Kiszla: John Elway, Patrick Roy know the value of keeping score By Mark Kiszla The Denver Post January 24, 2014 The score is Patrick Roy 4, John Elway 2. If championships are what really matter, Saint Patrick has the Duke of Denver beat. And we all know how much a Hall of Famer hates to lose. Elway is king of the comeback. Roy's trademark is the great save. The two biggest winners in Denver sports history form a very exclusive mutual admiration society, as Roy and Elway restore the luster to proud Colorado teams they made famous. Long before Elway took over football operations of a Broncos franchise that had fallen into disrepair or Roy returned to town as coach of the struggling Avalanche, the two legends met on a golf course a dozen years ago. "He's a good player," said Elway, chuckling as he prepared to stick the needle in Roy. "As I recall, Patrick was a better player than what he told me his handicap was." OK, here we go. There is no expiration date on competitive juices. Game on. "What you see with Patrick is what you get. That's what I like about him," Elway told me Thursday. "If there's a common denominator among players in all the Halls of Fame, it's the guys all have great competitiveness. Patrick Roy is a fiery competitor. He was fiery as a goalie. He's fiery on the bench as a coach. And he was fiery on the golf course. During the round, I seem to remember a couple words I won't mention." Well, pardon his French. In plain English, here's what Roy admires about Elway: There's a natural confidence, totally devoid of pretension. Elway knows he's good. There's no need to tell you about it. The easy laugh of Old No. 7 covers the slow tick of a gambler's fearless heart. "John should feel great about himself as a leader, because here's a guy who's not afraid to make tough decisions," Roy said. "It was a tough decision to replace a quarterback as popular in Denver as Tim Tebow with somebody he knew could bring a Super Bowl to the team. Elway knew Peyton Manning had something left in his game. It was a high risk in the eyes of a lot of people, but in Elway's eyes it was the only right decision." After arriving in a trade from Montreal, where he won two championships, Roy walked confidently onto Elway's turf and won the Stanley Cup in 1996. The Broncos countered with Super Bowl victories to cap the 1997 and 1998 NFL seasons. The Avalanche drank from the Cup again in 2001. The quarterback and goalie retired. The Broncos and Avalanche tumbled from elite status. During a patch of rough ice five years ago, I remember Avs senior vice president of communications Jean Martineau sitting through another loss in the Pepsi Center, insightfully lamenting what seemed to ail the local NFL and NHL teams was an inability to recapture the magic that departed when larger-than-life legends walked out the door. Elway and Roy defined the golden age of Colorado sports. And they're back. At age 48, Roy is a little thicker than he was as a goalie. Now 53 years old, Elway still bleeds orange, but his hair is streaked with gray. Hey, middle age happens. Time has robbed skills from Elway and Roy, except the most important one: an unbeatable, insatiable passion for winning. "It's the passion you have inside that never goes away," Roy said. "When I retired from playing, my first two or three years were tough. I suffered anxiety. I felt I was missing something in my life. But when I started coaching in Canada, I started to reconnect with what made me happy." The Broncos have nothing except first-place finishes since Elway returned to the front office three seasons ago. As a rookie on the Colorado bench, Roy has established himself as a legitimate contender for coach of the year, while leading his young Avs to a 31-13-5 record. "My challenge is to prove this is a great hockey town. We're never going to be like football in Denver, but I want it to be a great hockey town again," Roy said. "Yes, it hurts me when I see only 14,000 people in the building for a game, after so many years when we sold every ticket. But we cannot force people to come. We want to excite fans enough to make them come back. There have been some bumpy moments in the past. But having the chance to be a difference-maker is what makes me excited about this challenge." No town looks better in confetti than Denver. In Elway and Roy we trust. And trust this: Roy and Elway dream of victory parades. "Getting in the Hall of Fame was great, but I wanted the next mountain. That's why I want to win a world championship in a different role than as a player," Elway said. "I was built to climb mountains. So I will probably always be looking for the next mountain to climb until the day I die." The next summit on Elway's checklist: Beat Seattle. The Duke is one victory away from his third Super Bowl ring. Hey, Saint Patrick: Do not look back. The Colorado sports legend in your rearview mirror is closer than he appears. Elway, the king of comebacks, is gaining fast in a quest for championships. Game on. Troy Aikman eager to see Peyton Manning battle Seattle's defense By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 24, 2014 If the Seattle Seahawks can stop Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, then bully for Richard Sherman. To date, Manning has not been stopped. A couple of teams outscored him. The San Diego Chargers once kept the ball away from him. But no team has shut down Manning during his record- setting season. Now comes Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., where the Seahawks are the last line of defense between Manning and the greatest quarterback season of all time. "That's the matchup everybody is going to be talking about, Peyton Manning vs. the Legion of Boom," Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox color analyst Troy Aikman said during a conference call Thursday. "I'm excited to see it. That's why I spoke about how disappointing it would be if conditions keep that part of it from happening the way we'd all like to see because of the impact the weather may have on the passing game." Inclement conditions — which figure to descend upon MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands when Super Bowl XLVIII kicks off Feb. 2 — might be one obstacle to Manning's glove-handed passing game. Seattle's defense, though, has tortured quarterbacks rain or shine, home or road, while accompanied by deafening support or eerie silence. This season, the Seahawks ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense, passing defense, takeaways and scoring defense. Sherman led the league in interceptions and narcissism. The Manning-led Broncos ranked No. 1 in passing, touchdowns and points. During his news conference Thursday, Manning intimated he didn't know much about Seattle's defense — yet. It was like the straight-A student pretending to not know the answer, so the teacher would call on someone else. "I'm just starting to get to know them and prepare for them," Manning said of the Seahawks. Further explanation might or might not come next week when the Super Bowl buildup kicks into high gear. Until then, Manning is leaving the analysis to others. "Seattle, this is the best secondary he's going to face, I know that," Aikman said. "These guys are really good. They're not going to try and fool him. Seattle lines up in what they're doing virtually every snap and they just say, 'Hey, we've got great players and we're good enough to hold up.' And they have. They're the best pass defense in football." Sure, the Seahawks have the best passing defense this season. But the Broncos have the best passing offense of all time. Manning was considered great before. He has reached unprecedented levels this season with 59 touchdown passes and 6,107 passing yards while guiding the Broncos to a record 656 points (counting two playoff victories). In the rare times Manning and the Broncos felt badly about themselves, they scored 33 and 31 points in losses to Indianapolis and New England, and had the ball for only 21 minutes while scoring 20 points in a loss to San Diego. Averaging 27 points in defeat isn't exactly getting stymied. What was it that made the Broncos go from really good last season, Manning's first with the team, to record-setting great in year No. 2? "Going faster," said wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. "Going faster and everyone was on the same page in the second year. Getting together earlier." Aikman said it starts with the protection the Broncos' offensive line gives Manning. But even those linemen credit Manning for his sixth sense in the pocket. "Normally what happens as a quarterback is, you start to figure things out and each year you learn more and more and then when you really have command of the game, your body breaks down," Aikman said. "And it looked like that was happening to him a couple years ago and he's been able to weather it. He's had to make some adjustments because he doesn't have the arm strength he had prior to the injuries. I think he would be the first to tell you that, but he's able to make it up because he has great anticipation, he recognizes what defenses are trying to do against him and then he's got players that can get open and catch the football. It's a great combination. "And then you combine those things with this offense now in the league. The philosophy as far as the spread sets and attacking these defenses and getting off as many snaps as you can." Seattle's defense has the next turn. The final turn. With Super Bowl tickets, Broncos paying big bucks By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 24, 2014 Playing in the Super Bowl is getting expensive. The Broncos received their ticket allotments Thursday. Each player received two complimentary tickets, plus 13 tickets they could buy at $800, $1,200 or $1,500 apiece. Rookies such as C.J. Anderson and Kayvon Webster received two $800 complimentary tickets to the Feb. 2 game for upper-deck seats at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. An eight-year pro such as Jeremy Mincey received two $1,200 midlevel comp tickets. Veterans such as Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey received two $1,500 lowerlevel comp tickets. That's face value, folks. Each player on the Super Bowl-winning team will receive $92,000. The losing team's players get $46,000 apiece. Just win, baby. As for the 13 tickets each Denver player can buy, many decided to upgrade. Mincey, for example, paid $1,500 apiece for 13 lower-level tickets. That's a bill of $19,500. Ouch. "I've got a Mincey tribe coming," Mincey said. "I mean, shoot, you only get to play in the Super Bowl once. I wouldn't have my family miss it." Undrafted rookies such as Anderson couldn't afford to buy their full allotment of 13 tickets. "Of course not," he said. "Not my check. I need my check. I don't know about them. I need mine." Still, he paid for eight tickets at $1,200 apiece. On the secondary market, the tickets can fetch three times the face-value price. "Can't sell them," Anderson said. "You can get fined, that's what I heard. I can't get fined, either." Greg Wilson proud to wear Broncos No. 15 By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 23, 2014 Greg Wilson is no ordinary rookie receiver on the Broncos’ practice squad. Not with the No. 15 he wears. “Tebow?” he said. “I’ve heard some people talk about it. They asked me if I wanted this number and I chose it. I’ve been No. 15 my entire life. College, high school.” It became apparent during the offseason the Broncos weren’t going to retire Tim Tebow’s No. 15. His number was given to rookie receiver Tavarres King. The Broncos waived him twice and he was claimed by Carolina. Wilson had 67 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons at Fordham. He got a rookie minicamp tryout with the San Francisco 49ers. He was signed to the Broncos’ practice squad last week — just in time to accompany the team to New Jersey for the Super Bowl. He’ll be playing one of the Seahawks’ receivers these next two weeks in practice. Wilson was aware of how Tebowmania swept through Dove Valley, and the nation, for two months in 2011. “I’ve never Tebow-ed,” Wilso said. “I might have to. If I get the opportunity, yessir, I’ll bring it back.” Super Bowl Monday? NFL has backup plans in case of bad weather By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 23, 2014 If Super Bowl Sunday is moved to, say, Super Bowl Monday, the first people to find out will be Broncos coach John Fox and Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “We are advising teams to prepare in case a contingency plan goes into effect,” Eric Grubman, NFL vice president of business operations, said in an interview Thursday with The Denver Post. “If there is a schedule change, both teams will be notified simultaneously in a conference call.” A snowstorm in the greater New Jersey area dumped 13 inches on MetLife Stadium on Tuesday. Had the Super Bowl been played at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday it would have kicked off as scheduled, Grubman said. Had that same storm hit on Super Bowl Sunday, the league may well have had a decision to make on behalf of fans’ safety. If it’s determined with a three-day warning that a major weather event will hit on Super Bowl Sunday, there is a contingency plan to play the Super Bowl on Friday or Saturday. “If they move it, they move it,” Fox said. “Both teams have to adjust to it.” If there’s a severe weather event that hits on Super Bowl Sunday or the day before, the game could be moved to Monday, Feb. 4. Grubman said his weather advisers told him it’s silly to forecast the weather for Super Bowl Sunday any more than seven days in advance. So he’s preparing for worst-case scenarios. The most likely scenario is the game will go on as scheduled. But don’t tell the fans in the stadium the cold-weather planning was much ado about nothing. They’ll get something. As in loads of Super Bowl souvenirs to go along with those expensive tickets. The NFL is providing fans attending the game with a warm-weather kit that will be waiting for them at their seats. Along with a seat cushion, fans will receive earmuffs, text-friendly gloves, hand warmers, a knit cap, Kleenex, a cup holder, lip balm and an in-stadium radio that will allow them to hear the play-by-play call of the team. “From the 80,000 fans going to the game, not all of them have gone to a game in cold weather before,” Grubman said. “If you tell them it’s going to cold, they may bring a winter coat but how many will bring ear muffs or hand warmers that they’ll be glad to have as it gets colder as the game goes on?” Xanders not a finalist for Dolphins GM By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 23, 2014 The Miami Dolphins informed Brian Xanders on Wednesday he would not be a finalist for their general manager position. Xanders, the Broncos’ general manager from 2009 until May 2012, is currently serving in a front-office capacity with the Detroit Lions. He interviewed for the Dolphins’ top job last week. The Palm Beach Post reported the three finalists are Cleveland assistant general manager Ray Farmer, Dolphins assistant GM Brian Gaine and Tampa Bay director of player personnel Dennis Hickey. Farmer is considered the frontrunner. Steven Hauschka, Seattle’s top-notch kicker, once fought for Broncos job with Matt Prater By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 23, 2014 Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka was signed by the Broncos in December, 2010 to fill in for Matt Prater, who had a groin injury. Hauschka was six-of-seven in field goals in the final four games, then competed with Prater in the 2011 training camp. Hauschka was waived on Sept. 3, but not before he had nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Seahawks, 23-20, in the third preseason game. Pete Carroll was impressed enough with Hauschka’s clutch performance that the Seahawks claimed the kicker off waivers on Sept. 4. Hauschka has been Seattle’s kicker ever since. He was 33-of-35 in field goals during the regular season and has been huge in the playoffs, going six-of-six on field-goal attempts. Not that the Broncos are regretting keeping Prater, who was four-of-four on field goals last week against New England, including a 54-yarder, and was 25-of-26 during the season to earn a Pro Bowl berth. Broncos’ revenge tour through the NFL in 2013 rolls right along By Mike Klis The Denver Post January 23, 2014 The Broncos lost to San Diego in game 14 of the regular season, but they beat the Chargers in a second-round playoff game, 24-17. Check. The Broncos lost to New England in a late-November regular-season game in Foxborough, Mass, but they whipped the Patriots, 26-16 in the AFC championship game Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Now comes the Super Bowl and Broncos-Seattle II. OK, so it was only the preseason when the two teams met Aug. 18 in Seattle. But the “A” teams played the first half and it was the Seahawks who took a convincing 33-7 lead. There were extenuating circumstances. The Seahawks’ vaunted defense didn’t stop Manning that day so much as the Broncos were stopped by Julius Thomas and Ronnie Hillman fumbles. Hillman fumbled an inch before he was to cross the goal line to cap a 14-play, 80yard drive. The ball was picked up 6 yards deep in the end zone by Seahawk cornerback Brandon Browner (since suspended) who returned it for a touchdown. Instead of the Broncos closing to 17-14, the Seahawks were up 24-7. Seattle also scored on a 107-yard kickoff return by Jermaine Kearse. Manning was 11-of-16 for 163 yards, including a touchdown pass to Wes Welker, for a 122.7 passer rating in the first half, so it’s not like Seattle’s defense dominated. Marshawn Lynch, Terrance Knighton on collision course at Super Bowl By Patrick Saunders, Ryan Parker and Mike Klis The Denver Post Fans who like old-fashioned, meat-and-potatoes football could be in for a treat when the Broncos and Seahawks clash in Super Bowl XLVIII. "Roast beast" will be on the menu when Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch collides with Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. Lynch, nicknamed "Beast Mode," runs with anger on every carry. He leads the NFL with 19 games of 100 yards or more since 2011. It will be up to the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Knighton, aptly nicknamed "Pot Roast," to put a big body on Lynch. "We stepped up to the challenge last week, stopping New England's run game (in the AFC title game)," Knighton said Thursday. "San Diego had success running the ball in the regular season and we stepped up to that challenge in the playoffs. "It just gets worse and worse each week. Going against a back like this — we obviously have to stop him and can't allow him to get going. A guy like that who builds momentum and has confidence that he can run the ball just makes it worse for us." Miller update. Von Miller's legal troubles have come to an end with nothing more than fines and fees. The linebacker pleaded guilty — through his lawyer — to minor traffic violations in Arapahoe County District Court on Thursday. Miller didn't appear in person. All other charges against him, stemming from multiple traffic violations, were dropped. He pleaded guilty to a lane-change violation and speeding 10 to 19 mph over the posted limit, court records said. He was arrested in August at the Centennial Gun Club — a firearms shop — on a failure-to-appear warrant on the traffic charges. Tebow's ghost. Greg Wilson is no ordinary rookie wide receiver on the Broncos' practice squad. Not with the No. 15 jersey he wears. Tim Tebow's No. 15 was first given to rookie wide receiver Tavarres King, who was waived and claimed by Carolina. Wilson, who wore the number in high school and college, took the number again after he was signed to the Broncos' practice squad last week. "I've never Tebowed," Wilson said. "I might have to. If I get the opportunity — yes, sir — I'll bring it back." Practice weather. With about 3 inches of snow swept from their practice fields and a temperature of 10 degrees, the Broncos began installing their game plan in conditions they're likely to face Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. No big deal, said QB Peyton Manning. "We've practiced in this and had to play in these types of conditions at different points in the year," he said. "So, any time you can have a similar situation ... whether it is a two-minute situation, weather, whatever it is — it's always a good thing." Injury report. Tailback Knowshon Moreno, who injured his ribs in the AFC title game, was a limited participant in practice. Kicker Matt Prater (illness) and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein (knee) did not practice. Patrick Saunders, Ryan Parker and Mike Klis, The Denver Post Tony Carter helping fill hole on Denver Broncos defense By Patrick Saunders The Denver Post January 24, 2014 When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady scanned the Broncos' defense during the AFC championship game last Sunday, he looked for No. 32, Tony Carter, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback. On the Patriots' second possession of the game, Brady went after Carter on a thirdand-3 play, throwing deep down the right side for wide receiver Matthew Slater. Carter was there to break up the pass and force a punt. He finished the game with two passes defensed and four tackles (three solo). Carter, thrust into action in Denver's nickel defense because cornerback Chris Harris had a season-ending knee injury the week before against the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 12, passed a major exam. The next test comes against the Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. "I think I did a pretty good job, but I left a couple of plays out there," Carter said Thursday. "Brady completed a few plays, where I was close to getting my hand on the ball and breaking it up or making a pick. But I didn't, so I can get better. I think overall as a defense we played well, and we did a good job stopping the run and we didn't give up any big plays." Starting strong safety Duke Ihenacho said Carter met his teammates' expectations in Denver's 26-16 victory over the Patriots. "T.C. has played in a lot of football games, so we knew he was going to be up to the challenge," Ihenacho said. "We didn't fret with him coming in there. It didn't surprise me at all to see him play well." Brady is a classic drop-back quarterback, but Wilson presents a different challenge. He's fast and athletic, and possesses dangerous ability to throw while on the run. "Russell throws the deep ball very well, and they have a power running game that complements him very well," Carter said. "You can never count him out on a play. He can make things happen with his legs and his arm. We are going to work hard and make sure we are 100 percent prepared for him." Broncos' first practice before Super Bowl covered in snow By Patrick Saunders The Denver Post January 23, 2014 In winter weather fit for New Jersey, the Denver Broncos took the field Thursday for their first practice leading up to their Super Bowl showdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2. With about three inches of fresh snow swept from the practice fields and a temperature of just 10 degrees, the Broncos began installing their game plan. All players were on the field except for kicker Matt Prater, who was dismissed because of illness. Starting running back Knowshon Moreno, who injured his ribs in last Sunday's victory over New England in the AFC championship game, was a limited participant. It remains to be seen how much Moreno will practice the rest of this week. Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein did not practice because of an injured knee. Quarterback Peyton Manning certainly was not bothered by the frosty field and the frigid temperatures. "We played in this and practiced in this a good part of the year, so really, we've been through this. But it's good to get out here and get started," quarterback Peyton Manning said. Asked to evaluate the Seahawks' talented defense, Manning essentially dodged the question, at least for now, saying he was just beginning to study Seattle. Manning said John Fox has asked him and some of the other veterans to talk to the team about handling the Super Bowl experience, but Manning declined to share what he told his teammates. Fox said he wanted players such as Manning and receiver Wes Welker — who have both played in two Super Bowls — to "share their experiences with the younger players." The Broncos have four players with Super Bowl experience, while the Seahawks have none. When asked if that would be an advantage for the Broncos, Fox said: "This game, like any game, comes down to who plays the best. Advantages and disadvantages kind of go out the window and hopefully we are prepared and work hard enough to be that team." The Broncos will practice at their Dove Valley headquarters again on Friday and Saturday before leaving for New Jersey on Sunday. Von Miller's legal troubles end with dismissals, minor pleas By Ryan Parker The Denver Post January 23, 2014 ARAPAHOE COUNTY — Von Miller's legal troubles have come to an end with nothing more than fines and fees. The Broncos' strongside linebacker pleaded guilty — through his lawyer — to minor traffic violations in an Arapahoe County District courtroom Thursday afternoon. Miller did not appear in person. Seven points were removed from his license. All other charges against Miller, stemming from multiple traffic violations, were dropped. Miller, 24, pleaded guilty to a lane change violation and speeding 10 to 19 mph over the posted limit, according to court records. Before entering his pleas, Miller completed community service and a driver's course. Miller was arrested last August at the Centennial Gun Club — a firearms shop — on a failure to appear warrant. Court documents show Miller failed to appear for a court hearing on a charge from October 2012 when he was cited for careless driving, driving without a license and no proof of insurance. Miller was in trouble again in September after getting cited by law enforcement for driving without a license and speeding. Miller missed the first six games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Miller tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the Broncos' victory over the Houston Texans, ending his season. He has since had surgery to repair the damage. Percy Harvin injury still a mystery for Seahawks in Super Bowl By Troy E. Renck The Denver Post January 23, 2014 RENTON, WASH. — Percy Harvin has been a ghost in uniform. Or maybe The Loch Ness Monster is a more apt description. There have been infrequent sightings followed by tales of feats that strain reality. Speaking for only the fifth time to the media this season, Harvin talked confidently about playing in the Super Bowl, but not about his uncertain health. "I don't know if I felt the exact same as I was in Minnesota. But I know I felt good enough to play in a football game," said Harvin on Thursday when asked about his condition during his cameo against the New Orleans Saints' in a divisional game before suffering a concussion. Harvin profiles as a playmaker, his speed as a slot receiver and kick returner capable of creating memorable moments. Since signing a six-year, $67-million contract with a $12-million signing bonus last summer with the Seahawks, Harvin has caught one pass and returned one kick, limited by a torn labrum in his hip. Asked if the Super Bowl offered a chance to prove his value, Harvin bristled. "Not at all. I am a football player. I am confident in my game.," Harvin said. "Unfortunate situations happen in life and in this game." Harvin is dynamic when on the field. He averaged 35.9 yards per return last season with the Vikings, has scored on five kickoffs in his career and his best receiving game came against the Broncos in 2011. "It's really hard to stop him because he creates match-up problems," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "He can bring a special element to the game — his speed — and that fear factor is definitely alive." Enjoy the rainbow Running back Marshawn Lynch doesn't talk much to the press. He sits at his locker and jams hard core rap as the Seahawks' resident Dee-Jay. In a rare moment two weeks ago, he did explain why he eats Skittles during games to NFL Japan. "My mom gave them to me to settle my stomach when I was in youth football," Lynch said. He keeps the Skittles in the trainer's kit so he can pop a few like aspirin. Seattle fans love his strange nutrition, raining the field with the candies when he scores a touchdown. Footnotes If it's cold in New Jersey, Peyton Manning and his glove will become a storyline. But the Seahawks aren't exactly filled with a roster of Mr. Freezes. Wilson admitted that he's played only one game in the snow in his life. ... Lynch (knee) and receiver Doug Baldwin (hip) did not participate in practice the past two days. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this is by design as he looks to give them time to rest and recover. ... Baldwin didn't see any reason the Seahawks would change their game plan despite the Broncos' issue, at times, defending the pass this season. "I don't know why we would. We have been playing at a pretty good pace when we hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch." Bet on Broncos QB Peyton Manning saying "Omaha" at Super Bowl The Denver Post January 24, 2014 Some Super Bowl bettors will pay more attention to what Peyton Manning says at the line of scrimmage than what he does after the ball is snapped. Online sportsbook Bovada.lv is taking wagers on the number of times the Broncos quarterback yells "Omaha" as one of his presnap calls during the Feb. 