When last we left death camp dirt collector, Peter King, he was away on his annual four-week vacation to replenish his supply of quasi-newsy nuggets, clueless old white man cultural commentary and petty gripes against the service industry. I’m glad to have him back, if only because Klassic King requires the extra work of placing his atrocious brainsharts in the context of when they first oozed languorously down the side of his skull.
Now that PK has returned, what does he have in store for us this week? Is Hines Ward okay after the Aurora shooting? Please let it be so. The only thing more affecting is old Nazis who died with regret. READ ON.
So we’re off with the 16th season of Monday morning quarterback.
Was there a starter gun? Is this another one-man horse race? Is it a not race at all, unless it is?
Pro football is the sport that never sleeps
Just because Gregg Williams sits awake at night stroking a shotgun and muttering “soon…” doesn’t mean the rest of the league doesn’t get any rest.
and I was fortunate on my vacation to have union czar DeMaurice Smith, Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener, Washington GM Bruce Allen and inspirational Tampa Bay linebacker Eric LeGrand writing, allowing me to sleep peacefully every Sunday night
Thanks to these otherwise very busy people for covering my ass while I did somehow even less than I usually do!
boy, I already miss that
Then feel free to go away forever. Any time.
Before I get to the highlight of this column, I’ll touch on the news of the week.
There’s a good lard lad. Nuggets first, then plunge us into the bottomless vortex of your inanity.
The highlight, at least for me, is a 39-year-old pre-training-camp speech by one of the greatest coaches of all time: Paul Brown, speaking to his 1973 Cincinnati Bengals.
This must be PK’s revenge for Klassic King. KLASSIC KOACH!
This is sort of a risky thing here, running much of a coach’s pre-camp talk to his team. I don’t know if you’ll like it or not, but it’s something that as a fan of football history I just love. See what you think.
What is he talking about? What possible risk is there? Peter drones on for pages about his dog, book recommendations, college commencement speeches, not to mention literally dozens of other unrelated issues and he’s worried that including a coach’s speech could land him in trouble? Why? Because it’s TOO closely related to the sport?
I’ll be leaving on my training-camp tour Tuesday for Flagstaff, Ariz., and it’s going to be an exciting month. The weirdness of the Saints
Did you know they did something bad and got in trouble for it? WEIRD!
Peyton Manning with the Rockies as a backdrop, the new Raiders, an entire state (Florida) of new coaches, Tebowmania and lots, lots more. Like the rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, to name a few. The NFL needs a summer of fun to deodorize a lousy offseason.
All those exciting things you just mentioned are byproducts of this “lousy” off-season.
Let’s start there, with what’s on my radar entering the start of NFL camp season:
1. Peet’s in New York City. What does Rex Ryan think?
2. How much has Eli Manning matured as an architect?
3. Winniness, does Ryan Tannehill maybe have/not have it?
4. Explain yourself, Marshawn Lynch.
5. Ryan Mathews. What a country.
2. The dawn of coaches tape in fans’ hands. I was in the NFL offices Friday, watching a demonstration of the new coaches’ tape being made available to fans this fall.
The only problem I see with the availability of the coaches’ tape is that many fans now are going to be adamant they can pin blame on players for bad plays or credit players for good plays. As one GM told me, “The problem with that is often I don’t even know when I watch tape of our own team who blew the coverage, because you don’t always know what the assignment was on a specific play. I have to go down the hall and ask my coaches who was responsible. So I don’t expect fans at home to be able to have the answers even after they watched a play three or four times.”
Peter King already assumes that fans don’t know who any GMs are, either. What are they worried about?
4. Hines Ward is “devastated.” He should be, and of course we all are, after the horrific shootings at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises movie Friday in suburban Denver, where 70 people were shot by a gunman dressed as the Joker. In Ward’s first movie role, he returns a kickoff in the movie at an incendiary Hines Field in Pittsburgh.
Thank you, PK. As soon as the news broke, my first concern was certainly not the welfare of those who were shot and the crushing effect it had one their loved ones and the surrounding community. I really just wanted to know how the guy who had a brief cameo in the movie was holding up. So thanks for that.
“I’m devastated,” Ward told me.
“Hines am numbell one molose leceivel in NFR leetilement.”
“It’s a sad weekend for everyone. It took me from an all-time high to an all-time low.
Unless you were one of the ones shot, no one gives a shit how it affected your mood.
Ward said he has friends who don’t want to go to the movie now. “Fear of a copycatter,” he said.
