From NBC Sports -
FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA PREVIEW – WEEK 13
BOB COSTAS INTERVIEWS JOHN HARBAUGH & DICK LEBEAU
“James Harrison is a good guy. He wants to play the game the right way. He’ll figure it out.” – John Harbaugh to Bob Costas on the NFL’s new hitting directives
“Safety is paramount because life is precious.” – Dick LeBeau to Bob Costas on the NFL’s new hitting directives
NEW YORK – December 5, 2010 – Bob Costas interviewed Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau for tonight’s Week 13 edition of “Football Night in America,” which will also include highlights, analysis and reaction to Week 13’s afternoon games.
“Football Night” airs each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET with Costas, who won the outstanding studio host Emmy last year, hosting the program live from inside the stadium. In addition to his interviews, Costas is joined on site by SNF commentators Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (analyst) for reaction to the afternoon games.
Dan Patrick co-hosts “Football Night” from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios and is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Emmy-nominated Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison, and reporters Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.
BEST VIEWERSHIP EVER: “Football Night” (7:30-8:15 pm) is averaging 8.3 million viewers through its first 12 weeks, its most ever for that time frame and up 11 percent vs. 2009’s 7.5 million viewers.
INTERVIEW: Below are excerpts from Costas’ interviews with Harbaugh and LeBeau. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In an exclusive interview airing tonight on ‘Football Night in America.’”
Costas: There are a number of people around the league, and some of them are on the Steelers, who are saying, ‘We’re not sure the way the game is supposed to be played anymore.’ Do you share that concern?
Harbaugh: It’s clear cut how the game’s supposed to be played. Going helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet against defenseless players is no longer part of the game. There’s no question in my mind that our team has figured it out and most of the league has figured it out, and, shortly, everyone will figure it out.
Costas: So you have no problem with the league’s directives?
Harbaugh: No. I support them. I think it’s exactly right. There are some situations where you have a player who will catch the ball and duck his head, and a player is already committed to a tackle. But the league’s not fining for that. You may get flagged for that because it’s hard in real time for an official to determine what happened but players don’t get fined for that. It’s when you go to the head against a defenseless player or to the knees against a defenseless player that you’re going to get fined.
Costas: You have on your roster one of the legendary hard hitters in pro football history in Ray Lewis. No problem for Ray Lewis to play the game the way he’s always played it under these new directives?
Harbaugh: Ray’s adapted. Ray’s done a great job. If you look at Ray Lewis’ hits, they’ve been in the strike zone. They’ve been below the shoulders and above the knee. They’ve been hard hits. They’ve separated players from the ball. It’s what Ray Lewis football is all about. To me, that shows you the greatness of this guy and the ability of guys to do it. He’s 35 years old and he’s adjusted.
Costas: So from this I’m getting that anybody can do it? James Harrison, if he wants to, can figure it out and make the adjustment.
Harbaugh: He will. James Harrison is a good guy. He wants to play the game the right way. He’ll figure it out.
Costas: Is the game more violent now than it used to be?
LeBeau: The game is not more violent for sure. The game was pretty violent when we played.
Costas on increased coverage and scrutiny: Could you get away with things a couple of decades ago?
LeBeau: There’s no question about it. All the rules that are in place now for player safety evolved because it wasn’t all that safe for some of us playing. It’s all for the good.
Costas: Do you, as James Harrison’s coach, have a problem with the NFL’s new mandates?
LeBeau: Oh, I do not. The safer you can make any enterprise that any of our people are engaged in. Safety is paramount because life is precious.