Lakers split with embattled head coach Luke Walton

first_imgThe club said they had mutually agreed to part ways.“We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years,” said general manager Rob Pelinka. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”Walton, a former Lakers player, had been coach since 2016, building a 98-148 won loss record. The Lakers have failed to reach the playoffs for the last three seasons.“I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” said Walton. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”On Tuesday, Magic Johnson plunged the Lakers into further crisis when he surprisingly quit his post as president. Johnson was reportedly unhappy at the prospect of firing Walton.Despite the addition of future hall of famer James 10 months ago, the Lakers went 37-45 in what was another embarrassing losing season for the once-storied NBA franchise. Los Angeles was 20-14 when James suffered a groin injury during a Christmas Day win over the champion Golden State Warriors — and it was downhill from there.“They are losing one of the best human beings in the NBA,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr of Walton and the Lakers. “They are losing a guy who knows the game as well as anybody I’ve ever met. They are losing somebody who the players believe in and the players want to play for.“I feel for Luke. He was dependent on circumstances just like all of us …. We got wonderful people stabilizing our organization every day. I am lucky to be in this position and to be surrounded by these people. It doesn’t happen often in the NBA.”What was supposed to be a revival story turned into a season-long nightmare that saw the losses and injuries pile up and eventually led to the club sitting star players like a healthy James down the stretch in a desperate attempt to secure a better pick at the summer entry draft. The team used more than 25 different starting lineups this season.But even that strategy isn’t a sure thing as tanking became such a big problem that the NBA was forced to bring in a lottery system to determine the order of the top draft picks. The Lakers will not only be hunting for a new coach but also a big-ticket free agent as a right-hand man to James. All-star Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving top the list of possible targets when free agency begins July 1.The Lakers are the fourth NBA franchise to unload their coach since the end of the regular season on Wednesday, following Memphis, Sacramento and James’s former team Cleveland.Among the candidates for the Lakers’ job is Tyronn Lue, who coached James in Cleveland, and Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams.“I liked playing for him,” Lakers guard Josh Hart said. “He’s a player’s coach. Lets you kind of play your game, play with passion, so it was fun to play for him. I think he’ll get another job fairly quickly.” Walton may not be unemployed for long as the Sacramento Kings are reportedly interested in interviewing him for their vacant post.last_img read more

Wilson to be highest-paid NFL star with Seahawks deal

first_imgWilson appeared to confirm the reports with a video message on Twitter. “Seattle, we got a deal,” Wilson said. “Go Hawks. But I’ma see y’all in the morning. Time for y’all to go to bed.”ESPN reported that the new contract would tie the 30-year-old quarterback to the Seahawks through the 2023 season.The deal includes a $65 million signing bonus and $107 million in guaranteed money.With an average salary of $35 million per year, Wilson’s deal eclipses Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ deal signed last year which was then the richest contract in the NFL.Rodgers salary is worth around $33.5 million a season. Wilson’s signing bonus also tops Rodgers’ then-record signing fee of $57.5 million.Wilson’s deal also includes a no-trade clause, ESPN reported.The deal comes after an uneasy standoff between Wilson and the Seahawks.Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowler who led the Seahawks to their one and only Super Bowl victory in 2014, had given the team a deadline of midnight on Monday to get a new deal put in place. This year marks the final year of a contract extension agreed in 2015 which would have seen him paid $17 million in 2019.Wilson however had always indicated his preference to remain in Seattle, telling reporters at the end of last season he wanted to stay.“It’s business and everything,” he said. “I know essentially after the season, I could potentially be a free agent, that kind of thing. I don’t think that way. I see myself being in Seattle. I love Seattle, and it’s a special place for me.”Wilson’s deal comes after the most statistically successful season of his career in Seattle. In 2018, he achieved a 65.6% completion rate for passing, while throwing for 35 touchdowns, his highest ever numbers.last_img read more

