– Mike Tirico hosted the Week 9 edition of Football Night in America tonight from NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., in advance of the Sunday Night Football matchup between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Tirico was joined on the set by analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Chris Simms, and NFL Insider Mike Florio.
Liam McHugh co-hosted Football Night on site from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. He was joined by the SNF team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya, as well as the Patriots’ ‘End Zone Militia.’ McHugh also interviewed Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
In anticipation of only the second time Rodgers and Brady have met on the field, Harrison spoke with Brady, who discussed which quarterbacks he emulated as a kid, the traits Rodgers possesses, and his opposition to being labeled as the greatest of all-time. Click here to watch the full interview. Tirico spoke with Rodgers to discuss the play of Brady and which moment encapsulates the five-time Super Bowl champion most. Click here for the interview.
In addition, mathematicians from the University of Wisconsin and Boston College come together to analyze statistical data in an attempt to settle the Brady vs. Rodgers debate. Click here to watch.
NBC Sports’ Week 9 edition of FNIA also included highlights, analysis, and news from around the league.
Following are Notes & Quotes from the Week 9 edition of Football Night in America:
ON PACKERS-PATRIOTS & RODGERS-BRADY
Tirico: “We’ve got the Cheeseheads and the Chowdaheads, and we’ve got two guys in the GOAT conversation.”
Dungy on the quarterbacks: “I flashed back to 2004. I was coaching Peyton Manning. We played Green Bay. Brett Favre came in for the first time and I could see Peyton elevate it a little bit. That game was 800 yards passing, nine touchdowns between them. And I think we are going to see a little bit of that tonight.”
Collinsworth: “This thing is going to be special. And I think part of it is, it’s all the GOAT discussion. And you know the GOAT on Tom Brady’s side is five championships and there you go. The GOAT on Aaron Rodgers side is that I even hear quarterbacks saying, ‘I’ve never seen anybody do that before.’”
Harrison on improved Packers defense: “I think the biggest difference is they’re faster – they’re faster in the secondary and I also like their mentality. Their mentality is different, they’re aggressive, and they’re going to get in your face, play a lot of man-to-man coverage. You have to do that in order to beat Tom Brady.”
Simms: “Whether it’s Brady in clutch moments, it’s Aaron Rodgers and the unbelievable arm talent, the quick release, all the things they do. Let’s not always nitpick about who’s better. Appreciate the greatness they both have…You can have the perfect defense called, and it just doesn’t matter because they’re so talented.”
Harrison on Brady playing Rodgers: “He embraced the opportunity and challenge of playing against Aaron Rodgers.”
Tirico on Brady and Rodgers’ personal relationship: “I was asking Aaron about their personal relationship, and Aaron said they see each other at the Kentucky Derby every year. Aaron bumped into Tom for the very first time in Cabo. They were playing golf, and (Rodgers) ended up playing a round of golf with a guy who he looked up to and idolized because Brady was a champion at that point. He’s been out to Tom’s place in California. Tom’s chef made him dinner. Aaron realized, ‘I’ve got to start eating the way that Tom does for that whole longevity thing.’ So, they were very honest about the admiration they had for each other.”
Dungy on preparing for Brady and Rodgers as an opposing coach: “When we went against Brady, our practice focused on disguise. You can’t let him know what (defense) you’re in. So, disguise, disguise, disguise before the snap. With Rodgers, it’s after the snap and we used to have to practice ‘plaster’ — that means the play is being extended. You have to find your guy, get on him and don’t look back for the ball. You don’t know how long that ball is going to be before it’s in the air.”
Harrison: “If I was in that locker room and all week I heard about the two quarterbacks, it would get me so upset because it’s like, ‘Hey, it’s not just about the quarterbacks. It’s about us, too.’”
Michaels: “If you love pro football, where would you rather be than right here, right now?”
Simms: “Sign of a good team is they can win in a lot of different ways.”
Florio on Brees’ four-touchdown performance against the Rams: “We’ve got two GOATs tonight. I think there may be another guy that says, ‘Don’t forget about me. I’ve had a good career, too.’”
Dungy on Brees: “If you can’t get pressure on him, especially in that dome, you can forget it.”
Harrison on Saints defense: “Their offense protects them and hides all of their deficiencies.”
Harrison: “I actually like the Chargers more than I like the Chiefs because I think the Chargers are more of a complete team. They have an experienced quarterback. They have some really good, young defensive players, and I love Melvin Gordon.”
Dungy: “And they’re doing this all without Joey Bosa, who’s their best defensive player. If they can get him back, I think they can do something special.”
