coach, coach, we gotta be playing. We gotta be playing in this game. We should be playing in this game.’ That’s all he carries around with him, 24/7. Of course, as a head coach, I love it.”

Jackson on the offseason: “Just followed the rules. I didn’t really go out. I didn’t go out to party, stuff like that…I was missing football. I was missing OTAs. It was like, ‘Man, when we gonna be able to go back?’ We started waiting for the call…I’m like, God, we might never play football this year. But then we got a call. We gotta report in July. It was great. I’m happy to be back right now.”

Jackson on his time quarantining: “Especially in Florida, they were closing things down for us. Sometimes my teammates couldn’t fly in. We had to just make the best of it. Like the guys who stayed in Florida, I worked with those guys. But the times when they were letting us, a couple guys flew down. A few rookies flew down and we got our grind on and worked.”

King on the Ravens’ loss to Tennessee in last year’s playoffs: “Second straight year that a strong offense came up way short…Jackson knows that great players are defined by success in January, not October…But it’s so early in his career, and two games do not prove a guy can’t win in the playoffs. In his short time at Baltimore’s helm, Jackson has shown he deserves the trust of his coach, and of his team, entering year three.”

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta on the loss to the Titans: “A perfect storm of bad football for us…I do not subscribe to the theory Lamar cannot win a playoff game. I saw him beat playoff team after playoff team – New England, Seattle, San Francisco, Buffalo, Houston. We just weren’t good enough that day.”

Jackson on the loss: “I just want to get back to that situation so I can perform different. Just put it on my shoulders and go from there. I gotta fight to get back to that situation. It’s gonna be a different result this time.”

Harbaugh on the Titans: “They played a really solid Mike Vrabel-type football game. It happens in football. We’re not…we’re not re-questioning everything.”

Jackson on the importance of playoff success: “I think about it a lot, to be honest with you. That’s where I wanna be. That’s when everything gets…crucial. It’s tough. I remember LeGarrette Blount DM’d me on Instagram. He was like, you know, playoffs is different from regular season. I’m like, nah. But it is, because it’s win or go home. And I’m tired of going home. I just can’t wait to get back in that same spot and perform at a whole ‘nother level.”

ON COVID-19

King on the Saints’ COVID-19 plan: “The organization is inventing a semi-bubble. Beginning Wednesday, the team has contracted with the Loews Hotel to rent four floors of the fashionable borderline French Quarter hotel, so that most of the team’s 100 Tier 1 and 2 employees…and many of the players would be able to quasi-quarantine in the luxe hotel till opening day.”

Saints head coach Sean Payton to King: “It’s a sequester. The message from the league is, ‘The show must go on.’ If so, we’ve got to do everything we can to be sure that happens…It’s like creating a game plan with a likelihood of success. We’re just trying to increase the odds of success.”

King on positive tests around the league: “In the course of one weekend, a Super Bowl-winning head coach (Doug Pederson) and two starting quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford, Gardner Minshew) either tested positive or went on the reserve/COVID-19 list…Imagine if this happens five weeks from today, and Pederson tests positive the week before the opener, and Duce Staley’s the head coach at Washington…Without a true bubble, these sorts of stunning new headlines become reality of the 2020 season.”

King on the Panthers’ training camp setup: “Every one of the 80 players reporting in camp this morning has his own suite on the loge level of the stadium, with open windows to ensure air circulation; in the suites, players use tablets to attend virtual team and position meetings.”

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule to King: “I can still walk around and stick my head into a suite and talk to any player I want. We’re not going to have any regrets. What we can do in our facility is make it as safety and as disease-preventable at humanly possible. I think we have the best chance to stay healthy and safe and still be able to conduct our business and build the kind of camaraderie you need on a team.”

King on team travel plans for back-to-back road games on the opposite coast: “Eight teams that play in Eastern or Pacific time asked for and received a scheduling edge; they are scheduled to play back-to-back far from home…The eight teams that have such back-to-backs will probably have to file “IDER plans,” which stands for infectious disease emergency response…I’m told the league is going to strongly urge teams not to stay on the road that long, despite the inconvenience for the teams involved.”

King on the recent questionnaire that the Competition Committee received: “This isn’t big news or that big a deal, but members of the Competition Committee recently were asked for their opinions on various issues about the schedule if games for pandemic reasons cannot be played…When I hear things like that, I think this league, as Richard Sherman said a couple of weeks ago, will do everything and anything to field teams and play a season.”

LEAGUE NOTES

King on Antonio Brown: “I think if I had to put $5 down on Antonio Brown’s team for this year after his eight-game ban is served, I’d put it on Seattle. Russell Wilson is a fan and wants it to happen, Pete Carroll isn’t afraid of risky guys, and John Schneider (Percy Harvin, Josh Gordon) is okay with taking shots on game-breakers with baggage.”

King on opt-out negotiations: “I think I agree with Devin McCourty of the Patriots: The league should not be able to change the terms of the late-July deal with the NFLPA so players would be rushed on whether to opt out of their current contracts…Barring a concession on some other issue that the players would agree to, the NFL can’t change the rules of the game during the game.”

King on Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley: “Top 2021 draft prospect Caleb Farley, a cornerback entering his fourth year at Virginia Tech, became the first high-profile college player to opt-out of the college football season last week. Likely to be one of the first corners picked in the 2021 draft, Farley explained his decision for FMIA.”

Farley on his decision to opt out: “This was the toughest decision of my life. I live for football. But now that I’ve made the decision, I am totally at peace. I know I’ve done the right thing…This year at Virginia Tech, at our workouts, I started having deep concerns about staying healthy…One day I looked around, and we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks. My concern grew more and more.”

Farley on his reasoning: “I started being really conflicted about playing. What this came down to is, I lost one parent. My dad is so important to me. Growing old with him means so much to me, more than football. I don’t know what I would do if I contracted it and gave it to him, and he passed. I couldn’t live with that.”

Farley on if more college football players will opt out: “I don’t know if I will be the first of many college players to opt out. I know a lot of guys are thinking about it and trying to build up the courage to do it. I just hope the testing in college football will be available and it will be frequent. Because there’s no way of knowing what you’re signing up for if there’s not a good testing program.”

Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.

The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:

    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms airs from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET weekdays on NBCSN. King will join the show tomorrow, and NBC Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison will make his weekly guest appearance on PFT Live this Wednesday.
    • ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news and updates.
    • The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast continue to preview and prepare for the upcoming NFL season.

 

A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.

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