GGG vs. Derevyanchenko weigh-in results for full fight card

first_imgWith Alvarez planning to box as a light heavyweight in November and having shown little interest in taking on Golovkin this fall, it’s unclear whether a third bout between the two will ever materialize. If Golovkin is upset by Derevyanchenko, it would become even less likely.GGG and Derevyanchenko, along with the rest of the undercard for the Oct. 5 fight, will weigh-in beginning Friday at 3 p.m. ET. You can watch a live stream of the weigh-ins from New York below, where you’ll also find updated results as fighters up and down the card hop on the scale.Join DAZN to watch GGG vs. Derevyanchenko & 100+ fight nights a year Gennadiy Golovkin looks to regain his status as world middleweight champion Saturday when he takes on Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.The IBF middleweight world title — vacated by Canelo Alvarez’s weight-class change — will be on the line in Golovkin’s second bout since losing to Alvarez last September. Watch the GGG vs. Derevyanchenko weigh-in live streamYou can re-watch the weigh-ins for Golovkin, Derevyanchenko and the full undercard below.GGG vs. Derevyanchenko weigh-in results for full cardFighterWeightGennadiy Golovkin159.2Sergiy Derevyanchenko159Ali Akhmedov167.2Andrew Hernandez167.6Ivan Baranchyk139.6Gabriel Bracero140Israil Madrimov153.4Alejandro Barrera152.6Brian Ceballo148.6Ramal Amanov148.4Nikita Ababiy160.6Isiah Seldon159.4Joe Ward173.4Marco Delgado173.8Óscar Cortés160Kamil Szeremeta159.4What time is the GGG vs. Derevyanchenko fight?7:30 p.m. ET (prelim) | 9 p.m. (main card)The main card on Oct. 5 kicks off at 9 p.m. ET, meaning Golovkin vs. Derevyanchenko should face off around midnight.GGG vs. Derevyanchenko fight cardMatchupClassGennadiy Golovkin vs. Sergiy DerevyanchenkoMiddleweightAli Akhmedov vs. Andrew HernandezSuper middleweightIvan Baranchyk vs. Gabriel BraceroJunior welterweightIsrail Madrimov vs. Alejandro BarreraJunior middleweightBrian Ceballo vs. Ramal AmanovWelterweightNikita Ababiy vs. Isiah SeldonSuper middleweightJoe Ward vs. Marco DelgadoLight heavyweightÓscar Cortés vs. Kamil SzeremetaMiddleweightlast_img read more

