Sunday: Chris goes one-on-one with Libertarian Presidential Nominee and former New Mexico Governor— Gary Johnson. We’ll talk to him about his strategy for taking on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It’s a Fox News Sunday exclusive.
'Fox News Sunday' Super Bowl extravaganza
Written by Chris Wallace / Published February 02, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Roger Goodell, John Elway, Archie Manning, Howie Long, Michael Strahan
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," February 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace, reporting from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where America's biggest sports stage is set for Super Bowl XLVIII.
WALLACE: The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks face off tonight.
But first, the state of America's game from player safety to going international. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joins us for an exclusive interview.
Then, two of the most revered names in football, Elway and Manning. We'll talk with famed-quarterback-turned-Broncos-executive John Elway about the role he played in bringing Peyton Manning to Denver.
And the NFL's most famous dad --
If Peyton and the Broncos do win on Sunday, is there a part of you that would like to see him retire, that would like to see him quit on top?
ARCHIE MANNING, PEYTON MANNING'S DAD: Yes, a little bit. A little bit.
WALLACE: We'll ask Archie Manning about his son's amazing recovery from four neck surgeries.
Plus, the "FOX NFL Sunday" gang stops by, and our power player of the week, three time Super Bowl champ Troy Aikman on making the turn from player to broadcaster.
TROY AIKMAN, BROADCASTER: I love what I do right now in broadcasting. It's the next best thing to playing the game.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: You are looking at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and Giants, and now home to Super Bowl XLVIII. Tonight, it will be the first open air stadium in a cold weather city to host the NFL's biggest game.
And hello again from Fox News.
Today in New Jersey -- for all the talk about Denver's top offense going up against Seattle's top defense, much the focus leading up to this game has been on the weather. So, let's get the latest from Fox chief meteorologist Rick Reichmuth outside the stadium.
Rick, how will it be when they kick off tonight?
RICK REICHMUTH, FOX CHIEF METEOROLOGIST: I'll tell you what, we're looking so much better than we had anticipated. The coldest ever kickoff was 39 degrees. And that was in 1972 in New Orleans. We certainly thought an open air stadium in a northern cold climate we would break that. It's not going to happen.
Take a look at the weather maps. I want to show what's happening today. Temperatures, 50 for a high temperature in New York City, and 50 all the way around the area -- that is looking absolutely spectacular.
And compared to where we had been this week, it has been a brutally cold week across areas of the Northeast. Go back to today on Tuesday and the high temperature was only 21. Now, we're going to be looking at a temperature of 50.
Kickoff, temperature will be cooling down to around 45. Halftime in the game, still in the 40s. And then by the end of the game as people are possibly getting out of here and trying to get home, upper 30s.
So, overall, we are looking at really quite a great day.
I will tell you, Chris, this is good news, because we have dodged a bullet. There is a storm coming in tonight and into tomorrow. And much of this area will be covered in three to six inches of snow by the time we get to the end of the day tomorrow. People trying to get home and out of the airports, looking at some problems.
But today's game day looking absolutely fine.
WALLACE: Thank you so much, Rick. We'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. But good news for the game.
Joining us now to discuss the game, the weather and the state of the NFL is the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell.
Commissioner, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
GOODELL: Thank you, Chris. Great to be with you.
WALLACE: Let me ask you -- first of all, when we got here at 6 o'clock this morning, we saw this bubble on the field. It looks like a tennis bubble for really small people. What are they doing down there?
GOODELL: Well, it's all precautionary. We had some potential for some light rain this morning and some heavy fog. So, it's to keep the field dry, and that will be probably coming off shortly. And final preparations will be made for the game.
WALLACE: As Rick mentioned, you, we all got very lucky with the weather for this game, which is going to be a lot more moderate than it typically is in the New York area this time of year. Are you relieved that weather won't be a factor?
GOODELL: Well, we made the decision knowing weather could be a factor here. I think it's great we have a spectacular day here. But we were prepared for everything. And weather is not going to be -- have any impact on the competitiveness of the game and for our fans.
And one of the things we've got to do is think about, how do we treat our fans coming into the stadium and also getting them home? Obviously, we have some potential for weather tomorrow, so we've got to make sure we get them out of the New York area and back to their homes.
WALLACE: So let me ask you that, because -- I mean, you're lucky. I mean, if the game were tomorrow --
WALLACE: -- it would be three to six inches of snow and it would be a huge factor for the fans and also more importantly for the players.
You guys have a rule which is that the temperature has to be 50 degrees average that time of year, this 50-degree rule, and you had a one-time exception for the game this time. Is that rule out the window now? Will there be more cold weather Super Bowls?
GOODELL: Well, those decisions are made by the ownership, 24 of 32 teams have to agree to waive that rule. They did it because New York is unique. Unique -- New York is special, and this region, including New Jersey, where we're playing the game because it's the number one market. We have two teams and we have a new stadium here that we thought was a great stage for this game.
WALLACE: But, you know, we in Washington, we think we're in the game, too. I mean, seriously, you know, Boston, Philadelphia, a lot of other places, think, you know, we'd like to have our own Super Bowl. I mean, is your disposition it's worth the risk or do you see it nothing being a risk? If there's snow, that's part of football.
GOODELL: No, Chris. I think this is really classic high risk/high reward. We had the risk of weather. We had the risk of trying to do this across multiple jurisdictions. We have two states we're playing this game. We have two teams here in this marketplace.
