Peter Downer Wants That Off-The-Record Deepness

11.22.10 7 years ago 68 Comments

When last we left tramjockey Peter King, he was having wacky misadventures sailing the Orient and discovering lost treasures. HA HA NO. He was really making a bunch of obtuse comments and sucking off whichever star player was giving him 30 seconds of their time to talk to him.

This week, PK read an issue of the Wall Street Journal and would like to lecture you about why a story that he saw in a newspaper is not more prominently placed on that newspaper. And other newspapers. Then he reminisces about his time in an underground sex dungeon with Bill Parcells. And he thinks he might say something nice about the Buccaneers at some point. Read on!

I’ve blown up the Fine Fifteen, promoting the Packers and demoting the Jets. I admire the Jets quite a bit for their late-game moxie, and it’s all about the W’s, but in the past three weeks, they’ve had to fight to the death to beat two- (Detroit), three- (Cleveland) and four-win (Houston) teams. I’m giving Green Bay BCS style points for winning three in a row by a combined 85-10.

They’ve got all-game moxie!

Are you ready for your closeups, Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier?

No, Garrett prefers the family portrait artist capture his entire profile.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and James Sanders just beat Peyton Manning. What a country.

In Russia, they take you out back and put a slug in your temple if you even consider defeating Peyton Manning. Cherish these freedoms.

Not trying to be Peter Downer on this Mike Vick story, but he’s not the 11-week MVP.

The Downer family really suffers from nominal determinism.

And I love watching him play — he’s got some Gretzky and Jordan in his game right now — but I don’t like his chances to survive if he keeps getting hit as much as he is.

He’s playing on the level of two of the most famous sports icons of all-time, but there’s the possibility he might get injured that totally doesn’t exist for anyone else. That’s not an arbitrary thing that could apply to anybody.

I asked Rodgers if he could share anything he’d said to Favre at such an awkward and probably emotional time. Rodgers not only had played at a Favrian level back home in Green Bay, but now he’d come into Favre’s new place and finished the process of ripping the team’s 2010 guts out. Green Bay 31, Minnesota 3. Somewhere, in some deep place, Rodgers had to be feeling some measure of tremendous satisfaction, but he wasn’t going to show it in that embrace, and no matter what he thought of Favre, he realized the moment and knew it was only right to treat Favre with the dignity he hoped one day the man who vanquished him would treat him. Maybe sometime around 2024.

“I should be nice to this guy who might not be a dick 14 years from now.”

Hearing my question about what went on between he and Favre, Rodgers said, “I’d rather keep that private. I don’t think it’d be right to share it.”

Just the right answer.

For someone going through something emotional.

In Minnesota, if Zygi Wilf succumbs to the masses and fires Brad Childress

UPDATE: He did! Way to succumb, Zygi!

he’s got a reasonably priced defensive coordinator in place, Leslie Frazier, who’s already a go-to confidant for many of the players, and the offense would be in good shape with coordinator Darrell Bevell keeping the reins.

In Cincinnati, if Marvin Lewis leaves, firebrand Mike Zimmer could ascend to the job, with offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski staying in place.

Oh man, I’d love for Bratkowski to stay. He’s delightfully terrible.

In Dallas, Jason Garrett, who has righted the ship in just two weeks, might make the point moot anyway because owner Jerry Jones already seems to be thinking of giving him a shot to win the job in 2011. In Carolina, there’s not an obvious guy in-house, though owner Jerry Richardson wants to keep the coaching payroll down, so he could think of promoting from within.

Ooh, player-coach Jimmy Clausen, maybe? PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE

In Tennessee, Vince Young, who leads the NFL in rabbit ears

Only because Little Bunny Foo-Foo tore his ACL in preseason.

heard scattered boos in the first half of a 19-16 overtime loss to Washington and appeared to wave to the fans to invite more derision.

Vince Young would make a fine pro wrestling heel.

On his way off the field after the game, he threw his shoulder pads and shirt in the stands and then, according to beat man Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, muttered under his breath while Fisher was addressing the team. When Fisher saw him ready to bolt the locker room, he told him not to quit on his teammates, and Young, according to Wyatt, said he wasn’t quitting on them — he was quitting on Fisher.

