2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Broncos Gameday Live Report — Eagles at Broncos

    Sun, September 29, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 52, Eagles 20 — Sports Authority Field — FINAL

    —The Broncos set a franchise record, clearing 50 points in a game for the first time.

    —Peyton Manning set new records, too. That’s a weekly thing.

    —The Chiefs, we’re told, are for real. The Chiefs slipped past these low-flying Eagles. What does that make these Broncos?

    —The Broncos scored two touchdowns on special teams, an area of concern during the preseason. It’s not an area of concern anymore, at least for now.

    —The Eagles fans in attendance, at least in Sections 314-318, have been mighty friendly to their Broncos neighbors. One Philly fanatic even brought a beer back for his Bronco buddy.

    —The Broncos have scored 49, 41, 37 and 52 points. The 2007 Patriots, my measuring stick for the ultimate offense, opened their season by scoring 38, 38, 38 and 34 points.

    Headed to the locker room, plenty more coverage coming in Monday’s Gazette. Thank you, as always, for following along the Broncos Live Report.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 49, Eagles 13 — Sports Authority Field — 13:54 left in third quarter

    —Real question: How does anyone beat these Broncos? It definitely, surely, probably happens. But how? Read tomorrow’s Gazette for the answer. If I can find one.

    —Today’s attendance: 76,368. Big, jazzed crowd.

    —Pac-12 coaches aren’t crying for Chip Kelly.

    —Maybe Chip Kelly should have played this game in a parking lot.

    —Not to NFL owners and GMs: Unless it’s Pete Carroll with a bang-up personnel department, the college-to-pros jump doesn’t work.

    —Peyton Manning just set an NFL record with his 24th four-touchdown game.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Philly.Welker

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 35, Eagles 13 — Sports Authority Field — 5:10 left in third quarter

    —Manning’s halftime stats: 13-for-18 for 169 yards and a touchdown.

    —Vick’s halftime stats: 10-for-16 for 170 yards. He also ran for 39 yards.

    —This Eagles defense is wearing down, as we wrote in today’s Gazette.

    —Another sign that Broncos fans take this team for granted: Peyton Manning and the offense goes 80 yards for a touchdown to open the second half. Klee and Ramsey wondered if the crowd at Mile High even noticed. Quiet reaction.

    —Von Miller isn’t playing. Did notice that.

    —Cheerleaders are cheerleading. Did notice that.

    —Randall Cunningham jersey in Section 316. Definitely noticed that.

    —How’s your fantasy team today?

    —Tom Nalen’s halftime speech ended in, “Such as.”

    —Welker (shown above, courtesy Mr. Reis) has scored in all four games as a Bronco.

    —The videoboard just showed Cowboys-Chargers highlights, with Dallas leading, 21-20. Cheers went up around the stadium.

    —If Twitter says the Chiefs are “for real”…. what are the Broncos?

    Back in a few.

    Klee

     

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 21, Eagles 13 — Sports Authority Field — Halftime

    —Aside from the dumb penalty, Knowshon Moreno is like a different player. His running-back rebirth didn’t start this season, me thinks. It started in the game at Baltimore last season. He was terrific on that day, hurdling Ed Reed in the process. Here’s that column.

    —The big, bad Philly media is… cheering? Now it’s just odd. David Ramsey says: “It’s like being in the Navy press box.”

    —Ryan Bonner, who is sitting in Section 354, just changed his Chicago flight to tomorrow. He’s enjoying himself.

    —There’s never been another Michael Vick. And no, RGIII is no Michael Vick.

    —The late Sgt. Liam Nevins, who was killed in action last week in Afghanistan, was just honored on the video board. Bless you, sir. And your family.

    —Chip Kelly knows about the thin air at altitude, right? Strange the Eagles didn’t attempt a 54-yard field goal before half.

    —At least today, the Broncos admitted their mistake on Sylvester Williams. (Repeated: At least for today.) Is it time to do the same for running Ronnie Hillman over and over?

    —So. This is about what we expected, right?

    —Swift, mobile quarterback. Southpaw quarterback. Green-ish/blue-ish uniform. Running wild at Mile High. What does this remind you of?

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 14, Eagles 6 — Sports Authority Field — 11:53 left in the second quarter

    —Poor Trindon. Now the Eagles won’t kick to him.

    —AFC West turning NFC East into turtle soup today. (Will ESPN take note?) Chiefs thumped Giants. Chargers beating Cowboys. Raiders up two touchdowns on Redskins. And here.

    —Strange to hear rooting in the press box. Is that the feared Philadelphia media?

    —This was a shocking stat: Seahawks are 4-0. For the first time. Ever.

    —From this viewpoint, it sure looked like the Broncos made the right challenge. Thought the ball hit the ground.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 7, Eagles 3 — Sports Authority Field — 2:00 left in the first quarter

    —With three kickoff returns for touchdowns, Trindon Holliday now has the franchise record. That includes the playoffs. He also hasn’t lost a regular-season game the past two seasons. He has three punt returns for touchdowns.

