Manno: A woman worthy of her name


Manno: A woman worthy of her name

On Wednesday, Pat Summitt stepped down as head coach at the University of Tennessee at the age of 59, less than a year after being diagnosed with early onset dementia. Comcast SportsNet's Carolyn Manno has a personal reflection of the woman who shaped the face of modern women's collegiate basketball.

By Carolyn Manno
Comcast SportsNet

Let's start with the name, Summitt, a fitting one for a woman who, for over the last 38 years as the head coach and mastermind behind the groundbreaking University of Tennessee women's basketball program, has worked tirelessly to reach the pinnacle of the collegiate coaching landscape.

The first and only time I saw Pat Summitt in person started around 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 5, 2008. I was working as a reporter and camera (wo)man in South Bend, Indiana. Candace Parker and the Lady Vols were in town to play the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish. As the game tipped off, in front of the fourth sellout crowd in the history of Notre Dame women's basketball, I watched Summitt's piercing blue eyes meticulously follow her players as they moved from one baseline to the other. Through the safety of my camera lens, I zoomed closer to her face during a timeout before halftime. Tennessee had used a 22-2 run midway through the first half to open a 30-10 lead. Summitt's expression in the huddle suggested they were the ones down 20.

Following her 19th straight win over the Irish -- who should have lost by TKO minutes into the second half -- Summitt made her way to the press room.

As she sat down at the table in front of me, her presence was so intimidating that I felt a sudden urge to ease out the door to the safety of my car. But my pangs of anxiety subsided when she started speaking. For as ferocious as she was on the court, Summitt was as genuine and graceful off of it. In her southern drawl, she warmly answered questions and complimented the efforts of the team she had never lost to -- and had been beating by an average margin of 23 points.

I was only in her presence for a day, and really only for a few minutes. But I can understand why the majority of the 161 women who have played for her, and graduated under her, sing her praises.

In nearly four decades, Pat Summitt never had a season with a losing record. As great a coach as she was, though, those who know her the best say her crowning achievement is her 21-year-old son Tyler, who grew up following his mother around the basketball court that now bears her name.

Former players remember carting Tyler around on their shoulders after winning national titles. Now it is his 59-year-old mother who will need to borrow his shoulder to lean on, as she continues to battle an opponent far tougher than any she's ever faced.

"The thing my mom always taught me is to put the team before yourself. She really felt like this was the best thing for the Lady Vol program," Tyler said at his mother's retirement press conference Thursday -- the same day he officially accepted his first job. After graduating next month, Tyler Summitt will become an assistant coach with the Marquette women's basketball team.

A celebratory day instead felt ruthlessly ironic.

Early-onset Alzheimer's is the most savage of thieves. It will mercilessly pillage Summitt's brain without rest until it has stolen virtually every memory that has been engrained there over a 38-year head coaching career . . . and a lifetime.

Eventually, the seven-time National Coach of the year will likely not be able to remember a single championship.

She may not be able to recall even one of her 1,098 wins.

Or even her son's name.

Alzheimer's winning percentage is a perfect 1.000.

But the thousands who have called her an influence, the hundreds who have called her a coach, and the one who still calls her "Mom" will never forget her.

"It has been a privilege," the Hall of Famer said Thursday while seated behind a press conference microphone to announce her retirement from the game she revolutionized.

The privilege, Coach, has been ours.

Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants


Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.

The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference.

It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks.

Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2.

The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 1-yard run after Damon Harrison's interception. Rosas, who missed the extra point after the Darkwa TD, kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Giants a short-lived 9-6 lead with 1:38 left in regulation after Janoris Jenkins' interception.

With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal - his third short one - with :01 left in regulation. The drive was kept alive when Jenkins' interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty against him.

McAdoo pulled out every trick in his book, using a fake punt; a halfback option that was intercepted; an odd formation with his tackles lined up 5 yards wide; and then the decision to go on fourth-and-5 from the Chiefs 36 with just over two minutes to play.

The Giants took the lead early in the second quarter after defensive tackle Harrison intercepted a deflected shovel pass and returned it to the Kansas City 26-yard line. Led by DT Robert Thomas' blocking, Darkwa scored from 1 yard after Marcus Peters was called for pass interference in the end zone.

Rosas, who had missed a field goal in each of the last four games, had his extra point pushed wide right by the wind.

Kansas City cut the lead in half on the next series, driving 61 yards in more than nine minutes. Butker ended up with his first 31-yard field goal.


The Giants' unexpected performance came less than a week after co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the embattled McAdoo would remain in charge through at least the end of the season. Days later, McAdoo and his team held what he termed "a brutally honest" team meeting in which mistakes and lack of effort plays were shown for all to see after the two losses by a combined 82-38 margin.


The Giants were missing two key starters. WR Sterling Shepard was out after having a career game against San Francisco, making 11 catches for 142 yards. He was added to the injury report Saturday with an illness and could not play. CB Eli Apple was at home with his mother, who had brain surgery on Thursday. "He's My best friend, my nurse and part time ninja," Annie Apple tweeted Sunday morning. ...Thanks for being my side every step of the way."


Chiefs: Host Buffalo next Sunday.

Giants: at Washington on Thanksgiving night.

Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East


Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds remaining and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Miami Dolphins 30-20 on Sunday.

O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter.

They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day where Miami had more mistakes than points.

Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20-20 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner.

Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs' score.

Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. Moore went 17 of 28 for 282 yards and the touchdown in relief, but Miami couldn't overcome five turnovers and 17 penalties - one shy of the franchise all-time record.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards, and Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards and another touchdown for Miami, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2013.

A pair of short drives gave the Bucs control in that big second quarter. Howard's score came on a two-play, 6-yard drive after an interception, and Jackson's score capped a four-play, 37-yard drive following a Miami fumble.


The Dolphins had their three longest passing plays of the season - the 61-yard touchdown pass to Stills, a 49-yarder to Landry and another 45-yard strike to Stills. Before Sunday, Miami's longest pass play was a 36-yard throw from Cutler to Stills against the Jets on Oct. 22.


Buccaneers: RG Evan Smith left in the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Dolphins: Besides Cutler's concussion, the Dolphins lost RG Jermon Bushrod in the third quarter to a left foot injury. LB Chase Allen, who started in place of Rey Maualuga - who was arrested early Saturday in a dispute over a bar tab and quickly waived by the Dolphins - also was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. LB Stephone Anthony had a knee injury, the specifics of which were not announced.


Howard, the Bucs' rookie tight end, celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. For the Dolphins, CB Cordrea Tankersley turned 24 and DE Terrence Fede turned 26.


Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta on Nov. 26, the second game in a three-week stretch of road contests.

Dolphins: Visit New England on Nov. 26, the start of a three-week stretch where Miami will see the Patriots twice.