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Manning Watch

Or, why I haven't showered in almost a week

Manning Watch: It's been a crazy, week-long ride.

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There was no Cup Check column last week. I was sick. Sometimes when the body says rest, all you can do is listen.

But missing a column never feels good, so I did manage to drag myself over to Twitter and apologize to Cup Check's seven faithful readers for the interruption in service. It seemed like the least I could do, given the circumstances.

Joe Izenman, who covers theater for the Volcano and is also something of a sports fan, didn't waste any time in getting back to me, tweeting in response:

But you're missing prime Peyton Manning Speculation time.

To which I foolishly responded:

It's true. And lord knows I'm thankful for any major storyline that doesn't involve Tim Tebow ...

Boy, that was a dumb thing to say.

As we know by now, of course, the Peyton Manning story does involve Tim Tebow - in a big way. By some cosmic power or divine (TV ratings-related) intervention, everything involves Tim Tebow - whether it should or not. Rather unexpectedly, Friday the Denver Broncos - seemingly (albeit it cautiously) smitten with Tebow Mania just two short months ago as the unorthodox lefty was leading the team to a playoff victory over the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers - became the first team to host Peyton Manning's Neck Across America Free Agency Tour, with Broncos' Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway going all in to recruit the future Hall of Fame signal caller.

Naturally, this just about caused the world to explode. Released by the Colts after 14 glorious, record-breaking seasons in Indianapolis because of a bum neck that won the Colts the right to draft young hot-shot Andrew Luck, the Manning story - and where the famous QB will end up - was going to be huge no matter what. But once the world's biggest lightning rod-slash-male underwear model got involved, the pitch became fevered - as it does with all things Tebow related.

Tebow's devout fanbase - many of whom have followed the scripture slinging quarterback since his days giving fiery speeches at the University of Florida (not to mention winning National Championships and the Heisman trophy, and maybe crying just a teeny bit) - was understandably shaken. Soon, reports emerged that the publically unflappable Tebow was too.

Still Elway, who only two months earlier had publicly proclaimed Tebow had earned the right to enter training camp as the starter, kept his foot on the gas, hitting it off with Manning, calling in high-profile personal recruiters like John Lynch and Brandon Stokely, and in the process rocketing the Broncos to the front of the Manning sweepstakes.

Pundits from far and wide chimed in. Some called Elway's pursuit of Manning brilliant. Others called it tacky. But everyone was talking.

And talking. And talking.        

Manning visited Denver almost five full days ago as I write this. Since then, he's also met with the Cardinals in Arizona, the Dolphins in Indianapolis, and is scheduled to meet with Titans owner Bud Adams today - with the word on the street being Adams is prepared to offer a gazillion dollars for the quarterback's services. While Denver once appeared to be the frontrunner, at this point public perception seems to be trending in favor of Tennessee, thanks to the team's oil baron owner with the insanely deep pockets.

All of this activity, minute by minute, has been reported on, sleuthed, investigated and followed on Twitter - yet another example of how the exploding social media platform has forever revolutionized the way we get our news and follow stories.

And, for better or worse, it's pretty much consumed me for the last week.

A fan, if so inclined, and thanks to Twitter, has had the opportunity to follow the action with a degree of closeness that's almost unnerving. Flight schedules have been dissected. Where and with whom Manning is eating dinner has been dissected. The teams involved in the hunt have been debated by professional beat writers, each citing their own assumedly legitimate sources. A dude from CBS Denver got his Twitter dick bitten off for posting something from one of his "sources" that had perhaps been a bit too revealing.

It's been a crazy, week-long ride - Manning Watch as it's come to be known.

And at this point, as an invested participant, all I can say is ...

Whatever happens, hopefully it stops soon. I need to get on with my life.


March Madness is in the air, which means most of the sports-related news these days - aside from the Peyton Manning Watch - centers around college basketball and the brackets everyone in your office has been incessantly filling out. And rightly so. March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year. Sadly for Syracuse University's Fab Melo, however, March just got a little less exciting, as the 7-foot tall starting center - named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year - was declared ineligible for the 2012 NCCA tournament by the school for reasons that weren't completely clear as of press time (the university announced on its website that no further details could be released because of federal student privacy laws). As was noted in many media reports, Melo missed three games earlier this season - including one of Syracuse's two losses - because of an academic issue. The suspension comes as just one more distraction in what has been a distraction-filled season for the Orange, a team that started the season under the cloud of the Bernie Fine sexual molestation charges, and was later targeted by a Yahoo! Sports investigation claiming the that at least 10 Syracuse basketball players since 2001 had tested positive for drugs, and that the school failed to adhere to the drug policy while playing ineligible players. ... Once again proving that the Leader of the Free World has more free time than your average Weekly Volcano employee, President Barack Obama is set to release his NCAA men's basketball bracket this week, which according to ESPN features Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri and North Carolina in the Final Four. It's fitting that ESPN would have this info, as Obama is also slated to divulge his predicted national champion on SportsCenter this week. And, to be fair, Obama will also unveil his NCAA women's basketball bracket later this week, in which the POTUS reportedly has Baylor, St. John's, Connecticut and Notre Dame advancing to the Final Four. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reportedly told media members this week in Missouri that he won't be filling out a bracket this year, as he's "not plugged in well enough this year to do that." Shows you what kind of president he'd make. ... Finally, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was named as a perpetrator in a new police report this week, with a 24-year-old female New York club-goer alleging Marshall punched her in the eye during a fight at a night club in Chelsea. Also, Marshall was traded from the Dolphins to the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. One of these events was far more shocking than the other.

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