Peter King’s Cactus League Vacation Ruined By Awful, Awful Football

03.12.12 6 years ago 76 Comments

When we last left low-ego Allagash gash Peter King, he was tracking down soy baron Brett Favre to let his hero bitterly complain about how the Saints stole his last shot at glory. PK also wanted to let you know that the airport in Baton Rogue isn’t quite as jam-packed as JFK. He also vowed to keep his political opinions to himself while cheering on Rachel Maddow’s predictable haranguing of conservatives.

So what about this week? Was PK tragically distracted from what might have been a blissful weekend respite to Drunk Baseballville? Will he be encouraged that the Rams base their draft strategy on a book that paints the Patriots as infallible gods? Is PK inexplicably amazed that no one wants Donovan McNabb? READ ON.

Caught your breath yet?

Playful yet gripping lede from Petey. Asphyxiation from excitement, the football people have it.

I was in Phoenix over the weekend, trying to break away to watch three spring training games in paradise.

OH FUCK OFF. “What’s that? Big goings-on in the sport that I’m handsomely paid to cover? I’ll get them right after deep-throating a gallon of Shock Top and stealing a foul ball from a child.”

And I think the weirdest part of the weekend came shortly after I heard about the Rams-Redskins trade, which was about six hours after the news broke Friday night that Peyton Manning was headed to town Saturday on his free-agency tour. I pulled over to the side of a road to talk to an NFL team’s executive about the trade and was taking a couple of notes when I got a call-waiting signal. “Jets just announced a contract extension with Sanchez,” someone told me.

This has to have been the most eventful non-draft offseason weekend in recent NFL history.

WEIRD. Catch that subtle bitching from PK about the inconvenience of having to focus on football during his annual magic spring training excursion. “Great timing, most eventful recent non-draft weekend! Name five things more distracting to my fun. You can’t.”

The various happenings:

Just what the regular reader of PK needs: a rundown of huge NFL stories that have been everywhere.



with helicopters and reporters following him like the O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase, first in Miami and then in Denver and then, a little less insanely, in Phoenix.

A seldom heralded advantage for Arizona in the free agency wars: the local media’s use of less insane helicopters.

I thought I’d see Manning as a free-agent one day — maybe the same day I’d see him use a walker — and evidently I wasn’t the only one. “I still am trying to get my brain around the thought that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is a street free agent — and was in our building talking about playing for our team,” said one official of a team in the running this weekend.

That level of incredulity could only come from the Cardinals. “Wait, there’s a high-profile free agent and WANTS to play for us? Never would I think I’d see the day.”

Also note the first and only time Peyton Manning will be referred to as “street” anything.

Something happened for the first time in league history, apparently, in the trade of the second pick in the 2012 draft from the Rams to the Redskins for three first-rounders and a number two. (I say apparently because league PR people believe no draft choice has been traded for three first-round picks, and certainly not for three first-rounders and a second-round pick. But the league Sunday couldn’t say for sure, so I’ll say apparently it’s first time a pick got traded for such a haul.)

I’m assuming Sports Illustrated employs at least one researcher. Instead, of contacting them, PK is just gonna be an asshole and lean on the league’s PR flacks to do his magazine’s work for him.

The Patriots got three ones for Jim Plunkett in 1976, and the Rams got three ones for Eric Dickerson in 1987, but for a pick? File not found.

Does not searchpute. Either way, why is this a significant distinction? It’s not like there isn’t a player who we know that the ‘Skins are taking with that selection. It’s only a formality at this point that it’s not RGIII or possibly Luck. PK was just in the mood to engage in historical nuggetology.

As soon as the Jets knew they weren’t going to be in the Manning Sweepstakes, they announced a contract extension with Mark Sanchez. The deal, which at first appeared mystifyingly outrageous because he might be just another guy,

“Just another guy” might be the kindest appraisal of El Shitbox I’ve ever heard.

is actually a good deal for the team


— if you hold out much hope he’s going to be a franchise quarterback.

