Capitals

Manning goes with glove as weather gets frightful

Manning goes with glove as weather gets frightful

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) There's a new ``Gloved One'' - in Denver, at least.

Ripping a page from Michael Jackson's playbook, Peyton Manning has practiced for and played in the last two games with a sticky-feeling, orange-and-grey glove on his throwing hand.

Sure, Manning has earned his fair share of curious glances for donning cold-weather gear when the temperatures are in the 50s, as they were Tuesday at practice.

But in getting ready for the playoff push, which could include two games in sometimes-snowy Denver, Manning is leaving no stone unturned. And, as if on cue, a strong arctic storm is expected to roll into Denver on Friday night, bringing snow and bitter cold. The high for Saturday's playoff game against Baltimore is forecast to be 20 degrees.

Manning, who won his only Super Bowl playing barehanded in a rainstorm in Miami in 2007, said he hasn't given much thought to whether the glove would help him more in cold or wet conditions, each of which can make the ball harder, more slick and more difficult to grip.

``I really have not thought about it that analytically, if that's the word,'' Manning said. ``It's a glove.''

Of course, if Peyton Manning is wearing it, it's more than a glove - it's a topic of conversation.

A creature of habit who hasn't worn anything on his hands before this season, Manning conceded the glove is a concession to the altered feel of his grip, especially in cold weather, after the multiple neck surgeries he underwent during his season out of football.

``I certainly don't think I would have had to wear the glove had I not been injured last year,'' he said. ``It's part of my injury, some things that I've had to adjust. I'm in a different body, some things are different for me, so that's the reason for that as much as anything.''

Manning could certainly use any edge he can get in cold weather.

He is 0-3 in playoff games in which the temperature at kickoff is less than 40 degrees. His numbers in those games hardly resemble the norm for a four-time Most Valuable Player with more than 59,000 yards to his credit. In the losses - 41-0 at the Jets, and 24-14 and 20-3 at New England - Manning has gone a combined 64 for 120 for 612 yards with one touchdown and seven interceptions. In two of the losses, his passer rating matched the temperature - never climbing out of the 30s.

To be fair, the last loss came a full eight seasons ago, in the divisional playoffs against the Patriots. Also, Manning has more than his share of cold-weather success in the regular season, going 7-5 with five 300-yard games. That includes Denver's regular-season finale against Kansas City on Dec. 30, the second game in which he tested out the glove, and the first NFL home game he's ever played with the temperature under 40. His former team, the Colts, played in a dome.

``For wearing it for the first time in my entire football career, I guess you could say it's been OK the past two weeks,'' Manning said after that game.

More than OK. Manning's completion percentage was 5.8 points higher and his passer rating was 19.2 points better with the glove than without. (Small reminder: The opponents in those two games finished a combined 7-25.) Some observers, quick in the past to point out that Manning's passes have often flown with a bit of a wobble, have noticed less of that since he donned the glove.

``I love the glove, love the glove,'' tight end Jacob Tamme said. ``There's no difference. Other than seeing it, I would never know that he's got it on. So, whatever works.''

Which is sort of coach John Fox's attitude, as well.

``I think a lot will be made of that,'' Fox said. ``I think a lot of people can relate to that. If it gets cold out, you wear gloves. I don't think it's a big factor. I think it's a lot about nothing.''

And though Manning has been preparing for cold weather for about a month now, he prefers not to talk about it much.

``You've got to play, whatever it is, so that's not something you think about,'' he said.

Notes: RB Willis McGahee returned to practice after spending seven weeks on recallable injured reserve with a torn ligament in his right knee. He would be eligible to return to the active roster if the Broncos make the AFC title game. ... CB Tracy Porter missed practice. He suffered a concussion Dec. 23 against Cleveland. ... PR Trindon Holliday is undefeated this year. He was cut by the Houston Texans when they were 5-0, then picked up by the Broncos a few days before they started their 11-game winning streak.

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The biggest ‘what ifs’ in Capitals history: What if Lars Eller never scored the 2OT goal?

The biggest ‘what ifs’ in Capitals history: What if Lars Eller never scored the 2OT goal?

This week NBC Sports Washington is looking at some of the biggest “what ifs” for the Capitals. Last week, we looked at what ifs for the season. This week, we are looking at some of the bigger what ifs from franchise history.
 
Today’s what-if: What if Lars Eller had not delivered the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets?
 
Lars Eller scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, but that arguably was not the most important goal he scored during that 2018 postseason.
 
Down 2-0 in the first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Eller scored the double-overtime winner to give Washington its first win. It was a fluky one that bounced off a number of body parts on its way into the net, but it still counted. But what if he had not scored that goal and the Caps had lost Game 3?
 
While Washington was able to erase a 2-0 deficit to win four straight against Columbus and win the series, it’s hard to believe they could have done the same thing if down 3-0. At that time, despair would have started to sink in. 

RELATED: WHAT IF THE CAPS HADN'T WON THE 2004 NHL DRAFT LOTTERY?
 
In terms of moves head coach Barry Trotz could have made, he would have had to get creative because the standard panic move of a goalie change would not cut it. Philipp Grubauer started Games 1 and 2 and was replaced by Braden Holtby in Game 3. Going back to Grubauer was not a realistic option at that point. Chances are, Washington would have suffered a first-round exit.
 
Considering Trotz left after winning a Stanley Cup, it is hard to imagine him staying after a first-round exit. So with another year of falling short of expectations in the postseason and in need of a new head coach, this is the point where I believe Brian MacLellan would have had to seriously consider dismantling the team. 
 
I don’t think there was ever a scenario where Alex Ovechkin would be traded considering what he means to the franchise, but I think everyone else would have been on the table. After all, by 2018 what reason would the team have to believe the core was good enough to make a deep playoff run? It had not done it after four seasons with Trotz and about as loaded a lineup as a team can have.
 
It would not have meant the end of the Ovechkin era as he would have stayed, but it probably would have meant the end in terms of the Ovechkin-led Caps pursuing a Cup. By that time, it would have been clear it was time to start over and it would have meant a very long 2018 offseason.

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Elena Delle Donne put in tough spot by WNBA, reveals health struggles with Lyme disease in open letter

Elena Delle Donne put in tough spot by WNBA, reveals health struggles with Lyme disease in open letter

For anyone that has covered Elena Delle Donne in her professional career, there is one thing that you know: the two-time WNBA MVP battles Lyme disease which directly affects her ordinary way of life. 

She's been open about it and does not shy away from questions regarding her symptoms. Her openness and status in the league were so prominent that when the WNBA said it would allow players with preexisting conditions - and potential vulnerabilities to the coronavirus - to sit out and receive pay, it was assumed she fit. 

But yet the WNBA denied her request, leaving her in "disbelief" and her best response coming in a tell-all Player's Tribune article

I take 64 pills a day, and I feel like it’s slowly killing me. Or if it’s not killing me, directly, then I at least know one thing for sure: It’s really bad for me. Longterm, taking that much medicine on that regular of a regimen is just straight-up bad for you. It’s literally an elaborate trick that you play on yourself — a lie that you tell your body so it keeps thinking everything is fine. 

It’s a never-ending, exhausting, miserable cycle.

But I do it anyway.

Much of what she says is nothing new. By battling “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome," more commonly known as Chronic Lyme Disease, her life has been uprooted. Delle Donne has to take 64 supplements a day. She is immunocompromised where a common cold sends her immune system into a frenzy and a flu shot does more harm than good.

RELATED: CLOUD RIPS THE WNBA'S DECISION TO DECLINE EED'S REQUEST

She's been battling it since 2008 and now her league, that she represents on the highest stage, turned its back on her. She is more at risk of developing serious complications due to the coronavirus because of her compromised immune system. Her own doctor said that it's not safe for her to risk traveling to a state where cases are skyrocketing all to play basketball. 

Lyme disease is not one without controversy. For most affected, treatment is easy and simple (about a month of steroids and you're back to normal). However, symptoms get more serious the longer it is not treated and for Delle Donne it took multiple doctors to figure out what was going on. 

Many brush off the disease, mostly because there is so much even the medical community does not know. 

Yet, the league isn't giving her a fair option.

Instead of giving her a choice to remain safe, at home, the WNBA's panel of doctors said that she is not high-risk for the virus. 

I’m now left with two choices: I can either risk my life….. or forfeit my paycheck.

Honestly? That hurts.

It hurts a lot. And maybe being hurt just makes me naive. And I know that, as athletes, we’re not really supposed to talk about our feelings. But feelings are pretty much all I have left right now. I don’t have NBA player money. I don’t have the desire to go to war with the league on this. And I can’t appeal.

So really all I’m left with is how much this hurts. How much it hurts that the W — a place that’s been my one big dream in life for as long as I can remember, and that I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to for seven going on eight seasons — has basically told me that I’m wrong about what’s happening in my own body. What I hear in their decision is that I’m a fool for believing my doctor. That I’m faking a disability. That I’m trying to “get out” of work and still collect a paycheck.

Her disease and symptoms didn't come out of nowhere. And of all people in the league to be 'faking' a disease, it's not her. She played the WNBA Finals last season with three herniated discs, a face mask and a knee brace from injuries she suffered on the court. 

Her decision to play is still forthcoming - a decision that she should never have to make. Delle Donne admits that her choice is no different than what many Americans have had to weigh during the pandemic and many are in worse financial shape than she is. But if this situation taught her anything, it's to admit when someone doesn't know something.

"Probably the best lesson I’ve learned through my experience with Lyme disease — is this: There’s so much in the world that we don’t know," Delle Donne said.

And right now there is so much the WNBA doesn't know about Lyme disease. 

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