Emmanuel Sanders: Peyton Manning is a better leader than Ben Roethlisberger

Emmanuel Sanders SteelersEmmanuel Sanders has plenty of respect for his former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but it hasn’t taken him long to figure out that Peyton Manning is an even better leader.

Sanders caught 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and left to sign with the Denver Broncos in March.

During an interview Friday with “The Drive” on 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Sanders compared and contrasted Peyton and Big Ben. He reluctantly pointed out the reality that Manning is a better leader.

“(From) a mental standpoint, I don’t care to really say this, but I feel Peyton is a far better leader,” Sanders said. “In terms of staying after practice, catching balls, wanting guys to get on the same page with him and things of that sort.

“This is the first time that I had a quarterback that stays every single day after practice, no matter what his accolades. From NFL MVP, Super Bowl rings. He keeps guys like me and (Cody) Lattimore after practice and we’re out there 15, 20 minutes. And he’s not one of those guys you gotta go chase down, he’s gonna be right at the same spot ready to work, every single day.

“And I just feel like that’s the difference from a mental standpoint of the both. But both of them are winners. And Ben, his playing style is a lot different. Ben, with the system that he’s in Pittsburgh, he takes advantage of it.”

We’ve heard this sort of thing about Peyton for years, so it’s really no surprise to hear that he is still driven and dedicated to being the best even at age 38. You think being an MVP comes by accident?

Still, Sanders wanted to make sure his comments didn’t come off as if he were disparaging Big Ben.

“I’ve got so much love for Big Ben, he’s helped me out tremendously in so many ways,” Sanders said. “On and off the field, he’s made me a better player. But at the same time, I’m not gonna lie, I’m happy to be a part of this organization. I’m happy to have Peyton Manning as my quarterback.”

The reviews about Sanders have been strong so far. Eric Decker signed with the Jets and Sanders will have a chance to step in and produce. Given all his extra work with Peyton, we’re banking on him having a big season for the Broncos. And if Roethlisberger takes offense to the comments, maybe he needs to change the way does business.

Helmet smack to Around the League

Paul George takes cold-blooded shot at ex-Pacers coach Jim O’Brien

Paul George nude selfie

Paul George had some time on his hands Saturday and decided to host a 10-question Q&A on his Twitter account where he answered questions from some fans.

George answered fun questions such as who his favorite players were growing up, what his favorite movie is, and his celebrity crush. But the best answer of all came when he was asked for his best memory as a rookie, which was back in the 2010-2011 season.

Ouch. That was way harsh.

Jim O’Brien was the Pacers’ coach from 2007-2011 and was fired midway through George’s rookie season. The Pacers were 17-27 under O’Brien, but went 20-18 under new coach Frank Vogel. They’ve had tremendous success in the three full seasons since Vogel became head coach.

Maybe George intended it as a shot, maybe he didn’t, but to call a coach getting fired a highlight of your rookie season is pretty cold-blooded.

Below are some of the other answers he gave during his Q&A. They’re pretty interesting.

[Read more...]

Michael Jordan ‘cool with’ LeBron James switching back to No. 23

LeBron James Cavs 23

LeBron James announced on Sunday that he has decided to wear No. 23 again in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While it makes sense that LeBron would want to go back to his original number for the homecoming, the reason he cited for switching to No. 6 four years ago has kind of made him look bad for going back.

If you remember, LeBron said in this interview that he was no longer going to wear 23 out of respect for Michael Jordan. James said MJ has done so much for the game of basketball that no one should wear 23 again. Apparently he changed his mind, though Jordan says he is fine with it.

“I’m cool with it,” Jordan told ESPN’s Chris Broussard in a text message Monday. “I don’t own a number.”

Jordan probably didn’t have an issue with LeBron wearing No. 23 to begin with, so his reaction is not a surprise. The real surprise is that LeBron didn’t stick with No. 6 or choose a different number just because of what he said about Jordan. While the fans who didn’t burn their old Cavs jerseys are grateful, it makes what James said four years ago sound really lame now.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s mother thinks he’s great at driving sh-t cars

Dale-Earnhardt-Jr-Facial-Hair-BetJeff Gordon crossed the finish line first on Sunday for his fifth Brickyard 400 win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth.

Obviously, Earnhardt would have liked to finished higher, but it wasn’t meant to be.

During times like this it’s always good to receive encouragement from mom, who almost always knows the right thing to say.

After the race, Earnhardt had a conversation with his mother and he was kind enough to tweet a portion of it for us to see.

