When we last left human life preserver Peter King, he was being double teamed by a pair of urologists and bitching out the inventor of the Blackberry Storm. Well now, Peter has taken his act out on the road. Yes, it’s training camp time. What new places will Peter visit? What hotel shampoos will be too perfumey for his delicate olfactory senses? Will his colon be irrigated? I have the answers below. But first, an email from Harlan Coben!
You might remember last week that King got a tweet from the best-selling author Harlan Coben which said…
“Why not start (the draft) right after Super Bowl and have two picks every day till start of season?”
I then made fun of this idea. But then the REAL Harlan Coben then emailed me to make sure I came fucking correct:
My nephew — a huge fan of yours — forwarded me your post.
This is typical of the kind of emails I get from anyone important, by the way. “Hey Drew, a twelve year old child I know who can barely read thinks you’re great.”
I figured that it was pretty obvious, but I was being sarcastic in that tweet. The Twitter world, I guess. The question was about expanding TV coverage on the NFL draft. I think there’s too much coverage as it is and would rather watch a television test pattern or even Shawow (sic) infomercial than the NFL draft. That was my point.
Rock on. Oh and I’m friends with Sue Grafton. I bet she’d agree.
This is the problem I have writing about Peter King on occasion. I naturally assume everyone who writes in to King is sincere. Alas, I was gravely mistaken in this instance. Then it occurred to me that Peter King’s whole oeuvre could be a giant exercise in sarcasm. All the bitching about coffees and hotels. No one could actually write that with a straight face, right? Right, Mr. Coben, who I did not know was a best-selling author until last week when I had to look up his name on Google in order to properly make fun of him? Could Peter King actually be putting one over on all of us? Could it be?
Tuesday, 10:50 p.m. (Bills camp, Pittsford, N.Y.) Strange day. Sad day.
Nahhhhhhhh. By the way Coben, you can cram it for not liking the NFL Draft.
Brett Favre surprises the football world by saying he’s not playing for the Vikings, and in the same hour, word comes down that one of the great defensive minds in football history, former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, has died from melanoma.
Guess which piece of news made Peter more upset.
The day is a mess of phone-calling, dictating from the side of practice fields and then, when I was settling in to watch some practice tape after 10 with old acquaintance John Guy…
I’m not your acquaintance, Guy! I’m not your Guy, acquaintance!
, the director of pro personnel, up in his dorm suite, my cell rang. It was Favre…
OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD! It’s really him calling! Okay, King. Be cool. Just slowly unbuckle your belt and hit the record button.
saying he just didn’t trust his body to make it through 16 games, not given the way it felt after he worked it hard the past few weeks, getting it ready for the Vikings’ grind. And he was pretty sure this was the end, but come midseason, if some team calls, who knows?
Favre was down. He just sounded beat, like he had nothing left to give, and a little depressed. “I’m sure I’ll regret it down the road,” he said.
FUCKHEAD. THEN FUCKING UNRETIRE AND THROW YOUR LAST 32 PICKS, YOU FUCKING CUMSLUT. OR ELSE, GO DISAPPEAR INTO YOUR FUCKING DEER STAND.
I asked him about the toll this had taken on his reputation. “Two years ago you were ‘Sportsman of the Year’ and an American folk hero,” I said. “Now there are kids and adults who are sick of you, who don’t love you anymore. How does it feel?”
Quick, newspaper people! Reserve Page 1 for his answer!
“Well, then they really didn’t love me in the first place,” he said. “Whatever. Nothing I can do about it. This whole situation, if I had it to do all over again, there’re a few things I’d do different. But wouldn’t we all? I don’t expect everyone to like what I’ve done the last two years. That’s life.
“For people who’d question why I did this, I didn’t do it for any other reason than to try to play football for a team [Minnesota] I really wanted to play for. It had nothing to do with revenge against the Packers. Nothing. It wasn’t about getting back at [Green Bay GM] Ted Thompson. How much more clear can I make it?”
