Friday, January 31, 2014

5 comments John Tomase Hates the Internet, Hates Opinions, and Thinks It's Okay to Disagree But Just Don't Point Out the Flaws in the Argument You Are Disagreeing With

John Tomase hates the Internet. He says so in a column he posts to the Internet read by readers who use the Internet to read the column. The title of this article is "Hall opinions net worthless." Get it? "Net" like "Internet" and he thinks anyone who gives an opinion on the Internet is worthless. Good for him to think this and many opinions on the Internet are worthless. Not satisfied with his ability to make a bad pun in the title of the column, the article is subtitled "Bloggers must mix critical thinking with stats," which fails to eventually detail what sort of "critical thinking" bloggers must focus on in favor of jokes about food and obesity. Because sportswriters are fat and bloggers love snacking! It's funny! This is comedy. Here's the article Tomase wrote.

What got Tomase so worked up over the meanness of the Internet was the response to this poll of writers and how they voted for the baseball Hall of Fame. The one that sticks out is Ken Gurnick. He voted for Jack Morris and no one else. He has a vote and he is entitled to vote for who he wants to vote for. Just in the same way those who want to criticize Gurnick's vote are entitled to criticize him on the merits of his argument. Criticism of a BBWAA's vote is not a personal attack if it is based on the merits of the argument when pointing out the flaws in the argument. Here is what Ken Gurnick wrote:

Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five.

I've tread this ground many, many times. Moving on to the key statement...

As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.

The problem, as having been pointed out multiple places on the (gasp) Internet, is that Jack Morris ended his career in 1994. He did play during the period of PED and greenie use in Major League Baseball. So this is the main flaw in Gurnick's argument that got pointed out by many and caused John Tomase to go into a rage against the Internet as a whole. Voters can vote for who they want to vote for, but don't get upset when the logic used to calculate a vote is criticized or shown to be faulty. After all, the baseball Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the fans, and many of these same fans are the ones who don't like the logic in Gurnick's voting process and speak their mind on the Internet.

It is a little infuriating that a Hall of Fame voter uses the logic he won't vote for any player who played during the period of PED use, then votes for one player who played during the period of PED use. If John Tomase can't understand the frustration in seeing a voter use black-and-white voting standards, then completely ignoring his standards in order to vote for a certain player, I'm not sure he can be helped. Set black-and-white standards, that's fine, but don't ignore these standards when it is convenient. So is Ken Gurnick going to not vote for Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones? I seriously doubt it and we will never see because he claims he is giving up his vote. Of course Murray Chass claimed he was giving up his vote last year and it never happened.

So that's the basis for Tomase's screed against the Internet. Let's read Tomase rail against Internet meanness and lack of critical thinking by trying to bully bloggers and do zero critical thinking.

There’s nothing lazier than painting with an overly broad brush, particularly when it comes to an intellectual expanse as vast as the blogosphere, so I want to parse the following words carefully, succinctly, and thoughtfully:

This is going to be good. You will love it. See, John Tomase doesn't like painting with an overly broad brush, but he's going to do that AND his words aren't careful or thoughtful! Hilarious. I'm surprised he didn't get the 12:35am spot over Seth Meyers to replace Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night." Tomase's sketch about fat bloggers eating Pop Tarts while surfing the Internet would have killed.

I hate the Internet, and everyone on it.

You are sort of on the Internet yourself, so you also hate yourself?

Hall of Fame results are announced today, and regardless of what happens, there will be an uproar.

Only crotchety old MLB writers would shy away from a lively debate over which players do and don't deserve induction into the Hall of Fame. When talking about any other sports who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, it's good to have debate that keeps that sport in the limelight during the offseason, but when talking baseball, debate is a bad thing. How dare someone have a differing opinion and attempt to back up that opinion with a fact-based persuasive argument!

Maybe it will be Jack Morris getting in.

He didn't.

Maybe it will be Frank Thomas getting left out.

He wasn't.

Whatever it is, it will be the latest sign that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America officially has melted down

I think there are certain parts of the voting process that could be revamped. Of course many of the same writers in the BBWAA are still against the designated hitter so I can't imagine any revamp of a voting process that has gone perfectly for many years would be well-received. After all, I read 5-10 teeth-gnashing columns from BBWAA Hall of Fame voters every year talking about how they are thinking about giving up the privilege of voting for the baseball Hall of Fame, so the process must be working properly and everyone is pleased.

and must be replaced by a consortium of the game’s greatest minds,

This is all part of Tomase's imagination. It is completely possible someone somewhere has written a certain voter should lose his voting privileges, but there is no movement to just kick out the majority of the current voters...or at least I haven't read about it.

who, by definition, never have set foot in a pressbox.

Oh yes, it's the whole "You have to be at the games to understand how good Player X is" and turned into "You have to be in the pressbox to have a worthy opinion of Player X." Because the eyes that see Jack Morris pitch from the press box are more informed than than the eyes who saw Jack Morris pitch on television.

Once that happens, you lose all ability to think critically or originally. You do get alarmingly fat, however, which sure came in handy yesterday.

Sportswriters are fat. Again, more comedy.

A handful of writers makes questionable decisions — a statistical certainty in a voting body with more than 500 members — and the baseball blogs spool up their righteous indignation drives to make the jump to VORP speed.

Now part of this I will agree with. It's a statistical certainty (look at someone talking about statistics!) that one member is going to vote in a stupid way. I will disagree at the inference the indignation or explanation for why this voter is dead wrong is a bad thing. This righteous indignation isn't to get everyone to fall in line with one certain train of thought, but to point out the fallacies in the thought process of some baseball Hall of Fame voters. I'm not against a line of thought as long as it is a consistent line of thought and makes sense in terms of who else that voter has chosen to vote for. I am against a voter being inconsistent in his voting responsibilities. These are the lives of real people who played baseball for a living and election to the baseball Hall of Fame is a huge honor, so simply saying "I don't vote for guys who played during the PED era" and then voting for a pitcher who pitched during the PED era deserves indignation. 

Gurnick’s logic: He’s ignoring everyone who made their name in the steroids era.

OK, fine. I happen to disagree, as votes for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire attest. But he has his reasons, and he stated them. He considers the entire era tainted, and that’s a consistent viewpoint.

It's not a consistent viewpoint when the only player he voted for played during the Steroid Era. There's no getting around this. It's simply a fact.

“But, but, but . . . ” the Internet sputtered. “Morris pitched in the steroids era, too! And Gurnick voted for Lee Smith once! Where’s the consistency? BRING ME HIS HEAD!

Ah yes, "the Internet" sputtered this. Paint the entire Internet with a broad brush because it's easier and lazier than taking the time to point out where specific criticisms of Gurnick's voting choice are wrong.

No, it's just that his vote for Jack Morris contradicts his black-and-white viewpoint that he espouses when choosing to not vote for several Hall of Fame-worthy candidates.

And a Hot Pocket!”

Now that you mention it, I could go for a Hot Pocket right now. I mean come on though, jokes about bloggers being fat and eating snacks is just pure hypocrisy coming from a sportswriter. Sportswriters aren't exactly the fittest people around.

I think we all can agree that Morris signifies the 1980s, even if he retired in 1994, whereas Maddux clearly is a product of the ’90s and 2000s.

No, I can't exactly agree with that. If the 1991 World Series is going to be used as part of the basis for voting for Jack Morris then I absolutely can not agree that Morris signifies the 1980's. You can't use a signature achievement from 1991 to vote for Morris and then claim he is a pitcher from the 1980's.

Gurnick got hammered by the crowd that spends its day in search of ammo. A few years ago it was the travesty of Bert Blyleven’s absence from Cooperstown. The well-traveled hurler progressed from just 14.1 percent of the vote in 1999 to nearly 80 percent in 2011.

Blyleven played for five teams during his 22 year MLB career, Tom Seaver played for four teams during his 20 year MLB career and Jack Morris played for four teams during his 18 year MLB career. I fail to see how Blyleven is that much more traveled than Morris or Seaver by playing for one more team during a longer career.

That was my second year with a vote, and it’s still the only one I regret. I selected Blyleven not because I thought he was a Hall of Famer — I didn’t and still don’t — 

I don't want to turn into a blogger furious with righteous indignation or be accused of getting rid of those who have actually sat in a press box...but why in the hell would a person vote for a player that he/she/it doesn't think is a Hall of Famer when voting for the baseball Hall of Fame? I realize I am not the veteran sportswriter working from a press box that John Tomase is, but it seems to me that if I were voting for the baseball Hall of Fame I would limit by vote to players who I believed deserved to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Again, I don't want to make it seem like I am questioning the decision of a person who doesn't eat Hot Pockets and has spent his life in a press box, but it doesn't make sense to vote for Blyleven if Tomase doesn't think he is a Hall of Famer.

but because in that moment, I allowed the avalanche of statistical support to overwhelm what I saw with my own two eyes: Blyleven was a very good pitcher, not an all-time great one.

Now remember, John Tomase is upset that bloggers don't use critical thinking when voting for the baseball Hall of Fame. Here he states he ignores the statistical evidence and focuses on what he saw with his own two eyes. Unfortunately, I don't think I would consider "the eye test" to be a shining example of critical thinking.

It’s the same reason I won’t vote for Mike Mussina any time soon but will check Curt Schilling’s name every year until he’s elected.

I'm certainly missing the critical thinking portion of this exercise. It seems Tomase is simply saying, "Mussina didn't look like a Hall of Famer to me, so I won't vote for him" which leads to memory bias. I don't consider basing a vote on memory as critical thinking either.

