Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 comments Gregg Names His TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP, I Name My BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP

Last week Gregg Easterbrook said that some people had criticized John Harbaugh this season for firing Cam Cameron, while forgetting that he himself had criticized John Harbaugh this season for firing Cameron and trying to shift the blame off himself. Gregg also criticized Notre Dame for the school's reaction to the Manti Te'o incident, while asking why they ignored an accused sexual assault on campus. This is ironic because in a November 2012 TMQ Gregg lauded Manti Te'o and Notre Dame, while ignoring the accused sexual assault on campus. As always, Gregg only brings up certain information when it goes to prove the point he wants to prove. This week Gregg talks (again) about the Harbaugh brothers, but mostly focuses on how they probably secretly hate each other, and responds to the pleas of zero people he names the TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP. 

In this column I will name my BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP. I will give out the criteria below and this award is supposed to honor a highly-drafted, highly paid and high-performing NFL player who plays either the running back or quarterback position. Obviously it is a counter to Gregg's bullshit, even though his TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP is usually a highly drafted player anyway.

Jim and John Harbaugh have only nice things to say about each other. And the first time they squared off was uneventful. 

But several schools of psychology teach that adults carry deep-seated traumas from childhood, which may manifest as subconscious motives even among the best-adjusted men and women.

And so naturally this must be true for Jim and John Harbaugh. Now that Gregg has proven his assumption is true, let him tell you exactly why these two brothers have deep-seated traumas from childhood. Psychology also teaches us that people who constantly ogle cheerleaders and make comments about their attractiveness have deep-seated sexual issues. So now that we know Gregg Easterbrook is at the very least a pedophile, let's talk a little bit about why this may be true too.

It's not uncommon for two siblings to each believe the other was favored by parents.

And because this has happened before, this is obviously the case with the Harbaugh brothers. Gregg Easterbrook is not only shitty at football analysis, analysis of television shows, and writing in general, but now he is a shitty amateur psychologist. There are few things Gregg is actually good at, but boy he loves showing off what he is bad at.

Which raises the question: What deep-seated childhood resentments are harbored by John and Jim Harbaugh? Will they boil to the surface if, say, the Super Bowl comes down to a disputed call and the referee -- obviously a father figure! -- favors one Harbaugh over the other?

Well, obviously because these two brothers have deep-seated resentments (and this is a proven fact based on Gregg's assumption) if a disputed call goes against Jim Harbaugh he will attempt to violently murder the closest person standing next to him during the Super Bowl. In other news, Gregg Easterbrook has won the Bottom of the Barrel Award Super Bowl Award. This goes to the sportswriter who has written the worst over the past year and the prize is that Gregg gets to stay right next to Jim Harbaugh during the entire Super Bowl, never to leave his side and will stay next to him the entire game.

Or what if Jacqueline Harbaugh, their mother, is shown on national television wildly cheering for a touchdown by either San Francisco or Baltimore, then impassively observing a big play by the other side? That's a year in therapy right there. 

What if the Ravens win the Super Bowl and Jacqueline Harbaugh is interviewed after the game and she claims that John was her favorite son, but she had been sleeping with another man when John was born so she doesn't know if he is Jack Harbaugh's son? At that point, John and Jim are only half-brothers. How does that change the dynamic, and more importantly because psychologists believe in the Oedipal Complex, which half-brother wants to sleep with his mom and murder his father?

And even if Mom and Dad spend exactly the same amount of time in each team's locker room afterward, human nature dictates they will be giddy with the winning brother, glum and hand-patting ("there there, dear, you'll get the fire truck next Christmas") with the vanquished brother.

Whichever brother gets the hand-patting from his mother, THAT is the half-brother who was sleeping with his mother. Case closed.

Now, add that John is the big brother, expected by birth-order theory to be stoic, disciplined and respectful of authority. Jim and Joani, their sister, get a lot more latitude: Birth-order theory says they can be uninhibited and forgiven for outbursts, while John should hold everything inside. That's not a good formula for a very emotional event staged on live television before hundreds of millions of viewers.

Let's not forget that birth-order theory is infallible and never incorrect. I'm the first-born and I am prone to outbursts and am fairly uninhibited in what I say and do, while my younger sibling is the exact same way that I am. We all know birth-order theory can never be wrong, so I shouldn't even bother questioning it in any fashion.

It's fun to see the rabbit-hole Gregg has us going down.

-Psychologists say brothers can have deep-seated emotional issues with each other or their parents.

-The Harbaugh brothers probably have deep-seated emotional issues with each other or their parents based on the fact psychologists say this can happen. 

-During the Super Bowl this deep-seated issue could show up in the form of a violence or a temper tantrum because of a call that goes against one of the brothers.

-Due to the birth-order theory, it will most likely be John Harbaugh who will have an emotional event on national television.

So after all of this amateur psychology and these assumptions, Gregg has gotten to the point where he thinks John Harbaugh is going to throw a hissy-fit during the Super Bowl because his mommy didn't love him as much as he thought she should.

On paper there are strong reasons to favor the Forty Niners. Better stats -- San Francisco finished third on defense, 11th on offense, versus a mediocre 17th-ranked offense, 16th-ranked defense for the Ravens.

If the games were played on paper, then the Broncos would be the AFC representative in the Super Bowl because they had the most balanced offense and defense. The game isn't played on paper though, it is played on the field with gritty players who love dirt and hustling.

That Baltimore struggled in December and shined in January suggests the Ravens, like the Packers and Giants before them, have honored sports lore by saving the best for last. 

This must be as opposed to the 49ers who have been at their best for the entire year and "the best" for them would be to play their best in the biggest game of the season. I'm not entirely sure why saving the best for last is honoring sports lore, but I really need to stop asking questions about all the stupid shit Gregg says or writes.

Johnny Football, the Heisman winner -- of course, Texas A&M doesn't want him to get hurt running the ball. But Texas A&M has six quarterbacks on its roster, all obtained nearly free in economic terms, all former prep heroes. If Manziel goes down, the Aggies could turn to Matt Davis, a four-star recruit. The running quarterback is a strong offensive threat either in college or the pros. But in college, there's little economic reason not to let the quarterback run.

Naturally, Gregg is basing this reasoning on assumptions while leaving out any important information from entering the discussion that may disprove his theory. Gregg is assuming there is no difference in Johnny Manziel and Matt Davis when it comes to running the Texas A&M offense. It's entirely possible Matt Davis would be incapable of running the Texas A&M offense, just like it is possible an NFL quarterback's backup would be entirely capable of running the offense. I don't think the NFL uses fewer running quarterbacks because of economic reasons, but because the NFL has a better group of athletes on defense and it is more difficult for a running quarterback to have the athletic advantage over the defense he could have in college.

In the pros, a franchise typically has $20 million to $50 million invested in the starting quarterbacks and hopes a good quarterback will stay in town for a decade. Draft-choice investments, no factor in college, in the NFL may be extreme. Washington invested three first-round picks in RG III; if he sustains a serious injury rushing the ball, that's calamity.

Right, and notice this didn't stop the Redskins from running the ball with him at all. It didn't change very much of what Washington wanted to offensively because they have a capable backup in Kirk Cousins. Gregg is also talking about running quarterbacks in the context of discussing Colin Kaepernick and his use of the Pistol offense. Well the 49ers have a reason to let him run and that reason is because he is good at it and they have a capable backup in the form of Alex Smith. So I don't buy Gregg's "economic theory" when it comes to why NFL teams supposedly don't let their quarterbacks run with the football. I don't see how Gregg can believe his own theory considering quarterbacks who can run with the football are becoming more and more popular and Gregg has acknowledged this in TMQ. NFL teams want to win games and they will do what it takes to win these games. While they want to reduce hits on their quarterback, a team isn't going to shy away from using their quarterback as they see fit in order to win a game.

In the NFL, no team is five-deep at quarterback like in college. Backups tend to be players who haven't seen the field in years, unlike in college, where many backups were stars the season before.

What? In what world are many backups the stars of the season before? Every backup in college football hasn't come directly from high school nor started for that specific college the year before. Usually if a college quarterback is a star the season before then he gets to keep the starting quarterback job. I don't know what college football Gregg is watching, but usually if a quarterback plays well the season before he isn't relegated to backup duty the next season. The fact a high school quarterback was a star at his high school the year before is irrelevant when determining how fit this quarterback is to run the college offense because of the talent differential in high school and college football teams.

Backup quarterbacks in the NFL may not have seen the field in years, but they have proven at one point or another they can be a competent quarterback. After all, they are playing in the NFL. This is not something a backup college quarterback can claim as true. As bad as Jimmy Clausen has been in the NFL, he proved at Notre Dame that he can play quarterback on the college level at least. The backup for Texas A&M or another college hasn't necessarily proven this yet and the backup quarterback at the college level certainly usually wasn't the star of the team the season before. Maybe they were stars in high school, but more times than not if a quarterback is worth a shit he will be red-shirted for his freshman year. So if a backup is red-shirted and then becomes the backup in college, he will at least be 18 months removed from being the star of a team.

Also, being five-deep at quarterback doesn't mean jack-shit if the quality of the depth chart isn't very good. NFL teams could be three-deep at quarterback and have three better options than a college team that is five-deep at quarterback. I'm starting to forget what Gregg was even originally talking about.

Marx said everything is economics. He'd understand in an instant why so many colleges want their quarterbacks to run, and so few pro teams do.

For God's sake, it isn't that NFL teams don't want their quarterback to run the football, it is just NFL teams have more athletic defenders who make it more difficult for a quarterback to run the football.

As regards Canton, TMQ hopes this will be Andre Reed's year. He played on a run-oriented team in a bad-weather city, yet left Buffalo as the NFL's No. 2 all-time receiver.

Gregg Easterbrook from earlier in this very column:

One reason is that fad offenses have bubbled up into the pros before -- the Bills were no-huddle always-shotgun 20 years ago,

So the Bills must have been one of those run-oriented shotgun no-huddle teams which you never hear about in the NFL. I don't know what playing in a bad-weather city has to do with anything nor do I know if Andre Reed should be elected into the Hall of Fame, but I do know I wouldn't consider the Bills teams he played on to be run-oriented since they were famous for throwing the ball all over the field with Jim Kelly, Reed, Don Beebe, and James Lofton. They ran the ball with Thurman Thomas, but weren't run-oriented.

