When we last heard from Peter King he was criticizing the Steelers use of Charlie Batch as the third-string quarterback and wondering why the Steelers didn't better prepare themselves better for injuries to their starting and backup quarterbacks like zero other NFL teams have done. This week Peter discusses the tragedy in Kansas City, gets some deep thoughts from Brady Quinn, and had ProFootballFocus evaluate Jovan Belcher as an NFL player since that's so important to do right now and all.
On Sunday morning, I was talking to Joe Linta,
the agent for the late Jovan Belcher, about the state of mind that
might have made the Chiefs linebacker shoot his live-in girlfriend nine
times with his own mother in the house and then, less than an hour later
at the Chiefs' training facility, put the same gun to his head and pull
"In this crazy state of mind he must have been in,'' Linta said, "I
truly believe he didn't go to the facility to make a spectacle of
himself, or to do anything like Columbine. If you knew the kid, you knew
how grateful he was for what he'd been given, with the chance to play
in the NFL. I believe he went there for one reason -- to thank them. To
thank Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel for helping make his dream of being
an NFL player come true.''
Absolutely not. Belcher wasn't trying to make a spectacle or anything of the like. He murdered his girlfriend by shooting her nine times and then just wanted to thank Pioli and Crennel for all they did for him before he committed suicide. In a way, it's very precocious what Belcher did.
Linta didn't know how right he was.
Belcher was just a good kid who wanted to thank his coach and General Manager for taking a chance on him as an undrafted free agent. He shot the bitch because she got in the way of this apology.
Belcher made the team as a special-teamer and backup inside linebacker.
The next year, when Crennel arrived as defensive coordinator, Belcher
became a two-down inside linebacker, starting and coming off the field
on passing downs. He started 41 of 43 games under Crennel's tutelage,
and he played well enough last season to merit a substantial raise: He
signed a one-year deal for $1.927 million this offseason.
But according to Bob Costas, if Belcher didn't have access to a gun then he and his girlfriend would still be alive now. A 250 pound linebacker who makes $1.9 million per year has no way of obtaining a gun or finding a way to kill someone if guns aren't legal to purchase.
I have only one recollection of Belcher before Saturday.
Because this tragedy needs to seen through what memories Peter King has of Jevan Belcher. Don't worry if this seems somewhat insincere and self-centered, Peter also memorializes Belcher's girlfriend at the end of this MMQB in the form of a haiku.
A hard-trying everyman. Every roster has 20 of them: low-round picks or
free agents, fighting to stay in the league, fighting for the big
contract, hoping to make enough money to do what Belcher did -- buy a
Bentley, lease a home in a prosperous neighborhood, invite his
girlfriend to live with him, and welcome their child into the world,
which Belcher, 25, and Kasandra Perkins, 22, did this year.
A storybook existence if there ever was one...at least until Belcher murdered his girlfriend and made his child an orphan.
At one point while the two men were alone in the parking lot, the
source said, Belcher said to Pioli: "I came here to tell you thank you.
Thank you for my chance. I love you, bro.''
The source said Pioli
tried to calm Belcher, but had little success. At one point, Belcher
asked Pioli, "Can I talk to Romeo and Gary?'' Crennel and Gibbs, he
Thanks for clearing that up. I initially thought Belcher wanted to talk to Romeo from the House of Capulet and Gary Glitter.
There will be counselors, for players who felt they didn't do enough to
recognize Belcher's desperation, and for the three men who witnessed a
man killing himself with a gunshot to the head. The counselors,
according to one grief counselor I spoke with Sunday, will probably say
something like this: Jovan made a decision by himself, having nothing to
do with any of you. To Jovan, personal business had to be taken care
of, and there was nothing that you could have done, so you can't punish
I don't know how a murder-suicide can be described in any way as "personal business" like Belcher had to step away from football for a few months for his mental health.
The fans at the game, Brady Quinn told me, "were amazing. We haven't
given them much to cheer this year, but they came out and encouraged us
from the minute we came out of the locker room. It was emotional. You
just can't thank them enough for making the day OK.''
things started happening that hadn't happened to the Chiefs in this
miserable, fire-everyone year. The Chiefs had turned it over a
league-high 32 times in their 1-10 start, and here they were, efficient.
