When last we left Acela eavesdropper, Peter King, he was gone. Gone away. Away on a four-week vacation. A vacation that should have been longer. Not just because Peter is horribly and slowly killing me, but because there are a bunch of NFL stories that he considers beneath his attention.
But what about this week? What kind of security detail is there for the Mannings, the first family of quarterbacklandia. Could Scott Pioli’s balls whip Johnny Manziel into shape? What kind of question is that? You already know the answer but you should go ahead and read on anyway.
Good morning. Happy to be back after my annual summer break. The beginning of the training camp trip is five days away, in Oxnard, Calif., with the Cowboys. Always my favorite time of the year.
When EvoShield starts giving me stuff. It’s EvoShieldmas in July!
Everybody’s got hope, much of it legitimate
The rest clownfraudery.
and the stories are new and fresh. Then there’s the new project, The MMQB, I’m heading up. That’s the new NFL-centric website that’ll go live starting next Monday morning.
Is that what that is? Funny, when you missed plugging it in the 12th paragraph of the second to last column before you left, I momentarily forgot it was a thing. Luckily there were 18 more plugs in the next paragraph.
We’ve got three stories to cover right off the top, most notably Johnny Manziel’s dehydration. Or “dehydration.” Or so-called dehydration.
Or would-be dehydration. Or as-yet-debunked dehydration. Or allow me to express my skepticism through trite writerly device dehydration.
Just a kid sewing some oats? Or Ryan Leaf II?
Definitely Ryan Leaf II. I say there’s no use in wasting time. Throw the kid in prison now. Everyone knows college drinking eventually leads to serious substance abuse and robbery.
First, the story about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman winner, getting sent home from the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., on Saturday. It’s an NFL story, at least in part, because Manziel is likely to play one more season at Texas A&M, then declare for the NFL following his second season in college.
And because it’s July and sportswriters need something to spew sanctimony about. And because Aaron Hernandez having character issues in college can be used by said hacky sportswriters to justify concern trolling about anyone.
And it is because Peyton, Eli and Archie Manning run the camp, and they’re the first family of NFL quarterbacks.
And here I was envious of the British. For too long I’ve been jealous that only they get to waste time lavishing attention on a pointless figurehead royal family. Turns out America has had one all along. It’s the Mannings, the first family of QBmerica. Eli is the royal baby!
Understand the way the Manning camp works.
Only those of noble blood may attend. A simple pinprick is conducted at the gates to confirm this status.
Approximately 1,200 aspiring quarterbacks, grades eight through 12, go to Nicholls (La.) State University in Thibodaux, La., for a long weekend every July to be tutored by quarterback coaches, college quarterbacks and the Manning boys themselves. The campers arrive on Thursday, take the field Friday and Saturday, watch a throwing exhibition by the college and pro quarterbacks there Saturday night, then leave late Sunday morning. One of the draws is having some top quarterbacks come — and not just the Mannings. Kids are excited to be in the presence of quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel, who was assigned to one group of between 12 to 16 young passers.
A handful of kids didn’t get to see a college QB chuck a few practice throws. Their maturation process is forever stilted. Might as write them off as Ryan Leafs III-XV.
Manziel was spotted at a bar in Thibodaux early Friday morning, and he was late for one of the Friday coaching sessions. No one’s sure where he was Friday night, but he was a no-show for a two-hour session Saturday morning, and the staff had to cover for him. (Imagine you’re a high school sophomore, you’re excited about coming to the Manning camp, and, as if that’s not enough, you walk in for orientation Thursday night and hear, “Johnny Football’s going to be your counselor.” You’re all jacked up, and then you show up Saturday for a two-hour workout with Manziel … and he’s nowhere to be found. Not good.)
It’s not just their minor disappointment you have to consider but the suggestion planted in their impressionable minds. Ryan Leaf II was DRINKING. Before you know it, every aspiring quarterback is gonna think that’s something quarterbacks do. Could you imagine if kids thought [lists every quarterback except RGIII] got drunk in his free time? What a terrible misconception.