    —Michael Vick still got it. His legs, at least.

    —Vick running wild, a southpaw, wearing a shade of green/blue, reminds of Mark Brunell. Sorry. It does.

    —This game is being played in hyper-speed. No wonder Trindon Holliday scored already.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Philly.Decker               Philly.Girl

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Broncos 7, Eagles 0 — Sports Authority Field — 7:43 left in the first quarter

    —On their first possession, that three-and-out by the Eagles was only their second of this season.

    —Wes Welker with three catches, including a touchdown, on the first drive for the Broncos. Does it seem like he’s always open?

    —Broncos might score 50 today. That was the prediction.

    —Photos above courtesy Mark Reis and Mike Ciaglo.

    —Going back to that inactive-list question: It’s never good when a first-round pick is a healthy scratch. Sylvester Williams has left much to be desired. So does the 2013 draft class for the Broncos, minus Kayvon Webster. Bad draft.

    —In his prime, Michael Vick was my other Allen Iverson.

    —If a stadium can be extra full, this stadium is extra full.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    PFM.Philly

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Eagles (1-2) vs. Broncos (3-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 20 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —Peyton Manning (above, courtesy Gazette photographer Mark Reis) has finished his pregame warmups and returned to the locker room. It’s a brief warmup. PFM wakes up warmed up.

    —The parachutists have landed. Never gets old.

    —The Eagles have landed (on the east sideline). Lots of boos.

    —Ryan Bonner is sitting in Section 235. Found a ticket on Craigslist. Got a good deal, too. Looking for Broncos tickets? Wait ’til the last minute, if you can.

    —The Fox has landed. John, the coach, is putting on his headset.

    —Eli Manning’s Giants are about to fall to 0-4.

    —The AFC West’s Chiefs are about to be 4-0. I’m not a buyer. Think they punt too often. But I understand why you would be.

    —That said, if the Chiefs are, in fact, for real, as everyone else says, they should be 9-0 or 8-1 heading into their first game vs. the Broncos. Snazzy schedule in the first half of the season.

    —Klee’s prediction: Broncos 50, Eagles 26.

    —The national anthem is coming up.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Eagles (1-2) vs. Broncos (3-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 45 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —Broncos inactives today (and guess which one shouldn’t be there): Zac Dysert, C.J. Anderson, Champ Bailey, Paris Lenon, Chris Kuper, Winston Justice, Sylvester Williams.

    —Broncos great Tom Nalen will be honored as the 24th member of the Ring of Fame today. Here’s the weird part about Tom’s induction.

    —Matt Barkley is inactive for the Eagles. Maybe he can talk Jack Del Rio out of the USC job.

    —Even more fans on the sideline than usual right now. The north endzone is three-deep with Manning jerseys.

    —The Broncos are stretching. Eric Decker is skiing in place. Chris Harris is dancing. Peyton Manning is swinging his legs to prevent a hip injury.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Eagles (1-2) vs. Broncos (3-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 90 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —It figures that after we raved about Jack Del Rio’s handiwork with this Broncos defense… something would threaten to pull Jack Del Rio away from this Broncos defense. Bye, bye, Lane Kiffin. Hello, Jack Del Rio? The USC job must be appealing to the former Trojan. If he leaves the Broncos, that leaves a big hole for the Broncos.

    —Another undefeated team, the Bears, is trailing big today. The Lions are up, 30-16.

    —Looks like the quarterback change in Tamp Bay is working out so far. The Bucs lead the Cardinals, 10-0.

    —Kevin Vickerson and Ronnie Hillman are now on the field for the Broncos. No sign of the Big Three for the Eagles — Shady McCoy, Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson.

    —Valiant effort from the Air Force Falcons last night. Tough, tough loss to stomach. Here’s what Air Force beat writer Brent Briggeman wrote from Reno.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Bucky

    Gazette.com Broncos Live Report — Eagles (1-2) vs. Broncos (3-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 2 hours until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    Afternoon everyone. It’s a sunroof Sunday here at Sports Authority Field (above). I’ll be here with live, in-game updates through the final horn. Feel free to check in via email or in the comments section below with anything you notice. A few things to get started….

    —As first reported by our friend Brandon Krystal, the Broncos will be without the services of cornerback Champ Bailey again today. Champ won’t play for the fourth straight game due to a foot injury.

    —On the field right now: Trindon Holliday, Duke Ihenacho (who is expected to play today after leaving the Raiders game early) and Chris Clark, who drew the praise of offensive coordinator Adam Gase for his first start at left tackle.

    —Weather will not be an issue today — unless you left the sunscreen at home.

    —Chip Kelly’s offense has dominated headlines for the Eagles. But it’s their defense that should be the concern — for the Eagles. Here’s my column on the Eagles from today’s Gazette.

    —And what about Michael Vick, a Klee favorite on the football? Have we forgiven the Eagles quarterback for his role in a dogfighting ring? More on that here.

    —Our superb photographer, Mark Reis, is here at the game today. We will post some of his photos at the end of each quarter. Colleague David Ramsey is expected to be in attendance as well. Plenty of coverage coming in The Gazette.

    Back in a few.

    Klee (Twitter: @Klee_Gazette or paul.klee@gazette.com)

  • Klee with Three: The Great Vick, forgiven?

    Sun, September 29, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Along with this column on Chip Kelly’s offense, this was published in Sunday’s Gazette but didn’t make it online:

    Klee with Three
    The Great Vick
    The Most Memorable Performance at a Mile High stadium? Peyton Manning’s seven-touchdown virtuoso ranks high. (So does the 1998 Monsters of Rock tour with Van Halen and Metallica, but that’s another entertainment genre.) Here’s another one that shouldn’t be forgotten: On Oct. 31, 2004, Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick rushed for 115 yards and threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers aren’t startling. If you remember it, the performance was. “I was a lot younger then,” Vick said last week in a conference call with Denver media. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like Vick on that day, and I’ve never seen anything like it since. “Is there anybody else like him?” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said then. “Come on, now.” Was there anyone like Vick in his prime? No. Hard to imagine there will be another, either.

    The Changed(?) Vick
    In a great state of dog lovers, we are torn over Vick. “What about his thing with dogs?” my mom said. Mom is right, like usual. That’s still a thing. As transcendent as he was on the football field, Vick’s role with the “Bad Newz Kennels” dog-fighting ring still strikes an ugly chord. Six years ago, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his involvement in a heinous criminal act. As the owner of a 7-year-old Labrador/Pit Bull/fishing guide mix, this is a tough one. I believe there are few sins worse than cruelty to dogs like my Maya. Perhaps the most important factor is what Vick has done since his imprisonment: developing a prominent role in the fight for animal rights and as a messenger for the Humane Society. Perhaps he’s turned a second chance into a positive. I can’t say for sure. But it’s sure better than the alternative, what was going on before.

    Kayvon Webster: Up and comer
    I’m no NFL scout. But it didn’t take Mel Kiper’s hair, or his eye, to spot a winner in Kayvon Webster. The first conversation with the Broncos rookie was like talking to a veteran. The 22-year-old out of South Florida is as confident as a 10-year NFL vet. “I just know if I do my thing, play the way I can play, I’ll be fine,” Webster told me. In an exceedingly ordinary draft class, Webster was the best draft pick selected by the Broncos in 2013. He doesn’t tackle ballcarriers; he lays a thump on them. “When I can see a play develop, it gives me time to get ready (for a big hit),” Webster said. The challenge now is to find a spot for Webster in a deep secondary. Cornerbacks Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the highest-paid players on the defense, and Chris Harris established his credentials last season. “He’s a rookie,” Bailey said of Webster. “But he doesn’t carry himself like a rookie.” Agreed, Champ. This one will be around for a while.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Rockies: Final (baseball) days of the Toddfather

    Wed, September 25, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    The Rockies mowed an enormous No. 17 into the Coors Field outfield.

    Teammates and opponents and Peyton Manning have offered their appreciation.

    The tributes will continue tonight in Todd Helton’s final home game.

    “It may be tough when spring training rolls around,” Helton said of his retirement.

    I’m guessing not that tough, though. Hunting trips and early mornings on the ranch have a way of soothing things.

    “I’m ready to be done,” he allowed Tuesday.

    If I had one Rockies wish, it would be this: That today isn’t the final home game at Coors Field for the Rockies’ best player, Troy Tulowitzki. Yes, that scenario is entirely possible.

    Talked to Tulo about the Rockies and his future with the club on Tuesday. Here’s that column. After three straight losing seasons — and 14 of their 21 seasons — it’s easy to forget the Rockies still have star power. It starts at shortstop and continues in left field, with Carlos Gonzalez.

    Cross your purple-foam fingers that today isn’t another farewell, too.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos Gameday Live Report: Raiders at Broncos

    Mon, September 23, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    DENVER — How good is this Broncos offense?

    Peyton Manning’s crew entered Monday Night Football having scored 90 points. Two teams had more — and they needed three games to do it.

    Make that 127 points through three games. The Broncos thumped the Raiders 37-20 before 76,106 at Sports Authority Field.

    In building a 27-7 halftime, Manning had a passer rating of 152.1 (158.3 is perfect). He finished with 374 passing yards and still hasn’t thrown an interception this season.

    More coverage coming in Tuesday’s Gazette.

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 27, Raiders 7 — Mile High — Halftime

    —The Broncos’ 319 yards are their most in a first half since September, 2008.

    —How long will we see Peyton Manning tonight? The fourth quarter might be time to Brock and Roll.

    —Consider this: Broncos have 16 first downs. Raiders have 25 total plays.

    —Peyton set another record in the first half: 12 touchdown passes over the first three games. He has yet to throw an interception.

    —How can one team be so bad for so long? We’re going on more than a decade of ineptitude in Oakland.

    —Chris Clark answering many questions with his performance in place of Ryan Clady tonight. He’s doing work on Doherty grad Lamarr Houston so far.

    —I’m going there: We’re watching the greatest offense in NFL history. Read about it in Tuesday’s Gazette.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 17, Raiders 7 — Mile High — 5:57 left in second quarter

    —Wes Welker showing a veteran’s eye on that touchdown reception. Shedded his defender.

    As I wrote here, Kayvon Webster remains the best draft pick the Broncos made in 2013. Two thumps on one series. He needs more playing time. Kid can ball out.

    —The draft picks ahead of Webster? Sylvester Williams and Montee Ball. No-shows so far.

    —The Raiders will be fortunate to score tonight.

    —The Raiders have been awful for a decade. Hard to believe. Reason No. 317 why Pat Bowlen probably deserves a spot on Colorado Sports’ Mount Rushmore. The Broncos are almost in the conversation.

    —Peyton Manning’s numbers this season: 11 touchdowns and… zero interceptions.

    —Festive crowd here tonight. Broncos fans still revel in beating the Raiders.

    —DRC, the second-highest paid player on the Broncos defense, got burned on that touchdown. That one’s going to tickle in their film session tomorrow.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 10, Raiders 0 — Mile High — :47 left in first quarter

    —It took three Raiders to bring down Julius Thomas.

    —Peyton’s offense is moving fast enough that TV is roughly one play behind the live action.

    —Chris Clark called for a holding penalty. These are big, tough shoes to fill at left tackle.

    —Right tackle Orlando Franklin appeared to be injured. He was stretching out a shoulder… or pectoral… or something up top.

    —The Broncos can stop the Broncos. That’s about it, so far.

    —Matt Prater’s 53-yard field goal attempt was good for 63. Easy.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Raiders — Mile High — 6:43 left in first quarter

    —Discounting the drop, Peyton Manning was 5-for-5 on the first scoring drive.

    —Terrelle Tebow made a couple nifty escape moves. Still punted.

    —Chris Clark held up quite nicely on Broncos first possession. He’s the most-watched left tackle in the league right now.

    —Eric Decker now stands 11th alltime in Broncos touchdown receptions.

    —The Raiders are hitting. Give ‘em that.

    —Full stadium here tonight. No surprise there.

    —The wind has died down to a whisper.

    —The Broncos punt on their second possession. The TV execs are happy.

    —This time yesterday, Klee was drinking a beer on a beach. Not sure which is better. I’ll go football. And she won’t mind.

    —With the Raiders in a huddle, Wesley Woodyard peers into the huddle to check out their personnel.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Fan.Raiders

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Raiders (1-1) at Broncos (2-0) — Mile High — Kickoff

    —Coin-toss captains for Broncos: Knowshon Moreno, Peyton Manning, Wesley Woodyard, David Bruton, Wes Welker.

    —Moment of silence in the press box for the late Lynn DeBruin.

    —Gazette super-photographer Mark Reis sent the photo above.

    —National anthem time.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Raiders (1-1) at Broncos (2-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 10 minutes until kickoff (6:40 p.m.)

    —David Ramsey just sat down. He’s mad at me for writing about Tim Tebow today. That’s his favorite topic.

    —The horse is on the field. The horse is on the field.

    —Due to the high winds earlier, the American flag crew was having trouble getting the flag to roll out without incident. That’s something to watch tonight.

    —Klee’s got Broncos 34, Raiders 20.

    —The Broncos are 13-7 vs. the Raiders in their last 20 meetings.

    —In case this one’s closer, the wind is out of the north.

    —Mile High is about 50-percent full right now. That will change.

    —Air Force football is miserable right now. Ramsey should’ve listened to me.

    —Haven’t asked Ben Garland about the Falcons. Yet.

    —The parachutists are soaring into the stadium. Never gets old.

    Back for kickoff.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Raiders (1-1) at Broncos (2-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 20 minutes until kickoff (6:40 p.m.)

    —Tim Brown is not on the field.

    —Ray Lewis is on the field, doing his TV thing.

    —Perfect night for football. Will need a fleece by game’s end.

    —There’s a Brock Osweiler jersey in Section 317. My man is ahead of schedule.

    —Feeling good about my Andrew Luck-will-finish-second-in-MVP-voting prediction.

    —Feeling not good about my Mike-Shanahan’s-Redskins-will-give-the-Broncos-a-game prediction.

    —What does the absence of Ryan Clady mean to the Broncos offense? Not a whole lot, me thinks.