His leadership is poor because he doesn’t show the commitment of many of his teammates. And though Young’s played better this year (10 touchdown, three interceptions), I get the sense the coaching staff has tired of spoon-feeding him a version of the offense and not the whole thing, which makes Collins a more desirable option at this point, despite his age and creakiness.

Ollllllllll’ Creaky Collins will see you through. Sure, the hinges might make some noise and you gotta kick him a few times before the snap to wake him up, but when the chips are down and you need a veteran quarterback to step up and call his teammates a bunch of porch monkeys, Collins is your man.

And John Feinstein’s so gonna call PK racist for saying Young got a dumbed down version of the offense.

Drama has surrounded Young since he was drafted by Tennessee in 2006 as a favorite of owner Bud Adams. Young is from Houston, like Adams, and was a big star at Texas, and Adams took great delight in drafting the local kid while the local Texans spurned him, and he hoped Young would be the kind of star who could help Adams defeat the hometown Texans for years to come.

Sure. You always need to draft with a focus on beating the Texans. Once you get past them, you’re one step closer to getting over being swept every year by Indianapolis.

I’m told Adams still views Young as the franchise star, which is part of the problem. The Longhorn Vince Young is not the Titan Vince Young. He’s not the leader or player he was in college. Is the petulant Iversonian figure

Invoking Iverson? Oh man, you’re just begging for a fight with Feinstein, aren’t you?

who throws his uniform into the stands after a tough game the guy you build your franchise around? Adams would be foolish to think he is. Adams, I believe, is in love with a player who doesn’t exist.


Two thoughts about Sunday’s 31-28 New England survival test. One: Peyton Manning played a modern Favre-style game.

Complete with a back-breaking late interception and everything!

Myself, I prefer the neoclassical Favre-style game. It’s like a modern Favre-style game, but the columns on the facade are a lot more spartan. Spare me your cheap gimcrackery.

Two: Amazing to me how the Patriots keep finding the bit pieces to win games. What NFL team would be comfortable playing the guts of its schedule with two street free-agents — BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead — as their primary ballcarriers?

I’m not sure the words “street” and “Danny Woodhead” are allowed to mingle that closely. And yes, the Patriots are the only team daring enough to start anyone who wasn’t drafted in the first three rounds at a skill position. And it’s not like Green-Ellis hasn’t been on the roster for a while. It’s not like they plucked some guy out of the Home Depot parking lot this week.

In the last six weeks of the season, Vick is at Chicago (with the fourth-ranked defense in the league), home to Houston (with sacker Mario Williams), at Dallas (with DeMarcus Ware) and at the Giants, then home with Minnesota (who knows if the Vikings will be playing hard by then) and Dallas. So it’s a schedule fraught with some pass-rushing land mines for Vick, as well as one with some pushing tacklers on the front seven.

A land mine that rushes isn’t a mine. Mines are strategically placed, stationary weapons, you dip. Though I’m sure Jared Allen has probably used one to hunt at some point.

“We’re after some elk today. Why waste perfectly good crossbow arrows when I can just blow them fuckers up? Chars the meat right quick anyhow.”


And forgetting the contract ramifications for a second, but Philadelphia might be making a magical run. The only way they can go on a great run is with Vick staying upright. So they’d better start designing plays to keep him close to home.

The only way the Eagles can win is if they make Vick easier to defend. Got it.

Bill Parcells is not coaching again.*

* The asterisk is there because of the Bill Parcells Quote of His Career, which he has said more often than he has breathed: “I reserve the right to change my mind.”

I just assumed the asterisk was there to edit out the part where Parcells calls everyone a faggot.

I don’t expect him to be a day-to-day consultant again either. But — and this is another Parcells cliché I’ve heard a lot over the years — they don’t sell insurance for these kinds of things. You want my gut feeling as a guy who has known Parcells? Those are my gut feelings.

So I guess it’ll be fun to have Parcells back next year.

3. Philadelphia (7-3). In Vick They Trust. Intelligently.

So long as he doesn’t play to his strengths.

