Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:11 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:57 am

Super Bowl Shoutout: Manipulative Manning

OPENING HIT-- I've always said that Peyton Manning is the most cutthroat player in the NFL. Many times that's a good thing. You want that aspect on the field. You want a quarterback to go for the kill. Manning does that, but off the field he's the same way. The jovial Manning you see in commercials isn't really that guy. He's thrown teammates under the bus publicly, and now in an attempt to win the PR battle with fans is overshadowing his little brother during Super Bowl week.

These leaks about Manning being cleared to play are carefully plotted, well designed and unquestionably coming from Manning's camp. They're manipulative and designed as a preemptive PR strike to head off Jim Irsay likely saying sometime soon they have to release Manning because of his health. This is a Brett Favre-like ploy to put pressure on Irsay and the Colts. No question about it.

Peyton Favre.

Which is why Irsay reacted so strongly on Twitter to the Manning news early this morning. Irsay knows what Manning is doing and Irsay isn't going to let him get away with it. Good for Irsay. It's one thing for Manning to use the media to push his agenda; it's another for Irsay to sit back and let Manning do it without a fight.

I respect Irsay for this. He's putting his name to his side of the fight, which is more than Manning and his agent are doing.

I've been saying for some time the probable departure of Manning from the Colts is going to get ugly and it's starting now. Both sides want to blame the other for Manning's likely exit from Indy when there is actually no one to blame. It's just the circumstances. It's football. And it's Manning being Manning.

Category: NFL
Posted on: February 2, 2012 9:06 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:50 am

Super Bowl Shoutout: The Power of Tebow

INDIANAPOLIS -- Let me tell you a story about a grounded superstar...

A small group of writers, including myself, were in a downtown restaurant having a casual dinner with commissioner Roger Goodell. Nice time, good people, the commish is a class act.

Suddenly our waitress has a message: Tim Tebow is in the restaurant.

Word is sent to Tebow that the commissioner is at our table and Tebow comes over. Tebow greets everyone at the table with a sincere smile and handshake. Nothing phony. Completely genuine. It was truly impressive to see. But the story gets better.

Behind our table was a window, and a small group of fans could see inside. They spotted Tebow. The crowd grew. And grew. And grew some more. A few people turned into about 40 or 50 at least. People who couldn't even see in the window just stood there hearing Tebow was inside. The crowd got so large it spilled into the street and police had to tell the fans to step back onto the sidewalk.

Tebow left and went outside where he signed countless autographs (Goodell later did the same).

I've been critical of Tebow's play (never of him as a person) but that was a highly interesting moment. I can't tell you how many athletes I've seen from many different sports treat fans in similar situations like garbage. Tell them to blank off or just walk by.

I'm not making any grand statements or saying there are no other athletes that would treat people and fans the same. Of course there are. I'm just making a simple observation: That was cool to see. Cool to see an athlete who gets it.

Category: NFL
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:06 pm

Reggie Wayne on Peyton Manning: 50-50 chance

INDIANAPOLIS: Everyone seems to have an opinion on if Peyton Manning will be able to physically recover from his neck injury and return to football. Manning teammate, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, is no different.

"I think his chances of returning to football are 50-50," said Wayne. "He had some pretty serious surgeries so I'm just not so certain. The one thing about Peyton though is if anyone can come back from this, he can. He works so hard at everything and this is no different. He's a tough guy but we're talking about the neck and that's why I'm not so certain but again if anyone can, he can. He's almost superhuman."

Wayne quickly added, "Now, where he might play, I don't know. That's the question. I hope it works out where he stays with the Colts but even with a great player like Peyton it's a business. Even Peyton isn't immune from the business part of football so it wouldn't shock any of us on the team that if he did play next year, it was somewhere else, because that's the nature of football."

Wayne gave an interesting glimpse in what it's like to be a Colts player these days in a football nation obsessed with Manning’s health.

"Everywhere I go people say to me, 'Please keep Peyton," said Wayne, who is working with Xbox Kinect this week. "I'm not Jim Irsay. It's not my team. Everyone wants Peyton to stay but like I said, it's a business."

"The only good thing about last season was that we never quit. I hated to see our coaching staff get fired. I was close to a lot of those guys and sometimes the media portrayed it as Peyton threw the ball to himself, caught it, snapped the ball, did everything and the rest of us were just nobodies. But we fought. I was proud that we never quit."

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:24 am

Brady punks Ochocinco

INDIANAPOLIS-- Media day at the Super Bowl is normally a joke. Reporters scratching themselves while standing amid circus clowns and smirking players. Usually there is little news or insight. But this one, my 12th or 15th or 17th -- I forget -- actually had an interesting moment.

Some yokel from OCNN -- I believe that's the Ochocinco News Network -- had a question for Brady. Brady could clearly see that the reporter was from Chad Ochocinco's online network. No question. The "reporter" asked Brady if he would please throw a pass to Ochocinco.

Brady didn't hesitate with his response.

"Tell him to get open," Brady said, "and I'll throw it to him."

Oh. Wow.


That was, well, very blunt. In some ways, very cold-blooded of Brady.

I could easily be wrong but I don't think I've ever heard Brady be so blunt about Ochocinco.

