STAMFORD, Conn. For tonight’s Week 7 edition of NBC’s Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports, Bob Costas interviews Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning. Manning needs three touchdown passes to set the NFL’s all-time record for most career passing touchdowns. Costas and Manning discuss the record, and all of the NFL QBs who have held the mark since Sammy Baugh.
In addition, Josh Elliott talks with Broncos TE Julius Thomas. Football Night will also preview the Sunday Night Football matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, and include highlights, analysis and reaction to earlier Week 7 games.
Football Night airs each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, with Costas hosting the program live from inside the stadium. He will be joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward, and Elliott.
Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1, and is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBCSports.com and NBCSN, and NFL insider Peter King. Kathryn Tappen will report from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the Giants-Cowboys game.
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Costas’ interview with Peyton Manning, and Elliott’s interview with Julius Thomas. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In an exclusive interview airing tonight on Football Night in America.”
MANNING WITH BOB COSTAS
On spending a day with Sammy Baugh: “One of the greatest days in my professional sports career was an afternoon I got to spend with Sammy Baugh in Rotan, Texas. It was about 15 years ago. An interesting story about how I got there. We flew in to Snyder, Texas, but there were no rental cars in Snyder. So we drove from Snyder to Rotan in a hearse. I did sit in the front seat though. A lot of records will be broken in the NFL. One record that will never be broken: No quarterback will ever lead the league in touchdowns, interceptions as a defensive back, and punting average. Sammy Baugh did that.”
Bob Costas: “After that, the [TD] record was held by Bobby Layne. He was a different kind of guy than Sammy Baugh or yourself.”
Manning: “I never knew Bobby Layne, but my dad knew him and said he was fun guy with great charisma. When I studied him, I found out what a great competitor he was. Maybe one of the great competitors of all time, at quarterback.”
Costas: “Then Y.A. Tittle.”
Manning: “I met Y.A. Tittle a number of times. That great picture of him on his knees, bloodied, tells you how tough he was. From what I studied, he was ahead of his time. He threw for seven touchdowns in a game. He was a special quarterback.”
Costas: “After Y.A. Tittle, then came Johnny Unitas. He held the record next.”
Manning: “I had an evening with Johnny Unitas at a banquet. I presented him with a pair of black high-tops. I wore black high-tops at Tennessee, and of course I knew Unitas did. We have a picture of him holding the high-tops, and he really liked it. That moment was very special for me. He was arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and the first pure timing passer.”
Costas: “Unitas finished at 290. Eventually Fran Tarkenton got to 342 and held the record for a long, long time.”
Manning: “I never met Fran Tarkenton. He and my dad are good friends, and he keeps up with me through my dad. I didn’t realize what a great passer Fran was. I knew he was a great scrambler. The fact that he threw for so many touchdowns, he was ahead of his time, and that record held for 20 years.”
Costas: “And then Dan Marino. He was the first to go past 400, and it looked like that mark would last for a long, long time.”
Manning: “My dad has always been my favorite player. You have to have a current favorite player, and Eli is obviously my current favorite player. Marino was my guy. I loved the way he competed, managed the game, and controlled the game. One of my very first games in the NFL was against Marino. We didn’t win, but I always remember that he hugged me after the game and said ‘Keep your head up, you’re going to play a long time in this league.’
I‘ve never forgotten that. He was probably the greatest passer of all time.”
Costas: “And then Brett Favre. No matter how you battered him and knocked him around, he showed up every Sunday and got the record.”
Manning: “I think that all players would like to be able to say that they played with as much passion as Brett Favre. I don’t know anybody else that can say it. I hope you can say that about me, but I’m not sure it does justice to Favre. Nobody had more passion than he did. There will never be anyone quite like him.”
JULIUS THOMAS WITH JOSH ELLIOTT
On not playing football in high school: “In high school I really didn’t [play football]. My friends would say come play football, and I would tell them that I was focused on basketball. My goal was to get a college scholarship. I thought I needed to invest all of my time in basketball.”
On joining the football team in college: “When I got to college and I reached that goal, the first thing that came to my mind was that I never gave football a shot. I went and asked the football coaches if they wouldn’t mind a 6-foot, 4-inch wide receiver? And they said ‘Of course. We don’t turn those down.’ Basketball coaches are not normally thrilled about their players running around on football fields, so it had to wait.”
On work ethic and size: “Being one of the smallest power forwards in Division I basketball, it gave me my work ethic. Every night you are going up against guys who are taller than you, and you are thinking ‘How am I going to find a way to have success tonight?’ You have to find a way to outwork them and find a way to do more. Being able to translate that work ethic to football has helped a lot. Now I’m the prototype size. I take that work ethic that I learned when I was the undersized guy, and put it together with my size, and it allows good things to happen.”
On being on pace to have 29 touchdown catches this season: “That 29-touchdown pace is a long time away. To be in this position now, and to be able to do things that help out my team, is a blessing for me. They are doing all they can to put me in a position to score, and I just need to go out there and find a way to catch the football.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–