Texas, Florida among college football teams with most to prove in Week 7

first_imgMORE: Highlights from Saturday’s top-25 gamesOct. 12 has the feel of a Separation Saturday, involving five or six games between ranked teams from teams ranked in the AP Top 25. For favorites such as LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma, the stakes will be obvious.Here are the seven teams with the most to prove:Florida (6-0)Where: at LSUProve it: The Gators will be the SEC flavor of the week after beating Auburn in The Swamp, and Kyle Trask’s gutty performance is going to earn a lot of attention. Now, Florida can prove it truly belongs with Alabama, Georgia and LSU in the College Football Playoff conversation by winning at Death Valley. Florida won 16-10 in its last visit to LSU in 2016, and six of the last seven meetings have been decided by eight points or fewer. A victory here would give the Gators all kinds of momentum — and point a legitimate threat in Georgia’s direction in the SEC East.Texas (4-1)Where: vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)Prove it: The Longhorns were the “it” team of the preseason, and despite a loss to LSU are still very much alive in the Playoff hunt. The winning team in the Red River Rivalry has averaged 40 points per game over the last four meetings, and it figures to be a shootout between Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Hurts. The Longhorns likely would be eliminated from Playoff contention with a second loss, however, even if they get a rematch with the Sooners for the second time in a row in the Big 12 championship game. If Texas wants to live up to those preseason Playoff projections, then they will have to beat their storied rival once, maybe twice.MORE: OSU’s big-play KO of MSU a warning shot to Big TenIowa (4-1)Where: vs. Penn StateProve it: Iowa laid an egg in a 10-3 loss at Michigan, and a loss here would make it difficult to win the Big Ten West given the tests left on the schedule. The more immediate concern is beating Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won the last five meetings between the teams, and that includes two at Kinnick Stadium. The last two matchups have been heart-breaking losses for the Hawkeyes. Do they have enough to knock off an unbeaten Penn State team hasn’t allowed more than 13 points in a game this season?Michigan State (4-2)Where: at WisconsinProve it: The Spartans have lost twice, which likely knocks them out of Playoff consideration. A loss at Wisconsin would probably knock them out of the Big Ten race — and they still have matchups with Penn State and Michigan on the schedule. The Spartans and Badgers have split the last 10 meetings, and Michigan State won 16-13 in its last visit to Madison in 2012.Texas A&M (3-2)Where: vs. AlabamaProve it: The Aggies are taking steps in the right direction under Jimbo Fisher, but they have lost the two toughest games on the schedule and still have to go through Alabama, Georgia and LSU. What good is it to be the best five-loss team in the FBS? Since the legendary Johnny Manziel-led upset in 2012, the Crimson Tide have won the last six meetings by an average of 22.2 points per game. Kellen Mond has the Kyle Field advantage. Will it matter with No. 1 in town?MORE: Michigan still needs one big fix to its offenseUSC (3-2)Where: at Notre Dame Week 7 of the college football season might be the most loaded slate of games to date this season, and it only comes at the midpoint.There will be another top-10 showdown between Florida and LSU. The Red River Rivalry will take center stage in the Big 12 and Clemson will be back in action against Florida State in the ACC. Prove it: For all the talk about Clay Helton’s job status coming into the season, this game was circled as judgment day. USC has three wins, which is more than some critics would have expected, and the schedule does open up a bit after this game. Still, Notre Dame has won the last two meetings by an average of 21 points. USC hasn’t won in South Bend since 2011, and that was Lane Kiffin’s second season. Helton will take the heat if the Trojans don’t show up here, and the second half of the season might not matter as much at that point.Florida State (3-2)Where: at ClemsonProve it: The Seminoles had a bye week to prepare for Clemson and have taken steps in the right direction under second-year coach Willie Taggart. Now comes what used to be the best game in the ACC, and arguably the best game of the year. Before last year’s embarrassing 59-10 loss to Clemson, the three previous meetings had been decided by an average of 10 points per game. Florida State might have the second-most talent in the ACC on its roster. Will they show that at Death Valley?last_img read more

First-time finalist Coco Gauff to face Jelena Ostapenko in Linz Open decider

first_imgTeenage sensation Coco Gauff will face Jelena Ostapenko in her first WTA Tour singles final after beating Andrea Petkovic in straight sets at the Linz Open. Gauff needed a lucky loser spot to take her place in the main draw after failing to qualify but could claim the title on Sunday following a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Petkovic.  The Florida native, set to move into the top 100 in the rankings on Monday, won 71 percent of points on her second serve and broke new ground when she put away a textbook volley. It’s a first WTA singles final for @CocoGauff! She ousts Petkovic 6-4, 6-4 to reach the championship match at @WTALinz!— WTA (@WTA) October 12, 2019Ostapenko saved three match points in a battling 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 defeat of Ekaterina Alexandrova. The 2017 French Open champion showed her fighting spirit to reach a first singles final of the year after fending off a match point in the second set and another two in the decider. The 15-year-old American saved nine of 10 break points she faced and rallied from 2-0 down to win the first set before claiming the only break of the second to oust German Petkovic on Saturday. Gauff showed great defense and mixed up her game impressively, making Petkovic pay for a double fault which gave the teenager a 3-2 advantage in the second set. last_img read more

