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Fading hopes or new life?: Can Dolphins still land Peyton Manning? Vote now (with poll); plus Canes settle for NIT, Marlins' big-mouth prez, Doral, Heat & more

HAIKU MADNESS, our blog's annual NCAA Tournament contest, is coming today/Tuesday. Get those 17-syllable poems ready!

[1) It is Tuesday, March 13. Let the Madness begin! 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Click Miami Is Comeback Hub for my latest column on commonality between Tiger Woods, who played at Doral, and Peyton Manning, in the Dolphins' dreams. Click It's All About Peyton Now for my earlier column on Dolphins' interest. Signing him is all-in-or-bust for a Dolphins owner trying to not only win but to make a once-kingly franchise relevant again. I first thought Manning was Miami's to lose. Now it seems they could lose him. Vote in our poll below and share your thoughts.

MANNING IS SET FREE, DOLPHINS READY TO POUNCE: Update: Manning met last evening in Indianapolis with a Dolphins contingent led by coach Joe Philbin, suggesting Miami remains in a sweepstakes for which Denver and Arizona are now thought to be frontrunners. ..... Original post: An emotional day for Indianapolis sent waves rippling across the NFL as the Colts officially parted ways with Hall of Fame-bound QB Peyton Manning. Dolfans, it is time to forget the dream-like 1aa1gonepmtradeup to draft Robert Griffin III, time to forget free agent Matt Flynn, time to forget lower-drafting Ryan Tannehill and time to forget incumbent Matt Moore. On this date in history, 2012, Peyton Manning officially became a free agent -- maybe the greatest free agent in NFL history -- and the Dolphins' entire quarterback focus swivels hard now in that direction. I wrote recently Miami would do best to do what it took to ideally trade up for Griffin, but, make no mistake: a healthy Manning is the next best option, and an exciting one. In fact, AccuScore estimates Manning would mean 3.1 additional victories for Miami in 2012 -- from a projected 7.4 to 10.5. That's the difference between no playoffs and playoffs. Manning said at an early-afternoon news conference, "I haven't thought yet about where I'll play," adding, "I'm confident. I don't know what the next steps are. This is uncharted territory. We'll see where all that plays out." Manning has been medically cleared to play but is not yet 100 percent following multiple neck surgeries. Of his health he said, "Ive got some progress to make but I've come a long way. I feel closer and closer." The Dolphins are confident they can sign Manning. How confident are you? Whether you prefer Manning as the trageted option or not, what do you predict: Will Manning end up as a Dolphin in 2012 or not? Vote now and say why, then check back often to see how the voting evolves.

1aa1gopeytonHandicapping the Manning Sweepstakes: My updated rank of the most likely landing spots for Peyton Manning: 1) Broncos; 2) Cardinals; 3) Dolphins; 4) the field.

Manning-to-Miami the betting favorite: Original odds from Bovada have Dolphins favored at 2-1 to land Manning, followed by Redskins 13-4, Seahawks and Cardinals both 7-2, and Chiefs and Jets both 21-4.

DAVID SAMSON'S BIG MOUTH: Marlins president David Samson is reported by business publication Miami Today to have insulted the intelligence of Miamians during a Beacon Council breakfast this week. 1aa1davidsThose would be the same Miamians whose taxes built the new Marlins Park and whom the club is counting on to fill that park. Samson (pictured) says he was misquoted; however, TV did air him commenting on low voter turnout in Miami by speculating non-voters were "too lazy or watching Oprah." It's hard to know the truth here. Miami Today was a staunch new-stadium opponent and did not record Samson's comments. Then again Samson has an earned reputation as a foot-in-mouth guy and one whose flip manner can be both offputting and misconstrued. That reputation makes benefit of doubt to Samson a lot to ask.

TIGER, RORY AND A BUNCH OF OTHER GUYS AT DORAL: Resurgent Tiger Woods and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy lead the charge in the PGA Tour event at Doral's Blue Monster that began Thursday. Click on Golf's Renaissance for my column previewing the event. I write how the Rory-led new wave and the recent surge of elders like Woods and Phil Mickelson make this an exciting time for golf. By the way, colleague Linda Robertson has a very nice read on new Doral owner Donal Trump; click here to read.

HEAT'S NEXT BIG TEST: Most Heat games are perfunctory wins, let's be honest. The OT win over Indiana was a thriller, but the Heat's next big test will be back-to-backers at Orlando and Chicago next Tuesday and Wednesday. There isn't a reasonable soul on Earth who doesn't believe it'll be Heat-Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals.

UM MEN'S HOOPS SETTLE FOR NIT: The barely-on-the-bubble Hurricanes needed a big showing in the ACC Tournament for any shot at an NCAA Tournament bid. The opening victory over Georgia Tech was a necessary start but the loss then to Florida State wasa deal-breaker. Canes settle for NITville, and that frankly is where the team probably belongs this season.

NEW SLOGAN FOR REPUBLICAN RACE: "IT'S A CLUSTER[----]!": Super Tuesday did little to make a Republican or any of the four candidates feel particularly good. The day's winner was probably Barack Obama, who gets to sit back and watch the other party be divisive and fail to reach any consensus. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, hopeless to win the nomination, should of course drop out now. Then it would get interesting, because the Gingrich far-right'ers who would flock by default to Rick Santorum would outnumber the Ron Paul support that would gravitate to Mitt Romney. Most polls and common sense indicate Romney would have a much better chance to beat Obama than would Santorum, which is why Democrats will discreetly high-five one another when Gingrich finally concedes.

1aa1bassmasterADS COMING TO NBA JERSEYS?: League meets in April to consider adding prominent, permanent advertising to NBA game jerseys, a potential $31 million revenue stream. It would be an aesthetic abomination, of course, but hey ... money! Some lesser leagues such as the WNBA already pander with jersey ads. Let's hope the NBA stays above that.

TOP MLB ROOKIES FOR FANTASY: Baseball Prospectus has the top three as Mariners C Jesus Montero, Rangers P Yu Darvish and Rays P Matt Moore. (Rays have a Matt Moore and Bucs have a Josh Johnson. What's up with Tampa stealing our names?) Other notables on the list: A's OF Yoenis Cespedes, the might-have-been-Marlin, is 4th; and Padres 1B Yonder Alonso, the ex-Cane, is 8th. Only Marlins rook in the top-50 is setup-reliever Jose Ceda, 37th.

ON THE COLOMBIA-MEXICO NOTE: I wrote an item in my Random Evidence notes column Sunday that elicited angry emails, chatter on local Spanish-language radio and consternation among Herald editors. Reference was to the recent Colombia-Mexico soccer game and our lampoon of each country's reputation regarding drugs. Two points: 1) Random Evidence is a humor-oriented column that needles and jabs, so the item was in context of a well-established irreverent format. 2) I felt both countries' drug-related reputations were earned over many years and therefore fair subject for parody. Similarly, as an example, if I were writing in Random Evidence about a game involving North Korea and Iran I might have a punchline referencing a nuclear weapon. I intended a broad swipe at an unfortunately real aspect of two countries' reputations -- not a personal shot at good people of Colombian and Mexican descent who are understandably tired of negative stereotypes.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' NO. 18'S: In honor of Peyton Manning's No. 18 jersey number being retired by the Colts, here are the relative few Dolphins who have worn 18, chronologically:

Player Pos. Seasons

Dick Wood QB 1966

Cliff Stoudt QB 1989

Sage Rosenfels QB 2002-05

Ernest Wilford WR 2008

Roberto Wallace WR 2010

Peyton Manning QB 2012???

Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...