When last we left soon-to-be beached whale, Peter King, he unleashed the largest venti-sized asterisk in the all-time annals of knee-jerk draft analysis on the Browns’ draft. He also let us know that the Trent Baalke School of Trading-ology 101 remains in business. That’s good. Future generations need to know about tradology. But what about this week? Peter King got draft day observations from the Dimitroff house and you won’t believe what his little ragamuffon had to say! Apologies for the Upworthy headline, what the kids says actually isn’t that interesting and Peter King columns are generally torture so what are doing? Why are you reading this? Haha, just joshin’ with ya, READ ON.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga.— Many things to do today, the sordid offseason of the Atlanta Falcons, the state of the 2015 NFL draft, why Michael Sam and new BFF Oprah did the right thing, Gregg Williams being in the prefect place at the right time, a former NFL general manager driving a basketball legend nuts, a Tricentennial ruling the next Super Bowl bidding, a great documentary about a Lions quarterback/Kennedy pal/John Wayne co-star … but first, a story I want you to see, and the coolest photo we at The MMQB have ever run.
Strange time to be debuting the Brett Favre penis pic on TheMMQB but what I do know about running a corporate website?
Ha ha lol j/k it’s really a Gigapan picture of Steve Sabol’s office at NFL Films taken by an MMQB staffer. It’s actually, dare I say, somewhat interesting! Which means, of course, that Peter will ruin it by demanding his site do the same for minor league stadia across the country.
Look at the notes Sabol took after a long session watching Bill Parcells coach. Focus on it.
Really try to pop a blood vessel in your head with starring intensity.
Put your cursor on the binder with the Parcells notes, and you’ll see, down near the bottom of the page, what Sabol found after his Parcells experience.
“He’s more than old school. He’s a one-room schoolhouse with no lunch and no recess.”
“And no Japs! It says right there on the door!”
Good life lesson for the Falcons.
When coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff looked at their team in the last couple of years, there were things they didn’t like much. When you coach and manage a team for five years, and you win 56 games and lose just 24, and you make the playoffs four out of five years, you tend to say, “We’re okay.”
And indeed, even in the best of times, the Falcons were rarely more than okay.
And so, the night before the first round of the draft, Dimitroff sat in his Buckhead home, watching NFL Network with his son Mason (Mason: “DAD!!! They’re saying your name wrong!”) and pondered the mess his team was in.
Look at Peter King with the strong inclusion of reporting color that can only signal I WAS THERE! I WAS AT CHEZ DIMITROFF ENJOYING THE WORLD-RENOWNED MRS. DIMITROFF SPINACH DIP AS THE DRAFT UNFURLED AND THEIR STUPID BRAT WOULD NOT LET ME GET A WORD IN EDGEWISE WITH ALL HIS WHINING.
Atlanta had a boring draft, but a lucky draft.
Is that the same thing as a good draft? Because you can’t possibly know whether that’s true.
The night before the draft, Dimitroff thought he had a deal with old friend Dave Caldwell, the GM of the Jaguars, to move from six to three … but it would have been a stupid deal in retrospect. Dimitroff had his heart set on Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, and he was fortunate Caldwell called him on draft morning and said, “We’re out. We’re staying put and picking our guy.” Blake Bortles. Forget the speculation. Dimitroff wasn’t going to pick Kahlil Mack. He was going Matthews all the way.
Really wish PK had Mack in the Falcons slot in his mock draft, but no, he had them trading up to get Clowney, and that’s only a little hilariously wrong.
New assistant GM Scott Pioli was a voice of calm in the room
Person likely to be calm: EXECUTIVE WHO FUCKS UP FOR YEARS AND REMAINS EMPLOYED. And of course Peter does his best to make sure his buddy looks good because who probably said “all right, let’s everyone take a breather” at some point.
he’d been urging Dimitroff to not be too eager to move back into the first round.
“I know you want sportswriters to cream their pants over your draft trading but leave that to Trent Baalke. It’s his thing.”
He didn’t get a pass-rusher until pick 139 in the fourth round: Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo, whose career was clouded by an encounter with a girl he met at Notre Dame who later killed herself. The circumstance around her death — Shembo was never charged with a crime — caused many teams to steer clear of him, and he’s a risk for the Falcons.
DID THIS TEAM GET LUCKY OR WHAT!?
But they were confident in the vetting of Shembo, and in his potential.
