Tuesday, September 30, 2014

0 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Writes an Entire Page of Dedications to Derek Jeter, Wonders When Someone Will Recognize Paul Konerko Is Retiring Too

Peter King discussed how the Broncos and Seahawks saved the NFL in last week's MMQB. He also explained how Roger Goodell needs a domestic violence czar and was amazed at how Americans love their technology. Peter compared Russell Wilson to Joe Montana and said that Wilson is up there with Brees, Brady, Rodgers and Manning already. This week Peter looks at the best players on the season so far, it turns out that hand size and a bad Pro Day don't mean Teddy Bridgewater sucks (anything to say Mike Mayock?), Mike Glennon is better than I think (though I thought he should have been the starter this year for the Bucs), and Peter dedicates an entire page to Derek Jeter. Because this is an NFL column, you know.

As we near the end of a strange Week 4 in the NFL (margins of victory this weekend: 31, 24, 28, 24, 3, 7, 6, 21, 19, 13, 5, 21), let’s take stock of the race that’s looking very fun, and very different than usual: the NFL MVP race. Different because the usual suspects—Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who have won five of the past seven MVPs—have company.

Peter was bored by the games this week, so he decides that this year's MVP race is TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER YEAR'S MVP race. Sure, in past years Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and maybe another player were in the discussion with Manning and Brady, but this year is different because...umm...Peter wants it to be different I guess.

At the four-week mark, here’s how I see it:

If you can't tell, this will be a fluffy MMQB because Peter was bored with the Week 4 games and would prefer to discuss postseason awards in September and recite quotes others have given about Derek Jeter.

1. Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego. He just keeps getting better. Building on last year’s 5% improvement in completion percentage—stunning for a 10-year vet—

It's almost like a full season hasn't been played yet and Rivers has time to regress to his career completion percentage.

Rivers came back after a one-point loss to unbeaten Arizona to strafe three straight foes, most impressivly leading the Chargers to 30 points in a Week 2 win over Seattle.

Ys, that was dfinitly most impressiv.

2. DeMarco Murray, running back, Dallas. Jerry Jones might have hated picking Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel in May—you know he did—but he wasn’t hating it Sunday night, basking in the glow of a 38-17 rout of New Orleans. “I don’t recall ever seeing a Cowboy team in my 25 years play better, including the effort and including mistake-free execution, than we played in the first half,” Jones said. It’s ball-control. It’s spending high draft picks smartly and conservatively on offensive linemen.

It's sort of like how protecting your quarterback is a great idea. Why improve your team when you can go sexy and draft Johnny Manziel?

4. Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle. At the helm of the best team in football, Wilson has completed 69% of his passes, thrown just one interception and done what he had to do when he had to do it.

DOES THIS GUY EVER SWEAT UNDER PRESSURE? HE'S #4 ON PETER'S LIST OF MVP CANDIDATES AND DOESN'T SEEM NERVOUS ABOUT IT AT ALL!

John Stockton never led the NBA in scoring, and Wilson will never lead the NFL in passing yardage. Wilson is a point guard, an excellent one.

Stop forcing this John Stockton comparison. It wasn't very good a couple of weeks ago and it hasn't improved this week. John Stockton was also not considered to be as great as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, while Peter has stated that Russell Wilson is up there with Manning and Brady. So even if I used Peter's comparison to Stockton then it still doesn't make sense in the context of how he talks about Wilson.

Now that we’ve gotten the debate going—and I understand that I don’t have a player from the Cards or Bengals, the only unbeatens in football, on the list—I’ll look forward to hearing your arguments for the quarter-season MVP. I’ll use the best arguments you’ve got in my Tuesday Mailbag column.

And honestly, Peter wouldn't put Andy Dalton in the top five of the MVP race even if the Bengals finished the season 16-0. He thinks Andy Dalton is the B.J. Armstrong of the NFL.

Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are not supposed to be as poised as Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, but they were in their starting debuts.

Details, please.

Stop writing like you are a 16 year old girl about to gossip, please.

I was sure Smith would launch into orbit two or three times Sunday if he had great success against his former team, Carolina. He had great success. “And I didn’t even spin the ball after I scored, really,” Smith said from Baltimore a half-hour after his seven-catch, 139-yard, two-touchdown day against the reeling Panthers. “It’s not about the old team. It’s about this team.”

It's interesting how the media starts paying attention to Steve Smith and how good of a receiver he is once there is a narrative to write. They have something interesting to write about, so Peter King decides it's a good time to give Steve Smith a call. Peter didn't care about Smith over the past few years, but Smith's words can help Peter write a story, so Peter is all-ears now.

Late in the first half, Smith had a step on Carolina cornerback Melvin White—a 2013 practice foe with the Panthers—and Joe Flacco floated a perfect ball into the end zone for him. As Smith reached for it, White tackled him. The back judge threw a flag on White, but Smith somehow managed to catch the ball. “I can’t let them win,” said Smith, and I wasn’t sure if he meant corners in general, or the Panthers. “I really wasn’t thinking of playing against my old team. I was just thinking, focus on the job so I can help my new team win.”

Steve Smith carries a grudge with everything and everyone, so it shouldn't surprise me he does the same to the Panthers for releasing him this offseason. He's my favorite Panthers player of all-time, if forced to choose, but his grudge holding in this case seems a little bit like an example of a lack of maturity and self-awareness. No one likes to be released, but football is a business.

The Panthers stood beside and supported Smith for 13 years as he violently attacked three teammates, settled out of court with one of those teammates who he violently attacked, demanded a trade no less than twice, was a consistent source of malcontent in the locker room, when given the chance to play with a good second wide receiver (Keyshawn Johnson) Smith decided he would rather engage in a passive-aggressive battle of egos rather than get along, and complained about nearly every quarterback who has ever thrown him the ball. Just this past offseason he asked to be released, refused to take a pay cut and then was released after the Panthers couldn't trade him. This is the third time he has actively requested a trade or release from the team, but it's the Carolina Panthers who are the bad guys for daring to release him. He's my favorite player of all-time and I am happy he is happy in Baltimore, but there is nothing to be bitter about. He was kept around when other NFL teams would have taken the chance to release him and not stand by him. It's how Smith motivates himself, to act like he was wronged in some fashion, but sometimes he convinces himself so hard he was wronged that he starts to believe his own bullshit. As many times as Smith has decided he was done with the Panthers, it's supremely hilarious that he gets angry about the Panthers finally deciding they were done with him.

And now I move on...

Smith walked into the middle of the locker room. “Old man playing a young man’s game,’’ he said. “Gonna have to ice up.”

The man can give a quote though.

Mike Glennon is better than you think.

Don't tell me how good I think Mike Glennon is. I think Glennon should have been the starter this year. Maybe Mike Glennon is better than YOU think, but you insist on everyone being wrong about Glennon because you were wrong. Stop using the word "you" in this context. It's annoying.

Glennon, the former North Carolina State starter (he pushed Russell Wilson out), called it “the most monumental win I’ve been a part of.” And the most unlikely outcome of the year, the 0-3 Bucs beating a team that destroyed Carolina on the road last week.

Glennon didn't push Russell Wilson out. He had two years of eligibility left and the N.C. State head coach (Tom O'Brien) told Russell Wilson if he wanted to be the Wolfpack's starting quarterback then he needed to focus solely on football during the summer, rather than also playing baseball. Russell Wilson decided he didn't want to do that and transferred to Wisconsin. Wilson wasn't "pushed out" by Glennon. His need to play baseball and football forced him out. 

Mike Glennon played pretty well in a shitty situation last year. He isn't better than "we" think. Don't tell "us" how good "we" think Mike Glennon is you haughty dipshit.

“I will keep you posted,” a Raiders spokesman texted me early this morning. It’s just a matter of time for Allen, who cannot survive with a porous D plus Matt McGloin becoming the third starting quarterback in the last six weeks now that Derek Carr is out with a sprained knee ligament and sprained ankle. But if Allen is in jeopardy, what of GM Reggie McKenzie, who let a legit left tackle, Jared Veldheer, go; scotch-taped together a defense of veterans who’d seen better days; and paid real money to Matt Flynn and Matt Schaub to play quarterback and got results from neither.

Come on, Peter. Where is the "Matt Schaub is a waste of talent and is a huge asshole for stealing money from the Raiders" talk? Last year Peter railed on Josh Freeman repeatedly for daring to be signed by the Vikings for $2 million. Nearly every week Peter mentioned what a waste Josh Freeman is. This year, Matt Schaub is making $8 million to be the Raiders third-string quarterback and Peter hasn't even really criticized Schaub yet. I guess Schaub gives Peter better quotes than Josh Freeman ever did. Or maybe it is that Josh Freeman contributed to Peter's buddy, Greg Schiano, getting fired in Tampa Bay.

The logical replacement for Allen would be Tony Sparano, who I will guarantee will get his players to play hard for him. I don’t know how well they’ll play, but I know they will play hard.

I see the Bill Parcells Effect still works. This is the same Tony Sparano who went 28-32 with the Dolphins, right? I don't think he's the long-term replacement, though since Peter is among the many sportswriters who worship at the altar of Bill Parcells it wouldn't surprise me if Peter suggested Sparano should be the long-term replacement.

Noting the quarterbacks of the future, and their Sundays:

Teddy Bridgewater (age 21) started his first game. Against Atlanta he led six scoring drives in three quarters, completed 19 of 30 without turning it over, and left a good first impression. But Bridgewater is a smallish guy, and his second-half sprained ankle was a reminder of some of the reservations teams had about him before the draft.

