Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) stretches with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) practice in Englewood, Colo., on Saturday. (AP Photo)
Chances are Peyton Manning will be like most of the fans in the stands at MetLife Stadium and will wear gloves at the Super Bowl.
That shouldn't be a cause for concern for Denver Broncos fans. He actually plays better with the sticky-feeling orange-and-gray glove on his right hand than he does barehanded.
Manning never wore a glove in Indianapolis but in his two years in Denver he's worn one on either his throwing hand or on both hands 13 times. He has a passer rating of 111.9 in those games.
Barehanded, his QB rating is 108.7.
It's not just a cold-weather option as many people think, either.
The glove is actually a concession to the altered feel of his grip after spinal fusion surgery in 2011 affected the nerve that travels into his right triceps.
He's worn the glove the last four games, when temperatures at kickoff have been 58 at Houston, 70 at Oakland, 41 at home against San Diego, and 63 last Sunday in Denver against New England.
"I've experimented with them throughout my career, even when I was in Indy," Manning said earlier this season. "I never just quite found a pair that I liked, so I finally found a pair that I liked."
Broncos equipment manager Chris Valenti and his assistant Mike Harrington "researched and gave me some options," Manning said. "Found a pair that I liked."
Good thing, too.
Manning has thrown for 33 touchdowns and five interceptions, including the playoffs, with the glove on his throwing hand in 10 games this season. The Broncos went 8-2 in those games, when he averaged 27 completions in 41 throws for 332 yards with 3.1 TDs and 0.8 interceptions.
BACK TO THE MEADOWLANDS: When they made the trip to the East Coast in December, the last thing anyone in the Seahawks' locker room wanted to talk about was them playing a late-season game at the site of the Super Bowl.
Once they knocked off San Francisco to win the NFC title, coach Pete Carroll and his players were willing to admit there is some advantage to being familiar with the surroundings they are about to enter.
"I always like using those illustrations on where we have been there before and we've done that. We just try to hold back on that at the time, thinking it was too presumptuous, but we're fortunate now," Carroll said. "We'll be in the same hotel, we've been in that locker room, we've played well at that stadium, so hopefully we'll utilize that some. It's just about being comfortable."
Seattle used the same hotel for its trip to play the Giants on Dec. 15 as the NFC team hotel for the Super Bowl. This will also be the Seahawks' third time playing at MetLife Stadium in the past three seasons. Seattle beat the Giants 36-25 in 2011 and then shut them out 23-0 last month.
But it's beyond just knowing the stadium and the team hotel that has helped prepare some of Seattle's players for the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson purposely went to last year's big game in New Orleans, with studying a priority. He wanted to see all of the hoopla so if Wilson ever got there the magnitude wouldn't be a shock to him.
"I watched the whole game and watched the pregame and all that last year at the Super Bowl and I really wanted to get a feel for it," Wilson said. "Just in case we were here and I believed that we would be, and sure enough, we are."
So is Denver, which played at MetLife Stadium in September, beating the Giants.
MILITARY MEN: Fans of the Broncos and Seahawks are winners, too.
Their fans' military appreciation efforts won rewards for their local military communities from USAA, an official NFL sponsor. Both Denver and Seattle were among five NFL teams to earn those rewards as part of USAA's "Million Fan Salute," a season-long military appreciation program. Also earning rewards were fans of the Packers, Buccaneers and Vikings.
Past rewards have included athletic field refurbishment, athletic equipment and support for fitness programs.
The benefiting military organizations will be announced at a later date.
USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 10 million members of the U.S. military and their families.
NO BLACKOUT GUARANTEED: The NFL can't be 100 percent certain there won't be a repeat next Sunday of the blackout that disrupted last year's Super Bowl in New Orleans. But such a 34-minute interruption, or anything like it, could be totally avoided in the future with LED lighting.
In fact, a company named Ephesus Lighting, has designed the first such lighting for outdoor stadiums; the lights already are used in a dozen indoor arenas in North America, including War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, N.Y. The home of the AHL's Syracuse Crunch became the first sports arena in the United States to be lit by LED lighting.
War Memorial Arena experienced an 87 percent decrease in energy costs during the last year by using those lights. And light levels at the venue increased from an average of 105 foot-candles to 217 foot-candles — more than double 13 percent of so of the cost.
"Everyone learned the shortcomings of the antiquated metal halide lighting at the Super Bowl last year," says Mike Lorenz, COO of Ephesus Lighting. "The electrical problems at the Superdome were resolved quickly, but it took more than 20 minutes for the lights to warm up and be turned back on. Had the Superdome been equipped with our LED lights, they would have been back on with the flick of a switch."
With LED lighting becoming more common at hockey and basketball arenas, Lorenz says Ephesus has "set our sights on NFL, college football and MLB stadiums.
"There is real interest in us solving the many problems they are experiencing with their current lighting systems," he says. "We expect that by this time next year, an NFL, MLB or major college sports team will be playing in a stadium lit by Ephesus LED lights "
SUPER MENU: Looking for some food with a Super Bowl, uh, flavor.
Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant might have what you want.
Perhaps Peyton's Pork Po'Boy. Or Richard Sherman's Big Mouth Burger.
Maybe Marshawn Lynch's Beastly Bangers & Mash, or Wes Welker's Wings.
"We always like to put a fun twist on our big game menus," says Shaun Clancy, owner of the Manhattan restaurant. "With so many fans in town to support their respective cities, we wanted to offer a selection that represents Denver and Seattle. The rule at Foley's is to root for your team, not against the other guy's team."
So fill your face, Broncos fans, with Knowshon Marino's Nachos, washed down by the Orange Crush Cocktail.
And Seahawks followers can get Pete Carroll's Quesadilla accompanied by Russell Wilson's Hustle & Bustle (sparkling espresso and vodka).
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Arnie Stapleton, and Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this story.
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