Ricky Manning Jr. may be growing in stature, but apparently he is shrinking in size.
Manning, the Carolina Panthers’ rookie cornerback from UCLA who had four interceptions in the last two playoff games, was a multisport star at Fresno’s Edison High.
In football, he played quarterback and defensive back.
Asked if he’d thought about playing quarterback in college, Manning said, “I did until I found out I was only 5-9. Before I got to college, I thought I was 5-11.”
Here’s more news for Manning. The Panthers’ preseason media guide lists him at 5-9, but the updated guide put out for the Super Bowl lists him at 5-8.
Trivia time: If Manning gets three interceptions in Sunday’s game, as he did in the NFC championship game against Philadelphia, he could become only the second cornerback to be named most valuable player of the Super Bowl. What cornerback won the honor for Super Bowl XXX in 1996? (Hint: He played at Los Angeles High and Southwest College.)
Waiting his turn: During media day at Reliant Stadium earlier in the week, there were 14 podiums set up for the head coach and 13 players from each team. Manning did not rate a podium.
Warren Sapp, conducting interviews for NFL Network, asked Manning, “Where’s the podium, my brother?”
Manning wasn’t complaining.
“I’m a rookie,” he said. “I’ll get one when I’m a veteran.”
Who’s to blame? The Panthers’ Rod Smart, known as “He Hate Me” in his XFL days, didn’t rate a podium either. A reporter asked him, “Is he the guy who didn’t give you a podium?”
Smart liked that one. “He is,” he said. “Where is he?”
Game plan: New England rookie defensive end Ty Warren figured out how to handle the media blitz.
“I try to take it one reporter at a time,” he said.
Setting record straight: A recent Morning Briefing item said Washington Redskin quarterback Doug Williams was never asked, “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
San Diego sportscaster Doug Curlee begs to differ.
“I was standing eight feet away when the question was asked,” Curlee said. “It brought the news conference to a complete halt.”
Another dumb question: Lynn Swann, here to host a Spike TV special on Super Bowl MVPs, remembers being introduced to cornerback Will Allen, then at Syracuse and now with the New York Giants, before the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa. Allen was told that Swann had been one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history.
“Oh really?” Allen said. “And what team did you play for?”
Trivia answer: Larry Brown, whose two interceptions led to 14 points and helped Dallas defeat Pittsburgh, 27-17.
And finally: When the Cowboys played the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl, MTV’s “Downtown” Julie Brown asked Emmitt Smith, “What are you going to wear in the game Sunday?”
Larry Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.