When last we left wine boob, Peter King, he was churning out his annual feature where he cuts and pastes a bunch of commencement speeches and passes it off as a column. PK also groaned endlessly about how the draft is getting moved back three weeks and how it’ll cut into his baseball watching time next year. It being PK, he tried to mask it as concern for all those hard-workin’ football people. Finally, Peter continued to campaign of whining at his laptop until Peet’s moves east.
But what about this week? For starters, it’s totally important to rant bitterly at a former Red Sox player in your football column. Just don’t discuss who might be representing DeSean Jackson. PK don’t wanna hear it. Don’t nobody got time for that. READ ON.
TURLOCK, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick a Raider. Imagine the change in history.
Sweeping, indeed. The inmates in San Quentin would get to root for a player on a team more accustomed to tattoos and criminality. Also, Hitler would have never been born and human would have wings.
“I think about it all the time, believe me,” Hue Jackson, the rookie Raiders coach on Draft Day 2011, said Sunday night.
“That’s comforting.” — Team that currently employs him.
I was with Kaepernick Thursday night when he surprised his retiring Turlock Pitman High football coach, Brandon Harris, at the Pitman High School graduation about two hours east of San Francisco. What a surprise it was.
“Holy shit, Kaep, you’re here! And you brought an old, fat white guy who is complaining about the coffee!”
Walking offstage on a warm central California night, the begowned Harris hugged Kaepernick and said: “You came for this?! Unbelievable!”
“I don’t even want to be here.”
Before the event, I spoke with Kaepernick and his dad, Rick, mentioning to them I’d been with the 49ers on draft weekend 2011 when they traded up and picked him. I asked both about reports (some of them mine) that the Raiders were interested in picking him as much as the Niners were.
What’s that, Kaep, did you not KNOW those scoops were exclusive PK nuggets!? Clearly, you’re not a student of the game. PK will just keep that anecdote on file to bash you with next time you fumble in a big game.
“Coach Jackson told me before the draft they were going to do everything they could to try to get me,” said Kaepernick. “I thought there was a good chance they’d pick me. I never heard anything from the 49ers before the draft after I worked out for them [at Nevada]. I just figured they weren’t interested.”
Brilliant disguise. That was the first fast one coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke — working together for the first time — pulled on the league, and, as you have seen, it wasn’t the last.
They didn’t pull shit on the league. They traded up in the second round for a player that one other team was targeting.
A quick recent history lesson:
I’ll spare you the recap of draft day phone calls, which is something PK finds more dramatic than any person reasonably should. “THE PATRIOTS WOULDN’T PART WITH THEIR SECOND FOR ANY LESS THAN TWO THIRDS! DIAMONDS WERE INSTANTLY MADE IN SPHINCTERS THE NFL WORLD OVER!”
Rick Kaepernick, Colin’s dad, told me he’d heard Al Davis threw a glass across the room when it was announced San Francisco had taken him.
Al Davis: “BLAH! BLAH! CURSE YOU! I VANTED TO HARVEST HIS JUICES TO MAKE ME YOUNG AGAIN! BLAH!”
Would Jackson still be coaching Oakland had Kaepernick fallen to them? Certainly, Carson Palmer wouldn’t have been traded to the quarterback-needy Raiders six months later. Certainly, the Raiders wouldn’t have used (wasted?) a third-round Supplemental Draft pick two months later on Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. With Kaepernick, the Raiders likely would have stuck him in the lineup in mid-2011, when Jason Campbell went down with an injury. And I doubt sincerely Oakland would have gone 4-12 last fall with Kaepernick playing.
It’s easy to imagine that Kaepernick’s development would have been the same no matter the setting, but I doubt it’s as clean and certain as PK would like to believe. Kaep didn’t start his rookie season for the Niners – for good reason – and they have a much more talented surrounding cast than the Raiders. You can’t say Jackson absolutely wouldn’t have made the same stupid, knee-jerk trade for Palmer when Jason Campbell went down midseason in 2011. At the time Campbell went down, Oakland was 4-2 and the team thought they were a playoff contender with a capable veteran quarterback under center.
