SUPER BOWL NOTES: Manning takes good care of his offensive linemen
AP Sports Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Mystery solved. Turns out, there’s a reason Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning gets sacked less than any other starter in the league.
A lot of reasons, actually.
“Watches. Suits, custom suits. Stereo systems. Sony Blu-ray players before they even got on the market,” Colts left guard Ryan Lilja said Thursday, at the final day of player availability before Indianapolis and New Orleans meet Sunday in the Super Bowl. “He takes care of his guys.”
So in turn, “his guys” – the Indianapolis offensive line – take care of the four-time NFL MVP.
It is one of the unwritten rules of football, pretty much from high school all the way to the pros, that the quarterback tries to find some way to keep his blockers happy. Methods can range from simply carrying their practice gear every now and again, to picking up the tab on chicken wing night, to the time-honored NFL traditions (remember Dan Marino’s ads for Isotoner gloves?) of more lavish gifts.
Clearly, bribes work.
Manning was sacked 10 times during the regular season, by far the fewest among starters who played all 16 games. Next fewest? New England’s Tom Brady, 16 times.
“There’s a mutual respect there with him and us,” Lilja said. “We know how good he is and how good he can be and how good he will be, so you want to keep the guy clean and let him do his thing. You don’t want to be the guy who lets him get hit or sacked, because of who he is and what he’s done and how he treats us. We want to see him break as many league records as he can.”
The Colts say Manning will soon have a new contract that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, which made Lilja’s ears perk up upon receipt of that news.
Manning’s loaded already.
But if he gets richer, could the gifts get even better?
“It’s a little presumptuous to expect him to give you gifts every year,” Lilja said. “But we do.”
SUPER PREDICTION: If video games can be believed, here’s what the news will be when the Super Bowl is finished: “David Thomas caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl by beating the Indianapolis Colts 35-31 on Sunday night.”
So sayeth “Madden NFL 10,” anyway.
The popular Electronic Arts game, which has accurately predicted the Super Bowl champion in five of the last six years, says Brees will be the MVP.
And EA adds that it correctly simulated the outcomes of the AFC and NFC championship games, within three points.
ENJOYING HURRICANES, FOR A CHANGE: Saints coach Sean Payton wore a Miami Hurricanes shirt and visor during practice at the university’s campus this week, and New Orleans players have taken over the ‘Canes locker room.
Some enterprising Miami players have taken to Twitter to ask that gifts be left behind.
Defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke wrote on his feed that whomever uses his locker should leave at least some gloves behind.
Miami coach Randy Shannon, who knows people on both the Indianapolis and New Orleans coaching staffs, says he doesn’t have a rooting preference.
“I’m even now,” Shannon said. “There’s guys from the University of Miami on each team.”
There’s some benefits to having the Saints use Miami’s facilities, Shannon said, even noting that it came up during recruiting. However, don’t expect the ‘Canes to share any inside information before kickoff, since watching New Orleans’ practice has been strictly forbidden and teams of officers keep all prying eyes at bay.
HELPING HANDS: AARP and the NFL Players Association announced plans Thursday to further “encourage volunteerism, service, community involvement and giving back.”
Calling it ‘Create The Good,’ former and current NFL players will align with AARP to help out in their local communities all year.
“All NFL players, both active and retired, believe in the importance of giving back to their communities,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “And AARP’s Create The Good initiative will allow our players to continue the good work they do alongside the fans who cheer them on.”
Plans call for events to begin during April in 17 communities around the country, with more scheduled throughout the year.
TROPHY DISPLAY: The Saints and Colts are here for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That isn’t the only one on display this weekend.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and the Izod IndyCar Championship trophies for 2010 went on display Thursday on Miami Beach, and are expected to be visited and seen by thousands of fans before Super Bowl Sunday.
Both auto racing trophies will be awarded this fall at Homestead-Miami Speedway, about a half-hour drive south of downtown Miami.
BY THE NUMBERS: More media outlets were accredited to cover this Super Bowl than ever before, the NFL said.
A record total of 659 media organizations had applications accepted to be in Miami for the New Orleans-Indianapolis game, with 4,705 journalists credentialed in all.
That’s the second-most individual reporters ever: The Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. two years ago drew 4,786.
LAST WORD: Giants quarterback Eli Manning, whose brother Peyton will lead the Colts into Sunday’s Super Bowl: “It was in Miami three years ago the Colts won, and the next year we won the Super Bowl. So I hope it all goes that way again.”