5. Atlanta (8-2). Matt Ryan’s back to rookie-phenom levels: 18 touchdowns, five picks, four wins in a row, by a total of 35 points.

Matt Ryan threw 16 TDs and 11 INTs as a rookie. He’s playing significantly better than that.

7. Baltimore (7-3). Great CBS graphic during the rout of the Panthers, noting that 20 of Ed Reed’s 50 career interceptions have come in the fourth quarter — including his neat pick and lateral for touchdown in Charlotte.

What? Interceptions occur more at the end of games, when losing teams have to frantically pass and sometimes force throws in order to try to put up points quickly? That’s a polished nugget of refined neatness.

12. Tampa Bay (7-3). At some point, I’m going to have to respect these guys.

I hear 2024 will be a good year for that sort of thing.

15. Jacksonville (6-4). You could have told me a lot of things about this season that would have surprised me, and the Jags being ahead of the Colts in the AFC South (both 6-4, but Jacksonville has the tiebreaker edge) after 11 weeks would surely have been one of them. A tribute to a team that wouldn’t listen to all of us geniuses about its mediocrity.

Way to go, Jaguars. Proving wrong all the doubters who said you were mediocre by being good enough to be the 15th best team in the NFL. That’s just missing the playoffs good!

Quote of the Week I

“Bad throw. I just didn’t get everything I wanted on the throw. I’m just sick about not extending the game … If you’re asking if I’m stewing about it right now, the answer would be yes.”
— Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, after throwing his third interception of the game, this one in the final minute while driving to tie or win at New England. His underthrown ball was picked off by New England safety James Sanders, sealing the Patriots’ 31-28 victory.

I’m assuming that ellipsis is omitting the parts where Peyton said the loss was all his O-line’s fault.

Quote of the Week II

“We are terrible. Terrible. I’m sorry. I just don’t have a sound bite for you guys today.”
— Cincinnati wide receiver Terrell Owens, after the Bengals blew a 34-7 lead and lost to the Bills 49-34.

But T.O. — that’s a sound bite right there. Thank you.


Mike Vick may deserve the MVP after 16 games. But not after 11. Let’s let him earn it, shall we?

“Well… okay.”

-Imaginary contingent of people who don’t actually want to allow Michael Vick the chance to earn the MVP award.

Vick has thrown 55.5 percent of the Eagles’ passes this year and started six of Philly’s 10 games. (He is 5-1.) Four other candidates for MVP have started all of their teams games and have these comparable numbers: Drew Brees, 100 percent of his team’s passes; Peyton Manning, 100 percent; Philip Rivers, 99.7 percent; Tom Brady 99.4 percent.

Carson Palmer has taken 100 percent of his team’s snaps this year. Surely he’s in the mix, too, right? Peter Downer has fastidious standards.

I can’t imagine a player who’s played 58 percent of his team’s minutes on either side of the ball ever being in the discussion for MVP. Now, if Vick plays injury-free the rest of the season, and plays every quarter of every game, that would lift him to playing 73 percent of the Eagles’ offensive time. If Vick continues to be the intergalactic player he’s been in the past couple of games for the rest of the season, I could see voting for him, even with the major disparity of playing time. I’m not sure I would, but it would be tempting to do so, because we’ve seen what an incredible difference-maker Vick can be.

Yeah, you don’t want to give the MVP to an exciting player who makes his team dramatically better. You just want some asshole who you can count on to take all the snaps.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

The sentence I never thought I would write: Dan Rooney is using Slingbox.

You’ve really got to do a better job of envisioning all the possible sentences you might write in your life. A helpful exercise I do is to imagine the names of inventions of the future and attach them to names of random celebrities. That way nothing catches me off guard.

– Kristen Bell boarded the Zaggacraft, where she inserted a Geebtrod into her rectal cavity.
– Zangief from Street Fighter rubbed Tosslewads all over his chest, after the Realizer Phone 6000 turned him into a real person.

It takes some time to go through all the possibilities, but you’ll be glad you did.

