When we last left doughy, tasteless hockey doofus, Peter King, he was bellyaching that the employees at an airport Starbucks weren’t in a huge rush to give him his triple venti whole milk lardaccino. He’s the Upton Sinclair of upscale coffee chains. PK also railed against the notion that the Browns got fleeced by the Vikings when they gave up all those picks they didn’t have to.
So what about this week? How many D-Days are about to take place in Minnesota? Hint: minimum five D-Days. Why don’t more people feel good for Ben Roethlisberger? Could it be the rapiness? Also, were you aware, contrary to popular belief, there is only one way to travel on the East Coast? It’s true! READ ON.
First up this morning: A history lesson.
ON THIS DATE: 1971, Eagle-Eye Cherry is born. History will remember him as a savior of tonight and bringer of soft rock torture.
We’ll never see two months like we’ve just seen in any offseason. Ever. To recap:
Seriously, PK begins his column with a 750-word itemized summation of the previous two months of NFL headlines. Thanks for the lengthy refresher course, Petey. Normally, this would be an idiotic strategy to draw readers’ interest, but as MMQB readers who don’t pay attention to football and only check in to see what fixes the city of Seattle needs to make in Starbucks’ day-to-day operations, we appreciate the useful primer. “What? Peyton Manning’s on a different team now? WELL THANK THE ACELA GODS THAT I READ THIS!”
Two months. A never-ending, rarely pausing news cycle.
“This damn news doesn’t even stop during my minor league baseball games. Where’s the pause button, technophiles?”
The Vilma ban and Seau suicide weren’t the end of it.
What? Those two events weren’t the end of news stories ever? Does that mean human events with continue to occur in noteworthy ways? I’m learning so much!
I don’t know what it all means.
Existential PK philosophy, unsurprisingly agnostic.
Maybe this is a freaky year.
Surely there won’t be a player the status of Peyton Manning getting whacked and then wooed in free agency.
Yes there will.
Surely there won’t be another story with the legs of the bounty scandal.
With the NFL becoming so gargantuan, there will be more stories where these came from.
Correct. Which also negates your previous two sentences.
I just don’t believe we’ll ever see two months in an offseason when, day after day, week after week, the NFL obliterates the NBA, the NHL and major league baseball.
So… we’ll never see an NFL off-season again?
I have a few memories of Seau, including one from Buffalo that I write about in this week’s Sports Illustrated, but the most intense occurred in a tunnel, two-plus hours before Super Bowl 29, some 17 years ago. I was a pregame sideline reporter for ABC’s Super Bowl coverage that year, and my assignment was to get a couple of questions in to Seau when he got off the Chargers bus. It had been previously arranged that I would do so. When I saw him approach, striding quickly, he had this look in his eye of supreme intensity. He never saw me as I took my place alongside him and said something like: “Hey, Junior, anyone say anything memorable in the team meeting last night?” He never broke stride, never acknowledged me. “Junior?” I said. “Junior?” And he was gone, into the locker room.
That is truly awesome. That might be the most enjoyable memory of Seau I’ve heard yet.
I never forgot that intensity. I honestly think he was so zoned in that he never paid attention to anything in his path.
Thing is, you know Petey probably bitched privately about this story to friends and coworkers for years. “THAT GLORY BOY WOULDN’T GIVE ME ANY COLOR FOR MY GAME STORY!” But now that Seau is dead, the media sycophant in PK wants to turn the time he got blown off into an example of a man’s supreme focus.
As for why he killed himself with a gunshot to the chest Wednesday, we don’t know why. We can theorize, and we will, but until (and if) medical authorities have the chance to analyze Seau’s brain to see if it was damaged by years of brute-force football contact, it’s going to be just educated guessing and anecdotal evidence.
We can theorize why people are going through something emotional, but we cannot know why. That is between a man and his emoting.
In the last year and a half, the league has been trying to eliminate some of the violent helmet-to-helmet hits in the game.
Is that a good thing?
That’s a good thing.
But those efforts have earned mostly scorn from fans and defensive players. After Seau’s death, the tide is turning. Fans (scores of them on Twitter at least) have bleated, “The league’s got to do something to improve players’ lives after football,” and said the league has to make sure players can walk away from the game as close to normal human beings mentally as possible.
People want dramatic knee-jerk changes to be made following a senseless tragedy? That’s so unlike people.
You can’t have it both ways, folks. If you want the explosive, brain-rattling hits to continue unabated, there’s a good chance we’ll see more players wrecked as they leave football, and years after that. Not saying that’s what killed Seau.
Strong implicit suggestions, Peter King has them.
