Peter King Introduces Us To Mensch of the Year, Alex ‘Embattled’ Smith

01.28.13 5 years ago 43 Comments

When last we left local quasi-man, Peter King, he was detailing his love of wunderkinds, a true rarity because society typically shuns people with vision and useful ideas. John Harbaugh told Peter that a Harbaugh Bowl was a triumph for the American Dream because his grandparents were immigrants. Previous to this year, all Super Bowl coaches were Native Americans. PK started bemoaning the sad state of minority coaching hires in the league before torpedoing his own point by carping that no team gave Mike Zimmer a head coaching position.

Over the weekend, The Onion poked fun at PK’s special brand of self-involved shittiness. Rest assured, we saw it and applaud their efforts. Peter tried to take the ribbing with good humor on Twitter, but you can tell he was shamed because there’s no travel griping in this week’s column. Thanks for the reprieve, fellow satirists.

But what about this week? You may be surprised to learn that there is tons of media at the Super Bowl. I know! SHOCKVILLE! Will anyone speak out about the dangers of Harbaugh horseplay? Let’s hope so. READ ON.

Ready to get beaten over the head with the Harbaughs, Ray Lewis past and present and a whole lot of players saying a whole lot of nothing?

Sure am! If reading MMQB has had any benefit for me, it’s that I can take an unlimited amount of people yammering forever and saying nothing.

Well, it’s Super Bowl week, and the bad news for you is that the one thing I noticed in my few hours in town Sunday before writing this is there’s more media than ever. TV especially.


I saw a Mardi Gras-style Dan Patrick/Artie Lange float in NBC-land.


I mean, Super Bowl Week has become the United States of Programming.

The Super Bowl is a massive shitshow of media overexposure? When did this happen? Did they not consult with the junket purists?

What Alex Smith must really be thinking.

Oh, did you think you knew what was going on in the mind of Alex Smith? Probably not, because you didn’t give a shit. But if you did give a shit, which you didn’t, PK is gonna set you straight, MMQB reader. Prepare to be astounded.

We’ve all seen it in the last two months: Alex Smith is the NFL’s MVM … Most Valuable Mensch.

He leads the league in mitzvah!

Look at his career path: First pick of the 2005 draft. Clearly over-drafted because the 49ers needed a quarterback so desperately.

Mmm. Yes. Hmm. Clearly. Anyone could have told you that.

From his pre-draft column in 2005:

All I know is I feel strongly that Utah quarterback Alex Smith will be the first pick in the draft. By someone. I’m not positive it’ll be the 49ers, though it probably will be. But mark my word: Alex Smith will be the first pick in this draft. If some team wants to pay the 49ers a ransom, it can probably have him, but I don’t see that happening for the athletic kid from San Diego. Whatever transpires at No. 1, though, I think teams will feverishly try to trade down to gain extra picks, particularly in the first two rounds.

Now for the interesting part of the first-pick derby. I’ve been convinced all along that no team would spend lavishly to move to the top of this draft for anyone. But during the last four or five days, Alex Smith-mania has broken out. The Bucs, maybe the Dolphins, maybe the Browns … a list of teams are interested in him. Interested enough to pull the trigger to pay the 49ers what they’d want for Smith? We shall see. My rather ample gut tells me Smith’s a Niner.

Yup, sounds like Peter King was calling him a reach all along. Though still not as shitty as PK using hindsight to fault the Bucs for drafting a guy in the first round who died a few years later.

Middle name through his first six seasons: “Embattled.”

Must be a Jewish name. Very Menschy.

Perhaps it can be changed to “Beleaguered” for his next six seasons.

Career rescued by Jim Harbaugh, though he constantly looked over his shoulder in the Harbaugh Era with the arrival of Colin Kaepernick and the specter of Peyton Manning. NFL’s top-rated passer (104.3) through 10 weeks. Completed 18 of 19 passes in his last full game, at Arizona. Took a week off due to a concussion suffered the next game against St. Louis. Lost his job in that one week off to Kaepernick, who never had started an NFL game. Kaepernick quarterbacked the Niners to the Super Bowl. Smith will watch. Smith will likely quarterback another team in 2013.

“It sucks, to put it frankly,” Smith told me the other day. “Tough pill to swallow.”

Well, I had thought Alex Smith would be totally cool with losing his starting job yet again, but this is blowing my mind. I’ll never trust my mind or previous interviews with similar quotes ever again. Thanks, Petey!

An honest admission from Smith. But that’s it.

Isn’t that what we want? Are you faulting him for not giving you theatrical bullshit? Players really can’t ever win with these assholes.

That’s all the negativity Smith has right now. Everything else is sunshine and light and “Go Niners!” He will be one of the go-to stories this week for the nation’s sports media, and I don’t expect him to bleed for them much more than he did for me.

