When last we left greatest nerdist in American beerdom, Peter King, he introduced a table of contents in his weekly column, so as to futilely assist readers to sift through the bloated, rambling mess that is MMQB. Peter explained that Chuck Pagano should be overwhelmed by the changes that have happened with the Colts roster, even though it’s roughly the same amount of overturn as any other NFL team. Finally, PK pronounced macchiatto the victor over the latte in the coffee sports league he commissions on the side.
But what about this week? We learn that Roger Goodell imposes his will on corporate partners with nothing more than a glance. This week also includes another valuable lesson in how easy it is to judge front office moves four years after the fact. That’s important. Now READ ON.
HOUSTON — Battle of the heavyweights here Sunday. When it was mostly first-teamers versus first-teamers through the first half, the score was the rejuvenated Saints (with some frisky new pups on defense) 17, Texans (minus J.J. Watt and Arian Foster) 16. If the Saints can play defense, they have a chance to play deep into January. If the Texans can get 16 games out of the idled Foster, they can win the Super Bowl.
Because Arian Foster’s health was apparently a factor in the Texans flaming out in the divisional round the last two years?
The bizarrely undrafted Arian Foster, of course, has been an incredibly productive back over the past three years, and one of the greatest values in recent NFL history.
And it is three years of incredible production that allow Peter King to smugly use the power of hindsight to proclaim it bizarre that no team drafted Arian Foster in 2009. “From the vantage point of him being one of the best backs in the league, it’s UBER WEIRD that no one picked him.”
He’s averaged 95 rushing yards a game in his three starting seasons in Houston, and without him, the ground-loving Texans would have to rely on Ben Tate, who they’re not sure can be a bell-cow type of back.
Ben Tate: not an elite cow. Middle of the herd bovine talent.
“I’m fine,’” said Foster. “My body feels great. I actually think all this time [off] might help.”
“Why?” I said.
“Is it because getting loaded at minor league baseball games boosts performance? Please tell me that’s true!”
“You ask any player: ‘How’d you enjoy the lockout season?’ Great time. You had a chance to train without [having to] practice every day. When you got back to training camp, everyone felt fresh. That’s exactly how I feel right now. Over the past couple of months, I had the chance to just train and rehab and work on my body and didn’t have all those carries in training camp. Even during camp, I got a long rest [because of the back injury]. It’s usually a grind. Now I feel fresh. I feel rejuvenated.”
Ah, good point. It’s not like players coming back from the lockout suffered a higher rate of serious Achilles injuries or anything.
And you can react better if you’re fresher, Foster thinks. Let the debate between old and new school begin. Don’t tell Mike Tomlin this; he thinks you have to toughen up your players in camp in order to play tough during the season. But all of you out there prepping for your drafts — you’ll have to ask yourself if you’ve got the third or fourth pick and are thinking seriously of Foster, “Do I feel lucky?”
As opposed to all other fantasy draft picks, into which luck plays no factor whatsoever.
My advice (which is usually worth a used dryer sheet): I’d pick Foster in the first half of your first round.
That’s the sort of insight that makes Peter King stand out from any old thrown-together fantasy football magazine for sale at the supermarket. Oh wait, that’s the same advice the magazine would give you.
I will say, however, that a Peter King endorsement is more likely to make me pass on Arian in the first.
Takeaways from a busy weekend:
The Eagles could run 1,200 plays.
Only if the refs let them.
On Saturday night in Jacksonville, the Eagles’ first unit, which played until midway through the third quarter, didn’t show anything stunning.
Which is actually kind of remarkable in itself, since Peter King is amazed by everything.
But they continued to play fast, without huddling.
For some reason, this makes me think back to the video of Sexman watching Super Bowl XLII and yelling at the Patriots to stop huddling on offense. That’s why Sexman was an NFL offensive visionary long before Chip Kelly. When is he getting his head coaching job?
Two impressive things about the Saints.
1. Sean Payton already seems so at ease telling his players to DO YOUR JOB in person.
2. The heroic intake of pork rind po boys by Rob Ryan.
One: their rookie class. Kenny Stills, the fifth-round receiver from Oklahoma, made a great catch against the Texans down the left sideline on a bomb, and first-round safety Kenny Vaccaro has fit in seamlessly and shows good instincts around the line; he made a good tackle on a run blitz. Another first-year player (technically not a rookie), wideout Andy Tanner, made a fingertip touchdown catch from ex-Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin. But I liked the two defensive linemen who shone Sunday: third-round tackle John Jenkins, who has some Wilfork-type moves for a 350-pound man, and undrafted free agent end Glenn Foster, who had a sack and a quarterback pressure. How is someone as athletic as Foster not drafted?
For a variety of reasons, probably. This week’s theme of “question all the league’s general managers and scouting departments because I saw a guy do an impressive thing in a preseason game” is more noxious than most.
This is just too easy.
The head coach of the Jets, Rex Ryan, committed career suicide Saturday night in New Jersey.
Really? Because I’m pretty sure he’s still employed. And even if/when he’s fired, Rex will still get work, albeit probably not as head coach.
On the 52nd play of a preseason game, with 11:21 left in the fourth quarter (a point of the game when no starting player plays in August), behind an offensive line full of backups, when his opening-day quarterback appeared to have no idea he was going to play, with undrafted free agents Joseph Collins from Weber State and Ryan Spadola from Lehigh running down passes, Ryan inserted Mark Sanchez into the game.
HOW COULD REX BE SO CARELESS WITH A SHITTY QUARTERBACK WHO COMES WITH A KILLER GUARANTEED CONTRACT AND THE DISDAIN OF ALL HIS TEAMMATES?
Honestly, Rex should be applauded for having the restraint to not suggest that Mark Sanchez take up base jumping during the off-season.
Players get hurt in the preseason all the time. But this injury was so nonsensical that it defies any reasonable explanation. Ryan certainly knew after watching Geno Smith stink it up for three quarters (three interceptions to go with a safety in which Smith ran out the back of the end zone, a la Dan Orlovsky) that Sanchez was going to win the quarterback competition between him and Smith. The fourth quarter of a preseason game is no place to strut his manly stuff and repeat the silly mantra, “We’re there to win.” Marginally, yes you are. Marginally.
And Mark Sanchez is a marginal quarterback who doesn’t need to be exempted from marginal duties on account of the fact that he sucks.
Now, assuming Sanchez is going to be out for a while, Ryan has invited his termination — which was likely anyway
So Rex knows he’s fucked and isn’t taking the precautions that a head coach who wants to keep his job would take. That’s fantastic. I hope the Jets go for it on every 4th down and Rex flips off everyone when he’s fired in Week 4.
by wasting a starting player and forcing Smith into the starting lineup before he’s ready. I spoke with a source close to the Jets’ coaching staff Sunday, and he said the atmosphere around the team was funereal Sunday.
I imagine “Funereal Sunday” will be a regular thing with the Jets this year.
The sad thing is, Ryan’s a good guy, a colorful character in a colorless league, and an imaginative defensive coach. But he signed his exit visa Saturday night. It’s all over but the 4-12 record. Next year, Ryan’s either going to be on a network set doing some pregame show, or coordinating some defense somewhere.
In other words… still in the league and employed? Gotcha.
The Adam Sandler movie star-turn? A souvenir of a time long past.
The man also got a team quarterbacked by shitpile Mark Sanchez to consecutive conference championship games. That’s a pretty impressive coaching feat on its own.
Imagine you’re a Jets PR or marketing person this morning — or, worse, a ticket-seller.
/imagines a job similar in misery to being stuck reading Peter King
Already you’ve got gobs of tickets to unload for this season. What do you sell this morning? Can the Jets do some ticket deal like six-for-the-price-of-one? Six: in honor of their needlessly fallen quarterback’s number, of course.
Oh yes, because if there’s anything Jets fans will rally behind, it’s an ad campaign invoking Mark Sanchez. If the Jets pushed tickets that had Rex on them saying “I hurt Nacho on purpose” they’d sell more.
Jacksonville’s optimistic about Blaine Gabbert being ready to play against Kansas City in the season opener, and maybe he can play 22 days after cracking a bone at the base of his thumb against the Jets last week. But I shook hands with Gabbert on the field before the game, and his right thumb is casted, with the cast due off, tentatively, four days before the opener.
And yet no shame for the Jaguars for putting their terrible quarterback in jeopardy by letting him put his throwing hand in the sweaty ham fists of Peter King?
This team’s definitely a year, or more, away.
No shit? And here everyone was saying the Jags are gonna contend this year.
I wonder if Justin Blackmon will be part of the 2014 Jags, and I asked Caldwell if he thought Blackmon would be a part of his team’s future. “That is our hope,” Caldwell said. Give the GM credit—he didn’t want to lie. I wouldn’t trust Blackmon after his track record of alcohol abuse. And to hear the Jaguars insiders talk glowingly about opening-day starters Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders — the Pedroia-sized Jag version of Tavon Austin
it’s clear that if they have to move on from Blackmon, the team will.
I have nothing to add to this line. I’m still annoyed about PK dropping Pedroia’s name again.
I know this makes too much sense, but my plaintive cry to Blackmon after three major alcohol incidents while driving in his 23-year-old life is this: Spend $40,000, or whatever it would take to hire a permanent driver. Stop driving. Just stop.
Discover the joys of walking, Justin Blackmon. Peter King is an apostle of Walkingology 101. You can be tanked off Allagash and nobody can hassle you about DUIs. Just make sure the police don’t catch hanging around shirtless outside Russell Wilson’s hotel.
The upshot of the NFL-ESPN tiff.
Earlier this month, talking to TV critics in Los Angeles, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer Dwayne Bray talked glowingly of the relationship between ESPN and the PBS investigative-journalism show, Frontline. ESPN partnered with this outside company, a rarity for a news organization with infinite resources such as ESPN, to work the story on concussions and head trauma in the NFL. That day, Bray told the TV critics: “We respect Frontline greatly. They respect us. And the NFL is going to have to understand that.”
/cut to shot of Roger Goodell doing arm curls in the gym. He looks up and says, “Oh, do I?”
Bray learned a hard lesson in the realities of the relationship between the NFL and Big TV on Thursday, a few days after Goodell, NFL Network president Steve Bornstein and two ESPN executives clashed over the reporting of the issue by ESPN and Frontline. The league believes the reporting of the story has been one-sided, showing team doctors often ignoring players’ best interests to return them to games when they weren’t physically fit to do so. The New York Times reported the lunch meeting “was combative” and the result was ESPN pulling out of the collaboration. “Disney folks [ESPN is owned by Disney] got involved and shut us down,” the newspaper quoted Bray as telling demoralized ESPN investigative staffers.
Since Disney now does own the rights to storm troopers, I really hope they use them for hostile stuff like this. Real waster otherwise.
I’m told Goodell did not explicitly tell ESPN to get out of the relationship with Frontline.
“No talking. One withering glance was all it took.”
But, one source told me, “The impression ESPN got was the NFL, one of its most important business partners, was furious because it felt the full story about the concussion story wasn’t being told.”
That impression cultivated by Roger Goodell growling and ripping apart a dummy marked “ESPN” with his teeth.
Did ESPN have to do anything? No.
“Sure, they didn’t have to. They could have had their headquarters vaporized by the atomic heat of Roger Goodell’s scorn. That was an option.”
Now that the news has broken that the league leaned hard on ESPN, the public has lashed back hard at the NFL for trying to curtail the network’s reporting—whether that’s exactly what happened or not. So the result is going to be that the two Frontline stories will have far bigger ratings now. Think about it. You’re a football fan.
I do enjoy that “being a football fan” is a hypothetical for Peter King’s readership.
“Okay! Am I Pedroia-sized?”
You see the headlines about the NFL reportedly pressuring ESPN to report the concussions story differently, or not at all. You had no idea before this happened that any such documentary was even in the works. But now, admit it: You’re now might actually watch this two-part show. I would have anyway, but now it’s an urgent watch.
“Because, you, dear football fan are normally too stupid to engage with high-brow fare on PBS, but now that we in the media elite have alerted you to its presence, you may very well stumble into viewing.”
It’s unrealistic to think that once the NFL was so strident about its objections to the reporting that ESPN, at a corporate level, wasn’t going to do something to smooth things over.
Wow, that’s a depressing sentence. I can’t say I argue with the logic of it. Just the accepted presumption that we should expect some sort of shitty response from the companies responsible for bringing the NFL to us.
Now the burn will be worse, because thousands more people will watch it. Tens of thousands, probably.
That’s it? Jesus, I’d think the NFL would be thrilled if only tens of thousands of viewers watch the documentary. That’s almost nothing to them.
Quotes of the Week
“I am not part of the media. That’s not my label, and I don’t want it to start now.”
—New media member Randy Moss, part of the media whether he likes it or not, to our Richard Deitsch in his Mediaville column. Media, media, media! You’re in it now, Randy. Moss has joined FOX Football Daily, an hour show on the new FOX Sports 1 channel.
This basically Peter King being one of the freaks at the dinner table yelling “One of us! One of us!”
Stat of the Week
The Seniors Committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame voted last week to nominate former punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey as its candidates for enshrinement in 2014. The Seniors Committee is a nine-man sub-committee of the 46-member Hall panel, and five of the nine gather in Canton each August along with two former players to discuss the most deserving veterans who may have been overlooked in their 15 years of eligibility after retiring. You may know I have not supported Guy in the past, but I look at the voting process this way: Something could happen in the room that Saturday to sway my opinion, some presentation by a committee member. So I have an open mind entering the process, which will play out the day before the Super Bowl next February.
Oh yes, Peter King will maintain an open mind throughout the process. How open? Well, that depends on whether you’re willing to buy him his own Peet’s franchise in New York.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
On the turf at Everbank Field Saturday, two roommates during their sophomore year at the University of Florida met.
Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman shook hands warmly with Jacksonville offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. Small world.
They both swear this story is true: One day, as these two non-football-playing Gators sat in their dorm room, they asked each other what they wanted to be when they grew up. Fisch said he wanted to be an NFL coach. Roseman said he wanted to be an NFL general manager.
Welcome back, Xerox of Fate. So nice of you to allow two Florida graduates to have a measure of success outside the field of meth production. Oh, and they have some minor personal history. How cute.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Flights Attendants Deserve a Raise, and a Big One, Dept.:
Delta to Jacksonville, Saturday morning. Front door closes. You know the drill. Cell phones off. Female flight attendant to me, firmly: “Sir, please power down your cell phone.” Which I did. Flight attendant to white-haired man in the seat behind me, “Sir, please power down your cell phone.”
The man, maybe 67, says, “I have it in airplane mode. It’s okay.”
Flight attendant: “Sir, it has to be powered off for takeoff. Completely off.”
The man raises his voice.
Oh good. It’s only been three weeks since Peter King transcribed a full conversation between strangers for his football column. I was beginning to worry that people stopped talking in his presence.
“My dog just died! I am trying to go down there for my dog! Just move on! It’s in airplane mode!”
Flight attendant, firmly but not angrily: “Sir, the phone has to be powered off. Everyone on the plane has to power off.”
The man turns into Dr. Evil, spewing about his dog dying of cirrhosis of the liver, and how can she do this to him, and the phone takes a long time to power off, and, well, he was spewing so fast I missed some of it. But lots of verbal bile spews.
/adds Verbal Bile Spews to his list of Peter King-inspired fantasy football names
“Sir,” she says, evenly, without a trace of anger, “I am going to have to go talk to the captain. We can’t take off if your phone is on.”
She walks toward the cabin, leans in, and says something to the captain.
“I am turning it off!” Dr. Evil says loudly up the aisle. “It takes a minute.” More bile to the poor flight attendant.
The phone is off, but he won’t shut up.
“You are an awful person,” Dr. Evil hisses.
“Sir,” she says firmly, “are you going to have a problem with me on this flight?”
No! The back-to-the-gate, throw-the-bum-off, lose-our-spot-in-line threat!
“No,” Dr. Evil says. “Just leave me alone! I can’t believe you!”
Where do these sub-humans come from?
And Ms. Flight Attendant, you deserve a medal for not punching the lout in the nose.
Dr. Evil there sounds pretty obnoxious, but Peter King probably shouldn’t be shaming people about whining about their dead dog too much when his column after The Tuck Rule Game was mostly about remembering the life of his recently deceased dog.
While I’m praising flight attendants, how about the line from this clever one on Southwest Sunday morning, as we taxied toward the runway for the Jacksonville-to-Houston flight: “Ladies and gentlemen, in the unlikely event your flight becomes a cruise … “
HAHAHA, WE’RE SO CLOSE TO DEATH, WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? Lofty flight attending.
Tweets of the Week
“Rashean Mathis signed with the Lions on Friday. 4 days later, he’s working with the first-team defense“
—@kmeinke, Kyle Meinke, Detroit Lions beat reporter for MLive Media Group in Michigan.
You want to know why it’s hard to buy in on The New And Improved Lions? Because of news like this. Every year since Jim Schwartz took over as coach of the Lions in 2009, the team has been trying to fix the secondary. Through the draft, through low-cost free agency. Through giving the Drayton Florences and Rashean Mathises (Mathis turns 33 tomorrow) starting gigs after they’ve been discarded by other corner-needy teams. Not being critical of those players as contributors to a team, but the Lions have consistently failed to upgrade a vital part of their team with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler the opposition passers for 25 percent of their schedule.
