AFC SOUTH BLOG
Twitter mailbag: Biggest impact free agents
Former Jaguar Aaron Ross apologizes for ‘vacation’ comment
Researchers consulted with law firms
NFL contract rules could help Matt Barkley, other QBs, get drafted in first round
Joe Flacco to portray Johnny Unitas in upcoming movie
Divisional needs: AFC South preview
Tags: aaron ross, AFC South, daily clips, indianapolis colts, jacksonville jaguars, joe flacco, johnny unitas, kevin thomas, Matt Barkley, NFL, Peyton Manning, philip rivers, rob gronkowski, san diego chargers
Posted in Colts Blog
Jeff Saturday said Thursday the most meaningful statistic he was a part of with the Colts was the 170 starts he and Peyton Manning had as a QB-C tandem.
Not only did they set the NFL record for the most starts by a tandem, the Colts were 120-50 for a .706 winning percentage in those games. The Colts made two Super Bowls, too. Not bad.
Here are some of the other tandems they passed along the way:
(Games/Duo/W-L Record/Pct./# of Super Bowls)
160, Fran Tarkenton/Mick Tingelhoff, Minnesota, 85-65-6, .550, 3 SBs
157, Jim Kelly/Kent Hull, Buffalo, 99-58, .631, 4 SBs
123, Brett Favre/Frank Winters, Green Bay, 82-41, .667, 2 SBs
120, Steve Bartkowski/Jeff Van Note, Atlanta, 55-65, .458, 0 SBs
106, Phil Simms/Bart Oates, N.Y. Giants, 70-36, .660, 1 SB
105, Dan Fouts/Don Macek, San Diego, 63-42, .600, 0 SBs
While Manning directed a high-flying offense that specialized in audibles that took the snap clock perilously near zero, Saturday was making line calls, too.
Fans in the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium knew to remain silent while the offense was a work. At times, their anxiety bubbled up as the final seconds expired on the clock.
Opposing crowds ramped up the noise to try and disrupt the well-oiled machine. No dice.
It was a sight to behold – for a decade.
Manning often said the statistic that mattered the most to him was being able to start the first 208 games of his career, an NFL record for any position. It meant a great deal to him because he was being paid to perform, plus his teammates counted on him. The fans did, too.
Durability means a great deal to any professional athlete, and it was refreshing to hear Saturday speak the same language yesterday.
Saturday mentioned the AFC Championship game win over New England trumped everything for him, including winning Super Bowl XLI.
While he has a ring for that win, plus a conference championship ring for the 2009 season, along with numerous Pro Bowl citations, Saturday says moments along the way meant much more than anything done on the field.
“All the rewards you get, the Pro Bowls, All-Pros, the Super Bowls, are fantastic,” said Saturday. “You love to be able to share that with the fans. The relationships far exceed any of that.
“The time you spend in the locker room, all the stories you have, the different experiences on plane flights and bus trips, at training camps, all those moments solidify relationships with men who now are some of my closest friends. The relationships definitely out-weigh the wins and losses on the field. Those moments are unbelievable.”
Tags: Jeff Saturday, Peyton Manning
Posted in Colts Blog
In playing 51 games at Notre Dame, predominantly in the middle of the Irish defense, Manti Te’o rarely found himself far from center stage.
Today will be no different at Lucas Oil Stadium. Te’o will be the focus of attention by a healthy percentage of the 800-plus credentialed media at the combine.
It will be anything but off-Broadway, or off-Capitol Street in the case of Indianapolis.
There have been interview attractions through the years. Before players were put into a podium structure, they were backed into corners of hotel areas while media pounced.
In 1998, Peyton Manning was up against wall in the restaurant of the Holiday Inn Crowne Center as NFL scribes worked him over. Manning handled it with his typical aplomb for 20 minutes. Last year, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III held structured availabilities that drew masses.
Today, Te’o may set a record.
Te’o will cut through the crowd to address questions likely not too related to his measurables. It will be necessary for the personal matter he has endured over the past few weeks.
Players from Notre Dame are famous for their poise. Te’o should play his own game. He has done well to this point in a difficult situation, and observers should expect nothing different today.
Personnel evaluators will have their chances with him in private interviews. Many, such as John Elway, were prominent collegians, too. They remember the challenges of youth, and they now are charged with bringing young adults into a very professional, competitive business.
“I just want to talk to him,” said Elway. “Personally, I don’t get caught up in everything that is swirling around him. I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him.
“I know him as a football player. He’s a very good football player. He’s going to have a successful career in the NFL.”
Today will not be the first time Te’o has been in this public position, and it won’t be his last.
Former teammate Tyler Eifert drew less notice on Friday when he met with combine media, and he feels Te’o is holding up well.
“Manti is one of my good friends and he’s a good person with a good heart. He’s just got stuck in a bad situation,” said Eifert. “He’s doing great. I’m sure he’ll be a little bit nervous, but there is nothing for him to be nervous about. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of questions about it. He’s a smart, smart guy. He didn’t do anything wrong. But he’ll be able to answer those questions.”
Tags: John Elway, Manti Te'o, Peyton Manning, Tyler Eifert
Posted in Colts Blog
Denver had an excitingly difficult season in 2012, going 13-3, owning home-field playoff advantage and then losing in overtime in the first round, giving up a late long touchdown pass in regulation.
The Broncos watched Baltimore move on to win Super Bowl XLVII, and General Manager John Elway remembers the feeling. He wants his team to do so, too.
“I don’t want to forget last year. I don’t want our team to forget it,” said Elway. “I want them to realize it was a great year, but also forget the feeling of what happened in the playoff game. Be able to learn from it. Hopefully, we can build on it and get better as we did in ’96. 1997 and 1998 were (Super Bowl-winning) years. I hope we can learn like we did (back then).”
Elway is earning his spurs as a league executive. He is competing in a division with two new head coaches, including Andy Reid in Kansas City.
Elway feels better at this combine than at past combines with the state of his roster, but now is no time to feel safe.
“We have to get better because everybody is. 13-3 is not good enough,” said Elway. “It was nice we won the division and had home-field advantage but when you lose in the first round of the playoffs, you have to get better.
“We have to learn to play in the post-season. You can be good in the regular season and I said it last year, ‘We make our money in the regular season. You make your legacy in the post-season as a player.’
“That’s why what we experienced in the first round was important. You have to be tough. The expectations rise. You don’t have next week. You have to learn to play with sudden death, which is, ‘There is no next week.’ That’s why great teams flourish in the playoffs.”
Elway won titles in his final two seasons. His quarterback, Peyton Manning, has one title in an illustrious career.
Elway watched Manning star in the same city where he shaped his own legacy.
“He had a tremendous year. Talking to other guys who have been through what he’s been through with that neck, there was a lot more to it than I knew,” said Elway. “I think he exceeded expectations now that I know what he had to go through, not so much physically but mentally.
“He did a tremendous job. I’m looking forward to next year, too. I think he’s going to get better. … Peyton had a lot to do with where we (were.)”
Elway feels quarterbacks now entering the league are better prepared than before. His school turned one out in Andrew Luck, and Elway is among many who anticipate next year’s Colts-Broncos clash in Indianapolis.
“It will be special. I’m sure it will be special for Peyton,” said Elway. “Any time you spend as long as Peyton did in Indianapolis and the relationship he has, to go somewhere else and play had to be tough.
“Those are two guys (Luck and Manning) I have a great amount of respect for. Andrew coming out was as good as there’s been in a long time. You saw that last year in the year he had. He was tremendous. They go from 2-14 to 11-5, not only with Ryan Grigson doing a great job but with what Andrew did.”
Tags: Denver Broncos, indianapolis colts, John Elway, Peyton Manning, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog
Alabama offensive tackle Barrett Jones was one of the reasons for Alabama’s success in 2012. The Crimson Tide won the national title.
Jones started 13 games at center, while his other 36 career starts came at right guard and left tackle.
Jones spoke at the combine on Thursday and was asked his favorite NFL team growing up.
Citing his Tennessee roots, Jones said he followed the Colts because of Peyton Manning. Asked later players he patterned himself after, Jones said Jeff Saturday specifically.
Saturday anchored the line for years in front of Manning, and an impressionable Jones certainly noticed.
One other parallel for Jones with Manning and Saturday was the in-game dust-up he had in the title game with quarterback A.J. McCarron. Jones and McCarron had a brief “discussion” during the Tide’s 42-14 win over Notre Dame.
The significance of the moment dissipated before the players returned to the sideline. It was reminiscent of the bench-area “discussion” Manning and Saturday had during the Colts’ 2005 game against St. Louis.
Captured by NFL Films and shown since, that moment for Manning and Saturday, too, blew over quickly. It is an amusing piece of film now. At the time, not so funny.
Jones tweaked the media about the matter Thursday, saying he wondered how long it would take for the question to be asked. He referred to the matter as, ‘Push-gate.”
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Barrett Jones, indianapolis colts, Jeff Saturday, Peyton Manning
Posted in Colts Blog
Today is President’s Day, causing me to remember a special occasion for the Indianapolis Colts.
After winning Super Bowl XLI in 2007, the team was invited to the traditional White House visit made by championship teams.