Give it your best shot, media horde. If Peter King can’t get someone to emote, you got no prayer of making it happen. Unless you’re The New York Times. PK understands when people save their best quotes for The Gray Lady.

I don’t hate the HarBowl aspect of this week. It’s great. Will we all be sick of the hype in a few days? Yes. But the historical significance of two brothers meeting in the biggest single game on our sports calendar is great. You don’t have to read about the story, but if you do, here are the best nuggets I saw on the relationship between San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and his big brother, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, in the dead week:

Only the finest premium Harbs nuggets. You can try other sports media outlets, but they’re bound to be contaminated with filler, like Titus Young stories. This is unadulterated Harb nuggetry.

The brothers said they had not fought since they were about 25, but they used to fight so vigorously that their mother cried as she begged them to stop.

Their father, meanwhile, was prodding them with sticks and taking bets from neighbors.

“He’s an incredibly competitive person,” John Harbaugh said of his brother. “He will fight you for anything. That’s what made him a great player. What makes him the man he is. The gym teacher in fourth grade said he was too competitive, and he needs to ease off. My dad said ‘No, he doesn’t need to ease off.’

“You listen here, Coach Murphy. If my son wants to bite a hole through your pussy-ass school parachute, you just need to find yourself a stronger parachute. As for Curtis, if he didn’t want a broken arm, maybe he should stop sucking at dodgeball.”

Last year, John Harbaugh told an associate that the brothers had vacationed together recently. They were goofing off in the water and their horseplay — as it has since they were schoolboys — got a little heated.


Jim Harbaugh held his brother under the water, the Ravens’ public relations chief Kevin Byrne said, until bubbles started coming out of his nose. Then he finally let go of him.

If he didn’t, Ndamukong Suh was ready to intervene.

Jim didn’t have many friends growing up, and he wondered why.


“He was one of the world’s greatest daydreamers,” Jack Harbaugh, their father, once said of Jim. “He’d spend hours throwing a tennis ball against the back wall of the grocery store. When he got home we’d say, ‘Where have you been?’ and he’d say, ‘Doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. I pitched both ends. We won ’em both.’ “

Holy shit, Jim Harbaugh is a sociopath even for NFL head coaching standards.

First, kudos to CBS’ Jason La Canfora for breaking the story that the Jets may trade Revis instead of paying him an ungodly sum to stay and anchor their secondary. That’s good work by La Canfora.

I see Jason La Canfora is a member of PK’s Illustrious League of Kudos. Basically, it’s Florio and any other big-name reporter he wants to make sure credits him in case PK ever gets another scoop.

I am categorically, adamantly opposed to the Jets trading Revis.

I think.

In today’s game, quarterback is the most important position, followed in some order by pass rusher, cornerback and left tackle. Given that we’ve just seen the most passes thrown in any NFL season, I’d say corner or pass rusher is now the second-most important position to fill.

It used to be there was a three-way tie for second-most important position. Now it’s just a two-way tie. Learn more at

How good is Revis? I’ll let my friend Neil Hornsby of expound on that right after this section.

“I’ll let the person to whom I farm out football analysis tell you.”

If I were the Jets, I’d tell Revis he needs to show he’s back to Revis form in the first, say, half of the season. Then I’d lock him up for five years, at $17 million per, in a deal where the guaranteed money will counter-balance the fact that the Jets are in cap trouble right now.

If the Jets choose to shop him, I have a feeling Denver football operations czar John Elway will try hard to convince owner Pat Bowlen that Revis would be the missing piece to a championship team. The Broncos are $14.2 million under the cap this morning, but that doesn’t include the estimated $10 million they’d need to budget for free agent tackle Ryan Clady, who’s a must-keep. That could be lower, of course, with a long-term deal for Clady. And they could save money by reworking Peyton Manning’s $20 million cap number this year.

That’s cute. Pey-Pey ain’t taking no pay cuts.

The Tagliabue postscript.

Two telling pucks slipped by the goalie this week when Paul Tagliabue, the appeals officer in the Saints’ bounty case, had his say on the case with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and Sean Payton was reinstated by Roger Goodell as Saints coach.

Tagliabue explained to columnist Jeff Duncan that he issued his ruling vacating the four players’ suspensions because, as he said: “We were going to be litigating into 2013 and right into 2014. Rather than keeping the focus on getting the 32 teams, the 5,000 players, to focus on player safety, you’d spend half a decade in litigation. That wasn’t really going to help very much of anything. This thing became an impediment to progress.”