Mike Sorensen: Mountain West should add 10th member ASAP

first_imgE-mail: Until recently I haven’t been in favor of expanding the Mountain West Conference.Too many leagues are getting too large and unwieldy, such as the current Big East with its 16 teams. That’s how many teams the WAC of a decade ago had before eight schools broke away to form the current MWC. Two years ago, the league added a ninth school, TCU.I think there are some advantages to a smaller league. You get to play each team at least once in football and twice in basketball and most other sports. There is more money to go around when teams make it to a BCS bowl game or the NCAA Tournament.But a couple of factors have changed my mind.One is the expanded college football schedule.Starting last year, the NCAA starting allowing all Division I-A schools to play 12 regular-season games every year, not just on certain years with the right amount of Saturdays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving or whatever that policy was.With the 12th game, schools are able to add another conference game and still have three extra games as was the case with the 11-game schedule. That means a nine-game conference schedule, like the Pac-10 has implemented.To me, it makes more sense for MWC schools to be playing a 10th conference member than a I-AA school like so many big schools are doing these days for their 12th game.It’s already happening among the local schools. Utah played I-AA Northern Arizona last year and BYU plays I-AA Eastern Washington this year. In 2008 Utah is scheduled to play Weber State.I’d rather see a competitive league game than one of these so-called “automatic” wins against a smaller division school and I think fans would, too.Some folks argue that it isn’t fair because some teams would get four home games and some five in a nine-game schedule. I say, hey, they had an uneven schedule all those years when the league had eight members, and it seemed to work OK. Plus in football, home field isn’t quite the big deal as it is in basketball and other sports (just look at the Utah-BYU football series where the visiting team has won 11 of the past 15 years).The other big factor is the travel schedule. Almost every sport except football employs “travel partners,” which makes scheduling more uniform. The basketball schedule has been a mess since TCU joined the league last year.In an effort to make it fair for everyone, travel partners have been eliminated and the schedule is now a hodgepodge with games on Saturdays and either Tuesday or Wednesday.In a recent 10-day span, the Utah men’s basketball team went to Las Vegas for a Wednesday game, to Fort Collins the following Tuesday and Albuquerque on Saturday with a Saturday home game in the middle.It can’t be good for players to be playing several midweek games, which means they’re missing two full days of classes and sometimes three. Also the cost of travel is much more with eight one-game trips, as opposed to four two-gamers, such as Colorado State and Wyoming on the same weekend trip.So if the league does go to 10, who should it pick up?Well, I’ve always been partial to our own Utah State. The Aggies would be a good fit for men’s basketball, along with several minor sports. Of course that’s never going to happen because of the school’s proximity to Utah and BYU and the current state of its football program.There’s UTEP, Fresno State and Hawaii, schools that were kicked out of the old WAC, but they each have too many negatives.Tulsa is a possibility with a solid football program and a basketball program that has been very good in recent years. For geography purposes, it would be a natural travel partner for TCU.But the best choice would be Boise State.The BSU football program has become a national power over the past few years, capped off by this year’s thrilling Fiesta Bowl win to cap off a 13-0 season. The basketball team has become more competitive (just ask BYU and Utah State), and several other athletic programs are on the rise.Boise State would make the most sense for a 10th MWC school.And what about the travel partner for Boise? That might be a bit of a problem with no natural partner, but I’d put them with Air Force and put New Mexico with TCU.It would be no worse than the old WAC when Fresno State and Air Force were travel partners, and at least there are several airlines with non-stop service between Boise and Denver (I know Wyoming is closer to Boise, but Colorado State and Wyoming are natural travel partners, plus Laramie is an hour farther from Denver than Colorado Springs). Of course in an ideal world, both Utah and BYU should play in a BCS conference like the Pac-10 or Big 12. But since that isn’t on the horizon, let’s get a 10-team Mountain West Conference ASAP. last_img read more

