When last we left jolly old fat racist, Peter King, he was telling the world of the Weirdo Rams and their weirdish exploits in Weirdsville. He also asked his MMQB coworkers about that Chains rapper fella. PK then recycled a travel gripe from the past because finding news things to be a shit about is hard! But what about this week? Sadly, I didn’t get my Christmas wish that Peter King falls into a wood chipper, so there’s still a column to fisk. READ ON.
So it’s the final football game at Candlestick Park tonight, Falcons at Niners, and I am strongly recommending my Factoid of the Week, which is about the Beatles, and Candlestick and Cincinnati and St. Louis.
And clowns and lawn chairs and bad haircuts and months that don’t end in -ber and whatever other meaningless drivel you can cram into 10 million words.
I know it’s not altogether football, but it’s a stunner. You’ll find it on page 4 of the column.
If self-awareness doesn’t kick in when you have to tell your audience that a particular item appears on the fourth page of your football column, isn’t never gonna happen.
Anyway, this from 49ers CEO Jed York: “You know, it’s not the most beautiful place. We know that. But the history there is so great. Willie Mays and Joe Montana and Jerry Rice played there. The Raiders, I think, played a year there.
Thanks to the advent of road games, Montana and Rice played in every venue in the NFL. By that logic, there isn’t a stadium that isn’t historic.
The Beatles played there. The Pope had a mass there. So many people have such great memories of the place.” Then a pause. “We have to get people to realize they can’t rip out the seats and take them home Monday night. Because there’s still a chance, a slight chance, we could host the NFC Championship Game. We need Candlestick to stay intact after the game.”
“Save some stabbings for later. We might have to do this again.”
Cam, Kuechly, Carolina climb Mount Payton
Time was drawing short for Cam Newton to justify why he’d been the first pick in the 2011 draft, and why the Carolina Panthers made him the franchise cornerstone 32 months ago.
Here we go.
Let’s brush aside for now PK ridiculously framing this as the moment Cam “had” to have or else he would be a confirmed bust. It’s thanks to social media that we can pinpoint when PK’s contempt toward Cam truly began. It’s not like he’s done a great job of hiding it since, mind you.
Interesting but not too surprising: Just got stiffed at Panther camp by Cam Newton. Chose not to talk to me post-evening practice.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 1, 2011
As always, if you don’t put in the hard work of sucking up to PK and giving him all the quotes he needs, he’s gonna make it his mission to bury you, especially if you happen to be a black quarterback. I think the only nice thing Peter has ever written about Mike Vick is that he was gracious enough to know his role on the bench this season behind Nick Foles.
In the last 20 minutes of the NFC South title game Sunday in Charlotte, he’d gone three-and-out four straight times. Four series with the division on the line, 16 yards. Playing at home. Losing, 13-10, the only touchdown coming on a 43-yard run by DeAngelo Williams. Sitting there at NBC, I’d seen enough. I tweeted: “Has Cam Newton made a play today? One?” Then: “Carolina drafted Newton first overall for games like this, and he’s failing them miserably today.”
His tweet right before that is telling.
Sign of a great QB: Hasn't been his day, but Brees takes his team 97 yards to TD in NFC South Championship Game. Graham helped.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) December 22, 2013
DURRRRRRRR BREES IS DOING SHIT BUT THE ELITE ONES SAVE THEIR ONE GOOD DRIVE FOR WHEN IT COUNTS.
Which he was—until the final minute happened. Handcuffed to 157 yards in the first 59 minutes, the Panthers got three clutch completions from Newton, the last a 14-yard touchdown throw that street free-agent Domenik Hixon made a good diving catch on. One of the marks of great quarterbacks is playing big when it counts, and Newton’s 65-yard, 32-second, no-timeouts drive to all but win the division (the Saints need to beat the Bucs and a Panthers loss to the Falcons in Week 17) was as big as it gets, and on this day, it showed the Panthers’ faith in Newton in 2011 was well-placed.
I’d pay good money for the first draft of this segment that PK already had written late in the game.
“Fair to say now and forever that he will be known as SHAM NEWTON, the fakey fake fraud whose dusky trickster smile and Auburn antics bedeviled poor front office guys into taking him the no. 1 overall pick in the draft. Surely no charlatan was ever more wicked and no quarterback less clutch. Ace Boogie? More like, boogie on out of here, LOSER.”