This had some challenges for us but the rewards are extraordinary. And I think you see it this week. The events have been off the charts. The energy is tremendous. And I think this is a another level that Super Bowl has gone to. And that's great for the NFL. I think it's great for this region.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about this little thing called the game. You have the two best teams, the two best records. You have the top offense in football against the top defense in football. You got this larger than life icon Peyton Manning. You couldn't have drawn this up any better.
GOODELL: You really couldn't. It's -- the two number one seeds, people overlooking this young man named Russell Wilson. He's a great young man. I think having that --
WALLACE: Let me point out for people overlooking him, he is the quarterback --
GOODELL: Of the Seahawks.
WALLACE: Second quarterback for the Seahawks.
GOODELL: But we have that great quarterback in Peyton Manning who's legendary, a sure Hall of Famer. And this young man who's done a tremendous amount in the short period of time. And he's a competitor.
So I think we're going to have a classic matchup today.
WALLACE: OK. Let's talk about your bailiwick, the NFL, which has never been bigger. But you want to grow it even bigger. In fact, I read that back in 2010 you said that you now make about $10 billion a year in gross revenue. You said by 2027, you would like to see $25 billion. So, 2 1/2 times what you make now.
How do you make the NFL, which seems huge, even bigger?
GOODELL: Well, Chris, we start with we don't want to become complacent. We don't -- we don't believe that our current success is going to drive us forward without being aggressive. We have to find new ways to grow. We have to find new ways to --
WALLACE: Such as?
GOODELL: Well, we believe we can still grow our stadiums. We believe that technology is our friend. And that we can do a better job of using technology to grow our fan base, not just here in the States but on a global basis. We think that international opportunity is extraordinary.
But it's technology changes for us, we have to bring it into our stadiums. We have to make sure that we're making the experience in our stadiums a fantastic experience. All of these things are gross opportunities for us.
We're engaging fans beyond our regular season and postseason. We're talking about the entire calendar year. We have a draft that attracts record audiences. We have camps. We have combines.
WALLACE: I admit it, I watch the combines. And I'm thinking, I'm sitting here watching guys run or jump, (INAUDIBLE) --
WALLACE: I mean, you do attract an audience.
Let me ask you about the international aspect of this, because you have one international game a season. This coming year, you're going to have three international games. Is it realistic, the idea of a permanent NFL franchise base in London? GOODELL: Well, we've actually had two regular season games last year. We're going to three this year. We just sold both out in a very, very short period of time. As we put tickets on, they sold.
And I think if we continue to grow, if that fan base continues to say, we want more of this and they become more and more passionate, it's likely that we will have a franchise there some day.
WALLACE: You've also raised the rules changes. And you raised the possibility of making a big change, doing away what the point after touchdown, which you say is almost automatic. You get seven points for a touchdown -- as I understand it, you get seven points for a touchdown. You'd have to run or pass it in or not. But if you choose to do that, you get eight points. If you get in and convert, you get six points. You lose a point if you fail.
How realistic is that? How soon will you make that decision?
GOODELL: Well, it's just one of many alternatives. We always believe the game of football can get better. And we're always looking to find ways to make it safer and more exciting.
Anything that's automatic, we like to try to make things a little bit more challenging, to say. And so, we want there to be consequences to every play.
The kickers have just gotten so good. So, this is one of many concepts. People have proposed other ideas. Our competition committee will be meeting shortly. They'll be making decisions on what's the best alternative.
Then it has to go to the full membership to vote and we have to get three quarters of the folks (ph) to vote on it.
WALLACE: So it's a process.
GOODELL: We've got a long ways to go.
WALLACE: What's the general reaction to that? You know, as a fan, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it would be terrifically exciting. On the other hand, it makes the point after touchdown hugely important in the game as opposed to the 80-yard drive.
GOODELL: Well, we think they're both important. And the reality is, what happens after a long 80-yard drag is it's an automatic because we missed five kicks out of 500 this year. We want to -- we want to put some chance into that. We want to make sure that it's more challenging.
And also, there is an upside it to. That's one of the reasons why the proposal that was being made has got appeal to it.
WALLACE: You also want to make the job the coaches tougher.
GOODELL: The coaches do feel that, Chris. There's no question.
It's that -- you know, they have a tough job. It is another second thing to be second guessed on.
WALLACE: Let's talk about safety, which is obviously a big concern. You guys reported that the league had a 13 percent reduction in the number of concussions this year over last year.
How do you feel that you're doing in balancing to a certain degree competing issues? One on the one hand, player safety, which I guess is foremost. But on the other hand, it is an inherently violent game and, frankly, that's one of the things the fans like, that people collide with each other.
How do you feel you're doing in balancing those?
GOODELL: Well, we believe it's part of a culture change. What we're trying to do here is get back to fundamentals. The game is inherently tough. But it was played with fundamentals that involved using the shoulders and the arms to tackle, and taking the head out of it.
What we saw was a trend moving towards using the head. And the helmet should not be used as a weapon. It's there for protection.
So, we want to get back to using the proper techniques that are safer for our players. They send the right message to the younger players, whether they're college, high school or youth football. And that's why we're working on programs even at the youth level, teach the right fundamentals early on. It's called the Heads Up Program -- keep your head up and your head out. And that's a smarter way to play the game and a better way to play the game.
