NFL Nation: SBNY

MetLife Stadium skylineAP Photo/Charlie RiedelNew York Giants co-owner John Mara would like to see the Super Bowl return to MetLife Stadium.
You know how you make deals with your kids and you know they're going to take advantage but you do it anyway because they're your kids and you just love 'em so doggone much? Like, it's bedtime and you're having fun playing video games with them and they say, "Daddy, pleeeeeease, just one more game and we'll go right to bed?" And then you say yes, and you play the one more game and they ask for another one?

This is John Mara. He's the kid in this story. Roger Goodell and the NFL's other owners are the duped parents who think their kid can do no wrong. And Mara's going to keep getting his way as long as they're all too scared or myopic to put their foot down.

Mara said on the "Ian O'Connor Show" on Sunday morning on ESPN Radio that of course he thinks the Super Bowl should return to MetLife Stadium in future years, because, wow, yeah, the week's been great and look how great the weather is on this one random early-February weekend in 2014.
Asked if he wanted a Super Bowl sequel at MetLife, Mara said, "Based on everything that's happened so far, yes. If we can be assured that we'd get the same cooperation from all the different government entities that were involved, which has been tremendous so far, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't consider doing it again.

"I think that when the NFL owners that are here, when they leave MetLife Stadium tonight after this game, I'm pretty confident that most of them will say to themselves that it was a great idea to have this event in this area, New York and New Jersey, and why not come back here again. It's good for the league."

What a pile of garbage. It's good for John Mara, and for the New York/New Jersey area that hosted all of the events leading up to Sunday night's game. But it's whatever for the NFL, which could stage the Super Bowl on the moon and find a way to make a zillion dollars off of it.

What no one's calling these guys on is that they promised this was a one-time deal. Go back and read what they were saying in 2010, when they decided the game would be here. Asked specifically about this, Goodell and Mara's fellow owners insisted this would be a one-time exception to the NFL's longstanding rule requiring the game to be held in places that had either a dome or an average high temperature of at least 50 degrees. Goodell categorically shot down the idea of other cold-weather, open-air-stadium cities hosting the game because New York is special. No one came right out and admitted that the Super Bowl was a reward condition for Mara's Giants and Woody Johnson's Jets building a new stadium with more luxury boxes and better premium seating options than Giants Stadium had, but everything everyone said made it clear that that's what this was, and that once it was over it wouldn't happen again.

But we all know these guys don't always tell the truth, and so there was never any reason to believe this exact thing wouldn't happen. And now that the area got through the early part of the week with frigid-but-not-incapacitating weather, and now that it appears game conditions will be the absolute best anyone could have hoped for when this whole cockamamie idea was conceived, they want to go back on this.

They shouldn't press their luck. For goodness' sake, another winter storm is scheduled to hit this area mere hours after the game ends Sunday night. They got lucky by one day. And that's just game day we're talking about. Every time they have the Super Bowl here or in Chicago or in Philadelphia (and you know that's going to come up as long as Mara keeps pushing), the NFL is going to be taking a major risk that its biggest week (not just its biggest day, but its major convention week) gets ruined due to weather. And I continue to fail to understand the reasons for inviting that risk.

No, you can't predict the weather. It snowed in Atlanta and New Orleans early last week, which means the Super Bowl would have been a mess this year if it had been in either of those warm-weather, dome-stadium towns. Three years ago Dallas was crippled by an ice storm. I get that you can't predict weather years in advance. But you can minimize risk, and you can decide to hold your gargantuan event in places where it's more likely to go well. The NFL should do this, and the fact the weather in New Jersey on Feb. 2, 2014, is good does not qualify as a good reason to invite the game back here -- or to Philadelphia or Chicago or Foxborough -- in 2018. It's madness. It always was madness. And just because they got away with it one time doesn't mean it makes sense to push their luck and try it again.

But they will. Because they're just like spoiled kids. If you always give them everything they want, then they never stop asking for more.
Dan QuinnAdam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsSeahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been in demand.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Dan Quinn is a Jersey Guy. He grew up in a five-bedroom colonial in Morristown, listening to Bon Jovi and rooting for the New York Giants of Parcells and Taylor and Carson. He lived for the Jersey Shore, long before it was a TV show, and he dreamed of one day of coming home to coach football.

Quinn did it for two years, in 2007 and 2008, coaching the defensive line for Eric Mangini's New York Jets. You never know, maybe there will be more green in his future, because if Rex Ryan disappoints in 2014 and gets fired, Quinn will be high on general manager John Idzik's list of replacement candidates.

