2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • New York: The Commish doesn’t smoke weed

    Fri, January 31, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    SB.Goodell

    Just recorded this video from Roger Goodell’s “State of the NFL” address at the Lincoln Center (above). Here’s the breaking news: The Commish doesn’t smoke weed.

    “I’m happy to say I’m clean,” Goodell said.

    Unfortunately for the Broncos and Seahawks who do burn one down, they will continue to do so in violation of the NFL’s drug policy. Goodell laid it out pretty clearly: the NFL has no plans to adjust its stance on marijuana.

    “It is questionable in respect to the positive impact,” said Goodell, who added he, too, is subject to random drug testing. “But there is certainly some strong evidence to the negative impact, including addiction and other issues.”

    This issue, of course, is shoved into the spotlight with Colorado and Washington repping the AFC and NFC here at the Super Bowl. What I’ve found somewhat funny is how often our new weed laws are brought up on the street. If I had a buck and a Metro card for every time I’ve been asked — by non-Colorado residents — about the recreational marijuana laws in Colorado, I would sell my car and move to Manhattan.

    “Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way,” Goodell said. “We are not actively considering that at this time.”

    I don’t agree with the NFL’s stance on marijuana. Not an expert by any means, but it seems to me the pot-smoking players are simply penalizing themselves. The health benefits are another matter; we won’t get into that today, since I need to type a column. But in the NFL, the message remains the same: Just say no.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • New York: Broncos, Seahawks right at home

    Fri, January 31, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

     

    SB.PFM     SB.Champ

    SB.Wilson     SB.Mariana

    We’re in the homestretch of Super Bowl week in New York/New Jersey, and there’s been only one thing missing: players in trouble in the big city. Aside from this photo of Ronnie Hillman — at least don’t take the photo, man — the Broncos and Seahawks haven’t made the wrong kind of news.

    On Thursday you had Peyton Manning’s comedy routine (above left), Champ Bailey nearing his first Super Bowl (Mike Adams: “Of course he would come back for the playoffs. Typical Champ.”), Russell Wilson being nice (bottom left) and my new friend Mariana Gonzalez teaching the Seahawks how to play a new game (bottom right). 

    Still, it’s been anything but quiet. New York has a way of magnifying life.

    After spending the past three days around the Seahawks, I learned the Seahawks have a magnified personality. That personality seems to be connected to an amplifier, perhaps the same one used by their head coach when he’s game-planning to Snoop Dogg in his office.

    I think, if Seattle wins, the rematch could take place in Seattle in the NFL Kickoff Game in September. I think Max Unger should keep the beard and continue skateboarding. I think the Broncos and Seahawks are built to be Super Bowl contenders for years to come — the Broncos more than the Seahawks, which will come as a surprise to some

    I think both teams could be back here next season.

    Not here, as in New York/New Jersey, but here, as in the Super Bowl. Next year it’s in Phoenix. 

    My prediction for the game is coming in Saturday’s Gazette. Having been around this Broncos team for the majority of the past 12 months, ever since the devastating Ravens loss, and seeing both teams go about their business this week in New York, I feel confident in the pick. 

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • New York: Super Bowl XLVIII media day

    Tue, January 28, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    SB.Media.3      SB.Media

    SB.Media.4      SB.Media.5

    Super Bowl media day is a popularity contest.

    Peyton Manning placed first. Richard Sherman, second. Eric Decker was a narrow third. In a tie for fourth…. everyone else.

    Here’s what it sounded like inside the Prudential Center across the river in Newark.

    There’s what it looked like inside the biggest media event of Super Bowl week (above). The first question was fired at John Fox. You guessed it: how will the weather affect the Broncos on Sunday?

    Fox said the same thing Peyton Manning said about 10 minutes later.

    “We’ve played in all kinds of weather this year,” Manning said. “I think that is going to help us.”

    The media doesn’t help itself at this over-the-top production. A woman shouted a wedding proposal to married heartthrob Eric Decker (above right). Another woman appeared dressed for a lingerie contest (not pictured, I prefer to keep my job). Another player was asked if the Super Bowl is “a must-win game.”

    Phewww.

    While the largest throng of cameras surrounded Manning, the soon-to-be MVP, even Air Force grad Ben Garland couldn’t escape the absurdity.

    Big Ben was asked if he could recall his strangest dream. Read his answer in Wednesday’s Gazette.

    Finally, Eric Decker encountered the doozy:

    “What’s your favorite part of your wife’s body?” a credentialed media member actually said.

    “All of it,” he answered.

    Now is it game time yet?

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • New York: What’s it cost to attend this Super Bowl, anyway?

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Still considering a last-minute ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII? 

    Here’s the best course of action:

    Wait.

    Wait another day, another five days if possible, and ticket prices will continue to plummet. When the Seahawks locked up their spot in Super Bowl XLVIII, the cheapest ticket cliff opened at a listed price of $2,042, according to the ticket-trends Web site Razor Gator. Eight days later, the cheapest seat is going for $1,298. That’s a dip of roughly 35 percent.

    While maneuvering between the Broncos’ media event in Jersey City and the hotel in Manhattan, it struck me how much different this New York/New Jersey Super Bowl would be if the Giants or Jets were involved. I’ve seen more Giants/Jets gear roaming the streets than Broncos/Seahawks gear. True, fans are not yet starting to roll in. But if a local franchise was directly involved — and not simply allowing the Broncos and ‘Hawks to use their practice facilities — I suspect ticket prices would break the bank.

    Despite what colleague David Ramsey says — kidding, Mr. Ramsey — weather is an enormous factor in this Super Bowl. It isn’t just one factor; it’s the biggest factor. (More on the weather in Wednesday’s Gazette, just for Mr. Ramsey’s sake). It is frigid outside, the wind whipping down 7th Ave. in Times Square. 

    It’s 11 degrees. If today were Super Bowl Sunday, we would be in the fourth quarter of the coldest Super Bowl in history. I don’t mind. But it’s true.

    The wintry elements also are affecting ticket prices. As the reality of a cold-weather Super Bowl sets in, fewer people are looking to sit outside in sub-freezing temperatures, sending prices into a nose dive.

    That’s relative, of course. The average ticket price is still hovering around $3,000, according to TiqIQ.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

     

  • 2013 Broncos: at Houston

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Hou.Zone     Hou.Roof

    Next up: at Houston, Week 16.

    Example 2,189 why the quarterback is everything in the NFL: Houston didn’t pursue Peyton Manning in free agency. Instead, the Texans rolled with Matt Schaub.

    The Texans have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. 

    The date: Dec. 22.

    The game: Broncos 37, Texans 13.

    The site: Reliant Stadium, Houston.

    The notable: The Texans’ practice facility — a Texas-sized bubble across the street from Reliant Stadium — is one model the Broncos researched before breaking ground on their own.

    The photos: 1. Reliant Stadium from a club suite 2. The roof opened prior to kickoff.

    The column: Peyton Manning tosses No. 55 — now what happens to the actual ball?

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • 2013 Broncos: vs. San Diego

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Next up: vs. Chargers, Week 15.

    Sports-talk radio lit up like Aurora Borealis. Opinion pieces scooped dirt on Denver’s Super Bowl hopes. The blueprint for beating the Broncos had been delivered.

    This was the beginning of the end, for sure.

    Truth is, a home loss to the Chargers was the best thing that happened to the Broncos. The ’97-’98 Super Bowl champions combined for four losses in Decembers. This was that. I still contend San Diego’s triumph did the Broncos a Super favor.

    The date: Dec. 12.

    The game: Chargers 27, Broncos 20.

    The site: Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

    The notable: The ’12 Broncos won 11 straight games to close the regular season. What if they had lost a regular-season game in December? We’re talking about back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

    The column: Broncos defense gives reason to worry in home loss to Chargers.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • New York: Let’s do a Super Bowl

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    NY.Boat     NY.Boat.2

    The Broncos are on a boat. 

    To begin this Super Bowl week, the AFC champions held their Monday press conference on a cruise ship docked in Jersey City (above). John Fox took questions in the main ballroom; Demaryius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno and Terrance Knighton were among the players who set up shop on the top deck.

    Who says there’s no new news coming out of Super Bowl week? 

    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie turned that theory on its side. The Broncos cornerback said just a few minutes ago he’s considering retiring if the Broncos beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday.

    No, really.

    “This was a one-year deal,” DRC said, sounding entirely convincing.

    You could make the argument DRC has been arguably the most consistent player on the Broncos defense. He was their best defensive player in the AFC championship game against the Patriots, I’d say.

    This isn’t an old man with his body breaking down. He’s 27.  He was the 18th overall pick…. in the 2008 draft. This is a guy in his prime, the second-highest paid player on the Broncos’ defense, behind only Champ Bailey. This is a guy about to get paid — either by the Broncos or another fortunate team.

    And he’s going to retire?

    “It’s not set in stone,” he told us on the boat.

    Throughout this season, his first in Denver, DRC always has struck me as a different kind of guy. He’s quite reserved and often seems to keep to himself. His superstitions lead him to munch Subway before every game.

    “Ham and cheese sandwich,” he said. “If we win. If we lose, I’ve got to switch it up.”

    He’s told teammates this season could be his last. DRC said “they think I’m joking.”

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t get the impression DRC was joking.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • 2013 Broncos: vs. Tennessee

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

     

    NY.View

    Next up: vs. Tennessee, Week 14.

    Beat up like a boxer, the Broncos defense played without Rahim Moore, Champ Bailey, Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe. Duke Ihenacho and Wesley Woodyard didn’t finish the game. “It feels like we’re just hanging on right now,” defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie told me. Somehow, the Broncos defense has gotten stronger as more players dropped to the wayside due to injury.

    “There’s no question we’re playing our best football over the last month of the season,” John Fox said today here in New Jersey (above).

    The date: Dec. 8.

    The game: Broncos 51, Titans 28.

    The site: Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

    The notable: With the kickoff temperature at a frigid 18 degrees, Peyton Manning unloaded a career-high 59 passes, perhaps an attempt to shut down the theory he wilts in wintry elements.

    The column: Polar Express? More like the Peyton Manning Express.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • 2013 Broncos: at Kansas City

    Mon, January 27, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    KC.Out     KC.In

    Next up: at Kansas City, Week 13.

    Peyton Manning spotted Marcus Cooper. Then he picked on Marcus Cooper. And picked on Marcus Cooper some more. By the time it was over, Manning and the Broncos again exposed the Chiefs as a quality team, but not one that could overtake them for the AFC West title.

    The date: Dec. 1.

    The game: Broncos 35, Chiefs 28.

    The site: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City.

    The notable: This was the most intoxicated stadium this season. Sunshine, warmer-than-average weather, early tailgates and a hyped matchup added to an overzealous and dangerous atmosphere. One tailgate offered free shots to passers-by, no I.D. needed. And we wonder why a man, a father, was murdered in the parking lot?

    The photos: Arrowhead Stadium, inside and out.

    The column: If Broncos reach the Super Bowl, send thank-you cards to the Chiefs and Ravens.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • 2013 Broncos: at New England

    Sat, January 25, 2014 by Paul Klee with no comments

    NE.1     NE.2

    NE.3     NE.4

    Next up: at New England, Week 12.

    How will the wintry weather affect the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII? There are two reference points from this season: against Tennessee at home, against New England in Foxboro. In sub-freezing temperatures against the Titans, Peyton Manning launched a career-high 59 pass attempts. The cold didn’t bother him, not one bit. But in the fierce Foxboro wind, with a stiff northern breeze roaring in from the north, the passing game was frozen. Manning threw for a season-low 150 yards.

    The lesson: Wind, not cold, is cause for concern on Super Bowl Sunday.

    The date: Nov. 24. 

    The game: Patriots 34, Broncos 31 (OT).

    The site: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro.

    The notable: “Peter!” This is the call when a punt lands dangerously close to a member of the Broncos’ punt-return team. Unfortunately for the Broncos, no one yelled “Peter!” and a punt clipped Tony Carter, giving the Patriots a chip-shot field goal for the overtime win.

    The photos: 1. Frigid Gillette Stadium 2. Peyton Manning was “extremely disappointed” in the OT loss 3. So was my dog, Maya 4. Boxing match in nearby Rhode Island.

    The column: Who do you take: Brady or Manning

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette