Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 comments MMQB Review: A Hollywood Week in the NFL Edition

Peter King celebrated the best week of NFL football this season in last week's MMQB. Peter also directed Jenny Vrentas (who didn't even go to school to be a journalist...has Peter reminded us of this in the past month?) to interview Brett Favre because Favre is coaching a high school football team. Peter must continue his obsession with Favre after he has retired and then force-feed more Favre-related stories down the throats of his THE MMQB audience. This week Peter talks about how the Week 15 games were just a like a movie (but not one of the great movies with the classy Meryl Streep in it, but more like a movie with that pleasant actress Lake Bell in it), re-tells the story about how his travel note got named the "Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week" because the only thing less interesting than hearing Peter bitch about how difficult it is to travel is to hear the same story about how hard it is to travel over again, and manages to criticize Josh Freeman again for stealing the Vikings money while lauding Matt Flynn and conveniently leaving out all the money Flynn has stolen from teams over the past two years. 

But the stories in Week 15 … priceless.

As always the stories around the games interest the media more than the actual games themselves. It's like their own little soap opera with precocious young men. The games don't matter. The hype and stories the media can drum up is all that matters to them.

Michael Thomas, come on down! And there will be other stories. But here’s what you should know about the NFL pennant race with 33 games left in the regular season:

It's football, there's no such thing as a pennant race in football. Baseball has pennant races. I don't think the NFL does.

The Broncos ceded top seed in the AFC to New England by losing Thursday night. The Patriots gave it right back by losing Sunday afternoon and plummeting down to the third seed. The Bengals then lost Sunday night, going from second to third. End result: Nothing happened at the top of the AFC race. Absolutely nothing.

Feel the drama created by this movie-script storyline! All sorts of things happen and then it turns out nothing changed and nothing is different. Oh, the drama!

A lot happened in the NFC. Seattle looked like the ’76 Steelers shutting out the ’76 Bucs in the 23-0 whipping of the Giants, who were stunningly non-competitive. And three divisions got very interesting:

I love how NFL games play out like movie-scripts. I wonder who they will get to play Jim Harbaugh? I'm thinking Ben Affleck and then Matt Damon can play John Harbaugh, but not because Damon looks like John Harbaugh but because Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are such good friends you can feel that they really like each other like brothers.

NFC North: Three teams separated by a half-game: Chicago (8-6), Detroit (7-6), Green Bay (7-6-1). The Packers’ win in Dallas, which, as I’ll explain in a few moments, had the victorious quarterback still emotional when he landed back in Wisconsin early this morning, may end up totally retooling the division.

The same victorious quarterback that got paid Matt Flynn $6.5 million this year by the Raiders for not playing for them. This of course doesn't include the $700K+ he will be receiving from the Packers as well. This will be important when Peter gets his panties in a wad that Josh Freeman is making $2 million to be inactive every week.

But the Packers found a bizarre way, thanks to Tony Romo’s generosity, to stay alive.

Yes, Tony Romo threw a crucial interception, but the Cowboys play-calling was suspect for a good portion of the game and Cole Beasley seemed to stop running his route which led to the Tramon Williams interception.

NFC South: The Saints have bristled against the they-stink-on-the-road label, but let’s face it: They stink on the road. They were crushed by the weirdo Rams in the Ed Jones Dome,

The "weirdo" Rams? You mean the "upstart" Rams? They are on their way to close to a .500 record this year. The future is so bright for them with Jeff Fisher as their coach and every announcer will take every opportunity possible to point out what a young team the Rams are. Gotta makes excuses for Jeff Fisher.

could have a ridiculous path to a second world title in the Brees era: at a team like Philly or Detroit in a wild card game, at Carolina in a divisional game and at Seattle for the conference championship … all for the right to play a potentially sleety outdoor Super Bowl in New Jersey, when the Saints have lost four of their last five road games. Pardon the good people of Louisiana if they aren’t catching playoff fever this morning.

What? There are good people in Louisiana? I'm surprised the Saints and their fans aren't blaming Roger Goodell for scheduling them two straight road games near the end of the season. It's just more proof the NFL is out to get the Saints. How convenient the Saints have to play 8 games on the road during the season when no other NFL team has to play 8 games on the road. It's all a conspiracy against the Saints.

NFC West: Seattle looks like a lock for home field. Now the question is: Can surprisingly 9-5 Arizona back-door into the playoffs by winning two brutal games: at Seattle, San Francisco at home?

Go Seahawks! I'm the world's biggest Seahawks fan this week since the miserable Titans couldn't get the job done on Sunday.