Touchdown, field goal, touchdown by halftime, and they led the Panthers
17-14 at the break. At one point, Quinn, a career 53 percent passer,
completed 14 passes in a row -- the longest consecutive-completion
streak of his NFL career. "I don't know what happened,'' said Quinn, a
very religious man.
"Things" didn't just start happening and I can tell Brady Quinn exactly what happened. The Panthers aren't a very good team and they can't stop the run. The Chiefs were able to run the ball, which meant Quinn was able to get good matchups in the passing game and he played well. God or some magical angel didn't do it, the Chiefs did it.
"I'd like to think maybe I had some help, somewhere, from No. 59 [Belcher]. But no, I can't explain it.''
How nice of Belcher to go to the lengths of killing his girlfriend and then himself to help the Chiefs win games. It would have been nicer if he had just helped the Chiefs to win games while alive on the football field, but he had "personal business" to attend to it seems. Also, I'm not getting religious or anything, but Belcher isn't an angel helping the Chiefs win a game. He's a person who committed murder before turning the gun on himself, not an angel looking over the shoulder of his team as if this were some Disney movie.
Dormant players, disappointing players, woke up. Jonathan Baldwin caught
his first touchdown pass of the year. Peyton Hillis ran for his first
touchdown of the year. Tony Moeaki caught his first touchdown pass of
Shit like this happens when you play the Panthers. The handicapped shall walk again, the blind shall see, and the mediocre shall quickly become very good NFL players. These are the miracles the Carolina Panthers are able to produce. If anything, the Panthers are the angels that helped the Chiefs win this game.
In the locker room, weary Chiefs players didn't know what emotion to
have. Crennel told them to be sure to remember the family of Kasandra
Oh yeah, her.
Tom Brady made history. (I have a feeling I'll be writing that sentence a few more times in my career, and his.)
Now there's a bold prediction. An active quarterback who will most likely go in the Hall of Fame quarterback is making history. Do tell.
No quarterback until Sunday had ever won 10 division titles in a career.
This is really as much of a team award as it is an individual award. Enough of all this talk about Tom Brady and how much history he is making, I want to hear what recollections Peter King has of Tom Brady. That's all that really matters and is the best way for me to have perspective on Brady's NFL career.
Charlie Batch gets the biggest win of his NFL life. And he's going to be sore when he wakes up this morning.
I said in the comments of a previous post that the odds Peter King takes back what he said the week before about Charlie Batch were 25%. Looks like the 75% won because Peter makes no mention of being wrong or explaining how a quarterback who he just last week believed shouldn't be the third quarterback on the Steelers team led a road win over the Ravens.
Last week: "What are the Steelers thinking having Charlie Batch as their third string quarterback? He's not able to move around and be productive enough to win games."
This week: "Charlie Batch is amazing. He can still toss that football around the field and lead his team to big wins when necessary."
The win, Batch said, was particularly emotional because, as he said, "I
played bad last week, and I just figured Ben would probably come back
this week, and maybe that's the last game I ever start in the NFL. To
have one more chance, and to have it be a win over Baltimore, in
Baltimore, it can't be much better.''
Peter King still thinks you are a bum, Charlie Batch.
Brady Quinn, drafted by the Browns in 2007, hasn't had a lot of great
moments in the NFL. In fact, he hasn't had a lot of good ones. But
yesterday was a great day for Quinn, and for his Chiefs. He was the most
mature adult in the room -- the room being the entire NFL -- in Week 13
when he eloquently used his post-game platform to address the larger
society and how it may have failed Jovan Belcher. "When you ask someone
how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back
how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a
society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that's
fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our
friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with
our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships
that we have right in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this
and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the
inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis."