WALLACE: What do you say to the players -- and as a Washington Redskins fan, I know we've had a son that you, in fact, had to discipline, who say this is split second. You know, if I hit him, I've taken the shoulder but, you know, he ducks or whatever. I'm in the head or maybe I need to hit him down low but that's a penalty, too.
What do you say to those players that say you're just making it too hard to bring these enormous tough guys down?
GOODELL: Well, Chris, first off, these rules are made with player input. They're also made with coach's input. And at the end of the day, the clubs have to approve it.
And what they believe is that there is a significant target zone if here down to your thighs. And that is a significant target zone to make those kind of tackles, and it's the way the game should be played. It hasn't impacted the game. The game is safer, better, and more popular than ever.
WALLACE: Now, the NFL over the summer reached a settlement. With retired players and their families, $765 million to pay for medical costs and other expenses. A judge says she doesn't think it's enough. Where does that legal situation stand?
GOODELL: Well, Chris, I don't think that's exactly what she said. She said she wants to take more time to determine if the amount of money that we settled on with the plaintiffs and NFL and over seen by the media, she pointed, Judge Phillips, was that sufficient going forward based on potential claims.
We want to obviously have sufficient funds there. We believe it is. Both parties do. We have to convince her of that. We have to make sure she sees the precautions. She's being cautious rightfully so. We're going to respect her process and make sure that we answer those questions.
WALLACE: Finally, we got a little over a minute left. The NFL, I think it's fair to say has never been bigger. More than 100 million of us chances are, are going to be watching the game tonight. And, yet, some of the players that we love and that we love, most recently Joe Namath, talked about memory problems that he's had. And youth participation is down recently.
How do you as a commissioner of football, how -- what's the answer so that 20 years from now we still feel good about this game?
GOODELL: Well, I think there are several things. Most importantly from a factual standpoint, youth participation is down across all sports right now. A lot of that is getting into specialization. And we're actually in football down less than many other sports.
Second, most importantly, when you look at long term health of our players, our players are living on average longer than the average male. And they're also living a higher quality life, less divorce. Their health conditions are better, particularly cardiovascular.
We have some that are specific to these injuries such as joint replacements. And we have a program to address that issue.
So, the ownership has been very aggressive in creating programs that will help our players. And help them through the transition through life and make that transition more successful. We're proud of those things but we're never going to stop doing more for our players. We have a lot to be grateful for because of what they did. And I think we're going to continue to work hard at that.
WALLACE: Commissioner Goodell, thank you so much.
GOODELL: You bet, Chris.
WALLACE: I know you have an extremely busy day. We very much appreciate you taking time.
I'm going to impose on you one more time. I got this football. And every person who we interviewed on this show, we got to sign it.
WALLACE: So, I'm going to ask you. This is a keepsake for the Wallace grandchildren. So thank you for signing that.
Up next, we'll hear from the patriarch of football's first family, Peyton and Eli's dad, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning.
And Broncos legend John Elway has gone from winning two Super Bowls as a player to trying to win his first as an executive.
I'll take the ball signed by Roger Goodell as we continue our coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. And be sure to tell us what you think on Facebook and share your favorite moments from today's game with other FNS fans.
WALLACE: Well, we've got action for you. As you can see behind me, they are removing the bubble, the tarp, from the field so it will be in good condition. Whoever wins or loses tonight, the biggest story of Super Bowl XLVIII may just be the remarkable journey of Peyton Manning, one of the game's greatest quarterbacks. He missed an entire season while he had four neck surgeries.
But somehow, he has come back better than ever. And last night he won a record fifth NFL MVP award.
In a few minutes, we'll talk with John Elway who brought Manning to the Denver Broncos.
But, first, the NFL's first dad former pro-football star Archie Manning, the father of Peyton and Eli Manning.
WALLACE: After Peyton had his neck surgery in 2011 and really couldn't throw a football -- did you ever think, this is it?
MANNING: We thought it was a good chance, Chris. Just because he's at that time he is more than 35 years old. He's had four surgeries, and then had this fusion.
We just didn't know physically -- I know the doctor said he should be all right. He should be able to live a normal life.
MANNING: But that's a little different than going back and playing football.
And I saw him throw his first time just toss a few balls and that wasn't pretty. So I knew he had a long way to go.
WALLACE: So how discouraged was necessity that early stage? How discouraged were you?
MANNING: I was concerned about his health. You know, football is over for him, he had a really good run. They had done some great thing there's in Indianapolis.
But he flew into New Orleans, we really appreciated. This we were concerned. Just about his health. He flew into New Orleans and he just sat down with us and said, look, they tell me this fusion is work but I have a long way to go. And he said, if I go through it if, the doctors say I can't play anymore football, it's too dangerous, I'm done. He said, I'm not going to -- I want you all to know I'm not going to chance anything. But I'm going to try -- I'm going to do everything I can to play.
So that gave us comfort. But I saw him work. We saw him different times. I saw him throw at first and then I saw him throw two months later. It was a little bit better. It wasn't there. But he did work hard.
And I think, you know, I just think the good Lord blessed him and let him play some more football.
WALLACE: How do you explain the fact that he was able to come back and you could argue had his greatest season ever this year?
MANNING: I think the Bronco organization starting with John Elway and Coach Fox and he loves his coordinator last year who's at San Diego now. He loves his coordinator now and his teammates. It's just kind of fit. And he's worked hard, and his years of experience has helped.