Last Monday morning, San Francisco practice squad safety Michael Thomas was sleeping in on a victory Monday for the Niners. A day off, other than getting a lift and a workout in at some point during the day. At 10:20 a.m., late for Thomas, he finally paid attention to the vibrating phone and sat up. He’d missed four calls from his agent, Christina Phillips, and a text that said, “WAKE UP! There’s a team that wants you. If you don’t wake up soon they’re going to move on.” Thomas called, and the team was Miami.

It's a movie-script moment!

There was a flight at 2:30 from San Francisco to Miami, and he had to be on it. He made it, not even bothering to close down his Bay Area apartment. “No time,” he said. “I was just like, ‘Holy crap! I gotta go!’ ”

Being late for planes that take off well after lunch are the types of things that happen when you live a hard existence that allows you to wake up at 10:20am on a weekday.

“I was going to start on the punt-return team, I knew that,” Thomas said Sunday afternoon from the Miami locker room. He took no defensive snaps all week.

I think the guy from "The Blind Side" should play Thomas in the movie version of this story.

If the Dolphins wanted to have a good shot at being a wild card team, this game was the big one. So on Sunday, Thomas went in and played his part, running down on two special teams units, making a tackle on one punt play. But by the fourth quarter, corners Nolan Carroll and Brent Grimes were down. Thomas is a safety. He played the position at Stanford and in practice for the Niners. But right now, in the last five minutes, Miami didn’t need a safety.

(Uses movie trailer voiceover guy voice) The Dolphins didn't need a safety, they needed a hero. That's just what Michael Thomas (not to be confused with Philip Michael Thomas, though it would be awesome if Michael Thomas was the son of Philip Michael Thomas) was willing to be.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Thomas said by phone from the locker room Sunday afternoon, when it was over. “I was pretty emotional. I was going out there knowing Tom Brady was coming after me.”

You are fucked. That's the short and long of it.

On the first snap of the last New England series, Brady found Thomas. Brady threw to Danny Amendola for 11. On the second snap, he found Thomas. Brady threw to Shane Vereen for two. “I was out there, getting help from [safety] Reshad Jones,” said Thomas. “He’d basically tell me what to do on most plays, like where to go and who to cover.”

So basically Brady used Thomas until Michael Thomas managed to knock the football out of Danny Amendola's hands, then got an interception and these plays helped the Dolphins win the game. I imagine if this were a movie-script the part where Thomas is getting used by Brady would probably be left out of the script.

No help. A safety playing cornerback in his first NFL game, in his first NFL quarter, against Tom Brady, in single coverage against one of Brady’s favorite targets. Thomas ran with Amendola.

Let me guess, Danny Amendola got injured on the play?

All Thomas could think of was the lesson he’d learned as a defensive back long ago. Play through his hands. As a trailer on the play, Thomas knew to do everything he could to disrupt the ball in Amendola’s hands, and he did. Thomas knocked the ball away. No touchdown. Huge play.

Not just a huge play, a lofty play.

Again Brady threw at Thomas, for Austin Collie, with another Dolphin also in coverage. The ball never got to Collie. Thomas jumped and picked it off.

Great play by Philip Michael Thomas. He snatched that football like Elvis would snatch a bird off the stern of Crockett's boat.

“We had a player in there that I think got into the building on Tuesday,” Philbin said. That just added to the lore.

Thomas had been on the Dolphins roster for such a short period of time he didn't even have time to be bullied and called a racial slur by one of the Dolphins offensive linemen.

Next time you hear some coach say, “It takes all 53 to win,” think of Michael Thomas. Imagine if he’d slept a couple more hours last Monday.

Then he would have slept after noon and as an adult who wants to be an NFL player on an active roster this really isn't acceptable. It's okay to sleep late, but if Michael Thomas had slept past noon and missed the call from his agent then there is a chance he doesn't deserve a chance to be an active player on an NFL roster.

Five points from the games that hit me Sunday.

1. The NFL playoff picture features very few upper East Coast teams. This is going to be a very boring NFL playoffs for Peter King.

2. Would Brett Favre have been a better quarterback decision for the Jets this season?

3. Andrew Luck? Is he the best quarterback ever or just the best Colts quarterback ever?

4. Peyton Manning, Sportsman of the Year. Could there be a less inspired selection?

5. Why does Robert Griffin's ego prevent him from getting healthy enough to be an effective quarterback for the Redskins?

1. How do the Dallas Cowboys run the ball seven times on 30 second-half plays when the back, DeMarco Murray, is knocking it out of the park (seven carries, 41 second-half yards, 5.8-yard average)? The two late interceptions reinforce what Tony Romo is at this point in his career: a very good quarterback who is allergic to the last five minutes of games. It’s happened too many times now to call it a coincidence.

Defending Tony Romo is a losing proposition. Let me just point out that what caused Tony Romo to have to throw the ball at the end of the game on Sunday is that the Cowboys didn't call running plays with DeMarco Murray. That's not on Tony Romo. Romo did audible out of one running play, but he didn't call the plays to give the ball to Murray only seven times in the second half.

Late third quarter, Dallas up 29-17, Dallas ball at its 15. Romo incomplete right, Romo incomplete middle, Romo sack, punt. The Cowboys, trying to run the clock down, spent all of 63 seconds on this drive … when the only thing that mattered at this point was bleeding the clock.

Tony Romo is not the Cowboys offensive coordinator. He doesn't call the plays. He throws interceptions, but he doesn't call all of the plays that have him throw the football.

2. The Rams are 6-8. 

There's a reason I call him Jeff "8-8" Fisher. His teams do well enough to give fans hope, but not well enough to make the playoffs.

Against the Saints, they controlled the line of scrimmage well, battering Drew Brees with the Robert Quinn- and Chris Long-led rush, and they got an excellent ball-control performance by rookie back Zac Stacy. St. Louis is at its best when it doesn’t have to fill the air with footballs, and when Quinn has time to make an impact rushing the passer.

The Rams are at their best when they are ahead in the game and can control the clock. Now all they have to do is figure out how to get the lead in every game they play in a very difficult division.

5. If Matt Asiata was precocious enough to score three touchdowns in the absence of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart Sunday,

Asiata is 26 years old by the way. I'm not sure how he is exhibiting mature qualities at a young age (which is the definition of precocious) by scoring three touchdowns for the Vikings. Really, Peter needs to stop using this word when it doesn't pertain to a person who exhibits mature qualities at a young age. It's weird to use this term as it concerns a grown man.

When the strangest game of his life was over, the 37-36 win over Dallas in Texas on Sunday, Matt Flynn jumped around the locker room with his teammates—yes, they really jumped around, “like little kids at recess,” Flynn said

This mention of little kids probably piqued Peter's interest in what Flynn had to say. Are they precocious little kids?

Flynn started believing when he dumped a three-yard TD to tight end Andrew Quarless with 16 minutes left in the game. That made it 29-17, and the fact that it was a two-score game after how poorly the Packers had played made it seem realistic they could catch up.

I recognize these two players aren't 100% comparable, but Peter will once again point out how useless Josh Freeman is to the Vikings in this MMQB and yet again mentions how he is stealing money from the Vikings, while not mentioning once that Matt Flynn stole more money from more teams over the last two seasons. Flynn played great on Sunday, but considering Flynn got paid three times more to get cut by Raiders than Freeman has gotten paid to be on the Vikings bench I find it interesting that Peter continues to harp on Freeman's uselessness. Peter does what he can to rehabilitate his buddy Greg Schiano's reputation.

Green Bay needed a stop. Something better happened for them. Romo should have been handing to DeMarco Murray then, just to run the clock. But he was still throwing, and Sam Shields made a good read and pick on a crossing route.

If only Tony Romo were a better offensive coordinator to put himself in a position to call running plays that wouldn't result in Romo the quarterback throwing an interception.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Flynn. Traded from Seattle to Oakland to be the starter before the 2013 draft. Lost the Raiders’ starting job to Terrelle Pryor late in preseason. Cut by Oakland in October.

He got paid $6.5 million to lose his starter job to Terrelle Pryor. He was a more expensive investment than Josh Freeman that cost the Raiders a draft pick. The difference is the Vikings haven't cut Freeman yet, while Flynn got cut by the Raiders. Of course in October we didn't read Peter King discussing just how worthless Matt Flynn is, while he has twice in the past three weeks taken the time to point out Josh Freeman was inactive for the Vikings. I guess that $2 million the Vikings paid for Freeman to be inactive really offends Peter, while he wasn't so offended Matt Flynn got paid $6.5 million by the Raiders just to get cut.

“It’s all worth it now,” Flynn said. “This is the best day I’ve had in the NFL. You work for a long time to have the kind of fun we had today, and if you have to go through some tough times to get there, well, that’s the way it goes.”

Right, because getting paid a shit-ton of money to underperform is just such a hard position to be in. I don't know what I would do if someone paid me $6.5 million to do my job poorly.

I am still trying to figure out what happened at the end of regulation in the Arizona-Tennessee game. To recap: The Titans, down 34-24 with three minutes to go, kicked a field goal, recovered an onside kick and drove to a touchdown with 10 seconds left. So it was 34-33, Arizona, with 10 seconds left, and Tennessee coach Mike Munchak chose to kick the extra point to send the game to overtime. Rob Bironas kicked the PAT. But there was a flag on the play. Offside, Arizona. Munchak had a choice: take the five-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, or go half the distance to the goal line and go for two—and the win—from the Arizona 1-yard line.

