When last we left office pool shark, Peter King, he was lecturing fellow sportswriters about making sure to credit The MMQB and not SI for any nuggets his SI-owned vanity site produces. He also made the argument that field goals are too easy, except when they aren’t. But what about this week? Well, he wants to let you know that bullying only happens to weak people and the Red Sox are not weak people because they’re the greatest. READ ON.
I’m still trying to take it all in. We all are. What a day. What a night.
Another splendid work by the Peter King Random Generic Column Lede Generator.
In south Florida, in a matter of six days, the left side of the offensive line vanished. The apparently excessively hazed left tackle Jonathan Martin went AWOL Monday, and Sunday night just before midnight, after a crazy day of charges and angry denials, the Dolphins suspended left guard Richie Incognito (the angry deny-er) for his role in Martin wigging out.
“Wigging out”? Nice to employ some subtle judgmental phrasing that labels Martin as a flake for not better handling the abuse of teammates. “See that movie Carrie? She really wigs out at the end.”
Carolina is a game behind New Orleans in the NFC South. (They don’t play until Dec. 8 and 22, by the way.) And though the playoffs don’t start until two months from today, the Panthers and Jets would be postseason teams if the derby started today.
How does this projected Wild Card Weekend of matchups look, based on this morning’s standings (and do not tell me you had Peyton Manning and Geno Smith as your office-pool picks for road AFC wild-card quarterbacks):
I don’t work in an office, but if I did, you can best your ass we’d have a pool of AFC wild card quarterbacks. That’s just good ol’ compulsive gambling, right there. We’d also have teaser bets on who those quarterbacks would be if the playoffs abruptly started at random weeks of the regular season. Eventually we’d just give up whatever our office was tasked to do and become full-time bookies.
Indianapolis got Andrew Luck’s 10th fourth-quarter comeback in 24 professional games at Reliant Stadium
Makes it sound like Luck has played 24 games in Houston. Pretty impressive for a second-year pro. Sentence structure, PK has it.
Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Colin Kaepernick had byes this week. Sunday’s 11 games featured exactly none matching teams with winning records. And it’s a weekend we’ll never forget.
Exciting things happened WITHOUT Matt Stafford? That’s just not possible.
Also, turns out you don’t need winning teams for coaches to collapse or players to get bullied into departing. WHAT A CRAZY LEAGUE THIS IS!
Marc Vandermeer, the Texans’ radio voice, had just finished the first half of the game and hustled out to get a halftime drink, when someone told him one of the coaches was down on the field, and it appeared to be Kubiak. “It was startling,’’ Vandermeer said early this morning.
For Mr. Access to be relying on quotes from the Texans’ radio guy regarding Kubiak’s collapse means PK had to be stonewalled by quite a few people he contacted first for reaction. This brings me joy.
“He’s in such great shape. I have seen him on vacation, floating down a long, lazy river in central Texas, and he’s cut. He’s svelte. He really takes care of himself. He’s the last guy of the 32 NFL coaches I’d ever expect to have health problems at this age.’’
That’s the thing about stress – it can fuck you up even if you also happen to go to the gym and are a swole coach bro who chills on the river with river drinks. Haha, just kidding. Sean Payton does CrossFit, which means he’ll live forever.
There will be cries for relief for the long hours coaches work, and we should listen to those cries in the wake of what befell Fox and Kubiak this weekend.
But let’s also be cognizant of what it would take to, say, put a curfew on coaches’ hours and make them live more normal lives. Many coaches would simply install office facilities at home to get around what strictures the NFL puts in place. But if the debate comes, let’s have it.
Yes, let’s listen to those calls for change while also realizing how futile they would be.
If the Fox and Kubiak events happened three months apart instead of one day apart, would we be wondering if we should do something about the workaholic nature of coaches?
Good point. We should only allow shocking episodes of suffering affect us if they happen in quick succession. We’ll keep that in mind next time PK harangues Congress about not doing enough about gun control following a horrific shooting.
