FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA Week 1 Notes and Quotes

FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA Week 1 Notes and Quotes

Mike Tirico hosted the Week 1 edition ofFootball Night in America tonight from NBC Sports' International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., in advance of the SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL matchup between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Tirico was joined on the set by analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and NFL Insider Mike Florio.

Liam McHugh co-hosted Football Night on site at from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. He was joined by the SNF team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworthand Michele Tafoya. He also conducted pre-game interviews with both head coaches.

The program began with a new show open that featured the Packers and the Bears, but also many of the players and teams who will be competing this season on Sunday Night Football. It was set to the song "Check It Out" by Oh The Larceny.

Peter King, NFL insider and columnist for NBCSports.com's Football Morning in America, interviewed Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr. The segment examined the role of both quarterbacks in the franchise's rich history as the Packers begin their 100th season.

FNIA also included highlights, analysis, and news from around the league, as well a feature on the faces of diehard Bears and Packers fans, including a Bears fan with more than 200 Bears-dedicated tattoos, and a Packers' fan who took his wife's last name - Packer.

Following are Notes & Quotes from the Week 1 edition of Football Night in America:

ON PACKERS

Michaels on calling games at Lambeau Field: "I've done a lot of games here, a lot of tremendous games. Brett Favre came back. But I can't forget about the game after 9/11 because 9/11 was on a Tuesday, there were no games played the next week. They came back here and played a Monday night game 13 days later -- very emotional, of course, across the country. Chris Gizzi ran across the field with the American flag. It was very emotional and very powerful...I've done games here on Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. Next up: Groundhog Day."

Head coach Mike McCarthy on the Packers' history to McHugh: "Leading up to the game, you make sure you educate your first-year players. I walk a little slower through the tunnel to make sure you appreciate it each and every day. It's a special place."

McCarthy on impact of TE Jimmy Graham: "Jimmy is just really a great guy. He's a natural fit in the locker room, but really, the work on the field has been seamless. You could see Jimmy and Aaron connect throughout the offseason program. They've had some big-time plays, particularly in the two-minute drills in the competitive periods of training camp, so those guys are off to a great start."

Harrison on Rodgers: "Even if it means criticizing some of these guys and calling them out, they really respect what he says and they're going to do everything they can to make sure they please him."

Harrison on Graham: "This is the missing piece for this offense. This is the guy Aaron Rodgers always wanted. I think they went from a 9-7 team to a legitimate contender."

Harrison on Muhammad Wilkerson: "My question is, which player will we see? THE ONE in 2015 that had 12 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl, or the guy who got paid and quit on his teammates? He needs to have a big game tonight, especially in the run game."

ON BEARS

Collinsworth on Khalil Mack: "His pressure is so consistent, and he gets there so quickly. You see a lot of quarterbacks peek. They won't admit they're peeking, but they're peeking...You put Khalil Mack out there, the other guys get the one-on-one blocks, and now you have a problem (for the opposing team)."

McHugh on the impact of Mack: "The SUPER BOWL odds for Chicago were 100-1, now they're down to 40-1."

Tirico: "It's not the return of the Mack, it's the arrival of the Mack."

Dungy on Tarik Cohen: "He's the same size as my son Justin, who's only 12 years old." (laughter)

ON COWBOYS

Harrison on Cowboys cutting K Dan Bailey: "I thought that was a huge mistake. Pay the man."

Harrison on if he's more concerned about the Giants or Cowboys: "I'm more concerned about the Dallas Cowboys because they don't have a No. 1 receiver, they struggle running the ball, and that's what they're supposed to do best."

Dungy: "Dallas has always dominated with the offensive line. That's how they've won games. It's been hard to stop them and that sets everything up. They don't have that now."

ON STEELERS

Harrison: "You can talk about on the field, but I'm talking off the field. I think it's very important for Mike Tomlin to set the standard and tell these guys, 'Stop talking about Le'Veon Bell. He's not in camp, he's not here, we have to move forward.' And I thought it was wrong for all those players to come out and continue to talk about Bell because I thought it was a big distraction and it affected them today."

Dungy added: "Forget about Le'Veon. Let's go back to their last game of the playoffs. They looked bad at home against Jacksonville. And so you come out this year, you have a two-score lead, but you turn it over six times. Sloppy football, that's what Mike Tomlin has to eliminate."

ON TEXANS

Harrison on QB Deshaun Watson: "He looked rusty. He looked like he was favoring his knee. We didn't see those explosive plays, (he had) bad decision making, throwing into double coverage. We just didn't see what we're used to seeing from him."

Dungy: "The other thing we didn't see was when he had those little cracks, usually he bursts out of the pocket. Here he was a little hesitant, and didn't take that alley and go get it like he did before the injury. But that will come back."

ON CHIEFS

Dungy: "I was an Alex Smith fan, but Andy Reid saw this guy Patrick Mahomes play all year on the scout team last year. He was ready to take that offense to another level."

Harrison added: "Alex Smith took them as far as he possibly could, but this kid, with the big-play ability ... in order to win a Super Bowl, you have to have those big plays, which we saw last year with the Philadelphia Eagles. He gives them that opportunity."

Tirico: "Travis Kelce only caught one pass today. Wait until he gets involved in this offense. Chiefs have a lot. They look good early again. We'll see if it lasts through the season."

ON VIKINGS

Dungy: "We all wanted to see Jimmy Garoppolo against a legitimate defense, how he would fare. He did OK. But that defense is great. There's a lot of playmakers here."

Harrison added: "(Harrison Smith), this guy is awesome. He's the best safety in the NFC."

ON CHARGERS

Tirico on Chargers QB Philip Rivers comparing an NFL season to the Tour de France:

"With Rivers and the Chargers, it always feels like they're on the mountain stage. They're always climbing back uphill."

ON BILLS

Harrison: "It really doesn't matter who you put at quarterback if the offensive line can't block."

Tirico: "(Nathan) Peterman's passer rating - 0.0. Blutarsky."

ON NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTESTS

Florio: "Just a handful of actual protests during the anthem. And the league believes that the issue is beginning to subside as it relates to the controversy and constant discussion about it. There were plenty of reports about the fact that the league and the union aren't likely to reach an agreement on the anthem policy this season. But from the league's perspective, they're more concerned about building TRUST with the players on social equality issues and that's what they're trying to do. And there is a quiet acknowledgement that having a player like Colin Kaepernick or Eric Reid employed would help build more trust, but that's not going to happen anytime soon because of the legal issues."

PETER KING WITH AARON RODGERS AND BART STARR

Rodgers on embracing the Packers' history: "From the first day I got here and took the tour, you looked around the stadium - Favre's name wasn't there yet - you just understood the history. You start looking at Lambeau, Lombardi, Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr - I'm a huge fan of the game. I grew up watching old VHS tapes of SUPER BOWL highlights, and who was in them? The Green Bay Packers."

Rodgers on how his friendship with Starr formed: "It was a sincere appreciation for him reaching out in 2008. When the changeover happened with Brett (Favre), he and his wife Cherry started writing me letters."

King: "What were his letters saying?"

Rodgers: "They were just super supportive and encouraging. It meant the world to me because I knew I had the support of one of the greatest players of all-time, and definitely one of the greatest Packers of all-time."

Starr reading from his letter to Rodgers: "You are a strong leader. Cherry and I are admiring you because you are one of the finest men we have ever met."

Rodgers on the impact of being the Packers' QB: "This is one of the top positions in all of sports. We feel like we are 'America's Team.' Other teams have taken that mantra from time to time, but we're just a blue-collar city with a team that's been around for a100 years and been a part of some incredible NFL history. To me, there's no better job in sports."

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