Nationals

As always, Manning finds the target

As always, Manning finds the target

DENVER (AP) Turns out, Peyton Manning can hit his targets off the field, as well.

To get over last week's season-ending loss, Manning hooked up with an old buddy from Tennessee, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, and the two have been crisscrossing the country on a hunting trip.

``He told me he killed, in one day, a duck in Colorado and a deer in Mississippi,'' Manning's dad, Archie, told The Associated Press.

Anything for Peyton to take his mind off Denver's 38-35 loss to Baltimore last Saturday.

``He's trying to get it out of his system,'' said Archie Manning, who played quarterback for his hometown Saints from 1971 through 1982. ``I don't know when that happens or how. But when he reflects on it, he's already said it, it was really a special year.''

To put things in perspective, all Peyton's dad has to do is look back to a year ago this week. Younger son Eli was preparing to take the New York Giants into the NFC title game in San Francisco. Peyton, meanwhile, had been on the sideline for a year and could barely throw a football 10 yards - still recovering from multiple operations on his neck.

``As a parent, it's easy to look at the big picture,'' Archie Manning said. ``Here we are one year later. He left a city and a team, the only place he played. Had to pick a new spot. Leaving was hard. Picking a new spot was difficult to do.''

Manning had one of his best seasons. His 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns and, yes, his 68.6 percent completion accuracy, were each second-best in his 14 healthy seasons. Denver went 13-3 and had top-seeding in the playoffs.

The Broncos expected to be getting ready for the AFC title game this weekend. Instead, they dispersed last Sunday. Some to golf courses. Others to their hunting stands.

Archie Manning (Who, for the record, said he was good with coach John Fox's decision to run out the last 31 seconds of regulation against Baltimore) says doctors believe some of the nerves in Peyton's neck, shoulder and hand still have room to regenerate, meaning there's even more room for improvement in 2013 and beyond.

Assuming Peyton passes a physical next month, the Broncos intend to pick up an option on his contract for the next two years.

In the meantime, Archie figures after Peyton flushes this tough loss from his system, he'll be back and working as hard as ever.

``At age 36, he truly lives that old theory of, `enjoy the journey,''' Archie Manning said. ``But along the way, we kid him. He's bossy. But that's who he is. I know he won't quit working. He won't quit trying to improve.''

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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