Very deep. Good luck working on NFL players REALLY telling you how they are doing. The bottom line is when you ask someone how they are doing, you are being polite. I get what Quinn is saying, and while he's teaching us all a good lesson, did he ever take the time to find out if Belcher was battling something deeper than he was revealing? This is great advice after the fact, but from all reports no Chiefs player had a clue something was wrong with Belcher. It wasn't simply because the Chiefs players were too busy checking Twitter and Facebook either.
I'll be at FedEx Field tonight for the Giants-Washington game. I've got a
good Sunday conversation with Russell Wilson in my notebook, and I plan
to write about the rookie quarterback class for my mailbag Tuesday ...
Please do tell us about your conversation with Russell Wilson. Also, update us on Andrew Luck. How is he REALLY feeling. Does his neckbeard itch? What kind of music does he listen to? Look longingly in his eyes and ask the tough questions like, "When you are playing so well, what does it feel like to be so awesome?"
This week is a little different. I noticed that Jovan Belcher played
only three defensive snaps in Week 12 against Denver in his first
non-starting game of the season; he'd averaged 34 snaps a game on
defense prior to last Sunday. So after the murder-suicide that took the
lives of Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, I asked PFF.com
czar Neil Hornsby to analyze just what kind of player Belcher, an
undrafted free agent from the University of Maine in 2009, was.
I don't get this for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I don't get how what kind of player Belcher was is incredibly relevant in this situation. I realize this is a football column and Belcher was a football player, but quantifying what kind of NFL player he was seems irrelevant at best. In the same column where Peter uses Brady Quinn's words to determine what is really going on with a person and where there is an orphaned child and two dead parents it seems strangely out of place to try and sum up Belcher's football career. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.
1. New England (9-3). What a schedule over the next two months, of games scheduled and not (yet) scheduled. Tick ... tick ... tick.
2. Houston (11-1). Just seven days until Texans-Pats, Monday-nighter, Foxboro.
3. San Francisco (8-3-1). Just 13 days until Niners-Pats, Sunday-nighter, Foxboro.
4. Denver (9-3). Just 48 days until Broncos-Pats, AFC Championship Game, Foxboro.
5. Atlanta (11-1). Just 62 days until Falcons-Pats, Super Bowl XLVII, New Orleans.
(OK! I hear you! Time to stop the stupid Patriots schtick!)
Why do I have a feeling Peter King is going to end up picking a different Super Bowl matchup than Falcons-Patriots once the playoffs start and then if it ends up being Falcons-Patriots he will want to take credit for this prediction? It would be very Easterbrookian of him.
7. Pittsburgh (7-5). In the immortal words of the most famous
sportscaster in the history of Mason, Ohio, "You cannot stop Charlie
Batch. You can only hope to contain him."
Last week Charlie Batch was nothing but a bum to Peter King.
8. Green Bay (8-4). Randall Cobb and James Jones: 108 catches, 16
touchdowns. Did you honestly think Aaron Rodgers' fourth and fifth
options in his passing game this season would be that good?
The problem is these aren't Aaron Rodgers' fourth and fifth options in the passing game. Greg Jennings has been injured for much of this season and Donald Driver isn't the third option in the passing game anymore. So these are Rodgers' second and third options in the passing game. And yes, if I had known Gregg Jennings was going to miss a good portion of this season then I could see how Jones and Cobb would combine to have a pretty good season. Granted, maybe not this good, but it isn't like Jones has shown himself to be a complete bum over past seasons.
10. Seattle (7-5). Seattle will win the sixth playoff seed in the
NFC, and maybe the fifth, by winning three of four down the stretch
against a schedule that has 3-1 possibilities: Arizona, at Buffalo, San
Francisco, St. Louis. Three of the last four in the din of CenturyLink
Field. I like the Seahawks' chances.
We have a nice, big contradiction here. Just last week Peter King stated,
Adam Schefter broke the news last night just after the Seahawks' charter
lifted off from South Florida to go home from a loss at Miami: Seattle
cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were handed four-game
suspensions for violating the league performance-enhancing drugs policy...Seattle's December: at Chicago, Arizona, at Buffalo, San Francisco, St.
Louis. Looks like 3-2 with Sherman, 2-3 without him to me.