Tagliabue also made it clear that he believed the league’s investigation was valid when it returned findings of guilt on a play-for-performance scheme and, to a lesser degree, a bounty system with the intent of paying to injure opposing players. “There was the evidence — the slides and Power Points — clearly showing coaches encouraging players to reward each other and incentivize them for injuring players,” Tagliabue told Duncan. “There is no doubt that existed. Just look at the Power Point slides. Do we keep arguing about the facts? It was just the wrong culture being [fostered] by the coaches. It was clearly a violation of the league’s policy.”

So for those saying that Tagliabue’s ruling invalidated Goodell’s findings, that’s not true. For those who say Tagliabue thought Goodell was too heavy-handed, that is true. But the former commissioner made it clear he agreed the Saints had a bounty system run by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.


The envelope, please, on the top underclassmen in the draft.

I asked former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who was in the midst of finalizing the club’s preliminary draft board when fired early this month, to examine the record 73 underclass players who declared for the draft and pick the top 10, in his mind. His view of the junior board:

Oh hey, a scouting report from a terrible GM who is buddies with Peter King!

Quote of the Week I

“Holy crap, it’s Ray Lewis. I just blocked Ray Lewis.”

— San Francisco tackle Joe Staley, recalling Sunday night what he felt the first time he laid a block on Lewis in an NFL game.

“Wow, that was remarkably easier than I remember.” — Joe Staley, a week from now

Quote of the Week III

“Typing with your fingers is so … 2012.”

— Former Saints special teamer Steve Gleason, an ALS victim, who, like Baltimore executive and ALS victim O.J. Brigance, uses advanced sight-recognition software to type with his eyes.

Yeah, well try fapping with your eyes, you smug ALS people.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

I don’t know anything about Florida Gulf Coast University other than what I found on Wikipedia.

How has PK not been catfished yet?

It’s a 22-year-old college just south of Fort Myers. It also has a basketball team, and by comparative scores, I have discovered FGCU is a much better team than Duke and Syracuse, which were the Nos. 1 and 3 men’s college basketball teams in the country last week.

FGCU beat Miami by 12, and Miami beat Duke by 27. So if FGCU and Duke met, the Eagles would win by 39.

And Charlie Batch beat the Ravens, so if the Ravens win the Super Bowl, Charlie Batch is better than Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. Isn’t using the transitive property in sports fun!?

FGCU beat South Carolina-Upstate by one, South Carolina-Upstate beat Texas-San Antonio by 11, Texas-San Antonio beat Holy Cross by four, Holy Cross beat Columbia by nine, Columbia beat Villanova by 18, Villanova beat Syracuse by four. So if FGCU and Syracuse met, obviously the Eagles would beat the Orange by 47.

That’s called nonsensical fun in the dead week between the championship games and the Super Bowl.

That’s called fuck you in time between when you were born and when you die.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think Tony Dungy brought up an interesting point on NBC’s Football Night in America show Sunday night about minority coaches. He said he spoke with Steelers chairman Dan Rooney — author of the Rooney Rule, which mandates that every team with a head coaching opening interview at least one minority candidate — and Rooney told him teams needed to slow down. Agreed. What’s the hurry? Why the race? Pittsburgh had a deliberate process that resulted in the hiring of Mike Tomlin on Jan. 22, 2007, the day after the two conference title games. Look at the landscape now. The last of eight coaches hired this year, Bruce Arians, got the job three days before the championship games. That’s an anecdotal story, obviously, but Rooney’s point is that teams seem to be sprinting to get a coach named instead of making sure they’ve interviewed a wide spectrum of candidates.

Old Man Rooney is on to something, you guys. What’s the big rush? You should totally wait another five days so you don’t look hastier than the Steelers, because that matters for some reason. In fact, why even hire someone before the draft? That coach is just gonna try to tell you who to pick. That’s so pushy!

4. I think we’re not going to get much memorable out of the mouths of Jim Harbaugh or Colin Kaepernick this week, judging by what we heard Sunday night. But that’s OK. We judge coaches and players too much on who’s the most colorful anyway.

PK couldn’t get any choice nuggets out of these guys, so best of luck trying. The failure has made him reflective. Besides, it’s true, the media judges people too much on things that they always have and will continue to judge them on.

6. I think the Rachel Nichols-to-CNN story surprised me, and a lot of people in the business.

The League of Kudos was shocked!

But after speaking to her Saturday, I’m not so surprised.

“I was surprised, but then some time passed and I’m not as surprised. WEIRD.”

“Sometimes in life, you just want to take a new voyage,” she said. “Don’t you sometimes just want to do something different?”


