When I first moved to Colorado, I was coming from about 250 ft of altitude in Chicago (where I was born) to 9,200 feet up in Summit County. For those not in Colorado, it’s an hour up the interstate 70 and through either Loveland Pass or the Eisenhower Tunnel to get to the main area of the county, which includes Breckenridge, Frisco, Keystone, Silverthorne and other towns and areas. I loved it from the first time I saw it, years before I moved up there.
And, for years after, I’d find myself breathing differently just to go up six steps. It wasn’t hard - but I’ve been told that there’s only a third of the oxygen that there would be in Denver, the Mile High City, so you simply pant more. Denver has a third less oxygen than the air at sea level. Later I trained heavily at the altitude at the Continental Divide and I found that by going down to Denver, still a mile up, to work out it was like drinking oxygen soup. When you train at altitude, you adapt and you get in that kind of condition. I shared a clinic with an expert on high altitude nutrition for the first year I was there and there was no shortage of such cases, so I got a fast indoctrination into the concepts of training at altitude and nutritional approaches to preventing altitude sickness. I then spent another 15 years or so living down lower at the connection of SW Denver metro and the foothills, and I learned about adjusting to that altitude. It’s not complicated. Friends from sea level would visit and quickly adapt. Many did so in a few days which is medically about normal. Rehydrating consistently and taking simple over the counter nutrients is all that’s required in the vast majority of cases. And a professional athlete is at a vastly lower risk than an average person.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Super Bowl is only four days away, but the biggest news in Indy continues to circle around Peyton Manning, who says his recovery is on schedule and that he has no plans to retire. In an interview with the Worldwide Leader, Manning said,
I really feel good. I continue to make progress every day. Everything that the doctors have told me has been on point, which is encouraging to me. I just had a great day today with rehab, just got back from the facility, and that's what we continue to do. Just keep trying to get better. So far I have. That's the plan from here on out.
Meanwhile, he told Dan Wetzel.
I have no plans on [retiring]. All the other talk, it is what it is. My plan hasn’t changed. I’m on track with what the doctors told me to do. I’m doing that. I’m rehabbing hard. And I’m enjoying this week.
Barry Petchesky thinks Peter King and Jason Cole went a bit far in their coverage of Manning's rehab this week; in their younger days, Peyton used to dole out some knowledge along with the beatings he gave Eli.
As we ramped up to the Senior Bowl, a few names came up that Broncos fans may want to keep an eye on. There’s little doubt that Denver will need a top man corner in the near future. Safety is an issue, with Brian Dawkins unsure of his return and the number of injuries that have plagued the team at that position. Then there’s the running back the Broncos need, probably a wide receiver (although hopefully a veteran who can teach and catch, like, oh, Jabar Gaffney or someone) and the constant need for ever-better defensive line players. The OL is very young already, but you never miss a chance to upgrade if you can take it rationally. Since you can only do so much, I mostly wanted to take a look at some of the names that we can watch on defense, given the issues that Denver has there.
Denver’s front office and scouting team did a heck of a job of putting together a front defensive line for 2011, but there’s still some work to do going forward. They have a one-gap penetrating line that needs the discipline to sniff out the screen, but the ability to get pressure consistently. Former longtime NFL GM Ernie Accorsi said once, in essence, that beyond a QB and his protection, you can’t have too many pass rushers. Defenses that also play the run tough are even more difficult to go up against. Getting a first-rounder with both attributes, if he’s still there, makes the middle more powerful early on. It’s one option.
The QB Files: Tom Brady Vs. John Elway
As the only other quarterback to start five Super Bowls, John Elway seems like the perfect place to start when evaluating Tom Brady’s Super Bowl legacy.
The story of Elway in the Super Bowl is essentially a tale of two quarterbacks. The young and inexperienced raw talent that helped his team to three Super Bowls in his first seven seasons (taking a beating in each) and the wily veteran who rode Terrell Davis to a career-capping pair of victories.
This one was not particularly close. Elway was an all-time great, and the two Super Bowls victories to end his career were a tremendous story, but on the biggest stage he cannot match Brady’s resume.
