According to a report in The Denver Post, Peyton Manning will return to the Broncos next season if he passes his annual physical examination.

Manning, 38, was noncommittal following his team’s loss to the Colts in the AFC divisional round on Jan. 11. Reportedly slowed by a leg injury, Manning struggled as the Broncos suffered the upset. Coach John Fox was fired shortly thereafter, replaced by Gary Kubiak.

Manning missed the entire 2011 season, his last as a member of the Colts, following neck surgery.

The Broncos need to know Manning’s status before March 10, when his $19 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Eli Manning does a lot more to his footballs than just underinflate them. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Eli Manning does a lot more to his footballs than just underinflate them. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

NY Times, November 2013When Eli Manning drops back to throw his first pass Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the football in his hands will be as familiar as an old friend. 

That is because the ball has been scoured, scrubbed, soaked and seasoned, a breaking-in process that takes months and ensures that every ball used by the Giants in a game will meet Manning’€™s exact preferences. The leather will have been softened, the grip enhanced and the overall feel painstakingly assessed. 

For every N.F.L. game, each team has 12 to 20 balls that it has meticulously groomed and prepared according to the needs of its starting quarterback. The balls, brushed and primed using various obvious and semisecret techniques, bear the team logo and are switched out from sideline to sideline depending on which team is on offense.

That means that from series to series, the ball in play can feel wholly different, but each team’€™s quarterback always has a ball prepped by his equipment staff the way he likes it. … If a coach looking for a ball at practice should unwittingly approach one of the bags, the team’€™s equipment director, Joe Skiba, will pounce: “Get away, those are Eli’€™s game balls.”

Skiba added: “No one is allowed to touch those balls. They’€™re precious jewels. Too much work has gone into them.” …

Manning said he has never gotten the wrong ball in a game.

“I would know,” he said.

Let’s review, shall we?

Quarterback A, let’s call him Aaron, admits he likes footballs that have more air pressure in them than the NFL allows and defies the officials to do anything about it. This story is repeated by a network’s No. 1 broadcast team as a funny little anecdote in the middle of a Patriots game, but no one can remember hearing it because it just wasn’t that important. Aaron remains an adored media darling and his coach and team are revered throughout the land.

Quarterback B, let’s say his name is Brad, confesses he shelled out $7,500 in bribes to doctor up the 100 footballs he used when he won a Super Bowl. The universe shrugs and the coach he won it with is the toast of the football broadcasting world.

Quarterback E, Eli, if you will, has equipment guys scour, scrub, soak, season, fold, spindle, mutilate and guard his footballs with their lives. He and his coach are the heroes of a nation for the two times they vanquished the evil menace known as …

Quarterback T,  for Tom, may or may not have started the AFC championship game with non-conforming footballs, but once they were removed from the game he went 12-for-14 for 155 yards, two touchdowns and 28 points in a half without them. For that, he and his coach are the cheatingest Cheatriots that ever cheated and there’s talk they should be killed with fire, their fields salted and their families banished from the land.

Is it unfair? Is there a double, quadruple and probably even googletruple standard at work here? Absolutely. But like I said before, I’m over wanting the world to like the Patriots. Embrace the hate. Brady doctors the footballs just like every other quarterback doctors the football. But he does it better. He does it winning more games, more playoff games, throwing more postseason touchdowns and God-willing winning more Super Bowls than anyone else. As a wise man once said, if you ain’t cheating by messin’ with the football, you ain’t tryin’.

When Brady does it, it’s a scandal. When the rest of the world does it, there’s nothing to see here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

@JerryThornton1

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
Brad Johnson is an admitted Super Bowl cheater. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Brad Johnson is an admitted Super Bowl cheater. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Pro Football Talk Former Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson has admitted to paying a bribe to have the footballs tampered with before the 2003 Super Bowl.

Johnson, whose Buccaneers beat the Raiders at Super Bowl XXXVII, said he paid $7,500 to some people he did not identify so that they would scuff the balls set to be used in the Super Bowl, making them easier to grip. According to Johnson, there were 100 footballs set aside for the game, and the people he bribed tampered with all 100, to Johnson’€™s specifications.

“I paid some guys off to get the balls right,” Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times. “I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them.”

That’€™s a shocking admission — Johnson is confessing that he cheated to help his team win the Super Bowl, and that people who work for the NFL accepted a bribe to help one team cheat in the Super Bowl.