“Awesome deal if you’re a retard!” – PK Real Talk

The Colts cut half their roster. Sort of.

They cut six players! That’s, like, 6/53 = MAYBE QUASI-HALFISH

Much of the backbone of a team that averaged 12.5 wins a year from 2005 to 2010 has disappeared in the last five days: The wrecking ball taken to the passing game is like nothing in recent history. Manning, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark were told they wouldn’t be retained. Three more receivers — wideouts Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, and tight end Jacob Tamme — will leave in free agency, almost certainly. Think of the Colts’ opening-camp receiving corps in July 2010: The top two quarterbacks (including Curtis Painter) are now gone.


The top two tight ends, gone. Three of the top four wideouts (excepting Austin Collie), gone. And the defense? Captain and leader Gary Brackett, cut. As Adam Schefter reported Friday, Dwight Freeney is on the trading block. Andrew Luck has to be thinking, “What am I walking into? The ’76 Bucs?”

The modern reference would be the ’08 Lions.

And Sunday night in a hotel in Santa Clara, Calif., one of the best receivers of all time, Randy Moss, got some rest, preparing for a strange tryout with the 49ers this morning. Strange because Moss is trying to come back after not playing in 2011. Strange because the man throwing passes to him this morning won’t be Niner quarterback Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick. It’ll be coach Jim Harbaugh.

Whoa! Double-plus strange that a former quarterback would utilize his arm to get through a loophole in a stupid rule.

Free agency opens tomorrow. The NFL appears to be ready to hand down the biggest sanctions in Roger Goodell’s reign — over the Saints’ bounty scandal; he might suspend a Super Bowl-winning coach and defensive coordinator. And there’s a quarterback named Matt Flynn out there who threw for six touchdowns in the last game of the season — more than Starr, Favre or Rodgers ever did in a game –and you can have him to run your offense.

“Why oh why does this – ugh – football stuff have to be happening when all I want is an uninterrupted week with my precious Cactus League? Someone from the Red Sox owes me an apology!”

Opening weekend 2012 is exactly six months away. But isn’t this action more non-stop than the regular season?

Non-stoppiness, 2012 offseason, you have it!

So now Manning is back at his Miami Beach apartment, by all indications, full of information and who knows what else from his time with the Broncos and Cardinals.

Elway’s seed? Tebow’s guilt? Fitty’s vacation memories?

The one thing he has to be thinking of is the advantage of an AFC team over an NFC team. He knows the AFC better, naturally, having played in it for his 13 active seasons. He knows it’s an easier path to the Super Bowl in the AFC than the NFC. He knows the AFC West is a division there to be had.

Notice one thing conspicuously absent from this column: any actual quotes from Peyton Manning. And Peter spent the weekend in the same town that Pey-Pey was visiting. Whereas a diligent reporter would have, I don’t know, talked to him or something, Petey is fine with telling us what he thinks Peyton thinks. I think.

We’d be naïve to think he hasn’t thought to himself: What’s the clearest path to the Super Bowl in the next two years?

We’d be irresponsible not to haphazardly guess what’s on Peyton Manning’s mind.

If I’m him, I think of three teams when it comes to competitive opportunity: Houston, Denver and Kansas City. I don’t think Houston’s interested. The Texans have been in the top 10 in the NFL in scoring in each of the last three seasons, and even if Manning led them to 75 more points than Matt Schaub or Matt Leinart could in 2012, would that put the team over the top? Not to say the Texans couldn’t change their minds and get involved this week. But if they don’t, that leaves the AFC West.

I like that the assumption is that Peyton automatically isn’t totally fucked by his neck injury and adds almost another five points per game to the Texans’ scoring average. “Could be obviously better put them over the top? Only if they realize it can.”

I am surprised he views Denver clearly better than the Chiefs, which apparently he does.

The weakness of the Peyton-Peter mind-meld is clearly troubling him.

Kansas City has better backs, if Jamaal Charles returns whole this year, and comparable if not better receivers. The Chiefs had a better defense last year, by three points and 24 yards allowed per game.


The pros and cons of the two teams leading the pack:

DENVER: Remember the skepticism of John Elway being the football majordomo of an NFL team? Well, the Broncos wouldn’t be the favorite in this without Elway. Manning likes him a lot, and they meshed well Friday

And here I was led to believe that Jeff Fisher led the league in meshiness.

Brandon Stokley’s a factor here. Manning once told me Stokley was the best slot receiver he’d ever seen — and he’s also one of Manning’s best friends, and he lives in Denver. Stokley caught 139 passes from Manning in four seasons as a Colt. He’s a free agent, and though he may want to play in 2012, he may be finished too; he turns 36 in June. Manning turns 36 this month. Stokley was part of the Denver welcoming committee when Manning came to town, and it didn’t hurt …

Never underestimate a team that can sell you with O.G. Welker. If one busted old white receiver isn’t enough, they’ll dig up the remains of Ed McCaffrey.

ARIZONA: Eleven games in a dome this year — and the eight home games are on grass, not artificial turf. For a quarterback like Manning, who loves playing when weather’s not a factor (what quarterback doesn’t?), that’s a big edge. Arizona’s home field has a retractable roof, but it’s likely the team would keep it closed as a nod to Manning, even on lovely days

Since the dawn of time, Peyton Manning has yearned to destroy the sun. Once, PK cautioned us to respect the sun. Now the sun respects Pey-Pey.

Lots of athletes live in greater Phoenix and say the locals don’t bother them, which would appeal to Manning

“Even all the Mexicans?”

Miami? Stephen Ross would throw whatever millions at Manning he had to, but as one club official from an interested team told me Sunday: “It’s pretty apparent he’s making this decision on football factors far more than money.”

Except the part where he prefers the Broncos to a team better equipped to win.

Keep one very important thing in mind: Manning may be open to considering other teams. Don’t think it’s going to come down to Denver and Arizona only. You get the feeling watching Manning that he’s an open book and may take today and re-evaluate, and consider another team or two. This is a fluid situation.

Ah, yes, gleaning intentions from player’s mannerisms is much more helpful than actually talking to them and asking clear question. Thanks, reporter-type person.

Now about Manning’s physical condition. He didn’t take his agent, Tom Condon, with him on his weekend trips. He wanted the trip to be all football, to see where he’d best fit. No one’s talking about his physical condition now, but in due time they’ll have to.

Maybe after they sign him. Maybe not until the preseason. Maybe not at all. Y’know, no big rush or anything.

But I don’t think Manning needs a great arm to kill you.

BAHAHAHA. Behold Pennington Manning and the noodle arm of death! He’ll kill you with his anal traits and that alone!

For a 2009 story on Manning’s great season for SI, I phoned Qadry Ismail, who played one season for the Colts, in 2002. He told me about a ball that traveled 17 yards in the air, in the first game he ever played with Manning. The point here is, even if Manning’s arm isn’t the same as it was — and there is no indication that by opening day he will be diminished in arm strength — he’ll still be dangerous. Ismail’s story, which he called a “CIA, burn-after-reading secret” from the Colts playbook in the 2002 opener at Jacksonville:

When Manning gave Ismail a shoveling motion or said the words “Crane! Crane!” Ismail would run a dig route — a curl in which the receiver goes downfield a certain distance, plants his foot suddenly and turns to face the quarterback. Having seen the signal a couple of times early in the game, Jacksonville corner Jason Craft then taunted Ismail. “I know what y’all are doing!” Craft hollered. “Every time he gives that [shoveling] signal, you run that little in route!” Ismail could have said, “Are you seriously challenging Peyton Manning?” Instead he told the cornerback he didn’t know what he was talking about, then told Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore on the sideline, “He’s bragging like he knows what we’re doing. He’s going to jump that route!”