    —No Champ Bailey again tonight. He’s inactive, along with Quentin Jammer, Chris Kuper, Winston Justice, Joel Dreessen, Zac Dysert and C.J. Anderson. And Tim Brown.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Raiders (1-1) at Broncos (2-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 30 minutes until kickoff (6:40 p.m.)

    —On the field now: Tulo, Michael Cuddyer, Nolan Arenado. Tulo is behind the north goalposts, catching field goals off the foot of Sebastian Janikowski. Tulo’s got a Broncos jersey hanging from his back pocket. Red Sox are here tomorrow.

    —John Elway is talking to the Raiders’ brass at midfield. Hope he brought hand santizer.

    —Degenerate gambling friend in Las Vegas says the oddsmakers have it DEN -16 with the Over-Under at 48.5.

    —Degenerate gambling friend also set his Over-Under on 20 drinks tonight. So take his info with a grain of salt. And a lime.

    —Peyton Manning is on the field and throwing slant routes to Demaryius Thomas.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Twerk    Raiders

    Gazette.com Broncos Gameday Live Report — Raiders (1-1) at Broncos (2-0) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — One hour until kickoff (6:40 p.m.)

    Good evening everyone. Denver columnist Paul Klee joining you from Sports Authority Field for tonight’s Monday Night Football affair. You know the drill — we’ll update the Live Report through the final horn (well, more like the fourth quarter, due to deadlines). Let’s get started….

    —On the field right now: Kevin Vickerson, Ronnie Hillman, Joel Dreessen (inactive tonight), Danny Trevathan, Mitch Unrein.

    —On the field earlier: C.J. Anderson. The previously injured running back won’t be active for tonight’s game, but he’s getting close. He’s caught in a numbers game at the moment.

    —Lovely night for a ballgame. There is a stiff breeze outside the stadium but nothing that’s moving the flags on the goalposts.

    —The signs above were on Evans and I-25 last week. It seems the rivalry still carries some weight.

    —Here was a conversation starter: Today’s column on Tim Tebow vs. Terrelle Pryor. I see the same player, minus one thing: the backlash. You?

    —Photographer Mark Reis and columnist David Ramsey are also here for tonight’s game. So plenty of coverage coming in Tuesday’s Gazette.

    Back in a few.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos and Rockies: Peyton Manning on Todd Helton

    Thu, September 19, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had his midweek exchange with media today. The best part came in a heartfelt ode to retiring Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, his old friend from Knoxville.

    It’s worth noting the last part, with Helton inviting Manning to Denver during the NFL lockout.

    Here’s Peyton:

    “I’ll be there next Wednesday to see his last game. It’s hard to put into short words a career of that long.

    “Two things about Todd. From his career standpoint — and I’m not a baseball expert — but I do know in football, something that’s important, I think, is to earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches, but also your opponents. I know a lot of baseball guys, and I’ve been in a lot of baseball locker rooms, and I know that Todd Helton has the respect of all his opponents and peers. That’s a credit to him for how he’s played the game. He’s played hurt. He’s been a tough player, a consistent player.

    “I think sometimes when you just write ’17-year career,’ it doesn’t do it in justice. You’ve got to put it in bold caps and write it about 50 times, just to realize how much work he put in.

    “As a friend, he was nice to me as an 18-year-old freshman, a homesick freshman up there in Knoxville. Todd was a big star when I got there already. A Knoxville legend. He took time to be nice to me. I appreciated that. Then a good friend the entire time we’ve known each other, almost 20 years.

    “Then a couple years ago, during that lockout, when I was in a strange injury situation, for him to get on the phone and call me and invite me out here to workout with the Rockies, in private, and use the Rockies trainers, I will always be indebted to him. Because I was in a weird place. I really had nobody to turn to, medically, because of the lockout. What Todd did, that really kind of gave me some new direction. I will always be indebted to him for that.” 

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Oh, to be the QB on this roster

    Thu, September 19, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Eric Decker. Demaryius Thomas. Julius Thomas. Wes Welker.

    Think Peyton Manning has it good?

    Check out this guy: Connor Preston.

    Who? He was the quarterback at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., when these wide receivers were on the same roster: Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and the Buffs’ Paul Richardson. The same high school roster.

    “That was why we threw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns or something crazy,” Serra coach Scott Altenberg told me Wednesday.

    There’s another Colorado connection, aside from Richardson, who is lighting up the scoreboard in Boulder. Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho also played at Serra. Well, he played two seasons at Serra, because he didn’t play football before his junior year.

    “The family was very against football,” Altenberg said. “They were really into academics. I think the feeling was, Football is not befitting of a young scholar type. And that’s awesome. That’s great. But when (Carl Ihenacho, his older brother) got his college paid for through football, they saw the value in (playing football).”

    Here’s some more on Duke Ihenacho from today’s column.

