When last we left last-remaining Dragnet fanboy, Peter King, he shared a bushel of prize nuggets from his 25 years of thinking he thinks stuff for Sports Illustrated. PK also dumped a few thousand words from various commencement addresses just because MMQB isn’t allowed to check in with fewer than four pages of filler.
But what about this week? Peter King’s about to go on his annual four-week vacation! Will he mail in a column just before the break? Does padding out a column with half-assed book recommendations count as mailing it in? For other writers, yes. Alas, Peter King is not just any ol’ terrible writer. He’s an award-winning terrible writer. READ ON.
Good news, Bears
“The Jimmy Clausen train just pulled into your station!”
Lots of talk about locker-room culture these days, and lots of energy spent by teams trying to ensure there’s never another Dolphins/Incognito affair.
Oh. Kind of shocked that intro wasn’t not actually about Clausen signing with the Bears. Don’t think PK doesn’t still believe Jimmy can turn his career around. Back in 2012, he still hadn’t given up on Matt Leinart.
But I give special points to Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler for their efforts. And I’m learning more and more about how wrong we were that Trestman was some Xs-and-Os monk who couldn’t deal with players on a human scale. That’s one of the most misleading verities in recent NFL years.
That’s right, how wrong WE were. I don’t know; I didn’t assume Trestman was some sort of socially backward savant. He looks like a dork and people make fun of him for that, but interpreting that as people claiming to have insight into his personality is pretty dumb.
Another example: Trestman and Cutler recently flew to New York to meet with the league’s new values-meister, Dov Seidman
The fuck is a values meister? Whatever it is, it sounds like what Tim Tebow aspires to be.
I’ve heard of players and coaches working on football in the off-season, and maybe even on better forms of leadership.
“But working on not treating people like shit? Whhhhhhhaaaaaaa?”
But for a coach and his top lieutenant in the locker room — who has never been considered a classic locker-room leader
Probably on account of all the “DOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNN’TTTTTTTTT CCCCCAAAAAAARRRRRREEEEE”
to get on a plane and spend a day working on new techniques and dialog … that goes beyond the call of duty. Trestman and Cutler should be congratulated for it.
Yeah, sure, way to talk to a values meister, you guys. Hopefully you can now return to Chicago and explain what a vaues meister is and perhaps also not let your players and teammates with enough respect that you have a scandal that spills out into a big NFL zeitgeist story.
Trestman didn’t want to be specific about what he, Cutler and Seidman discussed, other than to say he “wanted to find out what else we could do to keep growing.” Seidman wouldn’t confirm the meeting, but it’s clear from a pro football source that they bonded and had a discussion Trestman and Cutler will use as a building block in their locker room.
Well, that’s incredibly vague and unhelpful, which, again, is mostly what the NFL’s anti-bullying campaign amounts to – “make the public believe we give a shit without actually doing anything!” Lofty nugget, PK.
The Fathers Day Book Section
Here we go.
My annual look at books I’d recommend for dad/brother/uncle/grandfather/male friend/male whoever, with Fathers Day just six days away, is a bit abbreviated this year.
Abbreviated list? Sounds like a gift to me, the male whoever in your life.
It should include one I never got to but had recommended very highly to me: “Redeployment,” by Phil Klay, a series of stories about our troops trying to figure out their meaning and roles in chaotic Iraqi and Afghan theaters, which I’ll be reading on my vacation this summer. That does you no good now, but maybe you could get it for dad as a Labor Day gift once I report back.
“Be on the lookout for this book I might recommend to you in the future! I DON’T KNOW!”
Worth noting there are two football books and none about baseball. Quelle surprise! There is, however, a Grisham book because what other reading habits would you expect from someone who spends half of his life at airports?
Missing You, by Harlan Coben (Dutton). Fiction.
Coben is just as riveting a writer as Grisham. Unlike Grisham, he varies his tales, and often they’re more modern, dealing with 2014 stuff.
Harland Coben: as good as Grisham but otherwise nothing at all like Grisham.
I’m not a daily reader or what anyone would call an avid reader. But of the authors I read, Coben is the best at making six or eight tributaries flow into one body of water sensibly. And with a racing pulse at the same time.
