When last we left mooch avenger, Peter King, he told us how he was the first one in all of NFL meduiato consider that the Anquan Boldin trade might be of some significance. He also took a firm stance against airline boarding gate moochers, perhaps the most vile breed of moocher. Finally, Peter further professed his love for “The Newsroom” because there’s no more appropriate pairing of terrible show and fan.
But what about this week? To what lengths does Peter King go to excuse Riley Cooper? Why, the laziest and most laughable ones, natch. If you don’t like it, you can crumble up the column and throw it away. But only if you do it mentally. READ ON.
CENTER OF THE FOOTBALL UNIVERSE — Well, or PHILADELPHIA.
Here’s a neat trick: you want to see Peter King hedge his words on a dumb joke to open his column? No? Well I didn’t either, but here it is.
Oh, I can already tell this week is gonna be a fun one.
On Sunday afternoon, new coach Chip Kelly ran his 89 players (90 minus the mentally rehabbing Riley Cooper) through another practice. And I mean “ran.”
Not a quasi-scamper or a pseudo-scoot. This ambulatory motion defined running.
Riley Cooper was away, apparently trying to figure out why he would scream the worst racial epithet a white person can scream.
Because volume apparently dictates how offensive the N-word is.
Just another day in the shaken-not-stirred new world of the Philadelphia Eagles.
007 will return in his next adventure: Batteryfall.
There’d have been enough news without the Cooper Affair, but that just added to the news swirl.
And what sort of swirling news is that?
“This is the first training camp I’ve ever been to,’’ said a bemused Atlanta Braves pitcher, Brandon Beachy, as the session wound down.
Oh, a fucking baseball player visited the camp. That totally trumps a white wide receiver filed yelling, “I will fight every nigger here!”
“It’s pretty different than I imagined. Do they all play music like this?’’
Do they ALL burn crosses?
Nope, though a few (Seattle, most notably) do. I don’t know of any camps that run nearly all of their offensive plays without huddling, or during seven-on-seven drills use three ballboys with three-foot-high “fly-swatters’’ on shoulder pads to imitate very tall pass rushers with their arms up
The Patriots used tennis rackets to prepare for J.J. Watt last year, but as anyone can see, tennis rackets aren’t fly-swatters. Chip Kelly innovating again!
or have each player wear GPS units and heart-rate monitors that track every step they take and every heartbeat they experience.
Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to run a post pattern to the middle of the field but the GPS reroutes you to the opponent’s locker room?
The music, an eclectic mix ranging from rap to military music compiled by a staff aid (“anything’s fine, as long as there’s no cursing,’’ Kelly said)
The Will Smith playlist must be getting a lot of use.
My simplest question to Kelly, back inside the NovaCare Complex after practice: “Why run it this way?’’
My most complex question to Kelly: “Why NOT run it this way?”
“I’ve always been a ‘why’ guy,’’ Kelly said. “Like, I want to know why. And a lot of times the why is crazy. I understand it. I just always have been inquisitive. The only thing I won’t accept is because that’s the way we’ve always done it. I ask you: Why did you change from your old Monday Morning Quarterback format to a new one? Well, it wasn’t just for the sake of change. It was because you figured out why it was a better idea, and you thought it made sense.
Nothing makes me doubt Chip Kelly more than him assuming Peter King is capable of changing things for the better.
Another surprise, in a summer full of them. It’s only Aug. 5. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I can’t wait to see what it is.
Don’t hold me to this one, but I have a strong feeling it’s August 6.
Now for a trip through the camps I’ve visited in the past week:
PK visited Patriots camp and Aaron Hernandez didn’t come up once. Oh, but shock of shocks, there’s a reference to Scott Pioli. Not Pioli’s balls, though, which is a minor surprise.
Take this for what it’s worth: Tim Tebow made three beautiful downfield throws that I saw, completions thrown 25 yards or more hitting receivers in stride.
Out of 900 attempts.