Manning filed the information and talked with Moore about using it later in the game. Sure enough, with the ball at the Jaguars’ 12 in the third quarter, Manning told Ismail that “Crane!” would be a dummy call, and instead of the dig he should run a hitch-and-go (basically a dig, stop and sprint back upfield into the end zone). “I made a living off double moves,” says Ismail, “and that was the easiest one I ever ran. Peyton gave me the crane sign at the line. I pushed upfield five yards and stuck my foot in the ground as hard as I could. The DB made a beeline to that five-yard spot and looked for the ball, but I just ran into the end zone, all alone. What a simple TD.”

So as long as a dipshit cornerback tips his hand to the offense about what he’s looking for, then proceeds to bite hard on a fake everytime, there’s no stopping Peyton.

I regret not taking more time here to talk about the Colts’ split with Manning. Few people in sports history have made the mark Manning has in Indiana. He donated money for the construction of a children’s hospital. Scores of Indianans named children after the beloved Manning. He gave away millions through his foundation to charities in Indiana, Tennessee and New Orleans, three places he’s put down roots.

PK regrets not sucking Lil’ Fetushead a little harder. Had he, King might actually have gotten a quote or two out of Peyton. That is, if he could get dragged away from stupid-ass March baseball.

He doesn’t have long to play. A year, two, three, maybe four at the outside. You get the feeling he knows if he only has a season or two, he wants to be somewhere that gives him the best chance right away to get to the Super Bowl. That said, I wouldn’t expect a decision by Manning before Wednesday.

“I think Peyton’s neck won’t be an outstanding issue and he will be able shape an otherwise marginal team into a contender from Day One. Still, the team will have to have certain conditions in place to satisfy Manning and give him a chance to succeed. That said, I have nothing of value to add.”

Manning scheduling note of the day:

Denver, Arizona and Miami all play at New England in 2012, with the dates yet to be announced.

Manning just can’t get away from Belichick and Brady, can he?

Unless he signs with another team, which he easily could if he gave much of a shit about playing against the Patriots in the regular season, which he obviously doesn’t. Also, will Peyton get to play in St. Louis? THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN ROBBED OF A DREAMBOAT APPEARANCE. DON’T TAKE PEYTON, TOO!

The Griffin Deal I: The biggest deal for a pick — we think — ever.

And let’s compare this trade to two other very big ones of recent years: the Saints’ trade of eight draft choices to Washington so they could draft Ricky Williams in 1999, and the Giants’ move with San Diego to pick Eli Manning in the 2004 draft. I’ll also tell you how much each trade returned in value, according to the well-worn draft-trade value chart — even though that chart has to change now because very high picks are paid much less since the approval of the 2011 CBA, including a rookie wage scale.

Guhhhhhh. I reiterate – the chart needs to change because IT IS FUCKING WORTHLESS. STOP BRINGING IT UP!

Amazing thing about this deal is rookie GM Les Snead, according to one Rams operative, “never looked at the trade value chart.

BECAUSE IT’S A USELESS PIECE OF SHIT!!! DO YOU FUCKING SEE!? It’s like talking about a murder investigation and being amazed that the lead detective didn’t use a Phrenology chart.

Snead was honest with the two teams most involved, Washington and Cleveland, and the third (Miami) on the periphery. He told them they were going to make a deal by the close of business Thursday, and they needed to make their best offer. According to one of the teams involved, Washington made an offer beyond what St. Louis ever thought it’d get — three first-round picks and a second-rounder. Cleveland offered something less, thought to be three ones. (It’s unknown what Miami’s best offer was, though the Dolphins wanted Manning, and so never got to the level of the Redskins.)

One of our commenters pointed out this contradiction from PK’s Friday story about the trade:

Fifth paragraph:

When the Rams started this process a couple of weeks ago, their hope was that some team would give them three first-round picks for the second overall pick.

Three paragraphs later:

The deal is a coup for rookie GM Les Snead of the Rams. The haul is beyond what he could have hoped for.

Jeeeeeeeesus. And don’t try to tell me an additional second-rounder on top of that constitutes a coup. I know my PK coupology.