Not to be a wise guy, but figure the Patriots had the same pricetag for the Raiders that they did for San Francisco: second- and third-round picks in 2011 and a third-rounder in 2012. Let’s see what the Raiders could have traded to move up to get Kaepernick:
• Center Stefen Wisniewski (second round, 2011). Had a so-so rookie year at left guard, then a slightly better year when switched to center in 2012. Center of the future for the Raiders, but not likely a Pro Bowl player.
• Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (third round, 2011). Played about 30 percent of the snaps as a backup corner in 2011. Released in the last cut last year.
• Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (third round, 2012, with pick assigned to Supplemental Draft in 2011). He has thrown 30 passes in mop-up duty in two years. Doesn’t appear to have much chance to be the Raiders quarterback of the future.
Would you, Raiders fans, trade Wisniewski, Van Dyke and Pryor for Kaepernick?
Not to be a wise guy, but here’s a pointed comparison that is only easily made with the benefit of hindsight.
Shameless Self-Promotional Note of the Week
My story on Kaepernick, along with a video interview, will highlight the first week of our new SI football-centric website when we debut the week of July 22.
That’s the grand launch of Kinglandia? A pointless tale of how the Raiders could’ve drafted Kaepernick, except they couldn’t? I’m already bored by this shit.
I think you’ll like the site, and you’ll like a few different sides of Kaepernick that I saw.
Quick reminder that Peter King was among the host of asshole sportswriters who last season complained about how Kaepernick is boring in interviewers because he doesn’t say anything revealing.
One thing I won’t be writing about: his 15-year-old, 115-pound tortoise, Sammy. I met Sammy at Kaepernick’s parents’ home in Modesto. I shouldn’t say “met.” “Saw” would be correct. Sammy was sawing logs Thursday night and, evidently, nothing wakes a monstrous, sleeping tortoise.
I won’t be writing about this thing people will actually be interested in. BUT JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT KAEP HAS TO SAY ABOUT PEET’S COFFEE COMING EAST!
News of the week, as we continue to count down to summer vaca
In the last year, with the suicides of players Junior Seau and O.J. Murdock, the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher, and the suicide of a Browns groundskeeper, the NFL has tried to focus more on the issue of mental health, particularly in recently retired players. Recently, the league finished training 15 former players as NFL Transition Coaches, who will be dispatched to team facilities and, the league hopes, form relationships with players to help them start new lives after football.
Because everyone knows the cure for CTE is a friendly chat with an old friend. And I really hope this program is extended to former groundskeepers just because that one killed himself. “Look, Sam, I know the team won’t let you cut the grass anymore, but there’s more to life than lawncare. You’ve got to learn to landscape your insides.”
A week from tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of Lombardi’s birth. Cancer took Lombardi’s life at 57, in 1970. That ages all of us some, knowing that Lombardi was born 100 years ago.
Nope. Last I checked, it’s still time that ages us. In fact, finding out that Lombardi would have been 100 makes me feel younger. I’m not an ancient person who has memories of him.
ESPN is commemorating Lombardi’s legacy with a show Thursday night called Lombardi’s Legacy. (Who thinks of these clever titles up in Bristol?) One of the panelists on the show will be Mike Ditka, who is in the position of having played against Lombardi, having played for main Lombardi rival George Halas, having listened to him speak, and having known him briefly outside of football.
Look at all the filler in that last sentence. That’s like the cat food of language. If only someone actually edited PK, his writing might not make me want to kill myself. Here, let’s give it a shot:
“One of the panelists on the show will be Mike Ditka, who played against Lombardi for rival George Halas, listened to him speak, and knew him briefly outside of football.”
/removes knife from wrist
Harbinger of things to come in Oakland?
Let’s, for a second, gloss over the fact that the Raiders’ weekend firing of director of media relations Zak Gilbert is the kind of knee-jerk Steinbrennerian move that Mark Davis’ father, Al, might have made. Might, I say — after a perceived unflattering story (which, ironically, was unflattering only to Al Davis, and to no one else in the Raiders organization) appeared in Sports Illustrated. And let’s divine what the firing means.