Rooney is the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and instead of relying on seeing the odd Steeler game on satellite TV in Europe, he does what so many travelers in the United States do — he syncs up his computer with his home TV in Pittsburgh and watches the NFL on his computer.

“I have to be sure they never change the channel on me,” Rooney said the other day.

“Just kidding. My cheap ass only pays for one channel.”

I have never liked JFK Airport in New York. It’s hard to get to (except at 2 a.m.) because of traffic. Its eight terminals are spread out, making connections on different airlines a royal pain. The modernization of some of the terminals (like the one with JetBlue in it) helps, but, in general, you have to allow for so much more time flying out of there that I avoid it whenever possible.

Last Wednesday, it was not possible. I spoke to SI writer Jon Wertheim’s class at Princeton at 2, then attended a program of Write On Sports, the invaluable New Jersey youth writing and mentoring program run by former Associated Press editor Byron Yake, in downtown Newark at 6:30. I had a 10:30 p.m. American flight back to Boston, so I figured if I left Newark around 8:15 and returned my rental car, I should make it just fine.

Bad misjudgment.

The airport is 47 miles from downtown Newark, on the kinds of roads they must have in Kabul.

Complete with non-pass rushing land mines.

Narrow, potholed, very New-Yorkish.

Quasi-Big Apple-esque

I got up the escalator into the waiting area for the trams, and maybe 30 travelers were sitting around. I waited. Six or seven minutes passed. Still no train for the airport. I found a red-coated attendant and asked about the delay for a tram to the airport. She said, “Oh, that’s stopped for the night. You gotta take a bus.” Grrrrrrr.

I’d like to think PK actually audibly growled at the woman. “Don’t mind that, it’s my tummy a-rumbling,” said PK in his Winnie The Pooh voice.

No signs anywhere. No notices, verbal or otherwise, about the trams being closed to one of the busiest airports at 9 in the evening. Now it was about 9:35. I hustled out to the bus area. Two buses were there, waiting. I went to the first.

“Does this bus go to the terminals?” I asked.

“No,” the driver said. “Gotta take that tram upstairs.”

“They’re done for the night,” I said.

The driver pointed behind his bus, and so I tried the next bus. Same deal. Driver said I should take the tram.

Screw the invasive TSA searches. Someone needs to blow the lid off this scandal!

9:39. Semi-panicsville. Jogged back into the car-rental place and asked how to find the bus to the terminal.

Fuck Los Angeles. Semi-panicsville needs the be the next market to receive an NFL team.

The Semi-Panicsville Almost Jitters, with the logo of two hands just starting to wring.

9:45. We leave. He would have had to be parked to be driving any slower. After five minutes of him meandering toward the terminals, with me as the only passenger on board, I said, “Can we go straight to Terminal 8? Flight leaves at 10:30.” He said no, we had to go to every terminal, in order. I asked if he could make an exception.

“You wanna get me fired?” he said. “You gonna find me another job?”

Not unless you’re his daughter and that job is with an NFL team.

10:56. With a crazy cabbie. We went midair a couple of times, I think.

“And all he played were the same two goddamn Offspring songs!”

The $45 cab ride, followed by the $239 (actually $276.58, with the tax) hotel tab, did buy me four hours of sleep. And the 5 a.m. shuttle to the airport was only five minutes late, and I did get a seat on the 6:25 to Boston, and it was on time. This didn’t turn into Planes, Trains and Automobiles II. But I’d like to send along my thanks to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — Sign and Tram Division — for stealing a night I’ll never get back, and costing me $321.58 out of my pocket for the privilege of spending another night on the road.

Yeah, all right, Jasper, I’m sure you would have spent the time curing AIDS and inventing a mode of transport that runs off CBS info nuggets. It’s society’s loss, really.

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 11:

a. Cameron Wake, the Miami outside linebacker, who rushes the passer the way Pete Rose ran the bases. Irrepressible.

Jay Cutler taken down with a head-first slide.

d. “Dez Bryant is the Adrian Peterson of wide receivers,” Rodney Harrison said when we were watching the games in the NBC viewing room Sunday. I second that.

That’s the Botticelli of insipid analysis.

h. Tony Dungy on what the Titans should do with their dissatisfied quarterback: “I think you’ve got to cut ties with Vince Young.” Bold. Beautiful.

Careful about the descriptors, there, PK. Need to get the gay up out of your descriptions of Dungy before his consigns you to the eternal hellfire. THE TRAM DOWN THERE ALWAYS WORKS!

j. Marques Colston looked 25 and the Seattle DBs 17. Imposing guy, that Colston.

So his rape of the secondary was statutory as well. Good to know.

l. Congrats, Ronde Barber, for your 40th interception, a Buc team record.

m. Josh Freeman to Mike Williams … if Williams stays out of trouble, that’s going to be one of the game’s great combinations.

Right up there with Chris Chandler to Terance Mathis!

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 11:

d. Ridiculous Carolina secondary play, letting the moderately speedy (which is to say, fairly slow for a wideout) T.J. Houshmandzadeh get behind it for an easy 56-yard TD throw from Joe Flacco, early in the first quarter.

Moderately effective phrasing.

e. 1:07 p.m. Baltimore 7, Carolina 0. Game over.

I don’t quite understand why this is included in a bullet point of things you disliked about the week. Would it have been better if the Ravens waited until 1:10 to get their first score and effectively put the game out of reach?

g. Nothing personal, Jim Mora. But please, don’t deify Randy Moss’ impact on the Titans’ locker room the way you did in the first half of the FOX Eagles-Titans game. If I hear one more time what a wonderful influence Randy Moss is in the locker room, I’m going to puke. What kind of great influence can he be if he keeps getting kicked off team (Oakland) after team (New England) after team (Minnesota)?

Peter Downer has seen that false Moss smile before. Just wait until the Titans find out he doesn’t actually exist.

i. GRAHAM GANO! THREE YARDS SHORT on a 47-yard field goal that would have defused all of the debate that Donovan McNabb can’t win the close games inside the two-minute warning! Short?!

That’s a heroic assumption that McNabb beating the Titans in regulation time to improve the Redskins to 5-5 would forever silence his doubters. What happened to Peter Downer? DOES HE NOT EXIST EITHER?

j. Jim Schwartz was right to be volcanic on what was called a horsecollar tackle in the Dallas-Detroit game, when all the defender did was yank Marion Barber down by the hair hanging out of his helmet.

Well, Suh did grab Barber’s facemask on the play, so it’s only a confusion of which penalty he should have been flagged for. Pretty meaningless distinction, really.

l. I know the buck stops with Mike Tannenbaum on the Jets, and so it’s Tannenbaum who has to feel sick about the impact Danny Woodhead is making on the Patriots after the Jets cut him and allowed him to find a home in New England. He had a 36-yard touchdown run, New England’s last TD of the afternoon, and clearly has become the most dangerous back in New England’s stable.

Plus Rex Ryan had a funny nickname for him. The Jets could be selling Little Fucker shirts right now. It’d be the children’s merch hit of the season.

m. Matt Dodge, the Giants’ punter, is a disaster waiting to happen.

Pretty sure Matt Dodge is already happening. Even as we speak.

6. I think that Parcells documentary on NFL Network brought back a lot of memories. I covered the Giants from 1985 to ’88 and was on the receiving end of so many mind games over that time with him — and since.

Parcells used to come down to the windowless press room in Giants Stadium (we called it The Dungeon) every Thursday night around 6:30 or 7, when most of the beat guys were wrapping up their stories for the day. He’d pull up a chair, light a cigarette and announce, “Well, what are you subversives writing today?” We were all subversives, commies, communists, socialists … depending on his vocabulary of the day.

“You faggot pinkos writing slash fiction about double teaming me in The Dungeon, aren’t you? Well, let me tell you something: no group of faggot pinkos has ever gotten their hands on me without ordering Chinese takeout first.”

One other note I recall. Before the Giants went to the Super Bowl in 1986, my paper, Newsday, assigned me a story on Parcells’ Jersey roots. So I asked and got permission to ride to work with him one morning from his north Jersey home, past his old home and haunts, including the bowling alley on Route 17, a mile or so from Giants Stadium, where Parcells had set pins by hand. That documentary brought back many of those memories and reminded me how much the media business has changed. You think Sean Payton and Bill Belichick are spending two hours on a Thursday night schmoozing the press with off-the-record deepness? I don’t think so. I’m glad I was a beat guy in those days, not these.

