- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning still intends to play football.

He’s also no fan of the Indianapolis Colts’ big offseason overhaul that included the firing of coach Jim Caldwell and other executives.

In an interview that appeared Tuesday in the Indianapolis Star, Manning touched on everything from his plans to the difficulty he’s had coping with all the changes. He has not responded to interview requests made by The Associated Press.

“It’s 20 degrees, it’s snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices,” Manning said. “I guess it’s the reality of the football world, just not something I’ve had to deal with very often.”

Manning reiterated that last week’s discussion about his “impending” departure from football was premature.

He poked fun at the frenzy surrounding a Twitter post from actor Rob Lowe, who wrote Manning was expected to announce his retirement last week. Manning said the whole thing caught him off-guard.

“I never thought ‘Sodapop Curtis’ would announce my retirement,” he said, referring to Lowe’s character in the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.” ”I always thought I would be the one to announce it.”

The biggest questions, of course, are about Manning’s health and his future in Indianapolis.

While Manning would not say where he is in his recovery or how close he is to being 100 percent 4 1/2 months after having his latest neck surgery, he said new general manger Ryan Grigson inferred the decision about paying Manning a $28 million bonus in March or letting him become a free agent would be made by team owner Jim Irsay.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Manning said.

Allen leading candidate to become Raiders coach

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders’ search for a coach is narrowing as general manager Reggie McKenzie has told some applicants they are no longer candidates and Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen reportedly has emerged as the leading contender.

ESPN reported that the Raiders are negotiating a contract with Allen to fill the job. Allen first interviewed with McKenzie last week. If Allen does get the job, he would be the first defensive-minded coach to get the Raiders job since John Madden was hired before the 1969 season.

Pats’ Belichick opts for consistent approach

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick tries to be consistent when leading practices no matter how big the game may be.

The coach of the New England Patriots said Tuesday he considers every game to be a big one. This week he’s preparing his team for the Super Bowl against the New York Giants on Feb. 5.

He said the Patriots had an organizational day Monday to work out logistics. There was a team meeting but no practice. Players have Wednesday off before returning Thursday.

Belichick said one of the most important things in getting ready for the Super Bowl is the health of his players. The Patriots plan to leave Sunday for the site of the game in Indianapolis after having a send-off rally at Gillette Stadium.

Around the league

PRO BOWL: Carolina’s Cam Newton and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton are headed to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl. The rookies have been chosen to replace Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Tom Brady of New England for Sunday’s game matching the NFC against the AFC.

SUPER BOWL: The NFL is trying to avoid another super gaffe. One year after hundreds of ticketed fans were left without seats at Cowboys Stadium, organizers have added only 254 temporary seats to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Feb. 5 game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

JAGUARS: Jacksonvillle coach Mike Mularkey retained offensive line coach Andy Heck. During Heck’s six years in Jacksonville, the Jaguars posted the three highest single-season rushing totals in franchise history.

VIKINGS: Gov. Mark Dayton and a key state lawmaker say a new stadium must be built at the current site of the Metrodome to secure any kind of state funding this year. Dayton said Tuesday that two other potential sites are not politically achievable at this time. And Republican state Sen. Julie Rosen says she agrees with Dayton, and she expects to introduce a stadium bill soon with the Metrodome as the chosen site.

JETS: New York hired Dave DeGuglielmo as offensive line coach, replacing Bill Callahan. DeGuglielmo joins the Jets after spending the past three seasons with the Miami Dolphins as their offensive line coach.



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