(Straw man rant alert) Keep helping your buddy Mike Mayock out, Peter, by mentioning there were reservations about Bridgewater's ability to stay healthy. Keep working hard to make it seem like he didn't ignore all of Teddy Bridgewater's tape and give Bridgewater a bad evaluation based simply on hand size and his Pro Day. Protecting friends is important to Peter, so even if Teddy Bridgewater becomes a Pro Bowler I am betting Peter won't mention how his buddy Mayock based his evaluation of Bridgewater on a bad Pro Day and small hands. I overly love Bridgewater. He'll be the best quarterback in this draft.

Ryan Tannehill (26) had a day of redemption, completing 74% of his throws in London to beat the moribund Raiders; he had 14 straight completions at one point. So much for the motivational ploy, or whatever that was last week from Joe Philbin, of not naming him the starter during the week.
Andrew Luck (25) was the day’s most productive QB, 29 of 41 for 393 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-17 rout of Tennessee. “I’m embarrassed,” said Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt. Lots of coaches feel that way after facing Luck for three hours.
 
Colin Kaepernick (26)

Are these three guys the quarterback of the future? It seems like they are the quarterbacks of right now doesn't it?

EJ Manuel (23). Okay, I’ve never been hounded by J.J. Watt for three hours before, so this is easy for me to say: But Manuel looked shaky at times in the loss to Houston—completing just 48% of his throws—and continued a troubling trend: His accuracy has been worse than the previous week in each of his last three games.

Like you said in training camp, Peter. He just needs to throw it deeper and see what happens. Right? That's the solution you proposed?

It’s been three weeks since the damning Ray Rice video unleashed a torrent of criticism directed towards Roger Goodell and the NFL offices, causing the league to uber-focus on domestic violence. Here’s what I know:

Keep working on restoring Goodell's image Peter. Gotta keep carrying that water.

Goodell in Austin over the weekend. On Saturday night he visited a domestic-violence hotline that the league is helping to fund in the wake of the firestorm.

See? The NFL is spending the millions upon millions it earns every year to start a hotline. Who said based on their actions they don't care about women ?

At one point during the meeting with Strong, Vincent said, the coach pointed at a picture in his office of his two daughters. He quoted Strong as saying, “This is a constant reminder to me. I just think about my daughters. No means no. Here, if you put your hands on a woman, you are through.”
Said Vincent: “The man is taking a stand. He made it clear that playing at Texas is a privilege, not a right. Basically, you have to be willing to let your best player go.” That was the message, too, from Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary in the players meeting last week.

So basically it is still up to individual NFL teams to punish players because the NFL cares so much about domestic violence they aren't willing to step in and punish a player before he gets the benefit of due process. I'm not criticizing, simply stating what's going on. Roger Goodell is all about telling NFL teams what to do, except when it comes to punishments for players who still get the benefit of due process, in which case he of course wants individual NFL teams to take the heat so he'll leave those decisions with those teams from now on.

Goodell is safe … for now. In the past several days I’ve spoken to high-ranking officials from eight teams, either the owner or high-ranking club officials with knowledge of the owners’ feelings, about the future of Goodell, with the proviso that they would not be quoted. Several points came through. There’s currently no movement or momentum to remove Goodell as commissioner. But there’s an asterisk there, as two of the owners said. They want to wait for former FBI director Robert Mueller’s report into the NFL’s actions in the Rice case.

The owners want to make sure the investigation they have rigged to go Goodell's way really does go Goodell's way. As long as that happens and they can point to that report from an "independent" investigator as reason to keep Goodell they will. The game is rigged, but the owners don't want to do anything regarding Goodell just in case.

If Goodell is found to have lied about the Rice video or other pertinent facts in the Rice investigation, he’ll be in serious trouble. (Though no one I spoke to feel he has lied.)

Again, this is the problem with the investigation. The two owners responsible for overseeing it, and most other NFL owners as well, are just assuming Goodell hasn't done anything wrong despite any evidence to the contrary. I don't know, it seems to me like Roger Goodell probably did lie, but then again I don't have a stake in him staying on as commissioner.

If he’s found to have been culpable, or not on top of the investigation in a material way, he could be in trouble as well.

He won't be.

There’s more trust inside the ranks of ownership than in the wider population that Mueller’s report will be far-reaching and legitimate, although one owner agreed that it was a mistake for the chief investigator in the case to have ties to the NFL, as Mueller’s Washington firm does.

It's good to know the NFL owners have confidence in the man they chose to lead the investigation into whether Goodell lied or not. I would be surprised if the owners didn't have confidence in the guy their fellow owners chose to use in investigating Goodell's actions.

This surprised me: The owners I spoke with want Goodell to cede authority in discipline cases. They think he spends too much time—and it’s certainly true in this case—going down a rabbit hole of unending controversy on an issue the league should have had buttoned up years ago.

How does that surprise you? What got Goodell in trouble is he has his fingerprints all over punishments handed down to players and he handed down a punishment many considered too light in this circumstance. The owners don't want Goodell being the judge, jury and executioner because it brings criticism his way. It's just another way of protecting the NFL brand to hand authority off in discipline cases.

In general, the sense I got is that when the Mueller report is released, and if Goodell stays on, owners will urge him to concentrate more on league matters and growing and improving the game, and much less on discipline.

That will fix everything. As long as Goodell runs the NFL and isn't allowed to use his judgment in discipline cases then nothing should go wrong. Protect the Shield!

That’s a key point: Owners and team executives know how committed the NFL is to building its presence internationally, and that they’ll play a central role in where it goes from here. The league’s current resolution to play regular-season games in the U.K., as voted on by the owners, runs through the 2016 season, and Waller hopes to have a new resolution in place before that one expires.

I really don't want the NFL to go to London, but nobody asked my opinion. Obviously the NFL owners know better than I do. I will be pissed when my favorite team loses a home game because the NFL wants to convince London to love the sport of American football.

In the short term, Waller says to expect three NFL games played at Wembley Stadium during the 2015 season (England is hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with two matches scheduled at Wembley for Sundays in September, one reason the NFL will stick with three games). Two of those games will be played on consecutive weeks, to test how the stadium’s field holds up to that wear and tear. This is important, because if there were a team in London, its schedule would likely be played in two- to three-game blocks, home and away.

I don't see how it could work. Games would have to be played in London in blocks and I don't think it's fair for a New Orleans Saints team clinging to hope for a playoff spot to have to play in London in Week 16 and then fly back to play a "win-and-in" game in New Orleans the following week. I already hear about West Coast NFL teams who change their schedule while playing on the East Coast, much less playing in England where teams will suffer from jet lag. What happens when the Seahawks play in London and then have a home game the next week?

Bidwill told the panel of fans this weekend that the Cardinals, who played a preseason game in London in 1983, “would love to play another game—as the visiting team.” That’s the challenge for the NFL, finding more volunteers each year to give up a home game. If there were a team based in London (and, yes, the NFL wants that, more than a six- or eight-game collection of games featuring different teams), that question would be answered. But the NFL is not there yet.

I am of the opinion I never want my team to give up a home game so the NFL can convince another country to love American football. It's spitting in the face of that team's fan base to only get 7 home games while being charged for 8 (actually 10 games) and I don't see how the logistics would work out without a lot of work to make it happen.

In tribute to Derek Jeter

Not only is this a football column, but doesn't Peter think there have been enough Jeter tributes of late? Hasn't this been done already?

The paths of the Jeter and Manning families have crossed numerous times. Charles Jeter, Derek’s father, helped the Mannings set up Peyton Manning’s PeyBack Foundation early in his career. Eli Manning sometimes called Derek for Yankee tickets. Peyton and Derek Jeter once had a very private dinner after a Monday night game in Indianapolis. “That night may have been the only night ever that [Indianapolis restaurant] St. Elmo opened for two people to have dinner: Peyton and Derek,” Archie said. And in May, Peyton showed up at Yankee Stadium to see Jeter play. “I wanted to pay my respects and see him play for the last time,” Peyton said that day.

Such a riveting story. I think a story about a baseball player and a quarterback who is on his bye week is perfect for MMQB. I wouldn't expect Peter to NOT mention Peyton Manning a few times during a weekend when Manning's team isn't even playing. I think a whole page on Jeter is a bit much, but Peter has said before he thinks Jeter is the best player of his lifetime, if Peter's lifetime began over the last 30 years.

“I’m so glad what happened the other night,” Archie Manning said Saturday. “It’s justice. It’s God-sent.

God has sent The Jeter down to show the world how to treat the media and bang attractive brunettes at the same time. I wouldn't insinuate that The Jeter is like Jesus or any other Biblical figure, but only because no Biblical figure has more than 3,000 hits like The Jeter does. Either way, The Jeter is from God.

Reactions from around football to Jeter’s end, and what he leaves:

Yes, PLEASE! Because the only thing I care about more than Peter's opinion on Derek Jeter is someone else's opinion on Derek Jeter and be sure to put these reactions in a column about the NFL so they will be totally out-of-place. There are only 22 people who give a memory of Derek Jeter or provides thoughts about The Jeter. Only 22! If Peter put this much effort into MMQB every week it wouldn't be the 40% NFL-related, self-involved shit show the column has become.

Bill Parcells, Hall of Fame coach

"Oh please, Mr. Parcells! Give me a quote about Derek Jeter. Please sir?"

Champ Bailey, free-agent cornerback
“They should retire No. 2 in baseball. Definitely one of the greatest athletes ever.”

Yeah Champ, that's what they should do. The Jeter and the dude who integrated baseball, they are both on the same level. Retire both of those jerseys. Not that the Jeter worship is veering widely into hyperbole or over-praise at this point or anything.

Boomer Esiason, former quarterback, current CBS announcer

“Even as a Mets fan I have to admit Derek Jeter did it the right way.

