Klee: Talk is cheap, unless it's Philip Rivers vs. Broncos

By Paul Klee Updated: December 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm • Published: December 11, 2013 | 7:15 pm 0
photo - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) after an NFL football Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in San Diego. The Broncos won 28-20. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) after an NFL football Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in San Diego. The Broncos won 28-20. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

DENVER - Trash talk, back talk, smack talk.

Down at Broncos camp, who is the biggest trash-talker of them all?

"I would say Peyton. Peyton's always talking mess to me," cornerback Chris Harris told me Tuesday, flashing a wide grin. "Peyton's always talking mess to me."

The Broncos keep their state secrets under lock and key. In a copycat league, classified is the only way for a Super Bowl contender to operate.

Someone call security, because we're letting this little secret out: Manning is soaring through the finest season a quarterback's ever had, and he's not scared to tell his opponent.

"I'll be like, 'Peyton, we're going to get you today!' or something like that," Harris said. "Then he'll get the first down and come talk mess right (back) to us."

With all this talk, what a good time for a visit from Philip Rivers, wouldn't you say?

San Diego plays at Denver on Thursday night. There are two constants when Rivers, the Chargers' quarterback, lines up against the Broncos.

He will play well. And he will tell the Broncos he's playing well.

"Oh, we enjoy when he's talking to us like that," linebacker Danny Trevathan said.

Be honest. You do, too. If Rivers were a docile soul, just another 10th-year NFL vet slinging footballs around Sports Authority Field, his visits would be far less charming.

But Rivers wasn't anointed public enemy No. 1 thanks to his 9-6 record as a starter against the Broncos, or his 96.6 passer rating against the Broncos, or even his 4-1 record against Manning when he was with the Colts.

Rivers earned that coveted title fair and square, by his loud mouth on the field.

Forget that Thursday's prime-time matchup features the best quarterbacks in the AFC this season. Any Broncos fan pumping honest blood would tell you it's the way he acts, not the way he plays, that has made Rivers their favorite houseguest.

He won nine of 11 starts against the Broncos to open his career and, on separate Sundays, buried the Broncos 48-20 and 41-3 and 32-3. But he's built his reputation in Colorado by digging under the skin of former Broncos quarterbacks (now the backup in Chicago), former coaches (Josh McDaniels) and current players.

No one trash-talks the Broncos like Rivers trash-talks the Broncos.

Whether it's a Broncos defensive back ...

"He's probably talking to me most of the time. He always says something to me," Harris said. "I expect him to talk mess to me. It's part of the rivalry."

Or a linebacker ...

"Trash-talking is part of the game. I like it," Trevathan said. "A lot of people like to be friends, but we can be friends after the game."

Or a 335-pound defensive tackle .

"It's probably the wrong group to trash talk," lineman Terrance Knighton said. "I'm pretty sure he'll be talking trash to the DBs, because they're not hitting him."

... Rivers and his war of words have no limits.

After conducting a scientific poll in the Broncos' locker room Tuesday, I learned the most prolific trash-talkers on the roster are Manning and Von Miller.

Is it coincidence they happen to be the team's dominant players, as well?

"Peyton talks trash. But Peyton's been doing this for a long time," Trevathan said. "He backs his stuff up."

Ours is a sports world overloaded with cookie-cutter personalities. Anything that tests the limits of PC sends an athlete to Twitter for a public apology.

So it's silly to consider Rivers' act anything but refreshing. At least he keeps it real.

"Like the last game, when I almost picked him off, I was like, 'Rivers, I'm this close!'" Harris said. "He'll say, 'Whatever, whatever. You didn't get it.'"

Some guys sing it and don't bring it.

Rivers brings it then sings it. That talk doesn't come cheap.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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