It's a game at home, the Cardinals are reeling. I say go for the extra point rather than go for the two-point conversion in most cases like this. I know Gregg Easterbrook will have a huge issue with this, but it was a tough call and Munchak went with the sure points. On Sunday, Mike Shanahan went for two in this situation and the attempt failed, so there is a downside to trying for the win over the tie.

Munchak chose to keep the point, and the tie, and play for overtime. In overtime, Arizona kicked the winning field goal and beat Tennessee, 37-34.

My problem is twofold. Tennessee had Arizona reeling. In the final minutes the Titans drove 87 yards to a field goal and 54 yards to a touchdown. That’s 141 yards, in about three minutes. And they had a chance to get one yard to win the game, with no overtime.

Munchak is coaching for his job, so maybe going for it would have been the gutsier decision. Of course the Titans still had the Cardinals reeling in overtime, so it makes sense the Titans would still have momentum in overtime.

What, exactly, was Munchak saying to his team and fan base after building a team in the offseason that was supposed to be able to grind out a tough yard when needed? The Titans made Andy Levitre the highest-paid guard in football in free agency last March. They drafted Chance Warmack, another guard, with their first-round pick in April. Levitre and left tackle Michael Roos would be one of the premier guard-tackle combinations in football.

Munchak is saying that he wants to go out as the Titans head coach meek and playing not to lose the game in regulation, while instead preferring to go to overtime where the Titans would still conceivably have momentum.

Ask yourself this question: If the Titans had 10 shots from the 1-yard line behind Levitre and Roos, with Chris Johnson running behind them, isn’t the team Mike Munchak created in the offseason built to succeed there a majority of the time?

Unfortunately, the Titans didn't have 10 shots from the 1-yard line. They had one shot and Peter brings up a good point here. He really does. I still think the Titans would have had momentum in overtime, but I completely see why Munchak should have gone for it here.

Munchak went all-in on the running game and the tough offensive line, and Tennessee spent that way all offseason, even buying a beefy backup to Johnson, Shonn Greene, to help with the running load. And when it came time to get one yard to win a football game that would have been a tremendous boost in a mostly depressing year—and might have saved the jobs of the entire coaching staff as well—Munchak played for overtime.

It's a malaise in the NFL. A head coach builds his team to run the ball and then doesn't trust his team to run the ball when it comes time to run the ball with the game on the line. Coaches are built in this situation to go to overtime and not waste a comeback on a single running play from the 1-yard line.
The Sportsman of the Year decision.

This year the picture is murkier, but I’d go, in order: Manning, Ortiz, Rivera, McCarron, Johnson.

The difference is that most of these other sportsmen accomplished something of significance in the calendar year while Peyton Manning is in the process of possibly accomplishing something significant during 2013. I don't really care about fake awards like this, but I don't see how Peyton Manning is the Sportsman of the Year...other than the fact he maybe sells magazine covers.

Stone will give his reasoning, because it’s ultimately his call. I like Manning for the award because, at 37 and maybe 85 percent of his former grip and arm strength because of his four neck procedures in 2010 and 2011, he is apace to challenge the two big single-season pro football passing records: touchdowns (50, held by Brady) and yards (5,476, held by Drew Brees).

Eh, these personal accomplishments are great, but I'm not sure it qualifies to be Sportsman of the Year since Manning hasn't actually broken these records yet.

Having one’s best year under the circumstances and with so many young pups with stronger arms and faster legs chasing him is worthy of our praise and respect.

Yes, he is worthy of respect and praise. I don't think he is worthy of the Sportsman of the Year from "Sports Illustrated."

I appreciate the difference of opinion about the award. There usually is one. Manning didn’t win a title this year, and he didn’t win a playoff game, and both of those should be factors in the decision. Factors, not musts. As I said, Stone will give his reasoning today in various venues, but I am bullish on the call for the eighth football person to win Sportsman in this, the 60th year of the award.

Peter King likes the call because he likes Peyton Manning. It actually seems to be that simple. I'm not a huge fan of talking about playoff victories, but Manning didn't even win a playoff game last year and a sportsman having personal and team success is usually a major factor in whether he wins the award. In fact, I can't think of anything (other than come back from an injury, which is silly to base his merit for receiving this award upon) that Manning accomplished in the 2013 year. He's played great football. So have other football players and other athletes. LeBron James just won back-to-back NBA titles with the Heat while being the best player in the NBA. 