Jon Gruden, who coached the Buccaneers in that Super Bowl, said today on ESPN Radio that he was aware that Johnson was concerned about being able to grip the balls in that game, but Gruden did not say whether he was aware of Johnson breaking the rules to get an advantage. …

The NFL is already investigating whether the Patriots cheated. Now the NFL should broaden its investigation, find out who Johnson bribed, and make sure nothing like that ever happens again.

We could sit here and argue about who did or did not put underinflated balls in the game Sunday or overinflated balls in the NFC championship game or how much Brad Johnson tampered with the balls in Super Bowl XXXVII all day long. But I don’t want to be accused of saying “Everybody does things to the ball” just because so many Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks admit to doing things to the ball.

No, the bottom line here is that Johnson and Jon Gruden cheated. Johnson flat out admits to cheating in the most direct way possible. And there’s only one recourse for the NFL to follow to make this thing right.

Fine and suspend Bill Belichick, take away his draft picks and put a big old asterisk on all his championships and send the Colts to Super Bowl XLIX.

What’s fair is fair.

@JerryThornton1

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
Bob Kravitz on his treatment from Boston fans and the latest on deflate-gate.

[0:03:20] ... image of the Super Bowl in the entire experience would be suspending Bill Belichick from the Super Bowl just continue the story on the story line until the very end of it salty talk about that ...
[0:03:59] ... Bowl is the only fairway you know forget about public perception. Bought Tim Hasselbeck. Told me this morning that the Cordoba the the coaches out of the loop on this this is between quarterbacks. I may ...
[0:04:59] ... a very hard time believing that. It. He came from anybody but Bill Belichick a lot about educator I you know I think the guys the best of what he does in any sport. And you ...
[0:06:10] ... I keep hearing closest game with we're with Minnesota Carolina was called Aaron Rodgers likes the big difference to me Bob within the stories. There's a chance the patriots manipulated this. We in the game and the opposing team. File charges against it one other thing I did were you aware. What had happened with Mike Adams whatever was 68 weeks ago that there was sort of certain you market you're aware of that that. I was not aware ...






PTI's Michael Wilbon joined us to discuss deflate-gate.

[0:05:07] ... of this. But it's as punishment is that meted out before the Super Bowl it's going to be the only story you. Out in Arizona would you agree Michael and don't have to get past this ...
[0:08:35] ... cities. And probably the majority of sports fans are relishing in this Bill Belichick shabby Freud today. And though. And it could be beak I think it would be the right side of the bitten again. ...
[0:09:08] ... could do. We. Both the best and the brightest out the area. Bill Belichick not qualify. You don't think scared of gaga Michael. It. Got a lot of well a guy who could be our corporation ...
[0:09:47] ... next week is going to be only about this is a great Super Bowl we know that but it's only going to be about the deflated football that's going to be the most. In the media culturally we operate it now yeah I think that becomes a history now. To the leak it you've got no help protect the league with a couple. If it would avenue conversation. They certainly had to be having this conversation they they whatever yet in the dirt we should be at the cabinet today. They I would think. And there's so protective coveted Super Bowl a big game. Ill people go to work distraction you know even quicker than Belichick himself well. I gotta think they're gonna ...






 

 

ESPNThe NFL has found that 11 of 12 of the New England Patriots game balls were inflated significantly less than the NFL requires, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC championship game told ESPN.

The investigation found the footballs were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch of air less than what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats‘ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources. …

Yet to be determined is what, if any, penalties may be imposed upon Patriots. One source described the league as “disappointed … angry … distraught,” after spending considerable time on the findings earlier Tuesday. Part of the investigation that still needs further vetting is how the 11 footballs became underinflated. The game balls provided to each team for preparation were required to be inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff before they were returned to a ball attendant before the game.

Right now, as we sit here, Deflategate is in the “We know what we don’t know” stage.

We don’t know if Chris Mortensen’s report is correct, or if his source is someone with a vendetta against the Patriots fully invested in making them look bad. Certain brain-addled, pill-popping billionaire team owners, perhaps.

We don’t know how, assuming Mortensen is right, the balls came to be underinflated.

We don’t know if they were inspected the way they’re supposed to be.