Simms: “(Offensive coordinator) Norv Turner has done a phenomenal job orchestrating an offense around Cam Newton.”
Dungy on Turner: “He is playing to the strengths of his offense and to me that is great coaching.”
Harrison: “They are playing as a team, and not as a bunch of great athletes.”
Harrison: “I’m just looking at Deshaun Watson. He’s just a completely different quarterback than what he was Week 1. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, he’s making smart decisions. I like Houston moving forward.”
Below are excerpts from Harrison’s interview with Brady, and Tirico’s interview with Rodgers.
HARRISON’S INTERVIEW WITH BRADY
Brady on being labeled as the best ever: “I don’t think I like it very much, truthfully. It’s almost more uncomfortable for me because I never see myself like that. I’ve always been the underdog… I was a backup quarterback on a 0-8 freshman team, and I didn’t even play.”
Brady on his first memory of Rodgers: “When Brett (Favre) retired and then came back and they said, ‘No, Aaron is the quarterback,’ that’s when I really started to pay attention. Like, ‘Wow, Aaron’s playing,’ and watching him play and develop over the years, it’s been fun to watch … I think everyone looks at him and tries to emulate things that he does even though a lot of them are impossible to do.”
Brady on what he’s learned from Rodgers: “The way I see him move and throw, it makes me want to get on the practice field and try new things. I’ve done that over the last few years – trying to incorporate some different throwing mechanics, different angles of throws…I’ve watched a lot of their offense over the years and he’s got great poise in the pocket. He moves incredibly well, he uses his blockers so well. He must have great peripheral vision…There’s no throw that he sees on the field that he doesn’t think he can make.”
Brady on Rodgers as a quarterback: “Just spectacular. You see all the quarterbacks play a certain way and then you watch him – the velocity of the ball, the ability to run and throw on the move, the ability to get the ball into places that no one else can get them into.”
Brady on Rodgers as an inspiration: “The style of play and the way that I watch him move and throw, it makes me want to get on the practice field and try new things…I talked him at one point. I said, ‘You know when you’re looking in there, when you’re thinking about running.’ He said, ‘No, I see the coverage and once I see the coverage, I know I’m going to run.’ I’m like, man, that thought has never gone off in my head one time.”
Brady on when Rodgers has the ball at the end of the game: “I’m worried…I’m worried… I’m worried because I’ve just seen him do it too many times.”
Brady on Rodgers for tonight’s game: “He’s going to bring it, and I’m going to bring it and let’s see where it goes.”
Brady on tonight’s game: “It’s where you measure where your team’s at against other great teams. These are the games that you remember.”
TIRICO’S INTERVIEW WITH RODGERS
Rodgers on what words come to mind about Brady: “Champion. He’s got five rings. That’s pretty impressive.”
Rodgers on which specific moment comes to mind when he thinks of Brady: “I think it’s just the comeback against Atlanta. 28-3. All of us being fans of the game were watching, and you’re starting to think about what it’s going to be like for Matt (Ryan) – probably going to be Super Bowl MVP, and getting to see him in the summer time and congratulate him on his championship. But then they just start slowly eating away at it. It (was) typical Patriots and Tom.”
Rodgers on if Brady has the ball at the end of the game: “There is an expectation in those situations that he is going to get the job done. When you get to that level, sometimes you forget how difficult it is. But he’s done it so many times… Stop him. Stop him. Get a pick, strip sack, let’s go.”
Rodgers on if he emulates Brady: “We both try to copy each other I think. I heard him using a cadence I know it sounds pretty similar to mine. I know he switched up his feet during a shotgun. But I’ve definitely stole some stuff from him for sure (like) pocket movement… I appreciate that from Tom. I’ve teased Tom over the last couple of years about how mobile he’s been. He scored a rushing touchdown the other night.”
Rodgers on tonight’s game: “It’s great for the fans, but ultimately it comes down to our offense against their defense and vice versa.”
ON BEING 49ERS FANS
Brady on who he emulated as a kid: “I was the earlier Joe (Montana) (fan), and when Steve (Young) took over, I mean, what better way for a kid to grow up in the Bay Area watching those two guys? They were both my heroes. When I was in the street playing football with my friends, that’s who I was. I had Joe Montana’s jersey at one point when I was younger, and then I had a Steve Young jersey when I got older … I loved 49ers quarterbacks.”
Rodgers: “I watched Joe Montana and Steve Young growing up so those are my two favorite players. Being right handed, I obviously thought I was Joe. In the biggest moments, they wanted the ball in their hand.”