    Preston, by the way, is now a quarterback at SMU. Here’s a hunch he doesn’t have three future NFL receiving targets at his disposal.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Big man, big loss

    Wed, September 18, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    What’s bigger than losing Von Miller for six games and Champ Bailey for the first two, at least?

    Losing Ryan Clady for the season. That’s the scoop, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post and Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com.

    This is a significant development for the NFL’s most dangerous offense. But here’s why: the health of Peyton Manning is what matters. If No. 18 is upright, the Broncos can win the Super Bowl.

    The loss of Clady is big not because the All-Pro left tackle is irreplaceable. It’s big because he protects Manning, and it could endanger the only irreplaceable guy on the roster.

    Remember all of the concern over the offensive line in the preseason? J.D. Walton and Chris Kuper were injured. Clady was coming off shoulder surgery. The Broncos signed more centers than the Avalanche.

    Here’s the result, through two games: Manning has been pressured on only 23.9 percent of his drop-backs, according to my trusty friends at Pro Football Focus. I’m no NFL scout, but I’m told that’s good enough for second-best in the NFL.

    Is that because the Broncos boast an elite offensive line?

    It’s a solid offensive line, clearly, but with this many moving pieces, it can’t be considered an elite one.

    It’s because of Manning. And as long as he’s still standing, the Broncos are still a/the Super Bowl favorite.

    “Stepping into a role like this, it’s not going to be hard for me to adjust,” said left tackle Chris Clark, pegged as Clady’s replacement.

    He’s right, of course, because he knows who the quarterback is.

    How can an offense lose its second-best player and remain a juggernaut?

    That’s the power of Peyton.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Super prices for Super Bowl

    Tue, September 17, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Outside MetLife Stadium on Sunday — in front of Lot A — was a man selling tickets for the Manning Bowl. I asked him how much, and he asked me what I was looking for. Again, I asked how much. Again, he asked what I was looking for.

    A ticket price, sir. Just a ticket price.

    After this conversation went back-and-forth for longer than necessary, the scalper said he had one ticket for $200. That was his lowest price. I was simply wondering what it would cost to attend a Giants-Broncos game with all the Manning Bowl hullabaloo.

    Turns out, $200 would get you in the door.

    At least from that guy.

    Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium is a different matter. Those tickets are being jacked up to $2,600 for 9,000 premium seats, according to this report by The Associated Press.

    In the words of Peyton Manning, “How about that?

    That’s double the price for comparable seats at last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. Double! The next tier of tickets go for $1,500.

    Through two games, the Broncos look like the Super Bowl favorite in the AFC.

    Better save up.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos at Giants

    Sun, September 15, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Manning Bowl was a showcase, all right.

    Another showcase for the Broncos. Peyton’s Broncos whipped Eli’s Giants 41-23 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

    Despite the result, the elder Manning said it remains a “strange” feeling to face off against his brother.

    “It’s not like beating another team,” Peyton said.

    Is there another team that can beat the Broncos? Denver hasn’t pieced together a complete game but has crushed a pair of east-coast teams, ripping the Ravens 49-27 in Week 1 and outclassing the Giants in Week 2.

    More coverage coming on Gazette.com later tonight.

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 38, Giants 16 — 5:12 left in fourth quarter — MetLife Stadium

    —Eli Manning threw his sixth interception of this season in the fourth quarter of Week 2.

    —Injury to watch: Duke Ihenacho. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the game with an ankle injury.

    —Giants fans began leaving the stadium with 10:13 left in regulation. Early departing crowd.

    —See anything today that might indicate the Broncos won’t play MetLife Stadium a second time? I didn’t.

    —Broncos have played, really, four good quarters in two games. And they’ve scored 49 points and 38 (at least) points.

    —Bill Parcells was given a ring to commemorate his Giants Hall of Fame induction.

    —The AFC West is much, much better than anyone expected.

    Back in a few. Heading to locker room.

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 24, Giants 16 — End of third quarter — MetLife Stadium

    —Peyton Manning record watch: Moved into the 60,000-yard club. Only Favre (71,838) and Marino (61,361) have more than Manning (60,149).

    —That Brandon Jacobs prediction is looking good.

    —That score prediction is not.

    —That’s a first: Brandon Jacobs, one of the league’s foremost yappers, involved with a taunting penalty. And he’s not the one penalized.

    —That long conversation between Peyton Manning and Wes Welker — just before halftime — paid off with a touchdown pass.

    —The Broncos have been flagged for 10 penalties. The Giants have two.

    —Knowshon Moreno, showing again he’s the best option in the backfield.

    —Quiet crowd. Like, really quiet.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 10, Giants 9 — Halftime — MetLife Stadium

    —This week’s game feels a whole lot like last week’s game. The Broncos, who were the NFL’s best second-half scoring team last season, scored 21 points in the third quarter against the Ravens. Today?

    —Demaryius Thomas with another Broncos drop. Drops today: Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker.

    —MetLife Stadium is near nothing. Well, there’s that Dunkin’ Donuts. Interested to see how the Super Bowl goes.

    —Colorado would be a superior choice for a Super Bowl than New Jersey.

    —Super Bowl XLVIII: Super Commuter Bowl.

    —So far, the Manning Bowl isn’t about the Mannings. It’s about which Manning’s supporting cast is less bad.

    —Drops, untimely penalties (Duke Ihenacho), a fumble inside the 5. If the Broncos were playing a better team, they’re down big.

    —Peyton Manning was livid on the sideline. Not Tom Brady livid, but not happy. He had an extended face-to-face with Welker after that last drop. Lots of hand gestures and weird gyrations.

    —Tom Coughlin eschewed the taking of a knee. DRC with a veteran’s pick.

    —Really bad half for the Broncos. (Although we could say it’s relative, since Peyton still threw for 200 yards). Yet the Broncos were still much better than the Giants.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Giants 3 — 12:36 left in second quarter — MetLife Stadium

    —The jumbotron-in-each-corner at MetLife Stadium is awesome.

    —Try as they might to fit Montee Ball into a more prominent role, the Broncos best back remains Knowshon Moreno. Wrote that here a few weeks ago.

    —Hakeem Nicks still looks like Ty Lawson.

    —Victor Cruz is still un-coverable.

    —If I’m a Giants fan with a Nicks jersey, I would be worried it won’t be good after this year.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Giants 3, Broncos 0 — End of first quarter — MetLife Stadium

    —Peyton Manning made a point last week to say he’s not going to stop throwing to Eric Decker. He was being honest.

    —Trindon Holliday is close, very close, to breaking one.

    —MetLife is not a particularly loud stadium. That, or the press box has sound-proof glass.

    —Duke Ihenacho, the focus of our “Roots” series this week, is the thumper on this defense.

    —Peyton Manning was 12 of 16 for 132 yards in the first quarter. And the Broncos didn’t score. Looks a whole lot like the Ravens game so far.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Giants 3, Broncos 0 — 4:40 left in first quarter — MetLife Stadium

    —Things the Broncos should stop doing: drafting running backs, handing off, handing off to their drafted running backs.

    —Undrafted running back C.J. Anderson is inactive today.

    —Rough start to this season for Eric Decker. Lowest-graded player on the Broncos offense in Week One, according to Pro Football Focus. Offensive pass interference today.

    —After Montee Ball killed an impressive drive with a fumble, the Broncos went right back to him. On 3rd-and-14, he gained 15 yards.

    —The Giants can’t stop the Broncos. But the Broncos can stop the Broncos.

    —Most popular jerseys in the stands below the press box: Eli Manning, Crus, Tuck, (Lawrence) Taylor and more Eli Manning.

    —John Fox thought Eric Decker was interfered with. So did I.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Giants.Flag

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — Kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    —Peyton and Eli are at midfield for the coin toss. They shook hands. Then Peyton gave Eli a wedgie and made him take the bottom bunk.

    —Prediction: Giants running back Brandon Jacobs will do something notable today. Not sure if it will be good, or bad, but something.

    —Prediction II: The guy in Section 248 will put his shirt back on before halftime.

    —Prediction III: Both Mannings will eclipse 400 yards passing today.

    —Prediction IV: the team with the better pass rush wins.

    —Prediction V: Broncos 34, Giants 30.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    MetLife.Field

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — 45 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    —Peyton Manning is going through his usual pregame routine — series of passes to the defensive backs (still think that’s strange), quick jump passes (three in a row), stretching with teammates.

    —Brandon Jacobs, the newly signed Giant, delivered the pregame speech to his teammates. He is one fiery man.

    —MetLife Stadium arrived with a serious sound system. Sounds like Jay Z moved Barclays to Jersey.

    —Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com is pleased the Illinois football program appears to be making progress. He’s an Illini.

    —Todd Helton retires. Who else is on Colorado sports Mount Rushmore?

    —Good to see The Lumineers concert is still a go tonight at Red Rocks. That’s going to be a party, a deserving break from a wet reality.

    —Chris Harris is dancing on the 5-yard line. Here’s how Chris asked out his wife, Leah.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — 1 hour, 25 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    —Champ Bailey officially inactive for today’s game. Not a good matchup to be without Champ, so the Broncos will roll out DRC, Chris Harris, Tony Carter, etc., to defend Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, etc.

    —Say Mike Shanahan does get fired in Washington. Has a coach ever made more money from being fired?

    —The best sports bar in this metro area: MetLife Stadium. The four big screens are all showing live games — on enormous screens around the stadium

    —Christina invited me to her family’s tailgate in Lot A. They’re cooking brats. I can’t make it. Bummer.