I don't think any of us had any idea that it would be as productive as they've been this year.
WALLACE: And I think a lot of parents look at Eli and Peyton, not only how well they've played, but I think in a sense more importantly how they have conducted themselves throughout their career on and off the field. And they wonder, frankly, about and Olivia. And was there a message, a value that you tried to instill in them and all your kids?
MANNING: Yes. I think we -- I never read a lot of books. I think we try to raise our children kind of like our parents raised us. I lost my dad when I was almost 20 years old. But I had him for 20 years. So, just values.
I always talked to my kids about priorities. You know, let's try to align everything up here and see what's most important to you. And then I think especially in our society that young people have to make some tough decisions. A lot of things hit them in the face that we didn't have to approach years ago. And I just said take a deep breath, step back and try to do what's right -- just try to do what's right and you'll be OK.
WALLACE: Of course, you have to know what's right.
MANNING: Yes. Well, their mother did a really good job with that.
WALLACE: Does it bother you when critics knock Peyton despite all of his incredible success and say he can't win the big one or if he only wins one Super Bowl, that is --
MANNING: I kind of wonder about it sometimes. I think about maybe some others that they don't do that to. But I quit worrying about it.
You know, years ago -- I know they didn't win a Super Bowl. And I've got close a few times. I've got beaten in the playoffs. But even leading up to them and said, yes, he can't win a big one.
I think we forget -- I mean, a lot of times, it is the quarterback's fault when you lose. A lot of times the quarterback has a great game and enables your team to win. But most of the time, it's about one team being better than the other team.
WALLACE: Honestly, if Peyton and the Broncos do win on Sunday, is there a part of you that would like to see him retire, would like to see him quit on top?
MANNING: I thought about it. Yeah, a little bit. A little bit.
But I know him pretty well. I know how passionate he is about the game. I know the fact that as long as his neck is fine, his health is good and kind of the way he's played this year and his offense has played, he's got these guys back.
I always tell my kids when they play football -- don't forget to have fun. He's really having fun. I don't think he wants to give up that fun quite yet. But a little bit.
I like what John Elway did. John was beat up and he retired -- the kind of a cool thing to do. But like I said, Peyton -- I think Peyton really loves what he's doing.
WALLACE: Finally, what do you hope he does after football? What do you expect him to do after football? Do you expect him to become a broadcaster? Do you expect he'll do something like Elway and try to run a team? Or could you see him having a life outside of football?
MANNING: He kind of addresses that. He said I'm not going to worry too much about what I do afterwards because I'm going to give everything I got while I'm playing.
But I am confident, I don't go around brag on Peyton, but whatever he does, he'll attack it just like did he football and try to be good at it.
WALLACE: Thank you.
MANNING: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Chris.
WALLACE: John Elway won two Super Bowls as quarterback of the Denver Broncos. But three years ago, he became the team's head of football operations. He had to make the big decision whether to sign Peyton Manning after he had missed a full season.
Earlier, we went to the Broncos team hotel in Jersey City across the Hudson from Lower Manhattan. We spoke with Elway about his transition from player to executive and the big risk he took.
WALLACE: When you signed Peyton Manning in March of 2012, what kind of shape was his arm in? Could he throw an NFL pass?
JOHN ELWAY, DENVER BRONCOS: You know, when we signed him, we'd just come back from Duke, and so we saw him throw down there at Duke. And he was a ways away when we saw him throw there.
But I think the main thing for me was the doctors were able to look at him and talk to him about everything that went on, because that -- before we had a chance to really look at him, we didn't know exactly what extent was wrong with the neck.
And so once we found that out, the doctors were able to examine him and really -- and then talking to Peyton and then talking to the doctors, the doctors really thought that he was going to be able to come back, it was just a matter of when, how fast would that -- would that nerve regenerate. And but they thought he was going to come back and that's what I relied my decision on.
WALLACE: I was going to say, though, you were taking a big chance.
ELWAY: I was taking a chance, but, any time you have a guy like a Peyton Manning that, to me, the risk outweigh -- you know, the -- the reward outweighed the risk and the fact that, you know, you've got a Hall of Fame quarterback that is going in the twilight of his career, and really, at that point in time, he really had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, because you never thought he was going to leave Indianapolis. And I'm sure that he never pictured leaving there.
And so, to get a Hall of Fame quarterback like a Peyton Manning, with a chip on his shoulder, I was willing to take that risk.
WALLACE: During the pre-season this year, you guys faced Seattle and I -- there's no nice way of putting it, you got whipped, 40-10. I understand that you laid into the team.
ELWAY: I did. And I, you know, I don't do that a lot. I don't do a lot of -- talk in front of the team a lot. But, to me, knowing what it -- you know, coming off the year that we had before, we were 13 and 3. We had the home field advantage wrapped up and then we end up losing in the first round to Baltimore.
So, for us to go into pre-season, whether we were going to use that last year to help us or hinder us, you know, was going to be up to us.
And getting beat 40-10, I just got up in front of them and said, you know, I don't care if we're playing Tiddle Links -- Tiddly Winks or whatever we're playing, you never go out and play like that and get beat that bad and be able to say it's OK.
And, you know, so I just wanted to make sure that they understood that playing like that and whether -- no matter what it was, was not OK and -- and, you know, it was great, because they took heed to that and, they've had great focus the rest of the year.