I think it is interesting that Peter tells us why other serious candidate for Sportsman of the Year could win the award, but all he has for Peyton Manning is he may break some individual records this year and he played really well in 2013 coming off an injury from two years ago. It's very weak reasoning for Manning to win the award. 

All is right with the world in Kansas City, and with Charles, over the last two games. He has seven touchdowns and 373 total yards, and he’s thrust himself into the debate for the awards—Offensive Player of the Year and MVP—that players find most prestigious.

The Kansas City Chiefs won a football game, so all is fine with them this week and Peter isn't going to talk about any negative indicators that the Chiefs still aren't a very good playoff least until the Chiefs lose another game, at which point Peter will mention how the Chiefs have struggled so much lately. 

Fine Fifteen
1. Seattle (12-2).


2. San Francisco (10-4).

The 49ers and the Seahawks just played a very close game two weeks ago and the 49ers ended up winning that game. I guess if the Seahawks are playing at home then this is a massive line of demarcation, but considering the 49ers beat the Seahawks just two weeks ago I don't think the line of demarcation is that massive.

3. Denver (11-3). Willing to think it was just an off-night against a foe who knows the Broncos so very well, and a coach who knows Peyton Manning so very well.

And course this is no big deal in the playoffs since Bill Belichick doesn't know Manning well, Manning certainly hasn't ever played for the Colts, and the Chiefs haven't played the Broncos twice already this year. 

7. Kansas City (11-3). Two games, 101 points. Even against putrid defenses, that’s pretty good.

It appears that Peter is talking himself into liking the Chiefs again. At least until the Chiefs play another difficult opponent, in which case Peter will point out all the flaws the Chiefs have. 

8. Cincinnati (9-5). This is the kind of year it’s been in the NFL: I woke up Sunday thinking the Bengals would beat New England and maybe Denver on neutral fields. Then there was an egg-laying of the highest degree in Pittsburgh. So now, you ask me about the Bengals, who have lost at Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this season, and I’m throwing darts.

Because as we've seen from Peter move teams up and down his Fine Fifteen all season, he certainly isn't throwing darts every time he does his Fine Fifteen. 

15. (tie)  San Diego (7-7).

15.  (tie) Detroit (7-6).

And of course Peter puts 16 teams in his Fine Fifteen. 

No turnovers, and the Lions are sixth or seventh here. The normal turnover-filled game, they’re 18th. You tell me which it is tonight. I have no clue.

Considering Peter picked the Ravens to win the game (or did he? Check below to see...I hate it when writers say things like this...) and placed Baltimore ahead of the Lions in his Fine Fifteen, then I think it's pretty clear Peter thought which Lions team he would see Monday night. And yes, I'm aware Peter has no clue in general. 

Offensive Players of the Week
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City. When’s the last time a running back caught three touchdown passes in the first 25 minutes of a game? And four for the game? 

I don't know, Peter. As you would say go Google it and then tell us.

(Okay, Elias: Go scurrying for that one. You know what? Elias will find it. Guaranteed.)

The world is Peter's toilet. He encourages his readers to Google the answer to questions that he poses and when Peter has a question he wants answered then he expects someone else to find the answer. The point is that Peter isn't planning on doing work to answer his or anyone else's question.

Matt Cassel, quarterback, Minnesota. This was the Cassel that Scott Pioli staked his Kansas City reputation on four and half years ago:

Most importantly, Peter wants us to know his good friend Scott Pioli didn't completely miss on Cassel being the Chiefs quarterback of the future. Cassel can be worth the second round pick Pioli traded for him. Peter has to use his pulpit to defend his friends like Jeff Fisher, Greg Schiano and Scott Pioli at all costs. 

Defensive Players of the Week

Michael Thomas, cornerback, Miami. They write TV pilots about the week Thomas just had (see the lead to this column), and people watch them.

Peter King is all about this Michael Thomas story being worthy of television. If this were Bill Simmons writing this column I would think he was trying to passively-aggressively get a television development deal in order to tell this story on television. Since it is Peter King writing this column I understand that Peter is just being as dramatic as possible.

Coach of the Week
Joe Philbin, head coach, Miami. Might not just be Coach of the Week. Might be Coach of the Year.

Dan Dierdorf said something similar on Sunday during the Jets-Panthers game. So Philbin is going to get credit for creating an environment where one of his players can bully another and then finding a way to rise above the environment he has created and help his team be successful?

“It’s my fault.”

—Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who took the blame for throwing the interception with 2:50 to play and the Cowboys nursing a lead over Green Bay. It was a play coach Jason Garrett said should have been a running play.

Bad play-calling aside, this was a dumb audible. Though the Cowboys knew what they were getting when they gave Romo his new, big contract and if the coach is going to give Romo the ability to call an audible at the line of scrimmage then these are the types of things they will have to live with.

 “A hundred and 66 thousand dollars a week to do nothing.”  

—’s Mike Florio, on the luckiest man in the NFL, Josh Freeman, who is making $2 million for 12 weeks of mostly sitting out games, inactive, with Minnesota.

I'm not a Josh Freeman fan by any stretch of the imagination, but his contract runs out at the end of the year. He got paid $2 million to see if he could be the Vikings answer at quarterback. He's not, so it is $2 million down the drain. Yet again, Peter's quarterback hero against the Cowboys this week (Matt Flynn) got paid $6.5 million from the Raiders for doing even less than Freeman has done for the Vikings. At least Freeman started a game for the Vikings. It's a sunk cost and was worth $2 million to see if Freeman was the answer at quarterback for the Vikings. Freeman isn't the first quarterback to be well-paid to do nothing. Matt Schaub is well-paid and he is sitting on the bench as well. Why the infatuation regarding Josh Freeman being a waste of money?

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I went nowhere this week. Could I have a week off from this item in the column? No? Well then, let’s dig into the vault of good travel notes. How about this one, from July 26, 2010. It’s the note that was responsible for changing the name of this specific part of the column:

If Peter can be lazy and copy what he wrote three years ago then I will do the same. Here's what I wrote when Peter King got tough on a guy who tried to cut in line for the elevator.

The Westin Hotel/Michigan Avenue in Chicago has long been a hotel of choice for me, because of its proximity to everything in such a great city. Last week, on my last travel leg of vacation, it was also the scene of something I never could have expected: an argument that, in 10 seconds, almost escalated into a hotel-lobby brawl.

You don't fuck with Peter King when he is trying to get to his hotel room. You know hotels don't always just hold your room for you! Sometimes they overbook and then you have to find another hotel, perhaps even one that doesn't have free coffee! It's like a third-world country at some of these hotels.

So when my wife and I got to the bank of elevators around 6 p.m., there were 15 or so people waiting for the one working lift. We waited two, three, four minutes. Now there were 25 or 30 people waiting. And then a 35ish man wedged in to the left of the crowd waiting for the elevator. He looked at the line of people and looked peeved. We all were, of course. Then the door opened and 10 or 12 people came off. And the 35ish man took three quick steps to the elevator.

"Hey, hey, hey,'' I said. "Come on, buddy. That's not right.''

Peter says this as a he sips his Starbucks latte with cherry swirls.

The guy stopped, looked at me angrily and snarled, "Don't tell me what to do. I wasn't going on.''
"Yes you were,'' I said. "I saw what you were doing. That's not right.''

If only Donnie "Brasco" Banks were here right now. He HATES people who line-skip. He'd kick ass and take names if he were in this situation.

He took a couple of steps toward me and said angrily, "I'm a Starwood Preferred member.''

At this point I would have laughed in his face. He's too pathetic to even fight with.

"You're also an a------,'' I said.

This is the part where Peter King gets killed by a 35ish man in Chicago.

I obviously shouldn't have said that, but he deserved it. Now Mr. Starwood Preferred walked the final three steps toward me and said. "You wanna step outside?'' He bumped my chest hard. "People who use that word are looking for a fight,'' he said.

Which is true. People who use that word are looking for a fight. Plus, he is a Starwood Preferred member.

He was breathing hard on me. "You're a big talker,'' he said, stepping back a step or two.

Apparently Peter King got in a fight with a 1980's movie villain.

"And you're still an a------,'' I said.

By the way, this is my favorite travel note ever. By far.

He stepped toward me again. Almost simultaneously, a front-desk gal near the bank of elevators chirped, "I can take a few people up the service elevator!'' So my wife sidestepped the guy. I walked toward the door, me staring at Mr. Starwood Preferred the whole way.

So in summation, Peter King deserved to get his ass kicked, but he was in the right on this issue. It is fine to call the guy an asshole and then back down a bit, but Peter called him an asshole twice and then stared him down. It is like Peter WANTED a fight. Perhaps Brett Favre didn't return his phone call that day. Who knows?

I don't know exactly why -- it's not testosterone, I don't think -- but I almost wish Mr. Starwood Preferred had taken a swing at me. Even if he'd pummeled me (and he may well have), he'd have known that at least one person out of 30 sniffed out the real idiot in the crowd.

Actually Peter is the one that acted like an idiot for continuously baiting this guy...even though Peter was right and the guy was a jerk. You can't bait random strangers into almost fighting you, this is just a rule I have.

