Even with his availability for the season opener in doubt, Robert Griffin III’s popularity kept soaring.
The Washington Redskins quarterback, who will start Monday night against Philadelphia after recovering from major knee surgery, has the NFL’s best-selling jersey, according to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Jersey Report.
Griffin finished the 2012 season with the No. 1 jersey, too.
RG3′s jersey ranks ahead of fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Indeed, eight of the top 10 uniforms belong to QBs: Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco are on the list, too. Only Ravens running back Ray Rice and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski play another position.
The top defensive player is Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, followed by last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The Jersey Report, which also will track popularity of baseball, hockey and basketball jerseys, finds Buffalo QB EJ Manuel with the best-selling rookie uniform.
FAVORITES AND LONG SHOTS: No surprise here, the oddsmakers have the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers as the favorites to meet in the Super Bowl.
According to MyTopSportsBooks.com, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are an 11-2 choice, just ahead of the 49ers at 6-1. New England ranks third at 7-1, followed by Seattle at 15-2 and Green Bay at 10-1.
The longest shots to reach the Meadowlands next February are Oakland and Jacksonville at 150-1. Those teams also have the shortest odds to go 0-16, a dubious record only Detroit in 2008 achieved, at 20-1.
You can get 25-1 odds on any team going 19-0.
And bettors can even get down money on the first coach to be fired. Least secure, according to the odds, are Oakland’s Dennis Allen at 2-5 and Tennessee’s Mike Munchak at 4-5.
LET THE DOGS OUT: Veteran safety Bernard Pollard has brought his hard-hitting style to the Tennessee Titans both on and off the field.
The Titans gave up a franchise-worst 471 points last season, and Pollard, who won a Super Bowl with Baltimore in February, was just one of the veterans signed to help turn around the defense.
With the opener Sunday at Pittsburgh, Pollard sees a unit that is ready for kickoff — and then some.
“We are 11 dogs out there without a leash, and we have to go play,” Pollard said. “Right now it is real. … But we are not going to win talking to the media this week. You don’t win in front of the camera, and you don’t win with a microphone in your face. You don’t win on paper. You win when you go out and outhit the man across from you.”
So exactly what kind of dog are the Titans right now? Pollard said whatever dog someone’s afraid of like a pit bull or German shepherd.
“If you are afraid of a poodle, then something is wrong,” Pollard said.
CARRIE AND HER GUYS: Carrie Underwood is the new voice for the opening song of the Sunday night games, and for the Giants at Cowboys matchup this week, she will have help from 13 players.
The country star and former “American Idol” winner will be joined by the Manning brothers — no word if they will rap — Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Clay Matthews, Andrew Luck, J.J. Watt, Terrell Suggs, Larry Fitzgerald, Jimmy Graham, DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis and LeSean McCoy on the opening. That group accounts for six Super Bowl wins and 55 Pro Bowl selections. But no Grammy awards, as far as we know.
ICONIC MFN IMAGES: ESPN also has changed the opening for its Monday night telecasts. A 90-second mini-documentary by filmmaker Peter Berg will chronicle the 44-year history of the NFL’s prime-time game. It will include famous moments from past games mixed with images of major cultural events of that period.
The opening will debut with the early game Monday night, Philadelphia at Washington.
“With such an iconic brand, I wanted to revisit MNF from 1970 to now and present it as something that was classic and informative,” Berg said. “Not just about the sport, but about the American portrait behind it.”
Among those featured in the intro will be John Lennon, Ronald Reagan and Pac Man.
GETTING READY: How should armchair quarterbacks get fit for the season?
Personal trainer Travelle Gaines, who has worked with more than 300 elite athletes, including Andrew Luck, Jamaal Charles and Dashon Goldson of the NFL, has some tips for the folks who sit on their couches or recliners from noon (or earlier) until midnight (or later) on Sundays watching the league.
First, he suggests walking a mile prior to the pregame shows to avoid excessive snacking and get the heart pumping. And doing 10 push-ups or sit-ups when your team scores a touchdown, five when it kicks a field goal.
Also try running in place throughout the halftime show, or a medicine ball toss with friends during second-half timeouts.
“As a bonus,” Gaines says, “invite a yoga instructor to watch the game with you.”
Gaines emphasizes the need to remain hydrated, whether as an athlete or a spectator. And when celebrating a victory, he suggests eschewing the alcohol.
“I personally toast the win by substituting the low-in-sodium, high-in-electrolytes Bodyarmor SuperDrink for the adult beverage,” Gaines says. “Fans also can eat grilled chicken breasts instead of wings — they can still use the Buffalo sauce — and vegetable chili instead of beef to eliminate excessive fat. Serve carrot and celery sticks to snack on instead of chips and pretzels.”
For the really adventurous, Gaines says to “celebrate the win with a mile run.”