(Chokes to death on hyperbole)

Justin Tuck, defensive end, Oakland Raiders
“With all the great things he did on the field my favorite with Jeter would be him taking time to have a conversation and take pictures with my dad during batting practice one day at Yankee Stadium. The way he ended it with the walk-off was unbelievable. I thought hitting a home run for his 3,000th hit was crazy but how he ended his Yankee career is fitting for how he played the game. He deserved to go out with a bang like that.”

Hey Justin Tuck, Jeter didn't end his Yankee career with a walk-off, but thanks for paying so much attention.

Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst

(From 1992 prior to the MLB Draft) "Sure, Derek Jeter had great high school numbers and a history of leadership, but look at how small his hands are and he had a bad workout before the MLB Draft. So let's ignore his entire high school career and focus on those two things. Then if I'm wrong, I'll just pretend I never said anything bad about Jeter."

Wait, wrong quote from Mayock.

John Harbaugh, coach, Baltimore Ravens: “Three or four years ago I threw out a first pitch at an O’s game. Sitting in the stands, there he was in the on-deck circle and I caught his eye and he nodded. Very classy.” …

Wow, real in-depth interesting story there. "ONE TIME, JETER NODDED AT ME!"

Brett Favre, former quarterback: “Awesome, and only fitting he go out that way. Classy player. I’m honored to say I watched him play this year in Seattle.” …

And really, why wouldn't Peter King roll over and ask Brett Favre if he has a quote about Derek Jeter? It's not like Peter is obsessed with Favre and it's not like Favre craves any little mention of his name to get back in the spotlight again for even a brief moment.

Ron Rivera, coach, Carolina Panthers: “I grew up a Yankee fan so I thought it was great the way he finished his career. And I love the Jeter commercial with the Frank Sinatra song.” … 

Maybe Jeter can play offensive line or fix whatever the hell is wrong with the Carolina defense? No, that's not his job, it's yours? Great, then do it.

Greg Schiano, former Tampa Bay coach:

And who am I to say that Peter King has favorites and Schiano is one of his favorites? I'm sure there are other fired NFL coaches who gave a quote to Peter about Jeter. (checks list) Well, maybe not. I think I see where much of Peter's anger towards Josh Freeman comes from. Freeman didn't help Peter's buddy Greg Schiano keep his job in Tampa Bay. So Peter, the unbiased reporter that he is, took it upon himself to bash Freeman constantly in retaliation for not playing well in Tampa Bay for Peter's friend, Greg Schiano.

Not him. I was watching the game the other night, and when the O’s hit the two-run homer to go up 5-4, I thought to myself, if this thing gets to the bottom of the ninth, he is going to win it. Sure enough…”

Did you write "Game Over" in your notebook, Greg?

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (2-1). Coming off the bye, the Seahawks will put on their traveling pants, with trips that are three, two and three time zones away over the next four games: at Washington (next Monday), Dallas at home, at St. Louis, at Carolina. The last two will be early games in Eastern Time. Tough stretch.

Fortunately they are playing both the Rams and the Panthers, who currently both stink.

3. Denver (2-1). Who’d have thought the game of the week in Week 5, between two teams with a total of one loss, would be Arizona at Denver?

Nobody, that's who! "We" never thought these two teams would be playing each other with a total of one loss. The NFL is so crazy, which comes as a new shock to Peter King every single season.

8. San Francisco (2-2). One thing you learn about the Niners under Jim Harbaugh in his three and a quarter seasons as coach: They don’t stay bad for long.

This is a lesson that Gregg Easterbrook has yet to learn.

9. Philadelphia (3-1). Predictable loss.

But of course it was. "We" didn't know the Eagles would lose, but Peter King totally knew.

Offensive Players of the Week
 
Steve Smith Sr., wide receiver, Baltimore. The day couldn’t have gone any better for Smith, playing his first game against the team that brought him into the NFL 13 years ago: seven catches, 139 yards, two touchdowns, a 19.9-yards-per-catch average. What’s significant about Smith’s production so far is that he went to a team that didn’t really need him, and he’s played so well that he’s forced balls to come to him and not to Torrey Smith or Jacoby Jones.

Really? The Ravens didn't need Smith? Wasn't it just last year that Peter King was freaking the hell out because the Ravens traded away Anquan Boldin, but now with much of the same receivers coming into this year (Jones, Smith, Pitta, Brown) the Ravens don't need another receiver? Interesting how that works.

Goat of the Week
Brad Wing, punter, Pittsburgh. Wing’s feeble 29-yard punt with 50 seconds left put the ball on the Pittsburgh 46, giving the Bucs, trailing 24-20, a short field to traverse to try to win the game. And win it they did, on a great Vincent Jackson catch in the end zone with seven seconds to play.

It's definitely not the Steelers defense that was at fault here. Always blame the Australian, Peter.

Wing's Wikipedia page was changed to "Wing is a terrible Australian punter" for a period of time. I always enjoy Wikipedia changes. When an athlete screws up like Wing did, he's asking for a Wikipedia page change.

“I’m 35 yards old. I just ran around those guys like they were schoolyard boys.”
—Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., after his two-touchdown, 139-yard performance in the Baltimore rout of Smith’s old team, the Carolina Panthers.

I mean, yeah, but take away the lucky 61 yard catch and it was a 6 catch, 78 yard, 1 touchdown performance. Obviously not bad, but not quite running around everyone on the opposing team.

The Colts’ 41-17 victory over Tennessee in their second division game of the season got me thinking about how vital the franchise quarterback is in today’s game.

Really? It took that victory for Peter to start thinking about this?

Meanwhile the Titans have lurched from the final years of Steve McNair to Vince Young to Collins to Matt Hasselbeck, and it’s very much in question whether Jake Locker can be the long-term solution. Houston has gone from Derek Carr to Matt Schaub to Ryan Fitzpatrick, with no indication if current backups Tom Savage or Ryan Mallett could be the future.

It seems Peter's editor has taken a vacation. "Impressively" was misspelled earlier and now he has mistaken Derek Carr for David Carr.

Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy, one of the game’s best backs, has 39 yards rushing over the past two weeks.
Minnesota rookie back Jerick McKinnon had 55 yards rushing on his first snap of the second quarter Sunday afternoon.

This is a Gregg Easterbrook-type note that essentially means nothing and provides no real statistical or informational purpose.

Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week
On the toughness of Nick Foles, and the quality of toughness in general for a quarterback:

There's no wisdom here. Only quotes like,

I’s a quality in this league that you have to have. Because no matter who you are playing, you’re going to get hit. You’ve got some big, angry people running after you and trying to take you down. To stand in there and not worry about it and know you’re going to get hit but you have to deliver the ball on time is a really underrated quality at that position. Right now he’s really shown what I’ve seen all along from him. It didn’t take the Washington game for them to admire his toughness.”

Chip Kelly admires his starting quarterback's toughness. Alert the presses.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

My dermatologist’s office is in Winchester, Mass., a 20-minute drive from Boston (in moderate traffic). Even though I live in New York, I’ve kept the same dermatologist, because she’s so thorough.

Yes, you mention this every time you go to the dermatologist. It is as interesting and relevant now as it ever has been.

I haven’t followed the taxi-versus-Uber battle in the country, though I’ve heard about it. I also cannot draw definitive conclusions based on one experience.

Anyone who has ever read MMQB knows that Peter will now draw a conclusion based on his one experience.

But I will say this: Based on my Wednesday experience, I will certainly be using Uber again, and probably often.

No definitive conclusion drawn after one experience, but Peter will be using Uber again, and probably very often.




My Sports Illustrated colleague, as the rain poured down during the day Thursday. Most everything Jeter-related has been for sale in the past six months. Why not the rain?

Yep Peter, we aren't all as big of a group of idiots as you believe. I'm pretty sure everyone gets it. No need to explain.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:

n. Great news tidbit from Albert Breer on NFL Network: E.J. Manuel is working with a “mental conditioning coach” from Florida State. Presumably to feel better about himself.

Peter thinks Manuel needs to work with a "throw it deep no matter the consequences" coach. That would improve Manuel's game tremendously. Maybe Kyle Orton can show Manuel how it is done. Also, how about those Florida State quarterbacks under Jimbo Fisher? Christian Ponder, E.J. Manuel...now Jameis Winston will be coming out of college soon. I know about the history of bust Florida State defensive ends, but Fisher is about to put three quarterbacks in the NFL in five years, one has been a bust, one is getting there and then there is Jameis Winston.

o. Good column by Gary Myers in the New York Daily News on Sunday. How ironic it would be if the Jets had to negotiate with fired GM Mike Tannenbaum if Rex Ryan is dismissed as coach—after this season or any season? Tannenbaum, who now works as an agent, has a hot defensive coordinator, Seattle’s Dan Quinn, in his stable.

Tannebaum should put a clause in Dan Quinn's contract that the Jets would have to hire Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow as co-quarterback coaches if they hire Dan Quinn. That would probably be enough to make sure a deal didn't get done, so maybe a bad idea.

3. I think I’m still trying to figure out what Joe Philbin was trying to do, motivationally, by not announcing who his starting quarterback was last week. I also think I am not alone. Miami’s rout of Oakland doesn’t change that.

It's almost like if you combine Philbin's general cluelessness about Jonathan Martin being bullied by Richie Incognito with his bizarre and ridiculous mind games surrounding whether Ryan Tannehill would start this week, that a person could come to the conclusion he doesn't exactly know what he's doing as an NFL head coach. On the bright side, he is still doing bed checks and talking to players before bed, so I'm sure the Dolphins players love him for that.