But that's crystal ball talk, especially this week, with Quinn back home for Super Bowl XLVIII. He's the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, and his job is to figure out what so many others have tried (and failed) to do this season: Make Denver Broncos star Peyton Manning play like a mortal quarterback.

Quinn, 43, isn't coming into this with decades of been-there, done-that experience, that's for sure, but he has worked for several respected coaches in a relatively short amount of time. Pete Carroll. Nick Saban. Steve Mariucci. And the late Joe Gardi, the former Hofstra coach who made his bones as a Jets defensive assistant during the heyday of the New York Sack Exchange.

"It was one of the most awesome places to come up as a young coach," Quinn said of his five years at Hofstra (1996-2000), which produced NFL players Wayne Chrebet, Willie Colon, Lance Schulters and Marques Colston before the university's suits decided to shut down the football program.

After jobs with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, Quinn ended up back on the Hofstra campus, except it was to work for the Jets, who trained at the Long Island school before moving to Florham Park, N.J., in 2008. He saw a lot in a short amount of time with the Jets, experiencing one of the most talked-about years in team history.

[+] EnlargeDan Quinn
Al Pereira/Getty ImagesQuinn, who spent two seasons coaching the Jets' defensive line, is no stranger to working in East Rutherford, N.J., site of Sunday's Super Bowl.
Brett Favre, 2008.

Quinn said the quarterbacks had a small basketball hoop in their meeting room and that, during breaks, Favre organized games. He described the future Hall of Famer as ultra competitive.

"He was one of the most fun guys to be around," Quinn said, smiling. "He had a great energy about him in terms of the way he conducted himself."

Unfortunately for the Jets, Favre's arm gave out, the team collapsed in the home stretch, it missed the playoffs, and Mangini was fired.

In came Ryan, who cleared out almost the entire coaching staff, including Quinn. But there was something different about Quinn's departure. People remember how a variety of staffers, from the video department to the grounds crew, showed up to say goodbye -- a reflection of his popularity.

Quinn went to Seattle, where he was introduced to Idzik, then a Seahawks executive. Quinn stayed for two years and returned this season, with a two-year stint as the University of Florida defensive coordinator sandwiched in between. He was Carroll's immediate choice to replace Gus Bradley, who left to become the Jacksonville Jaguars' coach.

Under Quinn, the Seahawks improved, going from No. 4 to No. 1 in total defense. Obviously, he inherited a tremendous amount of talent, but there's something to be said for not messing up a good thing. In some ways, he made it better, especially against the pass.

"He represents our mentality and our approach really well, that's why we were so excited to get him back," Carroll said. "He's everything beyond what I thought he'd be. He was able to not just capture [our philosophy], but accent it, doing it in his fashion."

Quinn has worked for polar opposites in Carroll and Mangini. Carroll is laid back, the epitome of California cool. Mangini is rigid and uptight, a micromanager. But Quinn liked his time with Mangini, praising his organizational skills and saying "there was an upper level of thinking with Eric."

Carroll has a Mr. Nice Guy reputation, but he challenges his assistants in the meeting room, seeing how they respond in hypothetical game situations. Of course, there's a soft edge.

"There are a lot of different ways to do the job," Quinn said.

Quinn has drawn attention around the league. During the Seahawks' playoff bye, he interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' head-coach vacancy. He might have landed the job, but he was penalized by the Seahawks' success. The Browns didn't want to wait for Quinn, so they hired Mike Pettine.

"No complaints on my end," said Quinn, who will be a hot candidate next year.

What's to complain about? He's preparing for a Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., where he spent part of his youth cheering for his champions. If he wins Sunday, he'll walk among them.

It's a Broncs tale for Bronx's Sam Garnes

January, 28, 2014
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Sam GarnesBrian Bahr/ALLSPORT Sam Garnes (20) and the Giants fell behind quickly and never recovered in Super Bowl XXXV.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Sam Garnes is trying to help the Denver Broncos win a Super Bowl, yet he was asked Tuesday about his experience losing the NFL's championship game.

And the former safety didn't backpedal from the line of questioning.

"No, no," he insisted. "That's real."

In five trips to the Super Bowl, the New York Giants have lost only once. Garnes, a Bronx native, was the starting strong safety for that team, which fell 34-7 to the Baltimore Ravens in January 2001.

So Garnes, Denver's assistant secondary coach, imparts a clear message to the Broncos as they prepare for Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks: You don't want to know what it feels like to lose this game.

