(Manning photo courtesy of Denver Broncos)
(Simeon rice photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Talk of Fame Network
Talk of Peyton Manning dominates this week’s show the same way Manning dominated the NFL for most of his 18-year career. While his decision to retire was far from a shock, it was the story of the week, and The Talk of Fame Network was all over it, starting with a lengthy visit with one of Manning’s closest friends, former Indianapolis Colts’ center Jeff Saturday.
During his discussion with our Talk of Fame hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, Saturday revealed that many of Manning’s gyrations at the line of scrimmage and calls of “Omaha! Omaha!’’ were more for effect than to affect a change.
“Probably 70 percent was all for show,’’ Saturday said. “They were camouflage and theatrics.’’
Saturday couldn’t pick a single throw as Manning’s most memorable, but he had no trouble selecting their biggest game together. Not surprisingly it involved the New England Patriots.
“Probably the 2006 AFC championship game in the RCA Dome,’’ Saturday said. “We finally beat the Patriots. We were down so much. That game was special because we did overcome so much. There was a joy (that) we’d fought a tough fight and beat your nemesis.’’
Rick and Ron each pick their five favorite Manning performances, and Clark recalls the first time he saw Manning as a rookie and knew, even in defeat, he had seen something special. Long-time Indianapolis Star columnist and WHTR-TV reporter Bob Kravitz also weighs in with his recollection of Manning’s years in Indianapolis and why he believes he “was the most impactful athlete and civic citizen ever to pass through these parts.’’
Kravitz also gives some unique insight into the man during a discussion he once had with Manning about the importance of good penmanship when signing an autograph.
The second half of the show begins a series on the annual free agent frenzy that quite often leads to disappointment rather than salvation. The Hall of Fame Guys debate who they feel was the all-time best and worst signings and who figure to join those ranks this offseason.
They also visit with two of the best free=agent signings in history, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Simeon Rice and three-time Super Bowl winner Ken Norton. When Rice came to Tampa he was already a well-established pass rusher but after signing a five-year, $34 million contract. He then exceeded its value, posting five straight seasons of double-digit sacks and providing the Bucs with the final piece of their Super Bowl winning defense.
“I know I was a Hall-of-Fame player,’’ said Rice said. “Every defense I was on going back to high school was No. 1 ... The way I looked at it we (Rice and Hall-of-Fame teammate Warren Sapp) were like the Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson of football.’’
Norton signed a five-year, $8 million deal when that was a load of money to jump from the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys to their hated rival, the San Francisco 49ers. Dallas had just won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992-93 when Norton went to the dark side – and won again.
“Emotionally, it was tough,’’ Norton said of leaving to anchor the defense of what would become his third Super Bowl winning team. “Our early Dallas teams went through so much. The way Jimmy Johnson worked us, we couldn’t help but be close. But (leaving became) financially a no-brainer.’’
What was not a no-brainer was his feelings going into the 1994 NFC title game against his old teammates, teammates he now would help defeat.
“It was like playing your best friends or your brothers,’’ Norton recalled. “You’re seeing all the guys you helped build the Cowboys with (on the other sideline). It became a personal competition to see who got through to that third Super Bowl.’’
It turned out to be Norton and the Niners. Yet for all of Norton's success as a free agent in San Francisco, one memory lingers from his days in Dallas above all the rest.
“I tell my players the way training camp was (under Johnson),’’ said Norton, who now coaches with the Raiders. “They don’t believe it. Padded practices back-to-back. You can’t have that today. It was a melee. It was all out war … Now, if you’re not a tough guy, you can hide for a few years.’’
One guy who has been too long hidden in Borges’ opinion is former AFL MVP Gino Cappelletti. This year the Hall-of-Fame’s 46 voters again rejected the candidacy of kicker Morton Andersen, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. For the past 40 years they’ve done the same to Cappelletti, the AFL’s all-time leading scorer who was an All-AFL wide receiver as well as a place kicker. Borges states the case for Cappelletti, while all three hosts debate the Hall-of-Fame worthiness of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who this week announced his retirement.
There’s all that, plus the weekly two-minute drill and plenty more. You can hear the show on over 80 radio stations around the country or simply by going to iTunes and selecting the Talk of Fame Network podcast. You can also hear the show on the TuneIn app or simply by going to talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the show icon.