6. I think we vastly overestimated the Saints.

(Looks around the room and wonders who "we" are...then realizes while Peter's use of "we" when he is personally wrong and doesn't want to take responsibility for it so he blames "we" for being wrong is still annoying, in this case I personally may have overestimated the Saints. If I were Peter King, I would say "we" were totally wrong about the Saints)

Not only on defense—Rob Ryan’s unit isn’t even mediocre; it’s bad—but the offense is not nearly as reliable as a normal Drew Brees offense.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that a Rob Ryan-led defense is regressing.

The Saints can rebound from 1-3, because there’s not a super team in the NFC South. But the ugliness of the first month won’t be easy to overcome.

"The Saints can rebound because the NFC South sucks, but the Saints may not be able to rebound."

7. I think if I ran the NFL, and I had the kind of image problem (crisis, really) that the NFL has right now, I’d be looking for people who are universally respected to help me dig out of the hole.

I think if I were a sportswriter, and I knew who ran the NFL, then I would act like this image problem isn't a PR issue that needs to be corrected or can be fixed by simply not having the NFL commissioner make discipline decisions anymore. I would be critical of the commissioner since it's pretty obvious he has been lying or being willfully ignorant through this whole image problem crisis. But then again, that would involve me being a sportswriter who isn't an NFL lapdog.

9. I think if Bill Simmons has proof that Roger Goodell lied, then I’ve got no problem with what he said that caused ESPN to suspend him for three weeks. If it’s his opinion that Goodell is lying, then I’ve got a problem with it.

Keep carrying that water, Peter. You can do it. What evidence the public has heard seems to point that way. The alternative is this is one of those convenient situations where the man in charge of disciplining NFL players decides he doesn't want complete information before suspending a player and no one around him advises him to get a copy of the hotel elevator camera footage that would have clarified the situation and justified the suspension given.

How do you publicly say someone is lying and is a liar—adding profanities for emphasis—without knowing for sure?

I won't defend Bill, because this seems like one of his strong opinions intended to push himself into the national conversation to me. It so happens I agree with him, but if Bill Simmons got in trouble for claiming something he couldn't prove as true then he would still be a bartender back in Massachusetts. A lot of his writing career is based on assumptions and theories he hopes are true, but doesn't necessarily have the proof to back up his claims.

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

a. One thing about this baseball season that I loved: the rise of the middle class. Kansas City in the playoffs (the coolest thing about the season), Pittsburgh in the playoffs again, Oakland (barely) in the playoffs, Seattle knocked on the door, Baltimore in the playoffs.

Middle class? Oakland is 25th in payroll and Pittsburgh is 27th.

b. Dustin Pedroia’s Venezuelan twin, Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, finished with 225 hits—25 more than any other player in baseball.

Peter has more in common with Bill Simmons than he cares to admit. He can only view a player through the prism of a Red Sox player. It looks like the American version of Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, will win the MVP this year. I'm betting the right-handed, younger version of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Trout, will have a great playoff performance.

c. Jordan Zimmermann might have thrown the least-celebrated no-hitter in memory Sunday, because of the meaninglessness of the game and it happening on the day of Jeter’s last game and on a big NFL Sunday.

Is it considered ironic that Peter mentions how overshadowed Zimmerman's no-hitter is in a column where Peter talks about the NFL games, but doesn't really seem to have considered them "big," and Peter dedicated an entire page to Derek Jeter in that column?

f. Have you ever seen Being There, the Peter Sellers movie about the simpleton gardener-turned-presidential adviser? What a movie. Watched it again over the weekend. A shame Sellers died too soon. He was brilliant in that film.

It's a shame Peter Sellers is dead. He could dance and entertain Peter more. Peter needs more entertainers alive so they can serve the sole purpose of continuing to amuse him.

i. So long, Paul Konerko. I hope someone notices you’re retiring too.

Again, this from the NFL sportswriter who dedicated 16.667% of this NFL column to Derek Jeter. Yes, it would be nice if someone noticed Konerko was retiring too, but that would take away from the Jeter worship that I'm sure Peter King thinks everyone else is taking part in.

j. Shouldn’t a man with more home runs in his career than Johnny Bench, Andre Dawson, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Piazza and Jim Rice get a little more fanfare on the way out?

You are the asshole who dedicated an entire page to Derek Jeter in this very column, then mentioned Paul Konerko twice on the last page of the column, using two whole sentences to do so. Pot meet kettle.

l. Wishing Ben Bradlee, one of the true journalism giants, comfort these days. Word comes today that the longtime Washington Post managing editor is in hospice care. I’ve always been a big fan.

You have always been a big fan of hospice care? That seems rather insensitive, Peter.

New England 30, Kansas City 20. Good point from ESPN Stats & Info on the pressure Tom Brady’s facing. He’s under pressure on 25.6% of the snaps through three weeks, triple what it was four years ago. This is a very big week for the Patriots, at least to me. The narrow win over Oakland looks especially weak in the wake of the Raiders’ horrible performance in London against Miami. But I trust Tom Brady to make plays tonight more than Alex Smith.

At no point should the reverse ever be written. Never should someone write, "I trust Alex Smith to make more plays than Tom Brady."

The Adieu Haiku
How ’bout them Cowboys!
Who thought they’d be 3 and 1?
Go figure football.
Quick font change for Peter in the Adieu Haiku. Perhaps Peter's editor is truly on vacation. Enough about the NFL, let's talk more Derek Jeter. Peter hopes at some point Paul Konerko gets his due also. That is someone else's job though. Peter lacks the ability to be self-aware enough to understand that person could have been him. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

10 comments TMQ: Come for the 20% NFL-Related Content, Stay for the 1,500 Words Used to Pimp Out Gregg Easterbrook's Other Writing

Gregg Easterbrook wrote last week about how the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl rematch may end up like the Super Bowl did. Except, it didn't. Gregg also talked about concussions (again) and pointed out the later-life neurological decay that occurred in football players. It was smartly pointed out in the comments that nearly every adult suffers from some sort of neurological decay later in life. This week Gregg talks about the NFL trying to control the message and has a new ridiculous curse that has befallen the San Francisco 49ers. What is it about that team that Gregg doesn't like? He creates the Crabtree Curse, then once that is proven wrong he decides the read-option is dead, and now he has created another fake curse suffered by the 49ers.

The NFL has gotten into trouble before, but never has the reaction been so ardent. Many football lovers are sick of every game being prefaced with 15 minutes about controversy, and if you switch to a newscast, it's all about the NFL being denounced.

Peter King wonders whether it is worth giving up on the sport entirely, thereby making him unemployed and forced to work a regular job that wouldn't involve staring at strangers all day and criticizing their behavior. So no, "we" should not give up on the NFL.

What's behind the vehemence of the anti-NFL sentiment? Two basic factors are at play -- one that is the league's fault and one that is unrelated to the NFL.

Thank God that Gregg Easterbrook is here to break this all down for us into easily digestible pieces. I would want someone with Gregg's integrity and strict adherence to facts to explain the two factors at play.

What is the league's fault is that the chickens are coming home to roost...The result is they have no reserve of goodwill to fall back on when times are tough. If the NFL's owners were beloved -- or perceived as playing positive roles in their communities -- they would have a reserve of public goodwill. They have none.

While I agree on a macro level, that the owners as a whole are not beloved, I would disagree more on a micro level. I think within each team's fan base many of the NFL owners are beloved or at least liked on some level to where they have some goodwill. Now in terms of "the owners" as a generic term, as it deals with all 32 of them as a whole, I would agree the owners are not beloved and have no goodwill. I like Jerry Richardson as the owner of the Carolina Panthers. As one of the 32 owners of an NFL team, he can annoy me at times with his actions.

Some think a violent game should not be the United States' national sport. 

Some think a national sport is decided by which sport is the most popular in a certain country, so what or what should not be the national sport is irrelevant.

Some think football has become the eggplant that eats the budget of big public universities or is accorded too much importance at high schools. Some people are angry with how the super-rich owners of the NFL wallow in subsides while restricting health care assistance to former players and are happy to have cheerleaders dance half-naked but refuse to pay them minimum wage, let alone treat them fairly.

I think that Gregg Easterbrook is reflecting a lot of the things he thinks as being the thoughts of many. I understand the NFL gets subsidies and the players get injured, but I enjoy watching the sport knowing that having an NFL team isn't something many cities can claim and the players now understand better what they are doing to their bodies. It doesn't make it right, but I think Gregg's thoughts are the main ones reflected in the "some" who think these things.

And some people simply can't stand that blaring inanity from football drowns out conversation at family gatherings at Thanksgiving and through the December holidays.

And some people like there is an event to build the day around in order to avoid watching shitty and boring holiday movies or re-runs of television shows. It's nice to watch sports rather than watch a dog show or some other boring holiday-themed, event, or special.

It's one thing when The Huffington Post is hammering the NFL. It's quite another when hardcore sports lovers are angry with the league. The chickens have come home to roost, and the NFL has only itself to blame.

I guess the chickens have come home to roost. The NFL has had a lot of hubris in the past. The odd part is much of the hubris they have been accused of having in the past, such as acting like a dictatorship who is the judge, jury and executioner, is where the media thinks the NFL messed up. If Goodell acted tough and semi-draconian towards Ray Rice as he had in the past towards guys like Adams Jones, Ben Roethlisberger and Chris Henry then he and the NFL wouldn't be in this situation. Having a tighter hold and stronger reaction to player discipline as the judge, jury and executioner could have prevented from Goodell from being hammered by women's groups and the Rice tape would have been more irrelevant. Yet, Goodell's tight grip on punishing players strongly is an area where he has been criticized in the past, but his punishing Rice strongly would have avoided this current situation.

But what about the second factor, for which the league should not be assailed? As the most important sport in the most important nation, the NFL holds up a mirror to American society. What we see in the reflection is not an athletic organization but ourselves.

Hmmm...I think I still see an athletic organization.

Just five years ago, the fact that football causes neurological harm was a forbidden topic. Not only would the NFL not talk about it, but high-school coaches and principals also wouldn't talk about it. When concussions came out of the closet as an issue of concern, anger was expressed at NFL indifference. But we were really angry at ourselves. How many youth and high-school coaches, how many teachers and trainers and physicians and nurses, had seen football cause head harm and done nothing?

It's very true. I was pissed off at myself because I was thinking, "I am not in high school or college, did not play football at either level, did not coach at either level, and really could have had no impact positive or negative on this situation...so why didn't I do more to prevent concussions from happening?"

A generation ago, the notion that a muscular, 300-pound man was being bullied would have caused people to laugh. But society's view of bullying has shifted. Bullying is no longer seen as just bad manners; it is now an ethical or even legal question. The NFL was the mirror for that social change.

I mean, not really. I don't think the idea a 300-pound man being bullied would have caused anyone to laugh then more than it would cause a person to laugh now. I don't see the big shift in attitudes towards bullying, but perhaps I'm not in touch with the world like Gregg Easterbrook is.

When an openly gay player was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, the NFL became the mirror in which the issue of prejudice against gays was reflected.

This is pretty laughable. Yes, there was a mirror in which the issue of prejudice against gays was reflected, but it wasn't "the" mirror. This is not only inaccurate but also slightly offensive that Gregg thinks prejudice against gays wasn't reflected onto society until a football player was drafted by an NFL team.

With Ray Rice, the NFL has become the mirror in which we see society's changing attitude regarding domestic violence -- that it should no longer be hushed up. 

So it's a good thing that Roger Goodell lied and tried to cover up whether he had seen the video before suspending Ray Rice for only two games. After all, it helped society change their attitude about domestic violence. See, Roger Goodell DOES care about women! He's taking the hit so they can have issues that concern them brought to the forefront of society.  

In competition news, what a game at Seattle! The Seahawks and Broncos played the contest football enthusiasts had longed for at the Super Bowl. Despite scoring just 11 points in seven quarters against the Seattle defense, Denver did not lose heart in the eighth quarter.

And here I thought the Broncos would have just quit and walked off the field.

Still, many of the Broncos' choices were puzzling. At the Super Bowl, Denver kept trying to throw sideways against the Hawks' press coverage. Your columnist noted, "Denver didn't try to move the ball down the field until the contest was out of hand -- the Broncs' longest first-half gain was 19 yards."

The Broncos tried to move the ball down the field in the Super Bowl, but they failed at doing so (by throwing an interception, taking a sack) or couldn't get the ball down the field for fear of committing a turnover. A smart quarterback isn't going to force the ball downfield if he doesn't have a man open or there is the risk of a turnover.

Rinse and repeat at Seattle: Lots of super-short passes and nothing deep in the first half. Even as the Broncos were reaching panic time in the fourth quarter, they kept throwing hitches for no gain.

Again, Seattle was taking away deep passes and forcing the Broncos throw underneath where the defense could make tackles. Can't throw the ball deep if there isn't a guy open to catch the ball.

Gregg is echoing the constant complaint of fans that teams don't "go deep," but it's not easily done. NFL players are very fast and against a great defense like that of the Seahawks "going deep" to a guy who isn't open can result in a turnover.

For a guy who runs a pass-wacky, high-tech offense, Denver coach John Fox sure is conservative. Taking possession down 17-3 with 12 seconds remaining in the first half and all three timeouts, Fox had his charges kneel. Why not try one long pass and then, if it works, call time?

John Fox has been a head coach in the NFL since 2002. He runs the type of offense that works best for his personnel and with Peyton Manning as the quarterback the current offense works. Anyone who has watched Fox coach any amount of games know he is a very conservative coach. It almost goes without saying at this point. Fox had Manning kneel in the 2013 playoff game against the Ravens and go to overtime instead of trying to drive down the field and get in field goal range. He's conservative, no need to marvel at it.

As the for Bluish Men Group, their leader, Russell Wilson, is now 8-0 in starts against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, the Manning brothers and Aaron Rodgers. Of course, football is a team game, so this stat mainly tells us the Seahawks are really good.

Which is a point that Gregg failed to mention in last week's TMQ when he stated Russell Wilson was 7-0 against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. But this week it's "of course" football is a team game. Yes, of course it is. It wasn't as much last week, but this week the fact football is a team game is obvious.

But if individual statistics did not matter, no one would care who the league's leading rusher is.

Individual statistics do matter when being compared to other individual statistics. When an individual statistic is used in the context of a team statistic then it can be a bit more problematic. It's just like the "win" statistic in baseball. There is more than just that individual player's performance represented in the data.

Stat Of The Week No. 5: The Cardinals, who blocked a field goal at a key juncture versus Santa Clara, have blocked 17 field goals since 2008, most in the league in that span.

In totally related news, the Cardinals drafted Calais Campbell in 2008. You know, the 6'8" defensive end who blocks field goals.

Stat Of The Week No. 6: The Bengals are on an 11-0 regular season home streak and an 0-3 postseason home streak.

This statistic is very misleading and pointless. The 11-0 regular season home streak doesn't encompass as much time as the 0-3 postseason home streak. So if Gregg really wanted this statisic to not be misleading then he would use the same time frame for the regular season home streak and postseason home streak. But that would also involve him not misleading his readers and throwing flashy numbers up like an 11-0 record at home.

Your columnist loves the tactic of bringing in a guy who never gets the ball and sending him deep. Leading Minnesota 7-0, the Saints faced second-and-5 on the Vikes' 34. Backup tight end Josh Hill, with seven receptions in two seasons, lined up right. Drew Brees looked left, looked left, pumped left -- and then threw deep right to Hill, who ran uncovered for the touchdown. Sweet.

I'm not even sure that's a tactic. I think it just so happened the route called for Hill to go deep and he ended up getting open.

Against Tennessee, Dalton caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on a gunslinger. The play was sour for the Flaming Thumbtacks, whose cornerback, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, had what appeared to be an easy tackle on Dalton as the pass was caught and bounced off him. Normally, defenders crave the moment when a quarterback is a runner or receiver because taking a shot is legal. Instead, Wreh-Wilson appeared to pull up.

Wreh-Wilson didn't pull up and he didn't bounce off Andy Dalton. He went up for the interception and failed to catch the ball. If he had caught the ball, it would have been a pick-six, which Gregg believes is a play that is the most game-changing turnover. So Wreh-Wilson went for the big play and failed. That's it. He didn't miss the tackle really.

With Green Bay at Detroit tied at seven in the second quarter, the hosts faced third-and-long at midfield. Matt Stafford's deep pass was intercepted by the Packers' Davon House, who tumbled into the end zone for a touchback. Sweet!

No, wait. Sour for Green Bay because on replay the spot was reversed, and House was ruled down at the Packers' 1. That made the result of the play the same as a perfect coffin-corner punt. On the next Green Bay snap, Detroit's DeAndre Levy shot a gap unblocked and dropped Packers' running back Eddie Lacy three yards deep in the end zone for a safety. Green Bay free kicked, and the Detroit possession ended with a field goal. The Packers' interception turned into five points for Detroit. Green Bay would have been better off had House simply swatted the ball down for an incompletion.

Using hindsight this is true. John F. Kennedy would have been better off if he had not gone to Dallas on November 22, 1963, but he didn't know that at the time. Just like Davon House didn't know that he was down at the 1-yard line and on the next play the Packers would give up a safety. Though he can intercept passes, he is not able to predict the future as Gregg believes he can do. So yes, House would have swatted the pass down if he were omnisicient. He is not though.

Now Gregg takes on the tyranny of unrealistic fictional television shows.

Okay, it's television. But what's disturbing about Chicago P.D. is audiences are manipulated to think torture is a regrettable necessity for protecting the public. Three times in the first season, the antihero tortures suspects -- a severe beating and threats to cut off an ear and shove a hand down a running garbage disposal. Each time, torture immediately results in information that saves innocent lives. Each time, viewers know, from prior scenes, the antihero caught the right man. That manipulates the viewer into thinking, "He deserves whatever he gets."

Yeah, but he's the anti-hero so he tortures people to get information. That's why he isn't a hero, because he uses methods that other police officers would (hopefully) not lower themselves to in order to make an arrest. The viewer can make up his/her mind on whether the suspect got what he deserved or not. Not everyone is stupid, though I will admit those people who read and enjoy TMQ are probably the same ones gullible enough to be manipulated into taking a view on torture based on watching "Chicago P.D."

Some ethicists say there could be a ticking-bomb exception -- if the prisoner could reveal where a ticking bomb is, then torture becomes permissible. But how could a law enforcement officer be sure what a captive knows? And if by this logic torture is permissible, wouldn't that justify torture by, say, the Taliban if they captured a U.S. airman who could know the location of a planned drone strike?

In a way, but the perception is a prisoner has done something wrong to be a prisoner, so torturing him to find out where the bomb is would be hurting the guilty to save the innocent. The (American) perception is a U.S. airman hasn't done anything wrong and isn't guilty of a crime, so torturing him to know the location of the drone strike would be hurting an innocent person to save innocent/guilty people.

Down 17-0 in the third quarter at Jersey/A, Houston took a field goal on fourth-and-inches from the Giants' 9. Sure, a fourth down try by the Texans failed on the previous possession, but that was then, this is now! That a coin has come up tails 10 straight times tells nothing about what will happen on the 11th flip.

No, it doesn't. Of course a team going for it on fourth down isn't just a coin flip. If one team has failed 10 times to convert a fourth down then there is a good chance that team won't convert the 11th attempt. There are more factors in play on a fourth down than just the flip of a coin. A fourth down attempt involves 22 people in motion, not just a flip of the coin. So 10 failed attempts could indicate whether an 11th attempt would work or not.

Now it's 17-3. Facing third-and-2 on the Moo Cows' 44, the Giants throw incomplete and are called for offensive pass interference. Bill O'Brien declines the penalty, confident Tom Coughlin will punt on fourth-and-2 in Houston territory, which Coughlin proceeds to do.

And this told the Giants that Tom Coughlin wasn't serious about winning this game and the Giants went on to lose because Coughlin didn't go for it on fourth down? Oh, that's not how it worked out?

Baltimore tried on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter at Cleveland and failed, but the Ravens went on to victory, which shows sometimes it's better to try and fail, which tells players their coach is challenging them to win, not launch a kick.

So in a game where both coaches are not going for it on fourth down, then both coaches being chickens offsets and failing to go for it on fourth down has no effect on the outcome of the game. In a game where one team goes for it on fourth down and the other does not, a tone is set, which means the coach is challenging his team to win. I think teams should be aggressive, but Gregg's insistence on tying fourth down tries to a coach challenging his team to win seems very anecdotal to me.

Then Gregg begins to speak about how the United States is in for tough times because of entitlements and government spending. He wrote a lot about this topic and it was all just an excuse to pimp out something else he had written.

Everything in this long item assumes longevity does not increase, so the retired don't demand benefits for a longer time. What if longevity increases? See my cover story in the new Atlantic Monthly.

Gregg wrote 1,500 words of non-football related material just so he could then push the cover story he wrote for the "Atlantic Monthly." Not only does TMQ have large sections that aren't about football, but it serves as a great forum for Gregg Easterbrook to advertise for his other writing endeavors. It makes you wonder where Gregg's focus lies.

Not That Politicians Have Any Shame: Last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he was "embarrassed" by the Vikings' handling of the Adrian Peterson mess. Why wasn't Gov. Dayton embarrassed by the fact that Minnesota and Minneapolis handed nearly $500 million of taxpayers' money to the Vikings' ownership family to build the new stadium from which those super-rich owners will keep nearly all the revenue?

This is sort of a strawman argument isn't it?

"Mark Dayton is 'embarrassed' by the Vikings' handling of the Adrian Peterson mess, then why isn't he embarrassed that millions of people are starving while Vikings fans gorge themselves on food in preparation for a recreational sporting event?"

"Mark Dayton is 'embarrassed' by the Vikings' handling of the Adrian Peterson mess, then why isn't he embarrassed that his last name is 'Dayton' and he doesn't live in Ohio?"

The Football Gods Chortled: Since fleeing the wonderfully romantic city of San Francisco for the office buildings and parking lots of Santa Clara, the 49ers are 1-2 and have scored just three points in the second half.

I don't know what Gregg has against the 49ers, but he seems to always have some curse or problem that he believes the team is encountering that is usually not football-related.

-There was the "Crabtree Curse" which basically said because Michael Crabtree held out for more money after being drafted, and the 49ers eventually paid him what he was supposed to earn at the slot he was drafted, that the rest of the 49ers team didn't like the team caved to Crabtree and so the team couldn't win games as a result. It was ridiculous. Then, in a miracle turn of events, the 49ers started winning games with Crabtree being their best receiver and Gregg turned this "Crabtree Curse" into a curse that only hit the 49ers when Mike Singletary was the head coach. Because when called on your bullshit, deflect quickly. If it was the "Singletary Curse" then why did the reason behind the curse have nothing to do with Mike Singletary and it was called the "Crabtree Curse"?

-Then last year, Gregg wrote off the 49ers and stated that the read-option was dead, never to return. It was a gimmick that NFL teams had figured out. In a shocking twist of events that wasn't shocking at all, Gregg forgot he had said this after the 49ers made their third straight NFC Championship Game.

-Now Gregg is trying to conjure up a curse where the 49ers are cursed because they moved from San Francisco to Santa Clara. Gregg will claim the team sold out to corporate interests and that's why they can't win games. Who knows what his excuse will be when the 49ers go on a run like they did last year?

Football And Taxes Note: Two weeks ago, TMQ excoriated the Hall of Fame for being tax-exempt yet extolling O.J. Simpson, who personifies violence against women. I said the Hall "sheltered $31 million" from taxation in the most recent year for which records are available. Several readers familiar with the nonprofit world, including Susan Denton of San Francisco, countered that I inaccurately characterized the Hall's balance sheet -- had it been a for-profit in the most recent year, it would have been taxed on about $1.4 million. So my number was wrong -- I should have said the Hall of Fame sheltered $1.4 million.

Hey, Gregg was only off by $30 million. It was just an accounting error that caused Gregg to be off by 2,100%. But hey, his point remains you know!

The point remains the same: Why should taxpayers subsidize a professional sports exhibit of any kind, much less one that adulates someone like Simpson? Corporate taxes on $1.4 million would be about $475,000 -- not huge in the scheme of things, but many dozens of average families must be taxed to cover that sum.

Yes, the point remains the same. The point also goes to show how Gregg will intentionally mislead his readers or won't do enough research so that he doesn't knowingly hand out incorrect information. It's clear already that Gregg doesn't read the links he links in TMQ and so I would imagine he also doesn't do a ton of research on the information he provides. He can't be lying if he doesn't do enough research to know the truth, can he?

Versus City of Tampa, Devin Hester not only set the all-time record for return touchdowns but also played well at wide receiver. Hester had a catch for 25 yards and during a turnover, stripped the ball from a Bucs player and fell on the rock and cradled it, which is proper form. TMQ's NFC preview expressed dismay at Chicago's lack of interest in retaining Hester: "The Falcons benefit from the Bears' puzzling decision to show the door to Devin Hester ... the Windy City is known for its sports curses -- soon the Devin Hester Curse might be added."

And that explains why the Bears are 2-1. What a curse!

If the Falcons make the playoffs this year and the Bears do not, the Devin Hester Curse will join the Shoeless Joe curse and the billy goat curse in Chicago lore.

No Gregg, it won't. The Devin Hester curse isn't real and wouldn't be made real due to one season where his new team makes the playoffs and his old team does not make the playoffs.

A huge embarrassment awaits Chicago management if Hester plays well when the Bears and Falcons meet on Oct. 12.

Not really a huge embarrassment. Difficult personnel decisions are made in the NFL all the time. At some point every NFL team will have to face a player they released or traded. It's the state of the NFL with a salary cap.

On the City of Tampa side, the first two Atlanta touchdowns went to receivers who were not covered by anyone at all -- what a smooth move by the Buccaneers' new management to waive Darrelle Revis in the offseason!

How silly of the Buccaneers to choose to free up $16 million in salary cap space. Why in the hell would they do that? It's just another example of the Buccaneers new staff blaming the previous regime and not at all an example of them correcting mistakes made by the previous regime. If something isn't working, keep trying to make it work.

City of Tampa's patchwork offensive line surrendered three sacks to the Falcons, who came in as the only NFL club without a sack. Waiving left tackle Donald Penn in the offseason -- that was a smooth move, too!

Penn was going to make almost $7 million and he was overpaid. He was 31 and the Buccaneers signed Anthony Collins, who is 3 years younger and making almost a million less than Penn.

Last week the league fined Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks $8,268 for a late hit and Courtney Upshaw of the Ravens $16,537 for an illegal hit. Why wasn't Upshaw fined $16,537.95? The recent collective bargaining agreement spelled out fines with odd specificity, though the last digit was zero.

He wasn't fined $16,537.95 because that's not the amount he was fined. I know Gregg could give a shit about details, facts or anything else that involves minutia he finds to be below him, but he really needs to stop calling any number that doesn't end in "0" as "oddly specific."

Obscure College Score: Greensboro 37, La Grange 35. The Panthers joined The 500 Club by gaining 516 yards and losing. Located in La Grange, Georgia, La Grange College offers previews of previews.

It's not exactly a preview of previews. The day is called "Preview Day" and if Gregg would click on the link he provided he would see that the video simply tells prospective students who are invited to "Preview Day" what to expect. That's all. I hate it when Gregg does cutesy shit like this. He's about 10% as clever as he believes himself to be.

The video preview of "Preview Day" is sort of like Gregg writing a column on football and providing a preview of another column he will later link in that football column.

Next Week: The NFL hires Paul Tagliabue to conduct an independent investigation of its "independent" investigation.

Don't give Roger Goodell any ideas. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

8 comments Bill Simmons Was Right, But Knew He Would Get Suspended

As was possibly his plan all along, Bill Simmons got suspended by ESPN for his comments on Roger Goodell being liar and then daring ESPN to suspend him. As mandated by Internet law, I'm sure everyone has heard about this and gotten to hear 1,000 opinions on this issue. Bill Simmons takes a piss and the world waits for him to flush. More on Bill and the overall Sith-lord in a Communist nation vibe that ESPN gives out around that situation in a minute.

I want to focus first on the ESPN ombudsman and his work of late. The ESPN ombudsman does not post often. Sometimes he will post fairly quickly one after the other. He has posted on the following dates (and of course he posts about Simmons as soon as I finish typing this):

October 15, 2013

October 24, 2013- in a post that came quickly after the other one and was more complimentary towards ESPN (hint, this is a semi-trend) saying:

The ESPN female audience has risen to about 45 percent, according to last year’s figures, and the network has been making an effort to showcase female talent. The promotion of Doris Burke this month to studio analyst on “NBA Countdown” was a dramatic example.
 

But ESPN also has to do a better job of identifying those “good ol’ boy” comments and turning them into teachable moments for the guys who haven’t quite gotten their heads out of their lockers. 

