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Two Cents: Peyton Manning a shell of QB he used to be

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Look at the four quarterbacks in today's NFL conference championship games: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer. Now, considering where they are right now, rank them from best to worst. There could be a debate about who is at the top among Brady, Newton and Palmer.

But is there any question that Manning is last on that list?

It's hard to believe. Hard to even say. But that's where Manning is these days. Injuries and Father Time have turned Manning, 39, into a shell of the quarterback he used to be. Still, it's a shame. We're talking about one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.

Well, in the regular season, that is.

Sorry, but Manning's postseason career hasn't been all that great. Yes, he has a Super Bowl ring, but it feels like he should have several. And yes, it's a team game, but too many times Manning has played on teams favored to win Super Bowls and they were upset in the playoffs. Not all those losses have been to the Patriots.

Manning's 12-13 postseason record includes going 4-0 during the year the Colts won the Super Bowl. He has thrown 24 interceptions in 25 postseason games. If the Broncos lose to the Patriots today and Manning retires, you can't help but have questions about his career. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but you can't say he was Mr. Clutch. He has lost far too many big games that he should have won. Not only isn't he the best postseason quarterback of his generation, you could argue that he isn't even the best in his family. That would be brother Eli, who has two Super Bowl rings. Peyton is a great QB and a class act. Just not the guy you'd pick in a do-or-die game.

Roughest start

Nice win for USF basketball Saturday. Actually, any win is a good win. In the last football season, when the Bulls were 1-3, I started noodling with a column in the event coach Willie Taggart got fired. Some might want me to revive that column by changing all the Willies to Orlandos and the Taggarts to Antiguas. Basketball coach Orlando Antigua (above) is finding out the Bulls are a major rebuilding project. They are 4-17, and despite Saturday's win, a lot of wins might not be left on the schedule. It's only Antigua's second year on the job. To be fair, that's too early to suggest his job should be in jeopardy, but a single-digit-win season would not be a good look.

Best call

Who fired Cavs coach David Blatt (top)? Was it GM David Griffin or star LeBron James (bottom)? James says he wasn't consulted — "I was just as surprised and caught off guard like everybody" — but come on, it's hard to believe he didn't make his feelings known at some point. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Typically, it's not wise to let the inmates run the asylum, but I trust James to know what a good NBA coach looks like, and if he thinks Blatt wasn't one, he had every right to say something. Besides, Blatt didn't seem like the guy from the minute he was hired.

Newest show

ESPN has found a vehicle for returning on-air talent Rachel Nichols (above, with Spurs guard Danny Green). Among her new duties, Nichols will host an NBA-themed program called The Jump, which will debut Feb. 18 and air weekdays at 3:30 p.m. The show will feature conversation and debate with current and former NBA players, and ESPN analysts. Nichols also will be seen on SportsCenter and E:60, and will occasionally host Outside the Lines.

Media tidbits

. College football analyst Robert Smith announced he will not return to ESPN in 2016. No word on what he will do next, but some are speculating that the former Ohio State star could go to Fox and the Big Ten Network.

. Greg Norman is out as Fox's lead golf analyst after one year. Fox's golf coverage was not great, and Norman was only part of the problem.

. The newest episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Features include a look at the medical care given to college athletes, a profile of new heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury and the use of marijuana among NFL players.

. Saints coach Sean Payton will join ESPN's Postseason NFL Countdown at 1 p.m. today.

Biggest warning

Mike Francesa (below), perhaps the most popular sports radio talk-show host ever, is saying he will leave his longtime post at New York's famed WFAN when his contract expires next year. Appearing on a podcast with Fox Sports 1's Katie Nolan, Francesa said, " .… at the end of '17, there will be no more FAN. That I promise." He stressed that does not mean he is leaving the business. It also should be noted this is not the first time he has hinted at leaving the station and the business.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Okay, put John Lynch in the Bucs' Ring of Honor. Then Ronde Barber (right). Then coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden (in that order). AND THEN THAT'S IT! This franchise hasn't had enough success to add any more names after that.

2. Does America want to see the Patriots back in the Super Bowl or is it sick of them? Both, I think. The Patriots are an old story, but polarizing dynasties are always good for sports.

3. The final eight quarterbacks left standing this season in the NFL: four No. 1 overall picks (Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Alex Smith), two other first-rounders (Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers) and two later-round picks (Tom Brady, top, and Russell Wilson, bottom). Is there any question that it's all about the quarterback?

tom jones' two cents

Two Cents: Peyton Manning a shell of QB he used to be 01/24/16 [Last modified: Sunday, January 24, 2016 12:46am]
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