Hines Ward’s friends are idiots. “THE BEN HAVE FEAR THAT COPY MAN COME IN MOVIE ROOM AND PEW PEW PEW TILL BEN IS NO BREATHE IN BREATHE SPOT”
7. A note about the power of Roger Goodell. It’s fashionable now for some players, and some in the media, to say Goodell shouldn’t be judge, jury and executioner in the wake of the power he’s wielded in the Saints’ case.
Why yes, it’s just a passing fancy that people are complaining about Goodell’s overreaching authority. That’s not anything that’s been brought up frequently for the past few years or anything.
But it’s revisionist history, really, to suggest the players could have won the power last summer during negotiations for a new labor agreement to send appeals to Goodell’s decisions to an independent arbitrator.
“In sketchy retellings, they try to decrease the size of The Rog’s bulging biceps. Let me tell you: THOSE THING WERE MASSIVE! TREE TRUNKS WOULD BE SHAMED!”
On Saturday, I asked De Smith if, in retrospect, he’d have pushed harder to win neutral appeal power. “Commissioner discipline was a major issue during negotiations,” Smith said. “But it wasn’t going to change. Their side said several times it was a non-starter. They were firm. I don’t believe in hindsight — there was anything more we could have done.”
“But at the time? Well, I just caved.”
Let’s say the NFL at some point said to the players, You want to change the appeals process so much, fine. But we want two percent more of the shared gross revenue. Midway through the labor deal, one percent will probably be about $150 million. Do players want neutral appeals so much that they’d have authorized surrendering something like $300 million? And there’s no guarantee the league would have ever proposed that anyway; it’s just a hypothetical advanced by me. My point is, I don’t think players would have pushed for a neutral appeals process if it would have cost them a lot of money.
I’m floored that PK won’t attach guarantees to all these figures he’s pulling out of his ass.
8. Be worried about seeing replacement officials in August, and quite possibly September. I’m hearing the talks are not going well.
/braces for resolution later today
And so you want to know what a coach says to his team before training camp …
Well, thanks to “Hard Knocks”, we’ve had a pretty good idea for several years now of what coaches actually tell players. But, by all means, share some outdated shit from almost 40 years ago.
I’m not sure how I got to be in possession of it, but when I moved from Cincinnati to New York, I had a cassette tape of the 1973 speech Brown made to his team at the start of training camp. I listened to it once, then misplaced it during one of our moves since. I’ve always thought of it as a treasure I’d share one day with readers, but when I searched for it this summer, I just couldn’t find it. So I called Bengals PR czar Jack Brennan, who was on the beat with me back in 1984, and asked if he could scare up a copy of it — which someone in the Bengal offices had. So I had it transcribed and present it to you — in edited form, because it was about 14,000 words long — so you’ll be able to hear something classic, some good example of how a smart coach goes over everything with his team at the start of training camp.
Let’s recap what’s going on here: Peter King likely stole this cassette and makes little effort to come up with an alibi for why he had it. He then proceeds to lose it. Determined to share this ancient nugget with a readership he clearly hates, PK bothers the folks in the Bengals PR department to not only find this not particularly relevant 14,000-word speech but also take the time to transcribe it for him. He then edits it the still torturous length of about 6,000 words.
I’d love to get your feedback on it. Boring? Compelling? Let me know.
You can read it if you want, but it’s fairly generic coachspeak that’s couched in what you might expect a stern old white guy to be about in the early ’70s.
On politics: “Frankly, I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or a Socialist. You can be a Communist, white or black or yellow or Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Irish, Italian or German, whatever else. Don’t bring this into our football. I’m telling you. Don’t let people or groups use you.”
His principal-like statement on marijuana arrests: “This is then on your permanent record for the rest of your life.”
Smooth-talking Jew agents: “I go back to when I had a defensive end come in. He didn’t do any talking. This guy [his agent] did all the talking, telling us what we’re going to pay him and all this kind of stuff. Traded him. He didn’t make it where he went. Barely eating today.”
Health: “As for smoking, I ask you not to do it for your own good. I know it’s a difficult thing to stop. I’ve never smoked and I don’t know like probably some of you know it, but I’d suggest you give it a try. People are dying of this thing.”
The only real part I enjoyed is when he cautioned against having players whose wives aren’t all about the team. “HEY, 58! WE’VE COMING OVER TO YOUR PLACE FOR POT ROAST THIS EVENING, SAY 8IH! IT HAD BETTER BE WELL PREPARED AND YOUR HOME BETTER BE LOVINGLY APPOINTED.”
1. Interesting how ahead of his time Brown was on hydration, cooperating with the media, smoking and statistical ranking of players. Can’t you tell how much this man loved football, and how much he thought about it?
He was among the first to speak out on the dangers of horseplay!
2. He apparently hated wasting food.
“Every scrap left on that plate goes on your permanent record, young man.”