“Of the authors of bestsellers I find at the newstand in Terminal A, this guy’s the regular fuckin’ Charles Dickens of the lot!”
A few words about my schedule for the next month or so.
I’ll be taking two weeks vacation starting tomorrow, then returning to work for one week, for some unique coverage of Canadian football during the week of June 24.
Apologies in advance, Canada.
We’re going to cover the opening week of the Canadian Football League season, assuming the players and owners have their labor situation (or should I say, “labour”)
I bet Peter thinks he’s cute when he rips farts in line at Starbucks too.
straightened out, and they seemed close to a resolution on Sunday. Assuming the league is playing in week one, we’ll be covering it at The MMQB. When that coverage ends on July 1, I’ll be away ’til July 17.
Whew. Was worried for a second there that you weren’t going to get your full four weeks of vacation. You might’ve DIED.
As is our usual custom, we’ll have replacement “Monday Morning Quarterback” columnists for four of the next five weeks.
Who will all be better than you.
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis will write one
Financial reports about his personal stock portfolio!
Chicago coach Marc Trestman will write another to kick off our Canada Week festivities; Trestman, of course, coached the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes for five years before taking over the Bears last year. Oakland first-round pick Khalil Mack is slated to write another one of the MMQBs, with Rich Eisen of NFL Network rounding out the fearsome foursome. Looking forward to reading what they’ve got to say.
Or, more to the point, NOT reading Peter for a little while.
And a few words of thanks.
Let there be kudos.
I am privileged, and humbled, to accept the National Sportswriter of the Year award tonight here in Salisbury, home of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Also, thanks to Time Inc. for recognizing the work we’re doing at The MMQB. We were honored at the annual company awards ceremony Thursday with The Henry Luce Award for best work by a blog in the Time Inc. empire—specifically for the 14,000-word series and video we ran last December on a week embedded with an NFL officiating crew. It’s one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever worked on, and it proved to me that you can still, in this age of overwhelming NFL coverage, find original projects to educate and entertain people about pro football.
Yes, please, break an arm patting yourself on the back.
“Covering this overblown league in ways that stand out is more difficult than it’s ever been because of stupid competition but it’s important to know that breathtaking access that few others possess is still able to generate original content.”
And thanks to the staff at The MMQB for being the kind of place that emphasizes new thoughts and new ideas in a business in which originality has become so challenging.
You know, there’s a way to praise your staff for good work that isn’t also an attempt to shit on everyone else. And just so we’re clear, The MMQB has some quality features from time to time, but that shit ain’t changed the way football is being reported or anything. You won an award for the best blog belonging to a specific media conglomerate. Leave it to PK to interpret that as “I HAVE THE BEST SITE ON THE INTERNET NOW!”
Quotes of the Week
“I talk to those two guys all the time. Every time I hear something that drives me crazy, I say, ‘Sorry George. Sorry Vince.’ I say that probably 20 times a day. There’s s— going on now that those two would roll over in their graves about.”
—John Madden, nodding at a photo of Vince Lombardi and George Halas behind the desk in his office in Pleasanton, Calif., in an interview with Dan Pompei of Sports on Earth.
So John Madden is PFT Commenter! I’d have never guessed.
Willing to bet that there are stains all over those photos from when Madden has tried to share a bite of his sandwich with Lombardi and Halas.
Stat of the Week
“We are going to be running back by committee,’’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell declared the other day, praising the backup to Marshawn Lynch, second-year back Christine Michael thusly: “He has breakaway speed and power behind his pads.”
Perhaps. But Michael’s record is, at best, spotty. His 2011 season at Texas A&M ended with a torn ACL, his 2012 season was truncated because he had trouble in the A&M spread offense, and his rookie year in Seattle was plagued by poor blocking; he carried only 18 times as a rookie.
The stat: In his past three seasons, two in college and one in the NFL, Michael has a total of 255 carries.
In his past three seasons, Marshawn Lynch has 285, 315 and 301 carries — more each season than Michael had in his past three combined.
