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Peyton Manning smashes SI’s cover jinx

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From the recently thawed drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Peyton Manning is one icy-slick, competitive quarterback who knows how to win. He also knows how to break a notorious jinx in style.

For years, Sports Illustrated has been famous — or infamous — for its cover jinx. A decorated athlete on the cover who a short time later (usually within a week) sees doom and gloom. But, leave it to Manning to do away with that nonsense.

Manning, last week named SI’s “Sportsman of the Year” for the issue dated Dec. 23, threw his record-breaking 51st touchdown pass in the Broncos’ 37-13 NFL win over the hapless Texans on Sunday. Manning, who can add to that total in the regular-season finale against the pass-porous Raiders, eclipsed Tom Brady’s single-season mark set in 2007.

Here are the previous four featured subjects — all quarterbacks — on the SI cover, and how they fared after appearing within a week:

nNick Foles (Dec. 16 issue) — The Eagles were embarrassed by the Vikings, 48-30, on Dec. 15;

nBraxton Miller (Dec. 9) — Ohio State, which was in position to play No. 1 Florida State in the BCS national title game, was upset by Michigan State for the Big Ten title (Dec. 7);

nTony Romo (Dec. 2) — The much-maligned Cowboys star lost to the Bears in Dallas’ next game on Dec. 9;

nA.J. McCarron (Nov. 25) — The Alabama glamor boy saw his two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide fall to archrival Auburn on the game’s final play on Nov. 30.

Manning is a public relations dream for the NFL with his engaging personality.

Now the question is, can Manning ride the Broncos to the Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2?

n The Monday following the end of the NFL regular season is known as “Bloody Monday,” where head coaches get fired.

Here’s my short list of coaches who should be fired: Detroit’s Jim Schwartz (exemplifies immaturity and lack of discipline); Oakland’s Dennis Allen (defensive guru in Denver, but defensive dud in Oakland); Washington’s Mike Shanahan (a political victim); and Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier (still no solution to QB mess).

These coaches are walking the tightrope, depending on Sunday’s results and/or owner’s premonition: Giants’ Tom Coughlin (may need to take a leave); Jets’ Rex Ryan (may need change of scenery); Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano (too abrasive); and Dallas’ Jason Garrett (everything hinges on Sunday’s NFC Least winner-take-all game against Eagles).

Richie Rich’s Top 10 in NFL: 1. Seahawks; 2. Broncos; 3. 49ers (played Monday night); 4. Panthers; 5. Patriots; 6. Bengals; 7. Saints; 8. Chiefs; 9. Cardinals; 10. Eagles.

Richie Rich’s Top 10 in College Basketball: 1. Arizona; 2. Syracuse; 3. Ohio State; 4. Michigan State; 5. Wisconsin; 6. Louisville; 7. Duke; 8. Villanova; 9. Oklahoma State; 10. Wichita State.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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