3. Great line about what it takes to make a Paul Brown team: “A lot of man.”
Penile strength, Paul Brown teams had them.
Last fall, I was critical of the Penn State administration for firing Joe Paterno over the phone, during the crazy week when the board of trustees decided to dump the coach. I thought it was classless, given what Paterno had meant to the university and the football program.
Now, obviously, things have changed.
It’s like you see the deep, defeated sigh in that paragraph break.
I’ve thought for years that the Penn State football program, to Joe Paterno, had gotten to be more about Joe than it was about the players. There’s no way Paterno was energetic and vital enough in his 80s to coach a Big Ten football team as well as a younger man, yet for years no one could oust him from the job. It was Paterno running the school, doing what he wanted, staying as long as he wanted, and it set the stage for other bad things to happen. Other very bad things.
Child rapey things.
Yes, it’s so clear now that it’s been made clear to me that this thing I defended strenuously for years turned out to be not quite so lofty.
Quote of the Week II
“First of all, the money was too good. The money was too good, and I hate to say it’s about money. But, you know, I felt the money was a lot.”
— Brett Favre, in an interview with Deion Sanders of NFL Network, on coming out of retirement to play in 2009 for Minnesota.
Then Deion was all, “That ain’t nothing. You still had something left. Wait ’til you see what the Redskins game me back in 2000.”
Quote of the Week III
“We have a lot of confidence in the way we run our program, and we’re always trying to make it better. And I think skeet-shooting is going to be the difference in us getting back to the Super Bowl. So there.”
— Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy to ESPN radio in Wisconsin
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
My tentative (and I stress that, because my schedule can change depending on news events) training camp schedule:
Mostly Flying Portion of Trip
That’s this week. Airport baristas be warned, there’s an implacable PK on the loose. Don’t slack. He’ll tattle to Seattle.
Mostly Driving Portion of Trip, I’m hoping with a van I’ll discuss next Monday
Cowboys aren’t slated for that two-and-a-half-week stretch, which is sad. Wolfman Rob could’ve got him some cafeteria lady pussy in that van.
Aug. 12-14: Home for three days. Writing, mostly. Vegging out, some.
Using painful syntax, always.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Fun vacation. Strange coincidence.
Mobile travel. INTERESTING INTRIGUE.
My wife and I went to Dachau, the concentration camp outside Munich, and then moved on to Venice.
“Peter, does every European vacation have to be about the Holocaust?”
“DON’T RUIN THIS LIKE YOU RUINED THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AND MAYBE I’LL LET YOU SHOP IN FENDI.”
Once in Venice, we lined up to take a water taxi to our hotel. That’s right; there are no cars allowed in the busiest part of Venice. You either walk or take a boat.
Whoa. Why’s that? Is it because the famous system of canals that single fucking person who’s ever heard of Venice is already well aware of?
In line, a man approached me and said he liked my work and was glad to meet me. We small-talked about his Ravens for a minute until a taxi-boat driver approached. “Want a ride to your hotel? Where are you staying?” he asked.
“The Westin,” my new acquaintance said.
“So are we,” I said. “Want to share it?”
As well as the rest of my life?
So we did, Randy Amon and his wife, Marlene, me and my wife. In the boat, Randy asked me where we were going from here.
“New Hampshire,” I said. “We’re going to a place called Mount Washington for a few days.”
Randy looked stunned. His wife looked stunned.
“We’re going to Mount Washington too,” he said.
We’ll have so much to talk about after this vacation four-way we’ve set up.
We got to the hotel. Checked in side by side. “Mr. Amon, we have your reservation,” the clerk said. “You’ll be with us for three nights.”
We were staying for three nights.
AMAZING. People who take vacations take them in similar, sometimes identical, increments. The media should be covering this.
On the third night, the last night, we ran into Randy and Marlene in the outdoor bar and had a drink. They were flying in the morning. Leaving at 6:15, he said.
We were flying in the morning. Planning to leave at 6:30.
“Want to share a taxi?” he said.
AND YOU SAID NO, RIGHT? A MAN’S TAXI IS HIS THRONE!
So we did.
Turns out they were headed home to Baltimore for a few days before going to Mount Washington. The day we left Mount Washington, they arrived.
Same hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H.
Now that’s weird. Same train. Same hotel, for the same number of nights. Same end site for vacation halfway across the world in a place that I’m certain only two parties in Venice would be going to as the end of their vacations.
Someone fire up the Xerox of Fate. This just doesn’t happen. Rich white people don’t just vacation in rich white people European cities then head back stateside for more rich white people vacations. Not at the same time. Something is afoot here. Something semi-destiny-ish is at work.
