FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 4th, 2021

PETER KING NAMES 20 PEOPLE WHO DEFINED NFL THIS YEAR & DISCUSSES END TO UNUSUAL 2020 SEASON IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“Of course it devolved into the weird. It wouldn’t have been 2020 with a normal endgame.” – King on Washington-Philadelphia NFL season finale

 “When Goodell looks back at his career, 2020 will probably be his most satisfying season.” – King on Ranking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell No. 1 on List of 20 People who Defined the NFL in 2020

 “Henry is writing an incredible story, a story destined to end one day in Canton… Appreciate his power and effortless steamrolling while you can.” – King on Titans RB Derrick Henry

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 4, 2021 – Peter King names the 20 people who defined the NFL this year and discusses the strange ending to an already unusual  2020 NFL season in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also previews the Wild Card Weekend games, hands out his weekly awards, and discusses the news and notes from around the league in Week 17.

Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Week 17.

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

WASHINGTON-PHILADELPHIA

King on the 2020 NFL season: “This was the 37th NFL regular season I’ve covered. It was the weirdest, of course, and not a single other one was close for second place…Of course it devolved into the weird. It wouldn’t have been 2020 with a normal endgame.”

King on Washington-Philadelphia: “Washington and Philadelphia played in Week 1, with Dwayne Haskins’ season of great promise beginning in the nation’s capital, and Carson Wentz primed to continue his ascent to consistent greatness for the playoff-bound Eagles…Wow. Less than four months ago…Washington, 6-9 entering the night, needed a victory to win a historically bad NFC East. A loss would hand the division to similarly 6-10 New York via tiebreaker.”

King on the Eagles playing QB Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter: “Eagles coach Doug Pederson had hinted he might play Sudfeld in this game that meant nothing to the team but draft seeding…Sudfeld looked like a nerve-wracked JV backup thrust into a varsity state title game, turning it over twice and being sacked twice in his first 11 snaps.”

King: “Normally, I’m a you-gotta-do-what’s-in-your-team’s-best-interests guy. But there was something about this that I thought broke the honor code among teams…In a three-point game with a dangerous mobile QB who’d already run for two touchdowns in the game, with another team on the edge of its seat, dreaming of a playoff berth, and Nate Sudfeld? I hated it. Everything about it felt wrong.”

Giants DB Logan Ryan to King on Washington-Philadelphia: “There will be a lot of opinions about whether they were trying to win. You want to play the game to win, but I don’t play for the Eagles, I don’t coach for the Eagles. It’s their team. Winning six games doesn’t give us much right to get pissed off about this. We didn’t play consistent enough all year to earn it.”

THE 2020 20: THE PEOPLE WHO DEFINED THE NFL IN A TUMULTUOUS YEAR

King: “The year 2020 tried the NFL’s soul. Here, I’ll hold up a mirror to the league, and highlight the most influential people in what happened on the field, and how the virus wracked it, and how social issues awakened a sleepy league, and how the business of the game was impacted.”

1) Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner 11) Howard Katz, NFL senior VP of broadcasting
2) Allen Sills, NFL chief medical officer 12) Kyle Johnston, Miami head athletic trainer
3) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay quarterback 13) Josh Allen, Buffalo quarterback
4) J.C. Tretter, NFLPA president 14) Will Hobson and Liz Clarke, Washington Post reporters
5) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City quarterback 15) Christina Mack, epidemiologist/contact tracer
6) DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director 16) Kendall Hinton, Denver “quarterback”
7) Crystal Echo Hawk, Native American activist 17) Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City offensive coordinator
8) Michael Thomas, New Orleans wide receiver 18) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Kansas City guard/COVID front-line medic
9) Bryndon Minter, NFL social-media creative producer 19) Jason Licht, Tampa Bay GM
10) Jamal Adams, Seattle safety 20) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami quarterback

 

King on Goodell: “When Goodell looks back at his career, 2020 will probably be his most satisfying season…Goodell told me on Labor Day weekend: ‘I think we have a plan that will get us there.’ Thirteen postseason games to go.”

King on Sills: “The most important meetings in the league this year? For seven days a week for the last five months, there have been two: the 7 a.m. conference calls for the six or so contact-tracers to discuss that day’s positive tests that have been reported on overnight test results from the 32 teams, and the 8:30 a.m. calls to map out that day’s plans with 12 or so participants on what Sills calls “the SWAT team” of epidemiologists, league officials, tracers, and infectious-disease experts.”

King on Brady: “At 43, there were some hiccups on the way, but he piloted Tampa to an 11-5 record and the fifth seed in the NFC tournament, and he finished third in the league in passing yards (4,633).”

King on Mahomes: “At 25, Mahomes has shown that his future, in football and social issues and philanthropy, is bright.”

King on Echo Hawk: “Echo Hawk, of Oklahoma’s Pawnee Nation, applied pressure for years on a 38-year Native American issue – that Washington should drop the team name “Redskins” because it was racist…After 87 years known as the R-word, the franchise suddenly became the Washington Football Team.”