WALLACE: I think it's fair to say that you are an icon in Denver. You own restaurants. You own car dealerships. You could live very well the rest of your life off your name. And yet you decided not to do that, to come back into the arena, where you could succeed or fail all over again.
ELWAY: You know, I -- I like the challenge. And plus, I've been in football my whole life. My dad was in football and was a football coach. And so -- and I got into the Arena Football League to -- to really kind of learn the administrative side of the -- of the -- of football and -- and had a great experience there for six years.
And then, you know, when the opportunity arose, you know, I was ready for it. And it's kind of something that I always wanted to do.
And so, you know, you know what, fortunately and fortunately -- unfortunately, the Broncos had a couple of bad years in a row. And -- but fortunately for me, it came to the opportunity -- it opened that door of opportunity for me to be able to come in and -- and see what I could do as a general manager in the front office.
And so, you're right, there was another risk there. But I really -- and like anything I do, I guess I've never looked at the risk. I always think of the upside and -- and really thought that, you know, I'd be able to -- to help the Broncos and, you know, put a good football team on the field.
WALLACE: You went out on top, winning two consecutive Super Bowls.
If Peyton should win tonight, I understand, as the head of the football team, you want to see him keep playing.
But is there part of you that would like the story to end that way, for Peyton to go out as a champion?
ELWAY: You know, I'd like that story to be like that in about three years is what I would like that story to be. I think that, you know, when you look at the year that Peyton had, and, you know, I mean it was unbelievable, the best year a quarterback, statistically, really has ever had. We offensively set the records for the most points in the history of the game.
So, just at the level that he's playing, it's too early for Peyton. Plus, you never get a chance to go back.
And when I walked away, it was time for me to walk away. I just don't believe that Peyton believes, and especially the way he's playing, that it's time for him to walk away.
So, I -- ideally the story is to win the next three and then have him walk away.
WALLACE: This being Fox News Sunday, I have to ask a political question. In the course of researching this interview, I found out, which I didn't know, that you're a big Republican. And, in fact, you contributed a lot of money in 2012 to Mitt Romney.
Why do you support the GOP?
ELWAY: Well, I mean those are what my beliefs are. I believe that, you know, as a country that, you know, we're given the opportunity to succeed or -- or not succeed. And I think that, you know, for us to be able to -- I don't believe in safety nets.
ELWAY: Obviously we are going to have to some kind of safety nets, but I think that my philosophy is when you're given the opportunity you go take advantage of that. And I think that's when you get the best out of people. And so my beliefs are aligned best with the GOP. I wouldn't say I'm way right. You know, I'm middle right. I want to - you know, I've been fortunate to be in business. And I'm one of those who believe that, you know, what you've got to give a little to get some. And so I'd like to see us be able to free up Congress a little bit and say, OK, we need to give up a little bit to give a little bit. And if we were able to do that and we acted more like businessmen in that situation, I believe that we would be getting a lot more done.
WALLACE: With your name, with your reputation, with your popularity in Colorado, I have got to assume that the GOP has come to you to at some point and said hey, how about running for office?
ELWAY: Yeah. I've been approached a couple of times. But I'd rather be on the supportive side than the guy's that running. But I also believe it's my duty to be a volunteer. So politics is a tough business. Football is a tough business, but I'm not sure it's as tough as politics. And so, I'll stay on the outside of that.
WALLACE: John Elway, thank you so much.
ELWAY: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, our special Super Bowl panel. We sit down with the hosts of Fox NFL Sunday. I promise it won't be like talking with Brit Hume and George Will. As we continue our coverage from Super Bowl XLVIII.
WALLACE: And we are now down on the field here at MetLife Stadium on the pregame NFL set with the NFL Sunday crew. Here's the gang, Howie Long, former defensive end of the Oakland Raiders, one Super Bowl ring. Michael Strahan, defensive end with the New York Giants, also a Super Bowl ring. And two-time Super Bowl champ as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson.
Gentlemen, let's talk about the game in the next segment, let's talk about the NFL in this segment. And let's talk about what was supposed to be the big story today, which appears isn't going to be which is the weather. Howie, how do you feel about the idea? They got lucky. You know, it looks like it's going to be pretty warm. Not a lot of elements. But how do you feel about the idea of playing the big game in what could have been a mess?
HOWIE LONG, "FOX NFL SUNDAY": Well, you know, I was less concerned about it. I think certainly quarterbacks and receivers and skill position players and people who want to see the game played from a skill position standpoint at the very highest level and not have weather be an impacting factor, I think they were concerned. But, you know, I think the NFL and Fox got lucky. I really do. We dodged a bullet.
JIMMY JOHNSON, "FOX NFL SUNDAY": People who've got lucky were the fans.
MICHAEL STRAHAN, "FOX NFL SUNDAY": Right.
JOHNSON: Those players are going to play in in any kind of weather. The fans got lucky because it's really nice in the stadium.
STRAHAN: That's the thing. You know, no matter what the weather is, as a player, you go out and play it. It's the Super Bowl. You're going to put it anywhere they want. But actually right now the way the weather looks around country, where isn't it cold?
LONG: That's right.
STRAHAN: If it would have been in Atlanta, it would have been a disaster. Because you couldn't move because of the ice and snowstorm.