Not ironically, I was reminded after I wrote my "can't bait random strangers into almost fighting you" rule that I had violated this rule a few times prior to 2010. Most notably at 2:30am on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina while waiting in line for a hot dog (and no, alcohol was not inv---okay yes, it was very heavily involved). I got into an argument with a guy over Tom Brady (and really, who else would the argument be over at 2:30am in South Carolina?). Our positions on Tom Brady were vastly different and my suggestion about an alternative use for the hot dog went unheeded. So I'm hypocrite and since that time have created my rule about baiting random strangers. So I learned from my experience about baiting random strangers and the rule had nothing to do with the fact I was outnumbered at the time four-to-one.

My larger point is that Peter King baited this guy and probably should have gotten his ass kicked as a result.

” ‘It’s so unlike Tony Romo to throw an interception at the end of the game.’

—@FrankCaliendo, the professional funnyman.

I think calling Caliendo "professional" and a "funnyman" is stretching it just a bit. Actually this is stretching it a lot.

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 15:

i. Throw of the Day: Under heavy pressure, Matt Cassel stepped up in the pocket against Philadelphia and launched a ball 45 yards in the air right into the hands of a sprinting Greg Jennings. Touchdown, a 57-yard touchdown.

j. Cassel, first quarter, nine of nine, 163 yards with a touchdown.

See? Scott Pioli didn't make a bad decision when he decided to trade a second round pick for Matt Cassel. Pioli is a great evaluator of talent. It just didn't work out in Kansas City and he deserves a second chance. Perhaps I'm completely jaded, but I feel like this is what Peter is saying anytime he compliments Matt Cassel. 

o. Tramon Williams, still a superior corner—even if sometimes he doesn’t play like it.

But doesn't a superior corner normally always play like a superior corner? Every player has a bad day, but I don't know how Tramon Williams can be a superior corner if he doesn't play like it the majority of the time.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 15:

e. Come on, Texans. Have a little pride.

I think pride went out the window about the time their starting quarterback got benched, Arian Foster was put on season-ending IR and the Texans fired their head coach a few weeks after he collapsed on the sidelines. It's a lost season.

3. I think the Rams can cross off one more positional need off their 2014 draft to-do list: running back. Zac Stacy (133 yards) was tremendous against formerly formidable New Orleans, and he’s just the kind of back Jeff Fisher likes: some speed, but enough power to make people bounce off.

If Peter hasn't made this clear despite having done a feature in "Sports Illustrated" on the Rams draft and mentioning it every week, the Rams had a great draft this year. The future is so bright for the Rams. Give Jeff Fisher a few more years. It's impossible to turn a team around in just two seasons and your faith in Fisher will be rewarded with a winning season, followed by a couple 8-8 seasons.

4. I think the maddening thing about what we’re seeing in Pittsburgh is the grace and power of Le’Veon Bell and the deep-threat ability of Antonio Brown … and the fact that it’s almost certainly going to be too little, too late...But this is a contending team with holes, which you can say about 20 to 24 teams in the league right now.

We can say that 20 to 24 NFL teams are contending teams with holes? There are up to 24 contending teams right now? That's information I didn't know. But yes, every NFL team has holes on the roster and this includes whatever team will win the Super Bowl. Every team has at least one weakness.

6. I think these are my thoughts about the tumult in Washington:

c. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington owner Dan Snyder sniff around Art Briles, to see if he could recreate the Baylor magic Briles and Griffin made. But I can’t see it happening. I get the sense there’s already enough feeling in the Washington locker room that Griffin gets special treatment. Why feed into that more by importing a special coach for him?

Snyder would feed into that because he's Dan Snyder and he has chosen Robert Griffin as his starting quarterback and would be willing to bring in an offensive-minded head coach who can bring out the best in Robert Griffin. In most locker rooms the starting quarterback gets some sort of special attention and if Griffin plays well the Redskins are going to win games, which means Griffin's teammates will be happy. It's not shocking that Snyder will bring in a guy like Art Briles to try and rehabilitate Griffin though. I would be shocked if Snyder didn't try this not-out-of-the-box thinking.

e. For his own good, and for the sake of the won-loss record, Snyder should draw a personal line between himself and the players. Over and over again, coaches are annoyed with some stars getting taken into the sanctuary and some not. It’s just not a good team thing.