All right, well, if you remove the rookie season, he averaged about 140 carries per season in his last three years in college, which is about the workload you might expect from a back in a committee system. Marshawn just turned 28, which is at the cusp of when a running back might start to break down if you keep giving him 300+ carry seasons. And if Michael continues to suck as a blocker, he might just be used in obvious passing situations. I’m not saying it’s gonna work out great in 2014, but I won’t act as though there’s a wholesale lack of logic behind the decision.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I’d love to hear what an NFL locker room, or a big-league locker room in baseball or basketball or hockey, would say to a coach who said this publicly: “We cannot win our league this year, because we are not at that level yet.” U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann said to Sam Borden of the New York Times: “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.” In the last few days, since I derided Klinsmann for saying we cannot win an athletic competition that we, as one of 32 World Cup teams, begin to compete for starting next week, I’ve heard all of the theories about why he said it. They are, in no particular order:
• It’s reverse psychology, done to make his players mad at him for giving up, thus creating an us-against-the-world-including-our-coach ethos on the team.
• It adds to the Impossible Dream nature of what the U.S. team is facing.
• It’s a common European way of motivating players. By saying it’s impossible to win, the players will somehow feel they have nothing to lose and be able to play with relaxed minds.
• It takes the pressure off the players by having all the focus and criticism on the idiot coach who says the team has no chance before the biggest soccer tournament in the world.
My point is simple: It’s absurd for a group of players, who have been practicing and drilling and (I’m sure) watching all kinds of video on first-round foes Ghana, Portugal and Germany, to hear from the man leading them into the World Cup that they have no chance to win.
I’d love to hear what Herb Brooks would have thought of that form of “motivation.”
“WE WOULDA NEVER LICKED THE RUSSKIES WITH THAT KIND OF COMMIE DEFEATIST ATTITUDE!”
Don’t know about you, but I always want dead hockey coaches to tell me how to run a soccer team.
The U.S. opens World Cup play a week from today against Ghana. I’ll be watching, even though we don’t have a chance.
Why are you sulking like Klinsmann cruelly deflated your expectations? It’s not like USMNT is expected to survive its Group of Death as it is. But if they do, you get to feel better about it because it’s a surprise. Isn’t that a better feeling as a fan than being letdown by an outcome that most observers expect?
3. I think Dan Marino, embarrassing non-lawsuit and all, still likely will be hired by the Dolphins for what will begin at least as some sort of ceremonial/advisory role in the front office. Look for Marino to write a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell, and to the Dolphins, explaining his side of how he never intended to sue the league over the head-trauma issue. With all the goodwill Marino has built up over the year with the NFL office and the Dolphins, I’d be surprised if his legal foray of last week will cost him a job.
Also Marino is still the most famous and commonly celebrated player in the franchise’s history, which is just about the best criterion for “some sort of ceremonial/advisory role”.
4. I think one of the things that would discourage the NFL from putting the 2015 draft in Arlington, Texas—at the Cowboys’ stadium—is how empty the place would seem for the rounds after the first. I believe the Cowboys could put on a great show for round one. Maybe 50,000 fans, and some good electricity. But the problem with any venue is what happens when the picks are guys the fans have never heard of. Whoever holds the draft next year will have to be sure it can account for the significantly smaller crowds on days two and three (and day four if there is one) by sectioning off the draft room with curtains or whatever.
NOTE TO PROSPECTIVE NFL DRAFT VENUES: Must. Have. Curtains. This is non-negotiable.
Even if Jerryworld puts up barriers, it’s likely still going to look cavernous.
Will that really hurt anything in days 2-4? The TV audience those days (what’s most important anyway) is typically diehard fans who aren’t likely to stick around because there’s some inflated sense of spectacle with a huge crowd in evidence. Hell, once the Draft gets to the fourth round, the broadcasters barely give more than a passing mention to ongoing picks while discussing storylines and what happened earlier in the draft. Why does it matter what the crowd looks like on TV when the broadcasters are mostly talking about other things? Has anyone ever been concerned about the crowd in Radio City Music Hall being filled to capacity on day 3?