[+] EnlargeSam Garnes
AP PhotoGarnes is in his third year on the Broncos' coaching staff.
"I tell my players, we're not interested in having fun for two weeks between the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl," Garnes said at Super Bowl media day. "We want to have a great time for several months [afterward]."

That approach has remained constant for Super Bowl teams through the years. Other aspects of the experience have changed, including media day.

"It's amazing. You've got fans here," he said as he surveyed the scene. "We didn't have fans in Tampa Bay's stadium [13 years ago].

"And now we're playing a cold-weather game, which at that time was unheard of."

Ah, yes, the cold-weather Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J. Cold, hot, whatever -- Garnes, 39, is just happy to be home.

"Selfishly, I wanted to be here when they said the Super Bowl was in New York," said Garnes, who attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and played for both the Giants and New York Jets during his seven-year playing career.

"Selfishly, I wanted to be here, and I will admit that, because this is a place I love. All my players and coaches, they know much I love where I’m from."

Garnes -- who was quick to clarify that the Super Bowl is in the "Greater New York area; there's no disrespect to Jersey" -- looks forward to making the short trip to the Bronx from the Broncos' hotel in New Jersey.

"Right now we’re busy," he said, "but as the week winds down, I'll have time to go over there and get me some of that good ol' Bronx pizza and get me some Chinese food."

He'll likely get a warm welcome wherever he goes. "I have a lot of family still in the area," he said. It's the perfect setting for Garnes' return to the NFL's marquee event.

"To come back to your home area and be a part of the Super Bowl," he said, "is a great feeling."

What if Peyton had joined the Jets?

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
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Cue the dream sequence.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Peyton Manning arrives at the Prudential Center for Super Bowl XLVIII media day, sharing a few laughs with his coach, Rex Ryan, as he walks to his designated interview podium. Manning, wearing a white and green-trimmed No. 18 New York Jets jersey, appears totally at home.

Because he is.

Manning is only 30 minutes from the Jets facility in Florham Park -- a.k.a. Peyton's Place, where he hopes to add a third Lombardi Trophy to the showcase. Coincidentally, the Jets' team hotel is the Manning Tower in Jersey City -- a breathtaking high rise on the Hudson that he co-owns with his not-so-silent partner and close friend, Donald Trump. Manning, as you might know, inhabits the entire 18th floor.

"I'm excited to be in another Super Bowl, representing the New York Jets," Manning begins.


* * *


Well, it could've happened.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Ezra C. Shaw/AllsportWhat would have happened if Peyton Manning was holding a Jets jersey instead of this Colts one?
In the winter of 1997, Manning ostensibly snubbed the Jets by deciding to stay in school for another year. The Jets owned the No. 1 overall pick, and Bill Parcells, new on the job, could've started one of the most daunting rebuilding projects in NFL history by drafting Manning and making him the centerpiece.

After much consideration, Manning decided he'd rather remain a Tennessee Vol than a Parcells volunteer.

In the tortured history of the Jets, it remains one of the most haunting what-if questions: What if Manning had turned pro in '97? By staying true to his school, he altered the landscape of the league.

Parcells, in an interview this week with ESPNNewYork.com, said he didn't try to convince Manning to leave school because of a "strong mandate" by the league, which didn't want teams attempting to influence underclassmen.

"I kind of laugh when people say I should've talked him into it," Parcells said. "I wasn't capable of doing that."

Why didn't he attempt to recruit Manning through his father, Archie? Parcells paused.

"I think they have a pretty good idea of what would've happened if they came out," Parcells said.

The Hall of Fame coach hasn't revealed too much over the years about that chapter -- some believe he would've traded the pick to accumulate extra draft choices -- but he strongly hinted he would've selected Manning.

"Obviously, we had an interest in a quarterback, so, had he been available, I'm certain he would've been very, very strongly in the mix," said Parcells, claiming he always had a "gut feeling" that Manning would stay at Tennessee.

But Manning kept people guessing, which fueled hope among Jets fans, many of whom already were tired of Neil O'Donnell after one season. On the morning of his announcement, the local paper in Knoxville, Tenn., ran a front-page headline that said its favorite son was prepared to jump to the NFL.

A poker-faced Manning added to the drama in his news conference, speaking of Tennessee in the past tense as he made his opening remarks. After about a minute, he cracked a smile and declared his intention to stay. The room exploded with applause. There were mini-eruptions across the campus, which stopped to watch the announcement on closed-circuit TV. Remember, this was long before Twitter.

At the same time, Manning crushed Jets Nation.

"There are times when good fortune strikes, and there are times when it doesn't," said Parcells, who eventually traded the pick and selected linebacker James Farrior at No. 8 overall.