I also know that in the ’80s, Morris was the last pitcher I wanted to see opposing the Red Sox,

The last pitcher I want facing the Braves is Livan Hernandez. It seems like he always killed the Braves. That doesn't mean he should be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

and once we eliminate those visceral feelings from this process, we might as well just fill the Hall via blind allegiance to WAR or JAWS or whatever all-encompassing stat comes next.

No, the visceral feelings should be a part of the process, but there has to be a blind allegiance to not allowing personal feelings or personal memories affect the vote. I don't think WAR or another statistic should be the be-all that decides whether a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame, but a player statistics speak for themselves while personal memories or feelings are completely relative and subject to memory bias.

Raines is a player the entire blogosphere seems to agree is being screwed, with favorable comparisons to Tony Gwynn and even Rickey Henderson. (Incidentally, for a bunch of free thinkers, the online denizens sure seem to take a lot of comfort in agreeing with each other.)

It's terrible disagreement and rudeness when bloggers disagree, but it's a sign of conformity when bloggers agree. Got it. Also, I like the broad paintbrush Tomase is using to describe "the online denizens" who he has stated he hates so much. It makes it seem like Tomase is more concerned with bloggers and other online voices having legitimate arguments that could call his baseball Hall of Fame voting expertise into question. It just seems like part of the hate comes from a place of fear.

Raines was a very good player who failed to sustain his greatness, so I won’t be voting for him, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Then don't vote for him on how you perceive his merits. Just don't state you aren't voting for him because you won't vote for any players who played during the PED era and then vote for a player who played during the PED era. That's where the deserved criticism will start to head your way.

Leave a comment below! There’s no chance I’ll read it!

Thanks for having contempt for your readers! That will get you far!

There are bullies on the Internet, but a lot of the indignation against Hall of Fame voting is simply disagreements on the merits of that writer's vote. It's not character assassination, it's not pitchforks and torches being wielded. If you can't handle disagreement over your Hall of Fame vote perhaps you should choose not to make your vote public or relinquish your vote...and then this vote could even go to someone who has been in a press box before.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Names the Nominees for His Fake MVP Award; Still Claims He Voluntarily Doesn't Sit in the Press Box

Last week Gregg Easterbrook informed us his Authentic Games metric indeed works because after multiple guesses it got the Super Bowl matchup correct. It's a very impressive metric that could change every week and eventually get the correct Super Bowl matchup. As long as the metric isn't supposed to actually predict anything when only being used one time it works well. Gregg also marveled that high-scoring teams score below their season average in games they lose and gave us another example of his "had" something happened then the outcome "might" have been different statement, which is a pretty useless statement to make. This week Gregg allows his readers to vote for the longest award in sports and revives the "Crabtree Curse" despite his previous insistence this curse only impacted the 49ers when Mike Singletary was the head coach. As always, Gregg can't seem to keep his own rules straight nor is he capable of even remembering the bullshit explanation he used previously to justify why one of his half-assed theories didn't turn out to be true. The "Crabtree Curse" was supposed to have only affected the 49ers when Mike Singletary was the head coach (as was explained by Gregg once it was clear the curse was bullshit and proven to be so by the fact the 49ers were winning games with Crabtree as their best receiver), well at least until the 49ers lose an important game (and the NFC Championship game on the road nonetheless), and then the curse magically makes a comeback.

Since the NFL MVP always goes to a quarterback or running back, for a decade TMQ has conferred a Non-QB Non-RB MVP, the coveted "longest award in sports." This year for the first time, readers choose the winner!

Readers don't get to choose the nominees, so the excitement over readers being able to choose the award is muted a bit. We are beholden to Gregg's choice of four nominees.

The Non-QB Non-RB MVP must be a player from one of the Super Bowl entrants, my reasoning being that he who would wear the mantle of "most valuable" had better have created some value.

Sorry Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, you didn't create value this year. Better luck next time. Obviously any moron can understand the simple fact a player didn't appear in the Super Bowl doesn't mean that player didn't create value. Notice I wrote "...any moron can understand..." so you can see how Gregg doesn't grasp this concept. An individual award should be given solely on the basis of a team's achievement apparently. 

This year's finalists in alpha order are Doug Baldwin of Seattle, Richard Sherman of Seattle, Danny Trevathan of Denver and Louis Vasquez of Denver.

What a shock that Gregg favors undrafted players over highly drafted players. I guess Demaryius Thomas, Bobby Wagner, Max Unger, Terrance Knighton, and Brandon Mebane weren't worthy of being named the Non-QB Non-RB MVP due to being players who were drafted in the 3rd round or higher. Funny how that works.

Beware that you may confer upon your choice the Non-QB Non-RB MVP Curse. The 2012 winner, David Diehl of the Giants, just retired; the 2013 winner, NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers, was injured last week, reportedly tearing his ACL and MCL.

Yes, Bowman was cursed in that he had an absolutely terrific season, is one of the top linebackers in the NFL, and his team appeared in the NFC Championship game for the third straight season. Outside of his torn ACL and MCL, what a tough life for him. Also, I'm not sure Diehl retiring can be considered a curse. I wish I was cursed and could retire before I'm 35 years old. What a curse.

TMQ wants to shine a light on reform ideas for the game.

I can think of no less qualified candidates who could do this.

The level of play has never been higher. But it's a sport with deep-seated problems that, if not addressed, could lead to long-term decline.

If the NFL doesn't fix these deep-seated problems then there might be long-term decline. Or there might not be a long-term decline. Later in this column Gregg will criticize those who make predictions so far in the future that the prediction won't be remembered. He should be criticizing himself possibly.

Right now might be the peak moment of the football bubble, and not just because big-college attendance is mildly off and Super Bowl ticket prices are falling. The whole football bubble could burst if high schools begin to drop the sport owing to liability exposure.

And if the entire planet is destroyed by an asteroid, then no one high schools will have to worry about liability exposure. If dinosaurs still existed, we would all be eaten/stepped on. Oh, and the Super Bowl ticket prices are falling most likely due to the cold weather and the fact fans don't necessarily want to sit outside in the cold to watch the game. I don't know if the popularity of the NFL is taking a hit more than the consumer's need to sit outside in New York during February has taken a hit.

For the NFL:

Require disclosure of painkiller use club by club -- as anonymous data, with names removed. Painkiller abuse may be football's next scandal.

Good luck getting the player's union to agree to disclosure of painkiller use by club. Even if this happened then I wouldn't doubt what happened in MLB would end up happening in the NFL where this "anonymous" list all of a sudden gets released and the public finds out the names of the players who have used painkillers.

Change law so images of football games played in publicly funded stadia cannot be copyrighted. The effect would be that the NFL would immediately repay all stadium construction subsidies, and never seek a subsidy again. Altering national copyright law seems more promising than trying to ban pro football stadium subsidies state by state, since the handouts originate with a broad mix of state, county and city agencies. 

Good luck with that too. Most of Gregg's suggestions seem like pipe dreams to me. What Gregg doesn't understand is Congress and the American people probably don't want to declare war on the NFL right now and there are better things to worry about.

For the NCAA:

For FBS players, the year-to-year scholarship -- which pressures them to favor football over the library, to ensure the scholarship is renewed -- should be replaced with a six-year scholarship. That way once a player's athletic eligibility has expired, typically after 4.5 years, and once the NFL does not call -- 97 percent of FBS players never take an NFL snap -- there will be paid-up semesters remaining for him to be a full-time student, repair credits and earn that diploma. Not all will need the extra semesters.

This is a great example of how out of touch Gregg Easterbrook is. Trust me on this, in my experience if you give an athlete a six-year scholarship then that athlete is going to take more than four years to graduate. Why graduate earlier if school is paid for over six years instead of just four years? This gives the athlete two years of a scholarship where he doesn't have to study and can just jerk around and do nothing, then focus for four years after that. If Gregg wants fewer athletes to graduate then schools should start handing out six year scholarships and give the athletes incentive to graduate in less than four years. But again, it doesn't pop into Gregg's mind that an athlete might intentionally take six years to graduate if he knows his education is paid for over six years because in Gregg's white, upper middle-class experience ALL student-athletes want to graduate as early as possible. Giving an athlete four extra semester gives that athlete less incentive to graduate on-time. This would undoubtedly result in fewer athletes graduating in four years. Brilliant idea, Gregg.

But six-year full scholarships would change big-college football from a cynical exercise in using up impressionable young men and throwing them away, into a fair deal: The university gets great football, the players get educations.

Or the players could be compensated or allowed the opportunity to pursue compensation for the value they provide to the university. This is as opposed to giving them permission to graduate two years after they are supposed to.

For football at all levels:

Ban the three-point and four-point stance. Because of these stances, most football plays begin with linemen's heads colliding. No reform reduces helmet-to-helmet contact faster than requiring all players to begin downs with hands off the ground and heads up. Will this make football a sissified sport? That's what was said of the forward pass.

I don't know about this. I get that the purpose is to reduce concussions, but I think Gregg's next suggestion (to require only 4 or 5 star helmets) could reduce the impact of concussions without eliminating the three-point and four-point stance. Of course that's an expensive solution.

Only four- or five-star rated helmets should be permitted. Some of the safest helmets are prohibitively expensive for public high school districts, but the four-star, $149 Rawlings Impulse is not. 

