SHOVE FROM ABOVE
Elway doesn’ t want Peyton to have 2 nd thoughts
PeytonManning will have a news conference Monday to announce his retirement, but Broncos vice president John Elway didn’t waste any time issuing a statement Sunday. Not a bad move if you’re worried that a worndown, 39- year- old quarterback might have second thoughts about his decision.
“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Elway said. “Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more— not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.’’
Try mounting a fourth- quarter comeback against that, Peyton.
It’s hard for professional athletes to let go, even when they’re going out on top. But it’s easier when there isn’t much of a market for your services. The Broncos didn’t want Manning back, even though he was the starting quarterback on their Super Bowl 50 team. Brock Osweiler is their future.
As Manning surely found out while trying to gauge interest in him, not many teams want an 18- year veteran whose passes break few speed- limit postings. The teams that might want a veteran to help mentor a young quarterback— the Browns, with the second overall draft pick, come to mind— usually are struggling organizations with the kind of talent deficit that can leave a quarterback in a heap.
Manning’s reputation has taken a hit in the last year. He had to respond to a report that human growth hormone had been delivered to his home ( he denies using HGH), and a 20- year- old sexual- harassment accusation against him was resurrected. Had he played another season, those stories would have lingered.
No, this is the right decision, even if it was a decision made for him. He’d probably play 10more seasons if he could. Football is what he does. Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings is 37 with three children andwill be competing in her fifth Summer Olympics this year. Why? Because she can.
Manning can’t play at a high level anymore. Anyone who watched the Super Bowl knows that. Now he walks away a winner on the field, with his body more or less intact. Smart move, even if it took a shove.
Injuries undercut Bulls’ potential in the East
There was something almost wistful about the Bulls’ victory Saturday. Their starting lineup did amean imitation of an NBA contender’s starting lineup: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol and Mike Dunleavy, with Nikola Mirotic coming off the bench.
That was surely what everyone
had in mind when the Bulls began the season. First- year Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg dreamed of that lineup when he took the job. He left room for a healthy Joakim Noah in his reverie.
But even though the Bulls had almost everybody together for what felt like the first time in eons, there was a strong sense of what might have been. Where would this team be if everyone had stayed healthy? Challenging the Cavaliers for Eastern Conference dominance? Thinking big thoughts about the playoffs? Sigh. We might as well have been wondering what theworld would be like if pigs could fly.
A pig in a Bulls uniform would be grounded by a bum wing. The Bulls can’t stay healthy. That’s not a fluke. That’s a hallmark of this team, as much as Gasol’s doubledoubles are and as much as the lack of anything resembling team defense is.
Maybe getting the band back together will turn into something good, and perhaps the 31- 30 Bulls, with 21 games left, will work their way up in the conference playoff seedings. But there were too many games lost to injury to offer much in the way of confidence. And there was too much uneven basketball when the key players were healthy to give hope.
It’s hard not to cringe every time a Bull stays down on the floor too long, as Rose did against the Rockets. He got up after falling hard on his tailbone, but do you have faith that he’ll get up the next time? If you do, I’ll have what you’re having.
Let’s think small and hope the Bulls will entertain us the rest of the way. But trust them? Not a chance.
At Illinois, Lovie will have to find a little personality
Let’s get this out of the way: Rex Grossman has no college eligibility left. Lovie Smith’s “Rex is our quarterback’’ mantra was a running joke during his tenure as the Bears’ head coach, but no matter how stubborn Smith can be with his personnel decisions, Rex will not be his quarterback at Illinois. But don’t hold me to that. That’s about all we know as the Illini prepare to make Smith their football coach. The rest of it is a bit of a mystery. The biggest question remains Lovie’s ability to recruit. A coach has to be willing to tell a recruit that he, the recruit, is God’s gift to football. He has to tell a fourstar quarterback that they can’t live without each other. Hell, he has to be able to tell a preferred walkon that the lad can walk on water. Raising the question, just how much of his soul is Lovie willing to sell?
That’s part of a larger overriding question: How much is he willing to put into this? It’s not just the hours. It’s the energy necessary to be texting recruits, to be talking a homesick freshman out of leaving school and to be chatting up program donors at a 7 a. m. breakfast in May. To be debating playing time with parents!
Smith has potential positives that most other college coaches don’t.
After two stints as an NFL coach, he’ll be able to tell a recruit that he knows how to turn players into pros. But that alone isn’t going to seal the deal. There has to be a suggestion of a personality from the stone- faced coach, and he’ll have to pick one off the rack. That matters at the college level. Charm and salesmanship matter.
Smith will bring initial credibility to Illinois. He will not bring guaranteed results.
Oft- injured Derrick Rose fell to the floor Saturday night against the Houston Rockets but got back up.