"LT" DUELS "LJ" AS AFC BEST CHARGERS HOST THE CHIEFS ON "NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL"
NBC's Madden: "LaDainian Tomlinson is the best player in the NFL."
NFL Legend Jim Brown on "LT": "He has humbleness but is a tenacious warrior."
NEW YORK � December 13, 2006 � LaDainian Tomlinson, who last week set the NFL single-season touchdown mark, and the San Diego Chargers (11-2) host Larry Johnson, who leads the NFL in rushing yards, and the Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) on "NBC Sunday Night Football," Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET, presented in high definition. NBC's coverage kicks off at 7 p.m. ET with the "Football Night in America" studio show, a complete recap of the top stories in the NFL, with highlights, analysis and reports from around the league.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) will call all the action. Bob Costas (host) and Cris Collinsworth (co-host), analysts Sterling Sharpe and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, and reporter Peter King of Sports Illustrated, comprise the "Football Night in America" studio team.
MADDEN ON TOMLINSON:
"I have been on record saying that I think LaDainian Tomlinson is the best player, not just the best running back, but the best player in the NFL. I also think Larry Johnson's great. That's going to be a heck of a matchup. I haven't seen them both in the same game and going after each other. I've watched Kansas City and he's carried them. I think their defense has improved, I think Trent Green getting back is making them a little better. But Larry Johnson is still the guy. They're the best backs in football, but if I had to pick one, I would pick Tomlinson because of the other things he does, receiving and all those other things. But I don't think any less of Larry Johnson because I say that."
"LT" VS. "LJ":
"LT" last week scored three touchdowns in a 48-20 Chargers romp over the Denver Broncos and now has 29 touchdowns on the season, one better than the mark Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks set last year. He has scored a touchdown in 11 of San Diego's 13 games this season and has scored 21 times in his past seven games. Johnson, who ranks second to Tomlinson in touchdowns with 15, leads the NFL in rushing yards with 1,432, just five ahead of "LT."
JIM BROWN ON "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA":
NFL legend Jim Brown, in an exclusive interview that will air Sunday during "Football Night in America," talks about Tomlinson and Johnson. On Tomlinson he said, "LaDainian is not a great runner, he's a great football player. He has quickness, speed, balance and strength. He has humbleness but is a tenacious warrior."
NBC's Kremer sat down with Tomlinson this week and excerpts from the interview will air during "Football Night in America," with the complete interview on NBCSports.com.
BETTIS ON "LT" ON NBCSPORTS.COM:
"Right now, I would have to think that he would be number one all-time. With deference to Jim Brown of course, I still think he's the best running back, when he's done, to ever play a football game. He does it all: he runs the ball, he catches the ball, he blocks well, he doesn't get hurt, and when you think of the best of all-time, you have to look at longevity. I really believe he's been able to do it a long time and he has a long time yet to go." For more on "LT," log on to NBCSports.com and click on the Toyota Roundtable in the video section.
WAITING ALL DAY FOR SUNDAY NIGHT:
The Chargers, making their third "NBC Sunday Night Football" appearance, boast the best record in the AFC and are seeking the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With their victory last week, San Diego has already clinched the AFC West title.
In their first network primetime appearance on Oct. 8, the Chargers defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers 23-13. Under the lights on Nov. 19, they rallied from a 17-point deficit in Denver to beat the Broncos 35-27 to become the first NFL team to win back-to-back games after trailing by 17 or more points. In that contest, Tomlinson scored four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving.
The Chiefs, making their "NBC Sunday Night Football" debut, need a victory to stay in wild card contention. They currently stand one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
Earlier this year in one of the most exciting games of the NFL season, the Chiefs handed their division rival one of only two 2006 losses, winning 30-27 on a 53-yard field goal with six seconds left, after San Diego had rallied from 17 points down to tie the game.
ABOUT FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING:
The NFL this season is implementing for the first time in its history a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17 to ensure quality matchups with playoff implications in those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto Sunday Night. The NFL will announce the flex game no later than 12 days prior, except for Week 17, which will be announced no later than six days before, to ensure that the final regular season Sunday Night game has playoff implications.
"FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" STUDIO:
The "Football Night in America" studio, just down the hall from the famed Studio 8H, home of "Saturday Night Live," was built in the former studio home of first the Philco Television Playhouse (1948-1955) and later for game shows Concentration (1958-1973) and Jeopardy (1964-1975), and talk shows Donahue (1984-1996) and The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996-2002), and shares the "SNL" control room for the football season. The "Football Night" set was designed and built by Jeremy Conway, the former set designer for "Sex in the City." Two 103" high definition Panasonic plasma screen televisions � roughly the size of a queen-size mattress � are two of the set innovations.
"NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL":
"NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week, is preceded by the "Football Night in America" studio show, which kicks off NBC's regular season coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. The unprecedented six-year NFL deal includes innovative flexible scheduling and continues through the 2011 season with Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012. NBC has assembled the most honored broadcast team ever: Joining Al Michaels, the commentator called "TV's best play-by-play announcer" by the Associated Press, and John Madden, the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time with 15 Emmy Awards, are Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, who will host NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards; and analysts Sterling Sharpe, a five-time Pro Bowler and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. "NBC Sunday Night Football" coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called "the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL." Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the "Football Night in America" studio show.
NBC'S REMAINING 2006 NFL SCHEDULE
(Sunday coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET with "Football Night in America" studio show)
Sunday, Dec. 17 � Kansas City at San Diego*
*Flexible Scheduling Weeks 10-15
Monday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) � Philadelphia at Dallas
Flexible Scheduling Week 17