Tuesday, April 10, 2012

0 comments MMQB Review: Peter King is on the Fence About How Morally Corrupt Sean Pamphilon Is

Last week Peter King told us all about how New Orleans fans were protesting and wanting to "Free" Sean Payton from the terrible penalties that were forced upon him for doing absolutely nothing. It's not Payton's job to oversee the coaches in the Saints organization, who do these Saints fans think he is, the head coach? That was last week. This week Peter talks about the audio tape where Gregg Williams displayed his pre-game speech abilities for the public, Peter talks about what role Steve Gleason had (should have had) in the bounty program revelations and then he tells us all what non-deep and insightful thoughts he thinks that he thinks.

Part of the method is I'm so damn sick of all the other bounty-related crap that keeps oozing from the NFL's pores, and I figure you must be too, that I want to lead with actual football.

Oh sure, after beating any Brett Favre or Tim Tebow story into the ground for the last four years, NOW Peter wants to give us a break from an over-saturated story...even though new details are still developing and there are still parts of the story to report upon.

The draft is usually America's fourth-biggest sport (behind the NFL, major league baseball and the NBA), but the spate of bounty and Peyton Manning coverage has relegated the draft to a lesser pastime. So let's spend a couple thousand words on the draft, and the teams drafting, here at the top.

Please, let's do this! I can't get enough talk about the three draft picks that will get chosen in the 2012 NFL Draft...those three draft choices being Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, and Robert Griffin III.

Teams with the most 2012 draft choices in the top 85 overall picks
: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, New England, St. Louis (four).

Teams with the least 2012 draft choices in the top 85 overall picks: New Orleans, Oakland (zero).

Shocking, astounding. Why are there 85 picks in the draft if there are only three players entering the draft?

The Raiders are actually doing things right,

We don't know that yet. It's a bit premature to say the Raiders are actually doing things right, since it is mid-April and we've heard this before about the Raiders.

Think about it: An 18-year scout finally gets his chance to run a team and pick the players he wants ... and he's hamstrung by the worst cap situation in the league, and one of the worst draft-choice pools in NFL history

I'm thinking about...and I'm also thinking no one forced Reggie McKenzie to take the Oakland Raiders job and he could have chosen to not take the Raiders GM job. It's amazing how free will works isn't it?

And one more thing: Peyton Manning just walked into his division.

Yeah, but the Raiders have Carson Palmer! He's worth a first and second round draft pick! That's better than having Peyton Manning!

"Never thought, 'Woe is me,' '' he said the other night from his office in Oakland.

Which is probably a good attitude considering he chose to take the Raiders General Manager position fully knowing the team's draft pick issues.

I asked McKenzie if he wished he could have the Carson Palmer trade back. Last October, then-coach Hue Jackson dealt first- and second-round picks to Cincinnati for Palmer. "You can beat that doggone story 'til it's worn out,'' said McKenzie. "But I know this: We've got a quarterback we think can win the division and take us to the playoffs. Losing a one and a two doesn't bother me one bit."

McKenzie is already a good liar. No General Manager wants to lose a 1st and 2nd round draft pick. Sure, it netted them Carson Palmer, but a new General Manager likes having the ability to choose his quarterback and probably prefers to have a 1st and 2nd round draft pick every year.

• New England has five picks in a 66-pick span in the first two days of the draft (27, 31, 48, 62, 93). How smart would they be to deal No. 31 to a live-for-today team in the top 12 of this draft (Buffalo?) for a first-rounder next year?

Umm...smart if there isn't a player they want to draft at the #31 selection in the first round. Otherwise, if there is a player they want it would make sense to keep the pick.

• Denver could be a package team. By that I mean the Broncos like to move around (they have in recent years), and they've got three picks in a 30-pick span (108, 120, 137). Suppose the league gets scared of Janoris Jenkins because of his sketchy background, and the best cover man in the draft is sitting there early in the second round.

I'm not sure if Peter is suggesting the Broncos trade two 3rd and one 4th round draft choice for an early 2nd round draft choice, but I'm not sure if there is a team that would accept this trade. I don't know, maybe there would be. It depends on how early in the second round we are talking the Broncos would have to trade up.

Also, Janoris Jenkins may or may not have been fired by his agent. It sounds odd for that to happen, doesn't it? Regardless, John Fox traditionally doesn't like guys with character issues. Of course this is the wild and crazy John Fox we've seen in Denver, so God only knows if he sticks to not liking guys with character issues or not. For all I know, John Fox is now unafraid to knife a bitch if she talks back and doesn't mind drafting a guy with character issues either.

• Atlanta will have to make the picks count. The Falcons pick 55th and 84th, then not again until 157 in round five.

