The Pulse: Denver’s big bet, a heroic security guard and the Pro Bowl’s weirdness
Start each morning with The Pulse in your inbox. Register here.
Good morning! Congratulations, you are a Pro Bowler.
Coaching CarouselThe pressure cooker is on
Before the bad season of 2022, Russell Wilson was good. Very well. His sometimes scholarly game in Seattle earned him a slogan: Let Russ Cook.
Russ fought this year. The burners weren’t working and he looked lost in his new kitchen with his new coach who only lasted 15 games. The Denver Broncos gave up a lot to acquire these cooks, and the meal was an absolute dud. So what now?
There’s a new chef in town: Coach Sean Payton, one of the NFL’s most revered offensive minds and arguably the best coach out there. Yesterday, Denver sent a first- and second-round pick to New Orleans in exchange for Payton.
That high-pitched hiss you hear is the pressure cooker on the Denver stove. Yes, they had their coach, the one everyone wanted. Congratulation! Now you must win. At once.
Let’s look at what Denver gave up to get Payton and Wilson:
Seven draft picks (including three first and three second) $161 million guaranteed to Wilson Payton could net around $20 million a year with the Broncos, though we’re still awaiting exact numbers.
Payton is a proven winner. He has a Super Bowl ring and the Hall of Fame career of Drew Brees to highlight as cornerstones of his resume. It’s hard to consider that a loss for the Broncos at this point, even at the high price. But expectations will be immediate.
In other coaching news, DeMeco Ryans is the new head of the Texans, taking another high-profile coaching candidate off the market. The former 49ers defensive coordinator has all the hallmarks of a circuit hire: He’s a former Texans player who is considered one of the brightest young coaches. He lends instant credibility to a franchise that has gone through two coaches in two years. Unlike Payton, he deserves some patience while rebuilding a team that went 3-13-1 this year. BackstoriesThe security guard with LB instincts
Do you remember the woman who ran onto the field in Minnesota’s playoff game against Memphis last year? More importantly, remember the security guard who sniffed out the stunt like Patrick Willis and performed a teardown the moment it hit the field?
Jon Krawczynski has a fantastic story this morning about Pierre Frelix, this security guard, and how he was ready for this exact moment. Before you dive in, refresh yourself with this video, then rewind it and watch it four more times like I did.
Frelix’s story is remarkable: a difficult early childhood, an arduous adult life (he had six jobs at one point) and a unique experience that led him to be ready in a difficult situation. The woman had snuck into Target Center that night and camped right behind Minnesota owners Glen and Becky Taylor. She planned to run on the floor as part of an animal rights protest. Frelix was responsible for the security of this section. At some point, before working there, Frelix had also snuck into the Target Center. It was this experience – and a gracious mentor – that made Frelix the perfect man in the perfect place at the right time.
The full story is worth your time today. Hi everyone Peter.
How bizarre would it be if Tom Brady finally arrived in San Francisco – a move that’s been talked about for a decade at this point – because of an injury to Mr. Irrelevant? Tim Kawakami writes that the union makes a lot of sense. A year of Brady with the Niners roster, plus mentorship from Brock Purdy (whose injury return timeline is still uncertain) and Trey Lance? Sounds good. It’s also weird to think that a 46-year-old is tougher than every other quarterback in the room, but so far, that’s true.
UNC hired who?
North Carolina’s new women’s field hockey coach is Erin Matson, the 22-year-old former player who graduated from college last month. It’s a stunning move for a powerhouse program that saw former coach Karen Shelton spend 42 years in the role. Matson nevertheless has impressive credentials: four NCAA titles, three Honda Sport Awards and a scoring record in ACC history and NCAA tournaments.
Pro BowlThe bizarre turn of the Pro Bowl
The Pro Bowl has taken a dip in recent years. We can all admit that. Once players started skipping the game in droves — losing the value of two Super Bowl players doesn’t help either — a decline in popularity was understandable.
This year might be the weirdest in recent memory, thanks in large part to two AFC quarterbacks:
This year’s Pro Bowl, newly dubbed “The Pro Bowl Games,” will be more of a skills competition than an actual game. They do dodgeball and even a longest practice competition. Next year, you might get there at this rate.
Dana O’Neil landed an exclusive interview with Texas basketball players, who spoke at length for the first time about Chris Beard’s firing.
Mike Jones spoke to Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, about his perspective as Super Bowl LVII – the first time both teams in a Super Bowl will start quarterbacks – black rear – approach.
Stetson Bennett’s pre-draft playbook is all wrong. The former Georgia quarterback needs a wake-up call, writes Jeff Schultz.
Catch up on all the football transfer deadline chaos on our live blog here.
Houston, Cincinnati, BYU and UCF are officially Big 12 football teams. The conference revealed its 2023 schedule yesterday, which marks the final year Texas and Oklahoma will be there.
The top Super Bowl picks are here. We still don’t know if the roof will be open in Phoenix, which could affect some higher/lower totals. It’s time to bet if the roof will be open.
Next in the NHL99 Series: Alex Ovechkin, No. 6 on our list. Have you ever heard of him?
Our NBA staff have identified the greatest trade time needs for all 30 teams. Are you surprised that a Nets team with Ben Simmons needs help at the free throw line?
Keith Law praises the 10 MLB prospects who didn’t make his annual Top 100 list earlier this week.
(Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today)