“It’s kind of frustrating when you don’t put up the performance that you want to,” Newton said afterward. “But this was a big team win. We got the job done.”
WHAT A GLOREEEE BOY.
Good for Newton
UBER condescension. I bet when Obama was elected, PK let out a hearty “good for them”.
who has morphed from a quarterback too reliant on his running ability to a good all-around quarterback who can make the biggest plays when it counts the most.
That’s right, if you’re not a statue like Peyton Manning, you’re way to reliant on your athletic gifts. RUNNING TOUCHDOWNS ARE WEASEL TOUCHDOWNS. Also worth considering that beyond Steve Smith, Cam hasn’t had a ton of great receiving options in Carolina. And Smith missed most of Sunday with an injury and they still won.
On Sunday, he got a ton of help from a defense that found the Saints’ Achilles heel—first-time starter Terron Armstead at left tackle, beating him for three sacks and nearly a fourth—and pounded Drew Brees for six sacks.
If the Saints had held on to win, what are the chances PK would have qualified Brees’ win as a triumph of his defense, even though Carolina would have been held under two scores? NOT A LOFTY PERCENTAGE CHANCE, I BET.
If Kuechly’s the game’s most instinctive linebacker, Thomas Davis is close. One of the amazing and least-celebrated stories in football is Davis coming back from ACL tears in the same knee three years in a row; now he’s playing at a clear Pro Bowl level. “Thomas is an incredible player,” Kuechly said. “A couple of times in the game, we just looked at each other and we didn’t have to say anything; we knew exactly what the other was going to do on that play.
“What is so great about this game is all three phases worked. We got the big touchdown drive from Cam at the end. It’s what he’s done all year when it counted—the San Francisco game, the Miami game, the New England game. We got a great game in the kicking game. Our punter [Brad Nortman] pinned them back [twice inside the 5-yard line] and helped control the game. And I thought we played pretty well on defense.”
What’s that? Before Sunday, Cam already had three game-winning drives against teams with winning records this season? Why, that would make the idea that he somehow had to prove himself in this instance even more ridiculous and insulting. Huh.
The Broncos found the weak link, and his name was Jawanza Starling.
PK would make a Juwanna Mann joke, but he still hasn’t made it to 2002 era pop culture references yet.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase sent in the play, with first down at the Houston 25. This would be the last series of the game the Broncos would try to score, and Gase thought of a smart one. Five receivers. Four split wide to the left—Andre Caldwell, Montee Ball, Jacob Tamme, Eric Decker—straight across outside the left tackle, and one receiver to the right, tight end Julius Thomas.
“Adam and his creativity,” Manning told me after the game from Houston. “When he sent that play in, I smiled.”
“Because I preapproved it via my situational playcall matrix I gave Adam before the game. He was so clever to press the right button!”
Jawanza Starling, an undrafted safety waived by the Texans in training camp. The Giants picked him up and had him on their practice squad for 11 weeks. Then the Texans, in need of depth in this lost sheep of a season, re-claimed him in Week 12, and he was playing center field on the fateful throw. Peyton Manning has made a living of finding the Jawanza Starlings over the years, and he didn’t miss this time.
Remember how great it was last week when Michael Thomas rose from obscurity to help the Dolphins beat Tom Brady? So great. But yeah, Peyton Manning would have definitely eviscerated and left his body on the field as an example to others.
Thomas wasn’t too worried about the ball. “Knowing Julius,” Manning said, “I wouldn’t have been surprised if he traded it with a cute girl for her phone number.” In fact, he dropped it on the sidelines, and Decker scurried over to capture it, and gave it to a Broncos’ equipment guy, telling him to put it away.
Can’t trust those FUCK-FIRST GLOREEEEE BOYS. Thankfully a history mindful scrappy scrapperson was there to save the football from the vagina dentata that would have chewed it to bits.
“I will enjoy it while it lasts,” the 37-year-old Manning said. “I’m such a fan of the game, a student of the history of the game. So obviously this is a big thing for me.
Records are only meant for people who make a big deal about appreciating setting records, you see. In fact, if Peyton had his way, you couldn’t break a statistical record without completing a 30-question NFL trivia exam first.
But personally, I feel all these passing records are going to fall. [Tom] Brady will probably break this next year. And you look at the colleges spreading the field and throwing it all over the place, and you see that style being played in the NFL now, and you’re going to see numbers like this happen a lot.
Tom Brady only has 24 TDs this season, but once he gets done yelling at his receivers and gets another Randy Moss in his prime, he’s bound to make the leap back to a gazillion scores in 2014.
“What I think I amazing is Dan Marino throwing 48 back in ’84. That record lasted for 20 years. That’s amazing to me.”
And to everyone, because it’s more impressive than Peyton’s 2013 season.
Manning, being the history guy he is, will give the ball to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For now.
Peyton Manning: History Guy
Cam Newton: Defense-Aided Crumb Bum Of The Lowest Order
Stats I think mean something.
“1. The weight capacity of this elevator is 800 lbs. but I jogged this morning so I should be under that.”
1. In the most storied passing season by a quarterback ever, Peyton Manning could lose out in passer rating to a guy who was a second-stringer the first month of the season. Nick Foles has a 5.7-point lead (118.7-113.0) over Manning entering Week 17.
So perhaps it’s not the greatest passing season ever? Not for nothing, Peyton just implied that Marino’s ’84 season was better. But c’mon, we know that forced modesty just makes this the greaterestest passing season of the all-time annals for Foreverville.
2. Denver, the presumptive top seed in the AFC, has four players with at least 60 catches and at least 10 touchdown catches. Seattle, the presumptive top seed in the NFC, does not have a receiver with 60 catches, and does not have a receiver with 10 touchdown receptions.
Russell Wilson: Defense-Aided Charmfraud! It’s because Wilson wouldn’t give you money when your email got hacked, isn’t it?
Manning broke the touchdown-pass record Sunday against Houston, with Wade Phillips in charge of the Texans defense. Manning previously broke the touchdown-pass record held by Dan Marino in 2004 with his 49th against San Diego, with Wade Phillips in charge of the Chargers defense.
XEROX OF FATE-ISH! It’s almost as though Wade Phillips keeps inexplicably getting jobs because nepotism.
Variable ticket pricing could come to the NFL in 2014.
At the NFL meeting in Dallas earlier this month, a cadre of teams met to discuss something other sports have taken the lead on: pricing tickets to a team’s 10 games differently, depending on the quality of opposition and whether it’s a preseason or regular-season game. In the past week, I’ve spoken to executives of three teams about it, and one told me: “I’d say as many as half the teams in the league are thinking about instituting it for 2014.”
$3 tickets for the Jaguars: not just for Jacksonville anymore!
Here’s the way it could work—and we’ll use Kansas City for an example. Let’s say a good Chiefs’ season-ticket costs $1,000 for 10 games in 2014. The Chiefs have an attractive home slate next year. They could take visits by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and the cross-state Rams Tier 1 games, and put a face value of $150 on those games.
I’m sure with the continuing bounty of Redskins picks coming in, the Rams should be better next year, but suggesting they’d be a better draw, local connection or no, than, say, Seattle is fucking nuts.
1. Seattle (12-3). Only one game, against a variable defensive front that changed things up on Russell Wilson consistently. I wouldn’t be too worried. But the Rams come to town Sunday. Home-field in the NFC is on the line. When the Rams and Seahawks met in St. Louis in October, Seattle struggled to win—and to score 14 points. Somebody better block Robert Quinn.
So that’s what teams have been doing wrong. Lofty coaching nugget.
7. Arizona (10-5). The Cards are in tiebreaker hell because of 12- and 24-point losses to the Niners and Saints earlier this year, and a 6-5 conference record. But they can take solace in winning the 2013 Teams Are Petrified To Meet Them In The Playoffs Award.
Wouldn’t that award go to the teams that are afraid of the Cardinals?
13. Pittsburgh (7-8). Seven weeks ago, the Steelers were 2-6. Just a friendly reminder the season’s 17 weeks long.
14. Miami (8-7). This is not the morning, Dolfans, to remind me that you won at Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Not after that goose-egg-laying to the Bills.