If on that draft day, Reed had gone to San Francisco and Rice to Buffalo, there is a strong chance Reed would have become professional football's consensus all-time best receiver, while in 2013, the Hall of Fame selectors would be debating whether this Jerry Rice guy belongs in Canton.

No, there is not. There is not a strong chance Andre Reed would have been the consensus all-time best receiver if he had been drafted by the 49ers. I don't understand how Gregg believes he can get away with saying bullshit like this, other than the fact he completely gets away with writing bullshit like this. Gregg says things like this nearly every single week. He makes just makes pronouncements that are pure speculation and have no factual or logical backing. How the fuck is there a strong chance Andre Reed would be considered the best receiver of all-time? Reed played with a Hall of Fame quarterback just like Jerry Rice did. What evidence does Gregg have this statement is true? None.

TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP: Only players whose teams reach the postseason are considered, on the reasoning that he who would wear the mantle of "most valuable" had better have created some value.

And of course it is impossible to create value if your team didn't go to the playoffs. I'm not going to argue this point because I only have so much room to write here and refuse to let him take me down that rabbit hole, but let's just say Gregg can shove a hockey stick up his ass for saying this and believing it to be true.

Here are the past winners:


2001: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2002: Lincoln Kennedy, Raiders
2003: Damien Woody, Patriots
2004: Troy Brown, Patriots
2005: Walter Jones, Seahawks
2006: Jeff Saturday, Colts
2007: Matt Light, Patriots
2008: James Harrison, Steelers
2009: Dallas Clark, Colts
2010: Dan Koppen, Patriots
2011: David Diehl, Giants  


Remember how Gregg hates highly-drafted glory boys? Of his TMQ Non-QB Non-RB award winners, by my count without looking it up five of them were drafted in the 1st round. 11 winners and 5 of them have been first round draft picks. Remember that next time Gregg starts talking about how great undrafted or unwanted players or indicates highly-drafted players are lazy and only want money.

Here are this year's finalists from the teams that made the playoffs but not the Super Bowl:

Atlanta -- Tony Gonzalez
Cincinnati -- Geno Atkins
Denver -- Von Miller
Green Bay -- Randall Cobb
Houston -- Johnathan Joseph
Indianapolis -- Anthony Castonzo
Minnesota -- Phil Loadholt
New England -- Wes Welker
Seattle -- Max Unger
Washington -- Tyler Polumbus


Of these 10 players, 5 of these players were first round draft picks. I feel like this is important since I am going to name my BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP in a few moments. Gregg hates highly drafted players until it comes time to name the best players for a team, in which case he forgets how much he hates them and lauds them for being great players at a non-RB or QB position.

This year's runner up is Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens, one of the three or four best offensive linemen in the NFL, and master of a lost art, the pull trap.

The pull trap is a lost art apparently. You learn so much reading the lies that Gregg writes on a weekly basis.

This year's winner is NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco Forty Niners. Bowman led the Niners in tackling, stayed on the field on passing downs, and broke up the Falcons' last-minute fourth down pass -- while covering speed receiver Roddy White -- to secure the Niners' trip to New Orleans.

Bowman is the master of the lost art of covering the other team's receiver. NFL defenses just don't do this anymore. 

Sentimental factor: your columnist attended one of Bowman's games in high school. 

At least this award was based entirely on merit and not based on any other factors outside of merit.

Now it is time to name the answer to Gregg's TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP. It is the BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP. There are 32 nominees because I am a logical person who understands a player doesn't have to help his team make the playoffs to create value. These nominees were all drafted in the first or second round and created a large amount of value to their team this year, but more importantly they are also highly-paid players and players who get a lot of credit and attention. So they get a lot of money and were drafted highly in their respective draft. I will give most of the focus to players who play skill positions that get too much of the spotlight already. Please note, these aren't the best players on each team, because I am choosing my nominees through my own private criteria that makes no logical sense, much like how Gregg does with his TMQ Non-QB Non-RB MVP.

The nominees are:

San Francisco: Michael Crabtree, WR
Chicago: Jay Cutler, QB
Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR
Buffalo: C.J. Spiller, RB
Denver: Peyton Manning, QB
Cleveland: Trent Richardson, RB
Tampa Bay: Josh Freeman, QB
Arizona: Darnell Dockett, DT
San Diego: Philip Rivers, QB
Kansas City: Dwayne Bowe, WR
Indianapolis: Dwight Freeney, DE
Dallas: Dez Bryant, WR
Miami: Karlos Dansby, LB
Philadelphia: Nnadmi Asomugha, CB
Atlanta: Roddy White, WR
New York Giants: Eli Manning, QB
Jacksonville: Marcedes Lewis, TC
New York Jets: Antonio Cromartie, CB
Detroit: Calvin Johnson, WR
Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers, QB
Carolina: DeAngelo Williams, RB
New England: Jerod Mayo, LB
Oakland: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
St. Louis: Sam Bradford, RB
Baltimore: Joe Flacco, QB
Washington: DeAngelo Hall, CB
New Orleans: Drew Brees, QB
Seattle: Sidney Rice, WR
Pittsburgh: Troy Polamalu, S
Houston: Jonathan Joseph, CB (A highly-paid, highly-drafted glory boy on both Gregg and my list!)
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson, RB
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson, RB

The runner-up for the BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP is Adrian Peterson. Not only was he drafted in the top 10 of the NFL Draft and plays a position that Gregg Easterbrook thinks is losing value due to the NFL becoming a passing game, but he gets a lot of attention. Peterson earned $11.150 million last year and helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs.

The winner of the BotB Highly-Drafted Glory Boy-Only MVP is Sam Bradford. While being the fifth highest paid player in the NFL in making $15.595 million, Bradford also managed to not help lead his team to the playoffs. He was the first overall pick in the draft and was 15th in the NFL in passing yards, 20th in completion percentage, 26th in yards per attempt, threw the 18th most touchdowns in the NFL, the 15th most interceptions in the NFL, and was 18th in QB rating. Bradford is a highly-drafted and very highly-paid quarterback who performed in a very average fashion. Congratulations Sam Bradford, you are my MVP and the kind of highly-paid, glory boy we just don't see coming out of college much anymore.

Misery loves company: all seven of the NFL's seven highest-scoring teams failed to win the Super Bowl that season. Here they are, from first to seventh in points scored:

2007 Patriots -- lost Super Bowl
2011 Packers -- lost divisional, at home.
2012 Patriots -- lost conference title game, at home.
1998 Vikings -- lost conference title game, at home.
2011 Saints -- lost divisional, on road.
1983 Redskins -- lost Super Bowl.
2000 Rams -- lost wildcard, on road. 


What Gregg fails to mention is that the seven highest-scoring teams in NFL history all made the playoffs and over half of them made it to the conference title game or the Super Bowl. So it isn't all bad.

Yet, teams that finish No. 1 in offense as measured by yards do well in the Super Bowl. Eight No. 1 offensive teams have won the ultimate contest, most recently the 2009 New Orleans Saints. Here are the eight first-overall offenses that won the Super Bowl:

Team sports is, ultimately, about scoring points. So why have all the best scoring NFL teams faltered, why many of the best yardage teams did well?

This sounds like an interesting question actually. My best guess would be that while games are won by teams who score a lot of points, teams that show they can run up a lot of yardage and move the football on offense have a better chance of running up a lot of yardage and moving the football against the good defenses that team will see in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. There may be another logical explanation as well, but of course Gregg goes for the bullshit explanation.

Your columnist is going to go all squishy and propose that the reason the record-scoring-total NFL teams failed to win the Super Bowl is psychological. They became spoiled, expecting to score quickly, expecting to see defeat in the eyes of opponents by the third quarter.

Yes Gregg, I am sure this is the exact reason record-setting teams fail to win the Super Bowl. They become spoiled psychologically and expect to score quickly. We all know the one attribute we think of when talking about Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees (quarterbacks on those record-setting offensive teams) I think of guys who are spoiled and expect to score quickly. These guys are always lacking the killer instinct and aren't used to winning close games.

But during the playoffs, intensity cranks to maximum, and the accustomed easy scoring stopped. Cornerbacks who backed off during the regular season were up on the line jamming receivers.
Defensive ends were going all-out trying to knock the quarterback on his keister and make him hear footsteps.

Gregg believes in the playoffs defenses change their entire defensive schemes around. Cornerbacks who the defensive coordinator didn't trust to jam receivers in the regular season are now suddenly more trust-worthy. Defensive ends that were easily blocked in the regular season now try hard in the playoffs. These are all real things that happen in Gregg's idea of the football universe.

The 2007 Patriots are hardly the only highest-scoring team whose offense, spoiled by quick-and-easy, seized up at the last. The no-huddle Bills of 1990 scored at least 40 points four times, then scored 19 points in losing the Super Bowl.

Yeah, but that Bills team was a mostly run-oriented team as Gregg told us when discussing Andre Reed's Hall of Fame chances.

Top-yardage teams, by contrast, may not expect effortless touchdowns. They're accustomed to fighting their way down the field and to controlling tempo rather than scoring quickly, then jogging back to the bench to relax. 

This is true except for the fact top-yardage teams are used to piling up large amounts of yardage against teams. So under Gregg's half-assed theory wouldn't these teams get frustrated and not know how to act when the opposing team doesn't allow them to pile up a lot of yardage?

I admit that's a psychobabble explanation for the otherwise-vexing reality that the NFL's seven top-scoring seasons ended in playoff defeat. But sometimes, all we've got to explain the human animal is psychobabble.

Yes, sometimes when there is no explanation that is available we should just make up something.

Is Not! Is Too! At the top of the column, TMQ wonders whether childhood feelings will manifest at the Super Bowl. Sound unlikely? Gary Myers reports that a year before the next Super Bowl, both the Jets and Giants have already thrown kindergarten-level hissy fits about not wanting other kids into their rooms. 

Because sibling rivalry caused by deep-seated hatred due to a parent's unequal treatment and the Jets/Giants not wanting other teams to use their facilities, they are the exact same thing.

Then, the standard was raised to 16 core credits, the number in effect today, with a minimum GPA of 2 in core courses. (The NCAA insists on saying minimum GPA of 2.000, which makes it sound like not many NCAA officials have themselves passed core courses in numerical literacy.)

In August 2016, the requirement changes again, to a minimum GPA of 2.3 in core courses (preposterously, the NCAA calls it a "2.300" minimum)

This is not preposterous. The reason the NCAA does this is because if a student-athlete has a 2.295 GPA, then they could argue they have met the requirement for a 2.3 if you round up. The NCAA wants to cover their ass and be more specific to say a student needs a GPA of 2.300, so a student who has a 2.295 can't claim it should be rounded up to 2.30.

The NCAA's whole sliding-scale concept is puzzling. The current minimum of 2 GPA/1010 SAT asks a high school student who is doing poorly in the classroom (the 2 part) to finish a strong 48th percentile on the SAT (the 1010 part). How likely is that? 

It could be very likely. A high school student could have a good GPA, but not score well on the SAT. I know people who had high SAT scores and low GPA's and I know people who had high GPA's and low SAT scores. I would guess it is quite common. What world does Gregg Easterbrook live in?

Then, the higher the GPA, the lower the SAT number the NCAA mandates. A high school student with a core GPA of 3 (excuse me, of 3.000 according to the NCAA) can receive an NCAA scholarship with an SAT of 620, which is third percentile. Third percentile is awful -- barely better than leaving every answer blank. Thus, the NCAA thinks a high school student can do well in school (the 3 part) will do terribly poorly on the SAT (the 620 part). 

Or they think a person who has worked hard enough to get a 3.0 in high school shouldn't have to score as high on the SAT portion. The NCAA is trying to give students credit for hard work it seems.

The practical effect of the new rule should be to force a lot of football and men's basketball candidates into the new academic redshirt year, in which they will know that if they don't start paying attention to schoolwork, there will be no second year of college. If that's the way the coming standards turn out to work, they will be a progressive reform. 

It's very important for these student-athletes, some of whom did not come to school for anything other than to play sports, to get kicked off out of school for not performing well in academics. I'm sure this won't result in any grade inflation or shady "tutoring" stories coming from these new rules.

Then Gregg details the last episode of "The Last Resort" and gives us all of the plot points and a plot summary of the show. It's incredibly unnecessary.

As brothers prepare to meet at the Super Bowl, don't overlook another coaching family milestone: Monte Kiffin, defensive coordinator of USC, was forced out by the head coach, his son, Lane.

Monte may have been hindered by the fad for Xbox Offense in the college ranks -- a recruiting focus on offensive players to win games 45-38. In the NFL, teams remain happy to win 17-13.

Sure Gregg, teams in the NFL are happy to win 17-13, but in college football the teams don't want to win 17-13. Hasn't Gregg talked all year about high-scoring teams with high-powered offenses in the NFL? I guess those don't type of offenses only exist in the NFL when Gregg needs them to exist.

The Baltimore Ravens have come out ahead by firing their offensive coordinator in December. Usually, head coaches fire coordinators or position coaches in order to shift blame.

As I detailed last week, Gregg twice criticized John Harbaugh for shifting the blame for the Ravens' offensive troubles by firing Cam Cameron. Nowhere in this TMQ does he mention that he was wrong about Harbaugh shifting blame or that he didn't think the Ravens came out ahead until it was shown they did come out ahead. In fact, Gregg lumped Harbaugh and the Ravens in with teams who fire coordinators in order to shift blame. Being honest with his readers is not a strength of Gregg Easterbrook. He's a master at deception.

In recent years, most football-factory colleges (the big exceptions are Alabama and LSU) have put most of their talent on offense, seeking to make the scoreboard spin.

Those two teams are the big exceptions in Gregg's mind, except there are other exceptions like Florida, South Carolina, Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc, but Gregg naming a longer list would make his claim most football-factory colleges put most of their talent on offense seem false. Gregg can't allow the perception that his claims are false, so he deceives as best he can.

Next Week: That Super Bowl thing you might have heard about. 

Just as long as it isn't one of those God-forsaken "unwanted" player lists that Gregg annoys us with at the end of every NFL season. Actually, that list is probably going to be arriving in two weeks. That list is among the best examples of where Gregg tries to deceive and mislead his readers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

9 comments That's It, Murray Chass Quits

Murray Chass is done. He's tired of the steroid talk, the nerds who insist on using numbers instead of recollections from two decades ago in Hall of Fame voting, and quit frankly he is just really tired. He needs a nap. These things happen as you get older. Murray is turning in his Hall of Fame ballot and he's at peace with it, just as long as some new-fangled, numbers-loving, basement-dwelling blogger doesn't get his spot. It's a risk Murray is willing to take because Hall of Fame voting is just too damn hard. If Murray knew voting for the best players in baseball history was so hard he never would have started voting for the Hall of Fame in the first place. It's supposed to be easy, dammit! Murray writes more about his being a quitter on his non-blog.

One and done.

I've defended the one-and-done rule so many times. It is not a college basketball rule, so the onus should not be on---wait, Murray is talking about baseball, not college basketball.

I placed an X next to Jack Morris on my Hall of Fame ballot, and I was finished voting.

So Murray didn't vote for any other Hall of Fame candidate? Not Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, or Jeff Bagwell? Jack Morris was his only Hall of Fame vote. It's a good thing he is quitting, because if this is all the thinking he does when it comes time to put in his Hall of Fame ballot then he doesn't need to be voting.

If Morris is elected, I will most likely be finished voting period. If Morris is not elected this time, I will vote for him next year in his final year of eligibility and then be done.

Dammit! Murray is voting for one more year. At least Murray isn't making Jack Morris' Hall of Fame induction personal or anything. Oh no, Murray is able to stay emotionally neutral when it comes to electing his favorite players into the Hall of Fame. Stats geeks hate Morris, which means Murray loves Morris.

Barring a change in my thinking, which I don’t expect, I believe the time has come to relinquish my right as a 10-year (actually 50-year) member of the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote in the Hall of Fame election.

(Fireworks shoot off, a marching band begins to play, and all immediately becomes right with the world)

I offer two reasons for my decision.

1.What's the weird feeling I have in my stomach?

2. Oops, I crapped my pants.

Though I don’t believe there is a more qualified set of electors, certainly not the new-age stats guys who are envious of the writers and believe they should determine Hall of Famers,

This is as opposed to old-age stats guys who are bitter towards the progress baseball has made towards embracing more complex and advanced statistics and believe they should determine Hall of Famers.

I don’t think reporters and columnists who cover and comment on baseball news should be making baseball news.

Naturally, Murray comes to this conclusion after years of voting for the Hall of Fame inductees while being a columnist who covers and comments on baseball news. This would be like me announcing I wasn't writing on this blog anymore because I don't think non-"professional" sportswriters know what good sportswriting is.

The steroids issue has made it impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. No matter how a writer votes or on what he bases his decision whom to vote for or not to vote for, his reasoning has to be flawed and open to challenge.

There is a part of me that agrees with this statement. The steroid issue has really clouded the water when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame. It's hard to know if players who used steroids should be considered, if players who were suspected of steroid use should be considered or even how to consider players who aren't suspected but people claim to "know" that player used. It's hard enough judging the steroid issue in regard to players who may or may not have used, but then the voters have to also decide what their position on the steroid issue means for other players on the ballot. If a person isn't voting for a suspected/proven steroid user, does Fred McGriff get in because he was seen as clean? Does Dale Murphy get in because he was a good guy and very moral? It's not easy to vote for the Hall of Fame.

That being said, it is not impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. It's hard, but not impossible. Simply giving up isn't the right answer. Even if there is no set criteria for how to consider the steroid issue this doesn't mean a writer can't base his decision on his own logic and then defend his position if necessary. Hall of Fame voters use different criteria from each other every single year. The steroid issue just makes this different criteria being considered more obvious.

There are the writers who say they will not vote for anyone who cheated. There are writers who say they will vote for players who established Hall of Fame credentials before they became cheaters.

If I'm a Hall of Fame voter, which (spoiler alert) I'm not, I would probably lean towards voting for players who established Hall of Fame credentials before the documented time they were using steroids. Yes, this is arbitrary and probably very difficult to determine when a player started using steroids, but any decision about who to vote for or not vote for is going to be arbitrary. There are no guidelines. If I didn't try to do a good job of separating out a player's statistics from when he used/did not use steroids, then I would probably have to find another standard for voting. Either way, a voter can choose his own standard and that makes for interesting voting, but voters tend to have their own standard of voting anyway.

There are writers who say they will ignore steroids use, even in obvious cases, and vote as if the stuff didn’t exist because it’s impossible to know for sure who used and who didn’t use.

I say do or don't vote for players we know used steroids and don't use circumstantial evidence to prevent other Hall of Fame worthy players from receiving your vote. I could make a list of players I believe used steroids, but my beliefs weren't proven, so I won't use my own opinion as a way to keep these players out of the Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell is a great example. He needs to be in the Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza is another example. I think there is a chance Piazza used steroids, but I can't base my opinion on bacne or any other non-proven reason. If a voter thinks Piazza's statistics were good enough, he should get a Hall of Fame vote. 

It’s a perfectly good and fair question to ask, but it shouldn’t be answered by voting for known or suspected cheaters. The most logical answer is don’t vote. I have not made a study of the matter, but I noticed the other day a column on ESPN.com by T.J. Quinn, who declared an end to his voting. Good for him.

I am in no way upset Murray isn't voting anymore, but not voting because it has gotten a little too hard is a cop-out. I don't want voters who can't accept the Hall of Fame voting is difficult and want it to be easy. These people should not vote. Seeing the muddied waters, the complex issues that need to be considered, and then deciding it is all too hard seems like a cop-out to me. It's the equivalent of taking your ball and going home because the game is too hard for you.

Now, you might ask and reasonably so, if I plan to stop voting, why did I vote this year? I voted in the hope that my vote would contribute to Morris’ election.

It must have been Jack Morris' mustache that has some sportswriters in hysterics to vote him into the Hall of Fame. That's all I can guess. Morris was a very good pitcher, but not one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.

I didn’t vote for anyone else because anyone I might have considered was a known or suspected cheater, and I didn’t want to aid and abet a cheater.

What if Jack Morris was a cheater? How does Murray know he wasn't? The answer is Murray knows Morris didn't cheat the same way he knows Jeff Bagwell did cheat...because he is just guessing and making shit up. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence that says Jeff Bagwell cheated, but Murray "suspects" Bagwell of being a cheater and that's good enough for him. I "suspect" Murray Chass kidnaps young women and tortures them (by reading his columns to them) in his basement, so I may as well convey my suspicions to the authorities, right?

I think I am safe in concluding that Morris did not cheat.

I think if you are basing a Hall of Fame vote on what you "think" instead of facts then I am glad you aren't voting after Morris gets inducted or is no longer eligible on the ballot.

I know the stats zealots don’t think Morris is a Hall of Famer because his rankings in their new-fangled ratings fall below their standards. But they don‘t have a formula for intestinal fortitude or determination.

No, there is no formula for intestinal fortitude or determination which is why these factors are impossible to measure and should not be considered when deciding whether to vote or not vote for Morris in the Hall of Fame voting. The very fact we can't measure determination is why this shouldn't be used in any way to determine which players get a Hall of Fame vote and which don't.

Morris willed the Minnesota Twins to win Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, refusing to leave as long as the game was scoreless.

He "willed" the Twins to victory in that Lonnie Smith was stupid enough to fall for a fielding trick that caused him not to score the run which would have potentially won the game for the Braves in nine innings. 

The stats zealots are tired of hearing about that game, but it is symbolic of the fatal flaw in their way of viewing players. Numbers simply don’t tell the whole story.

Numbers don't tell the whole story, this is true. This one game is symbolic of the fatal flaw in Murray's way of viewing players. He uses a one game sample size and ignores any information to the contrary of that one sample size to vote Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame. Morris's career ERA in the playoffs was 3.80. In fact, this number is very misleading because three times in his career Morris was outstanding in a postseason series, three times Morris was absolutely terrible, and once he put up an ERA of 4.05. The fact Morris wasn't an excellent postseason pitcher overall doesn't faze Murray. He sticks to that one game where Morris was great as the only criteria needed to say Morris was a Hall of Famer full of determination and intestinal fortitude. He conveniently leaves out Morris's 0-2 record, 8.44 ERA, and 1.781 WHIP in the World Series the very next year against a very similar Braves team. Of course, Murray also leaves out Morris's career statistics which are impressive in showing how reliable and durable Morris was. Reliable and durable are great qualities in a pitcher. They aren't the top two qualities looked for in a Hall of Fame pitcher though.

Morris pitched all 10 innings. John Smoltz, the Atlanta starter, left in the eighth.

John Smoltz is a pussy who doesn't have the determination or intestinal fortitude that Jack Morris has.

Morris, Kelly added, “did that quite often through the ‘80s and ‘90s. He shut down the other team. If he had the split-finger thing going you felt sorry for the other team. Through the ‘80s and ‘90s if you had a pitcher you had to pick out whom you didn’t want to face Morris had to be in the conversation.

This is a great example of how rememberances and recollections should not be used as facts when determining a player's Hall of Fame candidacy. He posted an ERA under 4.00 one time in the 90's and his 21 wins in 1992 with a 4.04 ERA is a great example of how a pitcher can win games without being dominant, as long as he gets enough run support.

Lest anyone think Kelly was praising Morris because he managed him, I note that they were together only one year in Morris’ 18-year career.

Morris also helped Tom Kelly get a World Series ring, so I would imagine the one year they spent together is remembered fondly, which most likely affects Tom Kelly's opinion of Morris.

“I sure hope it goes his way,” Kelly said. “It seems absurd that he’s not in. How many rings does he have? Three? I wish those young guys would look at that.”

Scott Brosius has three World Series rings. Should he be in the Hall of Fame?

In case those “young guys” don’t know what Kelly is talking about, he was referring to the three World Series championship rings Morris won with three different teams.

Please do give a history lesson to "young guys" who use statistics and ideas that are too complicated for Murray to understand so he rejects them completely. Who is really the ignorant dumbass behind the times in this situation?

In 2010, Morris broke 50 percent with 52.3, then rose slightly to 53.5. Last year, in his 13th year on the ballot, he made a major breakthrough, receiving 66.7 percent and getting to an historically significant plateau.

During Morris’ first 13 years on the ballot, eight players gained more than 60 percent, some more than once, and all were subsequently elected.

I've accepted Jack Morris will be elected to the Hall of Fame next year. I think it happens in his last year on the ballot. I don't like it and it further dilutes the Hall of Fame, but that's the price we pay. I can't imagine a Hall of Fame without Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza that has Jack Morris in it, but Piazza and Bagwell are suspected cheaters so they should burn in Hell for what Murray Chass suspects (but can't prove) they did.

If Morris isn’t elected this time, he could face a problem next year because Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will be on the ballot for the first time.

Sure these two guys had fantastic career numbers, but what kind of intestinal fortitude did they display? How determined was Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux? More importantly, why do they only have one World Series ring? I have a feeling Murray Chass would vote for Jack Morris over Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux.

My motion easily lost so here we are today talking about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell among others.

Why are Piazza, Biggio and Bagwell lumped in with three proven steroid users? This is the problem with people like Murray Chass. He equates "accused" with "proven" and it is wrong. Yes, I think every single one of these players used steroids, but I have no proof to back up my suspicion for three of them.

When Bagwell was eligible initially a couple of years ago, I voted for him, then was told he was a steroids guy. Trusting the information, I haven’t voted for him since.

I'm very glad Murray Chass isn't voting anymore. He went his entire writing career believing Bagwell was clean, so he gave Bagwell a vote for the Hall of Fame. Then Murray gets some "information" and completely changes his mind, ignoring what he believed to be true for Bagwell's entire playing career and stopped voting for Bagwell. New-age statistics loving, new-age statistics hating, it doesn't matter. We need less voters like Murray.

For some reason, the news media have not talked about the former catcher and steroids the way they have talked about Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.

Possibly because there is some sense of proof that Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa used steroids while the proof surrounding Piazza deals with his body size and bacne.

When I worked for The New York Times, I tried more than once to write about Piazza and steroids, but the baseball editor said I couldn’t because his name hadn’t been linked to steroids.

I can link his name to steroids, I countered, but I had to wait until I started this Web site

Boy, Murray certainly showed this baseball editor. It's no wonder The New York Times wanted Murray to take a buyout. If Murray can't understand the seriousness of libel and looking like he is exacting a vendetta against Piazza then it is probably time to move on. But good news! Murray started a Web site, not a blog mind you, and now he can libel whoever he wants and talk about Fay Vincent to his heart's content. The Internet is a wonderful place to further your point of view...just as long as Murray agrees with your point of view of course. Otherwise, if you are using the Internet to argue against Murray then you are a new-age geek who lives in your mom's basement.

to talk about Piazza’s acne-covered back, a generally accepted telltale sign of steroids use.

Bacne can be seen most commonly in people ages 10 to 40 years of age. Bacne can be caused by clogged pores, excessive perspiration after a physical activity, fitting or tight clothes, and excessive eating oily foods. Of course Murray knows Mike Piazza so well he knows there is no possibility an athlete who wears a uniform or wears tight-fitting workout gear could ever get bacne for these reasons. He also knows what kind of meals Mike Piazza ate well enough to know how much oil was in these meals. There are other causes of bacne, outside of steroid use.

Piazza’s passionate fans ridiculed me for that assertion (and surely will again) and ignored the fact that Piazza’s back cleared up as soon as baseball began testing for steroids.

My question is how often and how long did Murray Chass stare at Mike Piazza? Did he leer for short periods of time or take short glances over long periods of time?

A book for which Simon & Schuster paid Piazza an advance of $800,000 or $750,000 had been scheduled for publication next month, but there’s talk about a delay because of a dispute between the publisher and Piazza over the subject of steroids and their presence in the book.

More empirical evidence Piazza used steroids! His publisher is arguing with him over the subject of steroids in his book, which obviously means Piazza used steroids.

The Hall of Fame wouldn’t look too good if Piazza were elected next week, and then his book came out with his admission that he used steroids.

But the Hall of Fame would look great if it had an above-average pitcher who was elected to the Hall of Fame based on one standout performance in the World Series. Now that Morris hasn't been elected to the Hall of Fame this year I hope he doesn't get elected next year because I don't believe he deserves it. Plus, with it being Murray's last year of voting and all I just want to see him sad. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

6 comments MMQB Review: Cutting Through the Hype to Get to More Hype Edition

In last week's MMQB, Peter King rejoiced that there was a couple of obvious storylines he could write about regarding the upcoming Super Bowl. He could write about it being Ray Lewis' last game, the HarBowl, and the youthful inexperience (dare we say precociousness?) of Colin Kaepernick. This week is the off-week before the Super Bowl, so it is a really good chance to drill these stories into our skull and talk about the human-interest stories prior to the Super Bowl that really make no difference in the outcome of the game. This week Peter talks about how Alex Smith is sort-of-but-not-really pretending not to be sad he isn't the 49ers starting quarterback (yep, that's a triple negative) and how if we as fans are tired of the Super Bowl hype then we should get over it because the media doesn't plan on quitting. I wouldn't expect the hype to stop simply because the fans don't want to read the hype. I guess it beats watching ESPN and hearing wall-to-wall Tebow coverage for a week. And before you ask, yes, Peter does get a Brett Favre mention into this column.

Ready to get beaten over the head with the Harbaughs, Ray Lewis past and present and a whole lot of players saying a whole lot of nothing? Well, it's Super Bowl week, and the bad news for you is that the one thing I noticed in my few hours in town Sunday before writing this is there's more media than ever.

"Who cares what the football-loving public wants to read and hear about, this is what they are getting. Enjoy your Ray Lewis coverage and like it. You aren't getting the Super Bowl until you listen to and understand every aspect of the Harbaugh brothers early lives. This Super Bowl week isn't about you as the public and what you want to read about. It's about the fact our company is paying for us to come down to New Orleans on vacation and they expect some half-assed stories that every other media outlet is doing as proof we are doing work."

I saw a Mardi Gras-style Dan Patrick/Artie Lange float in NBC-land. I mean, Super Bowl Week has become the United States of Programming.

Hey, it's what we want as a public isn't it? Peter knows no "official" polls have been taken on the amount of Super Bowl coverage the general public wants, but trust him, he knows we want wall-to-wall hype and saturated coverage of the Super Bowl. After all, CBS and other networks are pouring millions into this Super Bowl coverage so it doesn't really matter what the sports-loving public wants at this point.

We've all seen it in the last two months: Alex Smith is the NFL's MVM ... Most Valuable Mensch. Look at his career path: First pick of the 2005 draft. Clearly over-drafted because the 49ers needed a quarterback so desperately.

By the way, earlier this year Peter did an entire feature in MMQB on Alex Smith and how he had become a super-accurate and trustworthy quarterback for the 49ers. I'm not sure if this is a contradiction from now saying he was over-drafted, but I find Peter calling Smith "over-drafted" while defending him earlier this year and using statistical evidence to do so as fairly interesting.

Career rescued by Jim Harbaugh, though he constantly looked over his shoulder in the Harbaugh Era with the arrival of Colin Kaepernick and the specter of Peyton Manning. 

No, Peter. Harbaugh wasn't going to replace Smith with Manning. That was all just a rumor. How many times does Jim Harbaugh have to say this? He never wanted to replace Smith with Peyton Manning and he was simply on the Duke University campus in a disguise watching Peyton Manning workout because he was in the neighborhood, 3000 miles away from the San Francisco 49ers stadium. It's not like he replaced Smith with Kaepernick at the very first available opportunity or anything like that. So of course Harbaugh didn't want to replace Alex Smith with Peyton Manning. He wanted to replace Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick, but had no interest in replacing Smith with Manning. So again, Kaepernick is a good replacement for Alex Smith, but who the hell would want Peyton Manning instead of Alex Smith?

"It sucks, to put it frankly,'' Smith told me the other day. "Tough pill to swallow."

I can't argue with the result, but I don't like how Smith was replaced. It seems tough to lose your starting quarterback job after you have suffered a concussion, especially when Smith had been performing as well as he had. Though, part of me thinks Smith should feel lucky that Harbaugh even gave him a chance last year and helped to rehabilitate his career. Without Harbaugh supporting him and turning his career around he could be looking for a backup quarterback job next year as opposed to possibly getting a starting quarterback job.

And now we've seen what Colin is capable of. He's a very unique talent, and he's made the most of his opportunity. At the same time, this is exactly how I got my start in college. And I think the biggest thing I can point to in how I've handled this is that I saw how some mature quarterbacks handled it. That started in college, with Brett Elliott.''

Oh yeah, Alex Smith took another quarterback's job in college when that quarterback got injured. So after having six years of trying to nail the starting quarterback job down he got replaced right as he was starting to achieve his potential in the NFL, which is obviously payback for taking another quarterback's job in college. I'm sure Gregg Easterbrook believes the Football Gods are punishing Alex Smith.

Smith explained that, at Utah in 2003, he battled incumbent Elliott for the starting job, lost, but won it when Elliott, in the second game of the season, broke his wrist. And there was no turning back when Smith beat Cal (and Aaron Rodgers), then Colorado State, and then, in a Thursday night TV game, Oregon. Now the job was his.

That's probably why Brett Elliott was so mad and wrote "American Psycho," as a way of getting back at Alex Smith for taking his starting quarterback job. Wait, wrong Brett Ell- sounding name.

"It's a unique situation,'' said Elliott, "and really tough for people to understand. It's the most unique place you can be. The most unique situation in life. You're so invested, being the leader and the guy everybody looks to, your life revolving around this.

Yeah, see here is "the thing"...Alex Smith really wasn't the leader and the guy everybody looked to for the 49ers. He didn't seem to be quite that guy. The 49ers seemed to take to Kaepernick pretty easily which leads me to believe either Jim Harbaugh has good leadership in the 49ers locker room or the 49ers as a team knew Kaepernick was probably going to be the guy at some point. I don't think Alex Smith was the guy everyone looked to in the 49ers locker room, no matter how many VISA commercials he appeared in.

Smith hasn't lost confidence in his ability, saying he is "absolutely sure'' he can be a good quarterback in the league for years. But he says he won't think about the future now. Not this week.

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure. Alex Smith isn't thinking about the future during Super Bowl week when he is being asked by dozens of reporters about how it feels to be replaced by Colin Kaepernick and he has the time to think about the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl could conceivably be him if he had not gotten a concussion earlier in the year. If there is a week during the year Alex Smith is at his most bitter and thinking about the future, it is during Super Bowl week when he is being constantly asked about his future and how it feels to be replaced by Kaepernick.

I don't hate the HarBowl aspect of this week. It's great. Will we all be sick of the hype in a few days? Yes. But the historical significance of two brothers meeting in the biggest single game on our sports calendar is great.

See, the reason Peter doesn't hate the HarBowl aspect of the week is because he has to fill space in his columns and talking about the HarBowl is an easy way to do that for him. He doesn't hate the story because the story makes it easier to do his job and people are naturally lazy. That's why Peter would write about Tebow or Brett Favre's non-retirement/retirement a few years ago. Sure it was a story, but it was an easy story to write about and got a strong reaction from readers. Very little effort required, a big impact received. Same thing with the HarBowl. People who love the cutesy stories of these two brothers growing up like the story (and there's nothing wrong with that) and it is an easy story to write.

Then Peter links the stories of other sportswriters and their articles on the Harbaugh brothers in a desperate attempt to fill space so he can respond snidely on Twitter to someone who calls him lazy by citing how many words he writes in MMQB. I will sum up the Harbaugh brother anecdotes for you in a concise manner.

-They are competitive. They went on vacation together and played in the pool together in a competitive fashion.

-They are the same. John is shorter than Jim. John is smarter than Jim. Jim didn't have many friends growing up but was a dreamer, just like John Lennon.

-Jack Harbaugh didn't have a very good team at Western Kentucky, so John and Jim helped him recruit better talent and he magically become a better coach.

-Tom Crean and his occasionally awful butt-cut haircut is brother-in-law to John and Jim.

-Sometimes they hated each other and sometimes they loved each other. They were the first brothers in the history of the universe to have a love-hate relationship, paving the way for other brothers like Cain and Abel to have the same type of relationship.

I am categorically, adamantly opposed to the Jets trading Revis. I believe Woody Johnson will rue the day he trades the best cornerback -- a slightly risky tag, obviously, given that he's coming off October knee surgery -- regardless of how uncomfortable the Jets' salary cap fit is right now. You don't trade great players at vital positions in their prime. You never recoup the value.

Of course Peter has a history of over-hyping cornerbacks. Remember when he thought Nnadmi Asomugha was going to be the greatest free agent grab since Reggie White? It hasn't quite turned out that way for the Eagles. So my response to Peter would be that Revis is also in a good situation with the Jets and if the Jets can get a good enough price for him then they should trade him. The starting cornerbacks in the Super Bowl are Cary Williams, Carlos Rogers, Corey Graham, and Tarrell Brown. Last year I don't recall there being an elite cornerback in the Super Bowl matchup of New England v. New York Giants. A pass rush is more important in my mind than having elite cornerbacks, so if the Jets can get a first round pick or even more for Revis I see why they would trade him. Don't overvalue cornerbacks.

In today's game, quarterback is the most important position, followed in some order by pass rusher, cornerback and left tackle. Given that we've just seen the most passes thrown in any NFL season, I'd say corner or pass rusher is now the second-most important position to fill.

I disagree with this. I think a pass rusher is much more important than a corner. A good pass rusher can get to the cornerback and make even average cornerbacks look good, while a team without a pass rush can make even the best corners look bad. I'm not saying a cornerback isn't valuable, but I would place a pass rusher and a stable offensive line as more important than the cornerback position. A great pass rush is the best defensive weapon a defensive coordinator can have. It's more important than the cornerback position.

Revis will be 28 on opening day next year. Two of the league's best five corners in 2012 were Champ Bailey, 34, and Charles Tillman, 31. There is no reason to suggest age will be an issue with Revis.

I'm not saying Revis won't be valuable, I'm saying he may not be so valuable the Jets should ignore trade offers for him and sign him to (another) contract extension. A team needs competent NFL corners, but turning down very good offers on the table for Revis is short-sighted in my opinion. If the Jets can fix their pass rush it will make the their corners look a lot better and they won't need to tie up money in one cornerback, no matter how good he is.

One: In 2007, when the Jets drafted Revis, they traded their first-, second- and fifth-round picks, 25th, 59th and 164th overall, to Carolina for the 14th pick. Revis was picked 14th. Carolina picked linebacker Jon Beason 25th and center Ryan Kalil 59th. Beason made three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons but has struggled with injuries since; Kalil has started 68 games since, and also has made three Pro Bowl teams. So if you're going to trade Revis, understand you're trading a player who cost you first- and second-round picks to acquire -- and if the Jets had hung onto the second-rounder, they could have turned it into a player at a need position like guard-tackle Marshal Yanda or defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. So it would be folly for the Jets, if they did the deal, to crow about getting first- and second-round picks in return; that's what they traded to get him in the first place.

What? This is idiotic logic. If the Jets believe Revis isn't going to come back strong and the value they would receive in a 1st and 2nd round pick is worth it then they aren't losing anything at all. They were able to secure Revis' services for the prime of his career and then got a good value for him in trade. The Jets didn't really even trade a first and a second round pick for Revis because they got the 14th pick in return for making the trade. So they essentially traded a 2nd round pick and a 5th round pick for the right to move up 11 spots in the draft for Darrelle Revis.

It doesn't work this way though. If the Panthers traded Jon Beason for a 1st round pick would that be folly because they used a first round pick on him? Not at all. They were able to have him on the team for six years and then got their investment in him returned back to them in the form of a first round pick. I think trading Revis for a 1st and 2nd round pick would be something to crow about. If the Redskins traded Robert Griffin in eight years for three first round draft picks would that not be something to crow about since they gave up those first round picks to draft him? Not necessarily. A player's trade value is independent from what they gave up to draft him. Any picks traded to draft the player are a sunk cost, so his trade value would be independent from this cost to originally acquire him. This is especially true if a team (like the Jets) were able to use that player's services for six years, then you would have to factor in how much value they received with that player on the roster for those six years in addition to the draft picks they eventually received in return for trading him.

Two: If the Jets trade Revis, they'll be putting a dagger through coach Rex Ryan's heart. In effect, barring an upset, they'd be firing him nine or 10 months early. They'd be saying to him, We know the most important thing to your defense is the cornerback position, and everything you do on defense is predicated on your corners holding up, but we're trading Revis anyway.

History has shown the Jets overvalued Wilson, who is just a guy. Cromartie is good. Without Revis, it's a pedestrian secondary.

The Jets can go out and try to find better corners if they wanted to. They may not find a guy on the level of Revis, but with a 1st and 2nd round pick they could find a corner in the draft to replace Revis and Wilson. That would improve the secondary.

Now, about the money. Revis has a year left on his contract, provided he doesn't hold out, and he will want to be the highest-paid defensive player in the game. Currently, Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers makes an average of $15.3 million a year; Buffalo pass rusher Mario Williams averages $16 million a year. There is no doubt Revis is better at his position than Peppers or Williams is at theirs -- of course, assuming Revis comes back whole from his surgery.

But is Revis worth the same amount of money as an elite pass rusher? I say no. He's an incredibly good cornerback, but I don't value a cornerback as high as I value a pass rusher. Granted, neither Peppers or Williams may be worth the amount of money they received, but for $16 million per year the Jets could acquire Chris Gamble when/if he is released by Carolina and use a draft pick received in return for Revis to acquire another corner. I'm not advocating the Jets trade Revis, but I also don't think it would be the worst decision in the history of the franchise. Rex Ryan obviously needs more than two quality cornerbacks and trading Revis could help the Jets achieve this goal.

If I were the Jets, I'd tell Revis he needs to show he's back to Revis form in the first, say, half of the season. Then I'd lock him up for five years, at $17 million per, in a deal where the guaranteed money will counter-balance the fact that the Jets are in cap trouble right now.


There is a reason Peter King is not an NFL GM right now. He would have $30-$33 million invested in the cornerback position because you know he would have Revis and Asomugha matched up together on the same team. He was trying to convince us all the Jets would be interested in Asomugha when he was a free agent, so you know if he were a GM he would put Revis and Asomugha together in the secondary. Just look at the cornerbacks for Super Bowl winning teams over the last five years. There are some good ones, but mostly they aren't great corners. Great corners aren't necessarily required to win a Super Bowl.

Andy Reid could be tempted with $17 million of cap room in Kansas City, and GM Trent Baalke in San Francisco could be a player too; the Niners will have significant money available when -- I presume -- they dump Alex Smith before April 1. And there are other teams that might be willing to give a first-round pick plus other value (maybe a third-rounder and a journeyman cornerback as well) for Revis. But remember, the compensation isn't just two picks and a player, or whatever ... it's also wrecking your cap in a flat-cap era for Revis, instead of the significantly more manageable money the fixed-cost high-draft choices now provide.

And yet, Peter says the Jets must back a Brinks truck up to pay Revis after he has proven himself this season...which we all know from Revis' previous holdout may end up turning into Revis not playing next year until he gets a new deal.

But I don't care what they'd get in return, unless someone (other than New England, a team the Jets obviously should do no business with) does something stupid like offer three first-rounders and a decent player. It won't be worth it. In this league, at cornerback, if you've got the best, you grit your teeth and pay the man.

Yeah, just look at the Eagles in regard to how important and crucial quality cornerbacks are. I'm all about Darrelle Revis being the top player at his position, but I don't see paying a cornerback as a "you have to pay this man" position, especially when that corner is coming off knee surgery. I know Peter is just waving off knee surgery as no big deal, but I think there is a risk that Revis could injure his knee again. Peter uses Thomas Davis as an example of a player who came back after three knee surgeries, but on the flip side, he is also an example of a player who suffered multiple knee injuries. A good pass rush can help fix problems in the secondary. He's the best at his position, but I can see why the Jets would trade him and depending on the compensation they would get in return, I can see how it is a good move for them.

Since probably midway through Williams' tenure as defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Payton faulted Williams as a renegade coach run amuck. The league didn't buy that Payton didn't know about the reward program Williams was running with his defensive players and thus suspended him for the season.

Good ol' Sean Payton. Remember prior to the year the Saints won the Super Bowl, when Payton took some of his own money and gave it back to the Saints in order to hire Gregg Williams? Payton was lauded by Peter King and others for making this move to help the team succeed, but once Williams started becoming a renegade, all of a sudden Sean Payton couldn't control this man anymore. He had no idea Williams was running the reward program, but he will still accept congratulations for taking less money to hire Williams as the head coach. Sean Payton has control of his staff and is glad to take responsibility for the team's success until something goes wrong and then Payton pleads he has no control over his staff (yes, I realize I sound a bit like Gregg Easterbrook). It's ridiculous to me and I am not happy to see Sean Payton back.

But you've got to credit Payton for urging local fans to be respectful to Goodell if they see him in New Orleans. That's a class thing to do by a guy who I'm sure is still smarting from his year-long suspension.

Nope, I won't give him credit for this. Considering Payton admitted culpability, to urge Saints fans to not tear Goodell apart limb-by-limb, isn't really a classy thing to do but more of a "let's please remember you are trying to punish the commissioner for rightfully punishing me" thing to do.

I asked former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who was in the midst of finalizing the club's preliminary draft board when fired early this month, to examine the record 73 underclass players who declared for the draft and pick the top 10, in his mind. His view of the junior board:

Remember a few weeks ago when Peter claimed his defense of Scott Pioli wasn't entirely based on the fact he liked the guy? Well know that Pioli has been fired, Peter is asking Pioli's opinion on the junior class in MMQB. Learn to separate friendship from your job, Peter. Because we all know the opinion of Pioli on the junior class means a lot. Was Matt Millen not available to comment on the junior class? Okay, maybe Pioli wasn't that bad, but Peter defends his friend in print and then gives him an outlet as a personnel expert in MMQB.

First of all, Jan. 28 is a dangerous time to commit to "top players" in any category, particularly underclassmen. There is still a lot of work to do before we know who and what these players are. Sometimes players look better with less information. NFL rules don't allow teams to officially scout underclassmen during fall campus visits, and scouts can't comment publicly on them either. When scouts go into school visits in the fall, they are not allowed to ask questions about underclassmen when speaking with coaches, trainers and any other support staff.

Thanks for your opinion, Scott. Since this exercise is futile I guess we can all move on without your opinion? Actually, even though the exercise is futile Scott Pioli would like to keep his name out there and his friend Peter King is just trying to help him do this.

Then Pioli lists ten players and his opinion of each player, which is seemingly pointless as Pioli just pointed out. If you are interested in Pioli's list then just look at any mock draft and find the Top 10 juniors mocked in that draft and you will have Pioli's list.

Also, there was no travel note this week. Either Peter learned from berating the cabbie last week or he just didn't travel enough to complain bitterly about the experiences he had interacting with his fellow human beings. Either way, we will try to move on without the weekly travel note.

1. I think I should clarify one thing I learned this week about minority coaches, and it's important: One team in the NFL twice called Stanford coach David Shaw asking him to interview for its head-coaching job. Shaw, who is black, said he wasn't interested in leaving Stanford right now. So there's that.

I don't think there was a need to clarify this. Multiple reports said David Shaw wasn't interested in an NFL job at this point. It was silly for Peter to include him last week as a minority who deserved more consideration for an NFL head coaching job. He isn't interested in the NFL at this point.

2. I think Tony Dungy brought up an interesting point on NBC's Football Night in America show Sunday night about minority coaches. He said he spoke with Steelers chairman Dan Rooney -- author of the Rooney Rule, which mandates that every team with a head coaching opening interview at least one minority candidate -- and Rooney told him teams needed to slow down. Agreed. What's the hurry? Why the race? Pittsburgh had a deliberate process that resulted in the hiring of Mike Tomlin on Jan. 22, 2007, the day after the two conference title games.

There is a race because some NFL teams are going after the same candidate. If the Chiefs wanted to interview Andy Reid as their head coach they couldn't wait until the AFC/NFC championship week to do this because he was going to be hired by the Cardinals or another NFL team at that point. There isn't a race among NFL teams to hire these coaches, it is just if Team A goes hard after a coach that Team B wants badly, then Team B is going to have to move up their deadline to hire a coach. It's hard to interview a head coaching candidate who has already taken another head coaching job. It's fine to sit back and wait if you are fine with potentially missing out on interviewing some of the top candidates for your head coaching position.

Also, what the hell is Dan Rooney chiming in on this issue for? He's hired three coaches in the last four decades. It's not like he has vast experience trying to find a suitable head coaching candidate. This is a credit to how the Steelers run their organization, but if Mike Tomlin was close to interviewing and being hired by another NFL team the day after the divisional round of the playoffs then the Steelers would have to hurry to get their man...or at the very least interview their man.

The last of eight coaches hired this year, Bruce Arians, got the job three days before the championship games. That's an anecdotal story, obviously, but Rooney's point is that teams seem to be sprinting to get a coach named instead of making sure they've interviewed a wide spectrum of candidates.

Remember when there were members of the media who were criticizing the Bears for interviewing a wide spectrum of candidates? It is an anecdotal story, but teams have to sprint to get a head coach because if they don't sprint then the number of quality head coaching candidates that can be interviewed quickly dwindles.

5. I think a lot of parents feel like Barack Obama. "I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," the president told The New Republic.

I thought it was hilarious this comment gained some sense of national momentum. What is Barack Obama really saying? Absolutely nothing. He is simply saying if he had a son (which he doesn't, so this is all hypothetical), he would have to think hard about letting his son play football (but he didn't say he wouldn't let his son play football). Maybe it is an important message that the President of the United States would have to think before letting his son play football, but Obama doesn't have a son and never said he wouldn't allow this non-existent son to play football. He would have to think about it. "I have to think about it" is parent language for "I don't feel like talking about his right now and will make a decision later depending on how I feel."

A lot of parents feel the same way as Obama, but I just thought it wasn't very newsworthy since his opining on an issue that he won't ever have to confront as a parent. It's all hypothetical and the acknowledgment he would have to think about letting his kid play football reflects what every other parent thinks. It's just Obama's opinion means less since he doesn't have a son and won't ever have to make this decision.

9. I think if Ed Reed becomes a free agent, he ought to last about 48 hours on the street ... 

Dan Rooney wants to know why NFL teams are in such a rush to sign free agents. The Steelers take their time signing free agents, why can't other teams?

I think it is interesting how Peter states Ed Reed will be on the street for 48 hours if he becomes a free agent, but Peter also can't understand why NFL teams are so quick to interview and hire potential head coaches. It's like Peter can't understand there is a limited pool of talent for head coaching jobs, but he understands there is a limited pool of talent for NFL players. There isn't a huge difference in a coach being a free agent and a player becoming a free agent. If a team wants a player/coach, they have to move fast sometimes.

and as I said on NBC Sunday night, my money's on the Patriots and the president of the Ed Reed Fan Club, Massachusetts Chapter, Bill Belichick.

Peter thinks the Patriots are going to sign every pending free agent or draft every draft pick. He repeatedly said he thought the Patriots might draft Tim Tebow, correctly hit on Fred Taylor going to New England, said it wouldn't surprise him if the Patriots tried to sign Julius Peppers when he was a free agent or even sign him when he was under contract with Carolina, and now he has the Patriots signing Ed Reed. This may happen, but add it to the list of guys Peter thinks New England will have interest in.

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

a. I missed The Debt in theaters a couple of years ago. Glad I caught it on DVR over the weekend. Heart-pounding.

I can't wait to read Peter's thoughts on "Zero Dark Thirty" as soon as he gets around to watching it in the year 2016. 

b. What an idiotic softie I am. Got all teary the other night watching the last 30 minutes of Parenthood.

There are some things that are better left alone and not shared with others.

e. So Terry Francona came to the Barnes and Noble in my Manhattan neighborhood the other day to sign copies of the book he and Dan Shaughnessy wrote. I stopped by. Naïve me. I'd never met Francona, and, being a Sox partisan, I wanted to stop by and just say thanks for the two World Series titles. Silly me. Seventy-five minute wait. In Manhattan, no less. Well, thanks in spirit, Terry. And I'm sure I'll enjoy the book.

Whoever could have foreseen that there would be a long wait for Terry Francona to sign a book? It's Manhattan, which is a city where only native New Yorkers live, and there is a long wait for a famous person to sign a book? Peter King, a Boston Red Sox fan who lives in Manhattan is shocked that there are Red Sox fans who live in Manhattan. That should tell you anything you need to know about Peter. He is a Red Sox fan who lives in Manhattan, but he is shocked there are other humans alive who live near him that are also Red Sox fans. Peter seems to have no concept of life outside of his own existence.

f. My knowledge of the NBA could fit in a thimble. But I love watching Rajon Rondo. So a little of me died with the Rondo ACL tear Friday.

"I know very little about the NBA, but here is an opinion on an NBA player I care to share with you."

i. Beernerdness: Grew quite fond of the LA 31 Biere Pale Ale in New Orleans Sunday night. Dry and hoppy -- and brewed in Kiln, Miss., home of you-know-who.

Who, Peter? Who is this home to? Can't go an entire MMQB without mentioning his name or referring to him can you?

The Adieu Haiku

The Niners arrive.
Saw Alex Smith at Drago's.
Hope Staley paid tab.


Hope haiku gets gone.
Irritating more and more.
Just make it go away.

Monday, January 28, 2013

9 comments Bill Simmons Leans on the Mailbag Crutch Once More

Bill Simmons has "written" three columns in the past three weeks. I have accused him of being out of quality column ideas and it seems like I am at least somewhat correct. He's leaning on this mailbag crutch a lot recently. I get that he likes doing mailbags, but it seems like he takes every opportunity possible to churn out a weekly mailbag rather than a weekly original column. It's his weekly column, he can do what he wants I guess. Prior to the NFC/AFC Conference Championship Bill did an all Manti Te'o mailbag and a regular mailbag. It's like at this point he would rather not write any more columns and just focus on how hilariously funny he can show everyone that he is. I'm going to cover the Manti Te'o mailbag only because I can't handle doing two mailbags where Bill and his readers pat him on the back for how clever he is. Bill's SimmonsClones love to email him whenever an sports-related event happens because they require his acceptance and approval in order to justify their existence in the world.

It was noted in the comments of the last Bill Simmons post that Bill probably tries to be smarter than his readers in answering their questions because he wants to make it seem like a back-and-forth conversation. This is probably true, but I am slightly more jaded and believe if Bill wanted this conversation he could have this back-and-forth conversation without attempting to improve on the idea submitted by his overly-loyal readers.

Belichick and Brady might be headed for their sixth Bowl.

Didn't happen. I guess with the Celtics struggling and the Red Sox in a difficult division Bill is going to have to ignore Boston sports for a few months or at least write a column about how these Boston sports teams are "boring" and that's why he hasn't written about them. I don't care if Bill writes about Boston sports or not, but anyone who pays attention can't help but notice he tends to stop writing about his favorite teams when they aren't contenders for that respective sport's championship.

The Falcons might give Atlanta its first asterisk-free championship ever.

Let's be honest: The 1995 baseball season was a flat-out atrocity.

It was a shortened season, but I don't get how that makes it an atrocity. But as a Braves fan I say "fuck you very much" anyway, Bill. Bill has recently become all about the "asterisk" championships in certain sports. Not coincidentally, he doesn't attach many asterisks to championships his favorite teams have won.

Ray Lewis might pull off a 60-tackle postseason just three months after ripping his triceps while drawing no PED suspicion whatsoever.

Nice way of basically accusing Ray Lewis of using PEDs without actually doing it.

I could keep going and going … and that's why we can't waste a column rehashing this admittedly transfixing Manti Te'o story. We're banging out a Te'o-free NFL playoff mailbag

This is an All-Manti Te'o mailbag. Wouldn't a "Te'o-free NFL playoff mailbag" be a mailbag that contains zero mentions of Manti-Te'o?

As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

As always, I somewhat sense this is a lie.

Q: I have no idea what to believe about Manti Te'o, but I am also not ruling anything out. I believe that this is just the 3rd sports related story to enter the Tyson Zone along with Kerrigan/Harding & Thanksgiving with the Woods family. I know you are the best person to confirm this list. 
—Jordan, Springfield, OH

It's very cute how these readers remain so loyal to Bill and believe he is the ultimate person to answer any of their questions. Since Bill created the Tyson Zone he probably is the best person to answer this question, but we all know Jordan from Ohio probably emails Bill with questions about losing his virginity or Jordan emails Bill with how it would feel to have to live without his words and thoughts in his life...Bill just doesn't publish these emails. There is a difference in hero worship and just being creepy.

SG: You're right — I am the best person to confirm this list. I don't know what that says about me, but you came to the right place.

Yes, you are in the right place. Bill is so full of shit, he can think of an answer to this question in a snap. Has Bill told you about his son and all the fun, quirky things that he does which every other child does as well? If you will hold on for 10 minutes let's allow Bill to go into a story about his son and all the awesome things his son says or does that is only tangentially related to sports. 

For a news story to enter the Tyson Zone, that means the story became so insane that you'd believe any new wrinkle relating to that story.

Thanks for clearing up this rule that isn't really a rule since Bill made it up just right now.

Those are the five Tyson Zone stories that stand out for me pre-Manti. Quite a list.

A stellar list really. A list completely created and admired by Bill Simmons as a testament to his own genius and ability to make a subjective list that has absolutely no real world use or purpose, nor does it allow the reader to gain any additional knowledge about sports. I think Bill should have called himself "The Boston List Guy" when he started writing his AOL column a few years ago so it better fit his current persona. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Q: Has the Te'o story already outdone the Tiger Woods story? Or would we also have to find out Te'o was running an underground fake-girlfriend ring for the schoolboys in South Bend?
—Sean, Portland


SG: Please don't forget how breathtakingly incredible that Tiger story was coming out of the gate.

Yeah, don't forget how incredible this story was. It made Bill's "Tyson Zone," so that should tell you something right there.

Put it this way: I still remember where I was when I first heard about the car accident, then saying to my wife, "Hmmmmm … this one doesn't sound right. My shit detector is going off,"

Bill knew ALL ALONG something wasn't right with Tiger's car accident. Sure, Bill didn't say anything publicly about the accident or something not seeming right, but Bill knew ALL ALONG this story was going to be in the Tyson Zone.

followed by her saying, "Mine, too," and it just spiraled out of control from there.

Wait, wait, wait. Bill's wife said, "Mine, too," and "it" just spiraled out of control from there. So Bill and his wife's conversation spiraled out of control from there? You know what, I don't want the answer to this question. More importantly, let me bring something to your attention. Tell me who this describes:

1. Person A has a girlfriend/spouse.

2. Only close friends and family have ever met this girlfriend/spouse.

3. Person A will often talk about his girlfriend/spouse and said girlfriend/spouse will often speak publicly, but in a way that makes it impossible to determine who actually is "speaking" for them. Whether this be through unverifiable written words or through an unverifiable conversation the girlfriend/spouse had with Person A. This girlfriend/spouse is often referenced by Person A in public, though no one outside of Person A's close circle has ever met her.

4. Preliminary digging (which I haven't done on the Internet) reveals no record of said girlfriend/spouse, but we take the person's word that she exists because of the many times Person A has referenced her as existing, while also relaying words or thoughts that she has said to Person A.

5. The relayed words or thoughts are always very impactful, whether they be funny or emotionally impactful to where this person seems very inspirational or clever. These funny or emotional words/thoughts can never be verified outside of Person A relaying these words or the girlfriend/spouse speaking publicly in a way that makes it impossible to determine who is really speaking though.

Sounds like Manti Te'o, right? Wrong. I was talking about Bill Simmons' wife, which you probably figured out at Point #1 above, but I am still pretending like I am surprising you. My question, does The Sports Gal exist? Did the man who created "The Tyson Zone" create it as a inside joke to himself about how crazy and unpredictable he can be? So there's my question, what if Bill Simmons has been Te'oing us all along?

Within 24 hours, I was password-protecting my BlackBerry and throwing out all my Ambien. Just kidding.

Just for the Sports Gal's own piece of mind, there are probably 20 men who would sleep with Bill Simmons before a single woman would. I state this based completely on the type of mail he answers from his readers. They are predominantly men and (how do I say this politely?), seem like they would be a 12-pack of Miller Lite away from taking their email worship to a more physical form of worship.

So for Manti's Catfish Hoax to surpass Tiger's Thanksgiving, we definitely need a few more twists and turns. Am I ruling out a few more twists and turns? NO!!!!!!! That's why this story entered the Tyson Zone so quickly.

So this story is in the Tyson Zone because of the events that haven't happened yet? Doesn't this go against the idea of a story being in the Tyson Zone? The Tyson Zone is based on the idea events in a story have been so crazy that based on everything that has happened, nearly anything could happen. The Tyson Zone isn't based on the idea potential events could be so crazy based on events that haven't happened yet, is it? This Te'o story can't be in the Tyson Zone if the twists and turns that would put it in the Tyson Zone hasn't happened yet. My head hurts.