Tebow was also the personal protector on punts (kudos to you, Mike Westhoff, for getting him started on that last summer) and ran down on punts with energy. I bet the Patriots keep three quarterbacks, knowing they’re able to use Tebow as a utility player. Not necessarily a guy they’d have active every week, but a guy they could use in certain matchup situations against some teams.
Peter King thinks he can pinch-hit when they face left-handed pitching.
I wrote about the Bills last Wednesday. A couple of additional thoughts: I like when I go to a training camp and see a team that’s been down for a while have a legitimate reason to be optimistic. And that’s what I felt when I left Bills camp. I don’t know if the Bills will win, but I do know I’d trust coach Doug Marrone and coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to give the offense a chance to be good.
Textbook non-committal positive language about a new coach. PK hasn’t done this for decades without learning all the tricks. Tell us, is it a LEGIT chance to be good?
First pass I saw Geno Smith throw in Jets practice on this day: a 25-yard back-shoulder fade down the left sideline, complete. His next one, also back-shoulder, was complete too. Look: I’m a victim of seeing one practice at most of these camps. I try to judge who is ahead at the competitive positions, and who the surprises are. Obviously, that’s tough, given that coaches will have 50 times more information than I would once the real decisions have to be made. But for one day in Cortland, Geno Smith, the rookie, looked better than Mark Sanchez, the fifth-year player with four playoff wins.
Nice restraint, Peter. You know readers will jump all over you if you even dare to suggest someone looks better than Mark fucking Sanchez.
But Rex Ryan talked to the press about using the Wildcat the other day. He said he thought the team would use more of it this year than last. With the very iffy skill-position roster the Jets have, they’re going to need to use all the changeups they can.
Especially the ones that don’t work.
The Browns spent $5 million to re-do the second floor of their training facility—and their organizational personality. I’ve toured Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, and this floor reminds me of the Twitterverse: The Browns’ coaching, front-office, ownership and PR and broadcasting departments are all up here, wide open so that people see other people working.
That’s because the Flying J fraud and embezzlement department is located on the first floor.
No one hides, and presumably no one loafs.
“I’m uncomfortable making pronouncements about player ability after viewing one practice, but I can get a tour of an office and go ahead and assume that everyone is tirelessly productive all the time.”
Cameraderie is encouraged.
A rare quality in a work environment.
Here, when a big group or luxury suite sale is completed, a bell is rung, and the sales team all claps. One day offensive coordinator Norv Turner ducked into the hall and clapped too.
The sales team then started updating all of their resumes and broke the bad news to their loved ones.
Everywhere, inspirational sayings from Roald Dahl to Mother Teresa dot the walls.
Ooh, inspirational quotes. Those always get results. Did you know that’s UBER-TWITTERY?
“Twitter attracts the youngest and brightest people, which is what we want to do,’’ said Banner. “But I don’t want to copy Twitter or Google.
Just the superficial shit that doesn’t actually affect output.
Across from Le’Veon Bell, to his left, is the 240-pound veteran inside backer, Larry Foote. The whistle blows, and Foote sprints into Bell. BOOM! Foote plows into Bell’s solar plexus and pushes him back but doesn’t destroy him. The collision prompts hoots and howls. Cornier than thou, but this is what I’ve seen for nearly three decades coming to Steeler camp. Steeler football.
You see the players, in an 11-on-11 first-team two-minute drive, competing excitedly. Tomlin has always put a premium on drafting and acquiring guys who love what they do. Give him a choice between the better player and slightly lesser but feistier player, and Tomlin will take the latter every time.
/finally has a reason for the Steelers using several first-round picks on feisty but shitty defensive linemen
But I don’t see the Eagles [cutting Riley Cooper]. I see the Eagles giving Cooper counseling for as long as he needs it
Until black people stop appearing at Kenny Chesney concerts.
and my gut feeling is they’ll bring him back to the team, likely as a member of the 53-man roster when they’re set in four weeks.
