Dungy, Harrison join NBC’s Sunday NFL studio show
By RACHEL COHEN
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — An understated coach and an outspoken safety are adding their voices to NBC’s Sunday night NFL studio show.
The network said Wednesday that Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison are joining “Football Night in America” as analysts.
Dungy retired from the Indianapolis Colts after this past season, capping a career that included becoming the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. Harrison announced his retirement from the New England Patriots earlier Wednesday. The hard-hitting safety was a two-time Pro Bowl pick.
Both men appeared on NBC’s Super Bowl pregame coverage earlier this year.
That Harrison promised to be “brutally honest” about friends and former teammates probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Dungy’s classy reputation might make it harder to imagine him ripping coaches and players.
“You think that because he’s such a nice guy. But he can do it subtly,” said Colts center Jeff Saturday. “I think he’ll make his point with guys he thinks are underperforming.”
Dungy proved willing to be frank on a conference call Wednesday, questioning new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s maturity and opining that Chicago acquired him specifically to beat the rival Green Bay Packers.
Dungy also talked about former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, with whom he met at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., last month. If he were running a team and needed a quarterback, Dungy said, “I would not be afraid of his past.”
“I think he deserves it and think if he gets a second chance, he will do well,” Dungy said. “And I think we’ll see a different Michael Vick off the field.”
Dungy left coaching to devote more time to his family and charitable work, so he doubted he’d have time for a TV gig. But NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol assured him that the job would only require a weekend commitment, leaving Dungy free to attend his son’s high school football games on Friday nights.
Ebersol said he had come to believe that lacking a former coach in the studio was a “glaring weakness” of NBC’s pregame show. The format will also undergo other changes, he said. More time will be spent on analysis, especially of the upcoming “Sunday Night Football” game, and less on highlights.
Tiki Barber will serve as an onsite reporter at games. Cris Collinsworth had already departed the studio show to replace John Madden in the booth.