Confronted by the staff early Saturday afternoon, Manziel said he wasn’t feeling well and had to miss the Saturday session. Even if that were true, the staff wasn’t pleased that Manziel never called and left the coaches short-handed. It was then that someone — Archie, by some reports — told Manziel it would be best for everyone if he went home.
Home, 400 miles away in College Station, would seem to be a good place to get some rest Saturday night and recover from whatever ailed him. But two Twitter followers tweeted out information early Sunday morning that Manziel was at a bar in College Station, and one tweeted a photo of a white-t-shirted Manziel in a bar there. At 1:27 a.m.:
On Sunday, Manziel’s dad, Paul Manziel, texted Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News that Johnny was “resting and recuperating from dehydration.”
That’s quite a tale.
A LOFTY YARN TO SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE MANNING KINGDOM
So why does this matter?
If you have to rhetorically ask your readers this question, it really doesn’t matter that much.
Manziel is a tremendous multi-purpose talent as a quarterback. But his size (6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, approximately) and suspect arm strength will work against him when the NFL studies him. The Russell Wilson and Drew Brees examples will help convince teams that short guys can play, but Wilson and Brees are Eagle Scouts.
Damn straight. If you want to make it in this league, you’re gonna need to know how to tie knots and exclude the gays.
No team will ever have to worry about either off the field.
/pines for Russell Wilson to get arrested so PK regrets this line forever
Manziel’s already been arrested at Texas A&M once, for a 2012 altercation. He’s got a party-boy rep, deserved or not. When he’s studied by NFL teams, either next offseason or in 2015, they’ll dig in to all of this stuff. And the lack of responsibility — letting down the Manning family in being a no-show for a commitment coaching kids — is the kind of red flag every team will ask about.
Then take him in the first round anyway.
You remember how Ryan Leaf became such a shaky pick after Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft.
So shaky! Oh wait:
The overwhelming consensus: Manning may have the more recognizable name, but Leaf clearly is the preferred quarterback among league executives. Fourteen of the 20 polled said they would draft Leaf over Manning, citing the Washington State quarterback’s stronger arm, better mobility and more promising long-term prospect as a franchise-caliber player.
Leaf’s immaturity and drinking doomed his NFL career. It’s unfair to compare Manziel to Leaf — at least now.
At least, only after Peter King already did it twice.
But you have to understand NFL GMs and scouts. Things like this passing academy gaffe will stick in their minds, and they’ll wonder how much of an off-field chance they’d be taking with Manziel.
But you have to understand straw men: I can construct them to strengthen any position. These straw people are so fully realized I can make them wonder things in my mind. Peter King leads the league in straw man telepathy.
The lessons of Aaron Hernandez.
There are so many. But I’ll write about three of them.
1. You dupe Bob Kraft at your peril
2. When the cops are knocking, don’t answer the door shirtless
3. Bubblicious is the preferred gum of criminals
Since Scott Pioli left the organization in 2009, Belichick doesn’t have anyone to argue him off troubled players. Not that Pioli won all the time. “But,” someone with knowledge of the Patriots front office told me, “there’s no one there with Scott’s balls anymore. Bill needs someone to challenge him, and I don’t think he has that now.” Would Pioli have challenged Belichick on Hernandez, or on Alfonzo Dennard, the seventh-round corner who will have to leave camp in August to go to a probation trial in Nebraska and who last week was arrested for DUI? I don’t know, and there’s no guarantee those picks wouldn’t have been made anyway. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard the Pioli thing.
[Takes five minutes to break everything in his house]
Let’s reconstruct that paragraph with a few helpful edits:
“Since [MY FRIEND] Scott Pioli left the organization in 2009, Belichick doesn’t have anyone to argue him off troubled players. Not that [MY FRIEND] Pioli won all the time [HE MAYBE LOST ONCE, I DUNNO]. “But,” someone [PIOLI] with knowledge of the Patriots front office told me, “there’s no one there with Scott’s balls anymore [WE’RE TALKING HUGE HORSE BALLS HERE]. Bill needs someone to challenge him, and I don’t think he has that now.” Would [MY FRIEND] Pioli have challenged Belichick on Hernandez [BET YOUR ASS HE WOULD], or on Alfonzo Dennard [BET THAT ASS AGAIN], the seventh-round corner who will have to leave camp in August to go to a probation trial in Nebraska and who last week was arrested for DUI? I don’t know [BUT MY GUT IS LEANING YES-ISH], and there’s no guarantee those picks wouldn’t have been made anyway. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard the Pioli thing [HE TELLS IT TO ME NIGHTLY WHILE SPOONING].”