There’s just no deepness like off-the-record deepness. It’s the deepness that dare not speak its name. You think you’ve penetrated someone, but you’ve got nothing until the proceedings can’t be mentioned in a professional setting.

8. I think, just to make it clear from my Friday item on Peyton Manning and Tom Moore holding substantive conversations outside the locker room the last time they played in Foxboro, I don’t believe there’s any way the Gillette Stadium locker room was bugged. I just think in this hugely intense rivalry, the paranoia antennae are raised pretty high whenever they play.

Oh yeah, there’s no way the Pats would ever consider breaking the rules to spy on another team. You know, like that thing that happened a few years back. What was it, again? Oh right:


e. Good luck to my best buddy, Jack Bowers, on his surgery Tuesday in Baltimore. It’s a big one. You’ve got many communities praying for you, Jack.

Online fetish communities. Second Life communities. Colonies of bacteria. All sorts.

f. And one piece of advice to all of you, everywhere, especially you fair-skinned ones like me: Monitor the moles and freckles and marks on your skin. Skin cancer is not picky. It chooses everyone, particularly you sun-worshipers. And just because it’s cold, that doesn’t mean you should go out without sunscreen on the face and neck.


g. Coffeenerdness. I have finally figured out the mystery of Starbucks discomfort.

Is that one of the diseases Jack Bowers has?

They’ve taken out the comfy chairs in most of the shops so you don’t buy one coffee, hang out for hours and use the free Internet for the whole time. In other words, if you want an office, pay for it somewhere. And about as long as I can take in one of the shops, working on my writing (and thanks to all of you who offered Manhattan suggestions, by the way) , is about three hours, sitting on those chairs like I sat on in seventh grade.


h. Who’s that Westbrook guy for Oklahoma City? What a basketball player.

Thank you, Generic Sports Comment Bot.

i. Great story — and highly disturbing — in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about a decent middle-class town in northern Mexico being abandoned because of the multi-gang drug war going on in the country. In May, a man was hung from a tree and dismembered in Ciudad Mier, a town on the border with Texas. How is this not the lead story in that country and on our front pages every day?

Why don’t you go cover it, then, Mr. Fucking Wealthy Influential Media Celebrity Infused With Liberal Guilt? I’m sure you could get some off-the-record deepness with a drug kingpin or two.

j. The creative thoughts of a great storyteller, Stieg Larsson, will be revealed Friday when On Stieg Larsson is released. The new book contains e-mails from the late Larsson — whose three Millennium books have sold 46 million copies — to his editor, and the Wall Street Journal excerpted a couple of them Saturday. It is amazing to read Larsson’s words to editor Eva Gedin 12 days before he dropped dead of a heart attack. He had no idea that his books would sell a single copy — none of the three was in print yet — and he’d just finished the fixes on the books, and was waiting for them to hit the bookshelves.

“Hmmm,” he writes, according to the Journal. “I cannot be sure, but I have the impression that you … people are seriously enthusiastic about my books. OK, I know they are not bad, and of course, I am delighted to read such flattering judgments: but I hope that you are not, for whatever reason, holding back negative comments. I am perfectly capable of coping with criticism.”

Stieg, if you only knew. The saddest thing about the cop/thriller genre is that you aren’t around to write more about the adventures of one of the best characters in fiction in my lifetime, Lisbeth Salander.

Yeah, but what percent of the pages of the books does she appear on? If it’s less than 100 percent, that claim is bullshit.

And I thought we already established that Vince Young was the greatest fictional character of all time.

k. If you see me at the Manchester (Conn.) Road Race Thursday, come by and say hi. Will be running/walking (after a minor surgical procedure) with my daughters and niece and nephew and sister-in-law. Really excited about being in such a grand old race.

PK’s brand new surgery tits will be at their firmest. You really shouldn’t miss the first heaves.

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