Wilson leads Manning in …
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Merchandise featuring Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson ranks first in total overall retail sales from September to November, the NFL Players Association said Thursday.
Gear featuring Denver quarterback Peyton Manning ranks third, behind San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The list, released quarterly, is based on total overall sales of licensed products from online and retail outlets.
Five players competing in the Super Bowl — Wilson, Manning, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch (No. 9), Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 11) and Denver wide receiver Wes Welker (No. 14) — are among the top 25.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is the No. 24 seller.
The Seahawks, who led the NFL in takeaways with 39, practiced on what they call Turnover Thursdays, or what Wilson said, with a laugh, “I call it No-Turnover Thursdays.”
“The defense, they’re trying to find ways to get the football,” he said. “They’ll do anything to poke the football out, and obviously, intercept the ball. It’s been a fun year doing it. It’s an intense practice. Wednesdays and Thursdays truly feel like a game to us. That’s the separation that I believe we’ve gotten over a lot of our competition … this season. It’s just the way we prepare.
“We do everything full-speed, and it’s the end of the season … week 24 or 25 … to think about that and how hard we play all the time, it makes a difference come game time.”
The scoop on Sherman
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman wasn’t always one of the best at his position.
In fact, when Sherman converted from wide receiver to cornerback at Stanford, he struggled mightily.
“To be honest, when he first switched over he was awful, he was terrible,” said Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, a college teammate of Sherman’s. “He couldn’t backpedal, he couldn’t track the ball, and he didn’t really try to quick jam, because he would get lost at the line of scrimmage.
“We had wonderful coaches at Stanford, they kind of honed in his skills, made him focus more on the details and when he got here, he kind of blossomed into the amazing defensive back that he is now. He never in his mind had doubt that he would be one of the greatest, he’s always said that he was going to be one of the greatest whether he was going to be a receiver or a defensive back. I had no doubt in him as well because I know how hard he works.”
Don’t remind Denver cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie about his experience of playing for Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.
He was one of the defenders beaten on Pittsburgh’s game-winning touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes.
“I still think about it a lot … not to the point where it beats me up, but just to the point that we were that close to getting a ring,” Cromartie said. “Anytime the Super Bowl comes back around, they tend to show that play to this day. You sit there, look at it and think, ‘I was almost there.’ You can’t dwell on it. (That was) the main thing I learned from that game, and I am looking forward to playing in this one.”
Doing his homework
Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton — better known as Pot Roast to his teammates — will go against Seattle Pro Bowl center Max Unger in one of the key matchups of Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday.
By time the game kicks off, Knighton will know everything there is about Unger, a native of Kailu-Kona, Hawaii, who played at Oregon.
“He’s a good player. He’s real crafty,” said Knighton, a five-year veteran from Temple. “He knows a lot of tricks of the trade of trying to influence you to do certain things. I’ve just been watching him over and over, and trying to figure out what he’s thinking about, and how other guys in the league have been successful.
“Today I’ll start Googling him and doing all types of stuff to (find out) his personal life. I want to know everything about him. Just everything, from his favorite food to his favorite color, where he grew up at, how many siblings he has. I want to know everything about him, and I’ll probably talk a little smack Sunday. I have a lot of respect for him.
“He’s the middle of their offense, and I take pride in being the middle of our defense. So it’s going to come down to that matchup, really, with a team that likes to run the ball. I’m pretty sure he’s studying me right now, and I’ll be studying him as soon as I leave here. May the best man win.”
The number of concussions in the NFL dropped 13 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to data the league released Thursday and touted as a result of its efforts to better protect players’ heads.
Using information collected from team doctors during preseason and regular-season practices and games, the NFL also said there was a 23 percent decrease over the past two seasons in the number of concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet contact.
Speaking at a pre-Super Bowl news conference, Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior VP of health and safety policy, called the data “positive numbers from our perspective; positive trends.”
“Our perspective is that rules changes, culture change, the enforcement of the rules and the elimination, over time, of dangerous techniques is leading to a decrease in concussions. Now all of that said, we’re talking about a small sample size of only a couple of years,” Miller said.
“This is an ongoing and important culture-change event, and so we’re going to continue to analyze it and I think that there’s room for continued growth,” he added. “So we’re pleased with the data, unquestionably, as it relates to concussion, but there’s still more to do.”
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org and Star News Services