Not surprisingly, Manning has always taken the high road, claiming that Parcells' arrival in New York that winter actually complicated the decision for him.

"Parcells shook things up for me a little, but when he was hired there, it made this decision a lot tougher, knowing he was there." Manning said at the time. "I had no negative thoughts about the Jets whatsoever."

Manning went No. 1 overall in 1998, and things have worked out quite nicely for him. If he beats the Seattle Seahawks for this second Super Bowl title, he will fuel debate on whether he's the greatest quarterback in history.

Parcells is an admirer, for sure, but he wasn't ready to anoint Manning back in the day. Asked if he knew Manning would be special, the old coach showed his gruff side.

"I'm not too quick to judge guys," he said. "The guy picked right behind him [Ryan Leaf], somebody thought he was going to be special, too."

The football business is inexact, and it's difficult to predict how players would fare in different situations, but let's be real: Manning would've been huge in the New York market.

"I think he would've had a long, long run there," said agent Leigh Steinberg, who once represented the biggest quarterback stars in the sport. "He would've been very dominant in New York, probably the biggest football personality in that city since Joe Namath."

The Jets have been searching for the next Namath for 40 years. Two years ago, they made another pass at Manning, but it was a brief flirtation. It lasted as long as a belch.

When the Indianapolis Colts released Manning in March 2012, then-general manager Mike Tannenbaum placed a call to Manning's agent, Tom Condon.

"It was a quick, cursory call," recalled Tannenbaum, performing due diligence. "We had a young quarterback [Mark Sanchez] we felt good about, but when a player like Peyton Manning becomes available, you have to check it out. I had a very good sense right away that he knew what he wanted to do."

In other words, Manning wanted no part of the Jets.

Again.

Later that day, the Jets announced they had signed Sanchez to a contract extension, an affirmation that backfired.

This week, Manning is practicing at the Jets' facility as the Denver Broncos prepare for Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium.

Some blows never stop stinging.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Meet Greg Wilson, the most unlikely player at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Two weeks ago, he was a salesman with a solar power company. Today, he’s a member of the AFC champion Denver Broncos.

It’s one heck of a homecoming for the 23-year-old, who played his final two seasons of college football at nearby Fordham University.

[+] EnlargeGreg Wilson
Kieran Darcy/ESPNMedia day isn't as glamorous for practice-squad players like Broncos WR Greg Wilson, center.
"It’s been a blessing. It’s been crazy," Wilson said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. "Going from a desk job and sitting at home, watching the games on the weekends to being out here and playing with the guys, it’s just been great."

A California native, Wilson transferred to Fordham from Diablo Valley Community College in 2011. He was a two-year starter for the Division I-AA Rams. His senior season he caught 41 passes for 545 yards and four touchdowns.

Undrafted this past spring, Wilson was invited to a San Francisco 49ers rookie minicamp but ultimately didn’t make the team.

He got a part-time job at Sunrun, which provides residential solar electricity, in San Francisco, but he continued to stay in shape, not giving up on his NFL dream. In November, the Broncos brought him in for a workout but did not sign him. Then, Wilson's phone rang Wednesday morning, Jan. 15 -- five days before the AFC Championship Game.

"My agent called me, [and] said the Broncos want to sign you to the practice squad," Wilson said. "I stood up from my job, said, 'Hey, I’m outta here,' left, went home, packed a bag and flew out that night."

Wilson admitted being a little nervous upon his arrival in Denver, but he was quickly put at ease. "The whole locker room is very welcoming," Wilson said. "It was definitely a little intimidating meeting a guy like Peyton [Manning] at first. But at the end of the day, he’s another teammate, and he’s a good guy."

Being a practice-squad player, Wilson doesn’t get to work with Manning, but he is playing an important role this week, acting as one of the Seattle Seahawks’ receivers on the scout team.

Wilson won’t get to play in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, but he did get to participate in media day at the Prudential Center -- even if it was hard to find him, standing behind several teammates who seemed more eager to attract attention.

Wilson seemed satisfied just taking it all in and will have lots of stories to share with his family and friends. "They’re all so happy for me," Wilson said. "They know how hard I’ve worked and how bad I want it, so for them to see me get the opportunity, I think they’re all thrilled."

There are no guarantees Wilson’s time with the Broncos, or in the NFL, will extend beyond Sunday. His size -- 6-foot, 180 pounds -- won't do him any favors. But whatever happens next, no one can take away this experience.

"I’m just working to give the defense a good look," Wilson said. "If that leads to a contract in the future, that’s great. But right now, my focus is just on getting this defense prepared for Seattle."