Now Peter is saying he sees the Seahawks going 3-1 over the last four games. I guess one week is all Peter needed to see how wrong he was going to be. Of course most of us knew Peter was wrong by being reactionary towards the loss of these Seahawks corners. I wrote,
When the Seahawks go 4-1 over this stretch we will read Peter King just
absolutely flabbergasted the Seahawks were able to do this. The Seahawks
exceeded his expectations...no, OUR expectations. See "everyone" had
the Seahawks written off based on Peter's pure speculation of their
record without Sherman and Browner.
If you read MMQB every week and some of these little predictions aren't really that bold. The Seahawks are a good team and it seems silly to knock them to 2-3 over the last five games...at least to me. I guess Peter agrees with me on second thought.
13. Tampa Bay (6-6). Bucs will need a lot of help to make the playoffs because of Seattle's win at Soldier Field Sunday.
14. Indianapolis (8-4).
I think Peter is overranking the Bucs a bit here. The Colts are probably a better team at this point.
Andrew Luck threw a 42-yard touchdown strike while being tackled from
behind in Detroit -- 42 yards from where he threw the ball to where
LaVon Brazil caught it in the end zone. Luck makes some bad throws
sometimes, but he's resilient and cold-blooded.
I guess whether it is fine for a quarterback to make bad throws all depends on whether Peter likes the quarterback enough to let him off the hook or whether the quarterback is resilient and cold-blooded, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.
Then Peter chooses five offensive players as "Offensive Player of the Week." Why not just get rid of the category if you aren't going to choose one player? That's the purpose isn't it? Offensive PLAYER (singular) of the week.
Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis. So Zuerlein missed a 58-yard field
goal attempt early and the Legend of The Leg was getting tarnished. But
he booted a 53-yarder as time expired in the fourth quarter to send the
game to overtime, then nailed a 54-yarder straight down Broadway with 26
seconds left in overtime to beat the mighty Niners 16-13. "I was just
trying to make that kick and not think about anything,'' said Zuerlein
of his game-winner. He did a good job.
It helps tremendously that he is so precocious. "Greg the Leg," more like "Greg that cutie-pie precocious kicker," amirightorwhat, Peter?
Romeo Crennel, head coach, Kansas City. Anyone who can witness
one of his favorite players shooting himself in the head from a few
yards away, then prepare his team to play a football game, and then
coach that game 28 hours after the suicide -- he doesn't deserve Coach
of the Week, he deserves to go give advice to Army Rangers about the
focus it takes to excel.
Yes, Army Rangers can learn a thing or two from Romeo Crennel. Army Rangers taught by Romeo Crennel. I know Crennel is tough for seeing a guy blow his brains out, but I have trouble seeing Romeo Crennel (or nearly any NFL coach) giving advice on the focus it takes to excel to Army Rangers.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Our new college football maven at I, Pete Thamel, told me a
great little fact I didn't know for the "Sports Illustrated NFL Podcast
with Peter King" this week that I wanted to pass along.
Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin to play his
last season in 2011 because he had a baseball career option and wouldn't
commit to playing spring football for the Wolfpack. And coach Tom
O'Brien wanted his quarterback to play spring football, which backup
Mike Glennon would do. Add to that the fact that Glennon might have
transferred with two seasons of eligibility left if Wilson had been the
starting quarterback for his final year in 2011.
This isn't really a "factoid," but instead is a college football story that played out a year ago. It was pretty big news since Wisconsin didn't have a quarterback and Wilson was seen as a quarterback who could help Wisconsin win a national title or put Wisconsin in the national title hunt...which Wilson did end up doing. This story interested a lot of people a year ago and passing this story along now is like passing along an NBA "factoid" about how Anthony Davis was 6'4" in high school and now he is 6'10". Neither of these stories are really "factoids" and the story about Wilson transferring to Wisconsin is a story that those who follow college football already knew.
Glennon, a 6-foot-6 prospect who should be picked in the top 50 of
next April's draft, threw for 6,702 yards in two years, with 61
touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Everything worked out great for
all involved. Except, I guess, for O'Brien, who was fired last week. The
15-10 record in Glennon's two seasons wasn't good enough.