There, the team would be hosted by President George W. Bush.
The date was April 23 and if President Bush ever had a slow day, this may have been one of them. One week earlier, his day had been marred by the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech.
It was a beautiful day in the nation’s capital and after visiting soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, our entourage hit the White House about 1:00 p.m.
The players, coaches and staff toured the White House prior to the ceremony on the South Lawn.
It was a great time seeing the White House in a way many people never will have the chance to see it. It was fun watching the reaction of our guys. None acted like a caddy at Bushwood.
Joseph Addai chided Peyton Manning that he had been there before. Addai had been part of the LSU football contingent that visited after winning the 2003 national championship. Manning kept asking Joe to knock it off since it was his first time visiting on such an occasion. I think Joe enjoyed applying the needle.
The team assembled on the South Lawn and waited for President Bush to arrive for the ceremony. We were prepared for his arrival and waited to present him with a jersey and a specially-made wooden Stetson.
As many presidents are, Mr. Bush was pleasant, witty and a warm host. When the ceremony was done, I was to take Tony Dungy to do an on-line chat as well as a group of players to meet the media outside the West Wing. The rest of the travel party was to go back to our buses.
This is when a special day became even more so.
The group going to meet the media included Dungy, Bill Polian, Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, Adam Vinatieri, Dwight Freeney and Jeff Saturday. (That Bill chose to meet the media was amusing to me.)
After taking a few moments to assemble the bunch, we were moving past the Rose Garden and were ready to enter a door when someone to our left whistled like a coach and shouted, “Hey, where are you boys going?”
Stopping, we saw President Bush standing with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and he was holding a door open.
He motioned for us to join him, and we passed through the door and into the Oval Office.
Having home turf advantage to the extreme, President Bush spent 25 minutes telling us stories about the room and moments related to him and other presidents.
He talked about the artwork, how each president chooses the color scheme, and he spent time explaining decorations that adorned his office.
He spoke about his desk which went back through many presidencies.
At one point, I glanced at my watch. It was 3:45 p.m. I wondered what I would be doing the next day at this very time since where I was standing at the moment likely was going to be a bit more special.
A White House photographer captured the action, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined the group.
To this day, I can recall President Bush’s comments almost word-for-word. It was that compelling.
President Bush shook our hands as the occasion adjourned. It was off to the on-line chat and the assembled reporters. Five buses of people had to wonder where we were.
President Bush was not the first to host a sports team. He is not the last as well, and it is a special moment when the leader of the free world can make time for small ceremonies.
Thank you again, sir, and here’s hoping the Colts get that moment again. If so, we can take Joe Addai. He knows the layout quite well.
By the way, on Tuesday, April 24 at 3:45 p.m., I was in my office. I volunteered to write a free agent biography for our media guide. I waited until that very time to do it, so I could be truthful whenever I relayed the anecdote. I specifically chose Craphonso Thorpe, a nice kid (who made the team) but one whose first name I thought added to the story.
Happy President’s Day.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Polian, Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett, indianapolis colts, Jeff Saturday, Joseph Addai, Peyton Manning, President George W. Bush, Tony Dungy
Posted in Colts Blog
The 1999 off-season was a dramatic period in Colts history, though not many more than two people were involved.
That was when Peyton Manning (entering his second year) and Marvin Harrison worked tirelessly and created a portion of the telepathy that haunted the NFL for years.
The off-season work on the club’s practice field resulted in 115 completions for 1,663 yards and 12 touchdowns that year.
The duo combined for 953 completions for 12,766 yards and 112 touchdowns in 158 games together, totals that stand as NFL records.
Chuck Pagano now has a new second-year quarterback in Andrew Luck. Luck set the NFL rookie passing mark in 2012 with 4,374 yards, snapping Manning’s rookie total of 3,739 along the way.
Workout rules are different now, but Pagano expects Luck to use the off-season to do much of the same thing.
“It’s never going to be the same as it was (in 1999 with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison) just because of rules and the way the CBA is set up now,” said Pagano. “They just don’t let you throw and catch anymore as much as they used to.”
Pagano was one of many coaches who felt the wrath of Manning-to-Harrison.
“They could just look at each other and be on the same page with no communication at all,” said Pagano. “You have that many throws and catches, I used to marvel when we played them back in the day.
“The different places I’ve been, I watched them go through pre-game. Pre-game was just fun for me. They’d run the whole route tree and go up and down the field. You knew exactly what was coming, but you still couldn’t stop it from a defense’s perspective.”
Luck represents a significant portion of the new era for the Colts. He follows in the heritage of John Unitas, Bert Jones, Earl Morrall and Manning, and Pagano sees Luck being the ringleader for off-season chemistry.
