Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning listens to a question during a news conference after Indianapolis was defeated by New York Jets, 17-16, in an NFL AFC wild card football playoff game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are working on a new contract — one that figures to make Manning the highest-paid player ever. Rightly so, of course, since he's one of if not the best quarterback in the NFL (and we all know that the NFL is a... quarterback-driven league. Thanks for playing).
The deal may get delayed by the current labor negotiations, but even if the unthinkable happens and each side becomes unable to reach anything close to a compromise, the team could use its franchise tag to make sure Manning will be in a Colts uniform next season.
And that's how it should be. Don't let this thing get to a Favre-type setting. There's something about team-recognized superstars finishing their careers in foreign colors that makes the 5-at-10 sad.
Sure, LaDainian Tomlinson the Jet is making contributions and is within a win of the Super Bowl, but his image will always be with the Chargers. And for every one LT making a final charge toward an elusive ring, there's a dozen Emmitt Smith the Cardinal or Franco Harris the Seahawk or Joe Montana the Chief.
Where no Manning has gone before
Here's another thought on the Manning situation:
Manning has long since been driven by perfection and perspective. He chases the hallmarks and history. He hunts the records and the respect. Simply, he wants to be the greatest quarterback ever.
That definition is open to interpretation, of course. It's not yards or TD passes or even Super Bowl rings that decides the best quarterback ever. All of those stats can be manipulated by systems or teammates or circumstances. No the stats can't decide who is the greatest quarterback, only who is not not among the finalists.
No, the great quarterbacks have strong credentials in each area, but there's still something more. The aura of Johnny Unitas, the cool of Montana, the overwhelming skills of John Elway — it's something different that shows unbending leadership and unyielding ability to get the job done.
That said, what if Manning offered the Colts to play the next two years at the league minimum with a caveat that anything under the salary cap that the team did not spend would be part of his signing bonus. Manning would force the Colts to go get him some help (Seriously, after all the Colts injuries this year, Manning was throwing to a collection of guys that should have been bagging groceries in the playoffs). It would be the ultimate act of putting his money where his mouth is, and putting the team first. And isn't that as good a description for a great quarterback as any?
Plus, wouldn't Manning become the most marketable athlete in sports, if he isn't already?
Yes, it's super easy for the 5-at-10 to say someone else should leave tens of millions of dollars out there, but still.
The 5-at-10 loves, Loves, LOVES the NFL Draft. You know this.
The official deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft has officially closed, and there were a record 56 players that left college early for the chance to play professionally (Insert your own Cam Newton joke here if you'd like).
Yes, there is no collective bargaining agreement for the NFL for the 2011 season, but there will be a draft in April, regardless of where the negotiations stand at that point.
Anyhoo, two things jumped off the list of the 56 players:
— There is an awful lot of talent in the SEC. There will be no fewer than seven SEC underclassmen taken in the first round of the draft — and maybe three of the top five picks — and the league will still have five teams in the preseason top 25 next fall.
— Second, there was no Terrelle Pryor or the rest of the Ohio State 5 that will miss the first five games of the 2011 season. OSU coach Jim Tressel made Pryor and Co. promise to return to school and serve their punishment before letting them play in the Sugar Bowl. Apparently, pinkie swears still mean something in Columbus, Ohio.
University of Texas players Michael Huff (7) and Brian Robison (39) celebrate late in the fourth quarter after the Longhorns stopped Southern California's LenDale White (21) from converting on a fourth-down, two-yard run lat in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl, the national championship college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006, in Pasadena, Calif., in this file photo.
Let the positioning being
ESPN and the University of Texas agreed to a 20-year, $300 million contract to develop and broadcast a Longhorn channel. The prospects of this — good and bad — are limitless. Remember that almost every school has some sort of broadcast deal; most of them are not with the channel that describes itself as the World Wide Leader, though.
— As our TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote this morning, "Note to Longhorn fans: Get ready for your local cable provider to package this in some obscure sports tier package that's going to add $9.99 a month to your bill largely for the purpose of watching Lady Longhorns basketball, men's tennis, 3 a.m. re-runs of the Mack Brown Show and a documentary on the proper procedure for cleaning Bevo XIV's stall."
— What happens when ESPN discovers a Texas misstep? How do they report this? Do they sit on it in fear of losing ratings — I mean who wants to watch programming on a team on probation right?
— This is different from the mega-deals given to conferences like the SEC, the ACC or even the PAC 10, because this is with one university, which keeps the entire bucket of bucks. Texas is a national brand with a huge fan base and it sold the most branded apparel among NCAA teams in the last quarter according to the Collegiate Licensing Company.
(Side note — here's the top 15 according to the CLC: 1. Texas; 2. Alabama; 3. Florida; 4. Michigan; 5. Georgia; 6. UNC; 7. Notre Dame; 8. LSU; 9. Penn State; 10. Tennessee; 11. Nebraska; 12. Kentucky; 13. Oklahoma; 14. Auburn; 15. West Virginia. Interesting, huh?)
Get over it already
The 5-at-10 satellite office in Chickamauga has been flooded with calls about the lack of a whistle at the end of Tuesday's Tennessee-Georgia game.
Quick rewind: UT big body Brian Williams jockeys for position, grabs an errant shot and tosses in a put-back game-winner as time expires. Everyone in Georgia this side of Gov. Nathan Deal has foot-stomped and belly-ached about Williams going over the back of Georgia's Chris Barnes on the decisive play.
Watch the replay at the bottom of the page.
Anyhoo, two quick points:
— Unless you are related to Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox or had a dollar on the Bulldogs minus-2 and needed the game to go into overtime (Sorry, Dr. B), there's no way you want that foul called. One of the fundamental rules in sports officiating is let the players decide the game, especially late. That call — which would have sent Georgia to the foul line to decide the game in the other direction more than likely — would be like a pass interference call on a Hail Mary attempt football.
— Secondly, the extra 60 seconds or so the referees took to decide that Williams' game-winner beat the buzzer was likely met with a collective shrug from the UT fan base, a group that has become all-too-familiar with after the final buzzer decisions affecting the outcome of their games. Maybe it doesn't make up for the Bungling in the Bayou or the Music City Mix-up in football this year, but call it a small payback (and even if your Orange-colored glass blocked your view of the obvious over-the-back foul at the end, there is no debating that Josh Bone's floater in the final five minutes was after the shot clock had expired).
Until tomorrow and the NFL picks.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...