It's not that the 15-10 record wasn't good enough, it was that the consistent averageness of the N.C. State program wasn't good enough. O'Brien had a 40-35 record as N.C. State head coach.
Five games in five cities in seven days. Taking it back further,
seven games in seven cities in 11 days. Popovich has a veteran team.
Translation: old. And his responsibility is to his team, and not to TNT
or the NBA. He should respect the league and the network televising the
games, which he did by his team playing the a great game against the
Heat and actually leading with a minute to go before losing.
understand Stern trying to protect the best interests of the NBA. But in
baseball, older star players get days off often, at least a couple a
month. In football, many teams with nothing to play for in Week 16 or 17
(or both) take the week off. I'm sure the same thing happens in hockey.
A coach should do what's best for his team, and if some fans are ticked
off about it, I've got a suggestion for Stern: Don't ask teams to play a
grueling sport four times in four cities in five nights.
As much as it might pain me, I agree with Peter on this issue. Gregg Popovich has a responsibility to his team, not to the Heat fans or to TNT. Yeah, Heat fans can be pissed off they showed up to see Duncan and Parker play, but they still saw a really good game. Plus, what kind of fans have Wade and LeBron on their team and can see them 41 games of the year, but get pissy because the opposing team didn't bring their best players? I don't even think Heat fans were upset, instead I think David Stern is just overreaching and proving why his tenure as NBA commissioner needs to end sooner rather than in February 2013 (or whatever date he picked). Stern is overrated as a commissioner and there is as long of a list of things he has screwed up as improvements he has made to the NBA game.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 13:
If Peter's five "Offensive Player of the Week" picks are any indication, at some point Peter will just say he liked everything during Week 13.
b. John Abraham, the Atlanta defensive end, perennially underappreciated.
Usually I find when a sportswriter says a player is "underappreciated" I take it to mean he is underappreciated because the sports media doesn't give him the credit he is due. I'm not sure Abraham is underappreciated. He just signed a three year $16.72 million (the hyperspecificity of that deal must drive Gregg Easterbrook crazy) and he has made 4 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams.
f. Said it before this year and I'll say it again: Green Bay wide
receiver James Jones is as underrated as any other receiver in the
league. Look at the highlight of the first touchdown of the Green
Bay-Minnesota game, how Jones picked the touchdown pass off the head of
the Vikings DB in the end zone. What hands.
g. Amazing, isn't it, how quickly Randall Cobb has become the go-to guy for Aaron Rodgers?
Phenomenal. Shocking. It's almost like Aaron Rodgers makes his receivers better football players.
j. I didn't like the story, but it's a heck of a story, Jay Glazer's
report that a Browns groundskeeper hanged himself at the Browns'
practice facility Saturday.
Well, if the groundskeeper had killed his girlfriend then maybe Peter would care enough to evaluate the groundskeeper's ability when it comes to working on the Browns' field.
k. Congrats on your first NFL touchdown reception, MMQB guest columnist/Colts tight end Coby Fleener.
Remember NFL players, be nice to Peter King early in your career and you can guarantee positive coverage throughout your playing career. Every time Peter mentions Coby Fleener, he mentions he wrote a guest column for MMQB this past summer...not that it affects Peter's coverage of Fleener of course. Not at all. Fleener was the only NFL player to get his first career touchdown catch this past weekend.
l. Good camera work, FOX, catching Adrian Peterson looking up at the
scoreboard for intelligence on the defenders chasing him on an 82-yard
This isn't the first time a camera has caught a player looking up at the scoreboard for intelligence on how many defenders are chasing him and where these defenders are at on the field. I read an article a few years ago about how why NFL players do this, so it seems pretty well known NFL players are prone to checking out the scoreboard or JumboTron. Good camera work by FOX, but this sort of thing happens fairly frequently, so it isn't out of the ordinary.
r. Speaking of clutch Steelers, how about the forced fumble by James Harrison? You just don't count the Steelers out.
