National sports briefs
Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2012
MIAMI — Touchdown, Peyton Manning.
The former Indianapolis Colts quarterback landed late Wednesday afternoon in South Florida, drawing the attention of local TV news helicopters and NFL fans everywhere.
His private plane arrived at a small airport 30 minutes from the Miami Dolphins’ complex, but he then rode off in a different direction with the news media in pursuit. When his van reached Miami Beach, it pulled over in a church parking lot, and Manning emerged to tell reporters South Florida might not be his final destination.
Manning has a condo here and has been working out with former Colts teammate Reggie Wayne, who lives in South Florida. Manning’s not necessarily Dolphins-bound, he said.
“I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works,” Manning said. “I don’t know if it’s like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me.”
One TV station broadcast the interview live, even staying with the audio feed when the video turned shaky.
Manning landed in South Florida just four hours after he bid the Colts goodbye at a news conference in Indianapolis. They cut the injured quarterback rather than pay a $28 million bonus due this week.
The Dolphins are one of several teams expected to court Manning.
Other teams considered potential suitors for Manning include the Cardinals, Broncos, Chiefs, Jets, Seahawks, Titans and Redskins.
“I literally have not had one conversation with anyone about these teams,” Manning said. “It has been so hard for me trying to figure out some closure with my situation with the Colts. …
“I haven’t thought about teams and I don’t know who is interested, I really don’t. This is all new to me. But look, the Miami Dolphins have a great organization, a great history there, they have new people in place. And so you have no idea what teams are interested.”
RENTON, Wash. — Marcus Trufant’s balky back and lofty salary finally led to the end of his career with his hometown team.
Trufant was released by Seattle on Wednesday after nine seasons as a constant in the Seahawks’ secondary, but was saddled with back problems the last few years.
• OSHKOSH, Wis. — The son of Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was drunk and had marijuana in his system when he fell into a Wisconsin river and drowned, police said.
Michael Philbin, 21, had a blood alcohol level of .176, more than twice the legal limit to drive, and also had marijuana at some point before he fell through the ice Jan. 8, according to a statement from police in Oshkosh, Wis.
• CHARLOTTE— The Panthers signed free agent kicker Justin Medlock, who played last season for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Medlock, a former fifth-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007, is expected to compete with veteran Olindo Mare for a roster spot this year.
Mare struggled last season with the Panthers, missing two key field goals at the end of games.
RODGERS, MISS AMERICA
MILWAUKEE — Miss America finally got her chance to meet one of the NFL’s most talented quarterbacks.
When former Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler was introduced during the nationally-televised Miss America pageant in January, she gave a shout out to the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After she won the crown and attended the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, fans and reporters kept asking whether she had a chance to meet Rodgers. Kaeppeler said she hadn’t, and didn’t expect to.
The 24-year-old Miss America sang the national anthem at Monday’s Bucks game in Milwaukee. And who happened to be there? Rodgers surprised Kaeppler during halftime in a guest suite at the Bradley Center.
The Kenosha News says the 28-year-old Rodgers tweeted that he was excited to meet Kaeppeler.
HALL OF FAME
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — North Carolina great Phil Ford, Georgetown great Patrick Ewing and former Kansas star Clyde Lovellette lead a 10-member class that will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November.
They will be joined by Wyoming’s Kenny Sailors, Grambling’s Willis Reed and Winston-Salem State’s Earl Monroe. Also inducted will be Joe B. Hall, who followed Adolph Rupp as the coach of Kentucky, and Dave Robbins, who won more than 700 games at Virginia Union.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Gio Gonzalez said he wanted to “jump out of the chute” in his spring debut for the Washington Nationals.
And he wasn’t kidding.
Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings, allowed only one hit and struck out two as the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-2.
• BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates and All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen agreed to a six-year, $51.5 million deal.
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was cleared for contact, a big step toward his return from concussion-like symptoms.
Crosby went through drills with his teammates, the first time he’s been a full participant in practice since the symptoms returned after a loss to Boston on Dec. 5.