This is as opposed to other teams who can simply waste their draft picks because they have so damn many of them?

It's impossible to have a one-way, clinical view of the Gleason-Pamphilon mess. At least for me it is.

Of course, there is nuance in the story, but there are certain questions about the bounty program, mostly why didn't Gleason speak out on the bounties given his current state, that do make a person wonder whether Gleason should have spoken up.

This article (yes, from Bleacher Report) makes you think a little bit about Steve Gleason and the Saints bounty program. The wording is a little stronger than I would use, I will say that. I would not say "ashamed" is what Gleason would be, but I do think given the link between head injuries and ALS, it puts Gleason in a tough position. He's part of the Saints organization and probably shouldn't feel obligated to blow the whistle. It does make you wonder if Gleason thought about being the whistleblower, and if he didn't, then why not?

I flew to New Orleans in November to begin reporting on the story. Gleason and his shadow, documentarian Sean Pamphilon, met me for lunch. Pamphilon had been working for months with Gleason and wife Michel on a project that they hoped would turn into a marketable documentary or movie about Gleason's life of dealing with this fatal disease. For Gleason, an added motivation was that his infant son, Rivers, would have footage he could always see of his father, no matter how long his life lasted.

This is a great idea by the way. It's going to be great for Gleason's son to look back and see his father closer to his best and not being destroyed by this terrible disease. I think we can all agree on this.

And for the next couple of months, whenever I was around the Gleasons and Michel's tightly knit New Orleans family, Pamphilon was a combination of videographer and mother hen. I thought he was as close to the Gleason family as anyone could be without being in the family.

Which is why I can think of only one word to describe the disagreement and gulf between Pamphilon and Gleason this morning: sad.

I'm pretty good at seeing both sides of things (normally). So I can see how Gleason would feel totally betrayed by Pamphilon. He hired Pamphilon to document his struggle against ALS for his son, not to use footage obtained as a way of giving the public credible evidence of the bounty program the Saints were running. What happens in the locker room is supposed to stay there.

I can also see why Pamphilon chose to release the footage against Gleason's wishes. I'm not sure I totally agree with the release of the footage, but Pamphilon seemed to have felt a need to show the public the barbaric talk in NFL locker rooms that led to the bounties being placed on players. In a way, I am sure Pamphilon felt the need to show what helped lead ALS to Gleason's doorstep and affect his life as it has in such a terrible way. He thought it was a public-policy sort of move of showing the violent NFL culture and getting this documentary some publicity.

Last fall, the Saints surprised Gleason, who last played for the team in Payton's first year as coach, 2006, with a Super Bowl ring, even though he didn't play on the 2009 Super Bowl-winning team. The owner of the team, Tom Benson, thinks so much of Gleason that he commissioned a bronze statue of Gleason blocking a punt in the first post-Katrina game in 2006 for the outside of the Superdome.

Of course Gleason doesn't want to provide evidence that may in some way harm the Saints. This is understandable.

3. Pamphilon tried to convince Gleason to allow him to use the audio damning Williams. Gleason, who never played for Williams, didn't like what he heard in the meeting either, but he didn't want the audio released.

I would be interested to hear why Gleason didn't want the audio released. I know the Saints have helped Gleason a lot during his fight with ALS. It is pure hyperbole and just plain stupid to pretend the bounty program run by the Saints is more responsible for an ALS diagnosis in an ex-NFL player any more than the normal, legal hard hits that take place during an NFL game. So I don't think I could ever go far enough to pretend any bounty program was responsible for Steve Gleason's current condition. It's a tough spot for Gleason to be in because he has ties to the Saints team and doesn't want to hurt them. Pamphilon had no such ties, so he released the audio.

Obviously, if what they heard in the meeting was going to be made public by Gleason or Pamphilon, the Saints would never have let either in the room.

Well yes, obviously.

Gleason knew if the tape came out, he'd spend much of whatever cogent energy he has left on something he never intended to fight -- the rantings of a renegade coach -- instead of focusing on what his aim is: trying to make ALS patients live more productive lives.

The problem is I don't think Gregg Williams is a renegade coach. This is somewhat of a naive train of thought and I can't imagine Steve Gleason would be this naive. I seriously doubt Gregg Williams and the Saints are the only team to run a bounty program like this. So fully believing Williams and the Saints are the only ones who run this bounty program, wouldn't Gleason be doing more than just fighting the rantings of a renegade coach? He would be shedding light on illegal bounty programs in the NFL and can point to himself as a living example of how head trauma from violent hits can affect a person. I'm not saying what Gleason should have done, but football is already a violent sport and the hard hits Gleason took during his NFL career probably have a connection to ALS, so he may want to have brought the bounty program to light.