The Griffin Deal II: How War Room helped.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff read the 2011 book about Belichick and his two former personnel aides, Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff, who struck out on their own in Kansas City and Atlanta, respectively. He gave the book to owner Stan Kroenke, who found many lessons in it for the construction of the Rams. The biggest one: stockpile draft choices so you can control drafts.

A practice that hasn’t really done the Patriots a world of good in recent years.

And the 2012 Rams were in perfect position when they earned the second pick in the April draft and they already had a quarterback of the future — they think — on the roster in Sam Bradford.

When you have a starting quarterback who throws six touchdown passes in 10 starts, you know you’re set.

There were other lessons in the book. Be bold, as Dimitroff was when he dealt multiple picks to move up in the first round last April to draft Julio Jones. Have the long term in mind, always.

Make stupid trades, but only if you’re thinking big picture while doing it.

So when the Rams went about the job of interviewing candidates for head coach and GM, Kroenke wanted two things. He wanted a coach who would be experienced and stable and would be comfortable making decisions that would impact 2015 as much as 2012. Jeff Fisher was his George Karl, a veteran coach with perspective.

Who then hired Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. Makes sense. They might let him back in the league by 2015.

He wanted a GM, preferably, who had roots in the Patriot way.

GUUHHHHHHH. From a review of “War Room” from the Boston Globe:

On the other hand, Holley often comes across as a booster rather than a detached journalist. Belichick, Dimitroff, and Pioli all are portrayed as princely men who possess sharp minds, warm hearts, enviable work habits, and strong family values. A public relations firm could not write more glowingly. The “Spygate’’ cheating incident is soft-pedaled. Holley states that Belichick and the team were fined heavily and lost a number one draft pick when they were caught videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets in 2007. But then he glosses over the incident by declaring that the Patriots were not the first to cheat, and Jets head coach Eric Mangini (another Belichick disciple) regretted escalating the incident to the NFL commissioner’s office. Additionally, the criticism over Spygate proved ultimately advantageous by motivating the Pats to an undefeated regular season.

Awesome Patriots fluffing resource to use as a basis for building your franchise. No surprise that PK swears by it. The Rams have already fucked this up.

The Griffin Deal III: If Washington couldn’t get Manning, they could get The Man.

Now about the volume Washington traded for Griffin. And the volume that Cleveland didn’t. You get the feeling Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen looked at their quarterback situation, wretched, and did what they had to do to get one of the best quarterbacks to come out of the draft in a while.

Stop your retching and overspend!

Cleveland looked at Colt McCoy and liked him without really loving him, and made a very strong offer to get Griffin. Just not strong enough. It’s hard to kill GM Tom Heckert

Gotta use the silver bullets, Clevelanders.

but the only thing that matters is whether you get the trade done or you don’t. Cleveland didn’t. The Browns might be proven right in the long run, but for now, their fans feel like they’ll never get a franchise quarterback … and may not even get a Brian Sipe.

Or a Tim Couch.

Quote of the Week III

“The Baltimore Colts are releasing Peyton Manning.”

— NBC anchor Brian Williams, on the network’s Super Tuesday coverage last week.

On-air gaffes, Brian Williams has them. Hopefully he shot a chummy e-mail to Nick Denton bitching about how Gawker would probably be all over his flub.

Quote of the Week IV

“Did I personally want [Brett] Favre INJURED? Absolutely and categorically NO! Did I feel like we, the Saints, had a better chance of being in the Super Bowl with Favre on the sideline? Of course. Would the Patriots and their fans have probably been excited to see Eli [Manning] on the bench with his foot up whispering that he was done? Would players on the sideline have made comments to that effect? Right or wrong, I’m guessing yes. Probably every Saints fan, player and coach got an adrenaline rush when thinking Minnesota might be in trouble. I said what many people were probably thinking, though maybe I said it in a way that sounded a bit too excited. I do regret saying it, though.”

— Former Saints defensive end defensive end Anthony Hargrove, now with Seattle, in a statement to’s Don Banks. After a high-low hit by the Saints sent a hobbled Favre to the sidelines in the NFC Championship Game two years ago, Hargrove was overheard on the Saints bench exclaiming, “Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!”

Peter would like the Red Sox to apologize from Anthony Hargrove’s crass and unfeeling behavior. If he gets anything less than a year suspension, expect Petey’s next column to be a 5,000-word martyring of Saint Brittfar and his stolen Super Bowl.

Quote of the Week V

“If I’m hurt against the Saints the last couple of years, I’m suing the Saints.”

— Former NFL quarterback Steve Young, now an ESPN analyst, in a network roundtable discussing the Saints bounty story.

Steve Young clearly missed his true calling as a shitty personal injury lawyer.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played the storied Apollo Theater in Manhattan Friday night, with Tom Coughlin in attendance.


Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I had a terrific time in Arizona over the weekend, watching three ballgames at three fairly new ballparks — Goodyear Ballpark (home of the Reds and Indians) in Goodyear, 25 minutes west of Phoenix; Camelback Ranch (home of the White Sox and Dodgers) in Glendale, not far from the Cardinals stadium; and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies), about a half-hour northeast of downtown.

/gives trace elements of a fuck

Spring training is so much different than it was 15 years ago. The size of these new stadiums is amazing. I bet the Salt River Fields complex — not even including the minor-league and practice fields — is the size of Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City. A huge place. The food is another amazing thing. At the Camelback stadium, I had soba noodles with eight kinds of vegetables right out of a huge wok. At the Goodyear park, I had a chicken taco — a damn good one. At Salt River Fields there’s a martini bar, four kinds of Leinenkugel beer from Wisconsin, a strawberry kabob covered in chocolate and a taco bar.

Ooh, Leinenkugel, another of those obscurely omnipresent regional beers, like Allagash, that they sell everywhere and nowhere all that once.

The tickets seemed like cover charges for the food and drink.

As they should, because spring training baseball is even more boring than regular baseball. You have to be tanked for that shit.

Two other points about Salt River Fields. The game Saturday night was sold out; we had to pay $25 apiece to a scalper for $8 outfield-grass tickets. And driving out of there, we passed a cautionary yellow road sign that read, “WILD HORSES.”

All in all, even with the stream of Rams-Redskins trade news and Peyton-related news on a weekend I’d love to have gotten away from it all, it was a fun time in a different world of baseball.

BITCH BITCH BITCH. I’m sorry seismic developments in the world of superior sports kept you away from one of the half dozen vacations your overpaid fat ass takes every year.

Apropos of Nothing MMQB Quiz of the Week

While in the Valley of the Sun, my brother-in-law Bob and I had a late lunch Saturday with a major-league pitcher. I’ll give you eight clues who it was.


Blog Post of the Week

From resident Hoosier Angie Six’s blog post about what Peyton Manning meant to a person who, formerly, never liked football:

“I love Peyton because he understands how Hoosiers tick. You show up, you work hard, you don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. You don’t brag or trash-talk. You do things the right way, the quiet way and believe that one day you’ll be respected for it. That’s the Midwestern way. I love Peyton because he can laugh at himself. I love Peyton because he’s a perfectionist. I love Peyton because he orchestrated some of the most thrilling football I’ve ever seen. I love Peyton because he led us to a Super Bowl and gave us humble Hoosiers a chance to call ourselves champions. I love Peyton for all the good he does in our community. But most of all, I love Peyton because he turned me into a fan of the game.”

I hate everything single fucking thing about that paragraph. You’d be hard-pressed to distill a more noxious block of writing. I’d sooner read hate pamphlets pressing for the development of a pill to cure black people before I’d read that again. I want to tear apart that paragraph and mail shredded pieces to the family of each word.

Tweet of the Week II

“With 38 mill in dead money in 2012, Colts have about 82 mill to build roster. And Freeney counts 19 mill (23 pct). Adios #93”

— @mchappell51, Colts beat man Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, figuring that with all the roster cuts of the team in the past few days, Dwight Freeney (No. 93) is almost certainly gone in trade.

BUT WHAT DID FREENEY MEAN TO INDIANAPOLIS EXCEPT BEING THEIR BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER!? It’s not like that defense is what carried them through the ’06 playoffs or anything.

