TELANDER: More hypocrisy in college athletics
BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist October 12, 2013 12:22AM
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning sprints to the end zone untouched for a touchdown on a quarterback keep play in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:50AM
At your favorite new-ish Big Ten school, the University of Nebraska, 80 coaches and athletic-department staffers get the use of free cars, valued at a collective $2.25 million. The cars come courtesy of ‘‘non-profit’’ groups, including Omaha-area car dealers who are members of the Husker Athletics Wheel Club.
Fifty lucky staffers also get free country-club and health-club memberships paid for by the University of Nebraska Foundation.
The football and basketball players, of course, get nothing.
◆ DENVER BRONCOS quarterback Peyton Manning is in such a zone right now that you’d love to be able to share the view.
Though Manning is a four-time NFL most valuable player, his field vision, accuracy and leadership right now put him beyond mere awards and into the realm of the surreal.
Twenty touchdown passes and one interception in the Broncos’ 5-0 start? A 76 percent completion rate? A passer rating of 136.4? At age 37, after neck surgery that many people thought would end his career?
I remember watching him in practice at the University of Tennessee, seeing him run the offense the same way he does now in the NFL — pointing, motioning, walking up and down the line with directions, turning around and telling every back what to do — and thinking he was unreal. Then I spoke with him and was amazed at how personable, reasonable and smart he was.
And I remember how a lot of sports pundits said the first quarterback taken in the 1998 draft would be Washington State’s Ryan Leaf and thinking: ‘‘What am I missing here?’’ I had spoken with Leaf, too, when he was with agent Leigh Steinberg at the Super Bowl after the 1997 season, and I thought, ‘‘This guy is a jerk.’’
But it wasn’t even so much that Leaf was a troubled and monumental bust waiting to happen; it was that I never had seen a quarterback like Manning before. And I had been around Hall of Fame-to-be quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman, John Elway and Jim Kelly before they made it to the NFL.
But Manning was more CEO than quarterback.
And now? I don’t want to miss him play a game.
Like Picasso. I would have loved to have watched him paint, too.
◆ THE CUBS. Dear God, they will be the end of me. You, too, perhaps.
Of course, they couldn’t hire big-name manager Joe Girardi, the plum they wanted. Girardi knows all about the Cubs and their 105-plus years of failure because he grew up in Peoria as a Cubs fan; went to Northwestern, from where he could watch Cubbie ineptitude from an L ride away; and played for the Cubs, so he could see the losers’ virus under a microscope.
In six years as the Yankees’ manager, Girardi has won 564 games — more than anybody else in the majors during that period — plus a World Series. He got the four-year deal he wanted with the Yankees — for $16 million, plus incentives.
What did the Cubs have to offer him? A lot of promises about minor-leaguers, a chance to come back to Chicago, a ballpark mess, dark history.
No, the next manager of the Cubs is just a place-holder for a few years, like Dale Sveum was. Why would any certifiable winner join Cubs Nation? To ruin his legacy? To talk about goats, black cats and Bartman once success seems near?
You reap what you sow, Cubbies. President Theo Epstein thinks, in time, Girardi will regret not coming to the Cubs. God, the hubris. The Cubs are like hemlock. Drink up! And toast the ever-solid Cardinals as you do.
◆ SAINTS QUARTERBACK Drew Brees — right there with Manning as a football genius — says he won’t let any of his three sons play tackle football until they are teenagers.
‘‘I think you can be too young to go out there and strap on a helmet,’’ Brees said.
How much more warning do you need, parents?
◆ NAMES, NAMES. I love athletes’ names. And I’ve got some good ones, folks.
There’s cornerback Deshazor Everett from Texas A&M, which is pretty solid. And then there’s safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, which is awesome.
Though he has been injured so far, Browns rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo was clearly the name of the year in 2012. And it’s nice to note that he has a brother named Hughtavious.
Then there’s the resplendent Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-9 senior basketball center at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts.