A Scarlet O For “Overusing Scarlet Letters”

05.10.10 7 years ago 70 Comments

When last we checked in with gastric underpass dweller Peter King, he was doling out scarlet letters (like these!) to every transgressing player in the NFL, along with claiming he was done with the predictions about Brett Favre’s future while at the same time making a prediction about Brett Favre’s future.

This week, Peter opens with a breather from the negative nellies in the news business to bring us the fatherly exploits of Dreamboat. From there, we are taken to the ROADWAYS OF DEATH in New Hampshire. Finally, he blithers a few nonsensical and contradictory paragraphs about Brian Cushing’s failed drug test. Of course, he can’t close things out without giving out yet another scarlet letter.

And no, I’m not quite annoying enough to have written the whole post in this color. Onward!

The disgrace of two former New Jersey heroes and one from LSU headlined the week — and yes, I believe any award or postseason honor, including rookie of the year, should be stripped if a player tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, as apparently is the case with defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans. But I’m not leading with bad news.

Oh, if only more prominent journalistic outlets would follow PK’s example and supplant the downer “important” news with whatever feel-good pap they can throw together at a moment’s notice.

I’m leading with Tom Brady breaking his offseason silence to discuss his bi-coastal life, hopes for his team, a charity he is very bullish on and how much his world has spun in the past few years.

Finally, Tom Brady breaks the silence about the scandal that is his obscenely wonderful life! Will he address the splendor? The never-ending euphoria? How he deals with your envy?

“Life changes,” he said from California Saturday morning — at a very dad-like time of 8 a.m. Pacific — while watching his sons. “You’ve got to be able to change with it.”

“I was wealthy. Then I got a lil’ more wealthy. Then I fucked this actress. But then this supermodel showed up. And I was, like, man, I gotta sit down.”

He’s bi-coastal now, living part-time in the Boston area and in Los Angeles, and we don’t see him much other than through the prying eyes of the paparazzi.

Only when he is compelled to testify before Congress about the mysterious Iron Man Weapon.

But he surfaced Saturday to talk for a half-hour because he wanted to promote a passion of his — the 11th annual Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, a flag-football game (he’ll be quarterbacking) at Harvard on June 4 and a bike ride from Boston to Cape Cod the next day.

Yes, he “surfaced.”


His agent offered him up to you so that he could plug his charity event, which is something that pretty much every prominent NFL player has at some point in the off-season. And to show your gratitude for this “surfacing”, you led with two pages recounting how you lobbed softball after softball at him.

The Brady football headlines:

For these, we use the special font with the hearts above the i’s and the j’s. Instead of Q, we substitute a teddy bear.

• He will be back in Foxboro this morning to resume work in the Patriots’ offseason program. But he’s not been a regular in the program thus far. Brady used to win awards for his attendance and fervor in the offseason program, but he said he has spent two weeks in the program since it began in mid-March. File this under the “life changes” category.

That’s okay. I’d rather file it under the “things you’d use to crucify players who didn’t grant you an interview to plug their stupid charity” category.

The son he had with Bridget Moynahan, Jack, turns 3 in August. Benjamin Brady, his son with Bundchen, is 5 months old. Brady sounds like he’ll be as much of a full-time dad as he can be while shuttling between Los Angeles and Boston.

“For the last time, Consuela, I said part his hair this way. I WILL NOT HAVE UGLY CHILDREN!”

• He said he’s healthy and able to work out harder this offseason than last, when he was recovering from knee surgery and a subsequent staph infection to the knee.

“I’m finally healthy enough to parent!”

• His solution to the Patriots’ late-season slide, culminating in an embarrassing home playoff loss to Baltimore? “We’ve got to start listening more to coach [Bill] Belichick. We’ve got young kids who are good players. We’ve got the best football coach of all time. He’s got the answers. We as a team have to take the teaching and the coaching we’re being given.”


There’s the company line. Watch Brady toe it.

• He’s not down over the team not adding a significant running back or wide receiver (other than the aging Torry Holt and third-round pick Taylor Price) to a team that needs an offensive boost with Welker’s status in doubt. “I like [2009 injured draft pick] Brandon Tate a lot, and Julian Edelman was so effective for us last year, plus having [free-agent] David Patten back is going to help. The two tight ends we drafted [Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez], from what I hear, are really good players,” he said.