“These guys are going to get together at some point somewhere, but it’s never going to be the same as it used to be,” said Pagano. “I think through OTAs, training camp and seasons the longer this group is together, especially the young tight ends and receivers, the chemistry will start to improve year in and year out.
“The way the CBA is set up and the restrictions they put on you, it makes it harder to accomplish and build that bond.”
Manning and Harrison became the first QB-WR duo to top 10,000 passing yards. They are the only one to surpass 100 touchdown connections.
The second NFL duo to reach 10,000 passing yards was Manning and Reggie Wayne. They totaled 10,602 yards in 157 games.
Manning’s first year was Harrison’s third, and they played for 11 seasons. Manning’s fourth year was Wayne’s first, and they played for 10 years.
Luck and Wayne intersected in 2012, combining for 1,355 yards. Father time will prevent Wayne from reaching 10,000 yards with a second quarterback, but Luck has young targets who one day may approach the milestone.
Regardless, Pagano sees Luck working within the rules to conjure telepathy of his own.
“There’s no doubt (Andrew will do that, too). He’ll orchestrate that,” said Pagano. “Those guys being on the same page and developing that chemistry, that’s how you get to the point where Manning and Harrison or Manning and Reggie (Wayne) got.
“I have no doubt in my mind that when it comes to that, Andrew will do what he has to do to make that happen.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne
Posted in Colts Blog
A report in San Francisco says Candlestick Park will be demolished after this coming season.
The Colts are playing the 49ers this year, so this looks to be the last visit for the franchise to the charming venue. The 49ers are scheduled to move into a new facility in Santa Clara for the 2014 season.
The Colts and 49ers started playing in 1953, meeting twice annually from then until 1969. The early meetings were held in Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park.
Candlestick Park was built in 1960, and the 49ers began playing there in 1971. After 17 meetings in Kezar, the Colts played in Candlestick (later 3COM and Monster Park) on four occasions, earning a 1-3 record.
The accommodations in Candlestick are as rustic as the stadium is historic. The football locker rooms are located down the first-base side of the field and those needing to get to the press box must venture through the stands to a small elevator which inches upward.
The Colts lost there in 1972 in their first appearance. In 1986 with Juice Newton singing the anthem and Eddie Money performing at halftime, rookies Jack Trudeau and Bill Brooks hooked up on an 84-yard TD connection in a 35-14 setback. It still stands as the longest TD pass by a Colts rookie, though Marshall Faulk topped Brooks’ reception with an 85-yarder from Jim Harbaugh in 1994.
In 1998, rookie Peyton Manning had three touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison (four, six and 61 yards), while Faulk had a 65-yard touchdown run to open the game. A 21-0 Colts lead in the first half was largely negated when controversial holding calls wiped out interceptions that led to two 49ers touchdowns just before halftime. San Francisco won on a field goal with five seconds remaining.
Manning tied the club rookie marks of John Unitas and Jeff George with the scoring tosses. Head Coach Jim Mora verbally assaulted the officials after the game for the calls that overturned the two takeaways. He did not draw a fine for his comments.
The Colts cruised to a 28-3 win in 2005 in their last appearance in the venerable structure, with Manning throwing for 255 yards, Edgerrin James rushing for 105 and Cato June returning an interception for a score.
Andrew Luck played at nearby Stanford, and he should draw the starting call when the Colts visit Candlestick for the last time.
Candlestick will join a number of stadiums in which the Colts have played in their Indianapolis era that have been consigned to NFL history – the RCA Dome, Sun Devil (Arizona), Fulton County (Atlanta), Riverfront/Cinergy (Cincinnati), Municipal/Cleveland (Cleveland), Texas (Dallas), Mile High (Denver), Silverdome (Detroit), County (Milwaukee), Astrodome (Houston), Orange Bowl (Miami), Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro (New England), Giants (Giants/Jets), LA Memorial Coliseum (Raiders relocated), Anaheim (Rams relocated), Veterans (Philadelphia), Three Rivers (Pittsburgh), Kingdome (Seattle), Tampa (Tampa Bay), D.C./R.F.K (Washington). (The Colts also played Seattle in Husky Stadium and Carolina at Clemson while those franchises were having new homes built.)
Tip a hat to a venue that saw greats like Joe Montana, Willy Mays, Willie McCovey and Jerry Rice.
“The Catch” may have been its greatest moment. Using a phrase from the Bay Area as it relates to this year’s Colts-49ers tussle, “Just win, baby.”
Tags: Candlestick Park, John Unitas, Peyton Manning, RCA Dome, San Francisco 49ers
Posted in Colts Blog