Yeah, Miami fans, don’t remind PK that your team not only beat the team ranked ahead of them, but also has a better record. That wouldn’t be very Pittsburghish of you.
15. Chicago (8-7). I’m open about who to put No. 15. Ideas?
YOU HAD ONE JOB. Motherfucker, you’re paid millions (MILLIONS!) to generate arbitrary bullshit rankings and you can’t even do that without crowdsourcing.
Ignoring most of his awards bullshit, which unsurprisingly includes more damning Cam Newton with faint praise and Peyton worshiping.
Coach of the Week
Danny Smith, special teams coach, Pittsburgh. Made the call of the day, with the game on the line in the third quarter at Green Bay, and the Steelers punting from their 44, trailing 14-10. With the Steelers in punt formation, Smith had punter Mat McBriar roll right with the snap and throw a perfect ball, a 30-yard pass to fourth-string tight end David Paulson for a first down. A gutsy call, and a great throw. Who knew McBrian had it in him? On the next play, Ben Roethlisberger ran for a 13-yard touchdown, and the Steelers went on to win 38-31. Cool story for Smith, a Pittsburgh native and Edinboro (Pa.) State grad who is in his rookie year coaching the kicking game for Pittsburgh.
That’s great, except Pittsburgh’s shitty kick coverage nearly let the Packers tie the game in the final minute after the Steelers foolishly opted to score a TD with 1st and goal with 1:25 left rather than take knees and kill the clock.
Goat of the Week
David Robinson, state climatologist, New Jersey. On the CBS Sports Network’s That Other Pregame Show, Robinson gave one of the dumbest weather predictions in meteorological history. He said there is about a 10 percent chance of snow during the Feb. 2 Super Bowl in New Jersey. “We’ve never had a big snowstorm on February 2, looking back at 80 years of records, over in Newark,” Robinson said. “But just two days after that, back in 1961, there was 15 inches of snow on the fourth of February.” A nonsensical point, David. Feb. 2 does not have some magical, mystical significance, and because it didn’t blizzard for a long time, that has no bearing on whether it will snow or rain or sleet or be 58 and perfect on the day of the Super Bowl.
The funny thing about Robinson’s quote is it’s the perfect Weirdsville Peter King nugget. If I switched the names and presented it as something PK said, people would question it only because it appeared to have involved an iota of research.
Quotes of the Week
“One of the great moments of my life, before a game my rookie year, I’m sitting there at my locker, praying, and I hear Willie Mays, arguably the greatest baseball player of all-time, saying, ‘What the hell are you praying for?’ He said, ‘Man, look, Bob Gibson throws at my head all the time. You’ve just gotta go out there and play.’ And you know what? He was right. You can pray, but you’ve gotta play.”
—Former San Francisco safety Ronnie Lott, in a very good piece by NFL.com’s Mike Silver, reminiscing about the end of Candlestick Park.
Wish that could have happened to Tebow. He’d have shouted “NUH-UH” then Lott would’ve broken his face.
“Not tell anybody.”
—Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, to Ravens.com, on what he would do if he won the Mega Millions Lottery, which was at $648 million last week. Flacco stopped in a 7-Eleven to buy a ticket, and said he plays the lottery when it gets over $100 million.
Because that would never make it to the media otherwise.
“You know you can’t control destiny? Destiny is predetermined set of events. Therefore, if it’s predetermined, you can’t control it.”
—Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly.
Also the concept of destiny is a comforting fantasy for idiots. You’re welcome.
Stat of the Week
I’m not so stupid that I cannot learn.
Could’ve fooled me.
In the wake of the success of so many running backs picked outside the first round, and after seeing the production (or lack thereof) of Trent Richardson since his trade for a first-round pick to Indianapolis, the lot of the running back in the modern NFL should teach us all one thing: Do not use a very high draft pick on one.
Let’s go back to the 2008 draft to see why. Those backs have had time to play and prove the point, for better or for worse. I’ll separate the draft’s backs into top 40, next 40 and undrafted guys.