When something like the Jonathan Martin story happens—a perfectly normal football player cracks under some pressure, walks out on his team, then has his representatives forward charges of what they claim document harassment—the first instinct is to blame someone. But I don’t think there’s a single person or entity at fault.
Really, because it seems like Richie Incognito is making it pretty easy to blame him.
“When you play in the trenches,” Jets tackle Willie Colon said Sunday, “you always want to see a younger guy earn his rite of passage. And sometimes, that comes with either playing hard or doing what you’re told, even though you may not want to do it—some people may label it as hazing or whatever. But there is a fair line. And I was always taught, growing up in the league, you respect everybody, because you never know when you are going to need that one guy down the road.
“JUST THE KIND OF FAG TALK I’D EXPECT OUT OF A FULL-ON N*GGER PIECE OF SHIT” – Richie Incognito
Look at the guts of three statements issued by the team within 15 hours:
Dolphins statement, 8:53 a.m. Sunday: “The Miami Dolphins, including coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan’s teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact … As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.”
Dolphins statement, 5:01 p.m. Sunday: “We received notification today from Jonathan’s representation about allegations of player misconduct. We are taking these allegations very seriously and plan to review the matter further … As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.’’
Dolphins statement, 11:37 p.m. Sunday: “The Miami Dolphins have suspended Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team. We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time.’’
The judge and jury met quickly, and decisively.
That can’t be – you just said there is no one entity at fault.
One last point: Philbin has to bear his share of blame here. He’s the head coach. The buck stops with him concerning what happens in the locker room. It’s fine for a coach to tell his leaders: You guys police the locker room. (I’m not saying that’s what Philbin said, but some coaches do tell their captains and other leaders to take care of the little things that flare up in the society of the locker room.) But whatever the understanding is with a coach and his players, the coach is ultimately responsible for player behavior getting out of hand. Philbin is a very good man, but he needs to take firmer control of his locker room. He needs to know when a Jonathan Martin is about to spin over the edge. In this case, he didn’t, and it’s costing his team dearly.
The truth is, coaches can never police it. It's up to other players, men secure enough and confident enough to shame the a-holes.
— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) November 4, 2013
@xmasape Sigh. The idea that Philbin would even be aware of it is fantasy. Players get uncomfortable when coaches even enter locker room.
— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) November 4, 2013
No one saw this coming. Certainly not Nick Foles.
When Nick Foles was about to take the field Sunday at Oakland, coach Chip Kelly said to him: “Sling it. Rip it. Feel the game.”
Do the bull dance. Feel it.
Seven words for seven touchdowns.
Should’ve said eight words.
Sunday certainly wasn’t enough to make Kelly, owner Jeff Lurie or GM Howie Roseman think Foles is the next Ron Jaworski. But I’ve maintained all along that Kelly doesn’t need a quick-twitch quarterback with Mike Vick’s running ability to be a good quarterback in this system. It’d be nice to have great athleticism, sure. But the most important thing is a quick-twitch brain, with fast decision-making ability and efficiency.
I thought it was the focus of the NFL to make players’ brains twitch less.
Also, a very sly way to call Michael Vick stupid.
Josh Freeman a healthy scratch.
All I can say is, wow. That’s the 37th story on a rollicking weekend like this one, but it deserves to be noted. This is a notable thing.
In that case, it’s good that you made a notable notation on this thing of note, which you noted is only the 37th most notable note of this week in notes. Notable hustle.
1. Kansas City (9-0). Tweeted this Saturday night and brought out the venom, but hey, facts are facts.
That’s no way to celebrate your troll game. Act like you been there before.
When the Chiefs faced opening-day third-string Buffalo quarterback Jeff Tuel Sunday in Orchard Park (Matt Flynn would have been my choice), it was the fifth week in a row KC’s defense went against a quarterback who, back in training camp, was a backup. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell and Tuel. Credit to the winners: They can only play who’s put in front of them. But after next week’s bye, the first three foes will change that dynamic. Kansas City faces Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning coming out of the break—in a 15-day span.
/watches as Pey-Pey and Marmalard succumb to freak injuries, forcing Brock Osweiler and Charlie Whitehurst to start against KC
2. Indianapolis (6-2). Any doubt left that the Colts made the right pick in the 2012 first round?
I mean, exactly how much doubt was there that they were going to take anyone but Luck with the top pick? I know the Colts threw a little smokescreen about RGIII in the month leading up to it, but Luck was the consensus no. 1. It’s not like they went out on a limb.
5. New England (7-2). Good news: Four straight games of 27 points or more on offense. Bad news: Three of the last four foes have scored 27 or more on what was supposed to be a much improved defense. Shows how much New England misses Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Aqib Talib. But scoring 55 on the Steelers, and eclipsing 600 offensive yards, vaults the Pats.
6. Seattle (8-1). I have no idea what to think of this team. In the span of six days, they play two teams with a combined record this morning of 3-14. They need a last-play stop to win one game, and a 21-point comeback to beat the other in overtime. I’m not big on style-point wins, but let’s be real here.
“I’m not big on style-points wins, but let’s vault the Pats on the strength of their style-points win.”
7. Green Bay (5-2). You’ve got to like the signs for the Pack tonight at Lambeau.
Green Bay’s held three of the last four foes under 20, and Josh McCown’s playing in place of the groin-torn Jay Cutler.
Fixed that for you.
12. Dallas (5-4). Tony Romo led a winning drive inside of three minutes. I mean, I’m just saying.
Against the Vikings. Just sayin’
13. Chicago (4-3). Rusty Bears. Chicago’s played one game in the last 24 days, entering tonight’s tilt at Green Bay.
And in the off chance they pull the upset, they’ll be cited as well-rested.
Offensive Players of the Week
Nick Foles, quarterback, Philadelphia. The NFL’s been around 94 seasons, and only six players had ever thrown a league-record seven touchdown passes in a game before. Foles became No. 7 on Sunday in a 49-20 win at Oakland Sunday. (Peyton Manning did it in Week 1, and it hadn’t been done for the previous 43 years.)
This is why I enjoyed Foles’ achievement yesterday: because it slightly diminishes what Peyton did at the start of the year. If Nick Foles can do it – on the road! – it ain’t that special.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Mike Scifres, punter, San Diego. No contest. Not close. First two punts of the day at Washington dropped at the 1-yard line, one downed and the next coffin-cornered. A beautiful display by Scifres. For the day, Scifres had four punts for a 40-yard average. But when two of them die at the 1, you’ve had a good day.
Yeah, but he didn’t show off macho punter swag this time, so I am disappoint.
Goat of the Week
Sean Payton, coach, New Orleans. Eight minutes to play, Saints down two scores (26-17) to the Jets, 3rd-and-1 at the New York 36-yard line. Third down: incomplete pass to the fullback. Fourth down: an end-around to the third-string tight end, Josh Hill. Loss of eight. Jets take over on downs. There are times to shock the world with cute. This was not one of them.
Yeah, save the riverboat gambling for a more appropriate time, like the Super Bowl. What an idiot.
Quotes of the Week
“I’m not surprised. In fact, I’m a little surprised something like this hasn’t happened before. If you’re mentally weak, you’re going to get picked on.”
—Former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, on the Jonathan Martin saga.
That’s some good blaming the victim. Martin should’ve known better trying to play football with his sensitive pussy brain!
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
We know, via Jay Glazer, that Dolphin tackle Jonathan Martin, in response to a table full of teammates leaving when he went to sit down last Monday, threw his tray down in the Miami cafeteria and left the building in anger. Now you’ll know the rest of the story: The meal he threw down was spaghetti.
ONLY THE MENTALLY WEAK WASTE PASTA!
