ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 2


ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 2

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter,Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnsonand Ray Lewispreviewed today’s NFL games with insidersChris Mortensenand Adam Schefter. The first 45 minutes of the three-hour program included a comprehensive discussion of the events of the week in the NFL, including the developments in the Ray Rice case and the charges against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. As part of the coverage, Outside the Lines’ Bob Ley hosted a discussion with Mortensen, Schefter, Suzy Kolber, Bill Polian and Louis Riddick. Some excerpts from today’s show:

On the charges against the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and the topic of child abuse…

Johnson (on being physically disciplined as a child himself):“If that didn’t happen to me along the way, I wouldn’t be here with you today. It taught me a lot of learning lessons. Even further to say:  I never, ever got put in a position where I was hit 15-plus times and I bled – never. But I also understand that they did it so I can become a better kid along the way, and it obviously worked.” 

Jackson: “He (Peterson) committed abuse against this child. If you talk to most African-American men – and I know much of America is hearing about this for the first time — I was whipped: a switch by my mom, a belt by my dad. What was done to me and what was done to that four year-old are different things. That is abuse of a child. The shame of it all: Adrian Peterson doesn’t know that he did anything wrong to this child. … There’s something here that’s bigger than even this issue – the NFL entirely. We started the week: players beating up women; we ended the week with players beating up children. We are in a very serious state here in the National Football League.”

Lewis: “Anytime you make a child bleed, that’s abuse. Anytime you physically harm a child where people can see them go to school, that’s abuse. But when you are raised the way I was raised – I’m telling you, if my mother wasn’t as hard as she was, the streets would have gotten me the way the streets got a lot of my other friends who didn’t get the proper discipline. … Adrian has to understand there’s a certain level called discipline, and there’s another level that’s called abuse.”

Carter: “My mom did the best job that she could do, raising seven kids by herself, but there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. It’s the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what they want to do. … The only thing that I’m proud about is the team that I played for [the Vikings]. They did the right thing: take ‘em off the field.” Video.

Ditka: “A parent has a right and an obligation to discipline their child if it’s done in the right way. My dad whipped my butt. Did I deserve it? Yes. … I wouldn’t be here today if that hadn’t happened in my life. That was a great thing. I didn’t like it. I cried, but every time I got it … I became a better person for it. That’s all I can say.”


On this week’s developments in the Ray Rice case …

Jackson: “What a sad week for the National Football League. I can’t remember as many mistakes as have been made over the course of the last week. Actually, it even begins before that.”

Johnson: “The league’s been around for a long time. They’ve consistently gotten this sort of thing wrong. Period. They dropped the ball on this long before Roger (Goodell) because if you think about some of the cases in the past, the penalties have been the same or less. … They don’t make one decision. Roger is not the only person making the decision. They collectively make these decisions. But they consistently have gotten it wrong.”

Carter: “It’s been a tough week. … My whole MO is based on the NFL, so now is all that a lie? … In our experience with the NFL, there’s this thing called ‘NFL magic’. When you stay in the NFL long enough it change(s) your life. … I expect the commissioner’s office to change this, because this is a problem around the United States. … I put a mandate on Roger Goodell right now: put that ‘NFL magic’ to domestic violence and I guarantee we get some changes.”

Jackson: “If he (the Commissioner) gets this right at the beginning, I don’t know what the suspension should have been – 12 games, a full season, whatever it should have been – the video would have come out and people would have said, ‘Wow. That’s why he was so severe in his punishment.’ … They got it wrong.”

Kolber: “Since last Monday, who’s been the No. 1 target in all this? Roger Goodell. Are we losing sight of who the real villain is here? The villain is domestic violence. So, Roger Goodell, you want to do something? You want to make a difference now? Why not find yourself a million dollars. Why not make that the first move. … Fine yourself. Use that money to put it toward a program and let’s get this started in the right way, and let’s not lose our focus on what’s really important.

“Think of the NFL muscle and what the NFL was able to do with changing the way the game is played physically. You have to go back to the grassroots level to change how the game is played physically. How about if we change the mentality? Go back to as kids, little boys need to learn how to treat women, and that’s where it has to start. The NFL has the power to do that. Instead of growing better players, let’s go grow better people.”

Ley: “I think the league could count itself fortunate Saturday Night Live is not in production because we’d be playing 10 minutes of skits just skewering the league.”

Schefter: “To this point, I think this is exactly what the league has always done with domestic violence. And I think that’s at the root of this whole issue. They apply the principles that they’ve used to discipline other players for domestic violence to this particular case, and then everybody got a look behind the curtain and saw what domestic violence looked like. What the league used in the past, it had not been questioned, criticized and scrutinized the way it was now, no longer held up. And because it didn’t hold up, everything’s gotten blown up and everybody has come under fire.”

Note: On the 9 a.m. Sunday morning SportsCenter, anchor Hannah Storm also offered a strong and emotional commentary on “What Does the NFL Stand For?” Video.


On Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy being declared inactive for Sunday’s game …

Jackson: “At least in this instance, Mr. [Jerry] Richardson and the Carolina Panthers got this right for this moment.”

Carter: “I like the move, but I’m back to the NFL. I don’t let the NFL office off the hook. Mr. Richardson, he is the only owner of the 32 owners that’s ever played in this league. Now if he don’t know what this league stands for, who else would know? So, let’s be a leader in this. … He stopped the embarrassment. Y’all heard that man crying when he received that award – how disappointed he was, how embarrassed he was, the people he employs.”

Ditka: “I like to hope that [head coach] Ron Rivera had something to do with this too. A coach’s job is to win football games, and you want your best players on the field. I have to think Ron had something to do with this also. He knows this is not right.”

Johnson: “Best move, right move, only move is to be able to sit him down. Jerry Richardson, Carolina Panthers organization, they got it right. He was convicted of a crime; shouldn’t be allowed to play.”


On the challenge facing the NFL with the Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy and Ray Rice cases and the crisis of domestic violence abuse …

Carter: “I just want to be a leader. I just don’t want to see this game destroyed. Yes, you deserve due process, but it’s a privilege to play in this game. … I don’t care about no Ray McDonald right now. I don’t care about no Hardy right now. I call for the NFL to be above everything – above the judicial system, to be above everything. Let’s be some pioneers.”


On the Vikings today against the Patriots …

Carter: “I think we are underestimating the emotional – what the Vikings went through when they lost their best player. Not only their best player, he’s one of the best people in that locker room. So, I don’t look for an inspired performance from my purple team today. I think this was ready-made for them. I believe this can get lopsided very easy. It’s hard to recover as a teammate from what you saw from a guy that you really like.”


On whether the Dallas Cowboys are in trouble this season …

Johnson: “I think they are. Watching them, gotta be the worst team in football.”

Jackson: “I don’t know if they are the worst team in football. When I looked at them last week, I thought the defense played better than expected because they were one of the worst in history the year before … they ran the ball better than I thought they would. The quarterback played horrific football, and in this league you can’t do it. He looked like a guy with back problems.”


On Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos …

Lewis: “In the fourth quarter last week they ran the ball nine times for nine yards. They will not go far with that formula. … They will have to run the ball much more effectively to go far in the playoffs and win a championship.”

Jackson: “The offensive line has done a bit of rearranging. I think they are going to be pretty good eventually …  but the proof in the pudding will be how effectively they run the ball in the fourth quarter.”


On the Super Bowl champion Seahawks …

Johnson: “I don’t know if there’s a team in the AFC that’s going to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl.”

Carter: “Seattle is the only team that regardless of how the season finishes, they’re the only team that captured an identity in 2013 and was able to carry that forward into this season.”


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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