Manning a Unanimous All-Pro Selection
New York — Peyton Manning has responded to a lost season the way he reacted to all of his great seasons.
By having more great seasons.
Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying Hall of Famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.
The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.
He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning also was an All-Pro for Indianapolis in 2003, ‘04, ‘05, ‘08 and ‘09 and last season made it as a Bronco. He’s been on the All-Pro team in both seasons since missing 2011 after several neck surgeries.
“I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career, and didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” said Manning, a four-time league MVP who never missed a pro start before 2011. “So I had no idea what to expect, and I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work in to it. But I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates. So I’m very grateful.”
Manning still has a ways to go to set the record for most All-Pro appearances at any position. Among the players ahead of him is Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice with 10.
New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Indianapolis outside linebacker Robert Mathis each drew 49 votes. Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had 48.
Minnesota kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was the only rookie on the squad.
Eighteen NFC players and nine from the AFC made the team. Carolina and Philadelphia each had three: linebacker Luke Kuechly, center Ryan Kalil and fullback Mike Tolbert for the Panthers; NFL rushing leader McCoy, guard Evan Mathis and tackle Jason Peters for the coach Chip Kelly’s Eagles.
Only two members of the top teams in each conference made the All-Pro team. Joining Manning from the Broncos (13-3) was guard Louis Vasquez. Joining Sherman from the Seahawks (13-3) was safety Earl Thomas.
Baylor Coach Says He’s Staying
Baylor coach Art Briles said Friday he has no desire to pursue another job and plans to lead the defending Big 12 champion Bears into their new stadium next fall.
With his name linked to the opening at Texas, and speculation increasing after the Bears’ most successful season ever, Briles sent a tweet on his account that read “Contrary to reports and rumors I am a Baylor Bear — 2013 Big 12 Champs.” The school later released a statement from the coach.
“As I’ve said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here,” Briles said. “I look forward to leading the Bears onto the field next fall at McLane Stadium and defending our Big 12 championship that our players and coaches worked so hard to win this season. ‘’
The sixth-ranked Bears finished 11-2 after losing 52-42 to No. 15 UCF on Wednesday night in the Fiesta Bowl, their only Bowl Championship Series appearance. They finished the regular season with a 30-10 win over Texas to clinch their first Big 12 title, Baylor’s first outright conference title since the 1980 Southwest Conference.
S. Williams Beats Sharapova
Brisbane, Australia — Serena Williams extended her winning streak against Maria Sharapova to 14 matches with a 6-2, 7-6 (7) semifinal victory Friday to earn a shot at back-to-back Brisbane International titles.
The defending champion will play second-seeded Victoria Azarenka in today’s final, and will be favored to retain the title that kicked off her stunning 2013 season that included 78 wins from 82 matches and 11 titles.
After blowing two match points in the tiebreaker, Williams sealed the win with her seventh ace against the third-seeded Sharapova.
On the men’s side, top-seeded Roger Federer coasted to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Marinko Matosevic of Australia and moved into a semifinal against No. 8 Jeremy Chardy of France.
Second-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 win over Marin Cilic of Croatia and will next play former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, who cruised past Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-4, 6-2.
Both Williams sisters will be playing finals today, with Venus Williams to face Ana Ivanovic in the title match at the WTA tournament in Auckland, New Zealand.
Venus Williams got a walkover into her first final since October 2012 when Jamie Hampton withdrew from their semifinal with a right hip injury. Ivanovic beat third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Four-Way Tie at Kapalua
Kapalua, Hawaii — Jordan Spieth was among the newcomers who felt right at home Friday at Kapalua.
Coming off a remarkable rookie season, Spieth made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 7-under 66 to share the lead after one round of the Tournament of Champions with Chris Kirk, Michael Thompson and Webb Simpson.
Simpson is the only one of the leaders who has played in this winners-only event before.
Kirk is playing for the first time since he won the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island. He birdied his last five holes, the last two into wind that required some of his best shots. Thompson also played his best golf late in the round, with four birdies on the final five holes of the Plantation Course.