Tough (impossible?) to find fault with this one. During Brady's first three Super Bowls, he was complemented by very few offensive stars (Corey Dillon had one big year in 2004), just like Elway was during his early SB trips. The body of work from Brady's SB performances has simply been better than Elway's, and that's without even getting into the rings.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Let's lead off with a phenomenal quote from Von Miller (via Jeff Legwold) about being taken off the field during Denver's Week 5 home loss to the Chargers. Keep in mind, Von is only 22 years old (he'll turn 23 in March):
Something like that had never happened to me before. They took me off the field, and I had to watch other people play because of my mistakes. I felt like I was better than that and that it would make me stronger, but right then you kind of think you weren't ready. But they want to see how you do with that too. You can't just fold up. You have to be strong. I was determined to be strong and show the coaches and my teammates that I'm a guy they can rely on.
That's a remarkable bit of self-awareness and perspective, especially from an elite young athlete. One has to figure the Broncos didn't need to think long about whether to draft Von after seeing his tape and interviewing him at the Senior Bowl.
Broncos deny Raiders from talking to Smith
The nice play is over in the AFC West. It didn’t last long.
When Dennis Allen was hired to be the Oakland Raiders’ head coach last week, his former boss John Fox wished Allen well. And, now, Allen is on his own.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos have denied the Raiders permission to speak to linebackers coach Richard Smith for the Oakland defensive job.
Go ahead and chuckle. After losing Dennis Allen, you deserve it. The serious part of this move, though, is that it tells you how much the Broncos value Richard Smith. Let's say Del Rio leaves after one year? Who do the Broncos turn to? I think we've got our answer. (h/t, RSH)
Sources fearful over Manning’s ability to return
The nerves in Manning’s arm are not healing as quickly as hoped and, worse, don’t appear to be progressing at enough of a rate to indicate that he will play again, according to two sources with knowledge of Manning’s rehabilitation from neck surgery. The vertebrae in his neck that were fused have healed as expected and Manning began throwing in December. But he hasn’t shown improvement in velocity on his passes, and the two sources fear he likely never will again.
In addition, two league-affiliated doctors with experience in spinal fusion surgery said it could take up to a year before Manning knows if he can return. Both said the risk is too great for Manning to play again and, because of the timeline, neither would recommend the Colts pay Manning the $28 million bonus he is owed in March.
The lesson here? When Rob Lowe tweets, you better damn well listen.
Del Rio Introductory Conference Call
I’m all in…I’m fired up to be here.
There wasn't a lot of wow factor to Jack Del Rio's introductory press conference earlier today, but his passion for football came through loud and clear. Del Rio could have taken a year off and waited for another opportunity, but in his own words, he was "chomping at the bit."
Del Rio talked very little scheme and gave a lot of big-picture answers. One can hardly blame him. He hasn't had a chance yet to watch the Broncos' defense on film.
A few interesting tidbits from the conference call were as follows:
Other than these points, Del Rio said he wants the Broncos to create turnovers, be aggressive, and get to the quarterback. He failed to mention ripping out the quarterback's spleen, but we'll assume it was implied.
Allen declares 'new day' in Raiders history
Perhaps most relevant, however, is Allen’s purported penchant for military-like discipline after the Raiders set single-season standards for penalties (163) and penalty yardage (1,358) last season. The Broncos, meanwhile, were flagged 101 times for 842 yards en route to winning the AFC West with an 8-8 record.
We knew the Raiders were the dumbest team in the league. What we didn't know is that it's going to take a real hard ass to make them smart. Good luck, Dennis Allen. You're going to need it.
Inside a Moment in Time - Spin Move
As soon as Elway stood up, he turned to his teammates. “I knew that was going to give us the momentum to win the game because I looked at our sideline and [everybody] was going nuts,” Elway said.
“When he got up, his eyes were so big that you could see all he could think about was getting that first down. Once he got it—and I saw the relief in his eyes—I knew it was over,” (Rod) Smith said.
Wow, either these guys were just more confident in the heat of battle than us fans were (certainly possible), or this is what they say in retrospect. Because really, how many Denver fans (especially those who had been through the prior three Broncos Super Bowls) "knew" the game was over before the fourth quarter had even started? Even when John Mobley knocked down that final fourth-down pass, I can't say I believed what I had seen...