But I am saying it’s a logical avenue to explore, and the league can’t wait five or eight or 10 years to have a conclusive study of enough deceased players’ brains in order to say it’s time to get serious about player safety.
“Wanna bet?” – Roger Goodell, laying out the Wait Five or Eight or 10 Years Initiative
The best thing the NFL can do to honor Seau is to continue to hammer home the protective point that while it may not seem fair in all cases to fine defensive players huge money for hits on defenseless players, it has to be done if the league is going to prove it’s serious about making the game safer.
Yes, it’s a good thing that the NFL is cracking down on hits on defenseless receivers, a phenomenon which caused exactly zero of Junior Seau’s lifetime concussions.
And no more discussion of an 18-game schedule. Please. Simple logic says that’s the dumbest idea of the Goodell Era. Unless the league pushes the novel but probably idiotic concept of every player playing a maximum of 16 games in a given season, it’s an idea that must go away.
“I have to say, that’s the dumbest idea ever, unless they can somehow make it even dumber. Which I would like to hear, if possible.”
London Fletcher is a poor man’s Seau, and he’s had an anxious week.
Wait, PK used to call Fletcher the “black Seau” and now it’s “poor man’s Seau”? DAT’S RAYCESS!
I think it’s likely the league has damning evidence on the Saints players. But I also think if the league’s going to destroy the character of a heretofore well-respected player, Jonathan Vilma, by putting a scarlet letter on his chest for the rest of his life (“B” for bounty leader), it needs to come clean with more evidence on Vilma than it’s provided thus far.
Uh oh, Peter King is handing out scarlet letters again. Though it would be kind of cool if the league punished players dirty players by forcing them to wear a scarlet letter (“C” for cockwallet) where the team captain’s patch usually goes on the uniform. That I could support.
It’s good that Mary Jo White, a well-known and highly respected set of legal eyes, combed through the league’s evidence in the case and pronounced it conviction worthy. But White was also retained by the league. What do you think she would have concluded had she been retained by the players association?
Name five things more conflict-of-interest-y. You can’t.
It’s D-Day in Minnesota.
Actually, it’s the first of two D-Days.
D Day II! This time, the letter is scarlet!
Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives will debate and then vote on the proposal for a $975 million, fixed-roof stadium next to where the Metrodome stands in downtown Minneapolis. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Senate will vote. The vote must pass in both bodies for the stadium to be built. If it passes — and the smart political money says it will pass, barely — the new stadium will be ready for football in 2016. If it doesn’t pass, well, no one is saying what will happen.
Wait for it…
If this stadium initiative does not pass, the end of the Vikings in Minnesota will be in sight. And the politicians are in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t position. Some fear voting for the bill and getting voted out by the Tea Party types. Some fear voting against it and getting voted out by the Vikings fanatics.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, democracy and Vikings football simply do not work.
The end for Patriots left tackle Matt Light comes this morning in Foxboro.
After the death of Seau, I wanted to find a story this morning of a man leaving the game who — at least in my opinion — could be a good model for the NFL for players’ lives after football. Light, drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 2001, had a very good 11-year NFL career and played in five Super Bowls. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well as a player and as a person off the field, because of his extensive charity work, both with his foundation and other pet projects, including the Greater Boston Food Bank.
“I wanted to find a positive story of post-NFL life, so I picked one of my buddies who played for my favorite team! He’s starting a charity supplying lunch pails to real team players! What a guy!”
I asked Light to write a piece of the column this morning about retiring and about life after football. Here’s his take:
I don’t remember plays from games or any other details that involve what most fans watch. I’ve never gone back and watched a tape from one of our games on TV. So while I’m sure I will miss a lot of what’s been my life as a lineman, the things that have always been the most important to me will still be. I love a good challenge and the art of negotiation. Problem-solving and hard work are actually fun. Being a dad is still the greatest part of my day and the friendships that were created over the past 11 seasons will forever be cherished. The game of football has taught me more about life than X’s and O’s. It’s about patience, humility, honor, perseverance, and the Belichick way – at least to me, that’s what’s important to have the best chance to win, and to build a long career.
And to be able to make sportswriters cum like a fire hose using fewer than a hundred words.
The first reaction to Terrell Suggs being out for most, if not all, of the 2012 season with a torn Achilles suffered 10 days ago — the Ravens’ All-Pro pass-rusher is due for surgery Tuesday — is Baltimore’s defense will take a nosedive. And it’s quite possible the Ravens won’t be able to recover, and they’ll fall back in the AFC North.
