Today in sports: Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay promise his final days with the Indianapolis Colts will be civil, Cleveland once again is a prime target for "sports blackmail," and college basketball is getting tough on taunting.
When Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay called Peyton Manning "a politician" and accused his franchise quarterback of "paint[ing] the Horseshoe in a negative light" it looked like the two sides were headed for a quick and spectacularly public divorce. Then Manning, who earlier in this week complained to Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz that he was "not in a very good place for healing" his surgically repaired neck, had to take the high road and stress how important it was to handle the situation "appropriately and professionally." At that point Irsay started to melt, and by Friday afternoon, the two men had issued a joint statement to dispel the "misperception that there might be any hard feelings between us." They even made a vague promise to remain civil while working through "any challenges the future might be bring." [Indianapolis Star]
The Cleveland Browns recently asked the city for $5.8 million to fix up their 13-year-old, $300 million taxpayer-funded stadium. Right now, the stadium repair fund is supported by a "sin tax" the city passed on alcohol and cigarettes, but that's going to expire in 2015, right around the time they pay off the loans they took out to build the stadium in the first place. So where is the money for future repairs going to come from? It's unclear. The franchise only pays $250,000 a year in rent, and the city opted not to build a domed facility, meaning the stadium sits unoccupied for long stretches during the winter. If they can't meet the terms of the lease, relocation threats are bound to follow, which is exactly the kind of "sports blackmail" the city experienced when the Browns left town for the first time [The Cleveland Plain-Dealer]
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most valuable franchise in hockey. Historically, they've also been one of the most successful. And thanks to years of shoddy management by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, they're poised to miss the playoffs for the seventh year in a row, despite having the highest ticket prices in the league. It's a reminder that ruthlessly efficient corporate ownership seldom translates into wins. [The New York Times]
John Adams, the NCAA's national coordinator of men's basketball officials, has put referees on notice: he wants to see more technical fouls. In a blistering memo posted on the website for men's basketball officials, he told them instructing them to start paying closer attention to "unsporting indiscretions," specifically "taunting, baiting, using profanity [and] threatening gestures towards opponents." In conclusion, he writes: "Enough is enough! Let's be committed to doing a markedly better job in this area between now and the end of the season." So get ready for the inevitable "Was that really a threatening gesture?" kerfuffle of the season. [SI]
There's a rumor going around that the Kansas City Chiefs are refusing to pay the final year of former head coach Todd Haley's contract, because they fired him "for cause." This tactic was a favorite of late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, and would certainly be a proportional response to that Kansas City Star article earlier this month about how Haley suspected the front office was bugging his office. [ESPN]
If you're unsure of who will win this year's Super Bowl, consider this: A camel named Princess that lives in New Jersey has picked the Giants. Per the AP, she's an exceptionally talented handicapper, and has correctly predicted the winner of five of the last Super Bowls, and went 14-6 with her weekly picks during the regular season and playoffs. Just something to consider. [AP]