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks. The over-under is 27½ and is among a series of more than 400 proposition bets, or props, announced Thursday by Bovada. "I guess it goes to show that people will bet on almost anything," said David Brown, president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce in Nebraska. Other Super Bowl props include the length of opera singer Renee Fleming's rendition of the national anthem before the game (over-under of two minutes, 30 seconds) and the temperature at the time of the opening kickoff at MetLife Stadium (over-under of 34 degrees). Yet the Manning-Omaha prop might be among the most unusual. If a bettor chooses the "over" and Manning says Omaha 28 times or more during Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XLVIII, he wins the same amount he wagered. He loses his bet in the same situation if Manning says Omaha 27 times or fewer. Manning said Omaha 31 times in the AFC title game, resulting in donations of $24,800 for his Peyback Foundation from Omaha businesses. Bloomberg News Hochman: Chauncey Billups fondly embraces "We, the Broncos nation" By Benjamin Hochman The Denver Post January 24, 2014 Are we allowed to "we"? It's a tricky debate for sports fans, in regards to referring to their favorite teams as "we." As in: "We are going to the Super Bowl" or "How could we get rid of Kosta Koufos?" In reality, the Broncos are going to the Super Bowl; you're not. But fans say "we" because they feel this unwavering bond to the team, because the Broncos are part of their identity — and part of their city's DNA. Chauncey Billups feels you on this. He feels the bond. The Detroit Pistons guard might be a multimillionaire, a former NBA Finals MVP and perhaps the greatest pro athlete to ever come out of Denver. But as he said on the phone Thursday, "We have one more game to go." He's part of the "we" too, as a Park Hill native. "I'm a lifelong, die-hard fan," said Billups, who, like Peyton Manning, is 37. "I'm just so proud of the team. The goal is to win it all. I'm happy to be a Broncos fan." Billups is "building a friendship" with the Broncos quarterback, he said. The two text back and forth, Billups often congratulating his favorite team's star on his play. They both appeared in a funny commercial for the 2014 BMW Championship, a golf tournament to be held this September at Cherry Hills Country Club. But Billups' best Broncos memories, for now anyway, are from his Park Hill days growing up. "When I really first started getting into it was Gerald Willhite, doing those backflips, and Sammy Winder, you know what I'm saying, people like that. Simon Fletcher, I saw him one day in my neighborhood growing up, at this little soul food restaurant. I already was a fan, but that just took it to another level. Seeing Simon Fletcher. I was so in awe." When the Nuggets acquired Billups in a trade in the fall of 2008, J.R. Smith wore Billups' trademark No. 1. But then it hit him. Of course. Billups would wear No. 7, John Elway's No. 7, explaining at the time, "I look forward trying to lead the charge and hopefully one day bring a championship to this town. Everybody knows I have a lot of pride in Denver. Being able now to have that 'Denver' across my chest, it just makes me feel good." He couldn't bring a title to Denver as Elway did, but he elevated Denver basketball, leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals in 2009. The Nuggets haven't gotten out of the first round since. Elway showed up at some of those playoff games, No. 7 cheering on No. 7. Billups won't be able to make it to New Jersey to watch the Broncos — he'll be in Miami with the Pistons. But the NBA doesn't have any games on Super Bowl night. Asked where he'll watch the Super Bowl, Billups said: "Probably in my room, because when it's my team playing, I don't like being places where it's really loud. I'm a real fan, so I really need to focus in on the game. The before-and-after celebrations, I'll do that, but during the game, I need to be locked in, right in my hotel room." Broncos return to practice in frigid temps By Arnie Stapleton Associated Press January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Peyton Manning found no need to dunk his right hand in a bucket of ice water Thursday — it was 9 degrees when the Broncos returned to their practice field for the first time since clinching a spot in next week's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. "Anytime you can have ... a situation that you can simulate during practice that might be in a game, that's always a good thing," said Manning, his breath vaporizing as he spoke from the podium after the two-hour workout. Manning, who spent much of his career inside in Indianapolis, has prepared for some cold-weather games since coming to Denver in 2012 by soaking his right hand in ice water. He welcomed the blast of wintry weather after a relatively balmy stretch of January, which included a 63 degree Sunday afternoon when he led the Broncos past the New England Patriots for the AFC title. The knock on Manning is that for all his greatness he crumbles in the cold and in the playoffs — he has just one championship ring in 12 previous trips to the postseason, eight of which ended in first-round exits, including last year's doubleovertime loss to Baltimore on a frigid night in Denver. Manning could take care of both of those criticisms next week when the Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, N.J., in the first outdoor Super Bowl ever held in a cold-weather city. With a win, he would be the first quarterback to lead two teams to the title. Although it's too early for forecasters to predict what the weather will be, there's a decent chance for freezing temperatures or snow by kickoff on the night of Feb. 2. Although Manning is 167-73 in the regular season, he's 11-11 in the playoffs. And he's 4-7 in games that are below freezing at kickoff, although some of those were games where he played sparingly because the Colts had already locked up playoff seeding. Others were against New England, when the Patriots clearly had the better team. And Manning did complete 39 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee last month when the temperature at kickoff in Denver was 18 degrees. If the Broncos beat the Seahawks — and they're favored by oddsmakers for the 30th straight game — Manning will match little brother Eli's two Super Bowl rings. Eli said Peyton doesn't have to beat Seattle to secure his legacy, however. "I think Peyton's already created his own legacy," Eli said during a conference call Thursday. "He's played at a very high level for a long period of time and he's overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on a lot of playoff teams, playing in his third Super Bowl." Peyton's resume is impressive: 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro and odds-on favorite to win his fifth MVP after setting NFL records by throwing for 55 TDs and 5,447 yards. Eli does not think the cold will be a factor in the game, either. "I don't think this hurts or helps either team," he said. "Peyton has been in Denver this year and played outside in a lot of cold games. I think obviously if it were to snow or be very windy, it could be a disadvantage to the Broncos, just because how much they like to throw the ball, compared to Seattle and their running game. "For the most part, it's really going to be the best team that is going to win, whoever plays the best football that day. It's going to come down to that and execution. The weather isn't going to decide the game." Although the Seahawks are more run-oriented, the Broncos do have a good 1-2 punch in running backs Knowshon Moreno, who grew up 45 minutes from the Meadowlands, and Montee Ball, who combined for 2,290 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns this season. Denver safety Mike Adams, who's also from New Jersey, scoffed at the notion that inclement weather could hurt the Broncos. "We're talking about the Super Bowl. I'm not worried about the cold, I promise you that," Adams said. "Weren't we practicing in like minus-3 degree weather here? So I'm definitely not worried about any cold weather. If anything, I'm worrying about them cancelling the game." The NFL's contingency plans call for the game to be played anywhere from Friday, Jan. 31, to Monday, Feb. 3, in case of a major snowstorm. Manning — who is 10-3 while wearing a glove on his throwing hand the last two seasons — and the Broncos are embracing the elements. "We practice in the cold all the time. I think we practiced indoors one time," Denver pass-rusher Shaun Phillips said. "We're definitely cold weather bred, and we'll be ready for it." Notes: K Matt Prater (illness) didn't practice. Neither did DT Mitch Unrein (knee). RB Knowshon Moreno (ribs) was limited. Eli: Peyton doesn't have to win to secure legacy By Tom Canavan Associated Press January 23, 2014 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — They are two of the NFL's most well-known quarterbacks. They telephone each other at least once a week to talk shop, work together on an offseason passing camp, and have appeared in a number of television commercials. Each had a chance to host "Saturday Night Live." Each is a Super Bowl MVP. There is something else about Peyton and Eli Manning. First and foremost, they're brothers. They know each other inside out. They root for each other. They bleed for each other. They're family. So when little brother Eli says Peyton doesn't need to beat the Seattle Seahawks and win a second Super Bowl to secure his legacy as one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks, believe him. "I think Peyton's already created his own legacy," Eli said Thursday during a conference call 10 days before Peyton and Broncos meet the Seahawks in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. "He's played at a very high level for a long period of time and he's overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on a lot of playoff teams, playing in his third Super Bowl. I don't think that's something that he's worried about. "There will always be arguments about who is the greatest? Or who is the best," Eli said. "I think if you're in that argument, if you're one of the names thrown around in there, I think you've already created a pretty good legacy." Peyton's resume is impressive: four-time MVP, 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All Pro. Sure, there is only one title. Two would be the icing, and put him on par with Eli. For the past few days, Eli Manning said his big job has been to get his brother extra tickets for the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city. Barring late add-ons, he's already hit the request number. "Obviously, I know what it's like with the Super Bowl and a lot of people are trying to figure out if they're coming to the games, so I'm trying to take some of that stress off of him and help manage some of those things," Eli said. "That way, he can focus on work and getting the game plan." While the two have exchanged some text messages, the brothers have not seen each other since Denver's win over New England in the AFC title game on Sunday. They hope to get together early next week in the New York for a few hours, when Eli will give Peyton the secrets about playing in MetLife Stadium and his insight into playing Seattle, which the Giants did on here on Dec. 15. The way the Seahawks' defense dominated New York that day in a 23-0 win, Peyton might well ignore the advice. After that, Peyton will take center stage during the weeklong media frenzy and Eli will get ready to watch only his second game at the Meadowlands. The first was in 2003 when the Jets crushed Peyton and the Colts in an AFC playoff game at Giants Stadium. Eli was still at Ole Miss. There is some coincidence about this game. When Eli won his second Super Bowl in 2012, it was in Peyton's stadium in Indianapolis. "I'm rooting for him," Eli said. "It's not like watching any other football game. If I'm watching two other teams, I'm kind of casually watching and don't really care who wins or loses. Here, it's a little bit more nerve-racking. I don't get nervous playing football games, I get nervous watching my brother play, and I guess because I've been doing this for a long time and you kind of know key moments and key plays." Eli does not think the cold will be a factor in the game. The bigger issue for his brother would be snow and wind. That might affect the Broncos more because they are a passing offense. The Seahawks are more run-oriented. Coming into the season, Eli hoped the Giants might become the first time to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. A 0-6 start derailed that and led to a 7-9 season that left New York out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. If he's not going, Manning is happy his brother made it. There is a little jealousy, too. "It kind of makes you want to get back to that situation and kind of get back to working and getting your mind set on doing whatever I have to do to get the Giants back to the championship games and get back to Super Bowls," Eli said. Sunday, he'll watch, and root for Peyton, just like his big brother did for him in 2008 and '12, when the Giants won it all. That's the family way. NY-NJ area ready for 'mass transit' Super Bowl By David Porter Associated Press January 23, 2014 NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — For all the consternation over whether Mother Nature may or may not visit in northern New Jersey for next weekend's Super Bowl, another unpredictable force could determine whether the event turns into a transportation debacle: the football fan. The $64,000 question, beyond whether Feb. 2 will bring another storm the likes of the one that dumped nearly a foot of snow Tuesday, will be whether the estimated few hundred thousand visitors to the area heed organizers' advice and leave their cars at home or at their hotels. If fans do decide to take mass transit, they will find plenty of options waiting. If they don't, they will find out what New York metro area residents already know, that the slightest disruption to the traffic system, be it construction, an accident or the influx of more vehicles, can tip an already delicate balance into chaos. And that's on an average day. "There's a certain degree of angst that I have right now, quite frankly," said Jim Kirkos, head of the Meadowlands Chamber, a business organization covering the area surrounding MetLife Stadium. "But people at the host committee have been studying this for a long time and they have a really solid transportation plan. They're going to have a lot of assets and resources working on this, so I have a lot of confidence this will find a way to work itself out." The efforts to make this the first "mass transit" Super Bowl fall into two categories: the days leading up to the game and the game itself. Geography dictates the former. More than 20 miles separates Times Square, site of the NFL's Super Bowl Boulevard attraction, and Florham Park, N.J., where the Broncos will practice. In between is Jersey City, site of the team hotels; East Rutherford, home to MetLife Stadium and the Seahawks' practice facility, and Newark, where media day will be held next Tuesday. New Jersey Transit, the nation's third-largest commuter rail system, will expand service and add cars onto some trains starting on Wednesday of Super Bowl week, and will have additional bus service into New York from next Wednesday through Saturday. The agency is offering a $50 "Super Pass" good for travel on its rail, light rail and bus lines from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3. NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. said about 1,300 of the passes had been sold so far. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridges and tunnels between New York and New Jersey, will add trains to its PATH rail service between Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken and Manhattan beginning next Monday. Two years of planning have gone into figuring out how to move 80,000-plus people in and around MetLife Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday in any weather. Two factors in organizers' favor: weekend traffic is less onerous, and parking restrictions will keep down the number of cars that can get onto the stadium grounds. Fewer than 15,000 of the normal 28,000 parking spaces are available and must be reserved by ticketholders for $150 each. (As of Wednesday some were being sold on eBay for upwards of $300.) Buses and limos won't be allowed to drop off passengers and leave, and will also have to pay for parking spaces. That leaves trains and buses as the mode of transportation organizers hope a large number of fans will choose. The Super Bowl host committee is running buses from six locations in New York and three in New Jersey — one in Secaucus, one at Newark Liberty Airport's Marriott hotel and one in Hanover, close to the Broncos' practice facility in Florham Park. Tickets are $51 roundtrip — no discount for one-way travel — and are on sale through this Friday. They've been selling well, according to host committee spokeswoman Alice McGillion, though she wouldn't specify how many had been sold. The buses hold about 50 people each and will be allocated to the different locations based on demand, McGillion said. NJ Transit lengthened its lower platform at the Secaucus train station to accommodate longer trains for the Super Bowl, and will offer trains about every 10 minutes or so on game day, according to Durso. Riders should expect to have their game tickets checked and go through security screening, Durso said. "It's going to be 'load and go,' where once we bring the trains to capacity we're going to move them out to the Meadowlands," he said. For motorists, the state Department of Transportation will have an army of machinery and resources at its disposal including plows and salt-spreaders in case of snow, and trucks patrolling roads near MetLife Stadium to clear away accidents or help stranded motorists. Drivers will be directed by numerous electronic signs that can be changed depending on traffic conditions by DOT personnel at a command center central New Jersey. "It will be very clear how to get to the stadium, what exits to take," DOT spokesman Joseph Dee said. "And there will be a lot of eyes on a lot of camera images, and communications with folks in the field." Broncos' Miller pleads guilty to 2 traffic charges Associated Press January 23, 2014 DENVER (AP) — An attorney for Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has entered a guilty plea on Miller's behalf to two traffic violations, and other traffic charges have been dropped. The Denver Post reports (http://tinyurl.com/kzpq7mm ) Miller wasn't in the Arapahoe County courtroom in suburban Denver when his lawyer entered the guilty pleas to a lane change violation and speeding. Miller completed community service and took a driving course before the pleas were entered. He also had been charged with careless driving, driving without a license and having no proof of insurance. Miller's season ended Dec. 23 when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the Broncos' victory over the Houston Texans. He has since had surgery. Miller missed the first six games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Missed tackles could mean shattered dreams By Jeff Legwold ESPN.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When the Denver Broncos see Marshawn Lynch run the ball for the Seattle Seahawks, they can see the math. They see the back to-the-basics equation that every broken tackle by the running back in Super Bowl XLVIII will be a chance for the Broncos to have a broken heart. “With such a strong back ... a quick back and somebody his size, you have to gang tackle,'' said Broncos safety David Bruton. “You can't just leave it up to one guy. We have to try to get 11 hats to the ball all the time.'' Steven Bisig"I haven't seen on film any guys really taking him down by themselves or knocking him back," said Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. When it comes to the dimensions, Lynch is not what would be considered a big back by many who evaluate football players as a livelihood. He's 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, bigger than some of his peers as a team's primary ballcarrier, but smaller than some others. But Lynch runs heavy and when it comes to adding the force and acceleration to his mass, he is one of football's best finishers. Bigger players slide off or are shoved aside. And it isn't a confetti-run every time he touches the ball. Sometimes it's a 3-yard run after several 3-yard runs, before Lynch drops his shoulder on a defender who doesn't finish the job. His earthquake run in the 2010 wild-card game when he stiffarmed former Broncos and Saints cornerback Tracy Porter on the way to a 67-yard touchdown run when eight New Orleans defenders had a chance to tackle him brought cheers loud enough to have formally registered as seismic activity. “You have to gang tackle a guy like that,'' said Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. “You try not to have so much pride as a defensive player and want to go out there and make the plays yourself. Especially with me being a D-lineman. Obviously I think I can go out there and handle it all by myself, but we have to gang tackle him. I haven't seen on film any guys really taking him down by themselves or knocking him back. We'll have to do a good job containing him and not allow him to break big runs.'' Since the start of the 2011 season Lynch leads the NFL with 39 total touchdowns, two more than Adrian Peterson, three more than Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. And for the most part the Broncos know where Lynch plans to get to work. In the NFC Championship Game win over the San Francisco 49ers, 107 of Lynch's 109 rushing yards came between the tackles. The Seahawks use plenty of two-back looks as well to help clear the way. The Broncos have often, this season, answered heavy-run formations with more of a 3-4 look on defense without outside linebackers standing up on the line of scrimmage with three down linemen, especially on early downs. But a lot of how things go against Lynch will be how the Broncos fare in those initial one-on-one moments, defender and running back. And the Broncos will have to either get him down on their own, or at least slow him long enough until the help arrives. “Every week has been a challenge,'' Knighton said. “We stepped up to the challenge last week stopping New England's run game. San Diego had success running the ball in the regular season and we stepped up to that challenge in the playoffs. It just gets worse and worse each week. Going against a back like this -- we obviously have to stop him and can't allow him to get going. A guy like that who builds momentum and has confidence that he can run the ball just makes it worse for us.'' “A guy like Marshawn Lynch, he requires us to do some extra film study and do some extra hitting,'' said Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips. “He is that kind of player.” John Fox relying on experience By Jeff Legwold ESPN.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- John Fox has always said experience matters. With that in mind, Fox has relied on players or members of the front office to speak with the team as the Denver Broncos prepare for the Super Bowl. Fox had players who have played in the league's title game -- Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jacob Tamme -- offer up their thoughts in a team meeting on Thursday morning as well as executive vice president of football operations John Elway. "Coach Fox has had some guys that have some experience share some of those thoughts with other players,'' Manning said. "And he's encouraged guys to ask questions or guys who have some experience to share any thoughts, tips. We have had opportunity to do that whether it was coaches or players or John Elway. So I think that's a good thing.'' Manning has played in two Super Bowls, having won one to close out the 2006 season and is the only Broncos player with a Super Bowl ring. Elway played in five Super Bowls as a player, winning in back-to-back appearances in the last two seasons of his career. Fox has been to two Super Bowls, one as a head coach of the Carolina Panthers to close out the 2003 season and one as the New York Giants defensive coordinator to close out the 2000 season. "Just relating the experience,'' Fox said. "It's a unique game, a unique stage, just share those experiences for the younger players.'' Part of the advice Broncos players have been given is to designate someone other than themselves to handle ticket requests for any travel issues. Manning has enlisted his brother, Eli, a two-time Super Bowl winner as the Giants' quarterback. Peyton handled ticket requests for Eli when the Giants were in the title game. "I think that was way I could help him,'' Manning said. "He's helping me out this year and I certainly appreciate that." On the field, kicker Matt Prater was held out of Thursday's practice because of an illness while defensive tackle Mitch Unrein (knee) also did not practice. Running back Knowshon Moreno (ribs) and defensive tackle Sione Fua (calf) were limited. Moreno is expected to play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 against Seattle. Broncos still working past 4-12 finish in '10 By Jeff Legwold ESPN.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will play in the franchise's seventh Super Bowl a week from Sunday because they did enough in the draft to make it that far, they did enough in free agency (OK, Peyton Manning is the ultimate free agency home run) and they made it all work over the last three seasons. But even with the extreme makeover that came with John Elway's return to the team as its chief football executive in January of 2011, even with the title game appearance, there is still a roster hole the Broncos will still have to address moving forward. Or, to put it another way, there is a reason the Broncos will be the older team in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos have seven players on the current 53-man roster who have played at least 10 seasons in the league, led by Manning's 16. The Seattle Seahawks have one: defensive end Chris Clemons. While the Broncos have certainly climbed all the way out of their 4-12 finish in 2010, they are certainly still a product of that season and the smattering of non-playoff finishes that came before it. For those who believe the draft is the team's foundation -- and Elway counts himself as one of those -- the real guts of a roster are those fifth- and sixth-year, homegrown players. Players drafted and then signed to their second contracts to stay put. Of the Broncos captains -- Manning, Champ Bailey, David Bruton, Wesley Woodyard and Wes Welker -- just two have been with the team since they were rookies. That’s Bruton (2009 draft) and Woodyard (2008 undrafted rookie). A player in his sixth season would be a product of the 2008 draft. And since ’08 the Broncos have had two coaching changes and two changes at the call-the-shots general manager level as well. Each resulted in a complete tear-down from the previous regime. That is why this current roster includes a pile of young players to go with the veterans who have been around for at least 10 seasons. The Seahawks have 24 players with three seasons or less experience on their current roster -players who came into the league in 2011 or after, while the Broncos have 22. It means the Broncos' roster gap is rooted in '08 and '09. For the Broncos only Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady remains from the ’08 draft, which was Mike Shanahan’s last season with the team while Woodyard remains a high-quality find as an undrafted rookie from that year as well. A player in his fifth year would be a product of the 2009 draft. For the Broncos that only includes Bruton, running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive end Robert Ayers. While Bruton is a special teams regular, Moreno is still the only one of those three players who played at least 50 percent of the team’s snaps on offense or defense this season. And that has put the Broncos in a position to be active in free agency at both the front end -- the recruitment and signing of Manning in 2012 -- to go with a series of one-year contracts to experienced players. This past year that included defensive end Shaun Phillips (10 sacks), cornerback Quentin Jammer and linebacker Paris Lenon. "I’ve always said if we can find somebody better than we have, we have to find them," Elway said. "And if they’re out there then we’ll sign them. So age and all that at this point in time, with where we were coming out of a 4-12 year and then we go to 8-8 now at that point and then you get a guy like Peyton Manning. Now it’s about trying to find all the pieces together … but we’re not just trying to find young guys. We’re going to find guys that fit, young and old guys, that fit together." From Elway’s perspective, a Super Bowl trip only helps his cause, as would Manning’s expected return for 2014 if doctors give the quarterback the go-ahead in the weeks following the Super Bowl to play next season. So, even as Elway would continue his quest to "stack those draft classes year after year," to make the draft the foundation of sustaining what they’ve done over the last three seasons, the Broncos would be a popular destination for veteran players in search of success. "It comes down to the thing is that it’s been my goal to really continue what [Broncos owner] Pat Bowlen created in the fact that people want to play here," Elway said. "So players will come here late in their career when they know they have a chance to win a world championship and they know the reputation of the Denver Broncos since Pat Bowlen has been here that it’s a good place to play … . If money is the No. 1 thing, we’re really not on the same page if it’s all about money, in my mind." Broncos cool to weather talk By Jeff Legwold ESPN.com January 23, 2014 With a snowstorm having rolled through the Northeast in recent days and temperatures expected in the high 20s during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, the game-day weather is already a popular narrative for the championship game and the Broncos haven't even left Colorado. "Cold? We're talking about the Super Bowl," Broncos safety Mike Adams said. "I'm not worried about the cold, I promise you that. We weren't practicing in like minus3 weather here? I'm definitely not worried about cold weather." In the days leading up to the Broncos' Dec. 8 game, a 51-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans, the Broncos practiced outside in temperatures that were minus-1 at the start of one workout and 3 degrees at the start of another. The temperature was 18 degrees at kickoff for the Titans' game in Denver. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning finished the game 39-of-59 passing for 397 yards and four touchdowns. Immediately following the win, Manning went on the team's flagship radio station and said people who offered up the "narrative" he could not play in the cold weather could "stick it where the sun don't shine." "The Denver Broncos, we're definitely weather proof ... it snowed last night," tackle Orlando Franklin said. "We were outside for practice [Thursday]." So, while the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city figures to be a prominent talking point in the days ahead, especially after the Broncos and Seattle Seahawks arrive Sunday in the New York/New Jersey area, the Broncos players wonder what all of the fuss is about. "Whatever it is -- 100 degrees, 20 degrees -- no matter what, you go out and play," said rookie running back Montee Ball, who played at the University of Wisconsin. " ... You play, it's the Super Bowl." Added Broncos cornerback Tony Carter: "It's the Super Bowl. I don't care where they play it, I want to be in it. It's the biggest game of the year, nobody in here is worried about the weather." Eli to offer advice to big brother By Dan Graziano ESPN.com January 23, 2014 Peyton Manning is heading to New Jersey next week with the Denver Broncos to play the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, and he'll get a helpful scouting report from his little brother. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who plays his home games at MetLife Stadium, said he'd be offering Peyton tips on the stadium's quirks, especially as they pertain to potential winter weather conditions such as strong winds. "I might have a few things for him, but I don't want to reveal that, because I don't want to give it to [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson," Eli Manning said on a conference call Thursday. "So any tips I may have wind-wise, I would tell him in private." Eli Manning did share his opinion that MetLife Stadium doesn't present the same kind of wind challenges for which its predecessor, Giants Stadium, was famous. "The old stadium definitely had a specific end zone and corner that you wouldn't want to throw into if it was going to be a windy night," Eli said. "If it is one of those windy days, then there is a little bit of local knowledge that you can give. But it's definitely not as bad as the old stadium." Eli attended the Broncos' AFC Championship Game victory over the Patriots in Denver on Sunday and spoke to his brother after that game. He said this week, he and Peyton have mainly been texting as he has worked to help Peyton with tickets for friends and family and other non-football aspects of the Super Bowl preparations. Eli said he remembers Peyton helping him in a similar fashion two years ago when he and the Giants were playing the Super Bowl in Indianapolis and Peyton was still a member of the Colts' organization, and his mission is to lessen the off-field burden so Peyton can focus on on-field preparations. Eli's advice for Peyton Eli Manning has stated he may give brother Peyton advice about playing at MetLife Stadium. But should Peyton listen to him? Vote! » As for the question of whether Peyton needs to win a second Super Bowl in order to be counted as the greatest of all time, his proud little brother seemed to disagree. "I think he's already created his own legacy, and he's played at a very high level for a long period of time, has overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on a lot of playoff teams and is playing in a third Super Bowl," Eli said. "I don't think that's something that he's worried about. There will always been arguments about who's the greatest, who's the best. If you're in that argument, and your name is being thrown around in there, I think you've already created a pretty good legacy. He's a competitor and he wants to win championships. I think that's what he's thinking about." Wilson was a Manning Academy student By Terry Blount ESPN.com January 23, 2014 RENTON, Wash. -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson met Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning nine years ago. Wilson was a 16-year-old high school sophomore at the time, attending the Peyton Manning Passing Academy. "There were thousands of kids there," Wilson said. "I was actually in his group. It was me and 12-15 other guys." Fast forward seven years. The two men met again. "Through the whole draft process, the Broncos brought me out to Denver," Wilson said. "He was in the locker room, and I went up to talk to him." Here’s how the conversation went: Manning: "Have I seen you before somewhere? Where do I know you from?" Wilson: "Well, you actually coached me at the Manning Passing Academy." Manning: "Oh, yeah. Good to see you again." Wilson was asked what he remembers about Manning at the academy. "Just how much care and time he showed for the kids," Wilson said. "How much detail he always talked about and how much of a perfectionist he was. "I try to use that in my game. I’ve got a long way to go, but I try to do all the little things. That’s what he does. He takes tons of notes and does all the right things. He puts his team in the right position to win football games." Wilson is a much different type of quarterback than Manning. Wilson is a scrambler and Manning is the classic pocket passer. But Wilson said there is one area in which he wants to be just like Manning. "I try to emulate a lot of the things he does in terms of the knowledge he has for the game," Wilson said. "He can make all the throws, but his knowledge separates him from everybody else. That’s what I’m trying to work to one day. "I love him to death. He’s just a great person and, obviously, a great football player. I have so much respect for him." Thurmond: Welker hit uncalled for ESPN.com January 23, 2014 Wes Welker's hit on Aqib Talib in Sunday's AFC Championship Game didn't sit well with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond. "It was really uncalled for," Thurmond told reporters Wednesday. "The receiver ran right into the guy. I don't know the extent of the injury Talib had, but I thought we were supposed to protect football players in this league now. I guess not. I guess that only goes one way." The NFL cleared Welker of any wrongdoing for his hit on the New England Patriots' cornerback that proved to be a key play in the Denver Broncos' 26-16 win on Sunday. Wes Welker has had his share of injuries this season. He knows what it is like to sit out and said he did not try to collide with Aqib Talib, writes Jeff Legwold. Blog "It was a legal hit," NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said on the NFL Network on Wednesday night. Patriots coach Bill Belichick blasted Welker for the hit on Monday, calling it "one of the worst plays" he's seen in 39 years of coaching. Talib suffered a knee injury on the play and didn't return to the game. Belichick said in a radio interview Wednesday that he didn't believe the cornerback would have to undergo surgery, however. Thurmond, a fourth-year player, told reporters a penalty should've been called and that Welker may have received a "star" call from the officials. "If you're intentionally coming at somebody, it's supposed to be a flag," Thurmond said. "But they didn't throw the flag on him. Some players get away with a lot more than other players depending on status, but that's just the nature of the game." Thurmond said the play, which is called a "rub" or "pick" when a player tries to make contact with a defender, didn't apply because Welker never lifted his head. "Welker had his head down, like he was coming down the whole time," he said. "That should be a flag, and he should be getting fined. There's a whole bunch of things that should happen in that situation, but I don't run the NFL." Part of a secondary nicknamed the "Legion of Boom," Thurmond knows the Seahawks will have to deal with similar plays from the Broncos in the Super Bowl. "We play a lot of man coverage, so we know they're going to have a lot of crossing routes like that," Thurmond said. "We're preparing for that situation to occur. We know that kind of contact is going to happen because we play so much man, and we'll be ready for it." Champ Bailey's trip to the Super Bowl was 'meant to be' By Lindsay H. Jones USA TODAY Sports January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As a crowd of reporters swarmed around his father, the littlest member of the Bailey bunch rolled around on the floor of the Denver Broncos' locker room with a cousin, wearing an orange No. 24 jersey, "Lil' Champ" written in blue type across the back. Finally, his dad emerged from the scrum. "Y'all are silly," said Champ Bailey as he approached the pack of family members who were waiting to celebrate the biggest win of his NFL career. Finally, at age 35, Bailey would be playing in the Super Bowl — the only place his 15-year career as an NFL cornerback hasn't taken him. "That's what it's all about — get yourself to have a chance to get in the big one and that's where we are now," Bailey said. When he arrives at MetLife Stadium with his teammates on Feb. 2, it will be his first time even at a Super Bowl. At no point in his first 14 years in the NFL could Bailey bring himself to go to the championship game since his team wasn't playing in it. So this will also be the first Super Bowl for the extended Bailey family, about 40 of whom showed up in Denver for last week's AFC Championship game. His mother, Elaine, will make the trip from Folkston, Ga., and his father, Roland Sr., from the Jacksonville area. His brothers, Boss and Ronald, will be there, along with their sister, Danielle. "You watch the Super Bowl on TV, and they make it look so good, and so much fun on TV, so I just wonder if it's going to be all that it's lived up to be. Just to see him come out of the tunnel" Boss Bailey, who played from 2003-08 in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Broncos, told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. "I always said I wouldn't go to a Super Bowl unless me or him was in it. This is my shot to go, and I didn't know if I would ever have that shot to go." The Broncos, and Bailey, were close only one other time since he arrived in Denver in a trade with Washington in 2004 in exchange for running back Clinton Portis. That 2005 AFC Championship game loss to Pittsburgh haunted Bailey for years, especially as the Broncos missed the playoffs from 2006-10, and he saw two head coaches fired. Last year, when the Broncos appeared primed for a Super Bowl run, Bailey played perhaps the worst game of his career in the divisional round loss to Baltimore. Then in 2013, with the best Broncos in more than a decade surrounding him, Bailey could barely play. He played in only eight quarters over three games in the Broncos' first 14 games because of a nagging foot injury before finally returning for limited duty in the final two weeks of the regular season. He was back in the starting lineup last week, replacing cornerback Chris Harris, who suffered a torn ACL the week before. "He knew what the end plan was this year. I never saw him get down, even when he wasn't playing. He was like, 'We just have to keep winning games, winning games, position ourselves to be in first place, and then I'll be ready,'" Boss Bailey said. "It's just meant to be. He missed all that time in the season so he could be here. I knew this was Champ's moment, in that game, to be there, and be effective for his team to make it to the Super Bowl." The Super Bowl has always been sacred in the Bailey house, where Roland Sr., hosted Super Bowl parties and his sons cheered for their favorite players. Boss loved Lawrence Taylor, while Champ adored Walter Payton and the 1985 Bears. Later, the Bailey boys rooted for Deion Sanders' Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry Rice's San Francisco 49ers. Now Bailey is that iconic player whom so many young cornerbacks have tried to emulate. "People forget real quickly in this game, and maybe it's because he's been injured, or maybe because Father Time has caught up a little bit, that Champ was one of the greats ever to play that position. He played at the level that Richard Sherman is now, but he didn't do it for one or two years. He did it for a long period of time," former Broncos safety John Lynch, Bailey's teammate from 2004-07, told USA TODAY Sports. "He was the best corner in the National Football League, so for him to get this opportunity, he's earned it. He deserves it, and I was just thrilled." That sentiment is shared around the Broncos' training facility this week as the Broncos' prepare to head to New Jersey. As happy as players were to reach the Super Bowl for themselves and quarterback Peyton Manning, they know how special this is for Bailey. It's a respect he's built by being here for 10 years, for never acting like a prima donna, for serving as a confidant for dozens of teammates — including young guys such as Tony Carter, whom Bailey invited to have the locker adjacent to his, and veteran free agent addition Quentin Jammer. "I don't throw this out lightly, but he's probably one of my favorite people I've ever met," Jammer told USA TODAY Sports. "He's just a good dude. He doesn't carry himself in a manner that suggests he's a first ballot Hall of Famer. He's real with people. He's low key, he does everything the right way. When you have young guys coming through the league, if there is one guy you'd want as a role model, to show you how things should be done, how to be a professional, that's the guy." USA TODAY Sports' 22nd All-Joe team full of unsung Seahawks, Broncos By Nate Davis USA TODAY Sports January 24, 2014 USA TODAY Sports' All-Joe team was created in 1992 by longtime NFL writer Larry Weisman as a tribute to Joe Phillips, a 14-year defensive lineman who did yeoman's work for the Kansas City Chiefs that season. Phillips' effort in the trenches didn't lead to much glory … unless you point to the 29 combined sacks of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith, Kansas City's fifth-ranked defense or the team's wild-card run. USA TODAY Sports has honored the unsung Joes ever since and compiles them in a 53man roster that has at least one representative from every NFL team. Only players who have never been named to the Pro Bowl are eligible (note the Broncos and Seahawks share the All-Joe lead with four selections apiece): OFFENSE Quarterback — Matt Flynn (Packers): He essentially saved Green Bay's season, capably taking the reins as the Plan D passer until Aaron Rodgers returned from a busted collarbone to nail down the NFC North crown in the regular-season finale. Amazingly, the Packers' locker room was Flynn's fourth in less than a year. But he was able to settle back into his old haunts quickly enough to engineer two double digit comebacks against the Falcons and Cowboys, a pair of wins that tripled Flynn's career total in his sixth season. Colin Kaepernick (49ers): After a bumpy start, he had 100-plus passer ratings in five of his final six starts before leading another deep playoff run. Josh McCown (Bears): First Chicago player ever to pass for 300plus yards in three consecutive games. Some think Bears might have reached postseason if they'd stuck with McCown (his 13-to-1 TD-to-INT ration was bettered only by Nick Foles) over Jay Cutler. Running back — Donald Browns (Colts): He began the year third on the depth chart, but superior production (5.3 yards per carry) meant an eventual promotion over ballyhooed trade acquisition Trent Richardson. Knowshon Moreno (Broncos): Also No. 3 on the summer depth chart, all he did was become the first Denver player to rush for 1,000 yards and add 500 more receiving in the same season. Moreno scored a career-best 13 TDs and hasn't lost a fumble in more than 16 months. Like Brown, he's looking at a nice reward in free agency. Ben Tate (Texans): Ran for a team-best 771 yards despite playing a good chunk of the season with four broken ribs. This tough guy will be tough for Houston to re-sign. Danny Woodhead (Chargers): His 76 catches led all AFC backs as he provided the outlet option QB Philip Rivers had missed in recent years. Fullback — Bruce Miller (49ers): Converted college defensive end has become a bonecrushing blocker as a pro and the spearhead of the Niners' prolific rushing attack. Wide receiver — Marques Colston (Saints): Fell 57 yards short of his seventh 1,000-yard receiving effort. As long as he's barred from Honolulu, Colston will always have an All-Joe spot waiting for him. Jerricho Cotchery (Steelers): He's beloved in locker room even if he's a quiet assassin. Ten of his 46 grabs produced TDs. Julian Edelman (Patriots): Wes Who? Edelman's 105 catches just about tripled his previous career-high (37) and ably replaced the production of the man Bill Belichick now refers to as "the receiver." Edelman also averaged 10.7 yards per punt return. Pierre Garcon (Redskins): His 113 receptions paced the league and broke Hall of Famer Art Monk's 29-year-old team record. Jordy Nelson (Packers): He may have the best hands in the game right now but somehow can't catch a trip to the Pro Bowl. Nelson's legs are pretty good, too, churning out 1,314 receiving yards. Golden Tate (Seahawks): With Percy Harvin out most of the year, he earned a lot of tough catches (64) and yards (898) while facing the opposition's best corners. Tate's also a good special teamer. Tight end — Charles Clay (Dolphins): Dustin Keller's unfortunate preseason knee injury created an opportunity for Clay, who more than capitalized with 69 catches for 759 yards in a breakthrough campaign. The part-time fullback also led Miami with seven TDs. Greg Olsen (Panthers): Unfortunately for him, he's become an AllJoe staple, too. Olsen (73 catches, 816 yards, 6 TDs) is Cam Newton's favorite target and a force in the community. Tackle — Chris Clark (Broncos): Not only was he asked to replace arguably the league's best tackle after Ryan Clady went down for good with a Week 2 foot injury, Clark was charged with bubble-wrapping the league's best quarterback. But he did a pretty good job safeguarding Peyton Manning. King Dunlap (Chargers): A virtual unknown in his sixth NFL season, Dunlap filled a gaping hole on the San Diego line and was an unsung reason Rivers rebounded and the offense got back into gear. Zach Strief (Saints): According to ProFootballFocus, he was the highest-ranked tackle not picked for the Pro Bowl. Strief only surrendered three sacks of Drew Brees. Guard — Rodger Saffold (Rams): He moved to right tackle to accommodate Jake Long, then spent half his season at guard to patch a hole before moving back to left tackle when Long was injured. Matt Slauson (Bears): Free agent solidified an O-line that had long been a sieve, and his efforts brought a four-year extension after the season. Geoff Schwartz (Chiefs): The K.C. line was a Rubik's Cube. But Schwartz may have been its best blocker, playing both guard positions and right tackle. Larry Warford (Lions): Rookie third rounder played like a top-10 pick. A definite keeper. Center — Jason Kelce (Eagles): All he did was come back from a torn ACL in 2012 to anchor a high-tempo offense that demands ability, smarts and conditioning from coach Chip Kelly. Manny Ramirez (Broncos): He may one day remembered as the pivot man for the greatest offense in NFL history. Pretty remarkable when you consider the demands Manning puts on his snapper and the fact Ramirez hadn't played the position in the NFL prior to this season. "Manny's been awesome," Manning said last month. "That is no easy task to go from guard to center, especially in a sophisticated, fast-moving, always-changing offense. I think it would be one thing if you knew what play was going to be called and you had 40 seconds to process it. But we call one play and change it to the next with five seconds on the play clock and when we change a play, Manny has to make his own calls and he has just gotten better each week." Kicker — Josh Scobee (Jaguars): No team struggled to score more in 2013 than Jacksonville, but don't blame Scobee, who drilled 23 of 25 field-goal tries. One of his misses was blocked, the other failed from 60 yards. He's 71-for-78 (91%) from three-point range since 2011 and also excels on kickoffs. DEFENSE Defensive line — Michael Bennett (Seahawks): He may have been Seattle's best offseason pick-up, leading the club with 8.5 sacks while providing stout run defense. Calais Campbell (Cardinals): The best 3-4 end in the NFL not named J.J. Watt, Campbell posted a career-best nine sacks while crushing tailbacks for the NFL's top run defense. He also excels at blocking kicks with his 6-8 frame. Jurrell Casey (Titans): Only Dallas Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher had more sacks among interior linemen than Casey's career-high 10.5. Rob Ninkovich (Patriots): Is he an end? A linebacker? We're not sure, we just know he's a do-it-all type with a fantastic beard. Domata Peko (Bengals): Veteran leader has quietly done the dirty work for a defense ranked in the top 10 each of the past three seasons. Brian Robison (Vikings): Has averaged 8.5 sacks since 2011 while operating in Jared Allen's shadow, though that may change in 2014 if Allen leaves for less purple pastures. Robison showcased his athleticism with a 61-yard fumble return for a TD in Week 2. Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets): This duo formed the heart of a new-look New York defense. Richardson, a rookie, is a devastating run stopper and gap-shooting disruptor who moonlights as a goal-line back (2 TDs). Wilkerson was voted team MVP after piling up a personal best 10.5 sacks to go along with his stellar all-round play. Outside linebacker — Lavonte David (Buccaneers): You tell us how a first-team allpro doesn't go to Hawaii. All David does is make tackles (144), sack quarterbacks (6), and intercept the passes (5) he isn't breaking up (10). Stud. Thomas Davis (Panthers): You might know that the Carolina defensive captain's right ACL has been repaired three times. But did you know he just collected a career-high 123 tackles and has missed just one game in the last two seasons? A great pass defender. Junior Galette (Saints): After registering 12 sacks off the edge, perhaps no one was happier with Rob Ryan's new 3-4 defense than Galette. Jerry Hughes (Bills): A former first rounder cast off by the Colts, Hughes emerged as quite the sub package QB hunter (he only started once in 2013) in Buffalo with 10 sacks. DeAndre Levy (Lions): Don't throw in his zone — only Seattle's Richard Sherman picked off more passes than Levy's six, a gaudy figure for a linebacker. Inside linebacker — Karlos Dansby (Cardinals): Returned to the desert after three years in Miami and turned in his best season. His career-high 114 solo tackles complemented 6.5 sacks. He also picked off four passes (returning two for scores) and broke up 19 passes, tied for most among linebackers. Jerrell Freeman (Colts): Another playmaker, Freeman's six forced fumbles were the most for an inside backer. He's also solid all around (126 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs). D'Qwell Jackson (Browns): He's taken London Fletcher's place as the league's most underappreciated tackling machine. Nick Roach (Raiders): Didn't miss any of Oakland's 1,074 defensive snaps and provided the steady veteran presence the unit sorely needed after arriving from Chicago. Paul Worrilow (Falcons): Undrafted rookie stepped in as a starter in October and ended up leading Atlanta with 127 tackles, including 54 during a three-game stretch in November. Pen him into the lineup from now on. Cornerback — Tramaine Brock (49ers): Former practice squad player led Niners with five picks, claimed a starting job in the season's second half and earned a four-year extension. Fun fact: Brock is the only player from Belhaven University (Jackson, Miss.) to play in the NFL. Chris Harris (Broncos): Former undrafted nickelback assumed the starting role of injured star Champ Bailey and emerged as Denver's steadiest defender, playing more snaps than anyone else on the unit before tearing an ACL in postseason. Byron Maxwell (Seahawks): The least heralded member of the Legion of Boom not only stepped in for suspended Brandon Browner late in 2013 but improved the air defense opposite the frequently untested Sherman. Captain Munnerlyn (Panthers): Diminutive (5-8, 195) former seventh rounder emerged as Carolina's No. 1 corner in 2013, equally willing to take on receivers, runners and blockers. Terrell Thomas (Giants): He tore his right ACL prior to both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. But Thomas was back in 2013 to nail down the slot, finishing with 67 tackles. Lardarius Webb (Ravens): He tore his left ACL midway through Baltimore's Super Bowl season but returned in 2013 to tie for the league lead with 23 pass break-ups. Webb also chipped in with 74 tackles. Safety — Barry Church (Cowboys): He suffered a torn Achilles' in 2012 but reclaimed his starting post in 2013. Church had a heavy workload behind Dallas' injury-riddled front seven, and his 135 tackles were more than any defensive back in the league. Reggie Nelson (Bengals): Perhaps not the superstar first rounder the Jags once envisioned, Nelson has settled in as another unheralded mainstay of the top-shelf Cincinnati defense. He rarely misses a snap despite his hard-hitting style. Punter — Jon Ryan (Seahawks): He's figured out how to combine hang time and directional kicking so well, that he only allowed 82 punt return yards in 2013. Only Rams Pro Bowler Johnny Hekker was better, but he's usually operating in a dome, not Seattle's elements. New Jersey takes backseat in Super Bowl XLVIII billing By Chris Strauss USA TODAY Sports January 23, 2014 A 16-foot, illuminated XLVIII statue, to be exact. The giant installation, designed by a local architect and being put into place this weekend, will sit on the edge of the Hudson River, visible to thousands of VIP partygoers descending upon the West Side of Manhattan, N.Y., next week for exclusive Super Bowl parties thrown by, among others, DirecTV, GQ and Bud Light. Similar statues have dotted the landscape of recent host cities, but there's more symbolism in the placement of Super Bowl XLVIII's edition in Hoboken's Pier A Park. While the game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will be played in New Jersey, the event has been unofficially touted as the New York Super Bowl; many official game signs, not to mention the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, give top billing to the Empire State. It's something Garden State residents are accustomed to, with both of the state's NFL teams, the Jets and Giants, billing themselves as New York teams despite playing their home games in East Rutherford, N.J. Even Hoboken's most noteworthy son, Frank Sinatra, ended up crooning a trademark song about making it in "ol' New York." "The city is going all out in Times Square, where our offices are, with the whole Super Bowl Boulevard," says Chris Mitchell, publisher of GQ magazine, which will host its annual A-list Super Bowl pre-party atop the Standard Hotel in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. "They're not doing that in Newark. The epicenter of the city is New York, even though the game is in New Jersey. The five-term mayor of the game's host borough, which has a population of nearly 9,000 on non-event days at MetLife Stadium, thinks his state isn't getting enough respect for its role in staging the mega event. "I understand the game would not be here if not for New York," East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella told USA TODAY Sports. "I get it. I enjoy New York, too. I go there a lot. And in East Rutherford I expect to get disrespected, but the state of New Jersey is being left out of the mix. "I get the impression the NFL could care less about New Jersey," says Cassella, a Giants season-ticketholder who said he doesn't have a Super Bowl ticket. Some hot spots That's not to say New Jersey isn't seeing a spillover benefit, especially in places near Manhattan. While the NFL cannot control where the parties are held, the league made sure New Jersey was the site of game-related activities. Both team hotels are in New Jersey, and on Tuesday the Prudential Center in Newark will host that annual frenzy known as Super Bowl media day. Player interviews during Super Bowl week will be in New Jersey, the Seahawks at the Westin Jersey City and the Broncos holding their media availabilities on the Cornucopia Majesty, a 30,000-square-foot luxury party ship that will be docked in Jersey City. The top New Jersey hotels also expect to do well, with easy access to public transit that is equally convenient for guests looking to enjoy Manhattan all week and get to the game Sunday. The W Hoboken is blocks from the XLVIII statue and the "Hoboken Huddle," a week-long festival beginning Monday that will feature ice skating, entertainment and other attractions. The luxury hotel has been booked to near capacity for Super Bowl weekend for months, with a standard room, normally priced from $300 to $500, going for $832 a night with a minimum three-night stay. "We have about 50 rooms for the (Super Bowl) weekend which are currently selling at a somewhat interesting pace," says Pedro Dias, general manager at W Hoboken. "We are confident that we are going to sell out for the weekend." Big game, bigger city What the game's economic impact will be on both sides of the Hudson is up for debate, as it is at every Super Bowl. The NFL estimates that hosting the game could bring $600 million in additional revenue to New York and New Jersey, up substantially from last year's estimated $480 million impact in New Orleans. Economists and researchers disagree, estimating the impact between $60 million and $100 million. One fact that is not debatable: While a Super Bowl might stretch hotel capacity in some cities, that's far from the case in New York, where there are 82,000 hotel rooms in Manhattan alone. "There is tons of hotel availability, from the Ritz Carlton to the roadside motels at the Holland Tunnel," Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva, a New York City-based sports marketing firm that puts together travel packages to big events, said in an e-mail. "It's actually the great thing about NYC/NJ hosting the Super Bowl; there is tons of space for fans making late decisions on rooms. Much more than I ever anticipated." That additional availability prompted at least one luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan to create a last-minute Super Bowl package that oozes New York City hubris. At the Sofitel New York, $100,000 gets 20 guests 10 double-occupancy luxury suites over Super Bowl weekend, a daily breakfast, round-trip transportation to MetLife Stadium and game tickets in Section 300. <!--iframe comment--> Yes, when it comes to being big, the Super Bowl might have met its match in the Big Apple. "To New York City, this whole 'big party headed to town' is more doable than most cities because the infrastructure is there to make it work," says Brooklyn Decker, a top model who is co-hosting the first night of the annual two-night Leather & Laces Super Bowl party in Times Square next Friday. "As big of a weekend as this is, I feel as it's a little 'been there, done that' for New Yorkers." While Decker, several of her model friends, a number of other A-list entertainers and athletes will be partying in Manhattan next weekend before trekking out to stadium luxury suites for the game, most residents of New York and New Jersey won't end up doing anything all that different from their normal routine. "It's good for the economy of this area to have the Super Bowl here, but it doesn't make a big difference to me one way or the other," says Scott Hunter of Old Bridge, N.J. "I wasn't going to be going to it anyway — I wasn't going to be able to afford it — so I'll be watching on TV, whether it's here or not." Goodell: NFL would consider allowing medical marijuana By Chris Strauss USA TODAY Sports January 23, 2014 NEW YORK – Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the NFL would consider allowing athletes to use marijuana to treat concussions and other head injuries if medical experts deemed it a legitimate solution. Appearing with General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to announce the first 16 winners of the $20 million "Head Health Challenge," sponsored by GE and the league, Goodell didn't sway from his recent statements on use of the drug by active players. "I'm not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that," Goodell said. "Our medical experts are not saying that right now." Both Colorado and Washington -- home states of the Super Bowl teams, the Seahawks and Broncos -- are the only states where the drug is legal for recreational use. Twenty more, plus Washington D.C., allow for medicinal marijuana use. A report on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" Tuesday estimated that between 50%-60% of the league's players regularly use the drug, many for pain management. The show also interviewed an Israeli doctor who showed how treating mice with head trauma with marijuana showed drastic improvement in their symptoms. While the league is not willing to reconsider its stance on that potential treatment, they are showcasing a number of potential innovations in diagnosis of head injuries. More than 400 applicants in 27 countries applied for $300,000 awards in the Head Health Challenge, which ended up going to researchers at a mix of 16 private companies and universities. Representatives from three of the awardees were in attendance at the league offices to discuss their projects. BrainScope Company, based in Bethesda, Md., is working with Purdue University's Neurotrauma Group to enhance its handheld traumatic brain injury detection technology. The tool, which would fit over a player's head and could be used on a sideline, would provide a more specialized assessment of any possible brain injury suffered on the field. BrainScope's device is currently under development for trial use only, meaning that it would need to get FDA approval before it could be used in a practical setting. The potential for that future prospect with BrainScope as well as the evolution of blood tests, new brain imaging techniques and other groundbreaking studies has the commissioner feeling positive about the next frontier in combating the league's concussion crisis. "Not only are we going to get better at diagnosis, but we're going to make a difference in the prognosis and the treatment," Goodell said. "People are going to get better." 2013 Broncos: vs. Philadelphia, at Dallas By Paul Klee Colorado Springs Gazette January 23, 2014 Next up: vs. Philadelphia (Week 4), at Dallas (Week 5). The Eagles surprised me. You? When Philadelphia came to Denver, Philadelphia looked awful. Next thing you know, Philadelphia’s a playoff team. The quarterback change came at the right time and punched the right buttons; but doesn’t that say more about the sorry state of the NFC East? The best part of the Broncos-Eagles came during the first quarter. The family, and fiancee, of the late Army Staff Sgt. Liam Nevins was honored in the south end zone. Read more here. The Cowboys and Broncos turned in a historic performance at Jerry World. They combined for 99 points, the third-most in NFL history, and the Broncos rolled up 522 yards on offense — real-life Tecmo Bowl. Dallas-Denver represented arguably the most memorable game on the Broncos schedule. The most entertaining, at least. The dates: Sept. 29; Oct. 6. The games: Denver 52, Philadelphia 20; Denver 51, Dallas 48. The sites: Sports Authority Field at Mile High; AT&T Stadium. The notable: Minutes before Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal against the Cowboys, Peyton Manning told Knowshon Moreno he wasn’t allowed to score. Manning didn’t want to give Tony Romo another shot. The photos: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the inside of AT&T Stadium (including Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal, bottom right). The Dallas crowd was roughly 30percent Broncos fans. Broncos: Preparing for Super Bowl crush By Paul Klee Colorado Springs Gazette January 23, 2014 This is the second Super Bowl, as a head coach, for John Fox. This is the third Super Bowl, as a quarterback, for Peyton Manning (above, today). John Elway is a part of his sixth Super Bowl with the Broncos. But this is the first Super Bowl, for everyone, hosted in the New York/New Jersey metro area. The 48th Super Bowl will be different than the previous 47. The Broncos started early with their tips and advice on how players should handle the crush of 5,000-something credentialed media, parties that run ’til daybreak, ticket obligations for family and friends and the temptations of holding a giant event in a giant city. “You try to help out any way you can,” Manning said today. “(Fox) has encouraged guys to ask questions,” he added. Manning said veterans, from himself to Elway, have been resources for younger players. Fox held a team meeting to discuss logistics. It figures the Manning brothers will discuss any quirks at Eli’s homefield, MetLife Stadium. (Here’s my only tip, since they asked: download the “NYC Bus and Subway” app to your phone. It’s handy. New York has a way of keeping you on your feet. You don’t want tired feet on Super Bowl Sunday, right?) This figures to be a crush like no other Super Bowl crush. That goes, especially, for the media crush. In media obligations, Fox advised his players this way: “Speak to the game and speak to themselves and not much else,” he said. That’s what the Fox says about media and the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl. Can’t wait to hear what Richard Sherman says, too. 2013 Broncos: vs. Raiders By Paul Klee Colorado Springs Gazette January 23, 2014 Broncos left tackle Chris Clark was forced into duty thanks to an injury to All-Pro Ryan Clady. In this Monday Night game, Clark often was matched up with Doherty graduate Lamarr Houston, who forced Clark into a holding penalty. Otherwise, Clark has proven to be more than capable in Clady’s absence. Next up: Raiders at Broncos, Week 3. The date: Sept. 23. The game: Broncos 37, Raiders 21. The site: Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The photos: Raiders media guide, clever signage on Evans and I-25. The notable: Peyton Manning’s first half QB rating of 152.1 neared perfection (158.3). 2013 Broncos: at Giants By Paul Klee Colorado Springs Gazette January 23, 2014 Next up: Broncos at Giants, Week 2. The Manning Bowl was a mismatch. Eli threw his sixth interception of the season in the fourth quarter of Week 2. (Peyton has thrown 10 interceptions all season). One Giants fan, sitting in Section 214, sat through the game shirtless. (That won’t happen on Super Bowl Sunday, unless he’s mad.) Many Giants fans hit the exits with 10:13 left in regulation. (The Giants had four turnovers and were overwhelmed.) Most important, the Broncos got a sneak preview of the stadium that will host Super Bowl XLVIII. As Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the field, he told me fans let him know they would see his team in February. Turns out, the East Coasters were right on. The date: Sept. 15. The game: Broncos 41, Giants 23. The site: MetLife Stadium. The photos: 1. MetLife Stadium 2. Field view from MetLife Stadium. 3. Press-box view from MetLife Stadium 4. My cabbie got a flat tire on the way to MetLife Stadium 5. A personal-favorite neighborhood in Manhattan 6. Peyton Manning threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in his first game at MetLife. The notable: Bill Parcells, whose Giants beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, was honored at halftime. And MetLife Stadium boasts a powerful sound system, the loudest I’ve heard in a football arena. Bruno Mars should dig that. Lenon's 14-year football odyssey rewarded with Super Bowl By Craig Morgan FOX Sports Arizona January 23, 2014 Denver Broncos middle linebacker Paris Lenon owns an odd distinction. He is the only active NFL player to have played in the XFL, the alternative and ill-fated league run by World Wrestling Entertainment CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, where the rules were as scant as the cheerleaders' outfits and the pre-game coin toss was replaced by two players sprinting to, then wrestling for a ball on the ground to determine possession. "I do look back on that league, but it's only because people bring it to my attention," said Lenon, who took a short trip home to Arizona to see his wife (Heather), kids (Paris, Amirah and Jalen) and his dog (Millie) this week before the Broncos head east for Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J. "It was so long ago I don't remember much about that league. I kind of exist in the moment; not in the past or the future. I know it kind of annoys my wife because she likes to plan ahead, but I just don't function that way." Lenon's approach was probably best for his mental health. Given the stops and starts on his 14-year football journey, it would have been easy to get discouraged. He wasn't drafted out of the University of Richmond but signed with the Carolina Panthers as a rookie free agent, beginning his pro football odyssey. The Panthers released him at the end of mini-camp and he spent the year out of football working as a substitute teacher and in a post office, sorting mail at night so he could train during the day. He signed with the XFL's Memphis Maniax for the league's one season of existence. Following that season, he signed with the Green Bay Packers in April but was waived after just three months. Seattle signed him one month later, then waived him after 11 days. Lenon re-joined the Packers' practice squad before the team's final 2001 regular season game and one playoff game, but after the season, he was assigned to play for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. Amsterdam was a greater adjustment than any Lenon has experienced. The fans all had whistles, few really cared about American football and there were plenty of distractions in one the world's most liberal cities. "I wasn't interested in any of that stuff," Lenon said, chuckling. "I just wanted a chance to keep playing football." Lenon finally made the Packers' active roster in 2002 and played mainly on special teams. He started four games on defense in 2004 and 12 in 2005 before signing a three-year deal with Detroit, where his career took off. Over the next seven seasons with Detroit (three years), St. Louis (one) and Arizona (three), Lenon recorded more than 100 combined tackles five times, with a highwater mark of 124 (94 solos) for the Cardinals in 2010. Despite his play, Lenon endured a lot of losing, including an 0-16 mark with the Lions in 2008 and a 1-15 record with the Rams the following season. "I don't think about my career in a negative way," Lenon said. "Every year was just a step. As a player, you gain more experience and knowledge every year, so I never thought about how bad I had it. I always thought I was fortunate to be playing." Lenon's difficult football path has certainly honed his work ethic and attitude, but Jeff Pultz, his defensive coordinator at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, Va., said both have been there since Lenon was a kid. Arizona connections in Super Bowl XLVIII BRONCOS Paris Lenon, MLB, Cardinals (2010-12) Omar Bolden, FS, ASU (2008-11) Brock Osweiler, QB, ASU (2009-11) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Cardinals (2008-10) Stewart Bradley (IR), LB, Cardinals (2011-12) Gerell Robinson (practice squad), TE, Hamilton HS, ASU (2008-11) SEAHAWKS Zach Miller, TE, Desert Vista HS, ASU (2004-06) O'Brien Schofield, LB, Cardinals (2010-12) "Sometimes athletes are high-maintenance people who want attention, but not Paris. He preferred to be in the shadows and just go on about his business," said Pultz, who credits Lenon's parents with instilling that virtue as well as humility in Lenon. "His parents taught him to be responsible with his money, responsible for his family and never forget where you came from. He carries those values with him today. He even calls his dad after every game just to let him know he's OK." On Feb. 2, Lenon will finally get a taste of how the other half lives when the Broncos face the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Lenon had never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs and had only tasted one playoff victory before the Broncos' current run. Brought in to be a backup when the season began, the 36-year-old now essentially splits snaps with erstwhile starter Wesley Woodyard,” who primarily plays in nickel packages while Lenon plays in the base defense and in short-yardage situations. "He understands the game, he understands the schemes of offense, and he's gotten more comfortable in our defensive scheme as we've moved along," Broncos coach John Fox told the Denver Post. "And as I mentioned awhile back, when we started plugging him in there, he earned that opportunity." Given all that he has overcome, it would be fair to say Lenon has earned this shot on the sport's ultimate stage. But keeping in character, Lenon just shrugs. "It's a big game with a very big prize at the end of it, but right now, I'm still approaching it as a football game, which is something I've been doing for a long time," he said. "I'm still going to enjoy the time, and it will be big enough when I step onto the field with all the television coverage and the excitement and intensity. "But I think it's a bigger deal for my family who get to see this after so long. For me, it's just another work week." Broncos' Adams comes long way to make short trip to Super Bowl By David Whitley FOX Sports January 23, 2014 Mike Adams checked his phone on Monday. Denver’s win over New England wasn’t even 24 hours old, and he had 144 text messages and 44 missed calls. Everybody wanted to congratulate the Broncos’ safety and/or hit him up for Super Bowl tickets. Adams grew up not far from MetLife Stadium, so his popularity had quickly soared. But if they had to confess, how many old friends never truly thought Adams would home a conquering hero? “Maybe 75 percent,” he said. “I come from Paterson, New Jersey. No one makes it out of Paterson.” The fact he did makes him perhaps the Super Bowl’s most grateful player. If the media break away from Richard Sherman or Peyton Manning long enough to notice next week, Adams may also stop being one of football’s most anonymous players. “Obviously, he’s no slouch,” his old high school coach, John Iurato, said. He’s a 10-year NFL veteran. For all most people know, however, he could be the Mike Adams who plays for the Steelers. Or maybe even the Mike Adams who pitches for the Phillies. This Mike Adams is clairvoyant. When the NFL awarded Super Bowl XLVIII to the New York/New Jersey area in 2010, he told people he’d be playing in it. “You wouldn’t believe me,” Adams said, “but I promise you I said that.” The crazy part is that he was playing for the Browns at the time. It takes a lot of faith to believe in Cleveland, but Adams could be the NFL’s patron saint of lost causes. There was no bigger one than himself. Adams is one of eight children, raised by a single mother. One of Sharon Adams’ main goals in life was to see that none of her children had to attend Eastside High. It was the school depicted in the movie “Lean on Me.” Morgan Freeman played Joe Clark, the hardnosed principal who tried to clean up Eastside’s act in the 1980s. By the time Adams came along, all the bad actors had returned. The state eventually took over running the local school district. Iurato was the coach at Passaic Tech. It was just across the river in Wayne, but far enough away from the crime and grime that gives Paterson its reputation. A friend recommended he take a look at Adams. “He was a good kid,” Iurato said. “He just needed a shot.” Adams helped Passaic Tech win a state title, but college recruiters hardly noticed him. He ended up a Delaware Blue Hen. Adams’ time there was marred by a broken leg and a dislocated hip. He spent almost three months on crutches and basically had to re-learn how to walk. One day, an assistant coach leveled with him. “You’ll never make it in the NFL,” he said. “You’re not big enough. You’re not fast enough.” His reaction? “It made me feel like lifting weights,” Adams said. No team cared enough to draft him, so he signed a free-agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers. It paid $2,700 a week, which was nothing by NFL standards but not bad for a Paterson kid just out of college. Adams could not enjoy the moment. As training camp opened, his mother died from ovarian cancer. She was 38. That was depressing enough. Throw in the pressure of a rookie nobody trying to make an NFL roster and it was too much. Adams had searing headaches but didn’t complain. Then he awoke one morning and opened his eyes. They wouldn’t focus. He was all but blinded by the tiniest ray of light. He put a towel over his head and was taken to the hospital. “They couldn’t find anything,” Adams said. It was simply a stress overload. Adams went back to practice and tried to concentrate on making the team. “He knew what he had to do and what mom wanted him to do,” Iurato said. “He didn’t want to blow the opportunity, so he went back and worked his ass off.” Rashaun Woods was the hotshot receiver San Francisco had drafted in the first round. Adams glued himself to him. “I went against him every day and dominated,” he said. The No. 1 pick from Oklahoma State was out of the league in three years. The Blue Hen nobody wanted made the 49ers practice squad and became a part-time starter his second year. The average NFL career is 3.3 years. Adams’ is three times that long and counting. He started 50 games in his first eight seasons, most of them spent with the Browns. The Broncos signed him as a free agent two years ago, and he’ll start at free safety on Feb. 2. If Adams had played for a contender all those years or called Michael Crabtree a mediocre receiver, more people might know his name. His success was not lost on the people back home, however. Adams went to a funeral a few years ago and nodded hello to a stranger. They headed in opposite directions, then Adams’ aunt grabbed the stranger by the arm and dragged him back. “You know your son plays football?” she said. "Yeah,” he replied. “But I like basketball.” He walked away, and that was that. The extent of Adams’ lifetime interaction with his father. The anger he felt that day has melted into sadness. Especially now that Adams has a daughter and realizes what his father missed. "I’m more disappointed for him than me,” he said. “He never got to see me do things. He never taught me how to tie a tie and other stuff like that.” Adams knows he’s far from the only son of Paterson who feels that way. He’s resolved himself to change what he can. He started a foundation with Gerald Hayes, a Passaic High teammate who played in the NFL from 2003-11. It sponsors mentoring programs, food drives, a youthleague football team and even pays for 100 haircuts before the school year. The only requirement is that everyone who participates must provide some type of community service. It would be nice to say it’s made a big difference, but Adams doesn’t think his old neighborhood is much safer than it was 20 years ago. “It’s getting worse,” he said. “More kids are going toward the gangs now, the shootings and the killings. It makes you not want to go back, but…” He does. Adams lives 20 minutes away in Parsippany. He returns to tell kids how to become the next Mike Adams. It’s a name worth remembering. “Just block everything out and have tunnel-vision,” he said. “No matter what you do, whether you want to be a garbage man or a teacher or a barber. Be the best garbage man or teacher or barber you can be.” There’s no telling where they’ll end up. Maybe even in a Super Bowl. Jim Irsay ‘couldn’t be more excited’ for Peyton Manning’s return to Super Bowl By Frank Schwab Shutdown Corner/Yahoo! Sports January 23, 2014 There was a minor kerfuffle earlier this year when Colts owner Jim Irsay kinda sorta took a shot at Peyton Manning for only winning one title in Indianapolis. That came the week before Manning returned to play the Colts as a member of the Broncos. It was a poor choice of words by Irsay, but it was impossible to believe he didn't appreciate what Manning did for the franchise. So it's not a surprise that Irsay is thrilled for Manning as he goes back to another Super Bowl, this one with Denver. "I just couldn't be more excited," Irsay told The Indianapolis Star. "This is what we were hoping it was going to be — a win-win situation for everybody. I'm so happy for him. We've already talked this week about getting him some extra (Super Bowl) tickets and I told him, 'You've got it, buddy. Go get 'em. Go win it.' I wish him all the best." That should put to rest any thoughts of an Irsay-Manning feud. Manning's success doesn't mean Irsay regrets anything, however. Here's more from Bob Kravitz's column: "And we're obviously on track; actually we're past where we thought we would be with Andrew (Luck)," Irsay said. "If Peyton had stayed, it would have been a joke with what we could have been able to field in 2012. It would have been crazy to think we could have put a team together with Peyton. "It was just an impossibility. Now we have the perfect situation, where we're way ahead of schedule and Andrew is achieving things beyond our wildest expectations, and Peyton has a chance to get that second Super Bowl ring. It's been a win-win and that's what we were hoping for." And that's all fair, as well. The Colts wouldn't trade 15 years of Luck for a few years of Manning. They were in rebuilding mode and couldn't have built a roster around Manning like the Broncos have anyway. It really did work out well for everyone involved. And now we can put to rest the notion that Irsay doesn't properly appreciate Manning. Who are the NFL’s most respected players, as voted by their peers? By Frank Schwab Shutdown Corner/Yahoo! Sports January 23, 2014 Redskins linebacker London Fletcher didn't win an ESPN poll asking more than 320 players who the most respected player in the league was. Peyton Manning won in a landslide, but we'll revisit that in a bit. Let's talk about Fletcher for a moment. The top seven players were mostly a roll call of the league's most recognizable players. Manning was followed by Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. It looks more like a fantasy football draft than anything else. But squeezed in that top seven between Brees and Rodgers on the list, getting 3.4 percent of the vote, was Fletcher. That's pretty remarkable, considering the rest of the list. And it's much deserved. Fletcher, who has said he was 99 percent sure he would retire after this season, didn't make the list because he's the best linebacker in the NFL (although he has been pretty good for this entire century). It's a testament to him carving out a 16year NFL career coming out of John Carroll University, looked over initially because he is just 5-foot-10. But what Fletcher did was come to work every day. Literally. He played in 256 consecutive games, never missing one. He played all 16 games this year, racking up more than 100 tackles once again at age 38. He is respected as a leader and for his toughness and longevity. He's the perfect player for any NFL rookie to look up to. Manning didn't exactly come out of nowhere to make himself an NFL success, but he is the league's most respected player. He got 26.8 percent of the ESPN votes, and Brady was a distant second with 7.5 percent. In a separate ESPN poll of "If you had to start a team with one player, whom would it be?" the 37-year-old Manning won that too, at 19.3 percent, besting Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck and his 17.5 percent. Given how well Manning and Fletcher did in the poll, it's pretty clear that the league's players do respect their elders. Peyton Manning gets big ticket request assist from brother Eli By Frank Schwab Shutdown Corner/Yahoo! Sports January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Peyton and Eli Manning have a deal with each other. When one makes the Super Bowl, the other takes care of ticket requests. This has happened more often than anyone would expect from two brothers. For the fifth time, one of the Manning boys is starting a Super Bowl. This time it's Peyton, leading the Broncos into Super Bowl XLVIII against Seattle. So Eli handled the tickets. The game is at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where Eli's Giants play their home games, so he might have had some connections to hook up those extra tickets Peyton needed. Eli said Peyton requested a certain number of tickets. "I have hit that number,'' Eli said proudly. — Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) January 23, 2014 Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl champion and master ticket manager. "We try to help out in any way you can," Peyton Manning said after practice on Thursday. "That's certainly a way I've been helpful to him and he's been helpful to me, over the past two I've played in and he's helped me out again this year. You certainly appreciate that." So much of the Super Bowl has nothing to do with the game, but the outside distractions that can throw off a team. So much so that the Broncos called for a "spouses meeting" on Tuesday to presumably take care of the many questions they had before heading to New York. "I'm not going to go into too much detail, but it's an important meeting," Broncos coach John Fox said with a smile on Monday. The Broncos have at least a few people around who have been to the Super Bowl, including Manning, Wes Welker and even John Elway, the team's vice president of football operations. None of the Seahawks players have ever played in a Super Bowl. Fox, who coached in a Super Bowl with Carolina, asked those players who have been there (including Elway) to give the players who haven't been some tips. "I think that's a good thing that Coach Fox set that up to help some guys have an idea what they're getting into," Manning said. Not only did Eli Manning help his brother out with ticket requests, he defended his honor against anyone who thinks that this Super Bowl will define his legacy. Eli Manning doesn't think the result of Super Bowl XLVIII will have any effect on Peyton's legacy: "I think ... http://t.co/Z9vBq9OsoM — Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) January 23, 2014 Peyton seemed appreciative of his brother's support but didn't get into that specific storyline on Thursday. "Eli pulls for me and I pull for him," Peyton Manning said. "It's been neat having the relationship with him, both having the same job these past 10-something years. There's a lot we can relate to, situations we both face." Super Bowl XLVIII: Broncos focused in calm before storm The SportsXchange/Yahoo! Sports January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the moment, the Denver Broncos can convince themselves that it's business as usual. They reconvened for practice Thursday after two days off, days that players mostly spent working on the logistics of getting family and close friends to New Jersey, dispersing tickets and ensuring all wants were met. "We're treating this like it's a work week for us," said running back Montee Ball. "We got some great work out there (Thursday). We were physical. We did some great things out there. It's time to really, really start cracking down, and narrowing down to our ultimate focus." By next week, that might change a bit, as the Broncos take their turn under the blinding spotlight. It promises to be a bit harsher than for a usual Super Bowl, given that it will be played just a long pass from the media capital of the western world. But for now, and the practices on Friday and Saturday before departing on Sunday, the Broncos' focus is within. "We're mostly working on ourselves, getting that fine tuning down, getting our timing down and continuing to get better on offense," said wide receiver Andre Caldwell. "You also get to see some of the things that they did well throughout the season, what to expect and know their personnel, as well." That inward focus has also led to the few players and coaches with Super Bowl experience counseling everyone else on the experience. Broncos head coach John Fox was there with the Carolina Panthers 10 years ago, but just four players have first-hand knowledge of the Super Bowl: Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Jacob Tamme and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Like Fox, all have lost a Super Bowl at least once, an experience that permeates the primary piece of advice: don't be satisfied by just getting there. "They said, 'It's a great feeling being there, but the times they lost, it was miserable,' just because you went through all that work," said Ball. "That's our mindset: we're there for business, we're there to work, we're there to come back with the trophy." That's part of the reason why the Broncos took the two days at midweek to settle the logistical and transportation matters. Some had to handle such details themselves. Others had family step in. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton didn't even have to ask anyone for help; his mother simply told him she'd take care of everything. "That's exactly what she said: 'I got it,'" Knighton said. "She knew it was coming and she has always been that way. She is overprotective of us. I'm the oldest of four boys and I'm a mama's boy. She can just look at me and know I need her help. So, she definitely took the onus on herself to handle it." Knighton's family is centered in Windsor, Conn., just 125 miles northeast of MetLife Stadium, so the requests for tickets were going to be immense. "A lot of requests, but the good thing is that my mom is my 'no' person. Once you tell people, 'My mom is handling all the ticket stuff,' they don't even ask. They don't even want to ask her," he said. "They try to put my back against the wall and ask me, 'Remember that time I did this; remember that time I did that?' I'm just like, 'Yeah, my mom is handling it.' They just stop asking after that." And that leaves the focus on the Seahawks, which is exactly where Knighton and his teammates want it. -- DT Mitch Unrein was held out of Thursday's practice because of a knee injury sustained in the AFC Championship Game. Unrein was on hand to take mental repetitions, standing near the defensive linemen as they went through their drills. -- RB Knowshon Moreno was limited in practice Thursday after suffering a rib injury in the AFC Championship Game. X-rays on Moreno's ribs were negative, and while he is considered "day-to-day," he is expected to play against the Seahawks. -- DT Terrance Knighton was listed on the injury report with a knee injury, but had a full practice of work Thursday. Knighton was the Broncos' dominant defensive player in the AFC Championship Game, finishing with a fourth-down sack and two tackles for losses. -- K Matt Prater was held out of Thursday's practice because of an illness. He is expected to return later this week. -- S Rahim Moore is eligible to return from recallable injured reserve, but has not practiced since suffering compartment syndrome in his leg on Nov. 18, hours after the Week 11 win over Kansas City. Super Bowl XLVIII: Manning embraces chill The SportsXchange/Yahoo! Sports January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peyton Manning, master of preparation, plans for every possibility. With gloved hands and compression headgear, the record-setting quarterback led the Denver Broncos back to the practice field for the first time since winning the AFC Championship game Sunday. The afternoon practice was a welcome trial for handling game conditions in East Rutherford, N.J. Manning is 0-4 all-time in postseason games with a temperature of 40 degrees or below at kickoff. "Anytime you can have somewhat of a situation you can simulate during practice that you might see in a game, it's always a good thing," Manning said. While Manning's relaxed, been-there-done-that attitude was clear, there is a novelty factor for the Seattle Seahawks, who are the first Super Bowl team since the 1990 Buffalo Bills with no previous experience in the game on their roster. Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor said Thursday that his teammates are still riding high after winning the NFC Championship in the final minute against West division rival San Francisco. He said the Seahawks, who allowed 14.4 points and 172 passing yards per game, understand how Manning wants to attack their tall, rangy and hard-hitting defensive backs. "We just want to play good defense, play our coverage," Chancellor said, adding that the Seahawks are being schooled not to listen or react to Manning's many vacillations at the line of scrimmage. He doesn't even care what "Omaha" means. Manning, who turns 38 in March, is not taking his third chance at a title for granted. Getting to the Super Bowl is nothing to sneeze at, no matter the venue. "It's always special, no matter where it's played," Manning said. "I think the fact that it's in New York, it's certainly going to be special. It's a big deal, because we've worked so hard to get to this point. Two teams that have worked so hard, laid it on the line all season long. This is why you work so hard all offseason long. There is no question it's a big deal." Manning won't be surprised if snow, sleet and subzero temps enter the forecast next week during the Broncos' gameweek preparation for Super Bowl XLVIII. He is diligently taking notes in his own scouting of the No. 1-ranked Seahawks defense. "Still kind of going through the preparation, still trying to get to know them at this point," Manning said. "From what I've seen so far, excellent defense. There's a lot to study." Manning is leaving one thing to chance. He asked little brother Eli to help field requests and distribute tickets to friends and family planning to be at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. "You try to help out anyone you can," Manning said. "I've been helpful to him and he's been helpful to me the last two that I've played in. ... I always appreciate my brother. Eli pulls for me, and I pull for him. It's been neat having the relationship with him, both having the same job for the last 10-something years. A lot we can relate to, situations we both face. Quarterbacks naturally share their unique thoughts." Peyton Manning is the only player in this year's Super Bowl with a championship ring. "Coach (John) Fox has had some guys that have some experience share any thoughts or tips," Manning said. "I think that's a good thing to set that up, tell the young guys kind of what they're getting into." What’s the Point? MMQB/SI.com January 23, 2014 Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would consider eliminating the extra point in favor of a revised scoring system. Peter King believes this is long overdue and advocates a change. Robert Klemko disagrees and thinks it’d be a knee-jerk decision to abolish the PAT. Their arguments are below. GIVE THE PAT THE BOOT || BY PETER KING I was wrong this week. I wrote the extra point is the biggest waste of time in American sport. Actually, the intentional walk is worse. But that’s it. That’s the only thing worse than the 45 seconds of clock between the touchdown and the TV timeout that was wasted five times per game in the 2013 NFL season on a play that has become the most automatic thing about football. That’s three and a half minutes in every game, wasted. Why I think the PAT should be re-invented immediately: 1. Kickers have made it too automatic. In the past three years, kickers have missed five, six and seven extra points, respectively. That’s 18 misses out of 3,709 tries—a 99.5 percent accuracy rate. Out of every 200 extra points, one is missed. 2. I do love football tradition. I’m the guy, remember, who wrote a pro football history book back in the nineties and got ripped for having Don Hutson and Otto Graham 1-2 on the list of greatest players of all time. You can have a respect for tradition and still know when change is logical. And right now, change is overdue on the PAT. 3. Recall the last time an extra point was exciting, or even remotely interesting. I can’t. When the current iteration of football scoring was last changed significantly, in 1912, the touchdown was valued at six points and the “try,” or point after touchdown, one. In those days, the kicker was a rank amateur compared to everyone else on the field, and the PAT was always in doubt at different levels of football. When the NFL was invented in 1920, this line of scoring was adopted: six for a touchdown, one for the extra point. So the PAT has been alive in its its current form for 102 years. Are we sentenced to live with it forever? Can we not change a rule that clearly has outlived its usefulness? Or, put another way: If you were inventing the sport of football today, and you were putting a scoring system into play, would you adopt a rule for scoring that was 99.5% efficient? Would you adopt a rule for a highly competitive game that was absolutely uncompetitive? I raised this point about Stephen Gostkowski this week in The Season. Gostkowski has made 360 straight PATs, dating back to the final game of his rookie season, in 2006. He last missed four months before the Patriots traded for Randy Moss. Seven years ago. In that time, four-and-a-half hours of Patriots football has been played with Gostkowski attempting and making extra points (360 times 45 seconds per PAT try). What a waste. So, what should the NFL do? I’m not in favor of what Roger Goodell suggested to Rich Eisen this week, that every touchdown be awarded seven points, and if you choose to go for two and make it, you finish with eight points—but if you miss, you only get six. That’s penalizing a team for trying a potentially exciting play, the twopoint conversion. What I’d do: 1. Make every touchdown worth six points. 2. Give teams a choice on the conversion. The one-point conversion would be a kick. The two-point conversion would be from the 2-yard line, where it currently is, run as it currently is when teams choose to go for two after a touchdown. 3. But the PAT would be moved back. I am open to any number of suggestions here. My preference would be a true challenge. Say the average spot of a missed field goal in 2013 is from 44 yards out. In 2014, then, the spot for the extra point would be the 27-yard line, necessitating a 44-yard kick to convert the extra point. But I am flexible here. Anything with the ball spotted at the 25 or farther would be okay with me. I just want to make the kick non-automatic. I don’t want to fiddle with the tradition of the game. I love tradition. I wish there would be more mud bowls and Charger powder-blues and crew-cutted tight ends. I do not advocate change for change’s sake. But the extra point just doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s not going to ruin the game to change it, the same way changing the kickoff spot by five yards didn’t lessen the greatness of the game. I’ve heard scores of suggestions, many of them smart and good, about the PAT on Twitter in the past day or so. It’s good to discuss the merits of the game you all love so much. All I ask, again, is this: If you were inventing a competitive sport like football all over again, would you include a play that is the most automatic in sports? KNEE-JERK CHANGES NEVER WORK || BY ROBERT KLEMKO Peter, I agree with you. Extra points are gimmes, and the game would be immediately improved by narrowing the goal post, setting the kicks at an angle, moving back the extra point or eliminating it all together. It’s a non-play, and it’s unnecessary in today’s NFL. Even former Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff grudgingly agrees. “I don’t like eliminating more special teams plays, and the declining importance of special teams is why I’ve turned down offers to go back to the NFL,” Westhoff told me, “but if I were a head coach, I would not be opposed if they made that change. The kick doesn’t matter anymore.” It’s a fine and obvious point, but it doesn’t take into account the long view. There are many precedents in football which illustrate why reactionary, knee-jerk rule changes are never the way to go. Here’s my favorite: By 1940, the center-QB exchange had evolved from the center kicking the ball back with his heel, to rolling the ball on the ground back to the quarterback with one hand, to an elevated snap invented by John Heisman. In 1893 as coach of Buchtel College, Heisman taught his center to snap the ball in the air to accommodate his very tall quarterback of the time. Then, in 1940, Bears coach George Halas had an idea, which for all intents and purposes killed Heisman’s gun. His center snapped the ball to the quarterback standing directly behind him, and in the NFL Championship that year the Bears put up 73 points on Washington, rushing for 381 yards and passing for 138. This would be the way football was played for as long as anybody could foresee. And what might the NFL look like now if the decision-makers of yesteryear looked at their sport the same way those who would change the extra point today see things? Undoubtedly, they would have deemed the QB-center exchange too easy. By the late-1950s, with 20 years of 99% execution, what would have been the point of a snap? Why not just scrap the formalities and let the quarterback start with the ball in his hands? It would have sped up the game, and probably saved the necks of more than a few centers. And if they had gone ahead and killed the snap, the consequences would have been endless. Niners coach Red Hickey never would have introduced the modern shotgun in November of 1960 as a way of escaping a scary Colts pass rush. Tom Landry never would have improved on it with Dallas in the ’70s, despite being mocked endlessly by a football community still stuck under center. We would know nothing of countless schematic innovations which led to the offenses of Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, who thrive in diverse, shotgun-heavy attacks, borne of the patience of men who recognized decades ago that football strategy was in its infancy. Suppose we take the same long view on extra points? During the 2013 regular season, a little under half of the 69 two-point conversion attempts were successful, and in 2012, exactly half worked. When it was tried, it was always late in a game—only three times did teams go for two in the first half of games this season. Going for two points is a big risk when the average team scores 23.4 per game. Plus or minus two points constituted an even bigger risk in 1999, when the average team scored 20.8 per game. It stands to reason the two-point conversion will become more and more enticing as rule changes such as the defenseless receiver rule and the constantly evolving safety bubble around the quarterback raise scoring every year. When Chip Kelly’s offense at Oregon was scoring 50 points a game, he occasionally went for two in the first quarter, because why not? If your offense is above average, and the average offense converts 50% of the time, odds are your risk is going to be rewarded. And if it isn’t? Two points is still a drop in the bucket when you’re scoring 50 points per game. Plus, as a safeguard, Kelly would often line up in a gadget formation, and revert to a kicking formation if the defensive front wasn’t conducive to the plan. “I do think that offenses will go for two more as scoring rises, and that really does make the extra point situation more crucial,” Westhoff said. “The problem is, coaches are still stuck in the old thing a little bit. They ignore the odds and play it safe.” If the NFL were to continue on its path to higher and higher scoring, one can assume coaches will eventually take Kelly’s college strategies to heart. And such operations would be impossible if the NFL did something short-sighted like, say, eliminate the extra point, or ask teams to declare whether they’re going for one or two after a touchdown, which would have to be the case in the event of the extra point kick being pushed back. I proposed this theory to Westhoff, who agreed. “I like it. I do think that offenses will go for two more as scoring rises, and that really does make the extra point situation more crucial,” he said, “The problem is, coaches are still stuck in the old thing a little bit. They ignore the odds and play it safe.” Indeed, instead of coaches attempting more conversions as NFL scoring rose at the turn of the century, they attempted fewer. Those brave ’99ers called for 80 twopoint conversions that season, 11 more than NFL teams attempted in 2013. No doubt, this is evidence of the NFL’s group-think malady, which holds that widespread innovation is preceded by a lone boatsman riding against the current. It will take a maverick—a Heisman or a Hickey or a Landry—to buck the NFL trend and make the extra point an exciting proposition once again. Until then, let’s be patient. Peyton Manning, Eli bring brotherly bond to Super Bowl week By Judy Battista NFL.com January 23, 2014 The Mannings have developed an extraordinary family routine for Super Bowls, in that any family that actually has the need for a routine surrounding the Super Bowl is extraordinary. Two years ago, when the New York Giants were preparing to face the New England Patriots in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, Peyton Manning played the delighted host, submerging his own concerns about his injured neck and his fraying relationship with the Colts to become a ticket procurer and restaurantreservation purveyor for his brother. This week, with the Denver Broncos getting ready to take on the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, N.J., for Super Bowl XLVIII, it is Eli's turn. In the moments after Denver secured its spot in the game last Sunday, Eli stood beside Peyton in the Broncos' locker room, warning that Super Bowl week is chaos, a reminder that Peyton surely did not need. The routine was reestablished. Whichever brother is not in the game is in charge of removing as many of the ancillary concerns as possible from the one playing. And so this week, Peyton and Eli have traded text messages, Peyton telling Eli the number of tickets he would need -- a number that, Eli said Thursday, he has hit, scrounging them up mostly from teammates. "He was very helpful in dealing with family and friends and taking that burden off me," Eli said on Thursday. "We've learned in playing a few of these. You try to get all that stuff done this week." They've played in a few of these, all right. Counting the upcoming game, the Manning brothers will have appeared in a total of five Super Bowls -- three for Peyton, two for Eli, with Eli holding, for at least 10 more days, the edge in victories. Until Peyton's injury and subsequent wrenching departure from Indianapolis, the Mannings had remarkably parallel careers, enjoying an uncommon stability that Peyton, two years ago, was convinced was the reason for their shared success: The brothers had had little coaching turnover to wade through, with each enjoying an uninterrupted run with a key coach (Tom Moore for Peyton, Kevin Gilbride for Eli) to that point in their careers. All of that has changed now. After a disastrous Giants season, Eli is preparing for a new offense installed by recently hired offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. And Peyton, two years removed from extolling the virtues of working only with Moore, is prepping for the big game with his second team. If there has been envy from Peyton over Eli's Super Bowl success -- which is often used to underscore Peyton's own mixed postseason record -- it is not apparent. The brothers, separated in age by five years, have grown closer as adults because of their shared career, and they are strikingly noncompetitive with each other. They have dreaded the occasional games over the years in which their teams have faced off. Two years ago, Peyton was so concerned about karma that, after watching the Giants win their wild-card game while lifting weights at the Colts' facility, he returned there for the divisional round. When the Giants won that, Peyton was afraid to tell his little brother that he would not return to Indy's weight room for the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, so instead he essentially snuck into Candlestick Park, making his own travel and ticket arrangements. Peyton no longer watches Eli's games on television after -- years ago -- finding himself standing on a hotel bed, screaming at the television after a referee's blown call, all hours before his own game even kicked off. "I'd feel like I'd already played a game and I hadn't even gotten to our locker room yet," Peyton said just before that Giants Super Bowl for a story in The New York Times. "I'm thinking, 'Peyton, it is not healthy to be all worked up before a game.' " Eli said that he usually watches games with no rooting interest and he does not get nervous before he plays in his own games. But on Thursday, Eli said watching Peyton play is nerve-racking, adding that he's not envious of his brother -- though he finds his own sense of ambition stoked a bit. "I am proud of Peyton, and if I'm not going to be playing the game, he's who I'd want to be playing," Eli said. "And so I think going to a championship game like last week and kind of just being in that excitement and seeing the crowd and seeing the coaches after that game, it definitely adds a little fire under you to get back to that scenario. You miss that and, having been there before and knowing that feeling, you get jealous of that feeling and that excitement and everything going along with it." Not that the brothers watch games the way normal people do, anyway. Peyton, perhaps the greatest student of the game ever to play, usually watches the defense, and because he missed the entire 2011 season, he was able to offer Eli some tips on what he had seen going into that NFC title match in San Francisco -discussing, it turned out, the defense the 49ers ended up running on Eli's touchdown pass to Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter. The sharing of scouting reports, too, is part of the routine. The Giants played the Seahawks this year, a 23-0 home loss Eli would probably sooner forget -- except for the insight gained that he now plans to lend Peyton. And, of course, nobody knows the vagaries of how the notoriously swirling winds of the Meadowlands -- not as bad as in the old Giants Stadium, Eli said -- could affect playing conditions at MetLife Stadium like Eli does. "I might have a few things for him, but I don't want to reveal that because I don't want to give that to Russell Wilson," Eli said. "Any tips, wind-wise, I will tell him in private." It was in a private throwing session back in New Orleans almost three years ago, when Peyton was at his lowest physical state, before the surgeries led to the faded scar that now maps his remarkable return, that Eli told Peyton he could see that he could not complete his throwing motion. That was before it became obvious that Peyton would have to leave Indianapolis, before Eli won his second Super Bowl -- in a stadium that sported a towering picture of his brother on its façade. Only a few weeks after Eli's triumph, with Peyton celebrating beside him, that picture came down for good when his brother was released, setting in motion Peyton's stunning return to the top of the game. Much has been made of how capturing a Super Bowl championship with a second team would enhance Peyton's legacy. That hardly seems necessary, in a family so used to success that it has a well-worn plan for how to manage it. "I think Peyton's already created his own legacy," Eli said. "He's played at a very high level for a long period of time, and he's overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on a lot of playoff teams, playing in his third Super Bowl. I don't think that's something that he's worried about. There will always be arguments about who is the greatest, or who is the best. I think if you're in that argument, if you're one of the names thrown around in there, I think you've already created a pretty good legacy." Knowshon Moreno practices again for Denver Broncos By Marc Sessler NFL.com January 23, 2014 Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno practiced for the second straight day Thursday, all but ensuring his availability for Denver's showdown with the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Coach John Fox told reporters that Moreno was a limited participant after missing the final handful of possessions against the Patriots in Sunday's AFC Championship Game with a rib injury. The Broncos use more than one runner, but Moreno is the closest thing Denver has to a foundation back after leading the team with 241 carries for 1,038 yards this season. Rookie Montee Ball has seen an increased workload of late, with doubledigit carries in five of his last seven games and 22 rushes for 95 yards in two playoff wins. Denver's ground game played a key role against New England, converting third downs and helping to chew the clock. That might be more important than ever against Seattle's historically nasty pass defense. Also for the Broncos, kicker Matt Prater was dismissed Thursday because of illness and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein missed the session with a knee injury. Peyton Manning only Super Bowl participant with ring By Gregg Rosenthal NFL.com January 23, 2014 Peyton Manning takes too much criticism for having "just" one Super Bowl title. Compared to the rest of the participants in Super Bowl XLVIII, he might as well be Terry Bradshaw. Manning is the only player on either roster who has won a Super Bowl. Three other Denver Broncos have been to the game without winning, while no Seattle Seahawk even has made it to the title game. This fact is as rare as it sounds. The Seahawks are the first team since the 1990 Buffalo Bills to have an entire team without any experience. This Super Bowl has the fewest players with previous experience than any championship since 1982. It's one of the reasons we love this matchup. "I think there are enough young players in that locker room that can get some information from guys that have been through it before," Broncos coach John Fox said via The Denver Post. "There are a lot of things you deal with during these two weeks." Wes Welker has lost the game twice, while Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have lost in the game once. Super Bowl experience and handling the "distractions" of the week always feels like an overrated angle anyway. Experienced teams win in some years, and teams fresh to the spotlight win other times. These have been the best two teams in the NFL all season. Throw a bunch of brand new Super Bowl participants in a cold-weather stadium, and Super Bowl XLVIII will feel fresh. Jim Irsay 'excited' for Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning By Dan Hanzus NFL.com January 23, 2014 Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning have gone from business partners to competitors. That hasn't changed how the Indianapolis Colts owner feels about the quarterback, who is set to appear in his first Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. "I just couldn't be more excited," Irsay told The Indianapolis Star on Wednesday. "This is what we were hoping it was going to be -- a win-win situation for everybody. I'm so happy for him. We've already talked this week about getting him some extra (Super Bowl) tickets and I told him, 'You've got it, buddy. Go get 'em. Go win it.' I wish him all the best. "I couldn't be happier because he will forever be a Colt and a part of so many years of greatness here. I'm just really rooting for him to get that second ring. That would be awesome." Irsay is choosing his words carefully after comments about Manning back in October became fodder for a week of (ridiculous) debate ahead of the Colts' Week 7 win over the Broncos. That said, Irsay also made sure to point out Wednesday he still believes Indianapolis made the right move to release Manning and draft Andrew Luck in 2012. "And we're obviously on track; actually we're past where we thought we would be with Andrew," he said. "If Peyton had stayed, it would have been a joke with what we could have been able to field in 2012. It would have been crazy to think we could have put a team together with Peyton." "It was just an impossibility. Now we have the perfect situation, where we're way ahead of schedule and Andrew is achieving things beyond our wildest expectations, and Peyton has a chance to get that second Super Bowl ring. It's been a win-win and that's what we were hoping for." We'd say Irsay is using spin to avoid the reality that he let the greatest quarterback ever walk out the door. But he's right. Everybody won here. If only life always worked out this smoothly. Jimmy Graham leads top 25 NFL free agents for 2014 By Chris Wesseling NFL.com January 23, 2014 With just two more football Sundays left in the current season, the Around The League crew is taking its first glance at the 2014 NFL free-agent market. It's early in the offseason process. Franchise tags have yet to be discussed. There's still time for clubs to lock up young stars to long-term contracts. Many of these names will be removed from consideration by the time we compile our more extensive previews regarding upcoming NFL free agents in early March. Our list places the highest value on ascendent players with little or no reason to expect a dropoff in production over the next few years. To view the upcoming free agents by team, position and restricted free agents, click the tabs above. Without further ado, here are Around The League's top 25 NFL free agents for 2014: 1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints tight end 2. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers defensive end 3. Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins linebacker 4. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety 5. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns safety 6. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans cornerback 7. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs left tackle 8. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end 9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders defensive end 10. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback 11. Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens left tackle 12. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts cornerback 13. Linval Joseph, New York Giants defensive tackle 14. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle 15. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders left tackle 16. Aqib Talib, New England Patriots cornerback 17. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos cornerback 18. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center 19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos wide receiver 20. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive end 21. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers defensive tackle 22. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers cornerback 23. Walter Thurmond, Seattle Seahawks cornerback 24. Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers linebacker 25. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Cooper Manning is a part of it, too By Bob Glauber Newsday January 24, 2014 One by one, they came to his locker in the back corner of the room and embraced him. First it was Archie Manning giving his son a hug. Then baby brother Eli, who paid a surprise visit to Peyton's AFC Championship Game matchup against the Patriots last Sunday. And then there was big brother Cooper, wrapping his arms around his younger brother and offering his heartfelt congratulations. Archie Manning and his three boys, joined together by football again, now have a chance to enjoy a fourth Super Bowl victory for the first family of quarterbacks. This was a jubilant scene as they celebrated the Broncos' 26-16 win over the Patriots, a victory that earned Peyton a chance to win his second Super Bowl title and add another piece of brilliance to his Hall of Fame career. The smiles of all four men were genuine. Especially Cooper, who never has gotten a chance to celebrate an NFL victory of his own. At least not on the field. Had things worked out differently, Cooper might have been able to join his brothers in celebrating a Super Bowl championship of his own. An all-state receiver in Louisiana, Cooper had a breakout year as a senior at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, catching passes from Peyton and earning a scholarship to the University of Mississippi, his father's alma mater and Eli's eventual college choice. But when he began to feel some tingling in his fingers the summer before his freshman year at Ole Miss, he went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to get checked out. The diagnosis was crushing: He had a condition called spinal stenosis -- a narrowing of the spinal canal -- and had to stop playing football altogether or risk permanent damage. His younger brothers went on to become NFL champions, something Cooper never could experience. But he is content to live vicariously through his brothers, never complaining about his situation. If you saw him Sunday evening in the Broncos' locker room, you knew he was simply happy for his brother, not envious. "This is my sixth [conference] championship to be involved in, and it's always a lot better to have another week to ride,'' said Cooper, who lives in New Orleans with his wife and three children. He works as an energy broker for the firm Howard Weil, which has offices in New Orleans and Houston. "It's fun to be included.'' And yes, Cooper is included in both his brothers' lives. They wouldn't have it any other way. Cooper has a tradition of texting some words of wisdom to Peyton before a game, knowing he won't get a response. "He ignores me on a consistent basis, and it turns out OK,'' Cooper cracked. And what was Cooper's pregame message? To go back in time to when the boys played football at their home in New Orleans. "I just told him, 'Hey, you've come this far, so go ahead and continue to be like a 10-year-old playing in the front yard and have fun with it,' '' he said. "And that's what it looked like to me out there.'' Peyton threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-16 win over the Patriots, his second AFC Championship Game win over Tom Brady's team. "Peyton still has a young-kid-in-the-front-yard attitude about football,'' Cooper said. "I think people that love football, that's the way they are. That's the way he is.'' Cooper is delighted for his brother and insists that he doesn't look back with a shred of regret regarding his own situation. Even if it meant he couldn't experience the thrill of what it's like to win in the NFL. "I don't ever spend a lot of time reflecting on it,'' he said. "I don't look back in the rearview mirror. I just kind of enjoy the process, glad to be included and soak it up. It's a thrill to me. It's fun to me.'' Along the way, Cooper taught his father a life lesson. "We all feel like we're a part of this, especially Coop,'' Archie Manning said. "Peyton and Eli make Cooper feel a part of it. It's kind of a family thing. Early on, he handled it. Cooper has got a great spirit, so his spirit has helped us. He was good with it, and he helped us get through it.'' No regrets for the Manning who can never win his own Super Bowl. Celebrating his brothers' championships is his way of winning. Legion of Boom hype doesn't upset Broncos' defense By Kimberley A. Martin Newsday January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - The Broncos are the first ones to give credit where credit is due. But don't think their defense hasn't heard all the talk about the Seahawks' formidable defensive front and ballhawking secondary. When it comes to Denver's defense, only one sound comes to mind: crickets. "Nah, nobody's talking about us,'' cornerback Quentin Jammer said Thursday. "Nobody's been talking about us all year. I don't know [why].'' Jammer, like many of his teammates, saluted the Seahawks for having the NFL's No. 1 defense. Defensive tackle Orlando Franklin said of Seattle: "They definitely deserve all the credit they have been getting. They have done a lot of great things this season.'' Jammer said Seattle's Earl Thomas "probably was the best safety in the league this year.'' Broncos defensive players admitted they didn't play up to their standards for much of the season and often were bailed out by the league's No. 1 offense. But the unit is jelling at the right time, especially the secondary, said cornerback Tony Carter. Their preparation and communication on the back end is much improved, which has helped them get off the field on third down more often. So while talk of the "Legion of Boom,'' Seattle's secondary, dominates the hype, Denver defenders say they're content in their own skins. "We don't care about that,'' linebacker Nate Irving said. "We [know] who we are and what we have to do and that's what we're focused on.'' Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton agreed. "They can have the attention. Our focus is on winning,'' he said. "With team success comes personal success, as long as we do what we're supposed to do and shut them down and allow our offense to go out there and do what it is supposed to do.'' Eli Manning proud of, jealous of, nervous for Peyton Manning at Super Bowl XLVIII By Tom Rock Newsday January 23, 2014 RENTON, Wash. - Eli Manning pictured himself playing in Super Bowl XLVIII, not being the official ticket wrangler for another starting quarterback. But pressed into such action by his brother Peyton, taking that burden off the Broncos' starting quarterback so he can focus on football schemes and not family seating arrangements, Eli Manning is proud of the work he's done. After a season of disappointments and missed goals, the Giants quarterback seemed pleased that he has been able to reach this one final benchmark of the 2013 season. "He's asked for a number for me to try to get," Eli said, "and I hit that number. Unless he has a few surprises, I'm in good shape right now." For the third time in his life, Eli will watch his older brother play in a game he himself desperately wishes he could be a part of. And this time he'll do so from the stands of his own building, MetLife Stadium, when the Broncos play the Seahawks on Feb. 2. "I am proud of Peyton,'' he said, "and if I'm not going to be playing in the game, he's the one I'd like to be playing in it." Still, he admitted to a hint of envy while riding in the sidecar of Peyton's motorcade toward a championship. "Going through a championship game like last week and seeing that excitement and seeing the crowd . . . it definitely lights a little fire under you to get back to that scenario," Eli said. "You miss that. Having been there before and knowing that feeling, you do get jealous of that feeling and that excitement that goes along with it. But that was probably [being] more jealous of that atmosphere. It makes you want to get back to that situation, get back to working and get your mind doing whatever I have to do to get the Giants back to the championship games and get back to Super Bowls." That won't stop him from doing anything he can to help the Broncos. Besides the ticket brokering, Eli likely will share some advice on facing the Seahawks -- he and the Giants faced them last month in a 23-0 loss -- and playing at MetLife Stadium. He said he has some tips on dealing with the notorious wind but will not share them publicly for fear that Russell Wilson might pick up on them. The brothers expect to spend some time together early next week when the Broncos arrive in New Jersey, but by midweek, Peyton will turn his attention to winning a second Super Bowl. If he does, it could cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time, but Eli said Peyton isn't focused on that. "I think Peyton, he's already created his own legacy," Eli said. "There will always be arguments about who is the greatest and who is the best. I think if you're in that argument, if you're one of the names thrown around in there, I think you've already created a pretty good legacy." Eli said he obviously is rooting hard for the Broncos but declined to give a prediction or guess on the final score. One thing he did seem sure of, though, is that watching Super Bowl XLVIII will be more of a strain on him than playing in it. "I don't get nervous in football games," he said. "I get nervous watching my brother play." Eli excited about new 'O.'For the first time since he was a rookie, Eli Manning will have to learn a new offense. "In a way, it will be exciting,'' he said of having a new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, for the 2014 season. "You have to come in and you have to learn some new things. Obviously, what the changes will be -- if it will be completely changed with the terminology and formations or if we'll keep some of those things and bring in all of his concepts -- I don't know if the coaches have all figured that out yet as well.'' Manning spoke with McAdoo via phone before he was hired. "I was very impressed with him and his offensive mindset,'' Manning said. "I'm excited about what he'll bring to the Giants. I look forward to getting into some meetings, getting with him and seeing what I need to do better and how I can learn.'' Peyton keeps his team focused in long run-up to Bowl By Steve Serby New York Post January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning stood under a warm sun, his game face already on 10 days before what could be the crowning moment of his Hall of Fame football life at MetLife Stadium. The press conference lasted a mere 6¹/₂ minutes, undoubtedly on his orders, because there is no time to waste, not now, not two months from his 38th birthday, not with Richard Sherman and the Seahawks standing between him and that treasured Lombardi Trophy. He had warned his teammates about the media locusts that will ambush them Sunday upon the Broncos’ arrival, then grabbed his team by the throat with his field general command and showed them up close and personal how you go about trying to win a Super Bowl. A game he lost IV years ago. A game he has won only once, VIII long years ago. “He’s so passionate about the game, the way he’s out there, you’d think it was game day tomorrow,” receiver Andre Caldwell said. “He keeps his game face on when he’s out there on the field, he’s always ready to go, so it’s no different from Week 1.” Even in the meeting rooms, the legendary Manning laser focus was on full display. “He demanded things on the practice field that the starting quarterback should demand, and he led the offense through a Wednesday — I know it’s Thursday — but a Wednesday practice like it should be. I thought he was his normal self, he showed up … and went to work today,” backup quarterback Brock Osweiler said. Manning gave the impression he had spent the past two off days browsing the marijuana joints around town. Talk about blowing smoke! “Still kind of going through the preparation,” Manning said, “still trying to get to know ’em at this point, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s certainly an excellent defense.” If anyone can detail the horrors of the Seahawks defense to him, it is kid brother Eli, and naturally, Peyton plans on picking his brain. “Give him two weeks to prepare for a team, you know he’s going to know everything about the other team, and he’s not going to be fooled,” Caldwell said. Manning was tight-lipped when asked what his message to his teammates had been about what to expect once they arrive in New York-New Jersey. “What I told ’em was probably what I told them in the team meeting, and probably not to tell at the press conference,” Manning said. In other words, none of your business! “The main thing was don’t try to change your routine … do the same thing you did throughout the season,” receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “We’re not there to party. When you’re not playing in the Super Bowl, you’re there to party,” linebacker Shaun Phillips said. “When you’re playing in the Super Bowl, it’s a business trip, and that’s the main thing that we talked about. “He just said, ‘Enjoy it. But you’ll be much more happier winning the game as opposed to losing the game. Losing the game, you’re the ultimate low. When you win the game you’re the ultimate high.’ ” “Just because it’s a Super Bowl, it’s still a football game,” Caldwell said. It’s a football game Manning wondered if he’d ever get back to following four neck fusion surgeries. Eye on the prize already. “Some of those Indianapolis teams that he was on, they weren’t the most talented teams, but Peyton just does a hell of a job of making everybody around him better,” Phillips said, “because he makes sure he prepares not only for himself but for the guy next to him.” Phillips, asked if he was tired of hearing about how good the Seahawks defense is, said: “No, no, no. We enjoy hearing about how good their defense is. Less pressure for us, more pressure for them. Which is OK, it’s going to come down to a defensive game, most Super Bowls do, so we’re looking forward to it.” No one more than the quarterback. “The Super Bowl is always special, no matter where it is played,” Manning said. “For a lot of our players, it is their first time playing in one. So I think the fact that it is in New York is certainly going to be special, but it is a big deal because we worked so hard to get to this point. Two teams that have worked hard and have really laid it on the line all season long to be here. This is why you work hard all offseason — for this opportunity. There is no question it is a big deal and it is very special to be playing in this game.” With Brother in Big Game, Eli Manning Plays Concierge By Bill Pennington New York Times January 23, 2014 What do two N.F.L. quarterbacks who happen to be brothers talk about when one of them is playing in the Super Bowl at the other’s home stadium? Home-field tactics? The wind? The turf? Where to park? Which shower head in the locker room has the hottest water? Don’t be silly. They talk tickets. As in, how many can you get me? Eli Manning told his brother Peyton he would help him in any way needed as Peyton prepared to play in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. Perhaps Peyton wanted to visit some New York City museums? Or the opera? Certainly, Eli could arrange for a dinner reservation or two. No, the chief request was tickets. “He had a number for me,” Eli said Thursday of Peyton’s ticket request. “And I hit it. Unless he’s got a few more surprises, I’m O.K.” So unless Peyton screams “Omaha” and calls an audible demanding 15 more tickets, Eli has done his job. There is a lot of pressure and anxiety when it comes to the Super Bowl. Some of it even involves the playing of the game. But long before Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks, there is the ticket grab. “Helping him with the tickets will take some of the stress off him,” Eli Manning said in a conference call with reporters. “It takes some of the burden off him.” The Mannings are not first-time contestants in this pregame contest. Eli has played in two Super Bowls. This will be Peyton’s third. In 2012, Eli played in a Super Bowl at what was then Peyton’s home stadium in Indianapolis. The brothers have learned that what matters is keeping family and friends happy — because everyone from your fourth-grade teacher to your favorite barista comes out of the woodwork during the Super Bowl buildup. Each needs only one ticket. Unless two are available. Or four. Meanwhile, a ticket in the upper deck was selling for about $2,500 online Thursday. “Having been through this before,” Eli said, “you want to get this done this week and get it done as early as possible. You want everything to be solved for you before you get to the city where you’re playing.” Eli thinks he is on track. Once Peyton is in town — the Broncos are staying in Jersey City and conducting interviews with the news media on a cruise ship docked next to their hotel — Eli might give his brother some tips that pertain to the game, he said. Eli played Denver’s opponent, the Seahawks, in December. And Eli has thrown hundreds of passes in MetLife Stadium. “I can give him any information I have about Seattle; I’ll be happy to give him some tips,” Eli said. That conversation may not exactly be a game changer. The Giants were trounced by the Seahawks, 23-0. After the game, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin called the Giants’ offensive effort “pathetic.” So while that talk might be brief, Eli said he would be able to help with the vicissitudes of playing inside MetLife. “I might have a few things,” he said. “There is some local knowledge.” Eli declined to elaborate on any of that insight because, he said, he did not want his tips to help Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. “I’ll tell Peyton in private,” Eli said. Otherwise, Eli seemed to be focused on playing the good host and helpful little brother. He insisted that Peyton, who has won one Super Bowl and lost one, did not need a second Super Bowl victory to cement his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in N.F.L. history. “He’s already created his own legacy,” Eli said. “He’s set records and been on a lot of playoff teams. I don’t think it’s something he’s worried about. “There will always be arguments about who’s the best, and if you’re in that argument, you’ve already created your legacy. But he’s not thinking about that. He’s competitive. He’s trying to win the game.” Eli, who has played more than 75 regular-season games in New Jersey, said the only football game he had attended in the state as a spectator was on Jan. 4, 2003, when Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts visited the old Giants Stadium to play the Jets in a first-round playoff game. “Besides that,” he said, “this will be the only time I’ll be in the seats watching.” Eli will be hoping for a more enjoyable result than the last time. The Jets shut out Peyton’s Colts, 41-0. “It’s a little nerve-racking,” Eli said of rooting for his brother. “I don’t get nervous playing in football games. I do get nervous watching my brother play.” But he will apparently have some peace of mind. At least the ticket situation is settled. 'Little Zane' a big man in Broncos offense By Richard Anderson Rapid City Journal January 23, 2014 At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, no sane person would ever call Denver Broncos starting guard Zane Beadles little. Well, except for my late wife, Teresa. She had a good reason. When Teresa knew Zane, he was little … about 2- and 3-years-old little. When Beadles was drafted out of the University of Utah and made his mark as a Broncos’ starter, Teresa still called him: “Little Zane.” Teresa’s basketball playing career for the University of Wyoming was cut short after her junior season in the late 1980s because of an illness. Back in the day, players who were allowed to keep their athletic scholarship basically had to work for it. Teresa did that for two years as the team’s unofficial manager. One of her jobs was to keep an eye out on “Little Zane” when he tagged along at the Cowgirls’ practice, as his mother, Jamie, was on the Wyoming team. Watching “Little Zane” meant making sure he didn’t wander off like a youngster can do and at least try to stop him from throwing basketballs out on the court while the practice was in session -- like “Little Zane” was known to do on occasion. Beadles is the step-son of current Wyoming head women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski, who was a young assistant at the time under Chad Lavin. Several years later Beadles returned to Laramie for the summer as Legerski became the women’s basketball head coach at Wyoming, and he played for the Laramie Rangers American Legion baseball team. By that time, he was no longer “Little Zane.” As could be expected by now, he was a power-hitting first baseman. If you are a fan of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, you might have seen Beadles’ appearance on Wednesday as he was promoting his charity, Zane Beadles Parade Foundation. There, the big man danced with DeGeneres, talked about his foundation and the Super Bowl and gave her his jersey off of his back (signed), while DeGeneres gave him a $10,000 check for his foundation. For more of the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation, see: http://zanesparade.org/ I know Teresa was thrilled when “Little Zane” was drafted by the Broncos in 2010 and I'm sure she'll be cheering for "Big Zane" in her own special way on Super Bowl Sunday. Broncos' Mike Adams following Victor Cruz, Gerald Hayes to Super Bowl By Art Stapleton and Keith Idec NorthJersey.com January 24, 2014 The text message reminded Mike Adams not only of where he is, but where he is from. Of the hundreds that overwhelmed his cellphone in the hours after the Broncos punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII, also assuring Adams of a Meadowlands homecoming, the one from Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz held special significance. For the third time in six years, a native Patersonian will be on the biggest stage in sports with an opportunity to win the most cherished of gridiron championships. Gerald Hayes, Adams’ high school teammate at Passaic Tech, was the first to reach a Super Bowl when his Arizona Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. Then it was Cruz’s turn in Indianapolis when he caught a touchdown, danced the salsa and helped the Giants defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI two seasons ago. Now Adams gets his chance at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the fact that the game will be played just 10 miles from their hometown at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford lends even more appreciation for the destination. “Vic texted me [congratulations] the other day and I told him, ‘I’m right behind you, bro. I’m coming. I’m up next,’ ” Adams said by telephone from Denver as the Broncos prepare to meet the Seahawks on Feb. 2. “He said, ‘Go ahead and do it;’ [and] I said, ‘No doubt.’ I just hope I’ve been an inspiration to the young guys. I’ve got to make it my business when I go back to play in this big game to go back and talk to kids at a school and a little league football team. I have to let them know that dreams come true if you keep working. It took me 10 years, but I never gave up on it.” There were times throughout the quest when any of the three could have moved on. Hayes expected to be drafted in the first round, but lasted until the third. Adams and Cruz went undrafted despite eye-opening performances at Football Championship Subdivision schools Delaware and Massachusetts, respectively. Adams sustained a hip injury during his college career, similar to the one that ended Bo Jackson’s athletic career, and Adams was initially told by doctors he would never play again. Cruz was kicked out of Massachusetts twice because of poor grades, working in Garden State Plaza in Paramus and taking classes at Passaic County Community College before earning one final shot in school. They also endured plenty of personal heartache, including the unexpected deaths of Adams’ mother, Sharon, and Cruz’s father, Michael Walker, while both were in college. “What makes this thing even sweeter is the road that we all took,” said Cruz, 27, referring to Adams, 32; Hayes, 33; and himself. “That road was different for all of us, but we all had our ups and downs. Being from Paterson, we’ve seen far too many guys that died at our age, much younger. People we might have spoken to the day before, then the next day they’re not even alive anymore and we’re going to a funeral. There’s great appreciation for us to still be here, facing the adversity we had to face growing up. “For us to still be living our dream … the fact that we made it this far, kids from everywhere can hopefully look up to us — suburbs and the inner cities — and say, man, they battled through some things in their life, but they made it somewhere special.” The “Straight Out of Paterson” T-shirts Adams and Hayes distributed as part of their Rising Stars Foundation camp held each summer have begun popping up all over the city. They are Broncos’ orange with Adams’ No. 20 and his signature on the back, and are popular not just with youngsters, but adults as well, many of whom are embracing the moment. “This might just be the most gratifying feeling you can have as a football coach,” said John Iurato, who coached Adams and Hayes at Passaic Tech in Wayne. “It’s something that every football player in the world as a kid dreams about, and you’re lucky to have two kids to have this experience, who played together, grew up together in the same city with another kid in Victor Cruz; it’s really amazing. There are a lot of good athletes, but not everybody is successful doing for the community like these guys do.” Added Hayes: “Having three guys from different parts of Paterson come out of there — that gives them inspiration that they can go out there and can achieve something.” A pep rally to celebrate Adams’ presence at Super Bowl XLVIII will be held Tuesday at Planet 301 in Paterson. “Mike wasn’t a first-round draft pick. Vic wasn’t a first-round draft pick. Gerald wasn’t a first-round draft pick,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who coached Cruz at Paterson Catholic and was in Denver to celebrate the AFC championship with Adams on Sunday. “Nothing was handed to these guys. A lot of kids want to look for shortcuts, but these guys worked for everything they got. The positive message is, ‘If they can do it, so can you. This can be you.’ ” Cruz followed Hayes, and Adams has now followed Cruz, blazing a path they hope eventually provides another prideful answer to the question of who could be next. “These are some big shoes to be wearing when you consider all the talent that has come out of Paterson through the years,” Cruz said. “We need to soak in the moment, all of us – Gerald Hayes, myself and [Adams]. And I’m also predicting the Denver Broncos to win it, so when he wins it, and he hoists that trophy and comes back to Paterson as a champion, those are the moments that mean everything. “It’s something that you have to cherish, knowing how big of a deal this really is.” Peyton Manning Vs. Russell Wilson: By The Numbers By Monte Burke Forbes January 23, 2014 In the Super Bowl XLVIII clash between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, much of the focus will be on the quarterbacks. The Broncos Peyton Manning is one of the best ever to play the game. The Seahawks Russell Wilson has started his NFL career with a bang, winning more games in his first two seasons than any other quarterback ever has. Here’s a look at the two quarterbacks by the numbers: 1: Rank of Peyton Manning’s jersey sales. 2: Rank of Russell Wilson’s jersey sales. 4: Number of Most Valuable Player awards Manning has won in his career, an NFL record. He is expected to win his 5th award this year. 4.55: Wilson’s 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Combine. 4.8: Manning’s 40-yard-dash time as a rookie (Manning did not participate in the 1998 NFL Combine). 5’11”: Wilson’s height. He weighs 206 pounds. 6’5”: Manning’s height. He weighs 230 pounds. 9: The number of interceptions Wilson threw during the 2013 regular season. 10: The number of interceptions Manning threw in the 2013 regular season. 13: Age at which Manning declared himself a devout Christian. 14: Age at which Wilson declared himself a devout Christian. 16: Number of years Manning has been in the NFL; Wilson has been in the league for 2 years. 25: Russell Wilson’s age. Manning is 37. 26: Number of touchdown passes both Manning and Wilson threw in their rookie seasons. 28: Number of interceptions Manning threw in his rookie season. Wilson threw 10 his rookie year. -31 Rushing yards by Manning in 2013 regular season. Wilson ran for 539 yards. 52: Number of touchdown passes Wilson has thrown in his first two seasons in the NFL combined. 55: Number of touchdown passes Manning threw in 2013, an NFL record. 101.2: Wilson’s quarterback rating in 2013. 115.1: Manning’s quarterback rating in 2013. .228: Wilson’s batting average in 2011 while playing for a minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. $526,217: Wilson’s base salary this year, ranked number 1256 in the NFL. $12 million: Manning’s endorsement income from last year. $15 million: Manning’s base salary this year, ranked number 1 in the NFL. $1.081 billion: Value of Wilson’s Seahawks, number 15 on the Forbes NFL valuations list. $1.161 billion: Value of Manning’s Broncos, number 13 on the Forbes NFL valuations list. Broncos warm up to big chill in Denver By Seth Walder New York Daily News January 23, 2014 It was no comparison to Winter Storm Janus, but Denver got some winter weather Wednesday night that could serve as a preview of what we could see at Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. The Broncos faced temperatures in the 20s Thursday with some snow around their practice field, but that is nothing new for the Super Bowl-bound team. “We’ve practiced in this and had to play in these type of conditions at different points in the year so, yeah, any time you can have somewhat of a situation you can simulate during practice that might be during a game — whether it’s situational, two-minute situation, weather, whatever it is — that’s always a good thing,” Peyton Manning said. It’s still a long way out from the game for weather forecasts, though they do exist: Accuweather currently estimates a temperature of 36 degrees with a 30% chance of snow during the game. The Broncos claim to be a cold-weather team, though this season, albeit in a small sample, that hasn’t been the case. In their three games played outdoors with the temperature 40 degrees or below this season, the Broncos are 1-2. The two losses came at home against San Diego in 37-degree weather and in New England in 22degree weather. Still, Broncos players didn’t seem at all concerned about the possibility of bad weather in New Jersey. “Cold? You’re talking about the Super Bowl,” said safety Mike Adams. “I’m not worried about the cold, I promise you that. We’ve practiced in like minus-3 degree weather here. So I’m definitely not worried about no cold weather.” “The Denver Broncos, we’re definitely weatherproof,” right tackle Orlando Franklin said. “We live in a cold city. It snowed last night. We were outside for practice today.” Manning’s ability in the cold has been questioned, especially after last year’s playoffs when, in 13-degree weather, the Broncos lost to the Ravens in Denver. The Broncos put up 35 points in the game, but Manning did throw two interceptions. That storyline seemed to have touched a nerve with the veteran signal caller. After the one game that the Broncos did win in below 40-degree temperatures this year, the 51-28 win over the Titans in 18-degree weather, Manning hoped to silence the critics. “Whoever wrote that narrative can shove it where the sun don’t shine,” Manning said. “I felt pretty good out there today.” The only weather-related concern the players seemed to share was that it could alter the schedule. In the event of extreme weather, the NFL has admitted there is a contingency plan to move the game to another day if it has to. “(The weather) doesn’t affect defense,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. “I just hope they don’t change the game, the day or anything.” Peyton Manning has more than just Richard Sherman to handle in Seahawks' secondary By Manish Mehta New York Daily News January 23, 2014 Richard Sherman may be the unofficial spokesman of the Seahawks' Legion of Boom, but the NFL's scariest secondary has a pair of safeties that could make Peyton Manning's Super Bowl Sunday a living hell. For all the ear-splitting chatter spilling out of Sherman's mouth these days, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor may pose the biggest threats to Denver's high-octane offense. Thomas' speed coupled with Chancellor's brute strength have been the backbone for the most feared secondary in years. Four years after the Seahawks selected both of them in the 2010 draft, they've helped re-shape the back end to pave the way to the franchise's second Super Bowl appearance. "We always talked about changing Seattle," Thomas said Thursday from the team's practice facility in Renton, Wash. "We came in as competitors, young and probably dumb. But at the same time, we understood that we could make a change and it's definitely paying off for us." Thomas and Chancellor should play integral roles in Super Bowl XLVIII. For the first time since Super Bowl XXV between the Giants and Bills, the game will feature the league's top-ranked offense against the league's top-ranked defense. Thomas, arguably the best defensive player in the league this season, is the engine of Seattle's physical defense. He quickly dismissed draft-day doubts about his size (5-10, 202 pounds) to become the league's best ball-hawking safety. Manning will have to be aware of Thomas, whose sideline-to-sideline closing speed is downright frightening, at all times when dropping back to look for receiving threats Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. Manning will also have to contend with the 6-3, 232-pound Chancellor, who will be locked up with Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas. Chancellor, a fifth-round steal, effectively neutralized Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis in Seattle's two playoff wins. The pair of star tight ends combined for three receptions for 24 yards. Thomas, who has been targeted 18 times with 14 catches in Denver's two playoff games, is cut from the same cloth. "He's just another athletic tight end (with) good hands," Chancellor said. "That's just pretty much what impresses me about him. . . . I think he's pretty similar to Jimmy and Vernon." Neither Thomas nor Chancellor's decibel level rivals Sherman, whose postgame rant against 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree has dominated the headlines all week. Darrelle Revis even chimed in. "I didn't think that was good on his part," Revis told the Tampa Times this week. "He put himself ahead of the team. Other than that, he's an entertainer. . . . He talks. He probably talks in his sleep. I thought he shouldn't have said all that." There's little chance of Thomas or Chancellor pulling a Sherman in the run-up to the biggest game of their lives. They're more concerned about combating Manning's likely plan to beat Seattle's physical secondary with a combination of pick plays and crossing routes. It worked to perfection against the Patriots' physical cornerbacks and safeties in the AFC Championship Game, but can Denver's record-setting offense do it again? "That's how teams want to attack us now," Thomas said. "They don't want our big corners to press or they don't want us to mess up the timing, so getting us in condensed formations… bunch formations, but we know that. We understand how teams want to attack us. That's the beauty of it." Chancellor didn't seem overly concerned if he saw Welker running at him on a crossing route. The Broncos receiver knocked out Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib last week on a collision that changed the complexion of that game. "If he's coming at me to do a pick play, I'm going to try and get around him," Chancellor said. "I'm going to get around him and get to my guy. If I blatantly see him, I'm not just going to run into the guy and let my guy be wide open. I'm going to go around him and get to my guy. Be athletic." Chancellor and Thomas have given opposing quarterbacks headaches all season with their athleticism and smarts. "I think we're the best tandem in the league right now just because the chemistry (and) the connection that we have," said Thomas, the 14th overall pick in the 2010 draft. "I think it started when I put my pride to the side and said, 'This guy is just as good as me.' " Manning knows that he'll suffer the consequences if he's not careful. John Fox asks Peyton Manning to share Super Bowl memories with Broncos By Conor Orr The Star-Ledger January 23, 2014 DENVER -- The Super Bowl process, from how players should deal with increased attention and grander platforms to how they should conduct themselves in the weeks leading up to the game, have all been addressed. This is John Fox's third Super Bowl, and he's been through the slog enough times to understand that no detail, emotionally, schematically or physically, will be overlooked. That's why having Peyton Manning has been helpful. This is his third Super Bowl, too. He's seen how all of his teammates reacted to the spotlight. He's seen how nerves can come into play. He's seen how adrenaline can take a player to a different level. So this week, Fox asked Manning to share his experiences with the team. If everything else has been taken into account, so too should emotion and focus heading into the whirlwind. "Coach Fox has asked some of the guys with experience to share their thoughts with other players and he's encouraged guys to ask questions," Manning said. "Any thoughts, tips, anything. So we've had an opportunity to share some of those things both coaches and players and John Elway, so I think that's a good thing that coach set that up to let guys know what they're getting into." Added Fox: "Relating the experiences. It's a unique game, its a unique stage. Just sharing those experiences with the younger players who may or may not have experienced it." Broncos players get super advice from those who played By Ryan Divish Seattle Times January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If you search through the rosters of the Broncos and Seahawks, you’ll find that only one player on them has won a Super Bowl — Peyton Manning, who led the Colts to a 29-17 win in Super Bowl XLI over the Bears. So Broncos head coach John Fox, who coached the Panthers to a Super Bowl, has asked Manning and three other players with Super Bowl experience — wide receiver Wes Welker (Patriots), defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Cardinals) and tight end Jacob Tamme (Colts) — to be available for advice to the rest of the team about what to expect over the next 10 days and how to handle it. Manning and the others spoke at a team meeting before Thursday’s practice. It seemed to have an effect on Broncos players. “With them giving me knowledge and saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got to expect this. Or watch out for this. Or do that’ — I take heed to it,” safety Mike Adams said. “I listen.” So what is that great information that Manning shared? “What I told them was what I told them in the team meeting and probably not to tell at the press conference,” he said. But his teammates weren’t keeping secrets. “Just keep everything to the same routine,” said wide receiver Andre Caldwell. “Don’t let the fact that it is the Super Bowl change anything. ... because once the game starts it’s still football.” And? “Basically, he said enjoy it but you’ll be much happier winning the game as opposed to losing the game,” said defensive end Shaun Phillips. Fox also offered up some advice to his players about dealing with a media throng that will only grow with each day. And it only takes a misstep to turn into a story. What did he tell his players about handling the media crush and not becoming the story? “Really, just being good to your guys — you’ve got jobs to do,” Fox said. Manning is the shining example of that mantra. He knows how to play the media game like reading a blitz. When asked about facing a Seahawks defense that is rated No. 1 in the NFL, he wasn’t providing any bulletin board material. “I’m just starting to kind of get to know them and prepare for them,” he said. “I’m still kind of going through the preparation trying to familiarize ourselves with the opponent, a lot of film to study, still trying to get to know them at this point. From what I’ve seen so far, it is certainly an excellent defense.” He wouldn’t even offer up a few first impressions of the Seattle defense, or its vaunted secondary: “I’m still studying them, so probably not ready to make any first impressions,” he said. “I’m still getting to know them. There is a lot to study, and I look forward to using that time to study them.” Dispatch from Denver: head coach John Fox meets with the media on Thursday By Ryan Divish Seattle Times January 23, 2014 Broncos head coach John Fox met with the media on Thursday after practice. Fox has always been a coach that won’t speak of certain specifics to the media, and that hasn’t changed. He was complimentary of the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson, noting that the Broncos brought Wilson in before the 2012 draft for a workout. “I’ve known Russell for a while — just because he was at N.C. State when I was back in that part of the country,” Fox said. “Very impressive young man who has got some great experiences, maybe even through other sports. I think he’s very mature for his age. We brought him out here for a special visit and it doesn’t surprise me at all he’s had the success and he’s where he is today.” Fox was also complimentary of the Seahawks’ secondary. “They’re No. 1 in the league,” he said. “They’ve got outstanding length as a unit. They’ve got outstanding speed. They’ve got great route awareness and you can tell they’re very well coached. That’s why they are where they’re at.” Here’s some more quotes … On the injury report “[DT] Mitch Unrein did not participate, knee. [RB] Knowshon Moreno was limited, ribs. [CB] Tony Carter was full, shoulder. [DT] Terrance Knighton was full, knee. [CB] Kayvon Webster was full, thumb. [TE] Joel Dreessen was full, knee. [QB] Peyton Manning was full, ankle. [G] Chris Kuper was full, ankle. [K] Matt Prater did not participate today, illness. [DT] Sione Fua was limited today, calf.” On if today was a Broncos vs. Broncos day “I’m not going to get into how our preparation went and what we worked on from a competitive standpoint. We had a good day’s work.” On his initial reaction to a New York Super Bowl “I spent five years there in the Giants organization as a defensive coordinator and I have a lot of close friends. New York is a great city and we are looking forward to the opportunity to be playing there.” On how much advantage experience in Super Bowls helps “This game, like any game, comes down to who plays the best. Advantages and disadvantages kind of go out the window and it’s about performance. We’re hopefully preparing hard enough to be that team.” On encouraging players to give advice “I think just relating the experiences—it’s a unique game, it’s a unique stage—just sharing those experiences for the younger players who may or may not have experienced that before.” On LB Paris Lenon and his diverse background being from the XFL “All of these guys have different backgrounds, I’m glad you brought that to my attention. I look at Paris Lenon for what his body of work is, what he’s done here and what he’s done for the Denver Broncos. Everybody has different paths and different experiences; we’ve just been pleased to have him. He’s been a productive player for us and a good teammate to the rest of the team.” On what Lenon has added to the run defense “The guy has a lot starts under his belt. He brought some experience. He was new to us this year so like all new players, it takes you a minute to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. We think he’s slid into a role that has helped us be productive on defense.” On the performance of the offensive line last week “I think they’ve been a key all season, actually. We’ve got one game left and I think their body of work is what it’s been—I think to be productive on offense, it starts up front. If you don’t block very well you can’t run it very well and you can throw it very well. They’ve been productive and have been an important cog in our offensive system.” On the refs potentially looking at crossing routes in the Super Bowl because of the CB Aqib Talib injury “I worry about everything the refs look at to be honest with you. Again, it’s part of the game. You overcome a lot of different things when you are out there competing. Obviously the opponent, and sometimes when calls go against you, you have to overcome that. We’ve done that all year, that’s been our motto and this will be no different.” On crossing routes “It’s a football. I’m not going to get into analyzing every football play we’ve run. It’s a play that we utilize and just about every offense in the National Football League utilizes.” On TE Julius Thomas and his growth “Tremendous. He came in here as a rookie. He had a really, really, good camp and turned a lot of heads in that camp. Unfortunately for him, in our second ball game of the season against the Bengals he had a pretty severe ankle injury. It was a high ankle sprain, required a little bit more rehab than we originally thought and the kid battled back. These guys that come off injuries, especially serious injuries, it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of weight room, training room, all that kind of work. And then, I’m just really excited for the guy that he got healthy and did all the hard work it takes. Then he came in and learned a pretty intricate system from a pretty demanding quarterback and has done an outstanding job. So he’s great.” On DT Terrance Knighton “He’s been tremendous. He’s a guy that we were familiar with coming out in the draft out of temple as well as [Defensive Coordinator] Jack Del Rio, our defensive coordinator, coached Terrance. Our strength staff had been with him in Jacksonville. So we had some pretty good insights on what kind of person and player he was. He’s been nothing but ‘A-plus’ for us since he’s been a Bronco.” On whether he used the Broncos’ preseason game with the Seahawks as an example of Seattle’s talent “I’m sure, as I mentioned on Monday—I’ll give you the same answer—I think both teams will look at it. There are certain things I’m not going to get into exactly, but there are things you take from it, no doubt.” On what makes the Seahawks defense so good “They’re well coached and they’ve got good length, outstanding speed. They are very aggressive. They’re fun to watch, for sure. They’re very talented.” On whether he likes having an extra week to prepare for the game “This will be my third one—the two previous ones were both two weeks. It’s really all I know. We adjust. That is what we get paid to do. I think it works out fine.” On CB Champ Bailey “When you look at a room and you can see two guys that you can pretty much say are going to be first-ballot Hall of Famers— and I’m referring both to Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey—the successes [Bailey] has had, to never have had the experience of trotting out on Super Bowl Sunday, there are a lot of guys in that room that it means a lot to them because it means a lot to him. From the very onset, he gave me great insight to the Broncos organization, to a lot of the players—and you need that as a newcomer, regardless of if you’re a head coach or not. You need that insight and he’s been a valuable part of the success we’ve had.” On Manning’s ability “This is my almost-second complete season with Peyton—I’m talking about every day as a coach, not as somebody watching him play—but I’ve seen tremendous growth in him physically, as well as mentally, even, in our system. But physically, from this time a year ago, he’s kind of started where he left off. Earlier, in that first season, he was adjusting to a lot. He hadn’t played the year before, rehabbing a pretty serious injury, just staying in shape as a veteran player. The guy might be the best time manager I’ve ever been around as a professional. He’s earned everything that he’s gotten and he’s worked very, very hard.” On whether it requires unselfishness in order to have five players with 10 touchdowns each “I think with this group, we speak of, ‘To be an outstanding team, you have to be selfless, not selfish.’ I think that speaks to the character of those guys in that room. They don’t get all pouty, or whatever you might want to put on it, about things like that. They just care about winning. I appreciate that attitude and I appreciate that mindset from those guys.” On his advice to players dealing with the media “Really, being good to you guys—you’ve got jobs to do. But speak to the game; speak to themselves and not much else.” On the importance of the final practices at home “I call it the most important two hours of the day—anytime you have practice. Not that the other things aren’t important, but really, the time on the grass is the most important time. We take them all pretty serious.” Dispatch from Denver: Peyton Manning meets with the media By Ryan Divish Seattle Times January 23, 2014 It snowed about two inches last night here in Denver and the temperature dropped to the mid 20s. As you can see above, the Broncos practiced outside today. Does it help them for the possible inclement weather in New York for Super Bowl XLVIII? “We practiced in this and had to play in these types of conditions at different points in the year,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “Any time you can have a somewhat of a situation that you can simulate during practice which you might see in the game, it’s always a good thing. whether it’s a two-minute situation, or weather or whatever it is, it’s a good thing.” Manning spoke to the media for about six minutes. He was pretty careful in what he said. You could joke that he’s more expansive pre-snap. He was asked about the Seahawks’ defense and whether it was the toughest the defense the Broncos offense would face this season? He was relatively noncommittal. “I’m just kind of starting to get know them and prepare for them,” Manning said. “We played them in the preseason. But I’m still kind of going through the preparation and familiarize ourselves with the opponent. There’s a lot of film to study. From what I’ve seen, it’s certainly an impressive defense.” When pressed for more info, Manning stayed with his original answer. There was no audibling to something more. “I’m still studying them, so I’m probably not ready to make any first impressions, I’m still getting to know them,” Manning said. “There’s a lot to study and I’m looking forward to getting that time to study.” Manning is one of a handful players on the Broncos with Super Bowl experience, including Wes Welker. Head coach John Fox had them speak to the team on about what to expect. “He’s encouraged guys to ask questions and he’s encouraged guys that have experience share any tips,” Manning said. “We have had an opportunity to do that. It’s good thing to set up to give some guys an idea of what they are getting themselves into.” So what did he tell them? “What I told them is what I told them in the team meeting, but probably not to tell at the press conference,” Manning said. Best part was when a TV person asked Peyton about the great advice his brother Eli gave him about the swirling winds of MetLife Stadium. “I haven’t had those conversation so … ” Manning said. “If we were playing in the old one, it might be a little different. But we haven’t had those conversations.” Here’s some more quotes from Manning’s meeting with the media. On his level of work with his different coaches “It’s probably hard to do it in a short answer. [Head] Coach [John] Fox, obviously he is the head coach, [Offensive Coordinator] Adam [Gase] is kind of the head coach of the offense, if you will. You’re dealing with Adam on the schemes and the X’s and O’s and I’m dealing with [Quarterbacks Coach] Greg Knapp on my quarterback fundamentals. Coach Fox, it is his football philosophies that we are following as far as situational play and whatnot. He and I always have conversations about kind of how he feels a defense might play us. He takes me kind of into the defense minds of how they might try to stop this play or whatnot. He has great experience as being a defensive coordinator. Those have always been conversations that I have gotten something out of.” On CB Champ Bailey “He has great coverage skills, great ball skills. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a smart player—you can always tell when you played against him that he understood concepts and understood what you were trying to do possibly offensively. He’s a great technician as well. I played against Champ when I was a young player and he was with the [Washington] Redskins, and then of course many years when he was here in Denver. It has been great to practice against him every day for the past two years. The receivers get better and the quarterback gets better as well.” On the four Broncos players with Super Bowl experience “Coach Fox has had some guys that had some experience share some of their thoughts with players. He has encouraged guys to ask questions or encouraged guys that have some experience to share any thoughts or tips. We have had an opportunity to do that, to share some of those—whether it has been coaches or players or [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] John Elway. I think that is a good thing that Coach Fox set that up to help some guys have an idea of kind of what they’re getting in to.” On getting help with non-football aspects of the Super Bowl from Eli Manning “Eli and I have done that in the past. You try to help out any way you can. That is certainly a way that I think I’ve been helpful to him and he’s been helpful to me the past two that I’ve played in and he’s helped me out again this year. You certainly appreciate that.” On getting support from Eli Manning “I always appreciate my brother. I didn’t see what he said and I’m not sure he was defending me. I think Eli pulls for me and I pull for him. It has been neat having the relationship with him, both having the same job for these past 10-something years. We have a lot that we can relate to and a lot of situations that we’ve both faced. I’ve always thought that quarterbacks naturally can share those thoughts and if you have other buddies who are quarterbacks, when he’s your brother it’s a pretty unique situations and we bounce a lot of ideas off of each other these past 10 years.” On whether the Super Bowl being in New York adds anything special “The Super Bowl is always special, no matter where it is played. For a lot of our players, it is their first time playing in one. So I think the fact that it is in New York is certainly going to be special, but it is a big deal because we worked so hard to get to this point. Two teams that have worked hard and have really laid it on the line all season long to be here. This is why you work hard all offseason—for this opportunity. There is no question it is a big deal and it is very special to be playing in this game.” Of all the role models By John Boyle Everett Herald January 24, 2014 RENTON — Russell Wilson made a point of picking the brain of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees at the Pro Bowl last year. And while the Seattle Seahawks celebrated an NFC Championship Sunday, Wilson asked four-time Super Bowl champion and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who now works for Fox television, what it takes to win a title. So it’s safe to say the Seahawks’ quarterback likes to take knowledge from experienced quarterbacks whenever and wherever he can get it. But before Brees or Bradshaw could pass any words of wisdom on to Wilson, he was learning from another quarterbacking great. The one he’ll be trying to beat in Super Bowl XLVIII. You see Wilson, back when he was a high school sophomore, attended the Manning Passing Academy, a camp run by Archie Manning and his three sons, Peyton, Eli and Cooper. And as luck would have it so many years ago, a teenage Wilson ended up in the group of players being coached by Peyton Manning, the quarterback who will be leading the Denver Broncos against Seattle next week. “I mean there were thousands of kids there and I was actually in his group,” Wilson said. “Me and I think 12 or 15 other guys.” Manning obviously never could have known it at the time, but he was helping shape a young quarterback who would someday try to deny him a second championship ring. That famous Wilson work ethic and those well-documented study habits, Wilson got a lot of that from his father, Harrison, and took the rest from a lot of people who have influenced him, one of whom was Manning. “Just how much care he showed for the kids at the time and how much detail he always talked about and how much of a perfectionist he was, I try to use that in my game,” Wilson said. “I got a long ways to go obviously, but I just try to do all the little things and that’s what (Manning) does. He takes tons of notes, he does all the right things and he puts his team in the right position to win football games.” And while Wilson was the one learning from Manning, it seems the teenage quarterback made an impression on Manning a decade ago as well. Prior to the 2012 draft, the Broncos brought Wilson to Denver for a pre-draft visit, and Manning had a vague recollection of meeting Wilson so long ago. “He was sitting there in the locker room and I went up and talked to him, and he was like, ‘Have I seen you before somewhere?’” Wilson said. “He was like, ‘Yeah. I think I’ve seen you. Good to see you man. I’ve seen you before somewhere. Where did I know you?’” Wilson told him, “Well actually you coached me in the Manning Passing Academy.” Priority No. 1 for Wilson in the Super Bowl will be worrying about Denver’s defense, but he admits he might sneak an occasional peek to watch one of the game’s alltime greats at work. For the Seahawks to beat the Broncos and their high-octane offense, Wilson might have to put on an aerial show himself, or at least throw the ball more than he is usually asked to in Seattle’s offense. And who knows, if Wilson has a big day and leads his team to victory, the Seahawks might have, of all people, Manning to thank for it, at least a little bit anyway. “The way he plays the game, he’s just a tremendous individual. He has great attention to detail, great leadership, has won a lot of games,” Wilson said. “So we’re going to have to play our best football game and we know that. We know that he’s a great football player and he leads his football team.” Eli Manning’s playing concierge for big brother By Darin Gantt ProFootballTalk.com January 24, 2014 Eli Manning is doing everything he can to help big brother Peyton next week. But not with scouting reports. Eli said his most important job has been ticket broker, helping Peyton line up the seats he needs for Super Bowl XVLIII so he can worry about the football. “I tried to help him out, and try and get answers on how many tickets I could get from my teammates and players and people and try and get that done as early as possible,” Eli said, via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. “So once they start preparation this week, he has everything solved before you get to the city you’re playing the Super Bowl. “I think that is kind of the biggest help I could be to him at this point. Obviously, I know his friends and family, to try to get them settled so they are not dealing with him and he has to worry about that.” The two have experience at this game, as Peyton played concierge when Eli brought the Giants to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, and Peyton used his hometown advantage there two years ago. And so Eli’s been hitting up co-workers, since Giants players and staff and employees were offered face value tickets for the game. “He was very helpful in dealing with family and friends and trying to take that burden off me,” Eli said. “It’s something we kind of learned having played in a few of these. You try and get all that stuff done by this week.” They’ll talk about the Seahawks later. But for now, they’re making sure all the tickets are taken care of. Moreno practices, in limited fashion, with injured ribs By Mike Florio ProFootballTalk.com January 23, 2014 Both starting running backs for the Super Bowl XLVIII teams are dealing with injuries. Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch hasn’t practiced this week with a knee injury, and Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is limited with injured ribs. Moreno, who would have been limited on Wednesday if the Broncos had practiced, was limited on Thursday during the team’s first official pre-Super Bowl practice. Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein (knee) didn’t practice, and kicker Matt Prater missed Thursday’s session with an illness. Defensive lineman Sione Fua was a new addition to the report with a calf injury; he practiced on a limited basis. Injured players who fully participated in practice on Thursday were quarterback Peyton Manning (ankle), guard Chris Kuper (ankle), cornerback Tony Carter (shoulder), cornerback Kayvon Webster (thumb), tight end Joel Dreessen (knee), and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (knee). Broncos, Knowshon Moreno return to practice By Josh Alper ProFootballTalk.com January 23, 2014 The Broncos released a practice report on Wednesday, but it was just an estimation of what players would have done because they didn’t actually start their practice week until Thursday. According to that estimation, running back Knowshon Moreno would have been a limited participant. According to Lindsay Jones of USA Today, Moreno was on the field taking part in practice on Thursday. It’s a very good sign that Moreno is going to be ready to go come February 2 at the Meadowlands. Jones also reports that cornerback Tony Carter was on the field after suffering a shoulder injury in the AFC Championship Game, which fits with the team’s estimation that the would have been a full participant in Wednesday’s practice if there was a Wednesday practice. Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, who is nursing a knee injury, wasn’t seen at practice, which took place in frigid conditions as Denver joined much of the rest of the country in the clutches of the polar vortex. That may be colder than Super Bowl Sunday turns out to be, but it won’t hurt to get used to it just in case the mercury dips in East Rutherford. Five to Watch: 2. Russell Wilson By Andrew Mason DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- If Russell Wilson's baseball career had progressed differently, he could have been playing his biggest game in Denver, not against a team from there. But the former Colorado Rockies farmhand only progressed as far as the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League in 2011 when his development stalled. He's still on an organizational roster in baseball; the Texas Rangers claimed his rights in the Rule 5 draft last month. But barring some unexpected circumstances, Wilson's future lies in the sport at which he's already achieved massive success in just two seasons. That's no surprise to Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, who arranged for Wilson to visit the Broncos during the pre-draft process in 2012. "We had him in. We loved the kid," Elway said. "To see what he's doing, you know when you met him that he had the capability because of the presence that he has, that he had the ability to do what he is doing right now. He's athletic, can make all the plays and has the right attitude." Wilson also became re-acquainted with Peyton Manning that day. Wilson was a student at the Manning Passing Academy while he was a high-schooler from Richmond, Va. "There were thousands of kids there and I was actually in his group -- me and, I think, 12 or15 other guys," Wilson said, 'and just how much care he showed for the kids at the time and how much detail he always talked about and how much of a perfectionist he was and I try to use that in my game." Years later, when Wilson visited Dove Valley, that led to a deja vu moment. "He was sitting there in the locker room and I went up and talked to him and whatever and he was like, ‘Have I seen you before somewhere?’ He was like, ‘Yeah. I think I’ve seen you. Good to see you man. I’ve seen you before somewhere. Where did I know you?’ And I was like, ‘Well actually you coached me in the Manning Passing Academy,'" Wilson recalled. "So I love him to death." Their styles are different, but one similarity is in their rookie performance -- not so much the numbers, but the presence each brought. Their NFL arrivals, 14 years apart, immediately turned what was a team weakness into a massive strength. What is fascinating about Wilson's development is how ready he was to contribute immediately. Although he improved in his second year, it wasn't a quantum leap, because where can you go from such a highly efficient (quarterback rating: 100.0) first year. This season, his completion percentage was slightly down (by one percent), but his interception rate dropped (from one every 40.3 passes to one every 46.2). His average per attempt increased by 0.32 yards. His quarterback rating rose from 100.0 to 101.2. His run rate, first-down percentage on carries and average per carry were nearly identical. Through two years, no moment has seemed too big for him. But in spite of the numbers, the Seahawks keep his relative lack of experience in mind. "We’re working with a second-year player, and a second-year quarterback. You have to keep that in mind. He’s fabulous, he’s fabulous in everything that we’ve asked him to do, he does a great job of managing all of the situations, and he’s come up big in just about every one of those for us," said Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Darrel Bevell. "We don’t want to push the limit and push it over and ask him to do too much and have that show up in his play or anything. We haven’t done that, I don’t know if you could do that to him because he is so well prepared and he puts so much pressure on himself to do the right things all of the time, but he’s showed up big in all of the situations for us.” Not to say that people didn't see it coming. As I witnessed Wilson's performance against the Broncos' backup defense during a preseason game on Aug. 18, 2012, I tweeted this: This notion may have seemed ridiculous based on half of a preseason game, but I had my reasons, and they went beyond that night. I'd watched him closely at North Carolina State and Wisconsin. I saw first-hand how he adapted to throwing behind Wisconsin's massive offensive line. I loved his delivery: quick, compact when it needed to be, with passes that exploded out of his hand. He was mobile enough to make plays on the run, but preferred to throw. (And there was probably a bit of short man's bias; I have to wear thick-soled Timberlands to approach 5-foot-6.) I knew that he'd shown up at Wisconsin as a post-graduate transfer in the summer of 2011, limited to one season there. And in that short span, Wilson so impressed teammates and coaches that he was named captain within a month of his first Badgers practice. "Just as soon as he got there, he was walking around with note cards, with plays on them," said running back Montee Ball, a teammate of Wilson's at Wisconsin in 2011. "I was like, 'OK, this guy's really serious,' and based on his history, what we'd heard about him and the first couple of practices, we were like, 'OK, we need to follow this guy.'" Some guys just have "it." They have a preternatural ability to adapt on the field, they are impeccable leaders, they pride themselves on taking steps well beyond the norm. Peyton Manning is one of those guys. So is Wilson. That's why they're here. Of course, there's one step left to take, and no guarantee that he and the Seahawks ever get over the hump. Dan Marino will be the first to tell you that the early-career chance might be the only one you ever receive. But the Seahawks' collection of young talent, keen eye in roster-building assures that the Seahawks will remain a Super Bowl contender for the foreseeable future. This game will help define Wilson's career, but it's unlikely to be his only turn on the sport's grandest stage. Manning Brothers' Bond Helps Super Bowl Prep By Gray Caldwell DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the AFC Championship Game, Eli Manning surprised his brother Peyton with a visit to the locker room postgame. "Two years ago, we didn’t think Peyton was coming to San Francisco for the (NFC) Championship Game and he showed up," Archie Manning said after the Broncos' win last Sunday. "He just showed up with some Indy guys and didn’t tell us, didn’t tell Eli anything. So Eli kind of did that today, too." The relationship between the two Super Bowl-winning brothers was in the spotlight earlier this season when the Broncos and Giants squared off at MetLife Stadium in Week 2. That was Peyton Manning's first time in the stadium where Super Bowl XLVIII will be held. But he'll have plenty of knowledge of the venue courtesy of his brother. "I might have a few things for him, but I don’t want to reveal that because I don’t want to give that to Russell Wilson," Eli Manning said on a conference call. "Any tips wind-wise, I will tell him in private." "The old stadium definitely did have a specific end zone and corner you really did not want to throw into if it was going to be a windy night," he explained. "I know it’s going to be cold. I obviously don’t know what the wind conditions are right now, but if it is one of those windy days, there are a few little things that you can give, but it’s definitely not as bad as the old stadium." Eli, whose Giants played the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15, said he would also share with Peyton anything he gleaned from his battle with the Broncos' Super Bowl opponent. "I’ll obviously give any information that I have to him, in our preparation, our game plan, just kind of different things I saw watching film and different tips," he said. "I will try to give him everything that I can give him to make his preparation better, any tips or things that I saw. If he has any questions, I’d be happy to answer them and help out in any way." The bond between the brothers has been obvious this week. Eli said he's been trying to help Peyton deal with ticket requests and other logistics in advance of the big game so that his older brother can focus on the game itself. "I think I’ve been helpful to him and he’s been helpful to me the past two that I’ve played in and he’s helped me out again this year," Peyton said. "You certainly appreciate that.” Peyton said the brothers have bounced "a lot of ideas off of each other these past 10 years" as they prepare for games. The one next Sunday just happens to be a little different than just another game. "It’s not like watching any other football game. If I’m watching two other teams, I’m kind of casually watching and don’t really care who wins or loses. Here, it’s a little bit more nerve-wracking," said Eli, who made it clear he's rooting for his brother and the Broncos. "I don’t get nervous playing football games, I get nervous watching my brother play and I guess because I’ve been doing this for a long time and you kind of know key moments and key plays. Obviously we’ll be rooting hard and I’m excited for him, watching these last two playoff games and playing well and hopefully he can continue to do that. You know what it means to win championships and how hard he’s worked. "I’m obviously very proud of him and I’m hoping he can go out there and play well and the whole team, the Broncos, can play well and get a win." Sharing Their Super Bowl Stories By Gray Caldwell DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Forty-eight of the 53 players on the Broncos' active roster had at least one game of playoff experience entering this year's postseason. But only four had been to the Super Bowl -- Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Jacob Tamme and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. For that reason, Head Coach John Fox asked that group to talk to the team about the experience of playing in the final game of the season. "He has encouraged guys to ask questions or encouraged guys that have some experience to share any thoughts or tips," said Manning, the only Broncos player to have a Super Bowl victory under his belt. "We have had an opportunity to do that, to share some of those whether it has been coaches or players or (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) John Elway. I think that is a good thing that Coach Fox set that up to help some guys have an idea of kind of what they’re getting in to.” Fox is headed to his third Super Bowl -- he went as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers 10 years ago and as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants after the 2000 season. Knowing what to expect in the lead-up to such a big game -- and in the contest itself -- led Fox to ask the group to speak to the team. “Well I think just relating the experiences – it’s a unique game, it’s a unique stage – just sharing those experiences for the younger players who may or may not have experienced that before," Fox said. The meeting was universally appreciated in the locker room. “It means a lot because I’ve been in the league a long time and I think I’ve won more games here in two years than I did in my career. And that is saying a lot," said safety Mike Adams, a 10th-year veteran. "So with them giving me knowledge and saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got to expect this. Or watch out for this. Or do that.’ I take heed to it. And I listen. And it’s all great information that they give you so again, I don’t want to be too wide-eyed and out there and lose focus. All that information is pertinent and it helps.” Wide receiver Andre Caldwell said the main advice given was to keep the same routine. "Don’t let the fact that it is the Super Bowl change anything," he said. "Keep doing what you’ve been doing all year. Prepare like you’ve been preparing and don’t worry about all the other stuff because once the game starts it's still football.” This week, some of the biggest distractions come in the form of ticket requests. They, predictably, flood in from all directions. But linebacker Steven Johnson said Thursday was the last day to deal with those logistics, so they'll be able to put it behind them as preparation for the Seattle Seahawks is officially underway. With the advice of the Broncos with Super Bowl experience in tow, now the team can focus solely on the task at hand. “They told us just to enjoy the process and talked about the schedule of the actual game day and just to remember that it is a business trip," team captain David Bruton said. "We go out there to take care of business. Enjoy the moment, enjoy everything about it, but it will be a lot more enjoyable if you come back with a win.” Reconnecting with Wilson By Stuart Zaas DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is well known to plenty of football fans and players around the league. But aside from his Seahawks teammates, running back Montee Ball and linebacker Nate Irving know him better than most. Ball and Irving each played college football with Wilson, albeit with different teams. Irving spent three seasons (2008-10) with Wilson at North Carolina State and Ball played one season with Wilson (2011) at Wisconsin. “Back when he was with me at Wisconsin, he displayed great qualities of a quarterback,” Ball recalled. “And I’m sure he’s doing the same thing over there.” Irving, who practiced against Wilson during their time together with the Wolfpack, noted that despite some critics’ concern regarding Wilson’s height, he knew the quarterback could excel at the next level. “It’s about making plays,” Irving said. “There are going to be different guys in there with different heights, different sizes, but he made a lot of plays in college and that is what the game is about – making plays.” That’s a sentiment that Ball echoed. “I’m not surprised,” Ball said. “He’s had that mindset his whole life.” Both players remembered Wilson being extremely focused during their times as teammates. “He was just a robot,” Ball said. “He was straight to business. He would joke around and stuff like that but he was really focused. You could see that – everyone could see that.” “He was at home, studying, at the facility looking at film or things like that,” Irving added. “He was always in the book.” While both spoke fondly of Wilson, Ball said that they haven’t talked since the season started as each was focused on his own team. “Once the season started no texting, none of that,” Ball said. “But beforehand, yeah – just because of the great relationship he had in college. At times I would ask him – once he took off – I’d ask him how the NFL was and all that stuff. Right now, he’s the enemy.” Players Tackle Ticket Requests By Mike Morris DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the locker room teemed with reporters and microphones at Dove Valley on Thursday, one of day’s the most popular questions posed to players centered on one very specific topic. The Seahawks? The team’s first day back at practice after taking Tuesday and Wednesday off? No, try the question that Shaun Phillips fielded instead. “Yeah, I got some random ticket requests,” the defensive end said. Part of the excitement and intensive preparation that players and coaches undergo each year in advance of the Super Bowl is arranging tickets to the big game for family members and loved ones. Tagging along with that process, however, are the inevitable ticket requests from all directions – including some from some rather unexpected sources. “I let my mom handle that,” Phillips said. “But the answer is no. If you didn’t get a ticket to game one, you’re not getting a ticket to the last game.” Phillips isn’t the only one on the team receiving a little maternal support in handling the matter. “Yeah – a lot of requests, but the good thing is that my mom is my ‘no’ person,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. “Once you tell people, ‘My mom is handling all the ticket stuff,’ they don’t even ask. They don’t even want to ask her. They try to put my back against the wall and ask me, ‘Remember that time I did this, remember that time I did that?’ I’m just like, ‘Yeah, my mom is handling it.’ They just stop asking after that.” With an inherently limited number of tickets compared to the number of requests players receive, saying ‘no’ isn’t always easy. “She’s saying no so I don’t have to be the bad guy,” Knighton said. It’s a bit easier, though, when requests are as off-the-wall as the one linebacker Nate Irving fielded in a text message from a random number that wasn’t even in his contacts list. “They wanted me to fly them out to the game and get them a ticket for them and some people,” Irving chuckled. Linebacker Steven Johnson laughed when asked if he had experienced anything quite that random. “No, not that bad,” Johnson said. “Not any high school girlfriends or coaches or anything like that. Just people who supported you, really. Even if you haven’t talked to them for a while because you’ve been busy and stuff like that – just people who support you and they just love you and want to be there for you.” And fortunately, other players agreed with Johnson that much of the outreach from friends and family has been positive support as opposed to ticket requests. “Not anything random, just a lot of different text messages, emails reaching out and congrats or whatever,” safety David Bruton said. “But nothing like people out of the woodwork asking, ‘Can you get me this ticket?’” Tackle Orlando Franklin even pointed out that many of his loved ones have been understanding that the quantity of tickets players have access to isn’t unlimited. “It’s been a little crazy,” Franklin said. “But at the same time, a lot of my family understands that we only get a certain amount of tickets and a lot of them actually prefer to stay at home.” Some players averted the situation by limiting the number of people who they would be able to find tickets for. “I kept it simple – just immediate family,” cornerback Tony Carter said. “It’s not a struggle for me.” “I have both my sisters, my parents, and a couple of friends,” running back Montee Ball added. But for players like Phillips who will play Super Bowl XLVIII only miles from their hometowns, it’s also a special opportunity for plenty of loved ones to see the defensive end play in the first Super Bowl of his career in person. “It’s pretty cool just because at this point in my career and to get to go to my first Super Bowl and to go back to my hometown, I think it’s huge,” he said. “Plus to get your mom to come see you, your high school coaches, brothers and sisters – it’s always a wonderful experience.” Broncos Used to Cold Weather By Brandon Moree DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Nine states have had the honor of hosting a Super Bowl and just 11 Super Bowls have been played in states not named Florida, California or Louisiana. Of those 11 games, just four were played in cities in northern states – Michigan (twice), Minnesota and Indiana. And of course, each of those games was played indoors. This year, at Super Bowl XLVIII, the game will be played outside in the cold weather for the first time. But the Broncos are no strangers to cold weather. “We’ve practiced in this and had to play in these types of conditions at different points in the year,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “So, any time you can have a similar situation you can simulate during practice which it might be during a game, it always is a good thing. Whether it is situational, two-minute situation, weather, whatever it is—it’s always a good thing.” Wednesday night, about three inches of snow fell at Dove Valley and the high for Thursday was 25 degrees. The Broncos practiced in the cold weather several times during the regular season and only once did they move indoors for a practice session. On Dec. 8, the Broncos squared off with the Titans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the wind chill was listed at 11 degrees. Not only did the Broncos win that game, kicker Matt Prater broke the NFL record for longest made field goal. “The Denver Broncos, we’re definitely weatherproof,” tackle Orlando Franklin said. “We live in a cold city. It snowed last night. We were outside for practice today. We definitely are used to a lot of different things being that we live here in Denver, Colorado.” The early predictions for Super Bowl Sunday are calling for a cold day with a small chance of precipitation. “It’s New York in February — it’ll be cold,” linebacker Nate Irving said. “That is all I need to know.” Whether it’s cold and snowing or hot and dry – though that’s less likely – the world championship will be on the line either way. The winner will lift the Lombardi Trophy and so the game, not the weather, is the focus right now. “I’m just happy to be in the Super Bowl,” cornerback Tony Carter said. “I wouldn’t care if we played wherever. Both teams have to play in this weather, whether it’s cold or it’s not. We’re just excited to be in this game.” 10 Ways to Spot a Broncos Fan in New York DenverBroncos.com January 23, 2014 Visit Denver has provided a list of ways to find other Bronco fans in New York. ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As Bronco fans from Denver head to the New York/New Jersey area for the Super Bowl, Visit Denver has provided fans with 10 easy was to spot fellow Coloradoans on the East Coast. 1. They’re thin. Denver consistently ranks in top 10 lists for healthy, active and thinnest residents of any major city, and Colorado is the thinnest state. 2. They’re tan. Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year – more hours of annual sun than San Diego or Miami Beach. 3. They have healthy calves from biking. Denver had the nation’s first citywide bike sharing program and currently has more than 800 bikes available at 83 stations throughout the city. There are 850 miles of paved, off-street bike trails in metro Denver. 4. They’re wearing their good jeans. Denver epitomizes urban casual. It is a laid back city where you will see people in jeans at the office… or the opera. 5. They have a return airline ticket in their pocket. Sure, New York is great, but this is powder season, and no Coloradan stays away for long at this time of year. 6. They might order a “growler” in a bar. Denver brews more beer than any other city and has 29 breweries in the downtown area. More than 200 different beers are brewed in Denver every day. (A “growler” is a container used to take away fresh craft beer from a brewpub – something people do regularly in The Mile High City.) 7. They’ll know who James Beard is. Denver’s growing reputation for chefowned restaurants increased in 2013 when chef Jen Jasinski of Rioja won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest (and followed it up as a finalist on Top Chef Masters). More than a dozen Denver chefs have had the honor of cooking in New York’s James Beard House. 8. They’ll be stopping people on the street to ask, “Which way is West?” From almost anywhere in Denver, you can see the mountains to the west. Denverites will be lost without their mountain panorama, which is 125 miles long and contains more than 200 named peaks. 9. They’re as likely to be at Lincoln Center as MetLife Stadium. As a gold rush town, Denver had a performance of Macbeth before it had a school or a hospital. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is second only to New York’s Lincoln Center, offering ten venues that seat 10,000 people for theatre, opera, symphony and dance. 10.They’re wearing something orange. Denver has seven professional sports teams, more than just about any other city in America. The Broncos have sold out every game for 44 seasons, the second longest sellout streak in NFL history. Learn more about The Mile High City at VISITDENVER.com.
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