Peyton Manning To Denver; The Mets Dodge a Bullet

Also: more details from swing coach Hank Haney's upcoming Tiger Woods tell-all

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Today in sports: Peyton Manning is close to signing with the Denver Broncos, why the New York Mets should be happy the Bernie Madoff lawsuit only cost them $162 million, and more details from swing coach Hank Haney's upcoming Tiger Woods tell-all

Barring some sort of an implosion during contract negotiations, Peyton Manning is set to become a member of the Denver Broncos. "[U]nder the instruction" of the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback, "Intensified" contract talks are now taking place between members of Denver's front office and Manning's agent, Tom Condon. Sources say that when the deal is finalized, the Broncos will attempt to trade Tim Tebow to another franchise [ESPN]

New York Mets owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon will pay $162 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Irving Picard, the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff, who claimed Mets ownership deliberately ignored the nature of Madoff's fraud. Admittedly, it is easier to characterize a $162 million settlement as dodging a bullet when you are not the person paying $162 million, but Katz and Wilpon really should consider themselves lucky that the lawsuit only ended up costing that much. Before word the settlement broke this morning, The New York Times reported that the club "might think that they could afford to pay a potential settlement in the neighborhood of $165 million." Whether they do or not is unclear, but according to Bloomberg, under the terms of the settlement, the money will be repaid over the course of five years, taking some pressure off the cash-strapped organization to raise $162 million in a hurry. Last month, ownership confirmed a New York Times report last month that there are deals in place to sell ownership stakes in the team at $20 million-a-pop to cable network SNY, billionaire hedge fund guru Steve Cohen, and members of Wilpon's family, which will help the team service their nearly $500 million in debt and help cover operating expenses. Considering Picard initially sought to recover a maximum of more than $1 billion from ownership, but in September District Court Judge Jed Rakoff capped the maximum amount Picard could recover from Mets ownership at $386 million. [The New York Times]

The Mets might want to double-check on whether Steve Cohen is still interested in buying a minority stake in the team, since Cohen is reportedly leading an investment group in the hopes of buying the Los Angeles Dodgers. Who isn't these days?  But Cohen's group is looking like the most formidable buyer, following the addition of Patrick Soon-Shiong -- doctor, biotech guru, and "the richest man in Los Angeles" -- to his bid group. The Los Angeles Times notes Soon-Shiong was "widely expected" to join up the rival investment group that's being led by former Lakers guard Magic Johnson, who two years sold Soon-Shiong a minority ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, but apparently he had a change of heart. The Cohen and Johnson groups are believed to be the two favorite to acquire the club at auction from owner Frank McCourt. Baseball sources say Cohen has already been in contact with recently retired St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and would very much like to hire La Russa for a "key front-office position" if he ends up getting the team. [Los Angeles Times]

Another round of leaks from The Big Miss, the tell-all memoir by former Tiger Woods swing coach Hank Haney, is starting to emerge, a week before the book's scheduled publication date. The new revelations fail to match the singular strangeness of Haney's story about how Woods pondered joining the Navy SEALs at the height of his career, but are gossipy and enjoyable nonetheless. According to Haney, the golfer's failings include standard athlete jerkiness (refusing to site autographs for hyperventilating kids), an absence of social graces (Haney says that whenever Woods was out eating with a group and decided he was done, he would "get up, leave without a word and expect everyone to follow, even if they were still eating") and a striking ability to miss the point of what he learned in sex rehab. (Haney says Woods told him he learned in treatment that "unless I genuinely feel something for them" he would not be advised to sleep with them, because by doing so he would be "putting myself in jeopardy," career-wise.) [Page Six]

Today is Warde Manuel's first day on the job as athletic director at the University of Connecticut, but he's walking in to what may be the most delicate situation in men's basketball: the future of UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who is 69, one year away from winning his third NCAA title, and the man who built Connecticut into a basketball power over the past 25 years. But he has also missed games because of illness in three straight two of the last three seasons and the Huskies will not be able to play in the post-season next year, because they failed to meet NCAA graduation requirements. Calhoun waited until August 31, 2011 to tell the University he would coach the team for the 2011-2012 season. That deadline is going to have to be moved up if the school wants a chance to give the job to former UConn point guard Kevin Ollie, believed to be Calhoun's preferred choice to follow him, or look elsewhere for a new sideline presence. Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs puts the odds of Calhoun returning at "way less than 25 percent."  [The Hartford Courant]
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