Says the sportswriter who counted out the Steelers last week because they have Charlie Batch as their quarterback.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 13:
b. I don't like the Chiefs-Panthers proceeding as normal, but I can't
get too exercised about it, for a few reasons. First: The NFL's not
going to cancel the game, so the game has to be played by the end of the
regular season, Dec. 30. So if you postpone the game, when will you
play it? Anything beyond Monday night and it makes players play on a
short week, jammed in between games each team has every Sunday in
Considering these were two teams who were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs...how about don't play the game at all or have the players go on a short week? When has the NFL ever given a shit about making their players play on a short week? At least in this instance there would be a good reason to do so.
Second: Does it really matter if the game is pushed to Monday? Is that
time enough to mourn and heal and get over the incomprehensible? Is
playing 31 hours later much of a difference?
No, it is a gesture and is more symbolic than anything else. Plus, it prevents anyone from having to see two bad teams play each other. Not playing this game was in the best interests of the public as a whole simply because the two teams have been so bad this year.
e. Andrew Luck makes too many careless downfield throws. Terrible late-first-half pick in Detroit.
But...but...he is relentless and cold-blooded. That makes his interceptions absolutely no problem at all.
k. Questionable clock management and playcalling by Jim Harbaugh late. That's being nice.
Harbaugh does call Peter back, gives Peter good quotes and has an overall good relationship with Peter, so in return Peter does feel like he has to be nice to Harbaugh.
3. I think some good reporting came across the internet this
morning, the story by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada documenting 28
more cases of chronic brain damage in dead former football players.
Fifteen played in the NFL, including Ollie Matson and John Mackey, who
were Hall of Fame players. Boston University researchers continue to
pave the way in this important subject.
I can't wait for Andrea Kremer to do a story on this for her new NFL Network show only to have the NFL refuse to air it because they question the validity of the research and want to have their own researchers "look into" this study.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Rick Majerus won't go down as the greatest basketball coach ever, and many will remember his girth as much as his victories.
People will also remember he was accused of berating Lance Allred and mocking him for being deaf.
That's how I remember Majerus. He could be a bully at times, but he was also a great coach at times.
e. Be Glad You Don't Drive And Live in New York Dept.: Live in Jersey
and go into the city through the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel, and your
toll rose from $8 to $12 in September 2011. This weekend it went up to
$13. Just another reason for the rest of the country to shake its head
at New York City.
This from a guy who rode the train all the way back to Boston for a doctor's visit (there are no good doctors in New York City apparently). Peter is also a guy who probably buys 2-3 (or at least 1) $3 coffee per day from Starbucks or another coffee shop. The toll went up $1. Wasn't this tunnel flooded due to Hurricane Sandy? If so, be glad the toll only went up $1. If this increase is to help offset the cost of cleaning out the tunnels, then these are unfortunately the type of price increases that must occur to help pay to repair the city.
f. Bowl fever, baby. The Military Bowl, in Washington. Bowling Green
versus San Jose State. The weirdest matchup, in a place a combined 3,700
miles from the two campuses.
Peter does realize bowl games aren't supposed to take place close to each team's campus, right? Bowl games are about money and finding two teams to play in order to make money. They aren't about playing games close to one team's campus.
j. Had a swell time at the Boston Ad Club's Sports+Entertainment Summit
Thursday. Thanks for the invitation and the chance to talk to some good
You're welcome? Shouldn't this "thank you" go towards the people who organized this summit and not the entire MMQB readership? But no, Peter insists on publicly thanking people/organizations/inanimate objects in MMQB.
The Adieu Haiku
Romeo remembered her.
We all should. Often.
Nothing like eulogizing Perkins in the form of a haiku. Boston Ad Club's Sports+Entertainment Summit get an entire sentence thanking them, while Kasandra Perkins got a haiku. I know Belcher's agent states he didn't intend to "do anything like Columbine," but it turns out that's exactly what he did. He committed murder and then turned the gun on himself to avoid paying a societal penalty for his actions. But hey, at least ProFootballFocus has quantified what kind of NFL player he was and the Chiefs will always have Belcher looking down helping them to win games.