HONOLULU — The Peyton Manning void is being felt beyond the football field here in Hawaii.
Long known as a practical joker, Manning, an 11-time Pro Bowl QB, has been known to add a certain levity to the proceedings. His best-known prank, according to those who have seen it in action, is to sign a few meals under the room of some unsuspecting rookie or Pro Bowl newbie.
But with Manning not around — this is the first time since 2002 he hasn’t been voted to the Pro Bowl — the practical joking has taken a backseat to sun tanning and paddle boarding.
That doesn’t mean the first-timers aren’t on high alert here.
“I’m hoping that nothing like that happens,” Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton said.
“I was already told not to give out your room number,” Saints second-year TE Jimmy Graham said. “I’ve probably had 10 guys ask me for my room number. I’ve given them all fake numbers, so somebody’s got a crazy bill, I’m sure.”
Steelers WR Mike Wallace has been in the league for three years, but this is his first as a Pro Bowler, and he’s not about to let his guard down.
“Everybody’s been pretty cool, but they just told me in the huddle that they’re going to get me,” Wallace said after Thursday’s practice. “I’m about to start ducking them. I’m about to stop hanging around these guys and just hang out with my family.
“They asked me for my room number. I told them I didn’t know. I told them I’ll let them know later.”
– Aron Angel