Peyton Manning sounds like a man who knows destiny is about to bring him to a crossroads.
He comes to the Indianapolis Colts’ facility and he sounds like a man who realizes that a place that once was home is no longer there.
There are people, but no longer his people. There are players, but no longer his players. There are coaches, but no longer his coaches. He is owned $28 million by the Colts in March but if they decide not to pay up — and he has no idea if they will — the four-time league MVP will officially be a man without a team.
Unofficially, he already is a man without a team, a man with a front-row seat to a franchise in flux. “I guess it’s the reality of the football world, just not something I’ve had to deal with very often. But I’m in there every day, so I have to sit there and see it. Everybody’s being evaluated and I’m no different. It’s not the best environment,” he told the Indianapolis Star.
He talked about all the players who have been let go. And he is not a happy man.
“I just want to pay tribute to all those guys. It’s unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so ... sudden. Their keys didn’t work the next day. There’s no other way to do it? I don’t know. That’s hard to see, all these people leaving.
“And I may be behind them. Who knows?”
The departure of coach Jim Caldwell, GM Bill Polian and Marvin Harrison have left Manning scarred emotionally.
“I’m not in a very good place for healing, let’s say that,’’ Manning told the newspaper. “It’s not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least. Everybody’s walking around on eggshells. I don’t recognize our building right now. There’s such complete and total change.’’
This does not sound like a man expecting to again be handed the keys to the franchise. This sounds like a man who knows that what once was, is no more.
UNDERDOGS USED TO WINNING
Justin Tuck isn’t feeling the love.
And, he likes it that way.
Giants defensive end said at his news conference Tuesday it doesn’t bother him a bit that the Patriots are the favourites at Super Bowl XLVI.
Tuck said the Giants thrive on being underdogs. “A lot of people haven’t given us a shot, and I think we kind of like it that way,” Tuck said. “So for all you oddsmakers out there, just keep rooting against us.”
The Patriots are listed at around three-point favoUrites in most gambling circles. The Giants do have one vocal backer in Baltimore Ravens’ Bernard Pollard. “I really hope the Giants (wins). I just hope,” Pollard said on radio, “they just put a thrashing on the Patriots. I really do. To lose to a team like that the way we played. We played a good game.”
Pollard and Patriots’ fans have had a hate on for each other for years. He wrecked Tom Brady’s knee in 2008, then ripped Brady as a pretty boy before last Sunday’s game and rolled over on Rob Gronkowski’s leg while making a tackle.
He said to Patriots fans, “If you don’t like it? So what.”
Meantime Tuck has reason for his optimism. The Giants have been the underdogs three times during their current five-game winning streak, against the Jets, Packers and 49ers. They were also the underdogs in Week 9, when they earned a regular-season win over the Patriots.
They were underdogs when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago.
For the Giants it seems history has a way of repeating itself in the most wonderful ways.
RETIREMENT IS THE PITTS
The Pittsburgh Steelers last week announced that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had retired.
Just one problem.
Arians didn’t know he was actually retiring.
The Steelers former offensive coordinator told the York Daily Record that owner Art Rooney II didn’t offer him a contract for the 2012 season and wouldn’t tell him why. “I can’t answer that question,” Arians said. “Only the people there can. That’s the business. I know the job we did as a staff. I don’t have any regrets.”
In other words he didn’t retire so much as he was forced to quit.
Arians said head coach Mike Tomlin wanted him to stay but Rooney over-ruled him. The move is reported in a Pittsburgh newspaper as being unpopular as well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is both a friend and neighbour of Arians,
“He’s not happy, but that’s part of the business,” Arians said. “He lives around the corner and we’ll still see each other a lot. The phone is always there when he needs me.”
NFLPA TAKES A POUND-ING
Canadian International Olympic Committee member, Dick Pound, is blowing the whistle on the NFL players’ association for delay of game.
An outspoken critic of North American professional sports and its glacial pace in embracing doping tests and punishment, Pound claims union lawyers used delaying tactics to prevent testing this year for human growth hormone.
Writing in Play True Magazine, the official publication of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Pound said the players’ union is trying to delay the procedure by wrongly saying the tests were unreliable.
“The NFLPA have turned to their ubiquitous lawyers to throw as much sand as money can buy into the gears of an effective testing program,” Pound wrote in a column on the WADA website (www.wada-ama.org). “So, the lawyers, in a feat of self-generated alchemy, have turned themselves into scientists and now spout supposedly principled concerns about the reliability of scientific tests for HGH.”
The NFLPA issued a rebuttal, arguing that the tests had not been independently validated and neither Pound nor WADA had provided satisfactory answers.
“The players are not going to let the Dick Pound self-promotional tour derail the principles we believe in related to a clean and fair game,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told Reuters. “Our players and scientists have asked WADA for information and transparency. The response from WADA and Dick Pound has been limited to childish public statements that are thickheaded and false.”
Pound said the tests had been validated by independent scientists in 2004 and any suggestion they were unreliable was false.
Remember Shawntae Spencer?
Don’t worry. The 49ers’ coaching staff forgot about the cornerback this year, too. As a result, Spencer believes he may never again play in a San Francisco uniform.
Spencer had started every game in 2009 and 2010 after being drafted by the 49ers in 2004. But with Jim Harbaugh’s new coaching staff came in, Spencer first went out of the starting lineup, then out of uniform for the playoffs.
“It’s like dating the same girl all through junior high and high school and then come senior year, she’s dating another guy,” Spencer said. “I’ve played right corner since I got here.”