WALLACE: All right. What's your guess? Handle it. Are there going to be more cold weather Super Bowls? Is this just a one and - What do you think the NFL is going to do about this?
STRAHAN: A very good question.
JOHNSON: I think there will be a few. But I think most of them will be in warm weather cities.
LONG: I think for romantic reasons, people are talking about Green Bay. People are talking about Green Bay potentially doing that. But the infrastructure is not there. The history is there. The stadium is there. Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers, kind of the birthplace of professional football. But I can't see how you'd have one there.
WALLACE: Michael, let's talk about the other big issue that everybody is discussing in the Super Bowl, safety. Your colleague Terry Bradshaw has talked in the last year about the fact that he thinks he has suffered some cognitive problems because of all the pounding he took and also some bouts of depression. One, how do you feel about the way the NFL handled it when you were playing and how do you feel about the way they're handling it now?
STRAHAN: Well, you know, I think when I was playing, it was, you know, you get your bell rung, you go back in the game. It just seemed to be the way it was. And players seem to be more in control of going back into the game after a situation like that arose. I think the way they are handling it now is great. Where you take the helmet away from the player. The player has to pass certain tests. And if you're on the verge or on the edge, they just don't put you back in the game. But I think that's the best way to do it. The way it's happened in the past, I think the NFL was the one that they created to try to help a lot of the players who are suffering from the debilitating injuries that they are suffering. Head injuries. I think it's a wise thing to do. Should have been a done a long time ago. Well, I'm just glad they got to it now, because it's so many guys that need help.
WALLACE: Jimmy, two things. One, the rules change as all the limits on how you can hit, where you can hit. And also the protocol in terms of you do get your bell rung as Michael said, all the steps you have to go through before they'll allow you to play again either in that game or weeks from now.
JOHNSON: Well, number one, the coach never makes the decision as far as the player going into the game. Once a player is injured, the trainers and the doctors and the player, they make the decision whether to go back in the game. The coach is completely out of it and he should be out of it. Now, the one thing first I'd like to mention, I sat up there with Terry, Howie and Michael and they talk about all the injuries they have suffered over the years and the surgeries. People don't realize, you know, the surgery. I bet you, Terry has gone through at least 15, 20 surgeries, hasn't he, Howie? How many surgeries have you been through?
JOHNSON: 12. I mean these players take a beating in their career.
STRAHAN: But the unique thing is a lot of my friends who have had injuries of the such, if you ask them would they change one thing about playing in the NFL, the answer is, no. I mean it's just something about that that special.
WALLACE: OK, let me ask you a different question. You have two sons who are in the NFL now. But if you had a young kid, all three of you, how would you feel about letting them play football?
LONG: Well, you know, I have -- as you mentioned, I have two - I'm fortunate enough to have two sons playing in the league. And, you know, if you ask me the question about concussions and playing injured and the toll that the game takes on a player at 24, I wasn't concerned about it. But at 53, 54 now, I have a different perspective. And certainly, a perspective that's different because I have two kids in the league.
WALLACE: Michael, would you let your kids play?
STRAHAN: Yeah, my son plays football. Until he didn't want to play anymore. I believe if that's what your kid wants to do, you support them in everything they want to do, but you don't force them to do it. Because this is a tough sport. It is a tough - a sport that requires so much discipline. You really - something you really want to - you have to want to do it. And once he said he didn't want to do it, I was fine with that.
WALLACE: Let me just ...
LONG: And what I say to my kids is do as I say, not as I did.
JOHNSON: And let me just say, both of my sons played. They loved it. And they learned so many lessons of life right there on the football field.
WALLACE: Let me just ask one question in the time we have left in this segment. And that is, you mentioned the lawsuits, the $765 million settlement. Which a judge says now is not enough and so that's gone back and forth. How do you feel down the line quickly about the way the NFL is handling its obligation to former players?
LONG: Well, you know, I don't think you have to be a math major to figure out the numbers on that settlement. It's not enough. And I'd like to see more. But I think -- I think one of the reasons why you're willing to settle for that amount at this point is you've got players in their older years who are in great need, who need the money now, who can't wait for a prolonged negotiation for potentially a bigger settlement. And I think the NFL is doing a great job right now of trying to change the game in terms of its safety. As much as you can.
WALLACE: Go ahead, Jimmy.
JOHNSON: No, and I'd like the NFL, the league is trying to do everything they can do to help these players. And the longer it goes on, the more money the attorneys make.
LONG: Yeah. Very true. They do.
JOHNSON: I married one, I know.
WALLACE: Does she go by the hour?
JOHNSON: Boy, I tell you what, my bills - she bills me thinking about me.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break. But fortunately she doesn't do that very often. We have to take a break here. Up next, we're going to talk about tonight's game. We're going to try to get some predictions, which is going to be hard. Because I kind of have to do that with the NFL pregame show as we continue from MetLife Stadium where the Broncos and Seahawks face off tonight in the big one, Super Bowl XLVIII.
WALLACE: A look down Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square where folks are getting ready for the first cold weather Super Bowl here in the heart of New York City or actually in New Jersey. But close enough. And we're back now with our Super Bowl Sunday gang. All right. Now, the game is going to be played. Howie, what is your read on the game? How do you see this playing out?