    —No sign of the Mannings yet. The photographers lined up early to get the first shot.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

     Taxi

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — 2 hours until kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    —The Packers, who are No. 2 in the Klee Power Rankings (Broncos), are putting it on the Redskins, 24-0, in the first half.

    —Is it possible Mike Shanahan won’t make it to Week 8 and his homecoming game at Denver? That’s a reach. But his Skins, combined with the RGIII knee drama, don’t look good for the ex-Broncos coach.

    —Big fan of public transportation. Bigger fan of New York’s public transportation. Unfortunately, the train from Secaucus to the Meadowlands doesn’t run until 3 hours before kickoff. So I hopped a quick cab ride from the Secaucus station… which turned into quite a long cab ride from the Secaucus station. You will notice the flat tire (above).

    —The Redskins game is on the (four) big screens inside MetLife Stadium. It’s an NFC East thing.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    MetLife.Outer

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — 2 1/2 hours until kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    —Praying for all the of the flood victims back in Colorado. Your story is a national story. At least two TV stations in New York included the Colorado floods in the A block of their newscasts last night.

    —Tickets for the Manning Bowl on StubHub.com were going for up to $3,900. That was for a club suite. Or, you could pay one month’s rent for a 2-BR apartment in the East Village.

    —Gorgeous, sunroof Sunday here in East Rutherford. The tailgaters were in full force when Klee arrived at 11:30 a.m. Noticed a lot of Broncos jerseys as well.

    —The best tailgate set-up, at least that I saw, belonged to a Chiefs fan. He had two grills going and two big screens tuned to the NFL pregame shows. And a Chiefs flag.

    —Players are starting to make their way onto the field. Some of the Giants, at least. No sign of Peyton or Eli. Yet.

    Back in a few.

    Klee


     MetLife

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1) — MetLife Stadium — Three hours until kickoff (2:25 p.m. MST)

    Great afternoon everyone. Denver columnist Paul Klee joining you from here at MetLife Stadium (above), where the New York Giants play in New Jersey. We are really, really early today. But why not? This game is kind of a big deal. Let’s get started…

    —Bill Parcells is being inducted into the Giants Hall of Fame today, and there’s a stage at midfield. Microphone check, 1, 2, 12.

    —This brand spankin’ new stadium is quite a sight. It looks enormous from the outside… and bigger from the inside. This is also the site of Super Bowl XLVIII — the next Super Bowl — in February. Other performances to grace this field: Bon Jovi, WWE, U2, The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen.

    —Full contingent of Colorado media types in attendance, including Jeff Legwold (ESPN.com), Mike Klis (Denver Post) and Joan Niesen (Denver Post). Be sure to read their stuff, as well.

    —In other news, Todd Helton last night announced what we all expected. This is the first baseman’s final season as a baseball player. The Rockies will hold a news conference Monday, when Helton will address his retirement.

    —Broncos column rundown from this week:

    —Should Von be gone? Get a grip, friends.

    —What to expect in Sunday’s game? The Giants will be ready.

    —Brotherly love or bitter sibling rivalry? You be the judge.

    —No sign of Peyton or Eli. Yet.

    Back in a few. Up until kickoff, I’ll update this Live Report about every 30 minutes.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Peyton vs. Eli: Press conference edition

    Wed, September 11, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    PFM

    As he hustled off the podium from his weekly press conference, Peyton Manning repeated one question for Patrick Smyth, the superb media relations director for the Broncos.

    “Where do I go? Where do I go?”

    New York, sir! New Jersey, actually, but New York sounds more glamorous.

    This week is glamor and glitz and one big, happy reunion for football’s first family.

    Right?

    Actually, and this is probably why Peyton is on his game 99 percent of the time, the Broncos quarterback is so locked into Broncos-Giants, he tried to steer away questions from the Big Story: Manning Bowl III.

    “I did the New York conference call and there was not one question about the Giants defense,” Peyton told us today at Dove Valley. “I had to force it in there myself.”

    Today was Manning Day for media. Eli spoke to media in New York and media in Denver. Peyton spoke to media in New York and in Denver (above).

    Both quarterbacks long ago mastered the art of saying tons without saying anything. But we did relearn one thing: Neither brother is particularly enthused about, or focused on, their third matchup as NFL quarterbacks.

    “I don’t think they (Archie and Olivia Manning) enjoy it all that much,” Peyton said.

    Both brothers had their full arsenal of ‘aw, shucks’ on display, while downplaying the biggest game of this NFL Sunday.

    “When he was going through (the four neck surgeries), it makes you appreciate the game you’re playing,” Eli said.

    And both had jokes.

    “We knew we were going to play them,” Peyton said. “And based off last year, I knew we’d probably be on TV.”

    So get ready — for Manning overload, hundreds of media reports and tall tales and childhood photos and brotherly comparisons and replays of still-funny Saturday Night Live skits.

    It will be a lot. And we’ll read and watch every last one.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette