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Volume 24 No. 117


The Broncos have "made the biggest splash in the first two days of the NFL free agency" by spending more than $110M to sign DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib and S T.J. Hall, according to the Denver Post's Woody Paige. The Broncos "are saying, 'We are all in.'" L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke called the signings "very, very smart" and noted QB Peyton Manning "isn't getting any younger." Plaschke: "They may have one more shot at this, they're going for it. Good for them" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/12). In Denver, Mike Klis reports the three contracts include $60M in guaranteed money, but Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations & GM John Elway is "acting like he wants to play in the Super Bowl every year." Ware said of the Broncos, "Just their mentality is a 'now' mentality. A mentality of 'I'm not looking forward to the next season or season after that -- the time is now'" (DENVER POST, 3/13). FS1’s Ryan Nece said, “You have to be impressed, flat out, with the strategy that the Denver Broncos are taking in free agency right now” ("Fox Football Daily," FS1, 3/12). In Denver, Benjamin Hochman writes the Broncos "must win a Super Bowl during the Peyton Manning years" after the latest series of moves (DENVER POST, 3/13). San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami said of the Broncos, "You never win a Super Bowl in March, but they addressed things they should address. They're going all in. That's what fans want to see."'s Ray Ratto said, "They pushed all-in because they know their window with Peyton Manning is not going to be open much longer. But long-term, they may have mortgaged an awful lot of future for this one year" ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12). NFL Network's Mike Silver said, "Loading up and screwing up your cap for later isn't always the right plan." However, Elway "smartly realizes, 'We're close. I've got Peyton now, let's just go after it'" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 3/12).

PAYING FOR THESE MOVES LATER?'s Mike Sando wrote while the money the Broncos allocated for Talib and Ward "sent a clear message on its own," the team's "immediate interest in the recently released DeMarcus Ware left little doubt." Sando: "The question is whether the Broncos can have it both ways. Will their win-now mentality cause them to pay a steep price later?" (, 3/12).'s Don Banks wrote, "I still can't dismiss the lingering sense that Denver's spending spree might not work out as planned. ... When has any team's free agency splurge -- at least on the Super Bowl-or-bust level -- truly gone as planned?" (, 3/12). ESPN's Bomani Jones said the Broncos "brought in good players … but the team that wins the first day of the offseason is usually not the one that wins the Super Bowl." Jones: "The teams that have won Super Bowls have won by building through the draft" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/12). 

 In Boston, Ben Volin writes the Patriots "generally don't make big splashes in free agency," but the ability to sign CB Darrelle Revis "was too tempting to pass up." Revis and the Patriots reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $12M. Losing Talib to the Broncos makes Revis' signing a "relative bargain with very little risk." The Patriots "had to make a move to keep up with the Broncos." Talib's departure "left a huge void in the Patriots' defense, but there's little debate they upgraded with Revis" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/13). Also in Boston, Howe & Guregian write because Revis will only count $12M against the cap -- a "few bucks more than it would have cost to franchise Talib -- the Pats made the right move to keep the draft pick and avoid the burden of the remainder of Revis' contract" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/13). The GLOBE's Dan Shaughnessy writes the Patriots got a "better guy than the guy they lost," and they "didn't have to commit any money beyond this season." The Patriots "didn't have to bend on their everlasting principles." It was the "best of both worlds" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/13). In Boston, Karen Guregian writes the Patriots "had to pull out all the stops" to sign Revis. They had to "do whatever it took to land the big prize." It is not coach Bill Belichick's "way to shower any free agent with extra special attention." But in this case, he "couldn't leave anything to chance" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/13). NFL Network's Amber Theoharis asked, "When's the last time the Patriots went out and spent $12 million a year on a big-name free agent? It's just something they don't do usually. But it works for them right now" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 3/12). In Providence, Jim Donaldson writes under the header, "Revis Contract Is A Win For The Patriots" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 3/13).

SEE YOU IN JANUARY? ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, “Look at this little arms race you’ve got going here. ... East and West, you’ve got Tom Brady’s team on one side and Peyton’s team on the other. They are loading up and they are overwhelming favorites now in the AFC.” ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said, “There’s a bitter rivalry brewing right now between the Broncos and the New England Patriots. I think they both look at themselves like, ‘We’re going to meet in the AFC Championship.’ It’s just a matter of who’s got the hot hand and who’s got the better talent. They are both loading up right now” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/13).

Kobe Bryant yesterday "took aim at the Lakers' front office in regards to the team's future," according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN L.A. Bryant, who spoke during a Lakers press conference announcing his knee injury would keep him sidelined the rest of the season, said, "I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team. What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there, you can start building out your team accordingly." Bryant was asked to clarify what "the top" meant, and "pointed to" Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss and Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss. Bryant: "You got to start with Jim. You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out." Bryant offered "perhaps his most direct criticism of the Lakers' organization" since the summer of '07. He said that he has "'not one lick' of patience for the Lakers' management team" of Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak "to rebuild the team into a contender." Bryant added that he would "like to be looped in more often by the Lakers' powers that be" (, 3/12). NBA TV's Rick Fox, who played seven years in L.A. with Bryant, said, "He’s more frustrated about a lack of communication on ... the clear plan of where they are going." Fox: "He’s wise enough to see that this isn’t a reload this summer. ... There is a defined plan, and that’s what is frustrating Kobe Bryant, because usually he has been consulted at this point in time about the plan" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 3/12).

SIGN OF THE TIMES: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes Bryant's comments were a "stunning reminder of the slow decay of the Lakers since the passing of revered Jerry Buss." Plaschke: "Can you imagine any player ever criticizing him the way Bryant just criticized his children?" (L.A. TIMES, 3/13). Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding said, When you lose a leader like Jerry Buss, it’s hard to recover. ... When you have Jim and Jeanie kind of sharing control and no strong leader, there’s a feeling like, ‘We’re just floating along and we need something to latch on to.’” NBA TV's Greg Anthony said ownership has "taken more of a hands-on approach, which was not necessarily the case when Jerry Buss was running this organization." He would let the "basketball people make basketball decisions" (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 3/12). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "Jimmy Buss does not equal Jerry Buss. I don't trust Jimmy Buss, and I don’t know if Kobe Bryant does either, to put a product on the floor next season" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/12). Meanwhile, in L.A., Jill Painter writes the Lakers "need to be fixed," and Basketball HOFer Phil Jackson "isn't the answer anymore, only because he's unavailable." The Lakers "let Jackson get away twice ... for those of you keeping score of all the things Jim Buss has bungled in his tumultuous tenure" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/13).

I DREAM OF JEANIE? In California, T.J. Simers writes the "overwhelming opinion seems to be" Jeanie Buss "should be running the Lakers." But as soon as Jackson "decided to quit as coach and the Lakers hired Mike Brown, she abandoned the team." She "stopped going to games" and "made it clear to everyone who knows where she sits in Staples that without Jackson she didn’t have an interest in watching the Lakers." Her "top priority is marketing" the team. Simers: "Do fans really want her to be the final word in who the Lakers acquire, trade or draft?" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/13).

The Mariners yesterday debuted their TV spots for the '14 season, and "as always, the ads don't disappoint," according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. The five promo spots that are part of the "True to the Blue" campaign again are a "collaborative work between the Mariners and the Seattle-based advertising agency of Copacino Fujikado." Mariners 2B Robinson Cano makes his first apperance in the annual effort in a spot titled "Slow Mo and Music." It depicts "life downshifting to an appreciative crawl while Cano displays his graceful skills in multiple ways to the accompaniment of celestial music." Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon and SS Brad Miller "watch from the bench, and Miller marvels: 'I just got goose bumps.'" Another ad, dubbed "Old School," features 3B Kyle Seager, who "displays his throwback approach by tweeting on a manual typewriter, starting games with his uniform already dirty and by working in batting practice to perfect his ability to get hit by pitches." In addition, Mariners P Hisashi Iwakuma "unveils what purports to be a surprising side to his reserved personality by break dancing in 'Quiet Surprise.'" At one point he "spins on his head like an inverted ballerina" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 3/13). Watch the Mariners commercials.

The Rays have introduced a "new advertising campaign and slogan: 'Rays Up,'" a slogan that is "a clever play about an aspiring team that's had 90-plus wins in each of the past four seasons," according to Robert Trigaux of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The slogan also is "a call to arms," as the franchise "hopes fans will rise up to support a quality team by attending more games." The campaign will launch this weekend and next week with "print, radio and TV ads, billboards, and an increasing dose of social media marketing via Twitter and Facebook." The team has sold "nearly 10,000 'Flex Pack' ticket packages, which start at three games (no blackouts) for $49." Some "Rays Up" ads will "focus on promoting the Flex Pack, which gets fans to commit to more than one game at the season's start." It is no wonder the Rays are "improving their fan database to offer more individualized promotions based on a fan's history of attending specific games or buying specific food, drink or Rays gear." The organization also is "working hard to finish a 360-degree walkway around the stadium's lower bowl from which fans can socialize and get a different perspective on the field" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/13).