Utah Utes basketball: Utes fall at CSU; next up: UNLV

first_imgFORT COLLINS — So now it’s official. Thanks to Saturday’s 76-67 loss to Colorado State Saturday at Moby Arena, the Utah basketball team will be going for the trifecta in Las Vegas this week.After beating UNLV twice during the regular season, the Utes will get a third shot at the Rebels Thursday night in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament.The Utes fell to the No. 6 spot, while Rebels clinched the third seed with a 74-56 victory over Wyoming Saturday. Utah and UNLV will play in the nightcap Thursday at 9:30 p.m. at the Thomas and Mack CenterA win Saturday would have put the Utes in the 5 vs. 4 game against San Diego State, but perhaps they’re just as happy to be playing a team they know they can beat even if it is on their home court. Earlier the Utes won 73-69 in Las Vegas and 66-61 in Salt Lake.”It should be a great game,” said Utah coach Jim Boylen. “There’s been a lot of talk about the series this year. They’ll be ready and well be ready.”Despite Saturday’s loss, which dropped the Utes to 14-16 on the season and into a fifth-place tie with CSU (16-14) at 7-9, Boylen came out of the game encouraged. The Utes had laid a giant egg three nights earlier in a home loss to BYU and had to play Saturday without David Foster and Kim Tillie, both sidelined with sprained ankles.”I was encouraged by our effort,” Boylen said. “Obviously we were shorthanded. We were down 10, but my guys didn’t fold. They keep competing and working together. We’ve had a lot of young guys playing.”Indeed.With Foster and Tillie out and junior Carlon Brown basically taking the night off and senior Luka Drca avoiding shooting like the plague, the Utes had to rely on their young players.Freshman Marshall Henderson broke out of a two-game slump with a game-high 18 points, JC transfer Jay Watkins scored 15 and grabbed seven rebounds, freshman Chris Hines had 12 points and freshman Jason Washburn had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.”We got a lot from a lot of guys,” Boylen said. “Tre Smith gave us a spark, Jay Watkins had his better game in a while, Marshall snapped out of his funk for a little bit and Washburn is the future. We had a lot of young guys out there at the same time and I thought it was great in that regard.”The problem was they didn’t get much help from the veterans. Brown scored one point and had two rebounds in 12 minutes before fouling out, while Drca only tried three shots all night and finished with four points, all on free throws.”Those guys have to play good basketball,” said Boylen of Brown and Drca. “I told the guys in the locker room, I’m expecting the freshmen to play like seniors because the veteran guys need to carry us and when they don’t, it puts more pressure on those younger guys. (Brown and Drca) didn’t play very well.”The Utes dug themselves their usual first-half hole, battled back in the second half to within two points, but could never catch the Rams, who got 16 points from Travis Franklin, 12 from Travis Busch and 10 from Andy Ogide and Greg Smith.Before the game, Colorado State coach Tim Miles called the matchup with Utah the most important game in his three years as a coach. The Rams had lost five straight games and were trying to clinch their first non-losing season under Miles and keep their postseason hopes alive.With Utah’s lack of big men (Foster hurt his ankle in the BYU game and Tillie in practice Friday), Miles wanted to take advantage inside.”We were going to go inside and go in on them,” he said. “I thought coach Boylen did a good job of keeping those guys in there.”The Rams jumped out to a 35-27 halftime lead, but the Utes quickly cut the lead to two and stayed close most of the second half.Utah pulled within three several times, the last on a three-point play by Henderson with 5:22 left. A minute later, he had a chance to cut the lead to two with a wide-open three from the top after Drca batted a rebound out to him, but his shot went in and out.”Durch tipped that out to me and I thought that was going to go in,” Henderson said. “That would have been a big change in the game.”A pair of Drca free throws cut the lead to 67-63 with 3:54 left, but Drca, Hines and Henderson all missed 3-pointers as the Rams pushed the lead back to nine.e-mail: Related March Madness is about to tip off read more

Utah Jazz jump to 57-44 lead on Miami Heat at halftime

first_imgSALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz played perhaps their best half of the year in taking a 57-44 lead over the NBA’s top team, the Miami Heat.The Jazz second-teamers came out on fire in the second quarter and spotted Utah a 12-point lead at 42-30, and the starters pushed the lead to 15 points before settling for the 13-point advantage.Al Jefferson leads Utah with 12 points, while C.J. Miles has 11 points for the Jazz. The Utes got 26 points off the bench and center Enes Kanter had a nice first half with seven points and five rebounds.Shane Battier leads Miami with 15 points on five 3-pointers, while Dwyane Wade scored 13 and LeBron James 12.The Jazz dominated the boards, outrebounding the Heat 29 to 13, and had 15 offensive boards. The Jazz shot 44 percent, while the Heat shot 41.2 percent.The Jazz took a 27-26 lead after one quarter thanks to a three-point play by Kanter with three seconds left. Kanter grabbed a miss by Miles and put it in while being fouled.James and Wade, who had scored 38 and 33 points, respectively, the night before in Portland, were quiet in the first quarter with four and eight points, respectively. The big scorer was Battier, who scored 12 points on 4 of 4 from 3-point range.In the second quarter, the Jazz backups outscored the Heat 15-3 over the first four minutes.last_img read more

