Peter King Says Forget Everything You Think You Know About 5-11ville

07.30.12 6 years ago 74 Comments

When last we left pine-fresh hophead, Peter King, he was proudly hoarding pieces of gravel from a Nazi concentration camp because those are the kind of treasured keepsakes any normal person would be overjoyed to have. He gave us 6,000 words out of a 40-year-old speech from Paul Brown about how it’s okay if you’re a Catholic or a Communist, you could play for him if you were quiet about it. PK also shared a cab with somebody and it was life-changing. MAYBE.

What about this week? Why have the Saints cut ties with PK? Is it because he’s awful? It should be because he’s awful. But there might another reason. Only one way to find out. READ ON.

RENTON, Wash. — I’ll get to the upstart Cardinal


the recharged Chargers, Drew Brees tsk-tsk-ing the commissioner, what Peyton Manning hates

Human contact, obviously.

and the third-round pick who leads all rookies in charisma.

That may sound like just another meaningless and unverifiable Peter King bromide, but it’s not. Each year at the combine, PK gets speed dating sessions with the entire field of NFL prospects. Peter sits them down at an intimate corner table and fires off a series of unremarkable details from his day. A woman lugging groceries. WEIRD. Two cars of the same color stopped a traffic light. DOUBLE WEIRD. Players generally react with annoyed silence, but some humor him with forced smiles. It is these that lead the league in charisma. And prove themselves amenable to the spirit-crushing regiments commonly favored by NFL head coaches.

I know what you want. You want football. You want to see what I’ve seen.

Bitch about what I bitch about. Decide the things I can’t decide, which is everything.

Sign of the Week: In San Diego GM A.J. Smith’s office is this gem in a frame, from Winston Churchill: “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” Question is, Is Smith’s Charger book on the last chapter?

It’s true. History tends to be written by people who are dumbstruck by the news that signing Kyle Boller didn’t work out favorably.

Fantasy Tips of the Week (which you should take with a shaker of salt)

Filled with the entire contents of a salt mine.

Watch the Marshawn Lynch discipline case (still too early to call; he might get off with an NFL fine even if found guilty of DUI), and if he gets an unpaid vacation, pick up rookie fourth-rounder Robert Turbin, a between-the-tackles runner from Utah State … In Denver, Eric Decker over Demaryius Thomas … In San Diego, Eddie Royal over Robert Meacham … Jimmy Graham, if healthy, will have the best tight end stats in football … Wouldn’t be surprised if, after Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinal with the best receiving numbers will be Rob Housler. Get to know him. Tight end. Ken Whisenhunt loves him.

The Decker nugget is the only thing in there even remotely useful, and that’s supposing you want to trust PK, which you probably shouldn’t. Otherwise, thanks for heads-up on who will be the Chargers’ no. 2 receiver, that Jimmy Graham is good and the guy getting Fitty’s runoff in that robust Arizona passing attack.

Idiot of the Week: Me


for thinking that driving from Flagstaff, Ariz., to San Diego was a good idea. Seven hours and one scary pitch-dark encounter with a feral cat in a Gila Bend McDonald’s parking lot later (don’t ask; I will only further embarrass myself), a dusty rental car pulled into the Chargers parking lot.

Holy shit, we have to sift through page upon page of deadening vacation observations like “HEY THIS VENICE PLACE HAS CANALS, YOU CAN’T EVEN DRIVE YOUR CAR ON ‘EM” but we get radio silence on a feral cat attack at a McDonald’s? I hope that cat clawed your urethra.

This just in: Airplanes have been invented.


Why You Have to Go to Training Camp and Not Just Sit Behind a Desk:

“What’s that? YOU don’t have a publication footing the bill for your month-long trek around the country to visit NFL training camps? Too busy rotting away at your sedentary, mind-numbing desk job? You have clearly chosen poorly, most of America.”

Wednesday: Arizona (Flagstaff, Ariz., Northern Arizona University)

How the first day of camp can lift an entire organization.

If you blinked, you missed it.

Not PK, though. He is able to shut off his body’s autonomic system for the purpose of obtaining nuggets. His eyes may crust over with debris, but they are trained on their target.