The majority who have responded to me on Twitter (I'd say 60 percent) have said Williams' words were so reprehensible that they, in essence, gave Pamphilon sufficient reason to break his relationship with Gleason and release the audio to the public. He's being seen as a whistleblower the public should applaud, not condemn.

And we all know Twitter is the best place for a reasonable discourse on any issue to take place.

By blowing the whistle, though, what has Pamphilon accomplished? He has shone a light on a dark story.

He's shown the public exactly what the bounty program sounded like inside an NFL locker room. I think that's a pretty significant thing. It's the difference in hearing about a bounty program and hearing exactly what a bounty program sounds like in action. It makes the bounty program more real for those who have followed this story. It's the difference in hearing trace amounts of feces were found in a grocery store's meat and seeing the trace amount of feces in that store's meat. If Peter can't see what Pamphilon accomplished, then he doesn't want to see what Pamphilon accomplished. It made the bounty program real for the public.

The release of the audio didn't affect the league's probe, except perhaps to slam the door shut on any chance Payton -- an innocent in Pamphilon's eyes -- had to get his appeal reduced. I got the distinct impression sniffing around the probe Friday that the audio corroborated the league's investigation but did not advance the story.

I don't think the audio released was for the NFL's benefit. It was for the public's benefit. It was so the public could hear what an NFL locker room sounded like and how the bounty program went down. Pamphilon wanted to show what the bounty program sounded like. It wasn't intended to affect change any more than it was intended to give the public more information on the bounty program. He presumably wanted to show the violent culture that led to Gleason's disease more than he wanted to be a rat.

What's morally right is that Pamphilon, who never would have heard what Williams said without being attached to Gleason, shouldn't have released the tape without Gleason's permission.

Unfortunately Peter, you aren't the judge of what is morally right or wrong. Last time I checked you are not a high moral authority. I think the word "ethically" should be placed in this sentence instead of "morally." I don't think it is correct to say Gleason was morally wrong to release the tape. If anything, he was morally right, but ethically wrong. Releasing the tape without Gleason's permission was ethically questionable, but morality has very little do with it. If this were true, we could say Gleason is morally wrong for championing the cause of ALS patients all while ignoring a bounty program he knew existed with his ex-NFL team.

I enrolled in college to study journalism in 1975, one year after the Watergate burglary and coverup forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency. I'm all for the public's right to know. And in the end, I'm tempted to say the more clarity about this story the better, just so the public understands why Goodell acted with such an iron hand. But I can't get over the way the material was acquired and made public. It's just not right.

Perhaps Peter is a bit too close to Gleason and to this issue to judge appropriately.

Let's say Nike hired a filmmaker to film a documentary about the company. During the documentary, the filmmakers come across visual evidence Nike stealing copywritten information from a rival shoe company. Would the filmmakers have an obligation to release this visual evidence? Peter King would argue "no." Actually, Peter King would argue "yes" because he would be able to make an independent, unbiased judgment on this specific issue. If we believed Peter's opinion on the Gleason/Pamphilon tape set a precedent for his opinion on similar matters, then he would have argued the filmmaker would be morally wrong to release this tape against Nike's wishes.

I cannot find it in my heart to quite call Pamphilon a rat, but I cannot call him a hero either.

How about you just don't call him anything?

Is it possible for Williams to stand up in front of a group of men, all of whom will know he advocated aiming for knees and wounded heads in fiery speeches, and reach them? What about having Williams on your coaching staff, and going into free agency trying to recruit players? Money talks, yes. But will the presence of Williams be a free agent repellant?

No, it won't be a repellant. Money talks and we've learned many times in the NFL (and in sports in general) a person gets a chance or two for redemption. I think if Williams makes it back to the NFL as a coach then he will be given a fair shot and players won't mind playing for him at all.

Which is why I cannot see any reduction in the sanctions to Payton and Loomis. Goodell didn't buy Payton's I-didn't-know-this-was-going-on stance six weeks ago, and I doubt sincerely he heard anything from Payton on Thursday to change his mind.

Even if Goodell bought the fact Payton didn't know it was going on, Sean Payton is still the head coach of the Saints. He is responsible for his defensive, offensive and special teams coaches. At some point, he has to be somewhat culpable for a lack of control over these coaches.

"This is the most heinous, egregious thing in the history of the this game ... Not for one second would I sit in a room and listen to someone say, 'We're going to take out someone's ACL,' without standing up and saying, 'What the hell are you talking about?' ''

-- Former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp, to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times, concerning Williams' speech the night before the San Francisco playoff game.

I don't believe Warren Sapp would do this. If anything, my perception of Warren Sapp is that he would be the ringleader of a bounty program. This is a guy whose Twitter handle is "qbkilla."