King on Hinton: “The most 2020 moment, easy, was in Denver on Nov. 29. Saints at Broncos…Hinton played quarterback briefly at Wake Forest but hadn’t thrown a pass on any level in two years. But the Broncos had no one else, and the league was adamant: Play the game with whoever at quarterback…It’s actually surprising there weren’t more of these debacles in the season of COVID.”

WILD CARD PREVIEW

King on Colts-Bills: “Frank Reich returns to the scene of his prime trying for what would be a major upset…Now, on a short week, Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus have to figure a way to stop one of the hottest teams in recent history…Josh Allen is the hottest quarterback in the AFC.”

King on Rams-Seahawks: “Big prediction: It’ll be a tight game. Surprise!…(Sean) McVay would obviously rather have (Jared) Goff play, but I’m not sure how much of an upgrade Goff is now anyway; Rams scored 24, 20 and 9 in his last three starts.”

King on Tampa Bay-Washington: “The Washington line could stuff Tampa’s middling run game and make this all about Brady getting rid of it quickly enough to avoid (Chase) Young and (Montez) Sweat. I think this will be a better game than people think.”

King on Ravens-Titans: “It’s time for Lamar Jackson to bury his playoff problems…Jackson can say what he wants, but those losses have to bug him. The tough thing about playing the Titans now? Derrick Henry, of course, is red-hot, but Ryan Tannehill continues to be a major threat.”

King on Bears-Saints: “They’ll need Mitchell Trubisky to be efficient for this to be a game into the fourth quarter, which is a big ask. Look for the Bears to feature David Montgomery (413 rush yards over his last four games) to take the heat off Trubisky.”

King on Browns-Steelers: “This is the game of the weekend…The Browns drafted Baker Mayfield to win games like this. I don’t know if he will, but the way he’s trending – one pick since Halloween, only eight all season – he’s not going to hand the game away.”

WEEK 17 NEWS & NOTES

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski to King on making the playoffs: “This is the season of the curveball. You have to be able to hit it. I just credit our players. We’ve been thrown curveballs since April…That just speaks to the resilience of this football team. I think it speaks to the character of the guys we have.”

King on coaching vacancies: “Five coach vacancies, assuming Doug Marrone gets word in Jacksonville today. One club official on a team with a vacancy told me over the weekend, ‘There may only be five.’ … Anthony Lynn may have saved his job with a season-ending four-game winning streak with the Chargers.”

King on Urban Meyer: “If Meyer gets the Jags’ job, he’ll obviously have the great fortune of being able to draft a very bright prospect QB, Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, and be in position to build a good offense over time…I’m not saying I wouldn’t hire Meyer. I am saying it’s a risky hire. They guy’s never failed, and he’s never taken over a team as horrible as Jacksonville.”

King on Ohio St. QB Justin Fields: “It’s highly doubtful Trevor Lawrence won’t go first to Jacksonville in 16 weeks in the ’21 draft, but Fields made a great case to go number two with that show Friday night.”

King on rookie QBs: “Seeing the contrast between the three rookie quarterbacks has been eye-opening. Joe Burrow in Cincinnati and Justin Herbert in Los Angeles look like four-year vets almost right away – sure of themselves, totally unafraid of choosing the deep options. (Tua) Tagovailoa looks like he has training wheels on at times.”

King on the Panthers: “I’d think about taking a first-round quarterback if I were Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers. Teddy Bridgewater’s been pedestrian this year, and he had every chance to grab the job for the foreseeable future. He never did it.”

KING’S WEEK 17 AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Week: Derrick Henry, Tennessee, & Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis.

King on Henry: “Henry is writing an incredible story, a story destined to end one day in Canton unless he falls off a cliff… Appreciate his power and effortless steamrolling while you can.”

Defensive Player of the Week: Leonard Williams, New York Giants.

King: “Credit Williams for so much of the Giants’ 23-19 season-stretching win over Dallas. It was the best game of his Jet/Giant career.”

Special Teams Players of the Week: Corey Bojorquez, Buffalo, & Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo.

King on McKenzie: “The versatile fourth-year player, picked up off waivers from Denver in 2018, had the greatest day of his NFL life – and it only took one quarter.”

Coach of the Week: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay.

King: “He and Aaron Rodgers have had a brilliant partnership, he hasn’t sweated the little things, and he’s made sure to coach the whole team and not just the offense. Hats off to LaFleur for stepping into a declining team with a great quarterback and solidifying everything about it in two seasons.”

Goats of the Week: Anthony Weaver, Houston defensive coordinator, & Adrian Hill, referee.

King on Weaver: “I don’t know whose fault it was that on the biggest play of the Tennessee-Houston game, there was no deep safety in the game for Houston. But that buck has to stop with the defensive boss, Weaver.”

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

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

    • Football Night in America: Week 17 Recap with Mike Tirico, Rodney Harrison, Tony Dungy, Mike Florio and Steve Kornacki.
    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
    • ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
    • The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss Week 17 and look ahead to the NFL Playoffs.

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 PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.

NBC SPORTS