At ESPN, Nichols was going to be a terrific reporter, both of short and long pieces (her story on Ray Lewis’ reconnection with his father was typically illuminating), but at CNN and Turner she’ll be able to anchor a sports interview show and become what CNN Sports has lacked — a go-to sports person the way Wolf Blitzer is for news — while being a sideline reporter for the basketball and baseball playoffs on Turner. As for the fear she’ll be seen by fewer people, well, she will be. For now. But the force of Nichols’ personality and her aggressive journalism will make us watch what she does. We’ll find her. “I think people are looking for deeper, analytical sports pieces,” she said, “and I want to do those for CNN.”

Also they’re giving her her own show and paying her a fuck ton of money.

8. I think Eric Grubman, the NFL’s vice president for business operations, has come up with a novel idea that may be the way of the future in the NFL. As Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported, the next wave of stadiums may be smaller, with standing-room-only clubs at the corners. When you go to stadiums now — I’m thinking of Pittsburgh and Dallas especially — you see lots of fans standing in the area beyond the end zones, with drinks, talking with friends, or walking around the stadium at open points where they can see the game from different vantage points.

Said Grubman, via Farmer: “What if a new stadium we built wasn’t 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room? But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field. Completely connected. And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone [Channel], and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home. Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content. What’s that ticket worth? What’s that environment feel like to a young person? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?”

Good talking point, particularly for people chafing more and more at personal seat licenses and the highway robbery of parking.

Good idea. Make attending a game like watching in a crammed bar then charge $500 a head. No way that goes wrong.

9. I think if Ed Reed becomes a free agent, he ought to last about 48 hours on the street … and as I said on NBC Sunday night, my money’s on the Patriots and the president of the Ed Reed Fan Club, Massachusetts Chapter, Bill Belichick.

It would be hobo paradise. A veritable Hooverville.

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

a. I missed The Debt in theaters a couple of years ago. Glad I caught it on DVR over the weekend. Heart-pounding.

Hopefully The Onion shames PK for talking about the shit on his DVR, because this is gonna get old in a hurry.

b. What an idiotic softie I am. Got all teary the other night watching the last 30 minutes of Parenthood.

Of course you did. That movie is emotion porn for middle-age white people.

c. One of my former softball players from Montclair, N.J., Tess Quinlan, is a student at Marquette, writes for, and checked in Saturday during the Marquette-Providence men’s basketball game. Game delayed three times because of a bat dive-bombing the court. Her report: “Originally, we thought a bird had flown out of the scoreboard with about 11 minutes left in the game, but after it soared over press row the second time it became clear that its wings were attached and it was a bat. Players on both teams immediately scattered, laughing at the situation. It was evident that everyone, from coaches to players to fans, were definitely scared of the bat, but found it amusing. As the ‘Batman’ theme song played, players started diving on the court like they were diving for loose balls, not trying to get away from a bat. It repeatedly flew right over the Marquette bench. Fans were attempting to knock it down by throwing coats up in the air. Once the bat disappeared for the first time, play resumed, but not for long. The second time the bat appeared, it almost collided with Providence player Sidiki Johhson, who dodged it impressively.

d. You go, Tess Quinlan!

Making an amusing and noteworthy incident all about somebody he knows is so PK it hurts. I mean, all PK things hurt, but especially this.

e. So Terry Francona came to the Barnes and Noble in my Manhattan neighborhood the other day to sign copies of the book he and Dan Shaughnessy wrote. I stopped by. Naïve me. I’d never met Francona, and, being a Sox partisan, I wanted to stop by and just say thanks for the two World Series titles. Silly me. Seventy-five minute wait. In Manhattan, no less. Well, thanks in spirit, Terry. And I’m sure I’ll enjoy the book.

A widely-known coach with a well-publicized book came to a store in a densely populated area and it drew a crowd? Next thing you’ll tell me there’s a media circus at the Super Bowl!

f. My knowledge of the NBA could fit in a thimble. But I love watching Rajon Rondo. So a little of me died with the Rondo ACL tear Friday. Sad injury. And the Celtics still beat the Heat.

What can we do to make the rest of you die?

h. Coffeenerdness: The recyclable cup is a great idea, Starbucks. Used it three times already. Holds up well.

WAY TO TAKE THE LEAD, STARBUCKS. I think this recycling thing might just catch on.

i. Beernerdness: Grew quite fond of the LA 31 Biere Pale Ale in New Orleans Sunday night. Dry and hoppy — and brewed in Kiln, Miss., home of you-know-who.

THE LAND BARON BECOMES THE BEER BARON. Better find him Homer’s hat.

j. Good to be in New Orleans and actually see a couple of the parades for Mardi Gras, which I’d never seen before. I just watched for a few minutes, but that was a first. And enjoyable.

He obviously missed the Goodell crawling out of a giant vag float.

The Adieu Haiku

The Niners arrive.
Saw Alex Smith at Drago’s.
Hope Staley paid tab.

Alex Smith got me beer!
You ask me, mensch of the year!
Middle name: Drunkville

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