The entire article wasn't entirely complimentary, but considering David Pollack had essentially made comments which moved humanity back 75 years, and ESPN's earned reputation for a boy's club, along with their history of treating women poorly...I'd say it was pretty complimentary. Lipsyte could easily have gone on for 5,000 words about this just being another example of sexism ingrained in the ESPN culture, but that's for someone else to do I guess.

November 22, 2013

December 18, 2013

December 31, 2013- in a post about religious tolerance and advocacy that more or less just covered the topic.

January 17, 2014

January 27, 2014- On the Dr. V story, where he was critical of Grantland's handling of the Dr. V story.

March 18, 2014

April 3, 2014- Simply reaction from readers and no real "ombudsman" activities to be read.

April 28, 2014

May 30, 2014

July 9, 2014

July 30, 2014

September 9, 2014

September 23, 2014- This is the latest column. Notice this column comes a mere two weeks (two WHOLE weeks!) after the last ombudsman post. You may be familiar with the previous ombudsman post because that was the one where the ombudsman discussed punishments at ESPN and how they are handled. It also has the choice quote from an ESPN executive where he says,

“We don’t treat everyone the same but we treat everyone fairly.”

It's also the post where ESPN was essentially admitting to keeping punishments and information from the ombudsman because it's not the public's right to know. Sure, maybe. What's the point of having an ombudsman if you aren't going to let him report to the public regarding organizational decisions in order to back up the appearance of transparency you want to give with actual actions that support this transparency?

So it was surprising that the ombudsman posted again so quickly. Then I read what he wrote.

The network’s heavyweights -- Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock and Bill Simmons, among others -- delivered their own verbal punches; investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. has been driving the national media’s newsgathering; Bob Ley anchored smart and thoughtful discussions; and a roster of stars, including Jane McManus, Dan Le Batard, Hannah Storm, Andrew Brandt, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, offered information and insight.
 

I’d like to say I wasn’t the least bit surprised … but I was.
 

This was ESPN’s finest hour during my tenure as Ombudsman,

This was a fairly complimentary post towards ESPN and I can imagine some ESPN executive shooting Robert Lipsyte an email suggesting he write about ESPN's great victory as soon as possible. That's how I explain the short two week wait between posts. ESPN had something great they wanted to have Lipsyte comment on, so he did. I wouldn't suggest Lipsyte is a lapdog or lackey for ESPN, but it struck me as funny that he followed up one post with another so quickly when that's not how he usually writes. Topics have been well past their sell-by date when a discussion of that topic has appeared in the ombudsman's page prior, so it doesn't strike me as a coincidence ESPN's great victory which just happens to coincide with a new ombudsman post. ESPN's battle with the Ravens over the Don Van Natta Jr report got a quick, starry-eyed review on the ombudsman's page like it was almost a part of the plan to protect "the brand."

In a world where the ombudsman doesn't write much, one post where ESPN admits they won't be transparent with him, followed by another shockingly short wait for another post where ESPN looks good, leads me to believe ESPN is up to their usual shenanigans in an effort to help "the brand."

Speaking of the brand and those who hurt it and also help it. Bill Simmons got suspended for three weeks for something. Maybe for his comments about Roger Goodell, though I doubt it, and maybe for challenging his bosses to suspend him, which I don't doubt at all. Here is my archive of Bill Simmons posts. It's a lot. I have a lot of issues with his writing. I put this out there as my resume of being a Simmons-hater. He annoys me because he has a great amount of talent, but his writing is full of "we's" and crappy theories that he has put about 10 seconds of effort into concocting. His columns are essentially material that takes up the time until his next mailbag, which features questions about his columns.

In this situation, Simmons is absolutely right. He was correct to call out Roger Goodell like he did for being a liar. But he wasn't even close to being the first person or the first person at ESPN or the 10th person at ESPN to call out Roger Goodell for being fishy and not entirely forthright about the Ray Rice video. It's popular to call Roger Goodell out for lying. So much so, there seems to be a bit of a backlash against those calling Goodell out for lying. Of course, it would be nice if something would be done about it to prove the statement that Goodell is a liar as true or false, but I'm sure Peter King is hard at work waiting for someone to dig that information up. After all, that's why there is an "independent" investigation.

So in typical Simmons fashion, he becomes the lead guy for "Goodell must go" when he didn't say it first and he didn't say it most eloquently, he just did it with the most flair and uproar. Bill found a way to get himself some attention for his view by challenging his bosses to fire him for holding the same opinion other ESPN employees have voiced. That's the annoying part about Simmons. He's always said the same thing (or similar things) that other people have said, while trying to put his stamp on it and have the focus on him. Examples are all contained in his writing. His ideas have to be the best and most original idea, so he will tweak a reader's idea in a mailbag to make it his own, then drive the idea into the ground. So Bill's thought wasn't original, he just used an airplane flying a banner over the Super Bowl to announce his feelings while everyone else simply put out a press release. Bill knows his power. Don't think he doesn't. You simply can't call out your employer like Simmons did. I guess it serves some purpose.

Bill Simmons was right and perfectly within his rights to give his opinion on Roger Goodell. Even if it was a very expressive opinion for certain alternative purposes he may have had, he was right. Bill Simmons should not have been suspended for his comments, but he was going to get suspended for his comments. "We" simply can't call out our employer like that and expect no blowback for the comments. For someone who is (throws up in a bucket) smart, forward thinking, and understands what his reader wants to read/hear/see, Bill doesn't have a very good eye for business at times. Either that, or more likely, he knew what would happen by daring ESPN to suspend him. ESPN isn't going to mind their employees commenting on Roger Goodell and the NFL. That's something the network has to allow or else they appear to be beholden to an NFL that the public already believes they are beholden to. ESPN is also going to take any chance they can get to punish employees who go beyond criticizing Roger Goodell and the NFL. Bill did that. He was hostile in his comments and challenged ESPN. That'll do it. He gave ESPN a chance to be outraged and they took that chance.

Where ESPN really messed up is in how they punished Bill. Suspending him for three weeks isn't the right type of punishment for a guy like Bill Simmons. It brings me back to the comments to the ombudsman in the September 9 post about how everyone is treated fairly, but not everyone is treated the same. Anyone who has ever managed employees knows it's important to understand what that employee values and reward/punish them appropriately based on that. Suspending Bill Simmons for three weeks is only going to feed the fire. He said on his podcast "I'm going public" if ESPN contacts him about his comments on the podcast. He wants the drama, he wants the notoriety in this situation to position himself as the strong anti-establishment, anti-Goodell guy at ESPN. The same things that frustrate me about Simmons' writing stand in opposition to his strengths. He half-asses his writing and I know this is true because he has interesting podcasts and he is the brain behind Grantland. He's a very smart guy who is always trying to stay two steps ahead of everyone else. His columns represent the lazy side of him where he doesn't care to be two steps ahead because he's bored with writing columns already. I think Bill wants to badly position himself as the rebel, rather than the corporate millionaire that he really has become. Just take a look at the "Rolling Stone" profile of him. He talks about smoking pot and embraces his issues with ESPN. It's all part of the plan to paint himself as a rebel who works within the system, rather than being the person who has willingly chose to be a part of the system because it provides him with what really motivates him, which is power, money and influence.

Bill likes power and influence and not the "I'm going to take over the world" power, but the "I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it" power. The "don't edit my column" type of power. That's what he wants. He wants money, influence and power. ESPN has money and offered him the opportunity for power and influence by allowing him to start the successful (from all appearances) Grantland site. As much as he protests, Bill's first choice is not to leave ESPN, because they are paying him well, he gets his opinions out to the masses and they have multiple platforms where he can voice this opinion. He's also aware he doesn't want to be seen as a corporate stooge. A Chris Berman or Skip Bayless who is tied so tightly to ESPN you can't imagine him outside of ESPN. Hence, we get these temper tantrums from time-to-time where Bill needs to remind the public that he is a rebel and doesn't like being held down by the same corporate partner whose resources he has willing and eagerly chosen to use to enhance his bank account and celebrity. This isn't a criticism. Bill is smart. He knows what he's doing. ESPN suspends him and they look like they are going hard on one of their best known employees and Bill looks like he is raging against the machine again. Bill will passively-aggressively make comments about ESPN down the road to let everyone know how unhappy he was, but he hasn't been so unhappy as to make a move yet. He has money, influence and power. A three week suspension will only enhance his influence by painting him as a martyr for the anti-Goodell crusade among fans of his and non-fans of his.

So short story long, ESPN shouldn't have suspended Bill because that buys into what he wants them to do. Of course the alternative is probably not attractive because it risks alienating Bill and ending this symbiotic relationship where each party accomplishes what they need to accomplish without looking like they are soft on their best employees (ESPN) or bow down to corporate interests (Bill). The real way to punish Bill, assuming ESPN really wanted to punish him rather than just piss him off and dare him to think leaving for a week or two, would be to threaten to remove some of his power. Grantland is a good site. I go there to read articles and there are many good articles. It is a product of Bill's mind and foresight. But like any good editor-in-chief he is replaceable with the right guy. Everyone is replaceable, including Bill. I will admit I don't know how Grantland works contractually. I think ESPN could get rid of Bill as editor-in-chief. It's an ESPN property, so I am working with partial information knowing only that.

If ESPN really wanted to punish Bill, they would tell him, "Look, you have done a great job with Grantland, but we can't have you challenging us to suspend you while bashing the NFL commissioner on this site. If you can't stop doing things like this and threatening the brand of the Grantland property then we may have to remove you as editor-in-chief. So for a few weeks, take a step back and think about what you want. If you want to be editor-in-chief, then stop challenging us to suspend you, and hurting a growing branch of ESPN. You can still write, still do the NBA pregame show, and podcasts, but Grantland won't have you as editor-in-chief and you won't be doing any of that other stuff on Grantland."

After a while, an idea like Grantland, much like the "30 for 30" documentaries and ESPN as a whole, become bigger than the creator and take on a life of their own. Grantland won't necessarily require Bill Simmons to succeed in the future.

Yes, having this type of conversation with Bill probably isn't the best business decision, but if the purpose is to punish Bill Simmons, threatening to takeaway Grantland permanently, not for three weeks, is the route they would want to go. Maybe they did that. I don't know. I just know Bill Simmons isn't Stephen A. Smith who requires face time on the television or radio screaming at you to soothe his ego and feel accomplished. Bill just exists with his influence brought by "30 for 30," Grantland, podcasts and appearances on the ABC NBA pregame show. Take away something from him, then he's probably pissed off and he's also been punished. One read of the "Rolling Stone" confirms that Bill is constantly moving and constantly trying to think of new ideas. Take away one of those ideas that he's made real, that's a real punishment. Bill thrives on his ideas and his ownership of those ideas. It's what makes him great at what he does...not including writing. He's still not good at that, which is why there are 180 posts tagged here with his name on them.

Bill exists outside of ESPN. He has purposely tied himself to working for ESPN, but isn't considered as much of an ESPN property to the general public like other ESPN employees (Chris Mortensen, Stephen A. Smith, Chris Berman, Bob Ley, Skip Bayless, etc). This is intentional. Don't get me wrong, Bill works for ESPN, but he's made sure he is "Bill Simmons noted sports/entertainment talking head and editor-in-chief of Grantland" and not "Bill Simmons of ESPN." Bill has his own web site, but he needs the resources of ESPN to make this work for him. Bill could start his own Grantland if he left ESPN, but I believe it would be hard to draw the talent he is currently drawing at this new site away from ESPN. Bill has accumulated some really good writers (and annoying writers, don't get me wrong) at Grantland. Zach Lowe being of one of those writers. So Bill could venture out on his own or hook up with another sports web site to open a different form of Grantland there (I can see Bleacher Report making a play for him and considering how much he's bashed them, it would be a bit of hypocrisy on Bill's part), but he's still going to be competing with ESPN at that point. He can succeed without ESPN because he's not as tied to them as other employees, but I question whether he can pull in the talent at another site that he's pulled in at ESPN without the backing of ESPN. So while Bill exists outside of ESPN, I don't know if he wants to actually exist outside ESPN. Again, the platform ESPN provides for his ideas across all of their mediums is something he simply can't get anywhere else. ESPN can outbid other networks for talent and offer them a chance to get more face time on many more platforms than other sports networks.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think ESPN should be as draconian as to threaten to take away Grantland from Bill. That's a tough move that I don't believe his behavior in this situation merits. I'm on Bill's side here. His writing stinks, but his value to ESPN is unquestioned. Suspending him for three weeks is a pretty tough move as well, but not a move I think that really hurts Bill. It's a move that accomplishes what Bill wanted to accomplish and isn't the best way to punish Bill if ESPN really was looking to punish him rather than just put him in time out. ESPN does need to be careful in fucking with their well-known and well-liked employees like Bill Simmons. While I have stated Bill could have trouble leaving ESPN and succeeding elsewhere due to the power, influence and money ESPN offers, if any ESPN employee has the brains to succeed and go up against ESPN then it would be Bill Simmons' name on that shortlist. If we are being honest, Bill has never gone against the grain really. He started working for ESPN in the late 90's and every new idea he has brought forth has had the backing of ESPN and always allowed him the soft pillow of ESPN to fall back on. So again, while he paints himself as the rebel with crazy, new ideas he wants to bring forth, he prefers to bring these crazy, new ideas forth with the corporate backing and fail-safe that ESPN provides. Bill has the intelligence to go out on his own, I don't know if he has the daring.

What's annoying is this suspension isn't about Bill Simmons and what he said on his podcast. It's about ESPN's ego. They simply don't want him questioning their ability to suspend one of their personalities. That's it. Bill Simmons deserved to get suspended while also not entirely deserving to get suspended. ESPN basically suspended Bill because he told them to. He said nothing that other ESPN commentators haven't said and ESPN hasn't exactly stuck with the NFL on the topic of the Ray Rice video. For me, this is the height of Bill and ESPN's hubris. Bill made himself a martyr at the altar of hot takes on Roger Goodell and ESPN suspended him because he dared them to do so. Bill's actions will look good compared to the "Don't say anything negative about Goodell" attitude that ESPN is projecting in this situation, even though that's not what the suspension is about. The suspension is about ESPN wanting to treat every employee fairly, but not the same. They can't have Bill Simmons bashing the commissioner and then daring ESPN to suspend him while threatening to "go public."

But here's the thing, this was a non-story if ESPN just doesn't respond by suspending Bill. At ESPN it is fine to use the n-word on the air three times, it's fine to accuse women of provocating their own beating and it isn't the first time Smith has done that, and it's fine to lie to viewers. All of those incidents resulted in a grand total of a two week suspension. Just don't challenge ESPN's ability to suspend you for making the same comments others at the network have made, but simply in a stronger fashion. It's annoying, because Bill is getting what he wanted. He's getting the attention he clearly wanted and is seen as the clubhouse leader when it comes to calling for Roger Goodell's head. ESPN could have quashed this all by just allowing the news cycle to run it's course. Granted, they would have some people upset internally and egos would be hurt, but ESPN hasn't worried about internal strife previously when one of their employees makes controversial statements. Why start now?

This suspension is about ESPN wanting to be a Sith-lord who chokes an underling for a mistake, because they can and don't want their authority to do so questioned. "Look at how decisive and strong we can be! Don't fuck with us, because we have standards that we pay attention to every once in a while when it is convenient to do so! Our standards involve reporting on the showering habits of athletes and allowing Gregg Easterbrook to mislead readers every week on ESPN.com, but it's not our standard to allow justified criticism of Roger Goodell in a strong fashion, then challenging us to take action against you for making such a strong, justified statement."

It's another example of ESPN treating their employees "fairly" but showing contempt for the intelligence of their viewers. Trolls, women-haters and race-baiters get an opportunity to voice their opinion as much as they want while throwing around opinions that may or may not be factually based. But ESPN takes it seriously when there is justified criticism of the NFL commissioner for potentially lying about whether he saw the Ray Rice video prior to suspending Rice. ESPN has to protect their ability to suspend an employee so they can further protect a non-employee, but important ESPN stakeholder, who at the very least is guilty of completely misunderstanding the impact domestic violence can have on society and those who are victims of domestic violence. ESPN employs women, but desperately wants to protect Roger Goodell's right to lie about a domestic violence incident and what he knew about the incident when suspending a player. That's how it looks to some people, though that's not the entire truth.

Regardless of whether ESPN knows it or not, which they probably do, they have started a war with Bill Simmons. He's a child. He's a child in the right in this situation, but he's a child nonetheless. Just read his podcast comment about potentially getting suspended by ESPN,

"I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I'm in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell, because if one person says that to me, I'm going public," Simmons said. "You leave me alone. The commissioner is a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast."

Those words, especially the last sentence sounds like that of a teenager who is rebelling against their parents. It's very childish.

It's HIS podcast and he can talk about WHATEVER HE WANTS! Leave Bill ALONE! He'll tell everyone how mean you are if you try to do anything to him.

It's very childish sounding.

So the war has started/continued and the only question that remains is whether Bill will continue to passively-aggressively bash ESPN when given the chance all while being protected by the umbrella of money, influence and power it has provided him or he will honestly look to get out and find his own way in the sports world? Is this another temper tantrum to remind everyone that Bill is nobody's bitch, all while Bill takes zero steps to ensure he is not under the thumb of ESPN anymore? Or is this a breaking point where Bill has finally challenged ESPN to suspend him for saying comments he believes (rightfully) he is within his rights to say?

Frankly, this is probably an example of Bill acting like a teenager. He's testing the limits of his parents while also choosing to live in their home due to the safety of the situation. I would be convinced otherwise if Bill had ever previously turned his anger towards ESPN into anything other than a way to get more autonomy with the security of ESPN behind him. Perhaps the fact he is very much right in this situation can push him to eventually make a change, but his three week suspension isn't enough to make him change his behavior and serve as a real punishment where he would lose something he values. If ESPN wanted to change Bill's behavior then they would have actually tried to punish Bill through the loss of something he values and if Bill really didn't like ESPN messing with his podcast then he will take this chance to start making a move. At this point, it feels more like a stalemate and a half-assed, symbiotic Cold War right now. ESPN wants to "punish" Bill, but doesn't really want to piss him off, and Bill wants to rail against ESPN overseeing his work, but doesn't really want to leave. 

This is how far we have come from the Ray Rice video. It started with Ray Rice seen dragging his fiance off an elevator and now a sports network has suspended one of their most popular employees for commenting the NFL commissioner may or may not have lied about seeing a video tape inside the elevator where Rice actually knocked his fiance out. Ray Rice got Bill Simmons suspended. Rice is out for the year, the Baltimore Ravens' franchise is being called liars by ESPN, ESPN is questioning the Ravens honesty, the Ravens are questioning ESPN's reporting and ESPN is suspending employees for questioning Roger Goodell's honesty and then challenging ESPN to do something about these comments. Meanwhile, Roger Goodell is still NFL commissioner awaiting an "independent" investigation on what he knew and when. People all around the situation fall and have their integrity questioned, but Goodell still stands. He's letting everyone else fight it out while he has disappeared. Seems like Goodell has won to me.

I pushed TMQ to my next post for this weekend, so check back. So two TMQ's in a short time span (probably). Who says "no" to that?