It’s not a terrible argument even if PK is cherry picking a specific draft to bolster his smug lecturing via hindsight. He does go on to call Danny Woodhead a “smurfy do-it-all guy”, so it’s not without its morbid humor.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The last Beatles concert of all-time was at Candlestick Park some 47-plus years ago, on Aug. 29, 1966. Tickets were $4.50 and $6.50, and only 25,000 of 43,000 tickets to the show were sold. The Beatles told no one this was the last show ever, but they knew it. They played 11 songs, including, “I Feel Fine,” “Nowhere Man,” “Yesterday,” and “Paperback Writer.” They finished, nondescriptly enough, with “Long Tall Sally.”
“Long Tall Sally.” Last song ever played by John, Paul, George and Ringo in concert. Now that’s … a letdown.
After the concert, the Beatles were driven to San Francisco International Airport and flew to London. The end.
Superb Beatles nugget, now can we cut it with the fucking Baby Boomer nostalgia and…
The North American leg of their final tour was rather amazing.
But you said this was over.
They performed 14 shows in 18 days. The first eight days, the Beatles played a show a night—in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston (at the Suffolk Downs Race Track) and Memphis.
Of course this immediately turns into travel itinerary porn.
The Beatles played a doubleheader. In two baseball cities 360 miles apart. On the same day.
“Let’s play two.” – famous fifth Beatle Ernie Banks
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
You know me.
I’m not one to complain about little travel situations. (Oh really!)
And on the scale of grand travel maladies, this would rate pretty low.
“I don’t complain about trifling bullshit, except when I do!”
But I present it to you for your delight.
Last Tuesday, returning from Sports Illustrated’s presentation of Sportsman of the Year to Peyton Manning in Denver, I was fortunate to be upgraded on my Delta flight, a good thing because I had a ton of writing to do. So when I sat down for the 8:30 a.m. flight, I thought it only slightly odd that the 40ish man next to me, informally dressed, said to the flight attendant: “Jack and Coke, please.” When it was delivered, he drank it like a man being handed a thimble of water in the Sahara. Gone in an instant. Then he asked for another. So … two stiff drinks before 8:30 a.m. I see.
If I had to sit next to PK on a flight, I’d ask for Krokodil.
A half-hour after takeoff he got a third. Then breakfast came. He had the Raisin Bran. Three whiskeys and then a bowl of cereal: breakfast of champions! I assumed he’d be falling asleep at any time, but he was awake the entire flight.
Then, for about an hour, he belched. Not the loud kind of belch; rather, the modest kind with lots of air let out. Aromatic air. And I don’t mean aromatic in a good way. Every six or seven minutes, there’d be a slight gutteral sound, a verbal whoooooosh, and a scent approximating a landfill. What did this guy eat Monday night? Deep-fried skunk?
Cheers to you, Skunkmouth. Next time, try to vomit in Peter’s face. Your effort is still greatly appreciated.
Tweets of the Week
“I’d like to see Mike Zimmer as a candidate for Detroit. If the job becomes available.”
—@Lojack94, former Detroit defensive end Lawrence Jackson, tweeting about the Cincinnati defensive coordinator.
Aaaand there’s a PK off-season talking point we’re gonna have to listen to for the next few months.
Ten Things I Think I Think
e. And congrats to Garcon, for breaking the Washington team record of 104 catches by Hall of Famer Art Monk. And good for the magnanimous Monk, congratulating Garcon thusly: “Having set the record myself, I understand how exciting it is, so I’m excited for him. Records are meant to be broken. I didn’t expect to have it as long as I had it, but I’m glad the pressure is off of me now.”
Whew. So much pressure to have been the best at something among a large group of people. Blessed relief has arrived, Art Monk.
h. Robert Quinn, you’d come off the board in the top three of my fantasy pass-rushers list.
As if PK would ever dare compete in an IDP league.
l. Imagine if Will Hill concentrated all his energy on football. See his pick-6 of Matthew Stafford at Detroit?
While we’re imagining things, picture a world in which only people of talent and merit earned millions and Peter King was consigned to being a lowly and harassed Starbucks barista.
/loses day to blissful reverie
r. Unless something quite strange happens, Julian Edelman (96 catches, 991 yards) is going to have a 100-catch, 1,000-yard receiving season. Raise your hand if you had that in your office pool out on Cape Cod in August.