5. I think the biggest reason to like Colin Kaepernick’s contract—if you’re a fan, if you’re the team, and if you’re a competitive player who thinks nothing should be handed to him
That’s right – non-guaranteed contracts only exist to ensure competitive players stay at their most competitive. Who wants to be made complacent by the knowledge that most of your contract is bullshit that can be terminated at almost anytime without regard to anything you’ve done for the team. Not winners! That’s who!
is that he’ll get very rich if he’s a good-to-great NFL quarterback over the next six years. If he’s just okay, or he slumps over the next two or three years, the Niners can get out from under an onerous deal and start over at the position without being weighed down by Kaepernick guarantees.
Of course Peter loves this deal. If he could somehow make it a crime for a player to earn more money than he thought they deserved, that’s the sort of thing he would campaign on by saying he’d sign that bill on his first day in office.
/shudders at the thought of PK holding public office
//yes I know there’s already an asshole Congressman also named Peter King
7. I think the funniest headline of last week was one about Andrew Luck not being concerned about Colin Kaepernick’s new contract. People: Andrew Luck is not concerned about much of anything that is outside his Colts universe, and he certainly isn’t concerned with what anyone else’s contract is. He knows when it’s time to sign a contract, he’ll get what the market rate is for a player playing his position at whatever level he’s playing at the time. For him to worry about something like that would be incredibly anti-Luck.
CITIZENS! Didst thou not know that Andrew Luck is a man of Stanford words and architecture? He possesses no such gutter intellect that only dwells on the base desires of money, material possessions and sex. His concerns are of a more, shall we say, loft.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. That Belmont was really, really fun to watch.
b. I understand the owner of California Chrome being upset that a fresh horse running his first Triple Crown race beat his horse, running for the third time in a little over a month. But saying it’s a “coward’s way out’’ is beyond bush league.
HOT HORSE TAKES! Finally they too get a home in MMQB.
e. Great job, John Romano, on your Don Zimmer column in Tampa Bay. You’ve got to read the ending, folks. You’ll say, “How do you not love Don Zimmer?”
f. Of course, I’m the same guy who watched Zim’s most ignominious moment (not including the 1978 playoff game at Fenway) with Don Banks at a bar in Indianapolis and howled with stunned laughter when Pedro Martinez threw him to the ground by his head — one of the craziest sights I’ve ever seen in sports.
You and every other dipshit SAWX fan. “HA! THAT 70-YEAR-OLD JUST GAWT DUMPED ON HIS HEAD BY PEDRO! HOW CHAAAAMINGLY ECCENTRIC OWWW-AH DAHHKIE PLAYERS AHHHH!”
h. Coffeenerdness: I give up. I can’t drink anything drip coffee but Italian Roast. I am officially the snobbiest coffee snob of all time.
I’ll let you have that distinction if you promise to stop accepting sportswriter awards.
i. Beernerdness: Always happens this way — it’s hot out, it’s near summertime, and I move from heavier to lighter in beer selection.
Oh wow. Staggering beer nerdery in display. How does he just know to do it? Must be great beer-drinking instincts. It’s not as though breweries encourage it by making lighter seasonal options. PK is just an innate beer meister.
j. Great opening — would you expect anything less? — from Doc Emrick at the start of Stanley Cup game two Saturday, with a shot of downtown L.A. and Staples Center: “THIS is the city … Los Angeles, California.” If you’re a viewer of a certain age, that was Emrick channeling his inner Jack Webb, and “Dragnet.”
If you’re an old folk who gets giddy for references to shows from the ’50s, it was a real kick. Though, true be told, I might lose it if Emrick started a broadcast with the Twilight Zone opener.
k. Two comments on “All The Way,” the Broadway play heavy on history about Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and running for re-election:
Who hasn’t been jonesin’ for some PK THEATER TAKES! The mise-en-scene was not lofty!
And Bryan Cranston, the “Breaking Bad” guy, is so good as LBJ.
So good that we may have to lazily refer to him as “the LBJ” guy soon.
The Adieu Haiku
Kaepernick got paid.
Sort of — but it’s a good pact.
Play well, get rich. Good.
Gotta earn it, bub!
That is what I always say
Before four weeks off