But we do know a few things. For starters, we know that from the time the balls were handing to the ball attendant until the confetti cannons were going off, they weren’t just supervised by some zit-faced high school kid. They were supervised by league officials, dozens of TV cameras, NFL Films and 70,000 people holding cell phone cameras in a TMZ world. The idea that the ball boy somehow in the middle of all that surveillance slipped a needle into the ball when no one was looking would be laughable if it wasn’t so preposterous.

We also know that after every play those balls got handled by officials more than Rob Gronkowski‘s at a bachelorette party. Julian Edelman goes out of bounds. He hands it to the side judge. He flips it to the line judge. He tosses it to Walt Anderson. If in all that not one of them noticed that the ball seemed a little saggy, then they are the worst officiating crew in the history of football and should’ve been fired at halftime.

We know that quarterbacks go past the league specs on air pressure all the time. And when a media darling like Aaron Rodgers does it, it’s harmless fun and the world has a big chuckle about it:

 

 

We also know that after D’Qwell Jackson picked off that Brady pass, decided the ball felt a little squishy and brought it to the attention of his coaches, this happened:

Tom Brady in the first half: 11-for-21, 52 percent completions, 95 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 60.6 passer rating

Tom Brady in the second half: 12-for-14, 86 percent completions, 155 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 157.3 passer rating

Patriots in the first half: Outscored the Colts 17-7

Patriots in the second half: Outscored the Colts 28-0

We know that none of this will shut up the fundamentalist Patriots-haters. IndyStar’s Gregg Doyel went on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and not only doubled down on his ridiculous idea the Patriots shouldn’t go to the Super Bowl, he said Green Bay should go. The same Green Bay that just lost to Seattle and whose MVP quarterback’s penchant for overinflated balls had Jim Nantz and Phil Simms giggling like schoolgirls.

And we know that this is just a decimal point followed by a half dozen zeros of what we’re about to hear. The world will want Bill Belchick suspended for next year. Or suspended for the Super Bowl. Or lashed in the streets of Glendale like a Saudi Arabian blogger. No one will stop at the demand for fines or forfeited draft picks. They’re out for blood.

I say bring it on. Embrace the hatred. I’m semi-retiring from the business of defending Belichick and the Patriots and now I’m going all in on accepting their inherent evilness. It’s time to go from arguing with the anti-Patriots cyberbullies to going all wrestling heel on everybody’s ass:

Did the Patriots cheat? Hell yeah! Damn right they cheated! What about it, Indy? Are you going to cry now? They always cheat! They cheated when they ran the ineligible receiver play. They cheated when they messed with the clock in the 2011 championship game. They jam your quarterback’s radio. Videotape your signals. And you’re damn right they figured out a way to let the air out of balls with the whole world watching. What are you going to do about it, NFL? Cancel the Super Bowl? Send the Colts and be a laughingstock? There’s nothing you can do except sit back helplessly and watch the most hated team in all of sports win a trophy they’ll all call “tainted” but will look exactly like the trophy everyone else has ever won and no one in the six New England states (minus parts of Connecticut) will care. We cheat, but we cheat to win and nobody can stop us! Bwahahaha! Deflate that, America!

Because at this point, until we know what happened here, what else can you do?

@JerryThornton1

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
Gregg Doyle on the latest allegations against the Patriots.

[0:01:09] ... was busted for spying opposing teams it's run by the same man. Bill Belichick either you are or you're not willing to cheat like guests that argument and I guess the ability to point fingers at Bill Belichick. Just got X exponentially stronger. Oh yeah on the ability of its manifesto it I mean you have to meet you look ...
[0:01:46] ... that story lacked yeah the advocate good what was behind. That's yes golf course we did that two days ago Greg we left the that'll. Why they so here we are now. Either pay. Your egg ...
[0:04:40] ... the real penalties. I'm not a draft pick not going to the Super Bowl modifying. Is much much worse that's the forever tainted tarnished legacy of this coach and this franchise this is almost something you ...
[0:05:34] ... by now the pictures and cigarette you'll come back. Are you go Super Bowl Greg. Operator I what he's going to be in the right they're funny you're gonna get a chance to ask Belichick question ...






Gregg Doyel on the latest allegations against the Patriots.

