ALAMEDA — Way back in 1998, two players sat in the so-called green room at the start of the NFL draft. By day’s end, Peyton Manning was on his way to the Indianapolis Colts as the top pick. Cornerback Charles Woodson went to the Raiders three picks later.
On Monday night, Manning and Woodson will be on the same stage once again, this time as enemies in the first divisional game for both teams this season.
Interestingly, Manning and Woodson came close to being teammates this season. The Broncos met with Woodson during the offseason and attempted to add him to their defense.
Ultimately, Woodson decided to return to the Raiders for a second stint after spending the past seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
“You can’t blame us for not trying,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “We tried.”
Manning said he met with Woodson when the Broncos were in the process of wooing Woodson. Not even the allure of combining their Hall of Fame-caliber resumes and bringing them to bear on the rest of the league was enough to sway Woodson.
Fox and Manning said that you can see the impact Woodson has on the Raiders defense, just by watching tape in advance of their game Monday.
“I have no doubt that Charles Woodson will do great things for (the Raiders),” Fox said. “I know it’s early in the year, but you can see his stamp on the way the defense is flying around, running around and playing with confidence. There’s nothing like having leadership in the locker room.”
— The Broncos lead the league in scoring at 45 points per game. However, they failed to score in the first quarter of both games. That means they are averaging 15 points per game in the second, third and fourth quarters.
The Raiders allowed only seven points in their first two games. So, it should be interesting to see if things hold to form Monday night.
— It’s standard for quarterbacks to talk up the cohesion and tight bond in the so-called quarterbacks room. Found Terrelle Pryor’s answer to what things are like among the quarterbacks rather interesting.
“I’ve just got to focus on the job at hand,” Prypr said. “The guys have been really great support to me, and I just have to keep on focusing on the job that I have to do to help the ‘we’ of the offense. I can’t really worry about, or think about whether guys are still dwelling on stuff. I’ve got a job to do, my butt’s on the line, so I’ve got to get the guys going and not really worry about that stuff.”
General manager Reggie McKenzie said he isn’t sure how Matt Flynn took the news of being passed over for the starting job in favor of Pryor late in training camp.
“That decision was told to him by the head coach,” McKenzie said. “I wasn’t in the room to see if he was shocked or see what his mannerisms were like. But he knew that his arm was giving him problems. I know he can’t be shocked too much with that.
“But when (Allen) said we’re going to go with Pryor as our guy, I’m sure anybody worth their salt, they aren’t going to be excited about it. They want to compete and see if they can get that job back. But that’s something that you’d probably have to ask him or Dennis about.”
Well, we’ve tried to get Flynn’s take on how he views the turn of events. For now, Flynn isn’t speaking with the media.
— McKenzie said he is certain that his players will be ready for the bright lights Monday night. You can be certain that the Broncos won’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the game.
They opened with a game against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, with everyone watching, given theirs was the only game being played.
Next came a game against the New York Giants, with a ton of hype given to the game because of Manning going against his younger brother, Eli, for only the third time as NFL players.
After the Raiders game Monday night, the Broncos host the Philadelphia Eagles, then travel to Dallas and Indianapolis within a three-week span.
“That’s what the NFL is today,” Manning said. “I like to think we have the right kind of guys to understand what a privilege it is to play every single Sunday or Monday in the NFL and that every game is big and the biggest game is the next one but it is special.
“You’re playing the Raiders on Monday night football, it’s a division opponent, it’s the biggest game because it’s this week’s game. It’s going into my 16th season or going into your second season, if you’re not excited about the opportunity to play an NFL game then something’s wrong with you again.”