Can you remember anyone inadvertently benefiting from a sports scandal more than the guys from Catfish? They parlayed a contrived indie movie (by the way, I enjoyed it) into an even more contrived MTV series (by the way, I enjoy it),

Oh yes, this is a reminder that Bill Simmons still watches MTV. I'm pretty sure at this point even those people who work for MTV don't watch MTV.

Q: Is this the strangest sports story of all time?
—Trevin, Fort Worth, TX

SG: The short answer: No. If only because the whole saga was so elaborately convoluted from start to finish that this was either (a) a phenomenal hoax pulled off on someone who was phenomenally naive; (b) a snowball-type story in which Te'o got catfished, found out in the August-September range, then decided to keep embellishing the story and making things worse over just coming clean; (c) the handiwork of one of the greatest pathological liars who ever lived, and someone who was involved in the hoax the whole time; or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent,

So Bill is speculating that Manti Te'o is gay and didn't think it would become such a big story. File that away for a minute.

never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse.

I vividly remember Te'o's recruitment to Notre Dame and how it was between Notre Dame and USC. Te'o was a huge recruit for the Irish, was the biggest "name" on this year's team even at the beginning of the year and every game Notre Dame plays appears on national television. I find it hard to believe Te'o would be surprised by the amount of scrutiny the story received, especially since he announced her death repeatedly on national television.

Q: If this turns out to be a cover up for Manti Te'o being gay, wouldn't it become one of the defining stories of our generation? It will show the pressure on the big man on campus to conform to rules put on him by his school and his faith all to the potential detriment to his professional career. If it plays out that way, hopefully his story will be a rallying cry for all the people afraid to be who they are and will go on inspire people from all walks of life to be comfortable in themselves.
—Christian P., Rochester, NY


 SG: Totally agree. I hate speculating on someone's sexuality,

Yes, Bill hates speculating on someone's sexuality. From the previous question:

or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent, never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse.

Yes, Bill hates commenting on someone's sexuality, which is why he did it without prompting in the previous question. There's nothing wrong with bringing up this question, but don't say you don't like speculating on a person's sexuality after previously speculating on a person's sexuality without prompting.

Only by admitting he's gay (if that were true) could everything that just happened to Manti Te'o seem, for lack of a better word, a little more normal. Most people would immediately feel terrible for him. Maybe he'd still get skewered by some less tolerant folks, but he'd also immediately become an icon in the gay community.

It wouldn't be any more normal if it turns out Manti Te'o was covering up for being gay. I think it would be less normal than just living his life and trying to keep his sexuality a secret. If anything, making a public showing of your dead girlfriend would only bring more scrutiny to Te'o's personal life, and therefore his sexuality. It would be more normal if Te'o tried to hide his sexuality by simply hiding it rather than creating an elaborate story to throw people off the trail of his sexuality. Not that everyone thinks logically like this of course.

I never thought of that wrinkle, though — Manti pretending he's gay because it's his only way out of this scandal? How long would he have to pretend? The rest of his life? Through the end of his playing career? This has all the makings of becoming the single worst romantic comedy ever made — it's like Jennifer Aniston lying about being engaged to Jay Mohr in Picture Perfect crossed with Al Pacino in Cruising, only if you threw in a healthy dash of Rudy, too. By the way, my wife would totally watch this movie.

Yes, Bill. Your "wife" would certainly enjoy watching this movie...because she exists and all. Being a real human being with real human feelings and girl parts, she would love to watch this romantic comedy. Women, just like your real live wife is a woman, love movies about people feeling in love. This is totally a girl-thing to do and your wife would love it because (a) she is real and (b) she is a woman.

Q: This mind-blowing Manti Te'o revelation deserves to be immortalized at the very least as an Urban Dictionary Entry. What about the phrase "Lennay Kekua'ed" for "simply didn't exist?"
—Jake, Milwaukee


Good idea, Jake from Milwaukee. (Not shockingly) Bill has a slight improvement on your idea though.

SG: Or, you go with "Lennay Kekua" for any situation when a friend/coworker/family member keeps talking about some significant other that nobody has ever met, and after awhile, you end up whispering to someone, "You getting a whiff of Lennay Kekua here or is it just me?"

With any luck this phrase won't catch on. So basically Bill took away the "'ed" at the end of "Kekua'ed" and tried to pass it off as a new idea. Really, Bill's suggestion is the exact same as Jake's suggestion. Bill is using the phrase in a different, much more hilarious and creative context and didn't just change the joke by 1%.

Q: Where does this Manti Te'o story go next?
—Alfredo, San Diego, CA


SG: Remember when Elton John remade the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind" for Princess Diana? Your move, Barry Manilow.

I hate to be the guy who points this out, but "Manti" doesn't sound like "Mandy." They are pronounced differently. Barry Manilow could still do the song, but the names don't rhyme.

Q: Has there ever been a better SportsCenter headline than "BREAKING NEWS: MANTI TE'O'S GIRLFRIEND DID NOT EXIST"? The only other one that comes to mind for me is when the anchors repeatedly had to say "Purple Drank" and "sizzurp" during the Jamarcus Russell story. And how does ESPN determine what gets the "Breaking News" tag? Why didn't we see "Breaking News: Rex Ryan has a foot fetish" or "Breaking News: LaLa Anthony might taste like Honey Nut Cheerios"? I think ESPN needs to put you in charge of this.
—Nick, Atlanta


See, this is what Bill's readers are here for. They are here to pump up Bill's ego and tell him that he could do a better job than the current person doing that job. This is how Bill gets it in his head that he can be an NBA General Manager. Bill loves the idea he is smarter than everyone else, so to be told by his SimmonsClones he needs to be in charge of something at ESPN only strikes him as confirmation of what his ego already knew.

SG: Shouldn't we tweak that to something a little different, like "BREAKING WTF: MANTI TE'O'S GIRLFRIEND DID NOT EXIST"?

No, no, no, ESPN should not do this.

Q: You always joke about the best events that would have overwhelmed social media had social media existed when the event originally happened (i.e., Tonya Harding, OJ). Does the Te'o story make the top 5?
—Dave, Indianapolis


SG: Hell yeah. That's the first time we have ever watched a legitimately bonkers sports scandal blow up on the Internet in real time.

We were preparing for our NBA pregame show on Wednesday when the story broke on Deadspin.

This serves as a little reminder that Bill does an NBA pregame show for ESPN, just in case you forgot that he did an NBA pregame show for ESPN, with Jalen Rose, Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson. People know him and his books all smell of rich mahogany. Like I have said before when Bill names the celebrity he was watching a sporting event with, he can't simply say he was watching the sporting event because he has to name-drop to tell us exactly with who he was watching this event...even if this information isn't important to the story at all.

I had my BlackBerry on "vibrate" — within about 10 minutes, it started to feel like I had inadvertently shoved a vibrator in my pocket.

Which Bill knows from first-hand experience?

Q: My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Manti Te'o's girlfriend pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious … How would you handle this Manti Te'o situation if you were sports czar??? My solution: I think we should have an NFL franchise for misfits only. The only condition being is that Tebow is the starting QB. Oh wait, we already have the Jets.
—Mateo Q, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico


SG: Hands down, that's the funniest e-mail I've ever gotten from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

We all know Bill only published this email because it had a reference to him being "the sports czar." Bill can't fool me.

Q: You have established the Levels of Losing. This whole Manti Te'o thing has got me thinking of the Levels of Indefensibly Defending Sports Figures. There has to be a certain level to where you can't defend your favorite stars without coming off as a pathetic, nonsensical fan.
—Joe, Syracuse

SG: Come on, you barely need any tweaking! You were right there! Fine, I'll help. You should have gone with six levels (you missed one).

Step 1: Take a reader's idea and say it is good, but needs "improvement."

Step 2: Improve the reader's idea by 10%.

Step 3: The idea is now Bill Simmons' idea.

Step 4: He presents to us more stupid levels of something related to this idea.

Level 1: Reserved for harmless stuff — like Boston fans defending Kevin Garnett every time he acts like a bully or an a-hole 

Level 2: A blown-out version of the first level — the stakes are a little higher only because there's a little more of that hits-too-close-to-home sensitivity.

You mean like when Celtics fans defend Kevin Garnett when he makes jokes about being a cancer patient to Charlie Villanueva? Or when Garnett yells at ball boys? How about Celtics fans defending him when he is well-known to hit other players in the crotch? Of course Celtics fan Bill Simmons thinks this is harmless stuff, but it seems like two of these three hit-too-close-to-home sensitivity and should be in Level 2.

Like how Ravens fans fly off the handle every time someone jokes about Ray Lewis's incident from 2000. Yes, you could throw Kobe and the Lakers fans in here. As well as Red Sox fans post-2004 right after any steroids joke about Manny or Papi.

Bill puts defending steroid users as Level 5 on this list. I guess the difference he sees is the level of defending the steroid user.

Level 5: Anyone defending baseball cheaters (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, etc.) with the always hilarious "We don't know for sure" defense or the equally hilarious "Come on, everyone was cheating, any competitive person would have done what they did" defense. All PED defenses go here.

All PED defenses go here, unless they go in Level 2. If they go in Level 2, then they aren't in Level 5. You may wonder what the difference in a Level 2 PED defense and a Level 5 PED defense...well, Bill is making this up as he goes along so just stop asking questions.

So does everyone defending Lance Armstrong's last two decades of lying/cheating/bullying/threatening/intimidating because "he did some real good, too."

There are those like me who can compartmentalize. I think Lance Armstrong the rider is a dipshit bully who deserves all the nasty shit coming to him. I think Lance Armstrong the cancer fighter did a lot of good for cancer research, but I do realize he was a dipshit.

Q: [What] would be the craziest possible ending to the Manti Te'o story?
—Greg, Philly


SG: Bill Belichick spending the past few years creating Manti's fake dead girl, then hiring someone to play her on the phone, with the ultimate intent of wounding Manti's draft stock enough that he'd fall to the bottom of the first round of the 2013 draft … right to the New England Patriots.

The craziest ending to this story would involve Te'o being a New England Patriot. Of course this is the craziest ending possible.

I do have to say this all-Te'o mailbag wasn't as bad as the Chuck Klosterman-Malcolm Gladwell email conversation about this story. I quit reading it after the first exchange. If the rest of the column is any indication, maybe they should have been lazy and let their readers write questions about Te'o to them in a mailbag.