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Bob Costas: “For the second consecutive week, the NFL faces tragedy. Last week, the murder-suicide committed by the Chiefs Javon Belcher.Then, early yesterday morning, 25-year-old Jerry Brown, a Cowboys practice squad linebacker, was killed in a single-car accident. Brown was the passenger in the car driven by his friend and teammate, defensive tackle Josh Brent, who has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.

“Drinking and driving is a societal problem to be sure, but it’s perhaps even more difficult to understand when it involves a football player. There are systems in place, including a “safe rides” program through the NFL Players Association, to help prevent situations like the one that ended Brown’s life. Any NFL player can just pick up a phone and arrange a ride, if he feels he’s impaired.

“Let’s bring in Tony Dungy now. Tony, what, if anything, can a coach do to influence the thinking and decision making of his players?”

Tony Dungy: “That’s something that you always wanted to do, whether it’s as a coach talking to your team, talking to youth groups, or me as a parent talking to my teenage boys. You always talk about decision making.

“I always highlighted three areas: No. 1, being in or out late after 1 a.m.; using drugs and alcohol; and then driving too fast. I would talk to the team about that over and over and over again.

“You try to think of different ways, as a coach, to get that message across. My last year in Indianapolis, I brought in a young man from the Indianapolis area who had had a vehicular homicide at 17 years old. He spent nine years in prison, and he told me that those nine years were nothing compared to the fact that he had to wake up every day realizing he killed three people. I said ‘you’ve got to tell this story to my team because I’m looking for different voices, different ways to get that across.’

“NFL coaches are trying to do everything they can to help young men make better decisions.”


Dungy: “All along, we’ve said San Francisco and Atlanta because they’ve had the best records, but San Francisco has some chinks in the armor. They’ve got two tough road trips, to New England and to Seattle. They might not even be in first place in their own division in two weeks.”

Rodney Harrison: “Atlanta’s the No.1 seed, but no one’s afraid to play Atlanta. To me, the team to beat in the NFC is the New York Giants…I don’t even care about the record. When the Giants get into the playoffs, they have that experience, that pass rush, Eli in the 4th quarter. That’s the team to beat.”