One other point from Pro Football Focus to consider. Last season, in 375 fewer combined snaps than Suggs, McPhee and Kruger, according to the football website that charts every individual play in the game, had 49 quarterbacks hits and pressures — the exact same number as Suggs. Maybe if they play more they won’t be able to mathematically increase the production, particularly without Suggs on the other side for offenses to worry about.
These two guys were collectively almost as awesome as this one other guy who was getting double-teamed all the time. WORRY NOT, RAVENS FANS.
Quote of the Week IV
“I won’t give you the vision on what I think his role will be in the offense. But I would just say that to the best of my knowledge, I believe that what Coach (Ryan) said is he can play anywhere from one to 20 snaps, somewhere like that. And I would say what coach said is 100 percent correct. As far as how we’ll use Tim or what we’ll do with Tim that way, we’re going to keep that to us right now.”
— New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, mum about plans for Tim Tebow in the team’s offense this fall. It won’t be much of a secret. He’s going to play Wildcat quarterback, some running back and some personal protector on the punt team — the spot between the center and the punter — at the very least.
Finally, a subject Peter is comfortable speculating wildly about. It’s good to get back to a sense of normalcy.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Travel Note of the Week
Someone has to tell me this: Why is the train station in downtown New York called Pennsylvania Station and the train station in downtown Newark called Pennsylvania Station and the train station in downtown Baltimore called Pennsylvania Station … while the train station in downtown Philadelphia is called 30th Street Station, and the train station in Pittsburgh is called Union Station?
“Why is it that you drive on the parkway but you get fondled on the subway?”
Also, the station in Pittsburgh hasn’t been called Union Station in a hundred years. Not that anyone gives a shit.
Three other Acela comments this morning, after a round-trip to Washington Friday and Saturday:
1. The coffee is still pathetic.
SEND HELP, SEATTLE!
2. The Wi-Fi stinks. If you’re going to install Wi-Fi covering six train cars, it ought to cover six train cars of people using laptops and tablets. Amtrak’s is so glacially slow that you give up on the Wi-Fi and wait to get to your destination.
The reception in the Quiet Car in lacking. If there were any noise, it would be blocked out by PK’s interior rage at the fact that cannot fire off angry e-mails to Starbucks and the Red Sox front office with adequate speed.
3. It’s the only way to go up and down the East Coast.
“Oh, what’s that? YOU cannot afford to traipse up and down the coast on luxury rail lines? Benighted peasant, that’s what you are. Despite its flaws, which are numerous and worth bitching about in a national football column, Acela truly is the only means of civilized traversal. Anything less and you might as well be strapped to the bottom of shit wagon, with mules spraying their leavings in your nostrils.”
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, the 34th pick in the draft, wrote a story about me for a class at Stanford … and he got it published in the Peninsula Press in the Bay Area.
“ME! HE WROTE ABOUT ME! I ENVISION A LONG, MATT LIGHTY CAREER AHEAD FOR THIS YOUNG MAN!”
Quote from PK in that article:
â€œIf I couldnâ€™t play left field for the Red Sox when I was grown up,â€ he said, â€œI was going to write about playing left field.â€
He sure did. He sure fucking did.
[Grinds teeth into dust]
Fleener has already accomplished one very big thing with the publication of this story that’s essential to journalism: He’s made an uninteresting person sound interesting. You’ve got a future, kid, if this football thing doesn’t work out.
Haha. A future in journalism. That’s cute. Nobody has that.
Tweet of the Week I
“I feel like Sonny Corleone at the toll booth.”
— @untouchablejay4, Ravens pass-rusher Terrell Suggs at 1:36 a.m. ET Saturday.
Truly, the most grisly on-screen Achilles injury in the history of cinema.
For one of three reasons:
1. He suffered an Achilles tendon injury last week that will require surgery this week.
2. He had a rough Friday night.
3. He feels bad about leaving his Super Bowl-contending team in the lurch.
4. He was actually gunned down in a hail of bullets at a highway toll booth and now tweets from the great beyond.
Tweet of the Week II
“Really proud of the way Eli handled the big stage. Think I’ll get him a present to celebrate. Maybe a banana lol”
— @JustinTuckNYG91, Eli Manning’s teammate and Giants defensive end, after watching Manning in a rather blue skit poke fun at his manhood.
I will say that Keenan’s Ray-Ray spastic dance actually made me laugh, possibly a first ever for Keenan.
Keenan has also played both Ray Lewis and James Harrison on SNL, which PK thinks is all-time incongruous, unless 2012 is really the year of freaky, in which case, perfectly expected.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the first weekend of Andrew Luck in Indianapolis went about as expected:
“He is unflappable,” said coach Chuck Pagano. “Mature beyond his years. If you listen to some of those play calls that Bruce (Arians) gave him, then I know why he is an architectural engineer.
Luck designed a downtown library composed entirely of bubble screens?
/Hate u, Arians
As I’ve said, we don’t know why Seau did what he did
but mental illness, depression and trying to find meaning in life after the cheering stops are all issues former players struggle with. In Acee’s story, former safety John Lynch, a friend of Seau’s, says it’s vital post-career mental-health care and finding meaningful lives after football be priorities for the league and the retiring players. “The automatic response right now is it’s got to be concussion-related. I wouldn’t discount the concussion [aspect]. If we did, we’d feel terrible
… But, and I don’t say this in a negative conversation, it’s an out for people that are lost and searching. It’s a huge issue. It’s one the league better pay attention to.”
Stupid complex thorny issues using up all of our carefully worded qualifying statements.
4. I think it was good to see Ben Roethlisberger walking with the grads at Miami (Ohio) University Sunday.
HARF HARF HARF THE BEN GET SMART GUY PAPER. NO MORE NEED HINES TELL THE BEN HOW TO WIPE BEHIND. IT WRITTEN HOW ON BACK OF DIPLOMA. THE BEN IS MAN OF LEARNSINGS. THE BEN DID ALL THE LEARNSINGS. THE BEN NEED LEARNSINGS NO MORE.
Roethlisberger got his Bachelor of Science in Education eight years after leaving campus for the NFL.
THE BEN KNOW TEACH GOOD. NOW U CAN TRUST THE BEN WITH YOUR KIDS
What’s not good is the petty attacks Roethlisberger took when I threw out kudos Saturday on Twitter. Those are the people who refuse to believe a person can change and grow, and who revel in keeping their opinions static. Roethlisberger, these people are certain, has abused women and thus will always be an abuser, and he can never move forward in his life.
Oh, Jesus. I’m a Steelers homer and I don’t expect anyone to feel good for Roethlisberger for getting a worthless degree after 12 years. He’s a dipshit who brought all the criticism on himself, guilty or not, for getting in terribly situations on multiple occasions.
I’m not sure who Ben Roethlisberger is right now
Or why he’s waving his grey dick at me.
and I’m not sure if he’ll ever be the kind of person you’d want your kids to emulate. But what I am sure of is this: People are capable of changing, and very often do change when tumultuous events rake their lives. That, however, is something none of you Twitter abusers believe can happen.
Yeah, feminists! When are we gonna have a serious discussion about the culture of Twitter abuse that surrounds sportswriters who get pissy because people want to clown a guy twice accused of rape? REMOVE THE SHROUD OF SHAME!
5. I think I like several of new Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie’s signings of free agent marginalia.
Doing It the Arcane Way!
Ron Bartell may resuscitate a flagging career and could still be an effective cornerback, for instance. But the signing that may pay off most handsomely is bringing in Matt Leinart.
Oh, no fucking way. That’s amazing.
Ask the Texans: He was just getting it, just turning around his disappointing career, when he got hurt in midseason last fall. I can tell you coach Gary Kubiak thought the Texans would be able to be offensively explosive after losing Matt Schaub, because he knew what he had in Leinart. Now Leinart will back up Carson Palmer, and though Leinart shouldn’t count on playing unless Palmer gets hurt, I count Leinart as one of the best insurance policies in the NFL. Some day he’ll get another chance, and I think he’ll be ready.
Which is exactly why the Texans let him walk.
7. I think you should pay attention to one undrafted player if you play fantasy football: Jeff Fuller. I’m not saying you should put him atop your late-round-flyer draft list; I’m just saying you should watch Dolphins training camp and see if he can win a job in an offense that will be struggling to find downfield weapons after the trade of Brandon Marshall.
I’m not saying he’s an actual sleeper you should draft or anything, but maybe make sure you notice him fly by as the late-rounds pass and he hits the waiver wire.
In October, Fuller, of Texas A&M, was a legitimate first-round prospect. Then, as the 2011 season progressed, he seemed to drop more balls than he caught, he lost confidence, and bombed at the Senior Bowl. When I was in Miami last weekend, I could tell coach Joe Philbin had a blank-slate philosophy with everyone on the roster, which will hold Fuller in good stead. That plus he’ll be catching the ball from his college quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, and having the plays called by his college coach, Mike Sherman. Maybe the dropsies will be terminal for Fuller. But if he catches the ball well in training camp, he’s absolutely an NFL-caliber receiver.
An undrafted receiver riddled by drops who was signed by a terrible team with a rookie quarterback? WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?