“I think they’re supposed to be all right. Guess we’ll find out when I meet them for the first time in Week 1 of the regular season.”

“Our fans think just because we’re wearing the same jerseys, we’re the same team. And we’re not,” Brady said.

“We’ve secretly replaced this consistently dominant football team capable of long marches into the playoffs with a couple unremarkable young players and a complacent quarterback. Let’s watch!”

“Teams change in this league every year, and ours is no exception. Last year was pretty disappointing in a lot of ways, obviously. Losing to Baltimore the way we lost in the playoffs, losing leads late, losing on the road. Every year is so different, and the way we approach this year will be extremely important. We need to see the toughness. We need to see the commitment. Can we take the coaching?”

“Brady drops back. He scans the field. He sees the toughness. But toughness is double covered. He tries to check down to commitment. Where’s the commitment? There it is! He sees the commitment. Tries to unload, but OH! He just a big dose of coaching off the left side. A quarterback simply cannot take coaching like that game in and game out.”

Brady will hear a lot of questions about his commitment, now that he’s spending so much time in Los Angeles. Hs goal in the offseason used to be to win the prized parking spot given to the most dedicated player in the offseason program. Now his family goals take precedence, and because his older son (he shares custody), lives in Los Angeles, he feels he has to be in southern California more. He made it clear he’s not going to give short-shrift to either of his sons, and if he has to work on his own for a good part of the offseason, away from his teammates, so be it.

Congratufuckinglations, Father of the Year Tom Brady. Now watch Randy Moss dog it for one snap when the team is up by three touchdowns in a Week 8 game and get savaged by PK.

“I’m not going to have the same relationship with the guys as if I was there every day,” he said. “I hope they can understand. I’ve seen it handled different ways by a lot of guys on the team in the past, including some of the real leaders. I’ve seen Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison when their family lives turned in different directions and they couldn’t be in the offseason program every day. Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: We’ve all got to be ready to play.”

Just then he said, “Hold on,” and said to his son Jack, “Want to go on the swing?”

“Guys, we gotta be ready. Wes, you ready to go on the swing? I KNOW YOU’RE FUCKING READY TO ON THE SWING! Patten, you and Randy got the teeter-totter, don’t you? YOU BETTER GET THAT SHIT! Now who’s ready for spinny thing that goes real fast and makes you either fall off or wanna vomit? AND NO SITTING IN THE MIDDLE! SITTING IN THE MIDDLE IS FOR GODDAMN PUSSIES! TRUE PATRIOTS SIT ON THE EDGE OF THE SPINNY THING!”

Time for one more topic: the Jets … the never-ending fortification of the Jets.

If you try to scale the outside of the Jets, they pour hot tar on you.

“They’re always a team that gives us problems, and they’ve sure made a lot of changes this offseason,” he said. “When your archrivals do as much as they’ve done, you’ve got to pay attention.

“I hear they got some good players.”

They went to the conference championship game, they’ve got a great defense, they can run the ball as well as anyone, and they’ve got a great young quarterback who can make a lot of plays. Our whole division’s improved. To win the division, we’ll really have to earn it this year.”

As opposed to pretty much every other year of the last decade when the rest of the AFC East was a laughingstock.

No matter how much Brady’s around this spring, I doubt we’ll look back next January and say, “Yup. Brady missing big chunks of the offseason program doomed the Patriots.” It’ll be the effectiveness of those around him that determines the Patriots season — and how good the team 190 miles to the southwest plays.

That’s some top-notch apologizing in advance, PK. You really get out in front with your slobbering.

Quote of the Week I

“I think what happened was in Tennessee they probably got a little too carried away with the Chris Johnson thing. The year before that we were 13-3 when I had 200 carries and we split the rock. Chris went to the Pro Bowl and we had the first-round bye, they did things different the next year and we struggled to make the playoffs. It is what it is.”
— LenDale White

From 2002 until about 2007, Avril Lavigne was one of the highest selling recording artists in the country. America grew tired of her pop-punk stylings, and the country was plunged into a deep recession. Obviously if we all started listening to Avril again, you’ll all get your foreclosed homes back. It’s logic, people!

Quote of the Week II

“To me, anyone’s got a chance to win the job right now. It’s not just lip service.”
— Buffalo coach Chan Gailey, on the three-headed starting quarterback competition between Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Seventh-round rookie Levi Brown from Troy has an outside shot to be competitive in the quarterback derby, but the competition is likely up to the three vets.

ANYONE! Even you, sitting on your work computer reading this blog. You wanna be the Bills quarterback? You have, at worst, a one in eight shot at making it happen.

Quote of the Week IV

“I’ve passed every drug test out there and still have. I’m not that kind of guy.”
— Cushing, during a press conference a year ago.

You are that kind of guy now.

Don’t be That Guy, guy.

One of the reasons I’ve never been an Alex Barron fan — only his accountant should be partisan to the former first-round tackle of the Rams who’s about to be dealt to Dallas — is his attention to detail, and his fervor to be great. It’s just not there. This illustrates it best: 43 false-start penalties in five seasons. Ridiculous.

Did you ever consider he might be a bi-coastal dad?

Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week

We hosted our nephew Adam, from England, and his girlfriend, Cristina, who lives in Spain, for the past week, and took them to see a few things in our region.

“Adam, I don’t know how you do things in Merry Old England, but in America, we take inordinate pleasure in our walks. It’s a truly restorative experience. Come, let’s have a good ol’ fashioned American walk. You too, Cristina. Then we’ll have one of those siestas so you won’t feel so homesick.”

We went to a minor-league baseball game in Manchester, N.H., the other night, in a lovely venue, MerchantsAuto.com Stadium, on the banks of the rushing Merrimack River

Not so fast, Merrimack River!

to see the New Hampshire Fisher Cats against the New Britain Rock Cats.

REER! Cat fight! Winner gets to take on the SWAT Kats.

(Couldn’t believe they sell Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat. Great selection.)

(It’s a pretty standard-issue wheat beer. Not exceptional or rare in any way. You’d be in the same boat if they had fucking Blue Moon.)

“Does every team in this league have to be some sort of cat?” Adam wondered.

No, I said; the Eastern League has the Curve (Altoona), Senators (Harrisburg) and even Flying Squirrels (Richmond), but this is not the league with the Lake Monsters (Burlington, Vt.).


So on the 52-mile drive from Boston to Manchester, we passed into New Hampshire and noticed a sign mandating seat-belt use for all car passengers 18 and younger. “Live Free or Die.” Adam thought that was a bit extreme. “It’s like ‘Live fast, die young.’ ”

Maybe Ufford was right about New Hampshire.

I wasn’t aware New Hampshire required seat-belt use for youths, but not for adults. So I googled the whole thing back home and discovered how adamant citizenry had been in fighting seat-belt laws. Turns out New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require residents to wear a seat belt, and it was the cause of some fiery local rhetoric last year when the legislature in the capital of Concord tried to pass such a law.

Yes, let’s explore the ins and outs of New Hampshire seat belt legislation. I honestly did feel like taking a detour into Doesntfuckingmatterville.

An editorial in the New Hampshire Union-Leader read: “If we passively accept Concord’s authority to fine us for not clicking our seat belts — no matter the circumstances — then we have accepted the general premise that the state not only can, but must bully us for our own good. There will be no stopping the flood of laws that will come, all to protect us from ourselves.”

Not taking one side or the other here, but I wonder how many drivers have lived free and died while not wearing a seat belt there.


Tweet of the Week

“Next career … analyst, studio, speaking, preaching, foundation? What do you think? Unretire … only kidding, not a chance!”
–@kurt13warner, former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner

I think Kurt Warner has a bright future as a Peter King Internet troll. Call us, Kurt.

Ten Things I Think I Think

And no matter how Cushing spins it in the wake of being suspended for four weeks for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance (Cushing denied to friend and workout pal Jay Glazer that what he tested positive for was a steroid), it doesn’t matter. He’ll have the scarlet letter on his chest for the rest of his career. It doesn’t go away.

He gets a scarlet S for “steroidery”

You might wanna go easy with the scarlet letters, Peter. The whole point in having them is that they stand out from all the other people who do not possess a giant red glyph on their chest. By handing them out to every player who slips up or is murmured about in a negative way, you dilute your own ability to chastise them effectively. You’re watering down the caffeinated brew of judgment!

Cushing admitting that he appealed the positive test in February makes it virtually certain that he derived benefit from whatever illegal substance he took during his rookie season. And if this suspension is the result of a positive test at any point during the 2009 season, I’m in favor of stripping him of the defensive rookie of the year award and giving it to second-place finisher Jairus Byrd of Buffalo. These are awards lorded over by the Associated Press, not the NFL, so this is not an NFL decision. I plan to have more on this in my Tuesday column.

One of our readers pointed us to this passage from January 2007 PK column:

THE MERRIMAN ISSUE. From Matt of Boston: “Your rationale for selecting Shawne Merriman for your All-Pro team is simply wrong. You say that you don’t take ‘off-field stuff’ into account, and fine — I don’t think you should. But steroid use is about Merriman’s body; that’s on-field stuff. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to leave him off your all-pro team for his drug violation, and I think you should have.”

Good point. In my opinion, if he’s on the field in football, I judge what he does on the field.

Scarlet C for “contradicting yourself”!

5. I think I got a kick out of watching the media make a big deal last week of the quote in this space on Brett Favre. The one of him telling a friend in the game after last season that he was 100 percent sure he wouldn’t put on the pads again. I realize anytime Favre says anything it’s going to be news. But I put the quote in the context it deserved — very low in this column, with the perspective that Favre has changed his mind so often in the past 26 months about playing or not playing that it’s not very important right now. All that matters is where Favre is in mid-August. Before that, we’re all guessing.

Uh, yeah. The media was mocking you, not the anonymous quote you used. Because within the same paragraph you claimed you were done speculating on the future of Favre, only to do it again in your usual quasi-legitish way.

7. I think one of the reasons San Francisco did right by rewarding Willis is he’s the perfect on-field representative of coach Mike Singletary.

Can’t say I watched every 49ers game last year, but I don’t recall Patrick Willis ever playing without pants.

9. I think I’m starting to get nervous. Next week is my column ranking the teams 1 to 32. I’m always so good at these things, like last year — when I picked the Saints 24th entering the season and wrote: “This defense is not going to be good enough to win eight games.” They had a nice little season, as you’ll recall.

Can’t wait!

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Dallas Braden. Who knew? (You too, Ubaldo Jimenez.)

b. Paul Konerko. Who figured?

c. Jonathan Broxton. Who kidnapped him?

Faisal Shahzad. But why?

Betty White. Search me.

Elena Kagan. Zuh?

d. This is what you’re getting for your $17 million a year out of Josh Beckett, Sox fans: In his past six starts against the Yankees and Rays, the two best teams in the American League East, Beckett has one win, a 6.75 ERA and has allowed 52 baserunners in 36 innings.


e. The AL East is not trending the Red Sox’s way. Boston has played Tampa Bay and the Yankees 10 times this year, all at Fenway Park, and won two. The Rays are 14-2 on the road. The Yankees are beat up and are 21-9. Not looking good for a competitive summer in New England.


g. Never figured the Red Wings would land with such a thud. San Jose must be really good.

Hey, Peter discovered hockey.

h. I must admit I’m rooting for a Pittsburgh-Boston Eastern Conference final now. It would be fun to see hot Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask try to stop Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

At least until Matt Cooke slices his throat with his skate.

i. After witnessing Rajon Rondo’s phenomenal game Sunday in Boston — the Celtics point guard led all players in points (28), rebounds (18) and assists (13) in his team’s series-evening win over the Cavaliers — I am reconsidering my distaste for the NBA. The smallest guy on the floor achieving that? Incredible.

The only thing preventing your enjoyment of the NBA is insufficient production from short people? If a midget league ever forms, we’ll never hear the end of it.

k. Coffeenerdness: Had one of those Dark Roast Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees the other day. Not bad at all. Suitably dark.


l. I’m in the market for a good movie. Got any good ones?

/searches Lofty section at Blockbuster

Here you go.

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