Sounds an awful lot like what New England has gone through in recent years trying to solidify its secondary. To be fair, the best opposing quarterback in their division is Ryan Tannehill.
“People who get to cut the security line at the airport because they showed up late should have to apologize to the rest of us.”
—@peteabe, Boston Globe Red Sox beat man Pete Abraham, tweeting live from the security line at San Francisco International Airport Thursday morning.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
PREACH, BROTHER ABRAHAM! Too long have the moochers been permitted to mooch without consequence. We should stick them all on a moocher plane and fire it into the sun, which a thing everyone should respect.
Ten Things I Think I Think
3. I think if E.J. Manuel can’t play in Week 1 against New England, I vote for Matt Leinart. Always thought he deserved one more shot.
Yesssss. Thanks, Peter. I knew you’d come through for me. It’s great that Matt Leinart has one apologist left and it’s Peter King. PK called Leinart the best signing of free agency last year when he went to the Raiders. Then Leinart proceeded to do nothing. I hope he does start Week 1. This’ll just add to the comedy.
UPDATE: Even better! The Bills are planning to start whatever a Jeff Tuel is in Week 1. A hilarious development, and PK still gets to be sad about Leinart.
Marrone: Plan now is for QB Jeff Tuel will start week 1 against the New England Patriots.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 26, 2013
4. I think the toughest thing about making my picks this year — you’ll see them in Sports Illustrated this week — is how I simply couldn’t find that worst-to-first team that happens every year. I just couldn’t find one. I hate the fact that my picks are mostly predictable, but this was just one of those preseasons. No stunners that I saw.
Just like with this year’s mock drafts, Peter King is making preemptive excuses that this season is just too dang hard to predict. After all, with Tony Romo and Russell Wilson around, there’s a lot of competition for who will lead the league in smiles.
7. I think I understand they’re still fairly new, and they’re relatively unknown from owner to GM to coach to the rank and file, but the Houston Texans are a model organization.
The NFL was smart to go into business with Bob McNair, who was smart to hire Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak and stick with them. From top to bottom, that’s a heck of a football, business and PR team McNair has built.
And I guess he gives good handies to members of the press too.
9. I think whoever designed those horrific new Jaguar helmets needs to go on vacation for a couple of weeks. Relax. Clear your head. Understand that America is fond of experimentation.
“For example, jazz and such. Don’t much care for it, but Springsteen has saxophones in his songs, so it’s gotta be okay.”
But anyone who looks at that black and tan thing and says, “Cool,” is the same kind of person who wouldn’t tell the emperor he was naked.
And they certainly wouldn’t be the kind of person to praise that naked emperor’s musculature and penis girth.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I doubt he’s an MMQB devotee, but Robert Mueller deserves our best wishes as he goes into retirement after 12 years leading the FBI. He took office a week before 9/11 (nice time to take the gig), and I appreciate everything he and his bureau have done in that time.
What a heartfelt tribute. Wonder what could have brought that on.
b. I realize that’s not exactly MMQB material, but I heard a great interview with Mueller on NPR the other day. He deserves our respect.
There we go. This Week’s Ten Things NPR/The New York Times Thinks For Me To Think.
d. Coffeenerdness: Thanks to the Bold Bean in Jacksonville for a great latte and and a better work environment. Love that place. Homey and welcoming, with local craft beers for the evening crowd.
Bold beans and bold flavors in the morning. Bold brews and bold broads in the evening. Peter King thinks he could drink about a thousand beers tonight, you guys.
e. Beernerdness: Saddest part of a late work night in Houston? Missing a St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower Ale. Greatest name in America beerdom, and a pretty good ale too.
Only the best name until we get a St. Arnold’s Verbal Bile Spew Ale.
f. Happy 30th birthday, Laura King! Many more! Like, 70 of them!
Happy birthday, Laura. Don’t ever breed.
g. All I know is, after the Jake Peavy performance Sunday night at Dodger Stadium—he threw a complete game against a good lineup—I want him to be on my team in pickup anything.
Especially pickup fisting.
h. Hey! pay attention to my Twitter feed this week.
You’ll have a chance to win a spot in my daughter Mary Beth’s fantasy football league up in Seattle.
I’m in it.
So there’s ninth place to battle for — with me.
Ninth? But you have such great tips like “make sure to draft Arian Foster unless you can get someone better.”
The Adieu Haiku
Rex Ryan. Hot seat.
Jon Gruden studies Geno
down there in Tampa.
“THIS GUY, Peter King
I call him The Septic Tank
Since he’s full of shit”