11:01 PM EST, December 22, 2011
Recovery for Manning
Peyton Manning has everything an NFL quarterback could want: a Super Bowl ring, Hall of Fame credentials and hilarious commercials to show his grandkids.
So what should Santa bring Manning?
A full recovery from the neck injury and surgery that have sidelined him throughout this season, and a return to the field, where he orchestrated an offense like no other.
Failing that, here's wishing Manning the good sense to retire. As anyone who has winced at James Harrison's hit of Colt McCoy understands, football is becoming more perilous by the day. Until doctors pronounce Manning's neck healed, not even his most ardent fans want him in uniform.
Conscience for NFL
Far too many former NFL players struggle with debilitating physical and emotional injuries — the latter caused in part by suffering too many concussions while playing a sport so violent yet so flush with cash. These players have lost their families, homes, quality of life and even their lives themselves.
In the Christmas spirit, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's gift is a better conscience so that he can save these former gladiators who have broken-down bodies, minds and lives. Since the NFL inhales $9 billion annually in revenue, Goodell should direct at least $250 million more a year to rescue these ex-players. After all, today's NFL money machine was built primarily on its players' brawn and the abuse of their brains.
South Florida cheer
Gifts can be selfish. Often, gifts are not about giving, but about the great feeling one gets from giving. It is in that spirit that these gifts are offered to South Florida's sports franchises.
To the Dolphins, a franchise quarterback, the likes of which you have not seen since Dan Marino and Bob Griese. To the Panthers, a trip to the playoffs for the first time in an NHL-record 10 years. To the Marlins, success in your new home, new uniforms and with your new payroll. To the Heat, another run at the NBA Finals.
By giving these gifts, South Florida sports fans — and sports journalists — will have more fun and interesting teams to follow.
Good health for Crosby
This is hard because having grown up in Cleveland I was raised to dislike everything and anything about Pittsburgh. But I would like to see Sidney Crosby, the best hockey player in the world, get a clean bill of health. He's far too young to have his career derailed by injury, and in his case it's concussions.
His career reminds me of the Flyers' Eric Lindros, who never reached his true potential because of injuries. Wayne Gretzky is the Great One, but Crosby is the Next One. The way he plays the game is magical. And trust me, I hate to say it — or see it — because he plays for the Penguins.
Crosby is just 24 and has so much left to give to the game. Let's hope he gets the chance.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun