Peyton Manning reportedly picks his new team

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Peyton Manning reportedly picks his new team

From Comcast SportsNet
DENVER (AP) -- Peyton Manning is negotiating to join the Denver Broncos, ESPN reported Monday. Citing anonymous sources, ESPN said that the four-time MVP has instructed agent Tom Condon to negotiate the details of a deal with Denver. Manning became a free agent when the Indianapolis Colts released him March 7 after the quarterback missed all of last season because of multiple neck surgeries. The addition of Manning could well lead to Denver trading Tim Tebow, even though the popular QB energized the Broncos in leading them to the playoffs last season despite some uneven play. One of two other teams considered finalists for in the race to sign Manning, the Tennessee Titans, released a statement Monday saying they were out of the picture. "I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process," Titans owner Bud Adams said. "Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit." The San Francisco 49ers were the other team trying to land the star QB. Manning's apparent move comes less than two weeks after he was cut loose by the Indianapolis Colts, who released him rather than pay a 28 million contract bonus. That was the end of an era, a 14-year alliance between the team that drafted Manning No. 1 overall and the QB who brought Indianapolis from football irrelevance to the 2007 Super Bowl title and a second appearance in the NFL championship game three years later. But with Manning coming off a series of operations to his neck, the Colts decided it was time to rebuild from top to bottom, and they are expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the top pick in April's draft. Two days after standing alongside Colts owner Jim Irsay during an emotional farewell news conference on March 7, Manning began his free agency tour in the place it may end: Denver. Manning landed on Tebow's turf with all the trappings of star treatment -- flown to town on a chartered plane, then spending the day with Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway, coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders. From there, Manning crisscrossed the country in search of a new team, as various clubs courted a guy with more than 50,000 yards passing, nearly 400 touchdowns and 11 Pro Bowl selections. After Denver, next up was a meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, and he also spent time speaking with -- or throwing for -- the Titans, 49ers and Miami Dolphins, with TV cameras and even helicopters often on the trail. Somehow, the 49ers managed to keep their audience with Manning a secret for days, until word emerged that they were in the running for him, too. In the end, though, Manning is reportedly close to trading in his Colts horseshoe helmet for one adorned by a Bronco. The move would allow him to stay in the AFC, a conference he knows well and one considered weaker than the NFC at the moment, and potentially re-establishes the tantalizing prospect of playing against his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli, in a Super Bowl. They already have three titles in the family. As it happens, the next Super Bowl will be hosted by New Orleans, which also is be the Mannings' hometown, because their father, Archie, used to play for the Saints. Think a Manning vs. Manning matchup for the championship in the Big Easy might garner attention? Manning-to-Denver also would create a fascinating dynamic with Tebow, only months after he was the focus of the NFL regular season and perhaps the most talked-about athlete in sports, a polarizing figure both because of his style of play -- as far as possible from a classic, dropback passer -- and his outspoken religious beliefs. After taking over a struggling team, Tebow led the Broncos to comeback victory after comeback victory, struggling for three quarters before starring in the fourth quarter and overtime. With an offense transformed into a spread option attack built on Tebow's running, and a strong defense that kept games close, the Broncos won the AFC West title. Tebowmania reached its apex in the playoffs, when he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the very first play of overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next week, though, Tebow was smothered by the New England Patriots, who easily eliminated the Broncos 45-10. A little more than two months later, Tebow could be on the trading block.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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