Peter King trying to become the Iron Man of fellating Julian Edelman. That’s three weeks in a row. Lofty fellatio endurance.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 16:
a. Punters as consistently defenseless players. I’ll be the 473rd person to ask: How can a defenseless player make a tackle?
And that’s why you make the big bucks, to be last in line to make cogent points.
e. No taunting in the NFL, Kenny Vaccaro. This is your 15th game. You’ve got to know that.
Positively schoolmarmish scolding.
g. The flop out of bounds was Geno Smith’s best play of the day against Cleveland.
That 17-yard touchdown run to seal the win? Total garbage.
k. Seven three-and-outs for the Seahawks. At home.
@xmasape Any chance PK criticizes Russell Wilson for not making a play today?
— Les Triplett (@LesTriplett) December 23, 2013
Haha, nope. Fun fact: Russell Wilson has fewer total touchdowns this year than Cam Newton. But the charm? He leads the league in that!
4. I think the Jets should not fire Rex Ryan. Period. End of story. A 7-8 record with a game to go, with that team? Hardly a fireable situation. Extend Ryan one year (his contract is up at the end of next season) and push this decision off until the end of 2014. Ryan, and Jets fans, deserve that.
Hey, I agree with PK on something. I feel icky.
I think you’ll enjoy this little chunk of my interview with Justin Tucker, the record-setting Baltimore kicker, from this week’s podcast:
The NFL’s got to do something about kickers. [Entering Sunday’s game versus New England] You’re 65 of 70 in your career. You’ve made 33 in a row. You guys are just getting too good. Kicking’s too easy.
Oh man, even shitty by PK standards to invite a kicker on his podcast just to tell him his job is “too easy”.
Tucker: “I don’t think so. I think the guys around us are getting so much better. Kickers are getting more specialized. Long-snappers are snapping it back at 12 o’clock [with laces straight toward the posts]; the ball can basically hold itself. We don’t need to narrow the goalpost. That might be a discussion for someone who plays eight games in a dome. But when you’re playing out here in the AFC North, or a guy like Stephen [Gostkowski], when he kicks [in Foxboro] is so good … We’re paid to make it look easy, but it’s definitely not. I don’t think it needs to be modified at this point in time.”
“ARGUE WITH ME, WILL YOU?! Time for the weekly Justin Tucker Locker Room Cancer Guy of the Week Award-ish Thing.”
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I have no proverbial dog in the fight, because I’m not a college sports guy, but are you sure you hired the right man for athletic director, University of Texas people? This Oregon writer presents a pretty damning case against Steve Patterson.
“I have no opinion or insight on this story, but here’s someone who does! Say, readers, what should I put as my next nugget?”
f. Coffeenerdness: Diner breakfast Sunday in New York. Coffee-flavored water. Miserable. Who drinks this swill?
You, for eternity, according to my wish.
g. Beernerdness: Had a couple of Fire Island Red Wagon IPAs last week at The MMQB’s holiday party in the city. Very good find. Strong IPA with a distinctive malt taste. Really liked it. Never knew there was such a thing as the Fire Island Beer Company, but I’ll be looking for its offerings.
Ooh, things got a little rowdy at the MMQB holiday party, huh? How long until it leaks that PK got shitfaced and told Jenny Vrentas that she’s almost as sexy as his daughters?
h. The thing I hate about this time of year: The 20 or so coaches and families who are on the edge of their seats wondering if they’ll have to move in a week. Sort of takes away from the joy of the season, totally.
NFL coaches know naught of this “joy” thing of which you speak.
i. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. I hope it’s a wonderful week for everyone.
May you get the kiddie pool of Peyton’s ejaculate like you asked for.
Who I Like Tonight
San Francisco 30, Atlanta 10. The Niners have another milestone to think about, not just the one concerning the 350th and final (most probably) football game in Candlestick Park. Frank Gore, who is as beloved to the Niners of the last decade as Roger Craig was to his Niners, is 144 yards from 10,000, and it’s a goal the current team would love to see him reach.
But did the Beatles ever play on Frank Gore? I think not. No career milestone for you.
The Adieu Haiku
So long to The ‘Stick.
Seems every step I took there,
I stepped in a bog.
A Merry Christmas!
And a happy new year? No,
I’m still doing this.