Utah Utes notebook: Utes usually bounce back under Kyle Whittingham

first_imgSALT LAKE CITY — One trait of Kyle Whittingham-coached teams has been the ability to bounce back from big losses, such as the one the Utes suffered 10 days ago in a 37-7 setback at Arizona State. Most years under Whittingham, the Utes have come back strong after bad losses, such as last year when the Utes recovered from an ugly 34-10 road loss to Cal and ran off four straight Pac-12 victories.”We’ve had our backs to the wall before and seemed to find our way out most of the time and get the ship righted,” Whittingham said. In Whittingham’s first year, the Utes came back from a tough home loss to New Mexico to defeat BYU in Provo, despite being heavy underdogs.In 2006, after losing to Boise State 36-3 at home, the Utes knocked off TCU the following week 20-7. No one will forget the embarrassing 27-0 loss at UNLV in 2007, but the Utes came back to win eight of their last nine games, including seven in a row.In 2009, Utah was thrashed by TCU 55-28 in Fort Worth, but had no trouble with San Diego State the following week, winning 38-7, and after an overtime loss to BYU, knocked off Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl. Only in 2010 did the Utes not bounce back with a win after a bad loss as they lost to Notre Dame the week after TCU leveled them 47-7 at home. However, the Utes did come back to win their final two regular-season games against San Diego State and BYU.OFFENSIVE NUMBERS: The NCAA statistics show why the Utes are struggling more than expected so far this season. Out of 120 FBS teams, the Utes rank 112th in total offense with 298.25 yards per game and are tied for 94th in scoring offense at 23.0 points a game. The Utes rank 110th in rushing offense, 106th in tackles for loss allowed and 107th in third-down conversions. They are just 102nd in passing offense and 114th in red-zone offense.On the positive side, the Utes rank high in several defensive categories despite giving up 500-plus yards to Arizona State. The Utes are 29th in total defense, allowing 329.5 yards per game, and are tied for 25th in sacks and 26th in third-down conversion defense.EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said that defensive end Joe Kruger, who missed the ASU game with a foot injury, is questionable this week. … Free safety Eric Rowe, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, will “definitely” play against USC. … Reggie Topps will start ahead of Moe Lee at cornerback. … Sophomore Jacoby Hale and junior Victor Spikes are listed as co-starters at rover linebacker. … Utah’s Oct. 13 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl will kick off at 1 p.m MDT and be broadcast nationally on Fox.Contributing: Dirk FacerUtes to start 2 freshmen on O-line vs. USCSALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes will start two freshmen on the offensive line Thursday against USC out of “necessity.”Whittingham said that junior Vyncent Jones and junior Latu Heimuli are unavailable this week, prompting depth chart changes. Siaosi Aiono, a 6-foot-2, 305-pound redshirt freshman, is slated to start at right guard. He’ll play alongside true freshman Jeremiah Poutasi, who started at right tackles against BYU and Arizona State.”They’ve got to step up to the plate and be ready to go,” Whittingham said while expressing confidence in both players.Utah’s other starting offensive linemen include senior center Tevita Stevens, senior left tackle Sam Brenner and junior left guard Jeremiah Tofaeono.— Dirk FacerEMAIL: sor@desnews.comlast_img read more