He's been a Bronco for less than two weeks but sounds like a team player.
NEWARK, N.J. -- If Mike Adams walks home after the game, he won't be alone.

[+] EnlargeMike Adams
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsBroncos safety Mike Adams, from nearby Paterson, N.J., is sure to have company if he takes a victorious stroll home after the Super Bowl.
The Denver Broncos safety said Tuesday he has received so much reaction from his half-joking proclamation that he suspects there might be a "mini-parade" if he decides to make the 10-mile trek from MetLife Stadium to his childhood home in Paterson.

"My Twitter and my [Instagram] were blowing up," said Adams, who declared after the AFC Championship Game that he'd walk home after Super Bowl XLVIII if they beat the Seattle Seahawks. "My brother said, 'If you're going to walk, I'm going to walk with you.' The reaction has been crazy."

It could be a scene out of "Forrest Gump," one man leading his flock -- sans the shaggy beard, of course.

Adams acknowledged that it was a joke, but he kept playing along on Media Day. Asked if he intended to follow through, he replied, "Are you going to have your sneakers on? Come and see."

Later, he said with a smile, "Now I have to put up or shut up."

You have to love the Adams story. He grew up in a three-bedroom house in gritty Paterson, which wouldn't have been so bad except he was one of seven children under the same roof. His mother died of cancer when he graduated from the University of Delaware, but he comes from a big, close family, and they were together Monday night. Adams returned to Paterson for a dinner of chicken, rice and green beans at his grandmother's house, where they celebrated the Super Bowl.

"When I first heard the Super Bowl was in New Jersey, I actually joked about it," Adams said. "I said, 'Watch, now I'll finally get to the Super Bowl now that it's at Giants Stadium.' Now it's a reality. Now I'm here. Now I'm playing in Giants Stadium for a Super Bowl."

It has been a long journey, one that may extend another 10 miles.
Knowshon MorenoJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- That the Super Bowl will be played Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., 45 miles from his childhood home, still seems weird to Knowshon Moreno. That he'll be playing in it as the starting running back for the Denver Broncos? Well, that's something out of the storybooks.

"Very special," Moreno said Monday before the Broncos' first practice of Super Bowl week. "Everyone goes through different things. It's how you battle back from that and see the positive in all of the negative. I think I did a good job of that."

Moreno was a long shot to make it anywhere, born to parents who found themselves incapable of raising him and finally sent to live with his maternal grandmother in the New Jersey shore town of Belford. He found comfort in the home of Mildred McQueen after years spent bouncing around. His gifts as a football player carried him to stardom at Middletown South High School, where his teams went 36-0 and won three state titles from 2003-05.

"That was a good time," Moreno said with a laugh Monday. "Went three years, never losing -- 36-0 and all state championships. Putting all that work in, and then finally at the end of the day, at the end of the season, being rewarded with a trophy, that's what it’s all about. You don’t remember the hard times in training camp. You don't remember whatever happened throughout the week. You remember that moment."

Those moments propelled him to the University of Georgia and into the first round of the NFL draft, where the Broncos picked him 12th overall in 2009. But the hardships didn't stop there. Moreno struggled to develop as an NFL player, sliding down the Broncos' depth chart amid injuries, fumbles and off-field problems

He was an afterthought by November 2012, no longer even dressing with the rest of the active players on game day, until starter Willis McGahee got hurt and Moreno was somewhat surprisingly elevated to the starting running back role. He played well and kept the job into 2013, even after the Broncos drafted running back Montee Ball in the second round. And to hear folks around the Broncos tell it, Moreno's first 1,000-yard season was the result not just of perseverance but also of determined improvement.

"The thing with Knowshon that he's really improved is his accountability and dependability," Broncos coach John Fox said Monday. "He's been a professional as far as his preparation goes, and he has become one of the more dependable guys as far as assignment detail and those types of things. He's done a tremendous job, and he's maybe one of our most improved players this past season."

Success at the NFL level has brought Moreno back to his home state for a chance to cash in on every football player's dream.

"It would be awesome, especially in your hometown," Moreno said of winning the Super Bowl in New Jersey. "My family will be there to enjoy the moment."

Moreno said his high school coach is coming to visit him this week at the Broncos' hotel, and so will his family. He said it "would be cool to get back" and see his old high school, but the team is pretty tightly scheduled with practices and media obligations that could make it tough. Perhaps, he'll get a chance to visit after the game's over, and bring a Lombardi Trophy to show off. That would mark the completion of a truly remarkable journey.

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