LONG: Well, I'm excited about the game. Because the number one defense in virtually every category versus the number one offense in virtually every category. How that secondary matches up against that really great receiving corps, the pick route, the bunch route, all that. Peyton Manning's pre-snap stuff versus that defensive front. I think the Seattle defensive line can have the kind of impact on the game that Michael's three defensive package had on the New England Patriots and his Super Bowl victory.
STRAHAN: And I love this game because Peyton Manning, obviously, 55 touch downs the season, a new record. And just to see can he close out this season as strong as he's finished the regular season?
WALLACE: But let me ask you specifically. Manning versus the Seattle defensive line and the defensive backs? What do you think?
STRAHAN: I think that Seattle - if anybody can stop this offense or Peyton Manning, it's the Seattle defense. Because they can't rush the passer. Peyton is not the most fleet of foot guy. It will be like me chasing you. It's not pretty for you. Put it that way.
STRAHAN: So, he's not the most ...
WALLACE: You know, if you were chasing me, I have a feeling I would find another gear of speed.
STRAHAN: But then, you know, you have got a secondary who are ball hawks. Guys who - they put pressure on the receiver. Something that Denver has or hasn't seen. So many different - they can match up with them. But it's still going to be a big challenge for the Seattle.
WALLACE: All right. Jimmy, let me ask you to look at the other side, which is the Seattle offense and particularly beast mode, Marshawn Lynch against a Denver defense that did very well.
JOHNSON: Beast Mode.
WALLACE: Beast Mode. I know this stuff.
JOHNSON: And the only thing is Beast Mode and Marshawn Lynch running the football, I think he'll do an outstanding job. Now Denver defense, they may be the star of the entire game. The other thing is and Howie and I talk about it all the time, the passing game. That's where you get the points. And that's why it's going to be difficult for Seattle to stay up with Peyton Manning. The one thing about Peyton Manning, you talked about him earlier, the viewers are in for a treat. This may be one of the greatest players that ever played this game.
WALLACE: And now let me pick up with that, Jimmy. I mean I think it's fair to say that Peyton Manning is the lead character in this game. I mean he's the icon, the one icon in this game. How much does he have riding on this game, you know, we use the l-world, legacy whether he wins his second Super Bowl or he loses his second Super Bowl, Jimmy?
JOHNSON: Regardless of what happens, he'll go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever who played the game. If he wins this game, a lot of people will probably say, hey, he may be the greatest.
LONG: He's in the conversation. And we talked about it earlier today. I don't know that there's a player who's more in tune with the significance of the moment and how it will impact him from a legacy standpoint than Peyton Manning. As much as he doesn't like to talk about legacy, which I understand, he's very aware of what the impact of this game will have on his legacy.
JOHNSON: And he's not through.
JOHNSON: He plans on playing longer.
STRAHAN: I mean to come back from where he's come back from with four neck surgeries and to learn the mechanics of throwing again and to be out here in the stadium where his brother plays and his brother won his last Super Bowl in Peyton's old stadium, I think that right there it's just like a Hollywood movie in itself.
WALLACE: When you talk about a Hollywood movie, you also talk about the fact that he is gritty and wants to keep playing, especially if he wins, would you like to see him ride off into the sunset, go out in the perfect ending?
LONG: You know, Michael and I had this conversation. You know, Michael reached out to a number of people that he's friends with prior to his retirement. And I told Michael, if you still love it and you still have a passion for it, great. The only question I had and here's the thing, when it goes and you see that that famous image of (inaudible) hit along his knees bloodied in the end zone after the failed championship game, when it goes, it goes quickly. And you don't know whether it's going to go in August, September, October or November. And if it goes in September, it's a long, long season. JOHNSON: Yeah.
STRAHAN: I don't think he should - I don't think he should go ...
JOHNSON: Selfishly, I don't want him to stop. I love watching him play.
WALLACE: Yeah. All right. Let's talk about if there is a lead character, there is a second lead and that is Richard Sherman who, of course, had the rant at the end of the NFC championship game. He's a quarterback. So, it's not quite the same deal. How big a role do you expect him to play in the game?
STRAHAN: Well, again, the number one passing team, you have a very big role. And I think he is kind of the tone setter. I mean he is a guy with the attitude. He's got - going to go there and jam up receivers. For their secondary, it's all about intimidation, too. You know, as much as we - we are going to talk about the passing game, if you're on the other side of it, you're looking at chancellor who is a safety who is about 250 pounds, it looks like, he knocks people out. You're Wes Welker and you see this guy, it's about intimidation. And Richard is a big part of intimidation against the Denver Broncos.
WALLACE: All right. Now, we - you kind of lectured me, Howard that you're not going to give me your prediction because ...
LONG: I wouldn't dare lecture you.
WALLACE: Oh, yes you would.
STRAHAN: You know, what ...
LONG: I told you may be ...
WALLACE: Let's so you know.
STRAHAN: I've been sitting here on the edge of my seat in case I have to jump up and pull hum off you. Don't poke him. He's like a bear.
WALLACE: He's like a bear - well, all right. Who's going to win, Jimmy?
JOHNSON: I think it's going to be a very competitive game. And I will make my prediction on "Fox NFL Sunday."
STRAHAN: He said it all. LONG: I have no knowledge of the aforementioned incident.
WALLACE: OK. Well, we've got about a minute left. And we asked our viewers for questions and we did get a question on Twitter from David Door who asked when will Terry Bradshaw take over the hosting duties of "Fox News Sunday"? So the question, Howie, if you could answer David is how do you think Terry would do hosting a State of the Union address instead of an NFL pregame show?
LONG: Do you do a lot of prompter on the show? Teleprompter?
WALLACE: Oh, yeah, we read everything.
LONG: My boy is off the cuff.
WALLACE: He's off the cuff.
LONG: Yeah, he's ....
WALLACE: So you're saying he might go around on us?
LONG: Well, he's going to a row (ph). There is no question. But it will be refreshing and entertaining, that's for sure.
WALLACE: Well ...
LONG: It's never dull. When the light goes on, my guy is on.
WALLACE: And you never know what's going to come out of his mouth.
LONG: No, and that's why we love him.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, Howie, Michael, Jimmy, thank you all so much. And we will find out at 5:00, 5:30, whatever ...
LONG: Good to see you again.
WALLACE: What you guys pick. I've got to say, you played it very carefully. I don't have a clue who you're going to pick.
WALLACE: And I should be ready to do this again.
LONG: Who is going to be the Republican nominee?
WALLACE: Mitt Romney.
WALLACE: Up next, our "Power Player" of the week. Quarterback turned broadcaster Troy Aikman as we kick off Fox's coverage of the New York - New Jersey Super Bowl XLVIII.
WALLACE: He won three Super Bowls as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. And tonight he'll broadcast his fourth Super Bowl here on Fox. Which is more nerve-racking? Here's our "Power Player of the Week."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: How does preparing to broadcast a Super Bowl compare to preparing to play one?
TROY AIKMAN, "NFL ON FOX" ANALYST: Well, I think with the broadcasting, the important thing is there's so much information out there and you do have the extra time. You've got to be real careful not to over-prepare. Because if you do, you tend to then get paralyzed by all the information that you have. And so, at some point during the time leading up to the game as you prepare during the week, you have to just kind of shut it off and say, OK, I've got enough. You know, there is enough here. We are never going to get to even half of this stuff and then go do the game.
WALLACE: Obviously, once the game gets going, you're going to follow the action. But going in, do you have a story line for this Super Bowl?
AIKMAN: I think there are some compelling stories as you go into this game. And the most obvious one being the record setting year that Peyton Manning has had. Here he two years ago weren't real sure if he was even going to be able to play in the National Football League and then two years later he is having arguably the greatest year that any quarterback has ever had at that position.
WALLACE: You retired at the age of 34 with back troubles. Peyton Manning is 37 and has had four neck surgeries. Especially if he were to win the game, would you like to see him retire?
AIKMAN: Well, I wouldn't. I wouldn't as a broadcaster. I wouldn't as a fan football. You know, he's been a great ambassador to the National Football League, his entire family has been. And it's been a real pleasure for me to have the opportunity to both compete against him, I was still playing when he came in the league in 1998. And then cover him, you know, for the last 13 years as a broadcaster. But as long as he can continue to play and feels like he's capable, then I'd love to see him continue.
WALLACE: John Elway went out on top after winning two Super Bowls. Now he's back running the Broncos operation. And obviously, very successful as an executive. Do you ever think about maybe leaving the broadcast booth at some point and get it into running a football team?
AIKMAN: Right now, I've got two young daughters that are in fifth and sixth grade. And this is a great job. I love what I do right now in broadcasting. It's the next best thing to playing the game. It's kept me close to the sport and it's afforded me a lot of time with my daughters during the week. And you don't get that time as a coach, as a player, or as a front office executive. So for the time being at this stage of my life, I'm very happy doing what I'm doing. But if the opportunity presented itself and the timing was right, I do believe that it would be something I'd entertain.
WALLACE: The Cowboys?
AIKMAN: The Cowboys would be great because I wouldn't have to move. You know, I live in Dallas. But, you know, their structure is what he we all know it to be and that is that Jerry Jones is in charge and he has got two sons and a very capable daughter as well. And it's within the family. And so, whether or not a role would be carved out within that structure, I'm not sure that's possible.
WALLACE: Finally, it seems to me we have mixed feelings about pro-football right now. 100 million of us are going to watch the game. It will be the biggest TV show of the year. And yet on the other hand, I think there is increasing concern about the safety of these players both during the game and what happens to them after. What are your thoughts about the state of the NFL at this moment?
AIKMAN: You know, the important thing as the steps have been taken with the National Football League to try to ensure the safety of the players. But this is a contact sport. It's a violent sport no matter what you try to do or what rules you implement to try to make it safe. There is going to be injuries. And they're going to be significant in nature from time to time. And we have seen reduction of participants at the youth level. And I think in some ways the popularity of the National Football League and the rising ratings of the games has maybe disguised some of the issues. Not that the NFL and the people at the college level aren't aware of what those issues are. I think they're trying to be addressed. But whether or not football as we know it 20 years from now looks like it does today, that's a real question that I have.
WALLACE: Troy, thank you.
AIKMAN: You're welcome.
WALLACE: And after the interview, we got Troy to sign this football, too, which makes it a great keepsake for the three Wallace grandkids which I'm sure they will share without having any fight. Keep it right here on your local Fox station all day as the best team in sports television brings you every moment of Super Bowl XLVIII, a special thanks to our colleagues here at Fox Sports for all of their help.
That's it for us. Have a great week and we'll see you back in Washington next "Fox News Sunday."
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