When Mark Davis hired Reggie McKenzie as Oakland’s general manager 17 months ago, he gave McKenzie authority over all football decisions. Immediately, McKenzie hired someone he knew from his days in Green Bay, Gilbert, who had worked as a PR assistant with the Packers. McKenzie inherited a team that was $48 million over the salary cap in 2012. This was clearly a long-term job. Very long-term. To fix the Raiders, even if all the decisions are right (and they never are in the NFL), would take three years minimum. Now, before the second season even begins, a key McKenzie hire is whacked. McKenzie’s hand-picked mouthpiece fired at a time when the public image of the Raiders was beginning to turn around.
If McKenzie’s own PR pick is fired primarily because of a story Mark Davis didn’t like — Davis had exiled Gilbert to working from home for the past six weeks since the story appeared — what happens if the Raiders stink again this year? And what happens if the riskiest pick in the 2013 draft, first-round Raider cornerback D.J. Hayden, who nearly died of a heart malady last November, doesn’t pan out?
I’ve said this before: You simply cannot judge McKenzie until he has the chance to oversee at least three seasons in Oakland, because of the morass the Raiders were in at the time of his hire. But if Mark Davis gets this skittish over a magazine story, you’re crazy to think McKenzie is certainly safe with another four-win season, or worse, in 2013.
Davis obviously didn’t like the heat generated from the story in question, a Sports Illustrated piece by Jim Trotter, which had zero negative to say about Mark Davis but pointed out how badly Al Davis had lost his fastball in the last couple of years before his 2011 death — and how much his lost fastball put the Raiders in a competitive hole. Zak Gilbert’s fault in this, apparently, was in telling Mark Davis he thought he should talk to Trotter for the story, which Davis did. Read it. Judge for yourself if the PR guy, who has nothing to do with Trotter’s story other than to facilitate interviews, should be canned. I can tell you, from knowing Trotter, that any advice on the story from a PR person would have been met, correctly, with some version of: Thanks for your thoughts. I can take it from here.
One last point about the job Gilbert did. A buddy of mine who writes about the league mentioned to me last season how strange it was to go cover the Raiders now “and actually not dread it.” Much of that was due to Gilbert reopening many avenues of access to a team that had been shuttered to the outside in the Al Davis days. Example: A couple of weeks ago, on Twitter, I said I couldn’t figure out why Charles Woodson signed with Oakland instead of Denver. Gilbert saw the tweet and forwarded me Woodson’s transcript after signing, and asked if I’d like to talk to Woodson. Sure, I said. Gilbert tried, and it seemed Woodson said he was done with media until Raiders minicamp. Gilbert said he thought Woodson should do this one interview if possible, and Woodson said OK.
I’m sure the result wasn’t exactly what Gilbert had in mind — the Raiders were pushing the Woodson-coming-home story angle, and Woodson told me it was primarily the signing bonus that made Oakland more attractive than Denver — but the point is Gilbert understood the business. He put the guy in front of me. What the guy said after that, Gilbert couldn’t control. His job was to get his guy’s story out.
So, yes, I hate to see an undeserved firing, particularly after a guy uproots his family and moves. But this firing is a bad sign for the immediate future of the Raiders, and for a good general manager who I now believe will be in trouble unless 2013 is significantly brighter than 2012.
Sorry for the huge unbroken section of PK inanity, but this a logical leap to behold. Peter is mostly upset because a PR guy who helped him out one time – ultimately to the detriment of his employer — was canned. If you help the media, they’ll help you out, at least so long as they aren’t really risking anything. Reporters like to believe that not being cooperative with the media is some sort of sign of organizational weakness, even if the Patriots brass couldn’t give two shits about what the media wants and have been just fine for a while. Was Gilbert fired for a shitty reason? It seems like it, but there’s nothing tying his release to the GM’s fate other than the fact that McKenzie originally brought him on. It’s a heroic assumption on PK’s part that this move bodes ill for McKenzie. It’s mostly just anticipating that the Raiders’ next PR guy might not be as accommodating.
Stat of the Week
Cary Williams’ ranking by Pro Football Focus among all NFL cornerbacks in 2012: 69th.
Cary Williams’ quarterback rating allowed in coverage in 2012: 98.4.
Cary Williams’ free-agent contract with Philadelphia, signed in March: three years, $17 million.
Cary Williams’ reasons for missing offseason voluntary training and practice sessions in Philadelphia so far this spring: home construction, his wedding, dental work, his daughter’s dance recital.