Contrast between Manning and Newton is one to watch in Sunday’s Super Bowl

first_img Related Nothing brings together football, food and silly wagers like Super Bowl Sunday SANTA CLARA, Calif. — One is a 39-year-old on the downward slide of his career, who may be playing in his last football game ever. The other is a 26-year-old who is just hitting his stride, coming off his best season after some ups and downs in his first five seasons in the NFL.Quarterbacks Peyton Manning of Denver and Cam Newton of Carolina, who will face off in Super Bowl 50 Sunday at Levi’s Stadium and may be the keys to each team’s success, are a study in contrasts.One is old school, the other is new wave. One likes to “dab” after every touchdown while the other wouldn’t know what a “dab” was if someone hadn’t told him. One gets by these days on savvy and smarts, while the other is as talented as any quarterback in the league with both his arm strength and running ability.While the two quarterbacks won’t actually be going against each other like prizefighters in the ring, since they’re never on the field at the same time, the two QBs likely be the reason one team or the other ultimately prevails in Sunday’s game.Both the Broncos and the Panthers sport excellent defenses, and neither has superstar running backs or receivers. But without their quarterback play this year, especially of late, neither team would be playing in the Super Bowl.Newton is coming off an MVP season in which he’s led the Panthers to 17 wins in 18 games so far this season, throwing for 35 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions, while running for 10 more scores. He’s the prototypical quarterback of the future, one who is athletic, has size (6-5, 245), can run and throw and makes good decisions on the field.Manning, the greatest statistical quarterback of all time, is coming off the worst statistical season of his career, throwing just nine TD passes with 17 interceptions, just two years after throwing 55 touchdown passes with just 10 interceptions.In fact, according to the statistical analysis group, FiveThirtyEight, only Vince Ferragamo of the Los Angeles Rams in 1979 had a worse statistical year among Super Bowl quarterbacks than Manning had this season.But after not playing in six games during the regular season when it looked like his career might be over because of a lingering foot injury, Manning came back to lead Denver to a win over San Diego in the regular-season finale and then led the Broncos to victories over Pittsburgh and New England in the playoffs.And he’s getting even better, according to his coach, Gary Kubiak, who praised his veteran quarterback after Thursday’s 90-minute practice at Stanford Stadium.“This is as good as he’s looked all year long,’’ Kubiak told a pool reporter on the field after practice. “You saw some big downfield throws today. This is what Peyton looked like back at the start of the season.’’The age gap of 13 years, one month and 18 days between Manning and Newton is the largest between two quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. It means when Manning was a freshman in college, Newton was just starting kindergarten. When Newton started college, Manning was a nine-year veteran, already in his 30s.Both players have heaped praise on each other this week in the numerous interviews they’ve had to do (one every day from Monday through Thursday).Of Newton, Manning said, “I tell you, he’s just had this incredible year. What he’s done in the short time being an NFL quarterback he’s been awesome. It’s the best word I can think of. He’s been a great passer, he’s been a great runner, he’s been a great leader. You don’t go 17-1 as a starting quarterback without being awesome and that’s what he’s been this year without a doubt.”Then there’s Newton talking about Manning.“A lot of things that Peyton has done, is doing, that I wish I could mimic, but I can’t do it like Peyton can, because only he can do it. I try to translate other things I learned from him or have seen him do or other quarterbacks do in this league and I try to apply it to my own. Anytime you get compared to Peyton Manning, you must be doing something right. I take it for what it’s worth.”When told that Manning referred to him as the quarterback of the future, Newton said he was honored.“Anything that the sheriff has to say, you can probably ink it in gold. It’s just a tremendous honor to be even mentioned and affiliated with the face of the league, but yet I think I have bigger fish to fry on Sunday, and then we’ll worry about the rest of the eight to 10 years after that.”One big difference between the two is their comportment on the field.Manning never gets overly excited and is more of the “act-like-you’ve-been-there-before” mentality. Newton, on the other hand, celebrates by “dabbing” or making grand gestures with his end zone celebrations, for which he’s often criticized.When asked last week why he celebrates the way he does, Newton replied, “I don’t know, but I guess you’ll have to get used to it, because I don’t plan on changing.”Manning wasn’t about to criticize Newton’s celebration style, saying, “I think his passion, his enthusiasm for the game, I think it’s great. I think it’s good for football.”When asked why he doesn’t celebrate, Manning said it’s because he never runs for touchdowns.“I promise if I run for a touchdown on Sunday, I will celebrate,” Manning said. Age of innocence: Super Bowls then and now Newton, Watt, Rivera, Berry big winners of NFL awardslast_img read more