Five memorable vacation points:
1. Standing in the “shower room,” which was the gas chamber, at Dachau.
No running water. The Jews should have stayed at the Westin.
Though this wasn’t one of the main killing camps, Dachau had plenty of the ugly history from the war. And the rock-solid building that prepped prisoners for death, gassed them, and then cremated them in ovens was still standing. And it’s as chilling a spot as I’ve ever visited.
Unlike the Anne Frank House, you could really feel the Holocaustiness of it.
The grounds were full of teens the day we visited, and we asked our guide about it. “Every child in Germany must visit a concentration camp during their schooling,” the guide said. “It is part of our history, and we must not hide from it.”
“… ’cause we’re probably gonna do it again.”
“Oh. Oh no-zing. Zees way, children.”
We really felt for our guide, who was from Bavaria, and whose dad died with a guilty conscience because he was a soldier for the Third Reich during World War II and thought he was doing the right and patriotic thing.
THAT POOR OLD NAZI WAS REALLY GOING THROUGH SOMETHING EMOTIONAL.
Ironically, I kind of feel bad for PK here. Were he a better writer or capable of sorting through his thought jumble, he might be able to articulate the pity he felt for the generation that grew up in Germany after the Nazis, rather than expressing sorrow for an old Nazi who realized he did wrong in his later years.
When I got back to our hotel that evening, I noticed I had four pieces of the pea gravel from the Dachau grounds stuck in the treads of my sneakers. You can bet those will be kept as reminders of a day I won’t forget.
WOOHOO! Historical death dirt. “Honey, open the hotel safe. I’ve got some real valuables to store.”
2. Going to a real, honest-to-goodness beer garden in Munich.
I THOUGHT THEY GREW CITRUS IN GARDENS!!!
The Augustiner-Keller Biergarten is the way a beer garden should be: a couple of acres of tables — some smaller ones, some long ones where you sit with total strangers — with three-pound steins, filled with 36 ounces of the local lager. Dogs, kids, bikers, elderly, yuppies. Everything.
Secretaries. Circus strongmen. Despondent old Nazis. Invalids. Shock troops. Lepers. You name it!
3. Being the PA announcer at Fenway Park for a game. A month ago, my buddy with the Red Sox, Corey Bowdre, texted out of the blue, “Would you be interested in doing the PA at one of our games in July?” Come on, now. Seriously? I believe I set the American record for quickest response to a text. “I’m in.”
Besting the previous record also set by PK, sending the same message to Brett Favre.
I did it last Tuesday, and now I just have to explain to my family why I’m going to be writing Corey into my will.
“There are four pieces of concentration camp gravel with your name on it. Don’t spend it all in one place.”
I did only one affectation. Introducing the White Sox lineup before the game, I came to the second batter and said, “Batting second, the third baseman, number 20, Kevin YOOOOOOO-kilis.” Just had to.
The White Sox presented some interesting challenges. Ala-handro DEE-Aza batted first. Die-ann VEE-cee-aydo batted seventh. Brian O-ma-grasso pitched in relief. Luckily, I missed out on Yahn Marine-yez out of the bullpen. I did manage to get the Red Sox senior manager Rico Mocha-zooki correct as well.
“I took the best the ethnics could throw at me and I plowed through ’em all. This must be what that old Nazi felt like!”
4. Visited the Allagash Brewery in Portland, Maine. Very pleased to have spent a couple of hours touring and chatting with the folks who make my favorite beer, Allagash White.
“Have you guys heard of my second favorite beer? It’s called Shock Top. But you guys are better than them. MAYBE.”
I even got to see how the brew is spiced with Curacao orange peel, coriander and a secret spice: with the spices wrapped in what looked like a white women’s stocking and stuck in the huge barrel during the brewing process.
Yeah, “looks like”.
5. Read a lot.
Went straight into Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, easily one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Ended up hating Jobs. Ended up admiring Jobs. Ended up wanting to model parts of my professional life after Jobs. Ended up wanting to punch Jobs in the face. In other words, Isaacson captured Jobs perfectly.
Ended up buying five more Macbooks. Ended up smelling my fart each time.
Oh, almost forgot: Thanks to the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners of the New York-Penn League for hosting me on Peter King Bobblehead Night, which, from what I understand, was under serious consideration for SI’s “This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse” award.
Even the apocalypse won’t be that depressing.
Great time, great staff and a very handsome bobblehead. You know that we live in a wacky world when they’re making a bobblehead of me. Of course, I do have the distinction of being the lone King who showed up on his bobblehead night. The night after mine, Stephen King was absent on his bobblehead night in Lowell.
