NBC is excited to have Adrian Peterson and his Minnesota Vikings team on its Sunday night football telecast when they host the Washington Redskins at 7:15 p.m. Sunday. The game was moved to Sunday night as part of the NFL’s flexible scheduling plan. Coverage begins Sunday night at 6 p.m. with the “Football Night in America” studio show.
Both teams are in the hunt for an NFC wild-card spot. For the Vikings, if they win their last two games they will clinch a spot. For the Redskins, this is a must win. Should the Redskins lose they will be eliminated from playoff consideration.
Studio analysts Tiki Barber and Jerome “The Bus” Bettis raved about Peterson, a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year. Peterson ranks third in the league in rushing with 1,278 yards, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker (1,317) and San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson (1,311).
Barber: “It’s like watching a high school kid who dominates everyone he plays against.”
Bettis: “He’s big and fast. He runs like a little guy sometimes. He runs like a big guy sometimes. He’s got it all.”
BLASTING PETRINO: During Fox NFL Sunday’s “Grumpy Old Coaches” segment, Barry Switzer questioned the timing of Bobby Petrino resignation as Atlanta Falcons head coach to take the job at the University of Arkansas with three games left in the NFL season: “The way he left was awful. The disrespect he had for the assistant coaches who packed their bags and left and now they’re going to be looking for jobs in two weeks. He didn’t talk to the players, he sent them a letter. Wrong.”
Jimmy Johnson on the future of the Falcons and Petrino: “Really, they’re better off. It was not going to work. (Falcons owner) Arthur Blank is better off because he can start looking for a head coach. It was going to end at the end of the year anyway. They’re not going to the playoffs, so it’s not going to hurt them, record wise. Arkansas and Petrino are better off, they can get into recruiting. Petrino was a bad fit for the Falcons from the very start. He went for the money and regretted it. He just hated being there. Everyone is better off.”
Johnson on whether Petrino will be committed to Arkansas: “He’s a vagabond coach. He’s going to be moving again.”
Johnson and Switzer, who both coached in college and the NFL, discussed the differences between coaching the NFL and college:
Johnson: “You cannot coach professional players the same way. Everybody says, ‘Well, you have to treat them like men they’re not college kids.’ … They’re getting paid to work and perform and if they were men, they’d keep their mouths shut. They are rich kids. So what you have to do is you have to give them individual attention. In college you say, ‘You do this, you do that,’ and you don’t have to explain anything. In pro football you say, ‘Do this, do that,’ and then you have to bring them in one-on-one and give them individual attention and explain things.”
Switzer: “In pro football, you have to have management skills; you have to be able to communicate with them. In college football, you’re a dictator, you tell them what to do and they better do it.”
FLIPPING CHANNELS: “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” will have a special holiday roundtable review of 2007 when it returns at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Host Bryant Gumbel leads correspondents James Brown, Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Jon Frankel, Bernard Goldberg and Andrea Kremer in the discussion, touching on everything from favorite stories of the year to the interviews and pieces that had the greatest impact on them. … Bob Papa, Mike Mayock and Sterling Sharpe will broadcast the Insight Bowl, matching Oklahoma State and Indiana, at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 for the NFL Network. The game also will be seen on KSBI-52 in Oklahoma and WXIN-59 in Indianapolis. … NBC will present broadcast coverage of the NHL Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, the first U.S. outdoor game in NHL history, at noon Jan. 1 from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. Bob Costas will be the host. … The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has named Emmitt Smith the “Player of the Century” as part of its “100 Years of Florida High School Football” celebration. Smith, the state’s all-time leading rusher and current ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, played for scambia High School in Pensacola from 1983-86 and led the Gators to back-to-back state championships in 1984 and 1985.