Belichick had better give the Urban Meyer guys a harder look in the future. He’s had either trouble of some kind or abject disappointment with Florida picks Hernandez, Chad Jackson, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes and Jeff Demps.
Lofty Tebow failure foreshadowing there, Petey.
Quote of the Week I
“Did you see who I was with?”
“NFL. Just so you know.”
— Text message exchange between Odin Lloyd (the first and third messages) and his sister (the second) on the night Lloyd was murdered. Chillingly, the last text was sent at 3:23 a.m., and Lloyd was killed with multiple shots to the head less than three minutes later.
GODDELL IS THE KILLER! GODDELL IS THE KILLER! READ BETWEEN THE LINES, SHEEPLE!
Quote of the Week III
“Opposing players would verbally abuse and berate that openly gay player. Plain and simple. It is not a politically correct world out on the gridiron. Quite the contrary. In fact, opposing teams’ players would go out of their way to take that openly gay player OUT. And I do mean with extra hard hits, illegal hits and head-to-head hits. No, not because of gay bashing but simply for the reason that the perceived meek or weak are preyed upon in the NFL.
— Chidi Ahanotu, former Tampa Bay defensive lineman, to Thomas Kaunzner, of SportsBlog.com.
Probably a good amount of truth to that. Also revealing how players would disguise gay-bashing with code words. “MEEK-ASS MOTHERFUCKERS. BET YOU LIKE IT IN THE ASS LIKE ALL THE OTHER MEEKS.”
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
Harry Kraft, the high school junior and son of Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, finished his third Manning Passing Academy camp Sunday in Thibodaux, La. He’s a quarterback for his suburban Boston high school, and those at the camp have noticed his steady improvement from year to year since Harry first attended as a rising frosh in July 2011.
“MANZIEL HAS DUPED A MEMBER OF THE KRAFT FAMILY! NEXT STOP IS MURDER. WE CAN ALL SEE IT! IS HE RYAN LEAF II OR IS RYAN LEAF A MANZIEL PROTO-TYPE?! That said, it’s probably premature to compare Manziel to Ryan Leaf.”
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Ten Favorite Things of My Summer Vacation:
Heeeeeeere we go.
1. Experiencing Vancouver with my family. Some of you — yes, you especially, Donny Brasco
Yup, that’s me, Don Banks, how you doin’?
have knocked me over the years for hyperbole.
Hyperbole means shittiness, right?
But I found Vancouver, on my first extended trip there, to be the most underrated city in North America. We rented a home for a few days (via Airbnb) in the Kitsilano Beach neighborhood, and the beach, restaurants and walking … just a lot of fun there. Strongly recommend Local Public Eatery. Strange name, great food and drink. You do it right, Vancouver.
Walkability. Restaurant with weird names. Throw in Peet’s and PK just might become a full-time resident.
2. Throwing a snowball off a glacier at 7,500 feet. Our biggest vaca extravagance: We took a helicopter to the top of Rainbow Mountain at Whistler, north of Vancouver and the place that hosted the ski events at the last Olympics. Amazing thing: It’s July 6, it’s 62 degrees up there, I’m wearing shorts, and we’re standing on eight feet of snow atop a glacier. My daughter Laura went sprinting on the glacier. Cool stuff. Now that’s something you don’t get to do every day.
No way, I can totally afford daily helicopter rides on blogger money. Just let me tongue bathe the anus of a couple GMs for a few years. You’ll see.
3. Catching a fish at Pike Place Market in Seattle. No. I mean, really catching a fish.
Was I supposed to have to interpreted that first sentence in any other way?
We bought a 12-pound Copper River salmon as a gift for some friends, and the guy there asked if I’d want to catch it as he threw it from where the fish were iced to where they got cut up for delivery. “Of course!” I said. So I went behind the counter and he threw the slippery guy, and I caught it, letting it thump off my hands and slide into my chest. Then I held it up triumphantly.
If I’m not mistaken, that’s the same stupid fish market they show during all Seattle home games. Of course PK is boasting about doing the most touristy bullshit he can find.
4. Boating on a lake north of Vancouver. When I killed the engine and we floated slowly past a group of 15 or so seals sunning on a rock in this big lake, I realized the value of flying across the continent. I can’t see sunning seals in the Central Park reservoir.
That’s the beauty of travel. When the vistas that surround your million dollar home in New York City just leave you feeling empty, you must venture out in search of other spoils to brag about to the readers of your football column.
5a. Just being with my family. Golly, it’s great to argue at the dinner table again! Kidding … kidding!
“I hate you all… ha ha! Kidding! Kidding! I hate myself for marrying you and spawning these leaches! Ha! Kidding! I still maintain that I couldn’t have produced children as horrible as you.”
5b. Just being. Doing nothing is fun.
Of course. There’s no more clear takeaway from any given MMQB column.
6. Walking across the Williamsburg Bridge, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and experiencing Brooklyn. Cool experience, just walking aimlessly through Williamsburg on a stormy Friday night, seeing a neighborhood I’d never seen.
Look who ventured into the wilds of BROOKLYN, which is now so white that Peter King will go there. Congrats, gentry.
7. Watching batting practice, and a ballgame, at Safeco Field. On a sunny late afternoon, walking from downtown to Safeco and settling into your seat at 5:45 for a 7:10 game with a cup of Manny’s Pale Ale on a perfectly beautiful cloudless night … that’s something you folks in Seattle simply have over the rest of the country. We just can’t compete. Splendid times six.
Remote times seven.
8. Four Sunday nights without MMQB responsibility. The column’s a labor of love, folks.
Fuck you. You make a handful of phone calls, you equivocate on four or five stories of the day then you prattle on about your vacation. That’s indulgence, not labor, shithead.
You know that.
But watching junk-food TV, reading Inferno by Dan Brown, napping in the chair or going to see a play (we did score seats to Lucky Guy one night, the play with Tom Hanks in it), and not obsessing about Aaron Hernandez or Matthew Stafford’s contract and thinking of an angle is a very good and relaxing thing.
I’d rather be shot in the face by Aaron Hernandez than read Dan Brown, but to each his own.
9. Reading every word about the death of James Gandolfini. Don’t know why it fascinated me so. It just did.
Because you’re one of the Kings of Montclair. Like him, a regular JERZEE BOY, doyyyyy.
10. Seeing the Red Sox sweep a waterlogged twinbill at Fenway Park over the Rays. That three-hour rain delay sure was fun.
It’s no paint drying, but sure. Whatever floats your boat so your boat can sit there while you stare at it and do nothing.
The train trip back and forth on the Acela is always good.
Except on the ride back, we had the displeasure of sitting across the aisle from two Manhattan realtors, husband and wife, who spoke at normal conversational volume for 3.5 solid hours into their iPhone 5 headsets and drove most of the rest of the car out of its mind.
OH SHIT! Quiet Car Disquieters! You know what you gotta do, Peter! Get that steno pad!
A sample — and I am not kidding you; I wrote this down, as close to word-for-word as I could, somewhere between New London and New Haven hugging the Connecticut coastline:
Jewelried woman: “I’m on a conference call right now. I don’t have time for this. I just don’t. What is the price?” …
Suited slim man: “I’m only saying their decisions are interfering with my lifestyle. Can’t you do something about it?”
Jewelried woman: “That doesn’t help me … That doesn’t help me.”
Suited slim man: “I may be totally off base but I’ve been meeting with a bunch of people …”
Jewelried woman: “Listen, listen, listen … Are you listening to me? I am about to lose my patience. If you don’t know anything, then why don’t I have a conversation with Spencer. He’ll know.”
Suited slim man: “Hold on, call waiting. JUST HOLD ON … Hello? … Yes, this is he … Not interested, but thanks … No. Nope … Yes, I am in that business but I don’t need — … Listen, I am going to hang up now … No, please listen carefully to me. I don’t want it, I don’t need it, and I am going to hang up right now but I do not want you to think I’m rude — … Bye. BYE! … JESUS! … Okay. Back. Sorry.
Conductor, mercifully: “NOW ARRIVING NEW HAVEN CONNECTICUT. ALL DOORS OPEN IN NEW HAVEN. WATCH YOUR STEP LEAVING THE TRAIN.”
Jewelried woman: “No one seems to know where the contract is …
Suited slim man: “Tuesday would be better, if it’s better for you … Doesn’t matter. Awesome … Thanks buddy. Really look forward to seeing you.
Jewelried woman: “Sorry, you still there? Connection’s not great. Sorry … I’m going to repeat: I am about to lose my patience. You don’t have the answers for me. You know what that property is worth, and I know what it is worth. You can’t BS me … So should I go through those files? Should I allocate those numbers elsewhere? … You think it’s not necessary …”
Suited slim man, thinking he can be heard through a bad connection if he screams: “On a TRAIN. YES. SORRY! … YOU GOT ME? YOU GOT ME?” …
Frustrated hangup. RINGGGGGGG.
Suited slim man: “Sorry, you know, the connection. I am ON A TRAIN!”
Jewelried woman: “Call you then, okay. Bye.”
Suited slim man: “We have to do a credit check. Yes, Brad has all that … No, it’s not your decision or my decision. It’s the government … I would love it. I would SO love it. You have no idea how much I’d love it … Oh, you do?”
Jewelried woman: “I got that in play. Correct … We’re moving forward in good faith.”
Not even to Bridgeport yet. How did we survive?
Once again, no one in the business is better at transcribing conversations between strangers than Peter King. He’s not the best for nothing.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the most over-covered event in the football media business is quarterback contract news. Now, Joe Flacco’s contract — that was a big deal. He played out his deal, turning down a sure $17 million a year last September, gambling on himself that he’d earn a deal as the highest-paid passer in the game, and did it. But all the rest of these deals? Matthew Stafford signing a three-year, $53 million extension when he already had three years left on his existing deal? To me, it’s a story only in its comparison to other deals for established quarterbacks. Why? Stafford’s not going anywhere. He’s just not.
PK has frequently said the most overcovered thing in the NFL is pre-draft hype, but I guess we have a new champion. I mean, truth be told, quarterback contracts aren’t vital to the nation like, say, an overheard conversation on Acela, but sometimes people have to occupy themselves with trifling nonsense.
2. I think we report on the money too much. Sometimes, as with Flacco, it’s a significant story. Other times, no one cares. The only time someone cares is when, as in the case of Wes Welker, it means he won’t return to play for the Patriots. That’s big. But whether a guy makes $3.6 million or $4.9 million only matters if it affects what happens to a team’s cap.
Because cap room isn’t important, you see. It’s just a number and numbers don’t matter unless they get in the way of star players getting the money they want.
4. I think when I read the 30 or so headlines over three or four days about Colin Kaepernick wearing a Dolphins cap, I thought: “The football media needs a longer vacation.”
Memo to Uproxx overlords: Hey guys. I’m off until September. Yup, good luck over the next six weeks. What’s that? Haha. Of course I’m serious. Guess you didn’t read Peter King’s column today. I’ll give you the gist: because he is exhausted by stories that he didn’t have to cover (even though he did write about it when he didn’t need to) he is giving the rest of football media more vacation. BECAUSE SOMETIMES JUST LIVING IS LOTSA FUN! Isn’t that nice of him? Anyway, if you need me, too bad. Kiss my ass. I’m out.
Is it a good idea to wear another NFL team’s cap? No — marginally.
Yes, with a no. And a but.
But it might be cause for the mildest rebuke in media history, not cause for long columns to be written.
Long columns are reserved for inane train conversation. This is First Grade Journology 101.
5. I think $10.5 million a year sounds about right for top-three left tackle Ryan Clady.
WE FOCUS TOO MUCH ON THE MONEY! WHO CARES, EXCEPT WHEN IT’S JOE FLACCO AND THIS ONE TACKLE!!!
7. I think I agree with Mike Florio on this one: I may not agree with Donovan McNabb saying the Matthew Stafford contract is a bad one, but I appreciate the fact that he has the stones to rip the establishment and to say Stafford hasn’t earned his new big dough — something too few former players and coaches do.
Hold the fuck up. Matt Stafford and the Lions are the establishment now? Since when are former players afraid to rip contract details? Are Florio and PK seeking a third for their torrid bouts of lovemaking and when is Donovan McNabb available.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
b. Isn’t the All-Star Break supposed to be the halfway point of the season?
Or reasonably close?
I guess. Then again, I don’t actually give a shit.
Boston’s season is three-fifths done: 97 down, 65 to play.
THIS SEASON IS NAWT SYMMETRICAL! IF BAWWSTON SUFFAHS A BREAKDOWN, THIS IS WHY!
c. It’ll be in the 90s Tuesday, with oppressive humidity, at Citi Field, as dusk falls before the All-Star Game. Not sure I’d want to be trying to dump a couple of upper-deck back-row seats on StubHub during the day Tuesday.
Let that be a lesson to the NFL. Do not schedule the Super Bowl in the upper deck of the MLB All-Star Game. Fans will bristle at being exposed to the harsh elements.
e. Congrats on getting married, Lindsay Jones. And at Red Rocks? Cool stuff. Marrying is a fun thing to do, isn’t it?
Just being is fun. Marrying is fun. Everything is fun except football things Peter King has to write about in this column,
f. I hope I’m wrong, for the sake of the fine people of Houston. But after being the most tangential NBA fan in America for the last couple of years, I would not want to hitch my wagon to Dwight Howard. Not for a third of what the Rockets paid him.
Peter King heard some bad stuff on the Twitters about Dwight Howard and he’s passing it along to you reader, who is apparently not exposed to other sports things ever.
h. Not a big golf watcher, truth be told. But I watched some over the break, and I really need to figure one thing out: What is it with screaming “GET IN THE HOOOOOLLLLE!!!!!” after every tee shot? It was cute when Bill Murray did it, dweebs. It’s dweebish when you do it on every tee shot.
i. If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, ask the annoyed-looking person next to you at the next PGA event you attend.
Once again, Peter ventured into watching a sport that isn’t the one he usually covers and now he wants to tell you all about this thing that people who regularly watch the sport know all about. FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK
l. Coffeenerdness: A week ago, I was walking near the big market in downtown Seattle, and I passed the original Starbucks. What a strange site. A long line in front, maybe 40 to 50 people, including one Japanese tour group with 15 or so people wearing headsets and the tour leader explaining into a microphone-headset why this historical building was so vitally important to Americana. (I guess. I don’t speak Japanese. But they all seemed to be having a good time.)
Haha, what a bunch of touristy dopes. OFF TO THE FISH MARKET!
m. Beernerdness: Five good ones from my vacation … 1: Manny’s Pale Ale (Georgetown Brewing, Seattle). Just one of my all-time faves. So flavorful. 2: Hoppyum IPA (Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, N.C.) Very pleasant surprise. 3: Driftwood American Pale Ale (Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, British Columbia). One of the best ales I’ve ever tasted — just the right bitterness. 4: Driftwood Farmhand Ale (Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, British Columbia). Spicy and incredibly different. 5: Monarch White (Two Brothers Brewing, Warrenville, Ill.). Another well-done witbier.
I’ve never had any of those beers, so I can’t speak to their quality. They might be good. In fact, I think I heard someone say Manny’s was actually pretty awesome. All I can say is I’m pleased Allagash was not mentioned once. That’s how low my bar is with Peter King. This is what my life has become. Don’t cry for me, I’m already dead.
n. Wish I could review the first episode of The Newsroom, but I didn’t quite finish this in time to watch last night. Next week I’ll have some thoughts … next week, when the next column is the first thing you’ll read on our new site, The MMQB.
It sucked, just like every other Newsroom episode. I actually watched it while reading this column. Because the pain is the only thing that makes me feel alive.
The Adieu Haiku
Getting nervous. Why?
The MMQB cometh.
New site. Next Monday.
Know what the site needs?
Big bad Scott Pioli balls
On every page