Because I'm sure this is a policy that Tom Brady and Robert Kraft abide by. I'm positive that Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning had a personal relationship with each other in some capacity. I don't think Griffin and Snyder should be best friends, but the owner bringing in certain players as team leaders isn't all that rare. I can see where it would cause some teammates to be jealous, so I think the larger point is Dan Snyder doesn't need to bring ONLY Robert Griffin into his sanctuary.

f. I’d love to see David Shaw get a shot at RG3. I doubt he’d consider it, because I think the only place the well-satisfied Stanford coach would go in the NFL is an absolutely ideal one, and that’s not Washington right now. Wouldn’t mind Jay or Jon Gruden as the Shanahan heir either.

Oh yes, Jon Gruden. Because the Redskins have tried the whole "hire a coach who was successful previously and then pay him $7-8 million per year" approach previously and it worked out so well.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

a. Newtown, a year later. Nothing substantive done about gun control in Washington, and at the state level 37 states increasing mental-health budgets in 2013 and five beefing up background checks. Not nearly enough. Overall, a sin.

What's to be done about gun control when there's this whole healthcare law that really, really needs everyone's attention and plays so well one way or another politically? Politicians aren't interested in doing something that can divide his/her own party like gun control, not when there is an easy, safe debate about healthcare that doesn't divide the party as much.

e. I like some of the things I read from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the Shawn Thornton assault of Brooks Orpik last week, so I asked him to weigh in on the future of fighting in hockey. I am anti-fighting.

Unless someone tries to jump in front of Peter in line for the elevator, at which point Peter calls this person an asshole and is immediately ready to throw down.

k. Beernerdness: Will stock up on a couple of Christmas beers this week. Suggestions?

Yeah. Google what some good Christmas beers are and don't expect your audience to give you all the answers when you are the guy who loftily tells his readers to "Go Google or Bing it" when making a reference you think the audience won't understand.

Detroit 23, Baltimore 20.

The twist! I was just kidding earlier when I said Peter picked the Ravens to beat the Lions. Peter picks the Lions to beat the Ravens, but ranks the Ravens ahead of the Lions in his Fine Fifteen. I can't figure it out. Maybe Peter thought it would be one of those nights where the Lions don't turn the ball over at all.

The Adieu Haiku

One simple question
in the Hall of Fame cutdown:
Where is Joe Klecko?

One simple question
about THE MMQB
Why bring the haikus over?


Matthew Cleary said...

I think the Flynn comment about little kids at recess summed up my issues with King and his ilk. I don't understand the love of the Favre, Epstein, Woodhead types who play the game like a kid. Football is an ugly brutal games that churns people in and out. Running backs get loaded up on cortisone and get cut the next season for the next young guy coming out of college. But Peter seems to retain some childlike Space Jam notion of the sport.

Bengoodfella said...

Matthew, I would bet Peter argues you have to keep a child-like love of the game to keep doing what he does. Still, it doesn't make sense to me either why these players must be referred to as children or as "precocious" as if they aren't playing a violently brutal game for a large amount of money.

Snarf said...

It may not have matched the scoring flurry of Week 14, but Week 15 was the stuff movies are made of. From an unknown (to his own team) cornerback to a cast-off quarterback both getting redemption, Hollywood might have just gotten a couple of ideas

I love Peter's unintentional flat-out-wrongisms. Week 15 was actually the highest scoring week in NFL history (or maybe the Sunday was the highest scoring day).

Anonymous said...

"The Cowboys, trying to run the clock down, spent all of 63 seconds on this drive … when the only thing that mattered at this point was bleeding the clock."

What a ridiculous statement. This was a 12 point game in the 3rd quarter, and ALL that matters is running clock? Are you going to put together an 18 minute drive? Dallas needed to continue to try to extend their lead. I can't stand these Monday morning play callers. I mean, god help me I'm defending Garrett and Callahan here, but the important thing here was points, not running clock. Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean it was wrong, although I realize that's the world Peter King lives in.

Also, Romo's first INT wasn't an audible but a packaged play. He had the option to either hand off or throw the backside slant. I think the slant was open at first, which is why Romo went to that, but he had to evade Matthews first, and by the time he threw it Shields had caught up. And you're right, on the 2nd INT Cole Beasley throttled down coming out of his break, but no one knows who Cole Beasley is so he escapes criticism.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's the same thing Gregg Easterbrook said. I get the Cowboys should have run the ball more, but they had to keep scoring points in the game. They couldn't just take a knee for the rest of the game.

That first pass to Shields was ill-advised. It was more of a case of Romo's footwork being bad or throwing a ball he should not have due to the pressure in his face. The second pass, I don't blame Romo at all. It was incredibly obvious that Cole Beasley just stopped on the route. I think Romo led Beasley because he thought Beasley wasn't just going stop. It's easy to blame Romo, but I have a feeling if that was Manning throwing the ball then it would be pointed out he wanted to lead the receiver and the receiver quit on the route.