I actually thought that moment was the most interesting and actually provided a lot of insight -- if not the definitive answer -- as to why Ochocinco has been a failure as a Patriot. It's not about his relationship with Brady. Ochocinco isn't hurt. It may not be about his lack of learning the offense. It's more simple than that.

He can't get open.

That's it. That is all.

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 31, 2012 9:54 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:43 am

Super Bowl Shoutout: Can Gronk be effective?

OPENING HIT: Part of me wonders if Bill Belichick is pulling a fast one. That somehow Rob Gronkowski isn't as hurt as the Patriots are saying but that's far-fetched even for the tricky mind of Belichick. Which means Gronkowski is really badly injured.

This isn't a question of whether Gronk will play. He'll likely find a way to be on the field. The real question is effectiveness, and based on everything I hear the chances of Gronkowski being a factor are almost non-existent. You don't recover from high ankle trauma this quickly and the fact he still hasn't practiced is the biggest indicator of the seriousness of the injury.

My guess is Belichick will try and use Gronkowski as a decoy. Put him in the game, run a few routes maybe, use him as a blocker if possible. But the idea that Gronk will be Gronk with that kind of injury is a bit far-fetched.

Unless Gronkowski is even tougher than we think which seems impossible.


Category: NFL
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:41 am

Super Bowl Daily Shoutout: The Ugly Pro Bowl

OPENING HIT: Wide receiver great Cris Carter, who has played in a Pro Bowl or two, called Sunday's Pro Bowl game "unwatchable." That's extremely kind. That game was an abomination. Without question it was the worst all-star game I've seen in over 20 years of practicing sports journalism. The NFL and its players should be ashamed of themselves for allowing that monstrosity to happen.

The NFL normally puts on an almost flawless product. Football is the best sport because it's the most watchable, the most exciting, and perhaps more than anything, its players play hard all the time. That's not the way it is in baseball or basketball. In football, it is.

The Pro Bowl, with defensive backs giving 20 yard cushions, no one tackling, everyone playing not to get hurt, seriously undermines the great leaps the league has made to solidify its product as the best.

My guess is the NFL knows this and I've spoken to some team and league officials who were also stunned at what they saw. Changes will come and they may come very quickly.

All-Star games are indeed normally garbage but this was particularly bad. Never thought I'd say this but I now pine for the MLB All-Star game.

Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:49 pm

Jim Tressel and the Colts

There are now reports the Colts will not hire Jim Tressel as head coach. This after a round of reports that Tressel had received two interviews and was in serious contention for the job. As a team source told me weeks ago there is no way in hell the Colts will hire Tressel to coach the team. That mostly stands. I've also been told Tressel never received two interviews for the job as previously reported and the one "interview" he received was very casual and more courtesy than anything else.

"Jim is well liked by Irsay," said a team source speaking of the Colts owner, "but not that well liked."

We'll see. Maybe Irsay does like taking huge, risky gambles with the future of his franchise.

League sources say the Colts have interviewed numerous candidates and aren't done. They're scheduled to speak with Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. reported 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely is now on the Colts radar. I was able to confirm that is indeed the case. Seely is viewed as a good potential head coach by people around football.

The Tressel-as-coach phenomenon got renewed life when Tony Dungy this week said he believed Irsay had focused on Tressel as head coach. That certainly opened my eyes but I continue to be told Tressel isn't getting the position.

Is it possible Irsay has become Jerry Jones and now rebuffs any notion of conventional wisdom? Possible. Irsay, again, is very different. He could hire Tressel as a giant (expletive) you to the league. Yes, that's possible, but no one on the Colts or in the league believes this will happen. They think Irsay's inner pragmatism will take over.

Irsay, I'm told, wants to hire an NFL assistant; some new coaching blood to go along with his theme of remaking the franchise almost entirely. This is the safer route and why Tressel doesn't make sense. The NFL is littered with the bodies of great college coaches who failed in the NFL from Steve Spurrier to Nick Saban and dozens of men between.

Do NFL assistants fail? Yes. But the failure rate for college coaches making the try is astronomical.

Again, Irsay is very different, and he could shock the NFL world with a Tressel hire.

But I think the team is heading in the direction of a hire like Pagano.

Category: NFL
Tags: Colts, NFL
Posted on: January 23, 2012 8:46 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:49 am

The Daily Shoutout: Wishy-washy Chip Kelly

OPENING HIT: To say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a little upset with Chip Kelly is an understatement. They are, well, furious.

A team source confirmed a Register-Guard report from Eugene that Kelly had agreed, then backed out of an agreement to coach the Bucs. It concludes yet another strange chapter in the history of Tampa coaching searches.

The Bucs are angry. One team source called Kelly "wishy-washy" and used a few other choice words. This is from the Bucs team perspective, and I suspect Kelly will give his side very shortly (and that side of the story will be portrayed very differently). But in the end none of this reflects well on Kelly. He looks soft, at least from the NFL side of things.

There is some history behind the Bucs being irritated. Bill Parcells had agreed to become the coach in 1992 and then famously backed out at the last second. That led to one of the funniest (saddest?) quotes in recent NFL history when owner Hugh Culverhouse said: "I feel like I've been jilted at the altar."

Now they've been jilted again.

Category: NFL
Tags: Bucs, CFB, Ducks, NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or