NFL Nation: James Orthwein
November, 19, 2010
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
Al Bello/Getty ImagesPromoter Don King took some time to set up Sunday's showdown between the Patriots and Colts.On the other end of the line came that booming voice and a laugh that bellows from subterranean depths.
His unmistakable, rhythmic patter ramped up as we exchanged pleasantries and small talk. Then in full roar came the five-syllable adjectives, boisterous proclamations and references to Alexander the Great, Mohican Indians, Michael Jackson, John the Baptist and Paul Revere's ride.
Don King was in full-throated force, talking up one of the epic heavyweight clashes in sports history. No, this wasn't Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier or Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
For no reason other than my own amusement -- and to share on the AFC East blog -- I wanted to hear how the world's most prolific promoter would trumpet Sunday's showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning -- a rematch that deserves its own tale of the tape and requires no additional salesmanship, but when Don King is preaching through your cell phone, you can endeavor to get gratuitous.
"It's going to be what you'd call provocatively beautiful because you're going to be sitting on the edge of your seat the whole time, not knowing what's going to happen," King said.
"The methodology of these guys is just unparalleled, unrivaled in mankind."
Is a rivalry official until King gives his lyrically cadenced blessing?
If King were promoting the event, it certainly would be shown on pay-per-view. But it wouldn't take place at Ceasars Palace or the MGM Grand Garden. King said this would be staged in Cowboys Stadium for maximum seating and razzle-dazzle.
"There would be millions of eyes looking at the screen, but it would be nothing like being on the scene," King said.
King's pregame sermon -- behind a lectern while holding a Patriots pennant in one hand and a Colts pennant in the other, no doubt -- would sound like this:
"What you have is a dynamic showdown on the football field, an irresistible force against an immovable object. Something has got to give. Give it will on Sunday. You've got a dedicated methodologist in Tom Brady, and he's not so much for the fanfare as he is for the leadership. Then you have Peyton Manning, who's one of the masses.
"It's a people's fight. All you have to do is say 'Extra! Extra! Read all about it!' We got a showdown in Boston, second to none and unrivaled in mankind. You got Tom Brady with a splendiferous record. He's got 33,000 yards and 242 touchdowns and four Super Bowls. And you got Peyton Manning, the whole Manning family from the father on down. You've got 52,000 yards and 10 Pro Bowls. But the stats aren't going to tell it. It's going to be the one who wants it the most.
"The man who can roust the excitement and the enthusiasm of the coordination of the players is the one who will come through, the one that can bring their team to that high expectation of unity, solidarity and togetherness and performing above and beyond the call of duty, he will be the big, big winner Sunday.
"Tom Brady is more of a general than Peyton Manning. But Peyton Manning is the one who will break through when there is no way. He's like Alexander the Great. He will make a way.
"You've got a show here that will be born and bred for me to be the voice in the wilderness, John the Baptist crying out that the one is coming greater than I, to preach the word for the bold, the daring, the shrewdness in the planning.
"Everybody in Boston and Foxborough and Concord will be saying 'Up in arms! Up in arms!' Now they're riding through the countryside like Paul Revere, saying 'The Colts are coming! The Colts are coming!' So every farmer is throwing down his pitchfork and picking up his rifle to stop the invasion. They've got to be able to ward off the invasion.
"The Colts are going to be like the people who dressed up like Mohican Indians to throw all the tea off the ships. Do we sink the ship, or are we going to be cannon fodder for the ship?
"It's a fight of the people and for the people. Which one of them will multiply their voices and be the scream of spirituality, the enthusiasm and the outshouting? Many times, the one who makes the most noise, wins. You can't be nice and quiet. In Africa, they got a saying: 'The baby that don't make no noise dies.' The ones that's making hell on his mother's back, she's got to keep putting something in his mouth to shut him up. So he survives.
"The magic of this showdown is every enthusiast, every fan is going to have their own personal opinion, and then they're going to do like Michael Jackson and talk to the 'Man in the Mirror.' They're going to bring about the change that's necessary for victory for Manning, or victory for Brady."
Let's remember for a moment the Patriots probably wouldn't have won three Super Bowls over the past decade if it weren't for King.
That's the truth.
Back in 1984, King was promoting the Victory Tour, starring Michael Jackson and his brothers. The tour was a colossal failure, but King recognized this early and unloaded several East Coast dates to Chuck Sullivan, whose family still owned the Patriots at the time.
Chuck Sullivan used Foxboro Stadium as collateral and incurred exorbitant losses. By 1988 he was bankrupt. Victor Kiam bought the team, but Robert Kraft purchased the stadium. Kiam sold the Patriots in 1992 to James Orthwein, who tried to break the stadium lease and move the team to his hometown of St. Louis. Kraft refused, and the power play allowed Kraft to purchase the team in January 1995.
Kraft, of course, eventually hired Bill Belichick whose staff drafted Brady and built the decade's greatest team. And none of that might have happened if King hadn't pawned off the Victory Tour on Sullivan.
King, meanwhile, remained perhaps the most prominent force in boxing throughout the 1980s and 1990s, promoting such legends as Ali, Larry Holmes, Tyson, Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez and Felix Trinidad.
At 79 years old, King remains active in the fight game. He is putting on a show Dec. 17 in Miami headlined by heavyweights Ray Austin and Odlanier Solis in an eliminator for the right to face champion Vitali Klitschko.
But this week, King was thrilled to lend his talents to talking up an NFL regular-season blockbuster.
"We all are prognosticators, speculators," King said. "We're guessing, but we're going with our gut of what it may or may not be. You got a super challenge with a super event with super talents vying against each other."
"So go forth and let it be heard, friend and foe alike, that we have a great tiding about to happen Sunday against two invincible, terrific, dynamic, skillful, talented quarterbacks. You be the judge."
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