Tweet of the Week III

“So NY Daily News says Jets have tried to trade Wayne Hunter. For what? Two slices of pizza?”

— @PriscoCBS, NFL columnist Pete Prisco.

Make it two and a piece of crust and PK says it’ll be more than they ever dreamed of getting.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think I have no idea what it means when New Orleans quarterback and union executive board member Drew Brees, in a statement about the Saints’ bounty program the NFL says took place, says: “I did not participate in any bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence.”

First of all, no offensive player is alleged by the NFL to have taken part in the bounty thing. Secondly: What is the “real” existence of something? Does that mean you knew something about it vaguely, or have some knowledge but not full knowledge of the inner workings of the program, or that you knew nothing of it at all?

PK ranting about imprecise language is practically trolling.

2. I think the news that the NFL is on the verge of making a decision in the Saints case is a sign that Roger Goodell was fairly sure what he wanted to do when he announced the findings of the league’s investigation 10 days ago. It’s likely he’s conferred with some owners on the sanctions, and with NFLPA czar De Smith, and just wanted to have some time to mull over what will surely be the biggest disciplinary case of his six years in office. Actually, it’s likely to be the biggest disciplinary case he’ll ever adjudicate.

Until it comes out that the other 31 teams have engaged in bounty systems to varying degrees.

3. I think Josh Morgan is going to make some team very, very happy in free agency — and I hear the Niners are making a late push to keep him off the market. They should. Before he missed the final 11 games of 2011 with an October ankle fracture, Morgan had a chance to be a star in Jim Harbaugh’s offense.

Some team is going to be thrilled to have the most average receiver in the NFL.

5. I think one of the oddest things about this free-agency season is how Donovan McNabb’s stock has plummeted to the point where you don’t even hear of him.

“You mean a completely spent shell of a quarterback isn’t drawing any interest when Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning are available in free agency and the top top picks in the draft are potential franchise QBs? How can this be?”

In other news, PK can’t believe this house is still on the market:

6. I think I think, on some journalism notes, some major congrats are in order. Kudos to Chris Mortensen for being out front on so many things Peyton Manning … and to Jay Glazer for breaking the Robert Griffin III trade story Friday night … and to Adam Schefter for reporting the Colts are trying to trade Dwight Freeney … and to Mike Klis of the Denver Post for a chock-full Sunday evening update on the Manning chase, including that Manning turned down the chance to visit Seattle and Kansas City, both of whom were very interested in him … and to Mike Wise of the Washington Post for some very good writing on deadline in his trade analysis column Friday night/Saturday morning, and what the deal means to Washington and to coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen. Because if you got the Post’s final edition Saturday morning in the District, you got to read this line from Wise: “His initials might as well stand for Riverboat Gambler, because that’s what he represents to Shanahan.”

Good job, people who don’t waste potentially productive time getting drunk at goddamn Cactus League games.

7. I think there’s been some confusion on the compensation the Redskins paid the Rams for the second pick in the draft, at least according to the Twitter world. Dozens of you, and some emailers too, have said, Wait a minute. The Redskins didn’t trade three first-round picks and a two for Robert Griffin III. They traded two firsts, then swapped positions with this year’s first-rounders with the Rams. In a way, it’s all semantics. But it’s much more accurate, and truthful, to say Washington traded four picks for one pick. If we described it as three picks for Griffin and a swap of ones this year, that diminishes the importance of this little swap of picks this year.

I actually agree with PK here. That’s an annoying argument.

In the NFL today, trading up from six to two in the first round cannot be dismissed as simply “swapping spots” as though it’s a minor part of the deal. On the draft trade value chart, which all teams use (though its importance has been lessened because the cost of high picks is so much more affordable now with the new rookie wage scale), the difference between the sixth and second overall picks is 1,000 points, the equivalent of the 16th overall pick in the draft.


