As this week evolves and we get closer to the kick off of the 2013 National Football League season then it becomes more natural for us to focus a little on Wolfpackers in the pros.
Terrell Manning, who should’ve never left early for the NFL, was cut by the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Stories of “what could’ve been” are what makes sports great — so, think about it this way — had Manning stayed in Raleigh for his senior year in 2012 I have no doubt that the Wolfpack would’ve won at least one more game (just the UNC game would’ve been different). Had that happened then the odds are much higher that Tom O’Brien would still be our coach and Dave Doeren would be roaming the sidelines at Wisconsin. When Manning left in 2011 I wasn’t very happy with the decision; adding this perspective makes the move a little more palatable.
The San Diego Chargers picked up Manning, thereby giving Wolfpackers more reason than just Philip Rivers to pull for the Chargers.
The Chargers sent a pretty clear message about the defensive players that made their initial 53-man roster with a flurry of roster moves on Sunday: They werenâ€™t good enough.
The team announced all of those moves on Sunday afternoon, including the addition of linebacker Terrell Manning. Manning was waived by the Packers on Saturday and he now joins defensive tackle Drake Nevis, defensive lineman Sean Lissemore and linebacker Reggie Walker as new faces on the Chargers defense.
Manning was a fifth-round pick for the Packers last season and had three tackles in five games of mostly special teams work for Green Bay. He couldnâ€™t win a backup spot with them this year, but the Chargers are clearly looking for players to impress them on defense so heâ€™ll have the opportunity for one in San Diego.
Speaking of the Chargers, Philip Rivers‘ production has slipped the last couple of years. The Los Angeles Times ran this fantastic feature on PR last week.
The most meaningful pass of Philip Rivers’ life wound up in the arms of the pope.
It happened in May, when the San Diego Chargers quarterback and his extended family visited the Vatican and were in a crowd of thousands for a Wednesday papal audience. Rivers, a devout Catholic, had a prime spot in the crowd and was holding the youngest of his six children, Pete, who will turn 2 in October.
“I was about 10 yards away, and the crowd kind of opened up,” Rivers said. “Pope Francis just kind of motioned like, ‘Bring him to me.’ Pete was like, ‘No! What are you doing?!” But we passed him to the pope. It was awesome. The pope kissed him, blessed him. We got great pictures of it.”
That moment was a highlight of what has been an incredibly trying â€” and unexpectedly gratifying â€” two years for the Pro Bowl passer, who is in the most turbulent stretch of his nine-year NFL career. His team is coming off a 7-9 season, one that cost coach Norv Turner his job and kept the Chargers out of the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
Rivers, meanwhile, has gone from elite to inconsistent, committing a combined 47 turnovers in the last two seasons. Shoddy pass protection and a dwindling cast of capable receivers are partly to blame, but Rivers has absorbed the bulk of the criticism, and accepts that.
“Last year was the first losing season I’ve ever been a part of,” said Rivers, 31, sitting outside a coffee shop near team headquarters. “You feel like you let down so many people. You realize that your play affects so many people’s lives. You’ve got to be careful trying to think about that often because that’s too much. But it’s the truth. It’s a tough business.”
Real life can be tougher. Rivers and his wife, Tiffany, got that reminder after the season when their 5-year-old son, Gunner, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The couple has four girls, two boys, and another child due in October.
“He’s football all the time, nonstop energy all the time,” Rivers said of Gunner. “And late in the football season last year he didn’t want to play as much, he started to lose weight. He had to pee all the time. We took him in, and his blood sugar was 700 [the acceptable range is closer to 80 to 100, Rivers said]. He’s dying there right in front of you. It’s terrible.”
Gunner was admitted into the hospital, and his situation was stabilized. Meanwhile, a family so fortunate in so many ways struggled to catch its breath.