Favre to King King in February:
“Part of me coming back last year, I have to admit now, was sticking it to Ted,” he said in a rather startling admission.
How much more clear can he make it, people?
Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. (Bills camp) For the second straight practice, the fans respond to everything Terrell Owens does. When he glances up at the bleachers at St. John Fisher College, the crowd cheers. Two teenage boys are bare-chested, one with a T painted on his chest, the other with an O. And I think: This is what it’s like in the left-field stands at Dodger Stadium. Mannywood. I christen thee: T-O-town.
As with Manny Ramirez, the past is forgotten; what can you do for me today? The bitter voices from Boston don’t matter to L.A. people, and in Buffalo, Dallas’ loss is western New York’s gain. Okay. Fair enough. But if Owens stays longer than a year, you’ll see. The volcano will erupt, and there will be collateral damage. Lots of it.
I talk to quarterback Trent Edwards about the risk involved (though T.O.’s track record is that year one is always the honeymoon year), and he says: “Are you saying it was a desperation move?”
“If the desperate shoe fits, wear it,” I said.
And I know exactly what kind of desperate shoe that is: an Ugg boot.
Ed Reed walks the autograph line.
He’s as brave as Derrick Mason!
One reason I’m always so adamant about teams having training away from home is because I’ve seen how players can impact so many lives with the simple act of human kindness through an autograph or a handshake to a kid. I want to show you this, and the best way I know how is to walk with Reed and let you hear and feel what he hears and feels as he spends 37 minutes signing autographs and interacting with kids who, one after one, looked at him like kids used to look at The Beatles.
Or like soldiers in Iraq look at me!
The play-by-play of Reed on the autograph line…
“Ed! Ed! Mr. Reed!”
“I’ll get there. Don’t worry. I’ll get there.”
“Thank you. Thank you.”
“You’re my favorite player on the team.”
“Ed, how’s it feel to be a great player?”
“Awesome! I get free nutmeg in my lasagna now!”
“Can I have one of your gloves?”
“No. I need them for the afternoon practice.”
Can you feel the difference being made here? Keep reading, and you’ll see an interesting theme develop.
“How about your shirt? Can I have your shirt?”
“If I gave you my shirt what would I practice in?”
That’s just the kind of sage wisdom that will help keep that young Ravens fan from dealing crack.
“Can I have one of your gloves? Please! Please!”
“No, I need ’em.”
You cheap bastard, Reed! Those kids need those gloves to stay warm in the alleyway at night!
“Can I have anything?”
“You can have an autograph.”
“Please keep signing, please please.”
“Don’t worry, I will. Just don’t push.”
“Can I have one of your gloves?”
“Don’t ask him that! It’s my question!”
“Eighty people have asked me for my gloves. I can’t.”
I think these people want Ed’s gloves.
“Take one to the house this year.”
“Sure kid, I’ll pick off a pass and return it for a touchdown this year all because you asked. Never would have done it otherwise. Jesus fucking Christ. STEP UP FOR AN INDELIBLE LIFE EXPERIENCE, YOU LITTLE SHITS.”
“Do you need your glove? Could I have a glove please?”
WILL YOU LITTLE LEECHES STOP ASKING ME FOR MY FUCKING GLOVES?
This is what the NFL is all about here, gang. It’s not about the game. It’s about community. It’s about having kids pester you for your fucking gloves when you don’t have an extra pair handy.
As this is happening, I’m looking over Reed’s shoulder at the quasi-legible scribble that looks like “E Reed 20.”
“I try to make it legible. I learned that from Arnold Palmer,” Reed said. “I was watching the Golf Channel once and Arnold Palmer came on and was talking about autographs. He said, ‘Make sure people can read it so they remember you.’ So that’s what I try to do, even on a long line like this. I want people to look back at that and know it was me and remember me.”
“And I want them to remember that they cannot have my goddamn gloves.”
“Hey, can I have one of your gloves?”
“I can’t give you my gloves. I need ’em today.”
HOLY SHIT, YOU PEOPLE ARE RELENTLESS.
“Best safety ever! Better than Lott!”
