|NEW YORK – December 18, 2011 – Bob Costas interviewed San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, and Tony Dungy interviewed Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh for tonight’s Week 15 edition of Football Night in America, which will also include highlights, analysis and reaction to earlier Week 15 games.
Football Night airs each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET with Costas hosting the program live from inside the stadium. In addition to his interviews, Costas is joined on site by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (analyst) for reaction to the afternoon games.
Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios and is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBCSports.com. Alex Flanagan will report from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on the Patriots-Broncos game.
Football Night is the most-watched and highest-rated NFL pregame show. The program is averaging 8.9 million viewers and a household rating of 5.4/9 (7:30-8:15 p.m. ET) through 15 weeks, up five percent and six percent, respectively, through the same period last year, and the most in the six-year history of Football Night.
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Costas’ interview Rivers, and Dungy’s interview with Harbaugh. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In an exclusive interview airing tonight on Football Night in America.”
PHILIP RIVERS WITH BOB COSTAS
COSTAS: Everyone knows that Norv Turner is on the hot seat. How has that affected you and the team?
RIVERS: I think we’ve handled it well. He’s getting all the criticism and the heat. We lost six in a row, but he didn’t blink. He didn’t let that effect the way we prepared and went about our business. I know the guys appreciated it. We kept it all blocked out. That’s why we’ve been able to get on a little bit of a roll.
COSTAS: A lot of people think that you are playing through an injury that we don’t know about. Yes?
RIVERS: No. I almost take it as a compliment, really. I appreciate all the outs, but I just went through a tough stretch.
COSTAS: So no excuses? … Not related to an injury?
RIVERS: Not related.
COSTAS on the Chargers struggling offensive line facing the Ravens defense: This is not a pretty prospect.
RIVERS: I tell you what, we’ve played a lot better the last two weeks and we’re still alive. We’re playing on Sunday Night Football. There’s not much more you can ask for or to be excited about. Coming off a six-game losing streak, to still have a chance and obviously to get to play this team, a mid-December match up, that’s what it’s all about.
COSTAS: I have seldom run into an athlete in any sport who outwardly enjoys what he does as much as you. And sitting here, even at 6-7, I don’t see that enthusiasm dampened.
RIVERS: No, not at all. You got to say, ‘We still get to play in an NFL football game.’ If somebody called you up and said, ‘Hey, we’d like you to come play quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.’ My first question wouldn’t be, ‘What’s their record?’ It would be, ‘When’s the first flight out of here to go play a game?’
RIVERS, who has six children, on his son wanting an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady jersey for Christmas: He doesn’t know all those guys yet. He’ll be four. He wanted some eye black. That was a big thing this year. He certainly lets me know when it’s an interception or a touchdown. He’s my biggest fan, but he also knows when we do bad.
COSTAS: Fan and critic both.
RIVERS: When I come home. ‘Did we win?’ … That was a rough six weeks. I said ‘no’ for six weeks. But we’ve got it going, so hopefully he’ll be saying ‘yes’ here again on Sunday night.
JOHN HARBAUGH WITH TONY DUNGY
NOTE: John Harbaugh’s brother is San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Their father, Jack, was a longtime college football coach, including as an assistant at Michigan.
DUNGY: If I were to describe you and your brother Jim, two words would be intense and competitive. Is that from growing up with a dad as a coach or is that from growing up together?
HARBAUGH: Probably both. Our dad made everything competitive. It always was a world championship, a national championship, Big 10 championship. It was always at stake in everything we did.
DUNGY: And never did it cross your mind to let Jim win.
HARBAUGH: Of course not. He never did win, as I recall. You look back on it; there never was a time when he did win, in my mind (laughter).
DUNGY: One of the first times I ever scouted, I was at the University of Michigan and Jim was quarterbacking. Bo Schembechler yelled at him like I had never seen a coach yell at a quarterback and he (Jim) didn’t blink an eye. Did you guys get some tough coaching from your dad when you were young?
HARBAUGH: We got tough coaching from Bo when we were young. Jimmy had been hearing Bo since he was about nine years old, getting chewed out. There was a time when we were playing and we were on the sideline with the other coaches’ kids, and we were playing touch football over on the side. Somebody threw a pass and it went over everybody’s head onto the middle of the field into Bo’s practice. Of course, Jim was the youngest one so it was like, ‘Go get it.’ So he had to go out and get the ball and Bo just went off.
DUNGY: What did you learn from your dad that you use now?
HARBAUGH: The biggest thing our dad taught us is that enthusiasm is real. He talks about coaching with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. To me, that’s how he lives his life. And the relationships he had with his players. After the game, all the coaches would bring their families over to the house. You know that kind of an atmosphere, that’s the way my mom and dad were. What else would you rather do than be a part of a football team?
DUNGY on playing home playoff games: How much have you guys talked about that?
HARBAUGH: We have. We don’t even need to talk about it because we do know. We want to be at home, but we have to earn that. We haven’t earned it yet, but that’s something that this game and the upcoming two games are going to determine.
DUNGY: If you don’t get to the Super Bowl, will it be a disappointing season?
HARBAUGH: Well, yeah. You know how it is. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. That’s how we look at it. We’re going to try to make ‘when’ this year. That’s the goal.
DUNGY: Why is Jim good (as a coach)?
HARBAUGH: A lot of reasons. I think he’s good because he’s Jim. He’s a good decision maker. He makes good judgments. He’s got a vision. He’s got a picture of what he wants it to look like. He’s not worried about what other people think. He’s not afraid to be himself. He’s a good person and he cares about people. He wants them to do well so that they can shine, not for any other reason than that they can be their very best.
DUNGY: If I said that about John, would I be saying the right thing?
HARBAUGH: (Laughter) I hope so.
DUNGY: I think I would.