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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Dungy downplays Eli s draft fiasco


Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy feels the Eli Manning-NFL draft fiasco was much ado about nothing.

“I think that kind of thing happens more than people know,” Dungy said earlier this week at Toledo s Wyndham Hotel, where he addressed a crowd of 600 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes function. “Rarely is it the first pick and rarely does it become public [knowledge], but guys make their preferences known all the time behind the scenes and it s really not a big deal.

“I m sure the Mannings would have preferred it not come out, but was it wrong? I m not worried about a precedent. We have free agents all the time that do it.”

Difference is, they ve earned the right to call their shots and are doing it in the open market. The draft is another animal.

Dungy is one of the good guys and I ll cut him some slack in that he has to live with the Manning family - Colts quarterback Peyton, in particular - and may have tempered his comments to that end.

But I vehemently disagree with what he said. In allowing Eli Manning to manipulate the draft, a precedent was set that might encourage any potential No.1 draft selection to threaten against playing for a less-than-competitive team that owns the top pick.

He may have his bluff called and finances might dictate that he relent, but it is more likely that the team would want to avoid a negotiation nightmare and initiate a trade.

“Not very often does everyone get what they want, but in this case it worked out,” Dungy said.

Yes it did. Manning landed in the Big Apple, and the Chargers, for whom he insisted he would never play, loaded up on draft picks and got promising young quarterback Philip Rivers in a deal with the Giants.

But it was still wrong. It allowed one kid to place himself and his selfish desires above the NFL s foundation of parity. And it might not work so smoothly the next time.

• Word out of California is that Pebble Beach Golf Links will be announced within the next month as the site for the 2010 U.S. Open. Inverness Club has invited the United States Golf Association to hold its premier event in Toledo in the wake of last summer s successful U.S. Senior Open, but it appears the wait will continue.

• Speaking of golf, at least one local daily-fee course operator didn t agree with a recent gloom-and-doom story in The Blade s spring golf section. The piece discussed a decade-long building boom that left the market over-saturated with courses and, coupled with uncooperative spring weather, left golf proprietors dealing with blank tee time sheets and empty fairways.

Some might see the glass as being half empty, but Gary Kuns Jr., a partner at Fallen Timbers Fairways, envisions it as half full. He feels the game is simply in the midst of what a Wall Street-type might call a market correction.

“Gone for now, and perhaps forever, are the days of scrambling to the phone a week in advance [in an attempt] to secure a reasonable tee time,” Kuns said in an e-mail. “Similarly, overcrowded courses and escalating green fees are kept in check by virtue of competition. This is a plus for the area s golfers.

“As much as the proprietor might have liked the way it used to be, the growth of the game required course expansion. The industry could not grow if the public maximized the use of then-available courses. It was unhealthy for demand to exceed product availability. Now, golf proprietors are required to work harder for their share of the market.

“Women and youth, who were denied access to golf in many respects in years past, are playing at record numbers and represent a significant untapped market. The growth of golf in our area is a good thing. It presently benefits the golfer, which is part of the growing pains. It allows more people effective access to the game. Golfers and proprietors are mustering through this recessionary economy together and, in the end, we can all win.”

SportsIllustrated.com is the second web site to put the University of Toledo s football team in its preseason top 25. The Rockets are rated No. 25, two slots below their position in an ESPN.com preseason poll.

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