“I guess I’ll take that.”
“Fuck that nine-fingered freak. I’m better than Ronnie goddamn Lott. Now you can’t have my gloves.”
“Ed! Ed! Ed! Mr. Reed!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get to you. Don’t push.”
“How’d you get so good?”
“By keeping my gloves.”
“You’re never going to leave us are you?”
“If you keep asking me for my fucking gloves, I will.”
“I like those gloves. Can I have one of your gloves?”
So if you’re traveling to Baltimore, people, remember: keep your gloves locked in the car. Or else roving hordes of children will try and tear them away from your body. They want your gloves so very desperately. Yours are desperate gloves.
“Mr. Reed! Mr. Reed! Can I touch your beard?”
“No. How do I know where your hands have been?”
AND YOU AREN’T WEARING GLOVES!
So there you have it. Ed Reed: Difference Maker. Bringer of light. Keeper of gloves.
A small postscript to that story. Later in the day, Ed threw his gloves to the side of the field. Peter decided, “I would like those gloves,” and had a security officer open the gate so he could retrieve them. Just then a small child, WHO WAS NOT CREDENTIALED, tried to get the gloves as well. But Peter tripped him, stuffed a pair of Footjoys in the kid’s pocket, and kept the True Gloves for himself. Peter King: Glove Baron.
Tucker rides shotgun and fires up Twitter, profootballtalk.com and whatever other news ports he has on his BlackBerry. For a former player, he’s a real sports junkie.
Who know a pro athlete would show an interest in athletics?
It’s a weird media world we’re in right now. My allegiance, obviously, is to SI.com, but I know if I take 10 minutes right now to dictate the item to someone on the news desk, the story will get up in 20 minutes, and we’ll probably be too late. So I decide to throw a couple of Tweets up, the first at 4:59 saying Vick wasn’t in Foxboro, and the second that the Pats don’t want Vick and like O’Connell. Sure enough, at 5:01 p.m., Adam Schefter Tweeted that Vick wasn’t in New England either. It’s a crazy media world. Forgive me, Time Warner.
And forgive me, “The Hurt Locker.” I’ve yet to experience your unique blend of heart-stopping action and gripping human drama.
Tweets of the Week
“Here we go with the meetings again … the first week highlights fundamentals. So boring but essentail [sic].”
–vshiancoe, Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, time-stamped at 11 a.m. Thursday, when the team was in team meetings. That was followed by Shiancoe’s next Tweet 46 minutes later:
“Zzzzzz zzzz zzzz zzz (in meetings) lol … Introducing the staff.”
“bettr tak out mah bigazz cok”
Sure hope we do better tonight in upstate New York than we did three weeks ago in Los Angeles, when a grand total of four people — and a few crickets — flocked to our Tweetup.
And all night, all those four people did was ask me for my gloves.
Tonight at 6 at Joseph Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y., adjacent to Albany, we’ll have a star-studded group of Tweeters to answer any and all of your questions. Go here for tickets.
Tickets? You have to pay to meet Peter King? Do the proceeds go to help Dr. Z try and learn to walk again only to ultimately fail? Do I at least get to meet John Guy?
Quote of the Week III
“Hey T.O.! T.O.! T.O.! Way to stretch!”
-A fan at the Buffalo training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., to Terrell Owens before a practice last week. Fans have been cheering Owens for the oddest things.
Careful what you wish for, fan! You don’t want him stretching too aggressively!
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
The five current and former NFL coaches who spent a week in Iraq on a USO trip rallying the troops this summer — Jeff Fisher, Tom Coughlin, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Harbaugh — stayed in the same large room, sleeping in bunk beds, for the week. Harbaugh said (as if this is a surprise) that Coughlin every night carefully peeled the edge of his blanket and sheet back, but only enough so he could slip in, and then pulled the cover over him, so it looked like the bed was made, with the form of a thin man the only lump in a perfect military-style bunk.
And when Coughlin masturbated in the middle of the night, he made sure to only jerk it at right angles.
“Even when he turned over, he barely moved the covers,” Harbaugh said. “In the morning, when he made the bed, there was not a wrinkle in it. But isn’t that what you’d expect from a Tom Coughlin bed?”
I have no expectations of any kind for a Tom Coughlin bed. It is not an object I think about, much like an Andy Reid toilet, or a Jon Gruden armoire.
One morning, when it was still dark out, Harbaugh couldn’t sleep. He quietly slipped outside for a run, not leaving a note, and he got discombobulated, and he was out of the room longer than he’d planned. When Harbaugh returned, Coughlin was up, pacing, and said to him: “Where the hell have you been?! I was worried sick about you!”
YOU LITTLE SHIT! DROP AND GIVE ME 1,260!
“What a guy,” Harbaugh said. “I think he kind of felt like my father over there.”
“Which is odd, because he isn’t my Dad. He’s just some asshole.”
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Miles I’ve put on the rental car as of this morning after the Boston-to-Pittsford-to-Ashburn-to-Westminster-to-Bethlehem-to-Latrobe-to-Cortland magical mystery tour: 1,243.
Don’t tell your feet!
(Ross) Tucker’s a comfortable old shoe
But is he desperate?
Tucker, who is a BlackBerry bandito,
Unlike Peter, who is now a Palm pendejo.
discovered Pedro Martinez was pitching in a rehab start in Allentown, and his Lehigh Valley IronPigs announcer buddy Steve Degler could get us into the sold-out ballpark. Well, of course we were going to the game. You kidding?
Miss an IronPigs game? NOT FOR THE FUCKING WORLD!
Three other notes about the evening. One: In the top of the second, Tucker and I were standing down the right-field line, drinking cups of Shock Top Belgian White beer, when a woman walking to her seat with two cups of ice cream approached. “Excuse me,” said Tucker, who is pleasant and absolutely not shy. “What kind of ice cream is that?”
“Moose tracks,” she said.
“It looks fantastic!” he said. “Can I have a bite?”
“No,” she said. “You’ll have to get your own.”
What the fuck? Ross Tucker walks up to strangers and demands a bite of their ice cream? That is fucking bizarre. I’m sorry. Did he also ask this bitch for her gloves?
When it was time to eat, Tucker found the Aw Shuck’s Roasted Corn out in right field. Now, I’ve been to many ballparks in my 52 years, and I’ve never seen a roasted corn concession at a ballpark. But this corn was … well, I’ll just say if I had my choice between a Kansas City Porterhouse or an Aw Shucks ear, I’d take the corn.
Not in the mouth, of course.
The ears come out, roasted, and they’re shucked, dipped in butter and sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese and a blend of spices (I’m told the recipe is a secret) that give the corn a Cajun/Southwest flavor.
It’s the spicy shrimp of corn!
We had two ears apiece, and Saturday morning, the first words Tucker spoke to me as we went out the door of our hotel to Eagles camp were: “Was that the most unbelievable corn you’ve ever had in your life last night?”
Oh, I bet Ross says that to all the boys. I bet he asked four fans for a bite before actually purchasing the first ear.
That’s a pretty good Friday night in Allentown, Pa.
Leafy, leafy Allentown.
Now that Tony Dungy is out of football, Dick Jauron takes the mantel as the nicest man in football.
Feel how nice those innards are!
I think there is no team that is as good to its fans in training camp as the Ravens. When their two future immortals, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, sign for fans for more than 30 minutes apiece at the same practice, that’s class.
That defines clutch. Don’t ask Ray Lewis for his gloves, though. He wears gloves so that he can stab.
I agree with Bill Simmons. This is just a star-crossed year, a year that just doesn’t feel right, for the Sox.
WE’RE CURSED! WHEN WE LOSE, IT’S BECAUSE GOD IS CRUEL!
Coffeenerdness: Can’t believe I’m praising Sheetz Coffee, but the dark roast there would give the Starbucks Sumatra a good run. It fueled me on two of these long jaunts last week.
One sip, and it’s like you’re in Allentown.