Dale Earnhardt text mom

Nothing like mom calling it like she sees it.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 14 top-10 finishes this season have him tied with Jeff Gordon for most on the Sprint Cup circuit. Earnhardt’s nine top-5 finishes also put him at the top of the list, tied with Brad Keselowski. Dale Jr. is currently second in points with 693 after 20 starts so it’s safe to say he’s having a pretty good year thus far, in good or bad cars, depending on who you believe.

Astros players resent Mark Appel’s promotion to Double-A

Mark AppelHaving a 9.74 ERA in the minor leagues would usually result in a pitcher being released. In Mark Appel’s case, it led to a promotion. And that has members of the Houston Astros peeved.

Appel, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was promoted from High-A Lancaster where he was struggling, to Double-A Corpus Christi. He was in Houston Sunday throwing a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park in front of Astros pitching coach Brent Strom. His presence at the park and seemingly undeserved promotion rankled some Astros.

“Unbelievable,” an anonymous Astros player told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m not in a good mood.”

Then there were these tweets from Astros reporter Jose de Jesus Ortiz:

An Astros player compared Appel, who is 2-5 with a 9.74 ERA over 12 starts for Lancaster, with Josh Hader, who is 9-1 with a 2.46 ERA for the Jethawks.

“So now you get rewarded for having an 11 ERA? And you have two guys down there (at Class A Lancaster) with 2 ERAs who can’t get called up?” the player said.

Unlike Appel who was highly touted and highly paid, Hader was a 19th-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. He has progressed through the minors slowly despite performing well at every level. He spent his first year in rookie ball and low-A, his second in A-ball and now he’s dominating high-A. If he keeps going this way, he’ll probably end up promoted before too long.

If Appel had been performing so poorly, why did the Astros promote him? He put together his best outing of the season on Thursday in which he allowed five hits and struck out 7 over six scoreless. It’s pretty sad that that was his best outing of the season … and it’s just as bad that that’s all Houston felt it needed to see to promote him. The Astros feel a mechanical adjustment Appel made led to the change.

A few other things to consider about Appel’s struggles are that he had an appendectomy in January and may not have been at full health/strength early in the season. He also had tendinitis in his right thumb. Plus, Houston uses a tandem pitching system in the minors. Rather than have it like a big league club with five pitchers each getting a start in different days, they pair starters together and have both pitch the same game. Since they have four tandems per team, starters are going every fourth day. It’s possible that their system has messed with the routine Appel is used to.

However you look at it, Appel’s promotion does seem premature and undeserved, so the uproar is more than understandable.

LeBron James chooses to wear jersey number 23 with Cavaliers

LeBron James Cavs 23

LeBron James indicated over Instagram recently that he was considering switching jersey numbers from six back to 23 after signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On Sunday, the 4-time league MVP announced on Instagram that he decided to go with No. 23:

“23 it is! It’s only right I go back. 2·3=6 We still family 6. #HomeTeam #StriveForGreatness”

James wore jersey No. 23 during his entire first stint with the Cavs from 2004-2010, but he decided to switch out of respect to Michael Jordan. Remember when he said this?

I’m somewhat surprised LeBron chose to go back to 23. You figure he’d want to have a unique number rather than a ripoff of MJ, but since his whole theme this month has been about a homecoming, it makes sense that he went back to his original number. He also did a big favor to all the fans who didn’t burn his jersey after he left; now they get to break them out again.

Daniel Bryan stopped burglar at his home with rear naked choke

Daniel Bryan Brie Bella

Daniel Bryan is the people’s champion for good reason: he is a badass.

Bryan thwarted a robbery attempt at his home by chasing away two burglars on Thursday and catching one of them.

Bryan and wife Brie Bella were coming home after Brie picked her husband up from the airport. Upon arriving at their home, they saw a door open inside and were concerned. Brie went inside to check on their dog, Josie, while Bryan spotted the men trying to flee out the back door and chased them. He successfully caught up to them and subdued one of the burglars — 22-year-old Cesar Sosa — using a rear naked choke hold.

“Fortunately he wasn’t in very good shape, so it didn’t take much. I put him in a rear naked choke. I didn’t want to hurt him, I just wanted to make sure he was subdued until the police could come,” Bryan said. “It took zero effort to take him down. Zero effort to put him in a rear naked choke.”

Sosa also had a felony warrant for burglary and kidnapping.

Bryan also says a neighbor called the police to report suspicious activity around the time of the robbery attempt.

[Related: MMA champ Jon Jones subdued robber before his fight]

“I got really angry at first,” Bryan said at a press conference. “You’d rather they steal your car than break into your home where it’s an invasion.”

Did the burglar recognize Bryan?

“I don’t think he’s a wrestling fan, no.

“We consider ourselves, given the circumstances, very fortunate people.”

Photo: Twitter/Daniel Bryan