[0:01:09] ... was busted for spying opposing teams it's run by the same man. Bill Belichick either you are or you're not willing to cheat like guests that argument and I guess the ability to point fingers at Bill Belichick. Just got X exponentially stronger. Oh yeah on the ability of its manifesto it I mean you have to meet you look ...
[0:01:46] ... that story lacked yeah the advocate good what was behind. That's yes golf course we did that two days ago Greg we left the that'll. Why they so here we are now. Either pay. Your egg ...
[0:04:40] ... the real penalties. I'm not a draft pick not going to the Super Bowl modifying. Is much much worse that's the forever tainted tarnished legacy of this coach and this franchise this is almost something you ...
[0:05:34] ... by now the pictures and cigarette you'll come back. Are you go Super Bowl Greg. Operator I what he's going to be in the right they're funny you're gonna get a chance to ask Belichick question ...






Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Avalanche, 10 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Blackhawks at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Kings at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: Merrimack at Boston College, 7 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
NBA: Thunder at Wizards, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Rockets at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UMass at St. Joseph’s, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: North Carolina at Wake Forest, 7 pm. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Memphis at Tulsa, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Marquette at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton at Butler, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: SMU at Tulane, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
Tennis: Australian Open, 9 p.m., 3 a.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Following Chris Mortensen’s report that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game were underinflated, the Twitterverse weighed in on the latest Deflategate news — and there weren’t many people giving the Pats the benefit of the doubt.

NFL legend Jerry Rice checked in quickly, tweeting: 11 of 12 balls under-inflated can anyone spell cheating!!! #Just Saying.

Bob Kravitz, the Indianapolis columnist who broke the story late Sunday night, called for Bill Belichick to face harsh punishment.

Wrote Kravitz: If morts report is on target, and I’m sure it is, belichick should be suspended from the Super Bowl. My opinion.

Added Kravitz: If bob kraft is a true man of integrity he will take it out of the leagues hands and fire belichick. Not holding my breath.

Colts punter Pat McAfee wondered if his team should step in if the Patriots are suspended. Wrote McAfee: If New England was to be DQ’d.. We’d be their replacements right??… I should probably lay off these strawberry marts.

Joked Panthers kicker Graham Gano: Looks like someone’s gonna be in trouble for not deflating that 12th ball…

However, Gano also appeared to provide a defense for the Patriots, noting in a series of tweets that the weather can affect the balls.

Wrote Gano: When checking the game balls, the refs check the psi indoors. This is frustrating bc the ball loses some pressure in cold weather. During our home playoff game this year I asked the official if he could check the psi outside again bc the ball felt flat and said he could not. I guess you can’t blame the official for that. Rules are rules. Maybe the league will make some changes this offseason. Sucks kicking a flat ball tho.

— The Ravens moved quickly to replace Gary Kubiak, tabbing Marc Trestman as their new offensive coordinator.

Trestman was fired last month after two seasons as head coach of the Bears. Chicago was a disappointing 5-11 this season.

Under Kubiak, who left Baltimore after one season to become head coach of the Broncos, the Ravens set team records for points (409) and yards (5,838).

Trestman becomes the Ravens’ fourth offensive coordinator in four years, and all four were previously head coaches. (Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell were the first two.)

— The troubles continue for former Seahawks player Jerramy Stevens and his wife, U.S. Olympic soccer goalie Hope Solo.

Stevens, 35, was arrested early Monday morning for DUI after being pulled over for driving without headlights in Southern California. Police said Stevens refused to submit to a breath test, forcing a blood test. He was released on $5,000 bail.

Solo was in the car with Stevens and reportedly became belligerent. According to TMZ, police came close to arresting her for disorderly conduct but did not.

Only days ago, Solo learned that charges were dropped in a domestic violence case in which she was accused of attacking her nephew and sister while in a drunken rage.

Stevens was arrested in 2012 for assault after an incident with Solo, but charges later were dropped.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 21, 1954, the NBA All-Star Game went to overtime for the first time. Which Celtic scored 10 points in the extra session and was named MVP after leading the East to a 98-93 victory?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “For a fan, you want to know that everything’s equal. The integrity of the game is so important.” – NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, on the league’s investigation of the Patriots’ role in Deflategate

STAT OF THE DAY: 11 – Games of their last 12 in which the Bruins have picked up at least one point, following Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Stars

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Thunder star Kevin Durant throws down a monster dunk on Heat forward Chris Andersen.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin shatters the lens of the net cam with a slap shot against the Oilers.

German soccer player Julian Koch, playing for FC St. Pauli in a friendly against Swiss club FC Winterthur, steals the opening kick and scores from midfield just five seconds into the game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Bob Cousy

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Edwin Starr, who died in 2003, was born on this day in 1942.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar