ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --** On Thursday morning, Fox Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks joined four-time Super Bowl Champion Terry Bradshaw and Super Bowl Champion Michael Strahan - both of the Fox NFL Sunday Pregame show - on a conference call with national media to discuss Super Bowl XLVIII. Here are some highlights from their converstation.
Fox Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks:
On the intrigue of the weather
"This is probably the biggest Super Bowl – at least in the modern era – to have this much discussion about something in addition to the game and the players. I think it's going to have to manifest itself into more people tuning in."
On whether he thinks quarterback Peyton Manning will retire
"I don't think the outcome will have a bearing. I don't think he should retire. I think he should keep playing. No one 37 years old that has a historical season like he's had – he's broken every record that is imaginable for the quarterback position. His offensive line has given him protection that he's needed. He's stepping into throws. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone so accurate. Just really, I'm absolutely amazed by what he's done. If he wins this Super Bowl, that sounds good, but I can't answer for Peyton."
On Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
"I think he's a pretty amazing talent. Very poised, which, when I go looking at things – attributes – that I want the quarterback to have, number one: I want him to be poised. Calm with all chaos around, I want him settling in, going through progressions, not panicking. He seems to do that fairly well. Matter of fact, he seems to do it very well. Also, he's very adept at, as you saw the other night, getting out of pressure, running, scrambling around, making big plays on his feet."
"He's a good runner, but he's pretty smart. He buys time, but he's always looking down the field. Very accurate, got a good arm, really good arm – and when he's decisive, and you can see it, he really steps into his throws and guns it pretty good."
"A short guy – and so he has to drop a little bit deeper, get a little more separation – it puts a little more strain on his tackles, who push the pocket wider. But seems to be, in two years, a great leader."
On the matchup between the Broncos offense and the Seahawks defense
"Seattle's defense is really strong on the back end. Their strength is on the back end as far as coverage, which is also the strength of the Denver Broncos, which is throwing the ball. So that's going to be an interesting matchup. The running game for Denver has been a surprise. I mean, it's really picked up. That has really helped them, I think they're going to have to lean on that a little bit more and be probably a little bit more creative in their passing game. I wouldn't discount Denver's defense. Denver's defense last week, they stepped up against the Patriots – who had ran the ball really well in the playoffs – and they stepped up and really shut that down, negated Tom Brady. And Seattle's offense has not exactly lit up the scoreboard, has not been a passing juggernaut. Running game with Lynch has been strong, but if Denver can pull out what they did last week against the Patriots running game, even though I think Seattle's running game is a lot stronger, I think their defense could be the surprise of this Super Bowl."
On quarterback Peyton Manning handling pressure from the Seahawks defense
"Peyton is a guy – and I think the Denver coaching staff – they know what they're up against as far as pressure coming and all the different things the Seattle Seahawks can do. For that, they'll just make sure they get the ball out of his hands quickly. The biggest thing for him – or for his receivers – they have a challenge themselves, that they're going to have to get open, they're going to have to create some separations in space and put their bodies in position where they're the only ones who can catch these balls that he's going to get out quickly to them."
On whether Manning will retire
"(To Terry Bradshaw) I mean, I was 36 and wasn't playing too bad and you didn't tell me to keep playing. You told me to retire."
Bradshaw:"Yeah, but I didn't like you. (laughter)"
Strahan:"The other day was the first time I've heard somebody talk about Peyton retiring if he won a Super Bowl or whatever. I'm looking at this season thinking, I didn't realize how old he was because he's playing so well. He's been there forever, but he obviously loves the game, unlike many guys. He's among the best ever to do what he's doing. He's having a historical season, as Terry said. And I think we'd be missing something if he had a great season, won the Super Bowl – or even didn't win the Super Bowl – and then retired. I'd almost feel like he left so much on the table that it'd be hard to imagine him sitting at home and being able to handle it himself."
On the possibility of the game being moved due to severely inclement weather
"I'll tell you, from a player's standpoint, to switch it around – if you moved it a day early, that would be worse, in my opinion, than moving it for a day later. Because mentally, you're on a set schedule. That's the one thing about it. Mentally, you get set, where Sunday, your mind and your body – you're at that peak moment where they're ready to compete. If you move it a day earlier, that upsets that process and makes it almost – in a sense, speeds it up. Which obviously, I don't think it's very beneficial from a player's standpoint. If you moved it a day after, I think that's a lot easier to deal with from a player's standpoint. But hopefully there is no movement at all. If it's snowing, let them play in the snow. It is football."