Or if you were gazing at the imposing San Francisco Peaks just north of the practice field in this lovely college town, you could have missed it too.

Or if you were licking the end of a battery. Or if you were reciting the security code of your credit card over the phone to a Chinese takeout. Or if you were reading the IMDB page of Devon Sawa. Or if you were doing one of potentially infinite things, you might have missed it.

Ryan Williams, who’d provided so much hope for the Cardinals’ running game last summer before rupturing his patella tendon in a preseason game, took a handoff up the middle in the first practice of the summer. Then the second-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech in 2011 did something he hadn’t done in 49 weeks: He juked one defender left while planting and cutting right, then did the exact opposite — juke right, cut left. The crowd oooohed. “Go Li’l Sweetness!” someone yelled, because that’s what Williams likes to be called.

A running back made a couple cuts in a practice run and a fan got excited. FRANCHISE ELEVATION ACHIEVED.

Thursday: San Diego (San Diego, Chargers’ practice facility)

Sometimes, I’ve seen the roll-the-eyes treatment from Charger players when they hear something blunt GM A.J. Smith says that they disagree with.

Sometimes, it’s the dismissive handwanks. Really a rich array of contemptuous gestures for the Lord of No Rings.

So I’m in Smith’s office before heading out to interview some players after a morning walkthrough, and he’s talking about the differences in the 2012 team from previous ones. And he goes further than I thought he would, talking about the Chargers’ 17-15, playoff-less existence over the past two seasons.

“We have lost our respect in the league and our credibility in the league,” he says. “We were an elite team. You miss one year in the playoffs? OK. You miss two? You deserve everything that’s being said about you.”

“You deserve for people to SAY you should be fired. But you should not actually be fired.”

I thought it was strong. Very strong.

Herculean show of defeat.

This is probably the first time since 2006, when the Chargers were coming off a third-place finish in the division, that San Diego hasn’t been locked into preseason Super Bowl contention.

By who? What slurptard actually thought the Chargers were a potential Super Bowl team last year? Oh yeah, Peter King did.

Friday: New Orleans (Metairie, La., Saints’ training facility)

If you think the mayhem around the Saints is going to send them to 5-11ville, you’re nuts.

Get yourself a map, buddy. See 10-6opolis? THAT’S where you need to be.

Too much talent. Too good a triggerman. You’ve all heard about the huge, glaring Sean Payton banner with “DO YOUR JOB” hanging over the Saints’ indoor practice field. Interesting enough. I watched them doing it Friday, led by Brees.

On NFL players’ attitudes to Goodell: Brees got quiet and thought for a moment, then said: “Nobody trusts him. Nobody trusts him. I’m not talking about a DUI, or using a gun in a strip club, which are pretty clear violations. I think there’re too many times where the league has come to its decision in a case before calling a guy in, and the interview is just a façade. I think now if a guy has to come in to talk to Roger, he’ll be very hesitant because he’ll think the conclusion has already been reached.”

Reasonable stance.

I’ve heard this. I get it.

Wait for it…

But I can’t see why players would go mute, if they’d been suspended and have the right to appeal, and they hadn’t had their sides heard to their satisfaction. In a system where Goodell, through collective bargaining, has retained the long-held ability to hear appeals in discipline cases, why cede a chance to present evidence you believe will help cut down the sentence? Maybe the Vilma Four will win in a New Orleans courtroom. But why not use every avenue you have, not just the litigious one?

Brees just explained that players face a kangaroo court situation where, even if they bother to visit NFL headquarters, their appeal will be summarily rejected because Goodell and the rest of the league brass have already predetermined how they will rule on any given case. PK’s argument is, essentially, just because it’s a waste of your time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway. Which is kind of how I approach this column every week.

Saturday: Denver (Englewood, Colo., Broncos training facility)

Peyton Manning has six weeks to feel better.

Manning can hear what people are saying about him and read what writers are writing about him. Peyton’s back to normal. Look at him throw. Look at his command of the Denver offense. He’s back.

“I hate it,” Manning said.

Because he’s not. He’s not all the way back.

Peyton Manning: Quasi-back-esque-ish.