I wonder how many voluntary company functions Peter King attends. All the ones that are catered, no doubt. But the rest, I’m sure he totally blows off. BUT THAT’S OKAY BECAUSE HE’S NOT SOME ME-FIRST GLORY BOY ATHLETE.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Spent a very pleasant Wednesday afternoon with Carmen Policy, football-exec-turned-winemaker, in Yountville, Calif., in the heart of the Napa Valley. Policy, who was the president of the Niners in their glory years, ran the Browns in their late-90s rebirth, and now owns and operates with his wife a vineyard called Casa Piena. And he’s in his glory.
Policy was happier when he was winning Super Bowls, and he was really into running an expansion team, but he’s a different guy now.
He’s not a football guy. He’s a guy guy.
Seventy, content, living in a great new home, and making the kind of Cabernet Sauvignon at his vineyard that Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate loves.
Basically, stuff people can buy at a supermarket.
I did too — though, as you know if you read anything I’ve had to say about wine, I’m not exactly the Dr. Z of the wine-writing set. I’m a boob.
Not true. I like when I see boobs.
But his 2009 Cab tasted great to these stupid wine tastebuds. And I liked his olive oil even better.
At one point, walking on his 14 acres of grapes and fruit trees and olive trees, I asked him about the football life versus the wine life. He looked perfectly happy here. But how did it compare to his former life?
“No comparison,” he said. “There’s nothing like building a winning football team.”
I don’t know. I could get used to that wine world. In the wine world, you have worries, but none revolve around finding, drafting and developing a quarterback.
Could there be Nugget Vineyards in the future? So many notes of nutmeg! All the corks look like Brett Favre dicks!
Tweet of the Week III
“Nava: .298./400/.488 8 HRs, 33 RBIs, 0.5 million. Carl Crawford .301/.358./470 5 HRs, 13 RBIs $20.8 million.”
— @PeteAbe, comparing the batting average/on-base percentage/on-base-plus-slugging between the starting Red Sox left fielder, Daniel Nava, and the left fielder the Sox traded to the Dodgers in the massive salary dump last year, Carl Crawford. Nava’s four-hit performance on Saturday led Boston to a win at Yankee Stadium.
Keep talking about how you were so horribly mistreated in Boston, Crawford.
Here’s the way sports works: You get paid the very big money, and you struggle for weeks, and then months, and you’re going to get booed. Not viciously, but notably.
Here’s the way sportswriting works: You get an audience because you report pronouncements from league sources you’re cozy with for a national publication, which nets you big money, which you confuse with credibility, so assume you can spout off about any and all subjects, no matter how obtuse and disconnected from your subject matter.
Oh, and Carl Crawford never sees what you write. Because you’re a football writer and he doesn’t give a shit. Instead, you just torture your audience. Viciously and self-indulgently.
Ten Things I Think I Think
2. I think the one-game suspension for St. Louis running back Isaiah Pead is just another example of the Rams living on the edge with young players under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. The Rams take calculated risks with draft picks, as COO Kevin Demoff told me in April, and they draft players with pockmarks on their college resumes figuring they can keep the players in line well enough to keep them active.
It hasn’t blown up in the team’s face fully yet, but as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reported over the weekend, Pead is the fifth man in the 10-man 2012 draft class to have gotten in some trouble resulting in a suspension or arrest in the last 13 months. The Rams play with fire, in part because the multiple high picks they’ve had allow them to take risks some teams refuse to take. When, though, will enough of the miscreants’ bad behavior cause them to change how they stack their draft boards?
“SEEEEEEE!? YOU GUYS, I’M TOTALLY BEING TOUGH ON THE RAMS! JUST BECAUSE THEIR GM IS THE SON OF MY AGENT DOESN’T MEAN I CAN’T BE TOUGH! This practice of their could blow up in their face, even if it hasn’t fully yet. Nope, just kind of blown up. Don’t you hate it when stuff kind of blows up? Mike Florio does. He said so on his web site – HERE’S THE FULL ADDRESS BY THE WAY – over the weekend. What was I saying? Oh yeah, it was cool to see guys high-five in the Rams war room during the draft.”
4. I think I’m hearing the Jags have some very interesting offensive wrinkles set to try with fourth-round pick Ace Sanders and fifth-rounder Denard Robinson. Sanders could be a lesser Tavon Austin, and Robinson could be a Kordell Stewart-slash kind of player. The Jags might not win much this year, but they could be very fun to watch.
They’re gonna suck… with style.
5. I think kudos should go to the Bucs — including GM Mark Dominik — who will have their heads shaved this week for pediatric cancer. Now, if Greg Schiano shaved …
/PK takes two-minute fap break before finishing column
6. I think I don’t care if DeSean Jackson picks the agency of Jay-Z, or Jay Leno, or Jay North (Google him), to represent him. Too many people care about too many unimportant things in an offseason that is never an offseason in the NFL.
Finally someone had the guts to say it. The NFL off-season should be about telling off former Red Sox players and what Cal Ripken says to a crowd of graduating college kids. It shouldn’t be about the business of football. Honestly. Thanks for the perspective as always, Petey. Now, where should Peet’s relocate next.
/pulls up chair
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
b. Lord, Roy Hibbert. Get a hold of yourself.
c. Through six games, the composite score of the Eastern Conference final is Miami 569, Indiana 564. I don’t know about you, but it’s very hard to not root for Indiana tonight. Everyone in the place knows LeBron James is the only weapon Miami has right now, and the Pacers D is holding him to 28.5 a game. It’s good, but not intergalactic. Really fun series when I’ve checked in on it.
Thanks for your take on the three minutes of basketball highlights you saw on SportsCenter.
d. Said it before and I’ll say it again: Boston-Chicago is going to be one heck of a Stanley Cup final series. That’s my pick, but I do expect the Penguins to play the must-win game of their season tonight in Pittsburgh.
Quite daring to wait until after Game 1 to make your pick for the series.
g. Jean Stapleton is one of the best female actors in TV history, and it was sad to note her death, at 90, on Saturday. You had to be alive in the ’70s to know how groundbreakingly good she was in All in the Family, the best show of the decade. To raise the subjects she did as Edith Bunker — rape, menopause, homosexuality, breast cancer — so deftly while being the foil for so much humor as the dingbat of the show … it’s still incredible to me how good she was at the really tough subjects. If you’re of a certain age, you can’t forget the two-part show when Edith was being assaulted in her home. The sexual assaulter told her she smelled wonderful, and without missing a beat, Edith blurted, “That’s Lemon Pledge.” She made us confront taboo things and think about them in ways sitcom viewers never had before.
PK really seems to be under the impression that actors in scripted dramas come up with their own lines, doesn’t he? I’m sure she was fine in the role, but she didn’t decide on her own to raise any racy subjects on TV. She just acted out her part. All the stuff you just praised her for would be better off dedicated to Norman Lear.
h. Beernerdness: Copycat Beer of the Week (and I’m not complaining), straight from the Salt Lake City Airport: Wasatch White Label White Ale. Closest thing to Allagash White that I’ve tasted, and there’s a reason. Wasatch White uses some of the same ingredients as Allagash White, including orange peel and coriander. In this case, copying is very good. That’s a fine, fine beer, Wasatch.
ALLAGASH DIDN’T FUCKING INVENT WITBIER, YOU PEEL-SLURPING FUCKTARD. THEY TOOK THE RECIPE FROM THE BELGIANS. That’s like saying Dogfish Head IPA copies Budweiser because it uses hops.
i. Nats, Phils, Dodgers: 13 below .500 collectively. Pirates: 13 above .500. We all saw that coming.
I saw my depression coming when I clicked on this column. Does that count?
m. Mets 2, Yankees 1 … Mets 2, Yankees 1 … Mets 9, Yankees 4 … Mets 3, Yankees 1.
n. Marlins 5, Mets 1 … Marlins 8, Mets 1 … Marlins 11, Mets 6.
o. As Cindy Adams would say: Only in New York, kiddies. Only in New York.
I have no idea what that phrase is supposed to mean, so naturally it’s the most pleasant thing I read in this MMQB.
The Adieu Haiku
Ah, spring reportage.
All teams look 16-and-0.
Best time for Brownies.
Fuck off, Peter King
For the good of a nation
Drown in Allagash