Stat of the Week
This is the 44th NFL season since the merger between the American Football League and National Football League took effect in 1970. In the first 43 years of the merger, no quarterback threw seven touchdown passes in one game. In the first half of the 44th season, two have: Peyton Manning and Nick Foles.
Again, are you trying to pad your word count? Here:
This is the 44th NFL season since the merger. In the first 43 years, no quarterback threw seven touchdown passes in one game. This year, two have: Peyton Manning and Nick Foles.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
So last Monday I detoured on my way to do some reporting on Kansas City’s fast start this season and went to Game 5 of the World Series, driving an hour west of St. Louis after the game so the morning trip wouldn’t be so onerous. Stopped in Warrenton, Mo., at a Holiday Inn Express, and checked in for six hours of rest. As I got my key, a family of four—a dad, from the looks of it, and his three sons, from the looks of it, about ages 7 to 16—entered the lobby about 90 minutes after Boston’s 3-1 win over the Cards. The four guys looked crushed. All were dressed in Cardinals stuff. The youngest boy had a No. 6 Stan Musial jersey, and he looked like he’d just lost his dog. All of them, really, looked injured.
“Tough one,’’ the desk clerk said.
“Very, very tough,’’ the dad said.
I’ve always thought this, from numerous trips through the Midwest: What great fans the Cardinals have. I really felt for these guys.
THE BEST FANS IN LOSERBALL
It would be less noxious if Peter King just straight up laughed at Cardinals fans for the World Series loss. Here, he still wants to bask in their misery but tries to couch it as admiration for their dedication to worshiping a lesser team.
Tweets of the Week
“Not saying it’s the right thing to do, but sounds like Jonathan Martin needs to punch somebody in the face.”
—@RossTuckerNFL, the former NFL offensive lineman, on the Miami tackle who left the team after feeling overly hazed by teammates, according to media reports.
Good hustle, Ross Tucker. There’s nothing aimless violence can’t solve. Sounds like we have a poster child for the NFL’s upcoming campaign to stop bullying.
“Is there someone bullying you at your school? I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, but you should probably beat someone into a coma. Doesn’t necessarily have to be your bully. Pay it forward. Once the word gets out that you’re willing to kill, you’ll be surprised how much respect you’ll get.”
“Foles me once, shame on you. Foles me seven times, shame on the Raiders.”
—@NathanSerious, former NFL tight end Nate Jackson, after watching Nick Foles have one of the greatest days a quarterback has had in NFL history.
/throws copy of “Slow Getting Up” into fireplace
//doesn’t own fireplace
///lights book on fire, casually tosses off balcony
////arrested for attempted arson
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 9:
d. Onward Christian Ponder: Nice short touchdown scramble by the Man of Steele
trying to save his job against an inactive player.
Because the only way Ponder isn’t the Vikings QB next year is if he can hold off Josh Freeman. He’s totally got the job forever if he wins that battle.
h. Jason Witten shows no sign of mediocrity. None whatsoever.
Lofty work, Petey. Leave no white player unfluffed.
k. Love this line from Mike Tomlin, asked after the latest debacle if he was perplexed: “I am angry. Disappointed. You know, we don’t have time for perplexed.”
l. Love this line, too, from Jerry Jones about beating the 1-7 Vikings: “There are no 1-7 teams in this league.” I beg your pardon?
It’s funny because if you told me PK was responsible for that line, I’d absolutely believe it.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 9:
d. Nick Toon with a diving drop at the Meadowlands against the Jets. That’s the place his dad thrived, and the team his dad thrived for. Those are the kinds of plays that make Drew Brees say, “Let’s design some more plays for Kenny Stills.”
He couldn’t finish a diving catch in the same general area (not the same stadium) his dad once played in? Time to leave racist messages on his phone and bully his weak mind out of the league.
f. Work on your touch, Geno Smith.
“Stroke toward the body, kid.”
6. I think, speaking of alarms sounding over the play of RG3, this from Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins last week: “He has created fundamental tension on an offense that is disjointed from catering to him and his operatic personal demands about how he wants to play.” Yikes.
Scary stuff! Can’t believe there was a cult of personality surrounding RGIII. I’m sure PK would be more concerned about it if he didn’t build up BobGriff as the “Bono of the NFL” last year.
9. I think it’s amazing, with all the talent at quarterback bursting from college football, that if NFL people could have one quarterback out of college football right now, they might well take Florida State quarterback/closer/outfielder Jameis Winston, who has played eight college games.
I know! It’s almost as though he’s looked consistently incredible over those eight games. Still no reason to value him above A.J. McCarron, am I right?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. A few notes about the Red Sox winning the World Series
those who are so inclined and who hate when I riff about baseball can skip the next 10 items.
TEN!?! Holy shit, that’s like a separate column about your favorite baseball team.
c. Re Ortiz and those who cry “steroids’’ when he does well, because his name was on the supposedly secret 2003 list of MLBers who tested positive for steroids: There’s random steroid and HGH testing in major league baseball now. If he used anything this year, he was risking being caught and suspended. There is no evidence of any kind that Ortiz has tested positive for anything in the last nine seasons. I understand those would think: Once a cheater, always a cheater. He did test positive once, and he deserves scrutiny because of it. But what about the testing in 2013?
Why, it’s almost as though there was an entire era of the sport’s history that was defined by cheating. Can’t believe the cynicism of these fans!
e. As a franchise billboard and leader, Dustin Pedroia has morphed nicely and completely into the Boston version of Derek Jeter.
f. Well, except for the models-chasing-after-him thing, I guess.
Who needs models when you have overweight, middle-aged sportswriters frothing to slob that knob?
l. The Notre Dame-Navy score progression in a very fun football game to watch while working Saturday afternoon:
Whoa. That robotic scoreboard update really gives me a sense of the action. It’s like I’m there.
o. Coffeenerdness: So, in the Starbucks at 55th and Lexington the other day, late afternoon, I’m in line for a coffee, and there are two boys in bright orange hoodies, maybe 13, behind me. One says to the other: “You have not lived until you get a cotton candy here.” I’m wondering what in the world that is. They get to the head of the line and order two grande cotton candies. My curiosity gets the better of me, and I ask the one kid what that is. The effervescent kid says: “It’s a secret drink Starbucks has for kids. A vanilla frap with raspberry syrup.” The barista, making the thing, says to me, “You want to try it?” I say sure, and the kid says, “DON’T GIVE HIM ANY OF MINE!” How cute. What a sugar bomb—but darn good. I loved it. Like a berry milkshake. How about that Starbucks: reeling those kids in while they’re still kids.
This encounter is like Peter King meeting himself as a child.
Admirable brand loyalty praising Starbucks for acting like caffeine Pusher Men. Sure, that’s probably bad for young bodies, but it’s important they grow up learning to chastise baristas.
p. Beernerdness: An hour to spare at the Kansas City airport in the evening? No problem! Two 20-ounce Boulevard Pale Ales pass the time quite nicely. I’ve never had a bad Boulevard beer.
Getting onto the flight ripped. That’s what I’m talking about! All of a sudden, you’re on the plane, tearing into your supply of melted Kit-Kats. Pretty soon, the flight attendants come around for drink orders. YES PLEASE! Before you know it, you’re passed out on it john with a hand on your dick and the other holding a cell phone showing Peyton Manning’s NFL.com page. That’s living!
q. Chuckled at the “adversity’’ questions lobbed at Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston after a 27-point win over Miami Saturday night and an early career (8-0) that has had scant little adversity.
“I wanna see you suck more before I believe you’re a true prospect.”
r. Good luck with your new CNN show, Rachel Nichols.
Send her a fucking e-mail. You’re both on Twitter. She might actually she it if you tweet her.
The Adieu Haiku
raises the hazing issue.
And we must listen.
A weakness to overcome
So says Ross Tucker