Free agent Demetress Bell signed with the Eagles to play left tackle last week.

(Bell's life has been an odd one in another way. He was born out of wedlock to ex-NBA star Karl Malone and a fellow resident of Summerfield, La., Gloria Bell. Malone didn't take an active role in Demetress' upbringing, talking to him but once, according to a story by the late Allen Wilson in the Buffalo News in 2008.)

In Malone's defense, he did spend the majority of his NBA career busy while hunting for little Mexican girls.

Tweet of the Week I

"ColtsFans,roster reshaping exciting n producing a very physical MONSTER!Things have always pointed toward #12 but eval process is OpenMinded''

-- @JimIrsay, the Indianapolis owner

This isn't Peter King-related, but am I the only one who is becoming more and more annoyed with Jim Irsay and the world's obsessions with this Tweets? I liked it better when he didn't have a Twitter account and silently ran the Colts organization.

3. I think these are the Petrino words that ring the hollowest: Out of my respect for you. In other words, if I may paraphrase, Out of my respect for you, I am walking away from a valid five-year contract after 11 months, in the middle of a season no less, because the task is hard and I found a sap university that would pay me a sick amount of money. And now that sap university is living with the consequences of handing control and nearly $3 million a year to a married father of four who rides a motorcycle around town -- helmetless -- with an engaged 25-year-old university employee he admits having an inappropriate relationship with. What a tangled web he weaves.

Petrino would have been better off running a bounty program. Peter seems a bit more forgiving of running a bounty program than he is the idea of breaking a contract. Obviously both aren't exactly the most honorable of decisions, but at least Petrino was only looking to harm his own health by riding helmetless.

4. I think the NFL needs to send Warren Sapp to the Rookie Symposium this year -- and I'm serious -- to explain how a player at the heights a decade ago could declare bankruptcy today. It's the kind of cautionary tale players can learn from. I can think of only one word for Sapp's story: sad.

I thought of another word! Wasteful. Or another? Idiot.

People who blow through millions of dollars aren't exactly people I would immediately define as "sad." So Warren Sapp is telling us he wouldn't participate in a bounty program now or while he was a player? It's not like he needs the money or anything...

6. I think, as much as I'd love to see it, "Hard Knocks'' and the Jets would be a stupid marriage. Not for HBO. For the Jets, if they're serious about winning.

"Serious about winning," you said? Why would the Jets be serious about winning when they are getting all of this attention for not winning?

9. I think Lions fans are about to get lucky.

Every single one of them? That's one way to increase your fan base.

k. The greatest thing I heard about the one-and-done Kentucky hero, Anthony Davis, in the aftermath of the Kentucky win is that Davis' high school team won 13 games in his last two years of prep basketball. Who'd he have playing with him? Four Peter Kings?

Actually, Davis didn't really blossom until his junior year in high school, so he wasn't the type of player he showed as a freshman at Kentucky until his senior year. It also takes more than one good player to win a basketball game. I feel like all this hype of Davis is helping to overlook the fact he played on a very, very talented University of Kentucky team. So while he was great during the 2011-2012 season, he had a lot more talented surrounding him on the Kentucky team than his high school team had.

n. I really want to see Bully. And I will. But I'm not looking forward to the two weeks of depression that would be sure to follow.

Sort of like reading MMQB sometimes.

p. Red Sox closer ERA: 63.00 (Aceves, Melancon).

How to make Peter feel better...at least the Red Sox are scoring runs. That's a start. Not to mention the Red Sox were playing the Tigers. At least they were swept by a quality team. Bullpen by committee anyone?

q. Orioles, Mets: 6-0. Red Sox, Yankees: 0-6.

My world is spiralling. All those Northeast teams have records that are different from what we expected and there are only 159 games left in the season!

s. RIP, Blair Kiel. I didn't know him, but those who did say he was a good and decent man. Gone way too soon.

Peter is now publicly eulogizing people he has never met nor does he seem to have any sort of affiliation with. Blair Kiel is Gunner Kiel's uncle. I wonder if Les Miles had anything negative about Gunner after hearing about his uncle's death?

t. Coffeenerdness: Easter morning, Starbucks Italian Roast. Not a better coffee smell in the world than that wafting through the home.

Other than Brett Favre farting of course. It's like a dreamy mix of pancakes, last night's Coors Light, the smell of leaves, baby's breath and that new car smell you can never ever replicate no matter how hard you try.

u. Beernerdness: Hate to be boring,

It's ok, we're used to it by now.

There aren't many beers I've had that are as good in the bottle as on tap -- and I'd still prefer this one on tap, with a lemon --

What drink did your husband order Peter?