Peyton Manning is a beast. He is having the best singular season in football history and has a chance to enter the pantheon of the all-time seasons for all of team sports.
It's been that good. To equate, it would be somewhat like LeBron averaging more points and more rebounds than anyone in the history of the NBA and then winning the NBA title — although if LeBron put up 51 a night and 16 assists, well, that would be pretty special.
Anyhoo, as we start to get closer to the actual pre-week fluff that precedes the world's longest pregame show before the game with the world's longest commercials, we pause to appreciate what Manning has authored this year. It's truly special and it has been all encompassing since it started with a season-opening blitz of the defending champion Ravens. In fact, someone on ESPN extrapolated Eli Manning's best 16 games of his career and the numbers fade in comparison to Peyton's 2013 season. It was that extraordinary.
Now Manning has the chance to push his chips into every metric of quarterback greatness. Sure there are some like Stewwie that already believe Manning is the best QB ever. And that's a worthy argument. There are those like Spy and OG who believe Manning to be outside the top-five, which also is a side of the debate that can be measured.
But a win Sunday in the big one would give Manning two Super Bowls and put him in the circles of each determining factor. Multiple Super Bowls. Check. A monster among career passing numbers. Check. Singular greatness. Check. A soon-to-be-minted fifth MVP award. Check.
Dude has a chance to cement an all-time year that would punctuate an all-time career. And in truth, there was more to lose in the AFC title game than there is in this Super Bowl, considering Tom Brady was haunting the other sideline. A loss to Brady's Pats would have been crippling both for the season and for the legacy, because it would be impossible to be the greatest all-time without being the greatest of your generation.
And a win Sunday alters the prism, considering it would give Manning a strong case against Brady and in the argument with the ghosts of the NFL's past and the promises of its future.
We were on the Wade Wagon from the very start, but even those of us who expected good things in Year 1 have been surprised by the unbeaten in '14 force that that Mocs have become.
It has been a slew of things that have caught our eye. It's the ability to adapt. It's the ability to put aside his desired sets and maximize the skill set the Mocs currently possess rather than force those skills into more challenging positions. It's the fact that his club plays hard and smart, a combination that previously was more difficult than PowerBall numbers to regularly match.
But what else? What else has these Mocs looking the part of a team Jay Bilas speaks glowingly of on Selection Sunday with phrases like "Watch out for Z Mason, a guy that is built like a truck and plays like pianist" in Year 1 of the Wade Wagon?
And we want your feedback, and if a couple of you guys strike up solid questions, we'll relay them to Wade when he visits us on Press Row today in the 5 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM and simulcast here on timesfreepress.com.
There are two distinct storylines in the final eight days of this recruiting cycle. The first is familiar, the second is somewhat unique.
First, let's discuss the age-old best way to tell if a commit to your team is someone to be excited about. Sure, there are tons of star-ratings and the interweb folks are much better now than in previous years because of an increase in video and coverage and information.
Still, if your team lands a prospect that bigger programs and/or more successful programs are trying to recruit, consider it a good thing. Take yesterday's running back haul for two of the more followed teams in our coverage area.
Tennessee landed a pledge from four-star runner Derrell Scott, as TFP UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here. Scott picked UT over South Carolina, Florida, FSU and THE Ohio State. That's fine company.
UTC landed Georgia speedster Richarde Bagley, as all-around TFP ace Stephen Hargis tells us here. Bagley is just the latest UTC pledge to pick the Mocs over offers from FCS schools such as Air Force and Temple. Good times.
The other recruiting twist is what kind of affects the weather will have on the final weekend of the recruiting cycle. If snow really hits the deep South — and there are several inches forecast for un-snowy places south of here — the final weekend of travel could be greatly altered.
This and that
— For the second year in a row, Soda Stream has had to recut its Super Bowl commercial in the 11th hour. This year, Fox told Soda Stream to change Scarlett Johansson saying, "Sorry Coke and Pepsi." Some feel that major ad buyers at Coke and Pepsi pressured Fox to make the upstart make the change. Hmmmmm. No way that type of thing ever, Ever, EVER happens in the world of BID-ness is there? No way we say. Oh the humanity. (Did the sarcasm come through OK there?) We of course would be remiss at this point to say that if Coke and Pepsi — on the outside chance they had anything to do with this — and Fox had just let this commercial happen, Soda Stream would not have gotten half the pub that the pre-Super Bowl buzz has now created. We're about to go buy some Soda Stream stock.
— Recruiting tales of the weird: Dominick Sanders was a longtime UCF commit who had his scholarship pulled because he was not forthright to UCF coaches about taking a visit to Auburn. Sanders did not have a committable offer from Auburn (and committable offer is a new and silly term that could only catch on in recruiting — if you have an offer it should be an offer, no; if the offer is not committable then it's really not an offer). So he commits to Georgia on Tuesday. Glad the kid landed on his feet, and as for George O'Leary and the Knights staff standing firm about being truthful on the recruiting trail, well, OK. But here's saying that seems at least a touch hypocritical, especially in the recruiting world, where we're 100 percent sure the Knights coaches have never spun a story they thought the recruit wanted to hear. "Sure, we'll give you a chance at QB." "No way you'll redshirt as a freshman." Or any of the other gems that are recruiting staples.
There are a slew of talking points above, and we welcome all of your comments here and if you want to discuss anything with TFP college football ace David Paschall and the blockheaded sports editor on Press Row from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM, you can reach us at 423-648-1051.
Here's another item of interest from the world of crazy and sports and crazy sports:
The broken bat that 'roid-raging Roger Clemens threw at Mike Piazza during the 2001 World Series is going up for auction. What a fitting symbol of Clemens career — a bat he shattered with his overpowering stuff that he then flung at an opponent because he's a nut job. Here's hoping renowned Red Sox fan, ESPN commentator and Grantland editor Bill Simmons buys it and donates it to the Steroid-Wing of the baseball Hall of Fame, whenever it is built. C'mon, we're going to have to have a steroid wing because with Clemens and Bonds and eventually A-Rod, the numbers are too overwhelming to keep those guys out. You know it. We know it. And sadly the baseball cheats know it. And the 'roid rage broken bat is the perfect piece of memorabilia for the foyer of PED Plaza.
What odd sports item would you live to have? Discuss.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...