Why? Lots of reasons. But one of them could very well be the ghost of LaGarrette Blount.
Haha, Patriots. Way to trade for a dead running back.
In 2009, after Oregon’s first game of the season at Boise State, star running back Blount punched a Boise player in the head in the heat of a post-game skirmish. Kelly, the first-year head coach of Oregon, suspended Blount for the rest of the season. A month later, convinced Blount truly regretted what he’d done, Kelly changed course, setting in motion a plan for Blount to rejoin the team if he followed a strict set of guidelines on the field and at school. Blount followed the rules, and played the last two games of the season.
Interesting. And who was behind this change of heart?
One of Kelly’s advisers on the Blount case was former Colts coach Tony Dungy.
THE DUNGE! The redeemer of wayward football players.
And over the weekend, Kelly reached out to Dungy again, asking him for his thoughts on the Cooper case.
“I’m not in favor of racial slurs, but if you can get him to redirect that hatred toward the gays, he still be a productive member of your team.”
My feeling? I definitely think the Eagles should keep Cooper, unless the situation becomes powerfully untenable in the locker room.
“I think they should keep him, unless it becomes evident that they shouldn’t.”
I think back to Martin Luther King preaching nonviolence and forgiveness.
I think back to Riley Cooper preaching violence to a specific race.
I think, just last month, of Trayvon Martin’s parents making this surprisingly placid statement after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of wrongdoing in the killing of their son. “For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,’’ they said.
Using a grieving family to overlook a shocking display of racism is technically peaceful, I guess. I mean, it’s not actively violent. Painfully obtuse, yes, but not actively violent.
I do not mean to make Cooper a sympathetic figure. I truly don’t.
Thunderous Norv Turner claps for you, PK.
But three points are valid here: Cooper has told friends (believe it or not; and I’m not sure I believe it) that he was shocked when he saw the video of himself using the racial epithet, because he says he doesn’t remember doing it. That’s how drunk he claims to have been that night.
Good point. Racism doesn’t count if you’re drunk.
Two of his best friends on the team over the years have been black.
HOLY SHIT! PK pulled out the “but he has black friends” argument. That’s tremendous. Let’s hope there’s a point about how Cooper likes the swearing-free hip-hop at Eagles practice.
He cried when Cornelius Ingram, a tight end, was cut in 2011.
He watched Roots and was sad!
He put a towel over his head and displayed anguish when Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL in training camp a week ago. And one of the team’s biggest leaders, Michael Vick, who has had personal experience with being forgiven for a heinous crime, has both publicly and privately forgiven Cooper.
“And if Martin Luther King were alive, he’d have forgiven him, too, unless the animosity in the locker room made things untenable.”
Cooper is a fighter
So he told us.
and a guy who lives hard.
Well, of course. I mean, what other kind of people love them some Chesney?
But there hasn’t been any sign that he is a racist to anyone on the team
“Riley, just keep the racism on your time, thanks.”
from what I was told by three Eagle sources over the weekend. There’s something disturbing inside the man, and if he’s being honest (we’ll know soon enough), he wants to learn why such a vile thing came out of him that night two months ago. Easy for me to say, because I am neither black nor spend six months living in close quarters with the man. But the humane thing to do is give Riley Cooper a second chance.
Lemme get this straight. Johnny Manziel shows up hungover at some Manning Passing Academy bullshit and Peter King is immediately prepared to call him the second coming of Ryan Leaf. But this motherfucker Riley Cooper is filmed yelling “I will fight every nigger here” and PK starts producing quotes about forgiveness and mentions of having black friends and every other clumsy attempt to paper over a racist remark. How the fuck do you square that?
Quotes of the Week
“I’ve often thought about that day in 1996 when you drafted me instead of Lawrence Phillips. I think that worked out well for everyone.’’
—Former Baltimore tackle Jonathan Ogden, during his Hall of Fame speech, looking at the man who drafted him, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome.
Well, I guess for everyone except Phillips.
Perhaps also the Rams. MAYBE.