Peter King leads the league in attending his own self-congratulatory events.
Tweet of the Week I
“BBC sideline reporter flown to heaven to interview President Lincoln: ‘Going to see that overrated play really didn’t help, did it?’ ”
— FOXSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, after a reporter at the British Open, with one of the worst questions in post-match or -game history, asked Adam Scott, who bogeyed the final three holes to blow the tournament, “Those three bogeys didn’t help you, did they?”
I appreciate that Whitlock even bothers to drop an “overrated” on the play that Lincoln saw at Ford’s Theater. That’s trolling through time.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think — no, I know — that one of my favorite books every year just landed in the email box the other day: “Football Outsiders Almanac 2012.”
Look at that conviction. That’s how you know he’s overcompensating because he doesn’t actually read it.
b. Tony Romo last year averaged 8.6 yards per play without pass pressure, but only 2.3 yards per play with pass pressure, the biggest gap of any regular starting quarterback except Rex Grossman.
YYYYYEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAWWWWWWW ROMO FOLDS UNDER PRESSURE LIKE A GODDAMN STAR!
3. I think I couldn’t care less if Michael Vick thinks the Eagles have what it takes to be a dynasty. What’s he supposed to say? “Our ceiling is 10-6?”
I agree with Peter King on something. Glad that’s out of the way for the year.
4. I think it’s good to see Rex Ryan down 106 pounds, and I hope he can keep it off when the stress of the season hits. I see he told Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger he’s been getting advice by someone he calls “my little sensei” this offseason. Rex, you’ve lost a little sensei.
9. I think I’ll miss most of the Olympics, hopping from city to city over the next month. Hard to believe the opening ceremony is Friday. It’s always one of my favorite TV events. I’m excited for that Denver-area swimmer, Missy Franklin, who seems like such a good kid, with her head on straight.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
Because Olympic swimmers double as football players, you see.
c. Had a great time running in the Run To Breathe 10K race, Boomer Esiason’s run to raise money for cystic fibrosis research, in Central Park Saturday. Boomer’s son Gunnar, a rising senior at Boston College, has CF as many of you know, and Esiason has been a tireless fundraiser in the two decades since Gunnar was diagnosed.
d. Regarding Saturday’s race. You want the good news or the bad news? Well, I ran it in 65:10 (the official time was 65:44, according to the New York Road Runners website), and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
Over a 10-minute mile pace for six miles? There are people who could skip that faster. At least Jeff Pearlman salutes your 10k purism.
But the good, I guess, is I beat 995 other runners in the 4,822-person field. The bad: I lost to 3,826.
I beat the people who signed up and didn’t show! Take that, cowards!
f. Red Sox: 55-68 since last Sept. 1. I sense a pattern developing.
Me being happy?
i. My biggest problem with the HBO series The Newsroom is some of the unimaginable things that happen when the real fur is flying during newscasts. Such as a lowly associate producer telling the all-powerful anchor during a commercial break on election night that maybe he shouldn’t parade his new bimbos in the newsroom in front of his former lover, the executive producer of the newscast. I mean, are you crazy?
This is truly shocking. I sincerely thought PK would be gushing about The Newsroom. Its squishy liberal perspective, moralistic speechifying and disdain of all things young people is perfectly calibrated for PK enjoyment.
That said, what PK complains about is only like the 125th most objectionable thing about that show.
j. I don’t know how I missed The Descendants when it was out a year ago. But that’s one great movie. Not a good movie.
So it’s bad?
A great one, a great slice of real American life.
So true. Just the other week, George Clooney left me a section of land he owns in Hawaii. Who can’t relate to that?
k. And I watched Crimes and Misdemeanors the other night again. Next to Annie Hall, it’s Woody Allen’s best, in my opinion.
Woody Allen nerd Will Leitch actually ranks C&M ahead of Annie Hall, which is inexcusable. How dare you force me to side with PK.
l. Coffeenerdness: Nothing better than sidling up to a tiny coffee bar in Venice, ordering a cappuccino, and getting black-as-coal espresso with a little milk frothed in. For about $2.
Forget Peet’s! Now Venice should relocate to New York City. Make it happen, Seattle!
m. Beernerdness: Best beer I had in Europe, and I think it had more to do with the day and the scene (busy square in Venice, sidewalk cafÃ©, 90 degrees) was a cold Italian lager I’d never heard of, Castello.
Watch out, Peroni. Looks like Italy’s gotten A SECOND BEER!
Cold beer, shady table, watching the world go by on a square twice as old as the United States. Cool.
Nothing enhances a buzz like history!
n. Good to be back. Looking forward to hitting the road.
And bitching endlessly about it.