He probably won’t force us to kill ourselves?
Arthur Blank, the former Home Depot scion, told me: “In the NFL, what we’ve learned is a pat hand doesn’t work. From my days at Home Depot, I learned good is the enemy of great. I told Thomas and Mike I was going to have faith in them, because they deserved it after five good years. But they worked at it. They had my plane for 322 passenger hours, not including the combine, going all over the country to find players we need. They’ve been very analytical.”
“Or so I assume. I let them take a few computers on my jet and computers means analysis, right?”
Dimitroff added several analytics tools to the Falcons’ offseason. The Force Plate, which measures athleticism and lower-body muscle usage, was important in an effort to gauge the strength of draftees … and to help the team teach offensive linemen to fire off the line in a slightly different way than they had been doing, to help decrease the Lisfranc and calf injuries. Instead of firing out on the balls of the feet, linemen are firing out with the lower part of their feet, to even out the pressure on the foot and whole leg. Dimitroff has also used Fusionetics, which educates players about which of their movements increase the chance of injury.
Has EvoShield not cornered the sports analytics product market yet? I’m disappointed. This would have been a perfect spot for Peter King to brazenly plug them in exchange for the time he got to borrow a van.
Draft weekend 2015
Gut feeling about the 2015 NFL draft: It will be in a city other than New York, and it will be a week earlier, starting on April 30 and running till May 2. Why?
If we’ve nothing about the world, it’s that Peter King’s gut never does not get what it wants.
Your face is complicated.
The NFL has outgrown Radio City Music Hall, and the NFL is ticked off at Radio City Music Hall.
Radio City Music Hall went to the movies with the NBA and made a big deal about posted all these updates about it on Facebook and Instagram. But everyone knows the NFL and Radio City Music Hall are a thing. Ugh, the NFL is sooooooooooo over it. The NFL can’t even.
Last year, Radio City delayed its decision about what dates were available in the spring of 2014, causing the NFL to put off planning for the 2014 draft. Then Radio City told the league the venue was going to be occupied in mid to late April by an Easter Spectacular show, something akin to the Radio City holiday show with the Rockettes. Okay, NFL officials said, we’ll push the draft back to the second weekend of May. Mother’s Day weekend wasn’t ideal, but what choice did the NFL have? Then, earlier this year, Radio City canceled the Easter show. The NFL seethed. The league had moved the draft back and ignored other venues (Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn) to stay at Radio City, and now Radio City was going to be dark on the normal draft weekend. But the NFL couldn’t move the draft at that point, so the May 8-10 weekend went on as planned.
It was all Jesus’ fault. Had a hunch he was behind this.
“At this point,” a solid source told me Saturday, “I think it’s likely the draft is elsewhere in 2015.”
When? NFL officials hear the beefs of teams that want the draft in April. NFL officials also see the 30-percent-plus increase in TV ratings with the draft moved two weeks later. I maintain it wouldn’t matter—with the Manziel mystery, the where-will-Michael-Sam go, the fact that four of the top five picks in the draft were totally unknown as the first round approached. But the NFL does not ignore the ratings. It never has, never will, no matter what any football person or media person thinks.
Sounds like somebody is bitter that their idea for a hour-long sportswriter travel itenerary discussion show on NFL Network wasn’t picked up due to perceived lack of interest.
In the end, Michael Sam did the right thing.
He undistractified himself! There is a cure. See, it’s a choice to be distraction!
He told coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead that he was going to make his situation right after the Rams were blindsided by the news of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) making a “docuseries” on his rookie year as the first openly gay NFL player. And OWN did the right thing too, in sitting down with the Rams Friday and not trying to convince club officials what a great show this was going to be. OWN, I’m told, told the Rams they would happily postpone the series—or perhaps never do it—if that was the best thing for Sam’s attempt to make the team as a seventh-round defensive end this summer. The meeting Friday was only positive, I’m told, because OWN was clear that the only way it would do the series is if Sam wanted it and the Rams wanted it. And it’s just as clear that, for both sides, the series would be best done beginning next off-season, assuming Sam makes the team and plays some this year.
I understand why the Rams would object and the network would eventually bow out, though a series filmed next year wouldn’t be quite as interesting as one done this year. Not that a seventh-round pick who is a one-year veteran in the league is super secure in his job (if he even wins a roster spot this year) so there will still some uncertainty to play off for drama in the series. And he’ll likely have stories to share from his first season with the NFL (hopefully) but there will be some familiarity to the whole process by then, which will make the series less raw.
In some ways, it’s a shame we won’t see (at least now) the trials of Sam in this rookie year, the personal side of trying to be the first openly gay player fighting for a spot on the team. It would be compelling to see Sam at home with his boyfriend, and certainly a help to the LGBT community, dealing with what surely will be a stressful time in his life. But for Sam, it’s just better that it be postponed.
I agree, though don’t be surprised when PK uses the fact that Sam was even considering a reality show as evidence that he’s a distraction later on.
At the scouting combine, Sam semi-pleaded with the media to see him as a football player and not as a gay football player. It would have been hypocritical for him, then, to seek that attention by having OWN cameras in his face off the field as he battled to succeed in his first year.
Because having a reality show or competing on Dancing With The Stars is most assuredly not a heterosexual football player thing, you see. Never. No, no, no.
There are not two better coaches in the league, in tandem, for this task than Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams.
He is The Name That Shall Not Be Mentioned In New Orleans and will be till he day he dies, because the Saints and their fans view him as a rat for spilling his guts about Bountygate. But Williams wants badly to resurrect his career and make his mark with a strong defense featuring a Williams persona. What better way than having a nickel pass-rusher playing 18 snaps a game in schemes isolating him to make plays, the kind of schemes Williams has been inventing for players throughout his career? Call it what you want. I will choose the word “ego.” Gregg Williams has the kind of ego to believe he can take a player with limited athleticism but good college production at a high level and put him in position to make NFL plays. I can’t wait to see what he has planned, frankly. As for Fisher, he’s a staunch league guy.
Not just any league guy!
He knows this is good for football and great for the NFL. He will do everything to give Sam the best chance to make it.
So basically Michael Sam couldn’t be in better coaching hands because one of them is arrogant, a trait that probably every NFL coach possesses, and the other one is involved with the competition committee. Those aren’t just some arbitrary traits you tossed out to a team you’re already inclined to praise anyway.
And the site of Super Bowl 52 is …
NFL owners gather in Atlanta Tuesday for the annual one-day spring meeting, and they’re slated to pick a host city for Super Bowl 52 (I hate Roman numerals, but for you Venetians, it’s Super Bowl LII) on Feb. 4, 2018. The candidate cities are Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans. Here’s my tote board of favorites:
I’ll spare you PK handicapping the Super Bowl host race, but he does have the Superdome as a favorite, citing the 2018 tricentenntial of New Orleans, the fact that Tom Benson let everyone know they fixed the lights but mostly that the other owners want to do a favor to Benson because he’s old. I think those are kind of dumb reason to give a Super Bowl back to New Orleans so soon after they fucked up the last one they had. On the other hand, the two rival sites are Indianapolis and Minnesota.
Let the sun shine in on the revamped NFL drug policy.
So long as the drug policy remembers to respect the sun.
The league and the players association — per ESPN’s Dan Graziano — are negotiating some changes to the substance-abuse policy, and we saw the evidence of that Friday night. On Friday Indianapolis pass rusher Robert Mathis, who led the NFL with a career-best 19.5 sacks last season at age 32, was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Mathis admitted he didn’t consult either team trainers or league doctors before taking the drug Clomid, which he said he believed would help him and his wife conceive. His wife is now pregnant, and Mathis and agent Hadley Engelhardt said they believe Mathis shouldn’t be suspended for taking a fertility drug. Usually in events like this, the league shuts up and allows the player and agent to say whatever they want. Not Friday.
It’s got to be tough for the Colts (who backed Mathis) to take, particularly when they open the season against the most explosive offense in football (Denver, at Denver) and a rising offensive team, Philadelphia, at home. But once a player takes something without checking whether it’s kosher with the drug program, I have no sympathy if he tests positive and appeals on humanitarian or other grounds. The policy Mathis’ own union signed off on couldn’t be more crystal clear.
It’s one thing to say you think Mathis was in the wrong here, that’s fine, but you have no sympathy for him? Guy was just trying to have a kid with his wife. Apparently, if you don’t toe the line in accordance with the NFL’s procedural bullshit, you might as well be a child molester to PK. This man loves him some management.
Quotes of the Week
“When you’re chided for your naiveté, and you will be, remind your critics that an amateur built the ark. Experts built the Titanic.”
—Peyton Manning, in his commencement speech to the University of Virginia class of 2014 Sunday in Charlottesville, Va.
Is Tebow ghostwriting for Peyton Manning these days? ‘Cause that’s a mad Tebowish quote right there. I mean, nice of Peyton to get Teebs work like that.
Stats of the Week
This month is the 20th anniversary of Jeffrey Lurie buying the Eagles from Norman Braman. So let’s take stock of what Lurie’s done. He’s put his franchise in position to be a 12-time playoff team. While two teams in the NFC East, the Giants and Cowboys, have won a total of three Super Bowls in those two decades, the Eagles have won none. Lurie has hired one very good coach, Andy Reid, and positioned the franchise well by hiring a second coach, Chip Kelly, who looks like he’ll adjust to the NFL and have a good career.
Remember when PK said Chip was a bust midway through last season?
Anyway, the Eagles have the most wins, division titles and playoff appearances among NFC East teams during Lurie’s tenure yet no Super Bowl titles because Eagles.
Three times as many TV households (671,000 to 225,000) watched the first round of the NFL draft on May 8 as watched the opening game of the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees May 12.
This encourages me.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
One of the reasons so many people around the league were happy to see Mike Kensil, NFL director of game operations, step to the podium and announce the historic Michael Sam draft pick nine days ago is because he’s been a loyal soldier to the league for years. And before this bit of recognition, he’d had only one moment of national TV face time in his life—when Baltimore coach John Harbaugh dressed him down during the infamous Super Bowl blackout 15 months ago.
Kensil attends games from August to February, sometimes more than one per week. One of those games, or several, will include the St. Louis Rams. When he does that first Rams game, he’s going to bring the Michael Sam draft card—the league uses a separate card for each pick in the draft, read by the commissioner or league staffer or designated drafter—with him to hand to Sam.
“It will mean more to Michael than anyone else,” said Kensil. “It doesn’t belong to me.”
So it’s not a distraction when the NFL wants to draw extra attention to you, for some reason. Hat takes logic makes my head hurt.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Plumb forgot this one last week: So on a quick trip to Nashville a couple of days before the draft, I found myself having a beer and a bowl of turkey chili in a sports bar downtown. Ten minutes into my beer, I noticed it. Smoke. The guy and gal at the next table were both drinking and smoking—and they did neither casually.
Now, where I live, New York, smoking has been banned in public bars and buildings for 11 years. Smoking has been banned in city parks for the past three years.
“Surprising to see people smoking in the bar,” I said to my server. “Anybody ever complain?”
“Not that I’ve heard,” the fellow said. “We’re pretty much still a smoking society down here.”
C’mon, Peter, we all know that’s not where the exchange ended.
PK: “You know, where I live in MANHATTAN, we know what it means to care about our health. The walkability. The organic markets. The attempted bans on large sodas. You should listen to us. You’ll appreciate it later.”
/gets brained by barstool
Tweets of the Week
Well there goes a perfectly good Saturday in June I mean hooray for another Triple Crown try!
— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) May 17, 2014
Sports columnist for the Newark Star Ledger, who presumably will be one of the (apparently reluctant) watchers of the Belmont Stakes in New York in 19 days, when California Chrome tries to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
OH THE TRAVESTY! You have to work for once on a Saturday and it’s to cover a horse race! How awful for you! During the NFL off-season, I still work for a furniture moving company on Saturdays. This weekend, I had to move a couple that owned a media console that was the size of a large dresser and has a full steel motor inside of it. It was some 1970s Scarface type shit. Anyway, this thing weighed like 450 lbs. Midway through the job, after we already somehow lifted the thing on its side to get it into a tiny elevator and into the truck, the customers informed us that the last time someone helped them move it, one of the movers dislocated their knee carrying it. So I will gladly trade you that job for covering a fucking horse race that you won’t have to write more than 300 words about unless California Chrome wins, and even if he does, you got to see a historic thing, you whiny little shit.
Ten Things I Think I Think
I think no one asked me (who ever does?)
I know I didn’t.
but I think 12 playoff teams is plenty, and 14 waters down the significance of making the postseason. And what’s to stop the league five years from now saying, “The ratings for wild card weekend are so boffo that we should go to 16.”