Stat of the Week
What I’ve always thought was a silly theory was out in force again over the weekend: namely, that Bill Parcells was nothing without Bill Belichick. It’s true that Parcells won his two Super Bowls with Belichick as his defensive coordinator, and he made his only other Super Bowl appearance with Belichick on his coaching staff—in 1996, in New England.
I’ll spare you the rest. PK got his big break sucking up to Parcells in the ’80s, so he will not accept Big Tuna bashing or any kind. A dutiful lackey to the end.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Five notes from the road:
Hoo boy. Here we go.
1. Save the Jamestown Jammers. In the western New York hamlet of Jamestown Wednesday night, The MMQB RV stopped for five innings of tip-top minor-league baseball. Jamestown is the birthplace of Roger Goodell and Lucille Ball, a town of 35,000 about 70 minutes south of Buffalo.
Surely any podunk capable of producing the loftiest sports commissioner history has ever seen is worth at least one minor league baseball team.
I was very sad to hear that the franchise, with its historic 72-year-old ballyard, Diethrick Park (where Randy Johnson threw his first professional pitch), might be an endangered species. The New York-Penn League may move a franchise to a shiny new stadium being built in Morgantown, W.Va., which is in neither New York nor Pennsylvania
Name five things less New York or Pennsylvania than West Virginia. You can’t.
and the word on the street here is that the team in either Jamestown or Batavia, N.Y., will be moved to Morgantown in the next year or so. So the Jamestown mayor, who was in attendance for the game, saw our little crew and came over to our seats in the grandstand to see how we were enjoying Jamestown… and to make his case to keep the team in this lovely hamlet.
Good thing, because your national audience totally has a stake or interest in this stupid fucking regional minor league baseball team you just happened to stumble on.
2. And thanks to your groundskeeper, Josh Waid. I did a dumb thing in Jamestown
but it led to a very cool thing.
That could be PK’s epitaph: “Here lies The Nugget Baron. He did dumb things, but they led to very cool things. Unless they didn’t.””
I directed our staff aide and RV driver, former Colgate safety Andy DeGory, to park on the slightly sloping grassy area outside the park that serves as the parking lot for Diethrick Park. And so, of course, the RV got stuck on the soft ground. In the sixth inning, Waid brought a tractor out to gently coerce the back of the RV out of the little trap. We attracted a local crew of do-gooders, maybe 10 or 12 in all, who helped us push, and Waid used the tractor to do the final bit of work, and we were free.
“Thanks for your help, guys. In exchange, I will help lobby for your baseball team that my readers don’t give a shit about.”
3. Visit Pittsford Farms Dairy before you die. And have the black raspberry milkshake. It will be one of the best sugary things you ever taste.
4. While you’re in Pittsford, make sure you find the white house across from Starbucks.
But that would entail me LEAVING the Starbucks. That doesn’t sound like the PK I know and loathe.
It’s a bar with no sign noting it, anywhere. “Thirsty’s.” Lovely place, with a long bar and some local beers. Seems the city fathers didn’t like the sign that owner Gerry Clifford put up, and made him take it down. If anything, it’s helped business. “Most people are just happy to find the damn place,’’ said manager Brent Coleman. “A couple of years ago, we’d gotten so much attention that the mayor came in and said, ‘You can have a sign now.’ We said no. The mystique would be lost. Not long ago, I got a request from Australia for some Thirsty’s T-shirts. I sent them. I mean, all you can do is smile.”
PK: “Yeah, yeah, cute story. Now make with the Allagash or it’s gonna get ugly in here.”
5. Gotta love Homer, N.Y. A gas-station attendant in Homer provided us our quote of the trip. We’d just filled our 40-foot RV with gas — it was near empty — when the country fellow shook his head and mused, “Boy, that beaver was thirsty.”
A line he learned from Rex Grossman.
Tweets of the Week
“It amazes me that Riley Cooper is not suspended — that is PATHETIC.”
—@DickieV, announcer Dick Vitale.
Peter King quoting Dick Vitale might even be worse than racism.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are a few one-liners about the first full week of the preseason:
Note: By a few, he mentions a dozen. And by one-liners, he means a paragraph.
b. If Mike Florio’s right, and
Aaaaaaand that’s the end of me reading that item. Go pump your bosom buddy where I don’t have to see it, Peter.
c. Check out the photo to the right, from Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Jonathan Ogden made Bill Parcells look like a little person.
A left tackle larger than a coach? WEIRDLY WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD
d. Booing Mark Sanchez? Already? Lord, he’s not Ed Whitson.
An outdated baseball reference. This is the most Peter King of Peter King columns in a while.
9. I think this is how I’d handicap the 2014 class of Pro Football Hall of Fame candidates, in order: Michael Strahan 4-5… Charles Haley Even… Will Shields 7-5 … Marvin Harrison and Derrick Brooks 2-1… Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams and Tony Dungy 3-1… Jerome Bettis 7-2. And if you ever read my predictions, you will crumple up this item and throw it away, mentally.
All you readers with telekinesis, do be so kind as to have your computer print out this column, then use your crazy mental powers to crumble it and toss it in the trash.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Johnny Manziel’s got to have a death wish. I mean, is he trying to get the NFL to hate him?
I know! It’s like he called a racial slur!
e. Wow: Clint Dempsey a Seattle Sounder, for big dough. Met him at the World Cup in 2010, and he’s a great competitor. Good luck to him, and to that franchise.
Lofty excuse to namedrop an athlete you once met from a sport you’re clueless about.
g. Depressing how out of touch I get on the road.
So I take it you’re always on the road, then.
Really depressing. Now I see we’re under a terrorism alert. Hope I’m safe driving all over the land the next two weeks.
Were you planning on interrupting your training camp tour with a visit to an embassy abroad? If not, you’re probably all right.
h. For the masochistic set
As good a name for Peter King’s readership as I can concoct.
my Super Bowl predictions and order-of-finish story is due to my SI NFL editor, Adam Duerson, on Aug. 23 (also the 30th birthday of my daughter Laura — now there’s some inside football for you).
i. No, I have not decided my Super Bowl pick yet, though I did tell Charlie Rose my early guess is Denver-San Francisco.
Way to put out feelers about your pick so if readers give you shit about it you can just change it later.
k. Pete Abraham covers the Red Sox for the Boston Globe. Red Sox owner John Henry just bought the Boston Globe. I assume at some point John Henry, as new owners/publishers of media outlets do, will walk into the paper’s newsroom and speak to the reporters, editors and photographers about his hopes for the paper. I can’t imagine how strange it would be to have the boss at my job also be the boss of the entity I cover.
[Peter King slips into a daydream about Roger Goodell buying Sports Illustrated and the lusty encounters that will ensue in the break room]
l. Coffeenerdness: Angel In A Starbucks Dept.: Nice man walks into the Starbucks on Broad Street in Philadelphia Sunday evening. Introduces himself, says he enjoys my work. I thank him. He goes and gets a coffee. I am pounding away at my column. He comes back five minutes later, shakes my hand and hands me a $10 Starbucks card. Thanks me again. I am… without speech. “Th-th-thanks!’’ I said. People are good.
Oh, are they? I thought people were NO-ACCOUNT MOOCHERS who jump in front of innocents at the airport. All it takes to restore the faith of a millionaire sportswriter is a $10 gift card to a coffee chain. Though that is probably more than what it takes to earn favorable coverage from him.
m. Beernerdness: Southern Tier Hop Sun. Find it. Very good summer beer. More hoppy than most summer brews
Deceptively hoppy. It’s right there in the name. But is it a good thing?
that’s a good thing.
The Adieu Haiku
Six months of football
started Sunday in Canton.
Life is good. Quite good.
Martin Luther King
Riley Cooper would fight him
Forgive and forget