8. I think I’m glad for Griffin’s sake that he is a man who plays well under pressure — and seems to thrive on it. Washington will be full of that pressure. I’ll never forget in 1988, when, while at Newsday, I interviewed for a job covering the Redskins for the Washington Post. Before I left, I got to spend a few minutes with the esteemed executive editor of the paper, Ben Bradlee, and I was more nervous with the man who oversaw the Watergate investigation at the Post than I’d ever been for any interview with an athlete. “This beat,” he said to me, “is as important at our paper as the Supreme Court to many people.” Whoa. I ended up not taking the job, but I’ll always remember that. If the pressure is like that for the person who covers the team, imagine what it’s like for the man who quarterbacks it.

It’s funny because usually old-school journalists like to pretend that their coverage is dictated by what truly matters and not what the lowest common denominator wants to read about.

And… surprise: Washington isn’t like Boston or New York, where football is the second or third sports concern in the market. They truly, bizarrely and kind of sadly, love the Redskins.

a. Way to go, Ohio Bobcats. Congratulations on winning the MAC — and congrats to you, D.J. Cooper (have you been in Athens forever, or is it just my imagination?) for your 23-point night in the MAC win over those Akron Zips.

/picks against Ohio in every bracket

c. Favorite upcoming NCAA matchup: Harvard versus Vanderbilt, in Albuquerque, in Harvard’s first NCAA Tournament game in 66 years.

I swear, the only thing I hate about March Madness is that the Ivy League get an automatic bid, so we have to listen to sports writers (WHO DIDN’T EVEN GO TO ONE OF THEIR SCHOOLS) openly root for the Ivy champ to succeed. WHY? WHAT POSSIBLE JOY COULD GAIN FROM SEEING THOSE SHITHEADS WIN!?

d. (No Really My) Favorite upcoming NCAA matchup: Ohio U. versus Michigan, in Nashville. All you Buckeyes (and I’m talking to you, Albert Breer and Rich Eisen) who think Ohio State and Michigan in November is The Game, well, this tilt Friday night obviously dwarfs the other one. Watch out for D.J. Cooper, Wolverines. When the junior guard was a freshman, he had 23 in OU’s 97-83 upset of Georgetown. What could Eisen, Mr. Michigan, and I bet on this game? Tweet me your ideas @SI_PeterKing. You too, Rich.

Has to be Ed Reed’s gloves.

h. Look at you, you St. Louis Blues. Leading the NHL with 97 points. One loss all season, in 16 games, to teams from the Eastern Conference. Great job.

Look at you, random NHL factoid I saw blip by on SportsCenter.

Look at you, Rex Ryan, hopping on the bandwagon.

k. Coffeenerdness: I underrate Illy espresso. Consistently, when I have it at a good coffee shop, as I did with a triple latte Sunday morning in Phoenix, Illy never disappoints. Intense taste. No bitterness.

As a consistent espresso, we underrate Illy. We should have written more about how it built that children’s hospital in Indianapolis and taught us how to love the game. It’s our biggest regret.

l. Beernerdness: In two of the three Arizona ballparks we visited over the weekend, Pyramid Hefeweizen was served — on tap at the White Sox park and by the bottle at Cleveland’s park. It’s a relatively mild but distinctive unfiltered wheat beer, easy to drink and perfect for a sunny day at the park. I should do a commercial for it.

Beer commercials are the ideally suited insipid medium for Peter. I actually do hope this happens.

“Men, drinking the right beer is important-ish to “real” manhood, whatever Drew Brees means by that. I think. I don’t always drink beer, except for all the time and on the job, but when I do, it had better have some goddamn citus-y wheat flavor.

Anyway, drink Pyramid. IT’S WEIRD.”

m. Great tweet from my buddy Jon Heyman about the 2012 Red Sox: Two things I learned at red sox camp the other day: bobby valentine likes adela, and he really likes alfredo aceves.”

Adele’s too into fried chicken.

n. I mean, Adele’s OK. But Aceves, now there’s greatness.

Great tweet. Lofty tweet. A pitch perfect repellent Red Sox nugget to close out all this bothersome football news.

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