Nothing. There’s nothing to stand in the way of the wave of Goodell’s storm troopers taking control and imposing their ways. Though usually that’s a pleasant fantasy for Petey.
5. I think I loved this note from the Arizona Republic’s Paola Boivin: One former Arizona State quarterback, Brock Osweiler, interned this off-season for another former Arizona State quarterback, Andrew Walter, who is a candidate for U.S. Congress in Arizona. Walter played in the NFL. Osweiler backs up Peyton Manning now.
6. I think it must be nice to have Patrick Peterson for a friend. Peterson, the friend and mentor of fellow Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, bought Mathieu a Rolex Presidential watch for his 22nd birthday the other day. List prices of said timepieces: One goes for $14,995; the bigger one, $26,995.
It’s funny because PK could easily afford one. No wait, that’s depressing as shit. My bad. Though it would be entertaining to watch Peter King get all iced out. Call him 2 NUGGETZ.
9. I think it probably not going to be a huge factor in winning and losing this year, but I like the fact that Chicago GM Phil Emery got all eight of his draft picks signed in less than 100 hours after the final pick of round seven. Now that the picks are slotted so exactly since the advent of the new CBA in 2011, it’s counterproductive to waste any time haggling over this clause or that. Emery gave coach Marc Trestman his full complement of players, ready to go to work by last Wednesday. More GMs should follow that path. There’s simply no reason not to.
Unless those damn players hold things up by ASKING FOR THINGS. Just like those miscreants to have demands.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. After the bitter Montreal-Boston series, TSN’s Aaron Ward reported that Boston’s Milan Lucic said to two Canadiens, “I’m going to —-ing kill you next year.” That’s nice.
b. Two days later, in front of the press, Lucic said, “I’m not apologizing for what was said in the handshake line.” That’s nicer.
“A week later, Lucic arrived at my home with a fruit basket. ‘Sorry you had to see that worrisome spectacle on your television,’ he said. ‘Please, accept this as my apology.’ That’s nicest.”
d. Still think the NHL’s handshake line is the best post-game tradition in sports.
An admirable consistency of position on a matter where no one cares enough to bother to convince you otherwise.
e. Greatest thing in a newspaper I saw this week:
“Starbucks coupons! And they say print is dying!”
The New York Post doing a story on New York lottery winner Cameron Finney, who won a lump sum payment of $7.4 million on a $20 million payout. According to the Post, Finney said, “I’m not going to change. I’ve seen many lottery shows and how people wasted their money. That’s not me. I won’t waste it. It will be here until I’m gone.” The story noted Finney plans to retire next week, will buy himself a Dodge Ram, then a house for his wife, then a Bentley. That’s what I call not changing when you win the lottery.
You said it, buddy. What he should have done is kept working his miserable job and not bought his own home outright. That’s where the nobility is.
h. Coffeenerdness: So I’ve been working a bit with a nutritionist, and after studying my diet (or lack thereof), she said, “No more lattes.”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YESSSSSSSSS Love you, nutritionist with a futile job.
He actually passed out, I bet.
We reached a bit of a truce there. I shan’t give up my favorite warm beverage, but I think I can handle three a week, with brewed Italian roast the rest of the time. We’ll see.
By truce, he means he fired that nutritionist on the spot then stuffed himself into a rascal to roll to Starbucks to order three lardaccinos.
i. Beernerdness: Harpoon IPA, you’ve still got it. Had one the other day on an unseasonably warm evening in New York, and it’s as good as I remember.
I imagine Peter actually talks to his beer like that between sips. “Tell you what, Harpoon, it’s been 30 years and I’m still glad I married you.”
j. Donald Sterling stories: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Way to flash the wit of a YouTube commenter.
k. My thanks to the Live Sun Smart Foundation for the all-too-kind award at its annual gala the other night in Jersey City. Teri Festa, who lost her father to melanoma 22 years ago, has been at the forefront of an effort to educate the public about the dangers of the sun. As a two-time melanoma victim, I was honored to be a part of this year’s event. It’s truly important work, particularly to young people who too often don’t see the dangers of excessive exposure to the sun.
It’s almost summertime and you haven’t started respecting the sun yet? Oh dear, you better write a nice letter to Ra, the sun god TODAY.
The Adieu Haiku
Draft withdrawal sets in.
One hope I have this morning:
Mayock. Beach. St. Kitts.
Hey, respect the sun,
I said, respecting the sun
The sun felt respect