Versatile Mike Tirico is comfortable at just about any sports assignment he’s given and it’s been evident these last four weeks.
In his many years at ESPN, the New York raised broadcaster covered just about anything, hosting in-studio or calling a competitive event. Now, the 53 year old vet brings his usual friendly disposition to NBCSN’s month-old Lunch Talk Live. It airs Monday-Friday at noon.
Unlike the dozen or so spirited programs that fill the daytime airwaves on Fox and ESPN, Tirico presides over an easygoing hour of uplifting conversations with a list of guests that needs no introductions.
Born out of necessity during this challenging stretch of confinement, Lunch Talk Live is a fun diversion. Mike hosts the program from his home and his guests check in from theirs. The program launched on April 6th.
The list of his guests glitters. Getting them immediately, in an economy of time, is impressive. These are just some:
Athletes/Players: Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals ), Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick (NASCAR), Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals), Jeff Okudah (#3 pick NFL Draft), Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels), P.K. Subban (NJ Devils)
Coaches/General Managers: John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers GM), Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins head coach), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke Basketball head coach), Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay head coach), John Elway (Denver Broncos GM)
Broadcasters/Analysts: Peter King (NFL Insider), Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports), Brent Musburger (VSiN), Al Michaels (NBC Sports), Jim Nantz (CBS Sports), Doc Emrick (NBC)
Presidents/Commissioners: Roger Goodell (NFL), Gary Bettman (NHL), Mark Emmert (NCAA)
This week alone, NFL coaches and front office personnel filled the program, joining Tirico remotely to interact on the 2020 NFL Draft. It shaped into some interesting talk:
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores
- Flores is excited about the football culture brewing in Miami. After facing much adversity after an 0-7 start last year, the Dolphins rallied together to finish the 2019-20 season, 5-4. Although Miami drafted an injury prone QB in Tua Tagovailoa, Flores feels comfortable in his decision to do so. He is confident that Tua can excel in the NFL because of his leadership qualities, throwing accuracy, and toughness.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson
- There have been mixed reviews as to whether the Eagles made the right choice by drafting former Oklahoma QB, Jalen Hurts. The question is not so much Hurts’ potential as it is why the Eagles didn’t prioritize filling other offensive holes on their roster. The Eagles already possess a young, talented QB in Carson Wentz. On the show, Pederson insists that Wentz remains the face of the franchise and will be the starter in Philly. Hurts will be a stable backup to Wentz at the QB position and be prepared to play if Wentz sustains another injury.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim
- It’s evident that Steve Keim is ecstatic over the fact that the Cardinals drafted former Clemson LB, Isaiah Simmons. Simmons is an all-around, adaptable athlete who can play basically any defensive position. On Lunch Talk Live, Keim said that it was his 22nd draft, and that he can’t recall evaluating a player with the excellent skill sets of Simmons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians
- Bruce Arians couldn’t be happier about the direction in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading. He contends that former Iowa OT, Tristan Wirfs, is a perfect fit for his team because he has the ability to “jump right into NFL game play.” Arians also expresses how he as a coach he is eager to “collaborate with Tom Brady.”
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia
- Matt Patricia said that the comfort level, he and the Lions have with former Ohio State CB, Jeff Okudah, is “really high.” Patricia explains how Okudah will be a vital component of the defensive scheme when the Lions have to adjust to man coverage in the “biggest moments of the game.” Patricia is the former Defensive Coordinator under Bill Belichick in New England.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway
- Elway knows that last year’s rookie QB Drew Luck needs more explosive offensive counterparts to succeed. He is thus satisfied with the outcome of Denver’s 2020 NFL Draft, nailing down two speedy WRs in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. The Broncos have significant confidence in Luck going into the 2020-21 season, after he led the team to a 4-1 record to conclude the 2019-20 season.
Sunday Night Football Analyst, Cris Collinsworth
- Tirico and Cris Collinsworth agree that the NFL did an excellent job staging the 2020 NFL Draft virtually. Collinsworth opined the NFL “hit a home run on the day of the draft,” and both men agree that Roger Goodell was efficient in making the draft run smoothly.
- NCAA President, Dr. Mark Emmert, joined Lunch Talk Live and said that the organization had to reduce its budget by over 45%, and NCAA executives each took 20% paycheck reductions. As for sports this fall, Emmert said, “The biggest variable here isn’t when is it OK to play a game, it’s when can schools reopen again.”
- Tirico had legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski on the phone. The men discuss the covid-19 pandemic and stress that we’re all part of a “United States team” who have to cooperate individually for the good of the whole to stop the spreading of the virus. Krzyzewski parallels the effort to team sports. We all must do our jobs and know our roles and we’ll win. It is key for everyone to learn to adapt and to lead in ways they never imagined.
- Auburn head football coach, Gus Malzahn, joins Lunch Talk Live. They discuss the impact of the NCAA Board of Governors’ decision to allow student-athletes to be compensated for endorsements. Malzahm recognizes that there will be a “learning curve” for players to adjust to the new rule. He says that it will be a “super challenge” to ensure that the team mission of college football remains intact and that individuality of star players doesn’t overshadow team goals.
National Hockey League
- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman discusses the future of the NHL season, stressing that the goal is for the NHL playoffs to occur. But Bettman’s number one concern is to ensure that the players and personnel remain healthy and that these same individuals don’t contribute to the spreading of the virus. Flexibility is key for NHL Draft Lottery and NHL Playoffs. Both may have to be restructured depending on whether the season does or doesn’t return. Yesterday, Bettman told an interviewer that the 2020-21 season could begin as late as December.
- Two time US Olympic gold medal skier Ted Ligety says he donated his goggles from past skiing competition to Goggles for Docs, a program in which goggles are given to doctors around the country who are on the front lines helping fight the covid-19 pandemic. Ligety encourages individuals to all join the initiative, and Tirico acknowledges how impactful and beneficial Goggles for Docs can be.