9. I think the four-year deal Cameron Wake signed over the weekend is the best news the Dolphins have had since … well, since having a good draft the previous week.
Wait, what? Did they find Allagash White on draft? ‘Cause you can’t be talking the actual NFL Draft.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Now you know why the New Jersey Devils feel like stepchildren: After the scintillating overtime win over Philadelphia Thursday in Newark, the Devils, who play eight miles from Manhattan, got half a page out of 33 sports pages in the New York Post’s sports section and half a page out of 35 in the sports section of the New York Daily News.
Right. ‘Cause it’s not like there’s another hockey team that actually plays in New York that’s still alive or anything.
By the way, I want the same calls in regulation and in the playoffs in hockey. I know that makes me a hockey doofus, but a call’s a call.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) May 4, 2012
b. Tremendous experience Friday with the USO at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Had the chance to get a tour with USO heavy Phil Parisi and two Nats, Adam LaRoche and Sean Burnett, and then to visit with some of the wounded troops adjusting to life with prosthetics.
c. Good work by the Nats, by the way, in offering great seats to the military for so many home games, and for opening their stadium and training facilities to rehabbing vets. That’s an organization that gets it.
Empty seats smarts, the Washington Nationals have it. That and NATITUDE!
d. Very good to see the Nationals and the Orioles relevant.
Peter King, obviously a MASN stockholder.
e. My favorite quote from Saturday morning walking around the monuments in Washington comes from the Jefferson Memorial:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
In other words, don’t tell me we cannot amend laws that don’t apply, or laws that must be fitted to our society today.
g. Weirdest, most shaken-up month for closers I’ve ever seen. Wreaking havoc on my Rotisserie team.
I don’t give a fuck.
h. Funniest thing I’ve seen on “Saturday Night Live” in memory was Peyton Manning coaching football to young kids on a field in Manhattan in a United Way ad spoof, and abusing them ruthlessly, to the point of punishing one by stashing him in a portable toilet. On Saturday night, Eli Manning wasn’t as funny, but I don’t recall a guest host playing more roles than Eli played the other night.
He was a Swedish football player (with the accent), a cross-dressing beauty contestant, a defendant who texted a photo of himself holding a banana in his groin and making light of his manhood, a lame game-show guest, an Occupy Wall Street protester, a New Yorker giving advice to tourists (a little lame), and, in his shining moment, a Big Brother-type to a kid getting abused by his older brother — and helping the little brother get revenge. Eli held the older bro upside down over a toilet, threatening him with — I think this is what it’s called — a swirly. That was a great sketch. Eli says gruffly to one kid who he locks in a trunk: “Maybe you’ll treat your little brother with some respect now, Peyton!”
It wasn’t a better performance than Peyton’s six years ago, but it’s got to go down in SNL history as a candidate in the category of Most Roles Played By a Host in 90 Minutes.
Well, he knows Eli wasn’t great as SNL host, but PK has to find a way to gush over Eli about something, so he picked a detail that no one would possibly care enough about to fact-check. THIS GUY PLAYED MORE CHARACTERS IN THE HISTORY OF A SHOW WHERE THE HOST ALWAYS PLAYS A LOT OF CHARACTERS!
i. I was impressed that Eli would play as many uncomfortable roles as he did.
Eli knows uncomfortable.
j. Had the pleasure the other night of being with former Sox pitcher Bill Lee at a Red Sox game for a few innings. He’s started making wine now
Gonna go ahead and truncate the baseball talk. Only including this because SI featured a photo of PK posing with a Pirates hoodie on, which makes Petey not only a member of Team Trayvon, but also extra Pittsburghish.
l. Coffeenerdness: Can you vary the baked goods, Starbucks? Are we fated to looking at the same doughy, tasteless scones for the rest of our lives?
THE TYRANNY OF SEATTLE! Why must you inflict your tastelessness on us! One day, we will rise up and rebel against your wares. And probably buy something other than shitty-ass scones. Why the fuck are you buying scones? They’re awful. Starbucks is saving you from yourself.
m. Beernerdness: Lucky enough to find Starr Hill Amber Ale (“The Gift of Great Beer” is on the label, and I don’t doubt it) from Crozet, Va., in D.C. over the weekend. Bold and full of flavor, like a strong Cabernet, and eminently drinkable.
Hey, PK experimenting with local brews. And here I thought we’d be in for mo –
n. Beernerdness II: Congrats to Allagash White, which beat out 49 competitors to win the best Belgian Witbier at the World Beer Cup. See? I must be drinking something right.
NOW INTERVIEW MY LEMON WEDGE, COBY FLEENER!