Again, this is another situation where Gregg shows he lives in a white, upper-middle class neighborhood and lives that lifestyle. I think spending $9,000 (Just guessing $149 for 60 players) on helmets could feel somewhat prohibitive for some school districts where teachers are having to purchase their own supplies and schools are struggling for funds. But again, Gregg seems to be going off his experience in upper-middle class Maryland as proof public high school districts can afford $9,000 per school on helmets. I don't believe this is true for all public high school districts.

Want to impress your friends while watching the game? If either the Broncos or Seahawks score on a pick-six, immediately announce they will win.

Your friends will be so impressed you are a presumptive moron, they will immediately offer you the chance to shut the hell up and just watch the damn game.

Teams returning an interception for a touchdown are 11-0 in the Super Bowl.

I hope that changes this year so Gregg can look stupid, except he won't ever mention he was wrong that the team who intercepted a pass for a touchdown will win the Super Bowl.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB MVP: Previous winners: Alan Faneca, Steelers, 2001; Lincoln Kennedy, Raiders, 2002; Damien Woody, Patriots, 2003; Troy Brown, Patriots, 2004; Walter Jones, Seahawks, 2005; Jeff Saturday, Colts, 2006; Matt Light, Patriots, 2007; James Harrison, Steelers, 2008; Dallas Clark, Colts, 2009; Dan Koppen, Patriots, 2010; David Diehl, Giants, 2012; NaVorro Bowman, 49ers, 2013.

And also notice how many first round draft picks are on this list. By my count there are six first round draft choices. These are highly drafted glory boys that Gregg thinks make too much money and have too much ego to succeed in the NFL. 

This year's candidates:

Doug Baldwin, Seattle:

As the second best receiver on the Seahawks team Baldwin should definitely be the Non-QB Non-RB MVP (I'm not going to write the whole thing). Mostly, Gregg prefers Baldwin over Golden Tate because Tate was a second round draft pick.

Bonus factor: Baldwin was undrafted out of Stanford, and TMQ loves undrafted players.

Yep, so that's why he favors Baldwin over Tate.

Richard Sherman, Seattle:

Danny Trevathan, Denver: Manning and his offensive line are the core of the Broncos, but Denver posted a reasonable defensive season despite the no-huddle offense often scoring quickly then sending the defense back out. Trevathan led Denver with 87 unassisted tackles -- the closest teammate compiled 58 -- and his 10 passes defensed is a high number for a linebacker. 

Nothing against Trevathan, but perhaps he had 10 passes defensed because the Broncos' opponent was throwing the ball alot due to their no-huddle high scoring offense? It doesn't make it any less impressive, but Gregg acknowledges the Broncos' offense was scoring a lot of points, yet he doesn't attribute Trevathan's passes defensed partially to the Broncos' opponents throwing the ball a lot to catch up.

Louis Vasquez, Denver: Denver allowed a league-low 20 sacks in the regular season; Manning has yet to be pulled down in the playoffs. Manning has been hit once every 14 dropbacks; the typical NFL quarterback is hit once every seven dropbacks.

Peyton Manning is a veteran quarterback and he is good at ensuring his offensive linemen have the correct protections lined up. Plus, it's a team effort on the offensive line to make sure Manning doesn't get sacked. Manning is very good at being sacked. This takes nothing away from Louis Vasquez, but Manning is good at avoiding being sacked and protecting Manning is a team effort.

Quick release is one reason it's so hard to reach Manning. Superior blocking is the main reason.

I would actually say it is 50/50 as to why reaching Manning is so hard to sack. A quarterback helps his offensive linemen by getting rid of the ball quickly, so while the Broncos have really good blocking, they are helped by Manning's quick release and pocket awareness.

As recently as December, your columnist thought Zane Beadles was having the Broncos' best year at OL. Vasquez has been spectacular in the playoffs, near perfect pass blocking and run blocking without help (Beadles has been double-teaming with the center).

Gregg also realized that Vasquez was a 3rd round pick and had made the Pro Bowl, while Beadles is a 2nd round pick and did not make the Pro Bowl. So Gregg decided he would follow what others did and say Vasquez is the better offensive linemen, plus it was a bonus that Vasquez was drafted lower than Beadles was. Also, Beadles doesn't double-team with the center on every play and for Gregg to indicate Beadles has been double-teaming with the center on nearly every play is ridiculous. If that was really true then opposing teams would adjust quickly and start to take advantage of this. Gregg's analysis consistently sucks.

Stats to Ponder No. 5: If the Broncos prevail, they will be the second team to lead the NFL in passing yards and also win that season's Super Bowl. So far only the 1999 Rams finished first in passing and also won the Super Bowl.

If the Broncos win the Super Bowl will Gregg admit that throughout this year when he has stated that pass-wacky teams have a hard time winning the Super Bowl that this isn't universally true and despite what he says about the Patriots and other teams a record-setting offensive team can win the Super Bowl? Probably not.

Stats to Ponder No. 6: The Broncos are the NFL's highest-scoring team ever. Of the previous 10 highest-scoring teams, only the 1999 Rams won the Super Bowl that season.

Yep, it's that stat which Gregg loves to cite.

Stats to Ponder No. 8: The Jersey/A Giants and Jersey/B Jets, host teams for the Super Bowl, this season combined to commit 73 turnovers. Denver and Seattle combined to commit 27.

This is interesting only to show how bad the Jets and Giants were this season, but the fact both teams are hosting the Super Bowl doesn't in any way mean they were awarded the Super Bowl because they were supposed to have really good seasons.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback contends the outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl will be either a rousing success or total fiasco.

Of course it will. It's not possible for there to be any inbetween.

Craig Cognetti of Scranton, Pa., wrote, "Several states, cities and areas in the U.S. start with New; New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, New England, New Orleans, New Haven and so on. New Jersey is the only 'New' that has so differentiated itself that people routinely drop the first part; Jersey Shore, Jersey Boys, Jersey tomatoes etc. No one roots for the York Yankees or goes out for Haven-style pizza. Only New Jersey is so distinctive it doesn't need the New."

While I get what this reader is saying, it's clear he is a loyal reader of Gregg's because he overlooks an important fact. If the "New" is dropped from some of these cities, states and areas then a person could be confused as to what exact state, city, area or country is being referenced. For example, Hampshire and England are two places in Europe, York and Haven could reference several places in the United States, while Mexico is a country close to New Mexico so the "New" is crucial to pinpoint the exact location being referenced. There is a Jersey off the coast of France (and that's the only "Jersey" I found on a quick Google search), but it is only 46 square miles, so "Jersey" generally references New Jersey. It's not that New Jersey is so distinctive necessarily, but the "New" is required to differentiate some of these other places from larger cities and countries. So while New Jersey is distinctive, the "New" isn't always required to tell a person the exact location being referenced.

The cult-status "Sopranos" episode "Pine Barrens" -- in which Chris and Paulie Walnuts wander incompetently through New Jersey's famed pine barrens searching for an equally incompetent Russian mobster they are supposed to whack -- was not filmed in the pine barrens.

Actually, the entire point of that episode was that the Russian mobster turned out to be the very opposite of incompetent. He was a well-decorated soldier who killed 16 Czechs in one fight by himself. Not that I would expect Gregg to actually be accurate or make an attempt to not mislead his readers. If he's going to make a reference to something and try to act like he knows what he's talking about, it always helps if he actually knows what he's talking about. The entire point of the episode is Paulie and Christopher underestimated the Russian mobster.

The episode was filmed in New York's Harriman State Park, whose tree species differ significantly from those of the pine barrens. Thus in the NFL, New York is located in New Jersey; on the "Sopranos," New Jersey was located in New York.

Gregg is so insufferable.

Crabtree Curse Revived: Early in Michael Crabtree's career, TMQ tracked the Crabtree Curse -- the 49ers were more likely to win when Crabtree was hurt than when he was in the lineup. Many readers, including Herman Hou of London, note the Crabtree Curse lives. Not only was the final throw of the NFC title game, intercepted by Seattle, targeted at Crabtree: all three of San Francisco's final throws of the 2013 Super Bowl, all incompletions, were targeted at Crabtree. Bad enough that the 49ers let Crabtree onto the field; when they try to throw him the ball, a Curse awaits.

As usual, in his attempts to be a cutesy little dipshit there are important factors that Gregg Easterbrook neglects to mention. One factor is the 49ers were in the NFC Championship Game when this pass was targeted towards Crabtree and the 49ers were in the Super Bowl when the three other passes were targeted to him. If making two NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl over the last three seasons is a curse caused by Michael Crabtree then every other NFC team probably would want a curse like Michael Crabtree on their team. Another factor is that Gregg ignores the 49ers offense played better when Crabtree was on the field this season as opposed to when he was injured. But again, why wouldn't Gregg try to lie to his readers in order to be a cutesy dipshit?

From my 2009 column on cheerleader low pay: "Cheer-babes dancing in short skirts, or posing for swimsuit calendars, is not exploitation. After all, you're supposed to look at the cheerleaders! Professional athletics is foremost a form of entertainment, and the scantily-clad dancing girl has a long history as integral to entertainment in theatrical arts as well as sport. It is, however, objectionable if everyone involved in an NFL contest is making buckets of money, except for the cheerleaders."

The NFL's attitude seems to be that cheerleaders are just frilly little things flouncing around, let their boyfriends look after them. 

This from a guy who used to run a "Cheerleader of the Week" feature where he pretended to give a shit about the cheerleader's interest outside of football, but was really an excuse to run a picture of a cheerleader in TMQ. Also, Gregg calls them "cheer-babes" which I'm sure isn't making them sound like frilly little things flouncing around at all.

No Super Bowl pairing has ever generated such a waterfall of interesting stats.

This is the first Super Bowl in history with so many interesting statistics! Never before has a Super Bowl had so many interesting statistics and this doesn't sound made up at all.

It may be that Denver's offensive numbers and Seattle's defensive stats both were amplified by schedules. The Super Bowl will be the first time this season Denver has faced a team that finished in the top six for defense, in contrast to 12 outings by the Broncos against teams that finished in the bottom third.

The Broncos did play the 7th, 8th, and 12th ranked defenses with two of those games being on the road. I get what Gregg is saying of course, but still...

Over on the green side of the ball, the Seahawks compiled their great defensive numbers against a schedule rich in underperforming offenses. Seattle faced New Orleans twice, both times at home; the Saints were the sole top-rated offense Seattle had to contain.

But Seattle did keep the Saints to record-low yardage and point totals the first time they played them and effectively shut the Saints down the second time they played as well. So that has to count for something.

The Seahawks simply have not seen an elite offense on the road, and the Super Bowl is a road game.

It's actually a neutral-site game.

TMQ's keys to the game:

Read these intently, because if Gregg is wrong about any of these then he won't mention them again.

1. The Broncos must throw deep, even if that means Peyton Manning holding the ball for more than 2.36748790345 seconds or whatever his average is supposed to be. The drip-drip-drip short passing Denver has lived on this season will be difficult against Seattle's in-your-face press coverage.

Of course if it is cold out or somewhat windy then it may be hard for Manning to throw deep, plus the Seahawks corners are tall and by playing press coverage they make it difficult for receivers to get a clean release which would make the Broncos successful deep passing game difficult to achieve. 

2. Seattle must take the electronic governor off Russell Wilson, who does not need to outperform Manning, but can't just hand off either. The Seahawks' best game this season was a 34-7 defeat of New Orleans in which Wilson aired the ball out, 30 throws for 310 yards.

Yet the Seahawks have an advantage in that they have a really good running game which helps lead to opportunities for deep throws in the passing game. I'm not sure going completely away from the team's strength is a good way to win the Super Bowl, plus the Seahawks probably want to wear the Broncos defense down and keep Manning off the field. So while Gregg has a point that the Seahawks have to trust Russell Wilson, handing the ball off and chewing up clock is crucial to beating the Broncos.

Seattle's game plan needs to be aggressive, in case the Jersey Bowl becomes a touchdown festival.

Unfortunately, going uber-aggressive against the Broncos also plays into their hands and ensures the Seahawks may not have the advantage in time of possession, which again, is important to keep Manning off the field. Sure, the Seahawks need to be aggressive, but they shouldn't play to the Broncos strengths just in case their defense can't stop Peyton Manning.

3. The Broncos will be without Ryan Clady, Chris Harris and Von Miller, three of the team's best players. The Seahawks will be missing only Sidney Rice, who is not integral to what they do,

Yeah, he only had 50 receptions 748 yards and 7 touchdowns last year for the Seahawks. How important could he be?

My pick? I journeyed alone to a distant mountaintop -- OK, a distant parking lot -- and the football gods revealed unto me: low-scoring game, Seattle by a field goal.

Let me get this straight...Gregg is advocating the Seahawks be aggressive, advocating the Broncos should pass the ball deep, yet he thinks it will be a low scoring game. If the Seahawks succeed in being aggressive then it probably won't be a low-scoring game and if the Seahawks fail in being aggressive then I think they are looking at quite a few three-and-outs or stalled drives, which means Peyton Manning will be on the field longer. I'm not sure either scenario Gregg advocates leads to a low-scoring game. But hey, it's entirely possible Gregg will be wrong in the advice he gives each team and it will be a low-scoring game. Rest assured, if Gregg is right that it is a low-scoring game then he will forget his advice and tips for each team were shit. If the game is high-scoring he will point out he said each team should pursue aggressive strategies. In a shocking turn of events, Gregg has created a scenario where he can claim to be right almost regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl.

Bad Predictions on Fast-Forward: TMQ's all-bad-predictions column has been retired, but a few howlers are always welcome.

"I am behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent." USC athletic director Pat Haden, three weeks before firing him. Perhaps Haden meant he was standing behind Kiffin and planned to push him down the stairs.

"Leslie Frazier is not going anywhere. I am telling you we are very committed to Leslie Frazier." Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, one month before firing him.

I realize Gregg hates hyper-specificity, but these are statements, not predictions. Gregg has no concerns for details like this though.

New York University economist Nouriel Roubini became a media darling, and a player on the big-bucks lecture circuit after his 2006 prediction that a housing bubble would cause recession proved correct. Does that make him a seer? Roubini had predicted national economic misfortune many times before and been wrong -- and he has continued to predict it since, again being wrong. If you endlessly predict the clock will strike midnight, you will be right once a day.

Perhaps Gregg should remember this the next time he writes that a team needs to "do a little dance" to convert a first down, talks about how whichever team's cheerleaders/head coach wears the least amount of clothing will win the game, and discusses how a cornerback or safety made the high school error of looking in the quarterback's eyes instead of guarding his man (because this is basketball and not football being discussed of course). 

This is because I'll be sitting outside. After a few trial runs, your columnist eschews the press box -- it's the worst possible place to watch a football game. In most NFL press boxes, there are TV monitors, desks or counters to set up a laptop, free sandwiches, assistants who hand out stat sheets, and of course protection from the elements. 

It sounds like an absolute nightmare. I still stick to my speculation that Gregg doesn't watch a football game in the press box because the other sportswriters can't stand to be around him. I can't blame them. I would kick Gregg out of the press box too, especially after he tells a beat writer for the Seahawks he should include in his column the Seahawks didn't convert a fourth-and-1 due to the offense not "doing a little dance" or has a five minute conversation about how "The Blacklist" isn't a realistic television show.

Observing a few press boxes, I came to the conclusion that so many sportswriters and sportscasters focus on stars' personalities or coaches' postgame comments, but rarely discuss in-game tactics, because they weren't paying much attention.

Yes, too many sportswriters are too focused on writing their postgame column which would include quotes about what happened during the game. You know, they are too focused on doing their job. Also, I'm not sure how many sportscasters are working from a press box, but clearly Gregg has much more experience in a press box than I do, so I imagine there are sportscasters working there completely ignoring the game they are supposed to be watching and commenting on.

A low seat allows one to hear what is being said on the field and get a clear view of line play. It's better than being in the press box. Though at the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami, when there was steady rain, being outside made it hard to take notes. Shivering may do the same this year.

Gregg must have absolutely superior hearing if he can consistently hear what's being said on the field by any player other than the quarterback. Also, a low seat seems to me to be the worst possible way to see what's happening on the field, especially considering a low seat doesn't allow the viewer to necessarily see the entire field of play possibly.

Absurd Precision Watch: Kevin Clark in the Wall Street Journal: "According to Pro Football Focus, Peyton Manning takes a league-shortest 2.36 seconds to throw. Russell Wilson takes a league-longest 3.18 seconds." Even assuming the hundredths of seconds claimed are accurate, that's a fourth-fifths of a second difference between the fastest and the slowest.

Yes, that's very nearly an entire second difference at which each quarterback releases the football. That's easily the difference in whether a quarterback gets sacked/gets the ball tipped or completes a pass instead. In the NFL, that's a pretty big deal.

Such a difference would determine the winner at a track or swim meet, but it's hard to believe can determine the victor in a football game.

Perhaps Gregg needs to sit in the press box or pay better attention to what's going on while he's sitting in the lower levels of the stands during a football game. That's if Gregg finds it hard to believe a difference of 0.8 seconds can't make a difference in a football game. Sure, on one play a quarterback holding the ball 0.8 seconds longer may not determine the victor in a football game, but how long a quarterback holds the football can easily make a difference in whether one team wins or not. Gregg consistently underestimates the speed of the NFL game.

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

I'm sure Gregg's analysis of what happened and why it happened will probably still be super terrible.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

3 comments MMQB Review: New Jersey Super Bowl Edition

Last week Peter King fought off strong feelings about Peyton Manning while admiring Manning's bare upper torso, he only got slightly less excited about the world getting the Super Bowl that obviously everyone wanted to see. Peter also marveled at how underrated the traffic in Denver is, because that's a real thing and all. This week Peter talks about how things are getting real for Richard Sherman, thinks the fact Peyton Manning hasn't faced any of the Seahawks defensive backs is a very significant storyline mostly because he has to fill five pages and has to create significant storylines that aren't really significant, wastes space with an interview of Lil Wayne, and tells us the New York Super Bowl should be the New Jersey Super Bowl. 

Well now, a Jersey City dateline, six days before the Super Bowl. There’s something I never thought I’d see. Or type. A Super Bowl in New Jersey.

It's only 2-3 years in the making so I can see how the suddenness of the Super Bowl being in New Jersey would still come as a shock to Peter.

But the hype machine for Super Bowl XLVIII alighted in the Garden State Sunday night, so let’s go there, to the tamest interview station of them all.

Richard Sherman’s. Of course.

This goes against the narrative that the media wants to write about Richard Sherman being just a loud-mouthed black guy. How terrible that reality doesn't match the narrative the media pursues.

I bring you these gems from Sherman’s riser Sunday night at the Jersey City Westin, a week before Seattle-Denver just up the street in East Rutherford:

“We have a team full of competitors who want to go against the best team, the best offense. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
 “It’s all going to come down to who plays the best football.”
“It really comes down to the execution.”
“It’s going to be a battle of wills.”

All right! Who went and stole Richard Sherman?!

It's almost like Richard Sherman doesn't shout taunts into the camera towards specific opponents on a weekly basis and isn't quite the out of control player that the media has enjoyed painting him as over the last few weeks.

Someone asked him about being referred to as a thug last night, and instead of rolling his eyes and flashing anger, he said: “I think it did have some effect on opening up the channels of communication and conversation and dialogue. I think I had some impact on it, and I want to have a positive impact. I want people to understand that everybody should be judged by their character and who they are as a person and not by the color of their skin. That’s something we’ve worked to get past as a nation, as a country and we’re continuing to work on it. It’s healthy.

I’ve heard him talk like that several times, when the cameras aren’t around. I think as a person, that’s who he is.

I think a lot of people are different at work as compared to how they act in a regular, everyday setting. I'm much more patient when it comes to everyday activities, while I'm not as patient when it comes to being in a work setting. So I think it's silly to judge Sherman on his actions after the NFC Championship game and am not surprised he doesn't act like that in all of his interviews.

But this week, I expect him to be the filtered Richard Sherman. Maybe with a message Tuesday, Media Day, in Newark, for the national TV audience, but nothing too incendiary.

I thought it was very interesting that Richard Sherman wasn't specifically known for having an incendiary message until 10 minutes after the NFC Championship game, at which point the media was awaiting Sherman's next incendiary message as if he yells into television cameras all the time.

The Broncos and Seahawks are staying 1.3 miles apart, just up from the Hudson River. Outside the Denver hotel is the better view: the icy Hudson, with the new World Trade Center glistening to the east. A beautiful sight.

Really, much like the Denver traffic this sight is underrated.

But Denver has the more arduous practice road. They’ll have a 31-mile escorted trek to the Jets’ practice facility in the rolling hills of Florham Park, and will make the trip for the first time today for a light 2:55 p.m. practice.

Are the Broncos having to walk to the practice facility or something? Peter describes their practice road as arduous, but they are taking a bus or other modern transportation to get there, so the Broncos just have to sit in a bus a little longer than the Seahawks. I'm sure they will find a way to recover and make the Super Bowl competitive.

Seattle is about eight miles away from the Meadowlands. 

Better get the sled dogs fed, make sure they have their winter coats well fluffed and prepare for the arduous journey across the New Jersey landscape.

Denver coach John Fox did the smart thing, figuring he’ll have his team on buses for 70 to 90 minutes a day today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: He’s going to encourage his players to do homework on the trips.

Do homework, but no cheating off each other's papers. The Broncos team will never learn how to do Algebra if they start sharing answers or allow Demaryius Thomas to give them all of the answers. Plus, this bus ride will be the perfect time to prepare for Mrs. Sides' big spelling test on Monday.

In addition, Fox and FOX will get together Wednesday afternoon on the bus. He’ll do his weekly TV production meeting with the TV team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and the network’s production staff while driving back from the Jets’ facility after practice. Smart and efficient.

As someone who has experience with John Fox quotes, here's what he'll say.

"This isn't my first rodeo."

"The Seahawks practice too."

"A punt isn't a bad play."

"It is what it is."

That about sums it up for the Foxisms.

Pete Carroll will coach the Super Bowl in a stadium in the same Jersey parking lot as the one where he got his first head-coaching shot. In fact, this month is the 20-year anniversary of Pete Carroll getting his first NFL head-coaching job.
This month is also the 19-year anniversary of Carroll getting fired from his first NFL head-coaching job.
That’s right. Carroll Chudzinskied the Jets’ job.

I remember nothing past last week and have no access to Wikipedia, so that is brand new information that I just learned.

That was a strange mix of a Jets team. (That is not the first time, nor the last, for that.) Boomer Esiason and Art Monk teamed that day for five aerial connections for 108 yards. Esiason to Monk! Bet you didn’t know they ever played on the same team.

No, I completely knew they played on the same team. I know this may shock Peter, but some of us actually have a memory and are able to remember something that occurred prior to the year 2000.

With the clock running and the ball at the Jets’ 8 with 32 seconds left, Marino hustled to the line. The man who called the plays into Marino’s helmet that season was backup Bernie Kosar,


Plus, Bernie Kosar was a quarterback. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT!

That’s right: The Jets finished on a five-game losing streak. In the last week of the season, Carroll called Esiason into his office and told him, “Boomer, we’re gonna make some major changes around here, and you’re gonna love them.”

"I'm getting fired. I bet that just thrills you. And oh yeah, the Jets are going to hire Rich Kotite. It might be best to just retire or demand a trade."

But after the last loss, owner Leon Hess, 

Leon Hess is a real person. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT!

“To this day I have no idea why Mr. Hess fired Pete after one season,” Esiason said. “He was brilliant. He was the Chip Kelly of his time. I wish he’d have stayed our coach.”

Chip Kelly wasn't always the head coach of the Eagles. Few people probably remember he was the head coach at Oregon.
This is a very significant storyline this week.
I just don’t know exactly how to quantify it.

Mostly because it's a fairly contrived storyline.

Peyton Manning has never faced any of the eight Seattle defensive backs in the regular season or playoffs. He has faced the Seahawks twice in the preseason, but not when it’s counted since Oct. 4, 2009, a span of 68 games, including postseason. And, obviously, they have never faced him in a real game either.

This is incredible. How will Peyton Manning know how to throw the football and how will the Seahawks secondary understand how to play defense since they have never played each other? There is going to be mass confusion.

I think it's impossible to quantify the fact Manning and the Seahawks secondary haven't played each other before and probably pretty needless to do so as well.

Now the question: Who gets the edge—Manning or the Seattle secondary—because of the lack of exposure these two sides have had to each other?

Who knows? Maybe we will have to watch the Super Bowl to find out which team has the advantage. What a shocking conclusion! It's almost like the actual game being played on Sunday has meaning and any attempts to really quantify what could happen during the game is useless.

At first blush I’d say Manning, because, well, as Richard Sherman said a few days ago, “You can’t get in Peyton Manning’s head. If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.” Manning, and his new coordinator-in-crime, Adam Gase, are very good are figuring out things to show a defense that they’ve never seen before.

This week Manning will go to the line of scrimmage and start yelling "Boise, Boise" and all of the Seahawks defenders will be confused because he isn't yelling "Omaha."

But do you know you’ll be seeing what you’ve seen regularly this year? Andre Caldwell was thrown 19 balls in a late-season three-game stretch; Jacob Tamme got 13 Manning targets in an earlier three-game run. Manning, when he needs to, involves the rest of the roster, not just his big four.

Much of the reason Caldwell got those balls thrown to him is because Wes Welker was injured. Welker is healthy now, so I think the fact Caldwell got thrown 19 passes over three weeks is a bit misleading. Though I'm sure it will certainly confuse the Seahawks to know they have to cover every wide receiver or tight end for the Broncos rather than just the big four.

But Seattle has an edge here in that Manning hasn’t been able to replicate the Seahawks’ talent, size and physicality in practice. Other than Sherman staying at left corner—that’s an absolute given—we won’t know for sure until the game starts how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts.

This is as opposed to if Manning had faced the Seahawks secondary before he would know exactly how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts for the Broncos?

For once, the beaten-up story angle of the week (just watch)—Peyton Manning against the best secondary in football—could turn out to be the overwhelming story of the Super Bowl.

And they have never faced each other, so the game is actually going to have to be played before conclusions can be drawn. How is Peter supposed to start creating narratives in this situation? It's not fair.

The Browns coaching hire. It’s a tangled web in Cleveland—and I say that with much respect for Mike Pettine, hired as the eighth head coach in the reconstituted Browns’ 15-year history. Pettine did a fabulous job with the Bills in his one year as coordinator (Buffalo sacks in 2012: 36; in 2013: 57) and should breathe life into a team that underperformed on defense this season.

Pettine has done a great job with his defenses over the years. Let's me just say if his name were Mike Gruden or Mike Ryan then he would probably already have a head coaching job. But it does suck that Pettine was the 15th (or so) choice of the Browns.

I have heard McDaniels was the apple of owner Jimmy Haslam’s eye from the time a four-man team of Browns officials met with McDaniels in New England for seven-and-a-half hours on Wild Card Saturday, and that GM Mike Lombardi had at least two conversations with McDaniels about re-entering the coaching derby in the days after New England’s loss to Denver in the AFC title game.

Speaking of Mike Lombardi, notice how Bill Simmons has stayed the hell away from commenting about the Browns long and fruitless coaching search? I firmly believe if Mike Lombardi wasn't one of Bill's good friends then he would have made some jokes about the Browns front office and how inept they are in one of his (rare and getting rarer) Friday NFL columns. It pays to have friends in the media it seems, as Bill has stayed the hell away from jokes about Lombardi.

I have also heard, after Bill Belichick pushed hard for his friend Greg Schiano to get in the Cleveland race, that some in the Browns’ hierarchy were revved up by Schiano’s interview with the club early last week.

The Browns have barked up the "Head coaching candidate affiliated with Bill Belichick" twice before and neither candidate worked after being hired as the head coach. But hey, Mike Lombardi is be a genius, right? Why not keep going for recycled head coaching candidates?

They don’t have a long-term quarterback of the future (unless Brian Hoyer, 28, is far better than he’s shown in his four-team, four-start NFL career), and they don’t have anyone to coach one. That’s the biggest problem with the Browns now. There’s no consensus as to who will be the offensive coordinator, and certainly no consensus as to whom the team will draft in May for the new coordinator to coach.

And this much we know, Rob Chudzinksi was the problem. I mean, obviously.

On Adam Gase. The Denver offensive coordinator did the smart thing, as did his former boss in Denver, McDaniels. The coaches of Peyton Manning (Gase) and Tom Brady (McDaniels) both withdrew from the search in Cleveland and will be back piloting their explosive offenses with legendary quarterbacks in 2014 rather than coaching the Browns. Gase is 35 and has a bright future.

He's very good at choosing two plays that his quarterback can run and then allowing his quarterback to choose the play or audible out of it if necessary. If Adam Gase were the offensive coordinator on a video game, he wouldn't even be using "Coach Mode" since the team has to run the play you call in that mode. Gase runs the Broncos offense in "Coach, unless you have a better idea than go ahead and call that play, Mode" if he were the offensive coordinator on a video game.

Nothing against Adam Gase and I wouldn't have wanted the Cleveland Browns job either if I could write Peyton Manning's coattails a little longer and get a better job offer. I don't think I would want to work for the Browns either.

Speaking of McDaniels … Which no one in Denver likes to do. People in Denver figure McDaniels “ran off” Jay Cutler, which he didn’t do, and then drafted Tim Tebow and got fired in the midst of a crash-and-burn 4-12 season. So the venom spews. But let’s be fair here. Look around the Broncos roster, which McDaniels had control of in 2009 and 2010. From the 2009 draft: Knowshon Moreno (1,586 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns this year), defensive end Robert Ayers (sack of Tom Brady in the AFC title game) and special-teams captain David Bruton are here. From the 2010 draft: the two leading receivers—Demaryius Thomas (92 catches, 14 touchdowns) and Eric Decker (87 catches, 11 TDs)—are here, plus starting guard Zane Beadles.

To be ever more fair, I think this goes to show the talent of Brian Xanders as a GM and John Fox as a head coach more than it shows the coaching ability of Josh McDaniels. I recognize most of these guys were really young when they played under McDaniels, but they have flourished under Fox, and Xanders is the guy most responsible for choosing them. So I know Peter is trying to rehab Josh McDaniels' image in a way, but I think Brian Xanders deserves a shout-out too.

He has said time and again that when he compared teams, he liked the young receivers that Denver had. Who would have been in their place, and would they have passed Manning’s muster? Or would be have looked at Larry Fitzgerald and the Manning-friendly offense of Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona a little more fondly? Point is, McDaniels shouldn’t be a Denver pariah in this Super Bowl week. He should be thanked.

Not Brian Xanders? He doesn't merit a mention here? Check out what's done in terms of personnel acquisition. I think he should be thanked more than Josh McDaniels should be thanked.

Well, I never thought I’d be interviewing a rapper for The MMQB. But one of our writers, Robert Klemko, knew how passionate a football fan Lil Wayne is, and Klemko met his publicist, and one thing led to another, and Tuesday night the publicist said to me: “I’m patching you through to Wayne.” 

I would love to have heard this conversation recorded. I'm surprised Peter didn't ask Lil Wayne which U2 album he thought was the best and whether he watched "The Office" or not. On a more realistic note, this is the type of addendum to MMQB that causes it to feel bloated. I think the full interview Lil Wayne should be posted as a separate article on THE MMQB rather than spend space in MMQB, but I'm not Peter's editor, so perhaps he thought it fit in well with MMQB. To me, it just adds to the bloat.

“A lot of the writers think I’m boring. So I’m going to go all Richard Sherman on you.”

—Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.

Riveting. I'm glad this quote was included in MMQB. I mean, I really think this quote is super-important to my understanding of the NFL and MLB.

Peter left out his "Fine Fifteen" this week, which was probably a smart move. I did say the following last week though,

1. Seattle (15-3)
2. Denver (15-3)
I'm guessing Peter will have these teams arranged in this order this week and then flip-flop them once he picks the Broncos to win the Super Bowl despite the fact no games have been played which would give him no logical reason to flip-flop their spots, though it wouldn't shock me if Peter put Seattle #1 in his Fine Fifteen and then picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

Take a wild guess which team Peter has picked to win the Super Bowl? I'll give you a hint, it's not Seattle. Peter did something similar earlier in the year when he put the Kansas City Chiefs at #1 in his "Fine Fifteen" until the week where the Broncos and Chiefs played. At that point, he moved the Broncos head of the Chiefs despite the fact the Chiefs had not lost and had a bye week the week before. What changed on the bye week that could have moved the Chiefs out of the #1 spot on the "Fine Fifteen"? Other than they played the Broncos of course? So Peter's "Fine Fifteen" isn't the most accurate measurement of which team Peter believes is the strongest in the NFL. He ranks Seattle above the Broncos in the previous week's "Fine Fifteen," no games are played the following weekend, and then picks the Broncos to beat the Seahawks. 

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I have never covered a Super Bowl in the town where I lived, so even though I think it’s a bad idea to have the Super Bowl in an outdoor freezer, I am pleased to be home this week. To get my credential for the week’s media responsibilities, I left my apartment on the east side of Manhattan Sunday about 2:30 p.m., and walked nine blocks to the Sheraton Times Square, which is the media hotel for the Super Bowl. I picked up my press credential, then boarded a bus at 3:30 for the Broncos’ team hotel in Jersey City, across the Hudson River.

Now these Broncos and Seahawks players can see firsthand all of the big city annoyances that Peter has to deal with on a weekly basis. There are people on the train minding their own business doing weird things while Peter stares intently at them, the Starbucks baristas don't always make every cup of Peter's coffee perfectly and tourists take pictures of the Apple logo. How insane.

What will be odd about this Super Bowl: The media events with the teams, and the team hotels, and the practice sites, and the Super Bowl, will be in New Jersey. Everything else—the parties, the major-domo press conferences, the media center—will be in Manhattan.

But where will Bruce Springsteen be? Isn't he the shining example of New Jersey?

I'm sure Jon Bon Jovi, who is a Jersey guy and apparently a diehard Patriots fan because he is friends with Robert Kraft/a front runner, will be at the game too. They will be in New Jersey, doesn't that count for something, Peter?

I lived in New Jersey with my family for 24 years. I love the state. Not every inch of it,


So I’m a little sensitive about the New York-ification of everything major league that goes on in New Jersey. Like this Super Bowl. The teams are in Jersey. The practices are in Jersey. The players and coaches meet the press in Jersey. The game’s in Jersey.

But it’s the New York Super Bowl.

Well, it's the media that writes this story so they could be directionally correct if they wanted to, but they choose not to. I think part of the reason this is considered the New York Super Bowl is because the Giants and Jets play at the stadium the Super Bowl will be played in and they are both New York teams.

Peter thinks that's bad, he should try living in North Carolina with South Carolina always lurking and looking to confuse everyone that North Carolina wants anything to do with South Carolina. It didn't help that Jerry Richardson named the Panthers the "Carolina Panthers," but South Carolina also insists on talking to North Carolina at parties and just generally being that cousin who doesn't get invited to family reunions but shows up anyway somehow.

I’ll be drinking in Hoboken Tuesday night, thank you.

I bet Peter will be drinking an Allagash White. 

“Richard Sherman seems to be on his best behavior during his first Super Bowl media exposure. Unfortunately.”

—@MichaelJLev, of the Orange County Register, tweeting from the Richard Sherman news conference Sunday night.

It's so sad Sherman isn't acting up so sportswriters can call him a thug and generally turn his behavior into a narrative about the entire Seahawks team.

Ten Things I Think I Think

3. I think new Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht (pronounced “Light”) had an interesting take the other day when asked who would have the final say on the draft—him or coach Lovie Smith. (It’s widely thought around the league that the buck will stop with Smith on all football decisions.) Said Licht: “There will be no arguments on draft day

So the buck will stop with Lovie Smith then?

We’ll have arguments on players. I’m going to plead my case. I told Lovie, during the interview process, that if he doesn’t like a player, I’m going to be in his office 20 times trying to prove why my player, that I like, is the guy that we need, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing. If we don’t come to an agreement, the answer is easy, it lies in itself—we won’t take that player.”

This sounds like one of the worst ideas I have heard as it pertains to a head coach and a GM deciding which player to take. So if neither party can agree on a player then they just won't take the player? What if the Buccaneers are choosing between Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles and Smith likes Bortles while Licht likes Manziel? Will no decision be made and the Buccaneers just won't take a quarterback? This seems counterproductive to me, especially if the Buccaneers need a quarterback.

I’ll be interested to follow that down the line.

Yeah, me too. This method of conflict resolution as it pertains to which player to take seems like a bad way to go about player evaluation and selection. At some point, there has to be a player that neither Licht or Smith can agree upon and they will just not make a decision at all as opposed to making a decision both are unhappy with. This does sound like how Congress goes about their business, but I'm thinking it will cause more gridlock and bad will than just letting Smith or Licht have their way. What do I know though? When there is a conflict over a decision on which player to choose, choosing neither player seems like a bad idea to me.

7. I think San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, unfortunately, may turn out to be the offensive version of Mike Zimmer, who had to wait far too long for his chance to be a head coach. Cleveland not interviewing Roman … absolutely amazing.

Earlier this year, Peter was wanting more minority candidates to receive interviews for NFL head coaching jobs. Yet I can't help but notice every time he discusses an NFL head coaching candidate who deserves an interview or has waited too long for an interview he always mentions a white guy and not a minority.

9.  I think I will make this promise to you, as Super Bowl Week dawns: I promise I will not hit you over the head with weather reporting/complaining. It’ll get a mention now and again, but not a daily pounding.

Peter hit us with weather report and was complaining about the weather in a previous MMQB. So Peter go his weather complaining in earlier in the season.

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

d. Bieber. Lohan. How do you tell them apart?

One is a girl but looks like a 40-year old woman and the other is a boy but is slowly looking more and more like a girl.

i. How do the Asbury Jukes wear all Rangers stuff?

They put the clothes over their head and then put their arms through the holes of the Rangers gear they wear. Probably the same way Jon Bon Jovi is a big Patriots fan despite the fact he is from New Jersey and owned a Philadelphia arena league team.

k. Beernerdness: Had the good fortune to meet Jim Koch, the Sam Adams brewer, on the SI Now show the other day in New York. We talked craft beer, and he handed me one of his new ones. “Cold Snap.” A wheat beer, he said

Yep, and "Cold Snap" isn't all that great. It's like a wheat beer for people who like the taste of Bud Light.

with spices like coriander and orange peel. And I’m thinking, “Hmmm. Allagash White.”

And I'm thinking there aren't too many beers I consider real beers if you have to put an orange peel in it.

So I popped it open Friday night. A tad darker than Allagash, but the same nose and similar taste. Loved it.

It tastes mediocre, so of course Peter loved it. I gave it a 2.5 on the Untapped app (which is an awesome beer app where you get to rank the beers you drink and share beers you drink with friends) and I was probably being generous.

l. Matt Garza to the Brew Crew. I like it. Good signing. If healthy, he should win 15.

Congrats Brewers! Your signing of Matt Garza has Peter King's approval! Given Peter's knowledge of baseball and individual baseball players, how can this not thrill you?

The Adieu Haiku

Sad thing re Pro Bowl:
End of Tony Gonzalez.
At least in football.

Oh, so Tony Gonzalez will continue living and not die. Thanks for clearing up it's the end of Tony Gonzalez, but only in football. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW TONY GONZALEZ PLAYED BASKETBALL IN COLLEGE! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

3 comments Richard Sherman Is Just Really, Really Dangerous

I'm sure most people saw Richard Sherman's post-NFC Championship game interview with Erin Andrews. If you didn't, Sherman freaked out and talked junk about Michael Crabtree after the game and said Crabtree was a sorry receiver. I'm surprised Gregg Easterbrook doesn't agree since Crabtree is the cause of the 49ers struggles under Mike Singletary due to the "Crabtree Curse." Either way, this interview gave sportswriters a chance to hop up on their pulpit and state that Sherman is a bad sport and probably the worst person in the world. I have two such columns today, one from "Slate" and one from the incomparable Jay Mariotti.

First, "Slate" asks why "everyone" is celebrating Sherman's behavior. Of course one look at social media and the various columns written about Sherman's outburst tells me that not "everyone" was celebrating Sherman's behavior, but I guess it's easier to spit a column out when based on a somewhat false premise like this one.

In the waning moments of the NFC title game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made a heady play to send his team to the Super Bowl, tipping a pass into the air so his teammate could intercept it. A few seconds later, Sherman pantomimed a “choke” sign in the direction of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He then razzed San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree, patting his butt and offering a mocking handshake. (Crabtree responded with a frustrated shove to Sherman’s helmet.) Once the game was over, Sherman proclaimed to Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews, “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!”

I thought it was funny because it was a football player unfiltered. Also, it taught a very valuable lesson about talking crap about Richard Sherman. Don't do it.

It took only a few seconds for Twitter to begin yelling back at Sherman. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg joined a slew of others who called the Seattle corner “classless.” 

But remember, the premise of this column is that "everyone" is celebrating Sherman's behavior. It turns out that's not true and the author admits that in his column. (deep sigh)

Soon, a second wave of punditry emerged to right these initial wrongs. Forbes noted that Sherman had graduated second in his high school class and gone to Stanford, “So not only is he not a fool, odds are he’s smarter than you and me.”

Ah yes, a summary of the events seems to be taking up the first part of this column while I patiently wait for how "everyone" celebrated Sherman's behavior and why this was so wrong. Just killing time...

A YouTube video circulated in my Twitter feed like a piece of pro-Sherman agitprop, demonstrating Sherman’s intellectual approach to the game and the value he places on hard work and preparation.

Whether Sherman takes an intellectual approach to a football game and how hard he works is sort of irrelevant in terms of whether his outburst was appropriate or not. It seems like a way to simply defeat the "Richard Sherman is an idiot thug" comments that were going around immediately after the interview. Taking that one event and deciding Sherman is a thug, while using his film viewing and game preparation as an example to frame the incident in one definitive manner or another seems irrelevant to me. A so-called thug can still prepare really well for a football game, while a studious person who takes an intellectual approach to the game can still say something publicly he regrets. Ask Peyton Manning about his "idiot kicker" comment a few years ago for proof of this.

Others focused on the racial dynamics. In a piece titled “Richard Sherman and the Plight of the Conquering Negro,” Deadspin’s Greg Howard argued that Sherman had become “a proxy for the black male id” and that condemnations of him were “based on the common, very American belief that black males must know their place.” The Nation’s Dave Zirin alluded to “stomach-churning racial coding” and described Sherman as “an archetype that has been branded a threat as long as African-Americans have played sports.”

Boy, it's taking a minute to get to the point isn't it?

I will gladly allow that the sight of middle-aged, white sportswriters evincing disgust at the brash behavior of a young, black athlete is depressingly familiar. I also shudder to align myself with the smarmy snobs who use a loaded term like “classless” in talking about a guy who grew up the son of a garbage man in Compton, Calif.

The second someone writes disgust at potentially aligning himself with another group of people, there's always a good chance that person is about to align himself with this group of people.

But can I draw a line here?

I’d like to request that we stipulate a few basic notions.

What follows are nine basic notions, so the author actually wants to draw nine lines here and not just one.

The first six points are basically that Sherman was being dick no matter where he went to school or how well-read he was. I agree. He was being a dick. I don't know if it was being a bad sport though and I'm not sure "everyone" is celebrating his behavior.

7. It turns out that Sherman and Crabtree have history—Sherman’s brother alleges that Crabtree tried to fight the Seahawks player at a charity event. Most of Sherman’s defenders haven’t bothered to mention the existing personal feud. But to be clear: While the prior beef adds some context, those two wrongs don’t make what Sherman did right—or, more precisely, not dickish.

No, but it does point out the background on why Sherman seemed so angry at Crabtree and felt the need to rub it in when he made the biggest play of his NFL career on a pass intended for Crabtree. I think the line I would like to draw is if two players have a previous feud then there's a good chance the bad blood will spill over to the field and also spill over into an interview done two minutes after the bad blood on the field has ended. Emotions were still running high at that point.

8. Talking smack in the lead-up to a contest, or in the middle of it, is permissible. It falls into the hallowed tradition of gamesmanship. Dancing on graves after the battle has been won is dickish.

How the hell does this make sense? So Richard Sherman could have called Michael Crabtree a mediocre receiver and a sorry receiver PRIOR to the game in an interview, but once he's backed up his words after the game has concluded he can't point out how correct he was? How is dancing on graves after the game dickish if it simply backs up the smack that was talked prior to the start of the game? I can't figure out how gamesmanship prior to the game in an interview is fine, but gamesmanship after the game isn't fine...especially since Sherman seemingly backed up his feelings about Crabtree.

9. And this is the most delicate of these notions but needs to be addressed: Whatever archetypes may be conjured by the specter of white people tsk-tsking a black man who loudly brags alongside a blond woman, those uncomfortable overtones don’t change the fact that, in this case, in that moment, the man was being a dick.

No, but why is it okay for Sherman to be a dick before the game has started?

I also recognize that the despicable, racist language being lobbed at Sherman needs to be shouted down, aggressively. But that doesn’t mean that Sherman was acting in a commendable manner when he wrapped his hands around his neck to signal that Colin Kaepernick choked. Or when he needlessly taunted Michael Crabtree

Actually, this "needless taunting" took place during the game so it's perfectly fine according to notion #8. Right, talking smack in the middle of the game is permissible. That's what Sherman did by pointing out Kaepernick choked and by taunting Crabtree. Try your best to stick to the rules (sorry, "notions") you have made up.

Why can’t we say that Sherman is probably a great guy who did not act like one in the moments after the NFC championship game?

Despite the author's attempts to push reactions towards "He's a thug!" or "He's a great guy!" I think most people do think Sherman is a great guy who didn't act like a nice guy after the game. That being said, it was still funny to see a professional athlete call out an opponent immediately after the game like that.

So let’s glorify Sherman for what deserves glory: his amazing performance on the field, and his accomplishments off it. He doesn’t deserve to be virulently attacked for his actions at the tail end of the NFC title game, but please let’s not celebrate them

I'm not sure his actions are being celebrated, but Sherman's adrenaline was still pumping after the game and he said what he thought when he was immediately interviewed upon the game ending. This is why the media waits to speak to athletes in the locker room after games, so the athlete can shower and prepare responses to questions asked. 

As Sherman wrote: “[I]t was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am.” Yes—a small, dickish part of who he is.

I'm still confused how it's okay to show gamesmanship during a football game according to notion #8, but Sherman was out of line for taunting Kaepernick and talking junk to Crabtree immediately after the great play by Sherman was over. Isn't that supposed to be permissible? I guess gamesmanship is fine unless the gamesmanship isn't fine.

Now Jay Mariotti urgently tells us about the dangers of Richard Sherman, and in such a caring fashion, he gives Pete Carroll unsolicited advice. The title of this column is "Carroll Must Realize Dangers of Sherman Tank." This is a reference to Sherman's March through the South after the Civil War I would presume, except Jay must have failed history because tanks were invented until the 20th century. But hey, it's a catchy title for a column isn't it? Actually, it really isn't catchy either.

Without intervention, the screaming loon who assaulted America’s senses with a post-game slam rant would have been devoured by the media throngs awaiting him in New York. Sherman was ready to attempt a Super Bowl takeover next week, but his coach, understanding how such a daily farce could distract the Seahawks and leave his player vulnerable to untold viral controversies, moved quickly to corral the Sherman Tank.

Simply because Richard Sherman made one comment after the game about Michael Crabtree doesn't mean he was looking to take over the Super Bowl. The media has the ability to control the viral controversies that they attempt to start, but I know that would take self-control and the need to not chase controversies which result in easy stories to write, so that's not an option.

Nothing can destroy a team in its proudest moment, Carroll knows, quite like a media maniac obsessed with himself.

Jay Mariotti understands this because he looks in the mirror everyday at someone who fits this description perfectly.

If Sherman proceeds with more stunts like his already-infamous Fox interview with Erin Andrews — and we can’t assume he won’t until next week is over — he may have been recalled as the idiot who buried his team with his mouth in the world’s media capital.

I think Jay is taking this a little far. Sherman simply called out Crabtree in an interview. He hasn't done anything like this in his previous two seasons in the NFL, so I don't think this one interview is a preview of an entire Super Bowl week of Sherman running his mouth and telling the entire world which receivers are mediocre and which are not. Let's not run too far with this story and make it more than it is.

“We try to stick to Rule No. 1, which is always protect the team. It’s the rule we live by. You always represent us. In a time like that one, it was a little bit representing yourself. How we handle it is we try to grow and learn and work our way through who we are and figure out who we want to be. This was an extraordinary learning opportunity. You’ll see some benefit from it.”

This is great advice from Pete Carroll that Richard Sherman didn't heed. It's unfortunate, but his comments to Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship game wasn't a prelude to more hi-jinx during Super Bowl week. Of course Jay Mariotti has to make it seem like Richard Sherman is a loose cannon who is liable to say anything at any point, even though this hasn't been proven to be true. Jay tries to be as extreme as possible, it's part of what makes his writing style so wonderful that no major mainstream news outlet cares to employ him.

“I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates … That was not my intent,” Sherman said in a text message to ESPN.
Earlier, Sherman said, “Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently. But it is what it is now, and people’s reactions are what they are.”

“But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is.”
As a Stanford guy, Sherman knows the meaning of hypocrisy.
And he is a flaming hypocrite.

Says the sportswriter who trashes mainstream and large organizations like ESPN and FoxSports after desperately trying to get them to hire him prior to taking this job writing for Sports Talk Florida that probably gets 500 hits a day judging by the complete lack of comments on Mariotti's columns. But here is how Sherman is a hypocrite. Be prepared.

He’s complaining about “bullying” language? Just what would he call his rant on Crabtree, a lullaby?

I'm guessing Jay didn't do well in school as it pertained to "Reading Comprehension." Sherman isn't saying his rant wasn't a form of bullying, he was saying the slurs and language aimed at him is FAR WORSE than what you'll see from him. He's saying what he said after the game may have been wrong at the time, but those who took offense to his statement about Crabtree are using stronger and much more hurtful language that he classifies as bullying.

Of course, what mean things Sherman said to Crabtree wasn't known until a few days after the NFC Championship ended. I'm not sure this counts as "bullying." Listen to Sherman "bullying" Crabtree after the game. 

The Super Bowl media game is old hat to him, as it is with Broncos coach John Fox and executive John Elway, and their overall equilibrium could be a major deciding factor as we see how Sherman and other flamboyant Seattle players handle the attention siege.

Somehow Jay Mariotti has managed to take these comments by Richard Sherman and turn them into the entire Seahawks team calling out their opponents and making statements they will regret all through Super Bowl week. Walter Thurmond has stated Welker's hit on Talib was uncalled for, but only the most desperate sportswriter (and ESPN did this) could say he "blasted" Welker.

What else did Carroll tell him? “There’s some stuff in there I think you should think about and did you really want it to come out the way it did and talk our way through that,” he said. “And he didn’t. He didn’t feel right about that. There were a lot of great things that happened (Sunday) night and we’re talking about some other stuff.”

Officially now, the Seahawks are hateable.

I actually like them better because of this. I appreciate an NFL player willing to tell his true opinion on an opponent every once in a while. At a certain point, constant comments about Crabtree would be overboard and get boring, but a quick peek behind the curtain of trash talk was a little refreshing to me.

They’re as loud and boisterous as their decibel-busting, mini-quake-shaking fans. Their architect, Carroll, escaped USC as the building was burning down and the NCAA was swooping in, and he also has this annoying way of saying “cool” a whole lot when he’s 62 years old.

It seems Jay Mariotti is desperately clinging to the "good versus evil" narrative for the Super Bowl. The Broncos are of course "good" and the Seahawks are "evil."

Then there’s Sherman, the most vocal member of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, who may not be able to himself in making enemies and spewing noise.

I guess Sports Talk Radio can't afford an editor for Jay. Read that sentence again. It makes not of sense.

As you will discover these next two weeks, he is the face of this upstart franchise, full of dread,

I don't understand how the Seahawks are full of dread. They don't seem to be full of dread at all. They seem eager to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

adorned with dreads and armed with a big head.

Oh, so that's why. Jay wants accuracy and the ability of his readers to comprehend what he is writing to fall by the wayside in favor of rhyming and cutesy writing tricks. I'm guessing he learned this from Rick Reilly during his time at ESPN.

We all remember Sherman, of course, for approaching Tom Brady after a victory and asking him, “You mad, bro?” Then he tweeted of Brady, referring to secondary mate Earl Thonas,

Quick! I need an editor now!

I'm not sure who Earl Thonas is, but I do know Earl Thomas plays safety for the Seahawks.

“He told me and earl to see him after the game when they win … I found him after ….” What Sherman does is turn in-game verbal jousting into warfare.

Actually, it seems like Sherman takes trash talk prior to the game and reminds the person talking the trash after the game is over that he backed up his bravado. I'm not saying I enjoy it all the time, but it's fun once and a while.

And that leads us to ask: Is he possibly going to be dumb enough to say something that will tick off Manning, who has more than enough motivation as it is to win this Super Bowl for his personal legacy?

The sports media can only hope that Sherman says something about Manning and they will certainly be baiting Sherman all week to say something negative about Manning so it can be blown up into a huge story.

Not only are the allegiance roles drawn definitively — Manning as the sentimental favorite, the Seahawks as the loudmouths in his way — 

Idiot writers just prefer putting narratives into a box where everything makes sense and there is zero nuance involved with these storylines.

Said Crabtree of Sherman: “He’s a TV guy, I’m not a TV guy,” Crabtree said. “He didn’t make any other plays in the game … But he made a good play there. He can keep talking. You make one play and you talk? Good play.”

Later, a Crabtree tweet was more biting: “`Film don’t lie… @nflnetwork @espn pull up the tape of that game and show me where this guy is the best? #fake #fake #fake.”

And of course if Michael Crabtree had said this in front of an open microphone then I'm sure everyone would be up in arms at how rude, unprofessional and dangerous these comments are, right? He's turning in-game verbal jousting into warfare!

Richard? “He wouldn’t make the top 20 of NFL receivers,” Sherman said. “If any team had a chance to pick Crabtree, they wouldn’t draft him.”

The slap on the butt? “I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that’s what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now. There has been a lot of talk from him running his mouth about me.”

What's interesting to me about this feud and Jay Mariotti writing about this feud is that Jay had his very own feud when he worked in Chicago with Ozzie Guillen. If any writers knows what it is like to exchange words with someone who doesn't like you then it is probably Jay. Of course, when Guillen fired back at Jay he chose to cower in his office and shoot his mouth off in print rather than say anything without the protection of not being in the same room as Guillen.

I wouldn’t have minded Harbaugh in New York.

It's good to know the San Francisco 49ers would have had Jay Mariotti's permission to play in the Super Bowl.

The 12th Man will be represented in New York by Richard Sherman. He can make more noise than 68,454 people combined.

"He's such an entertaining loud-mouthed black man! Dance for us all! Put on a show so I can judge you for it!"

Will he listen to his coach?

Doubtful. You know how headstrong these educated, loud-mouthed minorities can be. Always flaunting their intelligence by talking loudly and never following the directions given to them.

Carroll said. “At times they are going to make mistakes and break your heart, but if you love them, you stay with them. You give [them] the best chance to be all they can be.

“Richard is a wonderful spirit. He’s got an amazing heart, and he has great sensitivity. He goes all the way to the end of the spectrum when it comes to expressing himself.”

Which is exactly what should concern the Seahawks as Manning quietly licks his chops, ready to exploit a raging distraction.

Clearly, Jay Mariotti wants to embrace this distraction while also criticizing Richard Sherman for being dangerous. Jay thinks Richard Sherman is a jerk and hateable, but he sure likes that Sherman has given him something interesting to write about. 

Without intervention, the screaming loon who assaulted America’s senses with a post-game slam rant would have been devoured by the media throngs awaiting him in New York. Sherman was ready to attempt a Super Bowl takeover next week, but his coach, understanding how such a daily farce could distract the Seahawks and leave his player vulnerable to untold viral controversies, moved quickly to corral the Sherman Tank.