Manning doesn’t feel like he’s near 100 percent yet. It’s not his neck, which has undergone four procedures in the past two years, including the major surgery 11 months ago that caused him to miss the 2011 season. It’s simply the regeneration of the nerve that affects his arm strength, particularly the area around the shoulder.

It’s not his neck. It’s just the nerves ATTACHED to his neck.

He’s throwing the ball fine, and by that I mean if you watch a complete practice, you don’t find yourself wondering why Manning is babying his throws, because he’s not. He’s just not ripping them. He’s as accurate as ever, and it may be that this will carry him in 2012. As one former coach of Manning’s told me over the weekend (not Tony Dungy), “If I were a Denver fan, I wouldn’t be worried about Peyton physically, because if he can’t zing the ball the way he used to, he’ll figure out a way. He always does.”

He’ll devise a series of tunnels to get the ball UNDERNEATH the defense. They’ll never see it coming. True Manning strategic mastery.

(It’s strange how we’ve already fast-forwarded past the weirdness of seeing Manning wearing another uniform, another helmet. After practice Saturday, he signed a load of autographs, a few of them for people wearing Manning Colts jerseys. To one such guy, Manning said, “Colts fan or Broncos fan?” The guy said, “I’m a fan of yours.”

We knew they were coming. As with Favre, we’ve got the truly bizarre and loathsome legion of people who will follow Pey-Pey to the ends of the earth, down whatever hole of suck he desires. Fetustards!

Then he got to work, and it was just football, only with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever out on the field, with another all-time great, John Elway, the man who brought Manning here, watching in shades and shorts on the sideline. It’s going to take some getting used to.)

It’s strange how we just fast-forwardness through the weirdness of Peyton in a Broncos uniform straight to the weirdness of Peyton working with John Elway. Where’s the weirdness remote? We need to be adjusted to Peyton playing in high elevation by October.

At his camp for college players this summer, he and brother Eli demonstrated the NFL route tree for the campers, all good throwers and some of them good prospects. When he got to a deep sideline throw, instead of patting the ball a couple extra times and letting a 65-yard bomb go, he threw it a little earlier, and it was on target, but not as far. Meanwhile a college player bombed away right after him, throwing the same route 15 or 20 yards farther. Manning wasn’t offended. His ego wasn’t punctured. It’s just the way it is. And that could be an accurate metaphor for the 2012 Broncos.

I think the way it is might not be as electric, but I think it’s going to be good enough for Denver to get its $18 million worth.

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos on their signing of Chad Pennington.

Sunday: Seattle (Renton, Wash., Seahawks training facility)

It’s hard not to be impressed with rookie Seattle QB Russell Wilson.

Especially when you’re astounded by literally everything.

Matt Flynn, Tavaris Jackson, Wilson one day. Jackson, Wilson, Flynn another. Wilson, Flynn, Jackson the next. This is a strange training camp. Most teams know their starting quarterback this morning. A few are having double-barreled competition for the job. But only one of 32, the iconoclastic Seahawks, has three men — pricey free agent Flynn, incumbent Jackson and the 75th pick in April’s draft, Wilson — competing for the most important job on the field. “We know we’re sacrificing something by doing this,” coach Pete Carroll told me, “but we think the competition is worth it.”

“This foolish, likely unproductive thing we’re doing will totally pay off. Not in the traditional success-type sense, but more in terms of the process of self-actualizing. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Top Ten Training Camp Sites

Did Buzzfeed hire Peter?

People envy NFL writers at this time of year because we get to see teams at camp with less of a filter than during the season. It’s also fun to see teams go back to their roots at some of the college campuses they use. Here are my favorite training camp sites among the teams that go away from home.

“Here are the things you should envy about my annual expensed trip around the country.”

1. Steelers (Latrobe, Pa.) Why do I love thee, Latrobe? Let me count the ways:

1. Pittsburghishness
2. Quasi-Pittsburghishness
3. Memories of Rolling Rocks gone by.
4. Burp.

1. Rolling hills of Laurel Highlands make the place look a little Scottish, and occasional morning fog adds to it. 2. I once saw Joe Greene, alone, smoking an evening cigar at dusk while overlooking Chuck Noll Field. 3. I once saw the Bill Cowher Steelers practicing on a dry field with no fans, with a huge cornfield on one sideline, a few long spirals from the main field. Looked like Field of Dreams.

“If you spittle, they will come.”

4. Fans on top of the action. Must be a Latrobe rule to wear black and gold to camp.

That’s because the average Steelers fan’s wardrobe is 90 percent jerseys.

/owns far too many jerseys

2. Cardinals (Flagstaff, Ariz.) About 15 feet from fans on the sidelines, Larry Fitzgerald was tiptoeing and catching sideline balls on Thursday. No fence. No rope. Just trust that fans will respect the lines. I once saw a fan, during calisthenics, walk up to Emmitt Smith and shake his hand. If you love majestic pine trees, cool afternoons and the San Francisco Peaks range of mountains overlooking the field, you need to visit this underrated spot.

Just don’t get caught looking at them or you’ll miss a practice drill that I’ve attached way too much significance to.

4. Eagles (Bethlehem, Pa.) If you like hills, you’ll love the campus of Lehigh University. And though the practice fields are just flat fields with no great view, the feel of many practices are perfect Philly — chants (“E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES!!!”) and catcalls that make it clear these fans are in midseason form in late July and early August.

The appearance is drab and you’re surrounded by Iggles mouthbreathers. What’s not to love?

8. Cowboys (Oxnard, Calif.) Weather’s great on the Pacific coast, 90 minutes north of Los Angeles. Site’s OK, a Residence Inn that’s roomy and convenient for the players. Fans get good access and sightlines to practice, except if the team is working on a far field.

Not a great experience at all, but you should see the hotel that the players get to stay in! Lofty accommodations. When you see the pampering that Miles Austin gets by the Residence Inn staff, you’ll wonder why you vacationed anywhere else.

10. Giants (Albany, N.Y.) Weird, corporate-building-laden campus at University at Albany. But if you want to see position coaches fairly up-close and personal working with individual players, this is a good camp to do so. The players are friendly and reachable here also.

Not all college campuses are composed of old brick buildings covered in ivy? WEIRDDDDD.

The week ahead, as EvoShield joins our merry band

Should be a fun week. On Wednesday, I change from a flying to driving journey, and we christen the 2012 SI-EvoShield Training Camp Trip and begin to ride around America in a cool van owned by the Georgia-based athletic protection company EvoShield. It’s a five-year-old company that makes protective apparel and gear for more than 250 college and pro teams. Robert Griffin III will continue to use the ultra-light EvoShield padding this year in Washington. They’ve shown me the stuff, which is beyond what I ever thought I’d see players protect themselves with — gel pads that mold to different bodies in minutes, then become part of what the players wear.

Oh yeah, that’s some top-notch shilling, Peter, you lofty journo-whore. Nice of you to copy and paste a paragraph from a press release into your column in exchange for a free van. Guessing EvoShield didn’t spring for a month’s supply of Peet’s or else we’d have gotten the full text.

Quote of the Week II

“I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan!”

— Prospective Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III, in a 2010 interview with Bob Labriola of Haslam is a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and if his purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner does go through as league people have told me they think it will, he’ll have to divest himself of the Steelers share.

Now, I’m not positive about this, but I have a feeling that 2010 quote might — might — not go over well in northeast Ohio.

Very Pittsburghish grasp of percentages, though.

Quote of the Week III

AKA, Robert Griffin III Quotes of the Week

On being the face of the franchise:

“There’s really no true face of the franchise because if we all just had faces, we’d all be dead.”

Human anatomy, RGIII gets it.

On whether he has considered making a speech to the team:

“If I ever had to just sit back and tell those guys anything, it’s you want to be certified. One thing I’ve talked to the rookies about before is if you’re the baddest guy in your group, then you’ve got a problem. You don’t need to be hanging out with guys that aren’t as certified as you are, so we have got to make sure that everybody on this team is certified. And there’s a word that comes after it, but I’m not going to say it in front of this mike. You have to be certified, and that lets everybody know that when you run up to the guy next to you, you’re going to take care of business.”

Sounds quite certifiable.

Uh oh, that might be a hippity hop reference from RGIII. As soon as someone explains it to PK, he will be astounded. Then obtusely critical.

Stat of the Week

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week that Charles Woodson will be moved on some downs to safety this season. But in checking with Pro Football Focus — actually, it wasn’t difficult to check, seeing that PFF poobah Neil Hornsby is traveling with me on the trip, and started tapping away on his HP laptop, and he had my answer in three minutes — Woodson’s “switch” is not really going to be unusual for him. “We want him to play closer to the ball,” McCarthy said. But he’s already, in effect, played some safety for the Packers.


Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

The Arapahoe County (Colo.) Jail, where James Holmes is being housed in isolation, is 200 yards from the north end zone of the practice field where the Broncos hold training camp and where they practice during the regular season.

Last Monday, a couple of hours before Holmes was taken for his first court appearance in the case — he is suspected of murdering 12 and wounding 58 — Denver coach John Fox was driving to work at the Broncos training complex. He came upon a slew of police cars, lights flashing, and, he estimated, 40 TV satellite trucks. “I’ve been to Super Bowls, and I’ve never seen anything like the crush of people outside the jail,” Fox said.

During training camp, the crowd noise from fans watching practice can be heard inside the jail facility, and sometimes during the season, when music or fake crowd noise is pumped onto the practice field, the inmates and guards can hear it.

So cruel to tease them with simulated freedom noises.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I accomplished something relatively Olympian last week, on the same day of the Olympic opening ceremonies, that I do believe made Peter King travel history: I was in all four continental United States time zones in one 24-hour period.


Thursday, 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time: Depart Karl Strauss pub, San Diego airport, and fly east.

Friday, 6 a.m. Eastern Time: Arrive Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. Have an oatmeal breakfast.

Friday 9 a.m. Central Time: Arrive New Orleans International Airport for day of Saints reporting.

Friday, 10:15 p.m. Mountain Time: Arrive Denver International Airport to report on Saturday’s Broncos’ practices.

Actually, that’s a 23-hour period that I was mobile in the four time zones, seeing that it was 23 hours after leaving San Diego that I arrived on the ground in Denver.

What a feat. Truly Olympian. That the “seated Kit-Kat munch” and “sleeping in an upright position” aren’t events the Games is a disservice to the international community.

Tweet of the Week I

“Nobody protects the punter like Tebow. Nobody.”

— @NYPost_Serby, needly columnist Steve Serby, on Friday, after watching Tim Tebow being used as the personal protector on the New York Jets’ punt team. The up back, in other words.

Unexceptional Serby offering. Needs more painful wordplay. “On the 4th down, GOD CREATED PUNT PROTECTION!”

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think the Mike Wallace story tells me one thing about the Pittsburgh Steelers: They compromise their salary and architecture principles for no one.

Mike Wallace was, like, let’s go art deco on this building and the Rooneys are all, like, GTFO.

2. I think Randy Lerner is breathing a sigh of relief this morning, if he’s the Randy Lerner I’ve gotten to know during his ownership tenure. I’ve always felt Lerner, who lives in downtown Manhattan near New York University, was more of a music and soccer fan (he owns Aston Villa of England’s Premier League) than a football fan, and he’d hoped Mike Holmgren would wipe away all his troubles when Holmgren came aboard the Browns two years ago. Maybe Holmgren’s work, along with GM Tom Heckert’s, will pay dividends this year; the Browns are certainly better.

No, they aren’t.

But the new prospective owner, Jimmy Haslam III, a Tennessee businessman, will have to become more hands-on than Lerner was. I remember being around Lerner in New York when he was hiring a new coach early in 2009. He wanted to bring in Scott Pioli as GM and Eric Mangini as a package, and became smitten with Mangini over Pioli — he couldn’t have both because Pioli had hard feelings about Mangini dating to Mangini’s departure from the Patriots. So Lerner, to the surprise of many, chose Mangini over Pioli, and Mangini went 10-22 in two seasons before being fired.

And Pioli went to Kansas City, where he invested in fucking Matt Cassel as a franchise quarterback.

6. I think my Hero of the Week is Steve Smith, the Carolina receiver who donated $100,000 to victims of the Aurora shootings — a tremendous and selfless move by a complicated man with, apparently, a very big heart. Smith said in a statement: “As a father and husband, I cannot imagine the pain and suffering the victims are going through. I hope this contribution might assist in paying some of the medical bills that will help allow these families to move forward in this tragic circumstance.”

“Complicated man” could be Peter King racial code for a Shaft-like figure who’s clearly willing to slap the shit out of a woman in the streets.

8. I think this is the cost of doing business the way I think it should be done in NFL journalism these days — and I tell you this because it may affect my ability to know as much about the Saints as I’ve known in the past few years. Joe Vitt and Mickey Loomis, the New Orleans past and future 2012 brain trust, are not speaking to me, presumably because of my reporting on the Saints’ bounty case. Sean Payton told me earlier in the year he wouldn’t speak to me either, because he didn’t think I reported the story fairly. I’d had great relationships with Loomis and Payton. But that’s how it goes. For the record, I regret nothing that I’ve written or said on the case.

Oh man, do I ever love the Saints for that. Of course Peter King is ethically unburdened. “Fault me all you want, but next time you’re on the business end of Roger Goodell’s iron fists, you’ll know I made the right call.”

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

a. Journalism story of the week: the Bruce Springsteen profile by David Remnick of the New Yorker. What I loved about this great piece is Springsteen admits to seeing a psychiatrist for the last 30 years. And how Remnick describes the band on the road: ” … Forget roadies hurling televisions and empty bottles of Jack Daniels from hotel balconies into the pool. The Springsteen road show is about as decadent as the Ice Capades. Band members talk about missing their kids, jet lag, Wi-Fi reception at the hotel.” That’s the real stuff right there.

Writing about people bitching about mod cons in a luxury hotel is PK pornography. Doubly so if it’s coming from The Boss. Those New Yorker pages aren’t coming part anytime soon.

c. Missing the Olympics. I hate it when that happens. I’m a sucker for the stories. The most I’ve seen is a clip of the opening ceremonies in the Broncos cafeteria Saturday. Sure looked colorful. Weird shot of the Queen.

“The queen looks old and disapproving. WEIRD.”

d. I did see a photo of Ryan Lochte in the Seattle Times Sunday morning. Whatever that is in his teeth looks positively awful (said the 55-year-old dinosaur).

Dinosaur because you can’t use Google to find out it’s a patriotic mouth guard?

f. Someone should sit all the privately sniping Red Sox players and coaches in a room and tell them they look stupid, immature and ungrateful for the lives they have, and it has to stop.

Someone should fuck you all the fuckity fuck fucking fucksticks. Fuck the Red Sox fuck their players fuck their coaches fuck all their stupid fucking asshole quasi-Peter King-ish fuckhole fucking fans. I hope they bulldoze Fenway and build a statue of Jeter wiping his ass on Ted Williams’ face.

h. I hear The Newsroom has had two very good episodes in a row on HBO. Much needed. Will catch them on the DVR later in August.

There are no good Newsroom episodes. Though it will feel oddly appropriate once PK inevitably embraces the show. Because it will happen.

i. Coffeenerdness: Cool sight in the Chargers’ facility: In several spots, there are Starbucks coffee machines, with two different blends to brew fresh coffee with boiling water at the touch of a button. Makes a fella want to be a Charger.

Sure, the Chargers are woefully coached and mismanaged, but they have free chain coffee. Don’t all you free agents take unguaranteed contracts at once.

j. Beernerdness: One of the fun things about the training camp trip is sampling the occasional odd beer in different parts of the country. Such as the Beaver Street Pine Cone Pale Ale in Flagstaff, Ariz. I like a bitter end to pale ale, and this one does. The Pine Cone was dry, with a fairly piney scent. Liked it a lot.

I’ve always wanted to get drunk on Pine-Sol but never had the guts.

k. A special thanks to Two Beers brewery in Seattle, and to brewer Mark Satterly and our host Scott Persson for giving us a quick tour and sample Sunday. Seattle, as usual, is one of the most welcoming cities in America because of places like Two Beers.

Plus, the city got those Starbucks vending machines in Chargers headquarters. Good work, Seattle. You’re turning the corner.

Around The Web