Tuesday, February 18, 2014

4 comments MMQB Review: Violations of the Code of Conduct Edition

Peter King allowed anonymous GM's to anonymously discuss Michael Sam in last week's MMQB. See, none of these GM's were willing to go on the record about Sam, but they wanted the world to know THEY weren't going to hold Sam's sexuality against him when it comes to where he gets drafted, but they know OTHER GM's would. But none of the GM's Peter talked to would hold it against Sam, it's just they didn't want to go on the record saying so and Peter knew they wouldn't go on record...despite the fact other GM's did eventually go on record with their opinion of Sam's draft status. This week Peter talks about Jonathan Martin, Michael Sam (maybe he'll find some more anonymous GM's bravely willing to criticize Sam anonymously), spends almost 25% of MMQB talking about hockey, and finally gets around to talking about NFL news/scoops in his "Ten Things He Thinks He Thinks." It's not like MMQB is a football column nor is it as if most people read MMQB to find out inside information about the sport of football from a guy who has a huge Rolodex of NFL contacts. Not at all, people read MMQB to find out what Peter thinks about hockey, Cate Blanchett, and what his favorite Tweets of the Week are. Sadly, Peter probably believes this is true.

Before we all get totally depressed about the NFL’s South Beach Locker Room Reality Show, something good to start your week: T.J. Oshie.

Let's talk about hockey. It's not like this is supposed to be a column about the NHL.

Did you notice what Oshie did Saturday, seconds after he scored his fourth goal of the shootout against Russia—in the eighth round of the shootout, against some of the best scorers on the planet—to give the United States a 3-2 victory in a game that wasn’t for a medal but had the intensity of the seventh game of the Stanley Cup? He slid the puck through Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s legs for the winner, whirled, raised his arms in jubilation, and then immediately pointed to his own goalie, Jonathan Quick.

“What was that about?’’ I asked Oshie on Sunday.

Really, Peter? Oshie has just scored a goal to win the game for the United States in a shootout and you can't figure out why he pointed towards his own goalie after the shootout was over? The answer to this question is shockingly obvious. Of course Oshie was pointing to Quick because Quick managed to stop the Russians from scoring a goal and allowed Oshie to win the hockey game for the United States in a shootout. You should not have to ask this question. It's obvious.

“Well,’’ Oshie said from Russia, “it was a two-man team there. I have to put the puck in the net, and he has to stop it from going in the net. 

Then Oshie followed this up with his own question for Peter, "Why in the hell did you think I pointed to my own goalie after we had won a shootout for the United States? I just like pointing?"

How do you not root for Oshie and his mates?

I don't know Peter. I don't think anyone in the United States is actively rooting against the United States men's hockey team. It seems easy to root against the United States if you are a citizen of another country, so that is how you don't root for Oshie and his mates.

Much more with Oshie, and on the hockey game, later in the column.

Great because this column is called Monday Morning Goalie isn't it? If so, then hockey fits right in and feel completely free to not report any NFL news so your readers can find out which quotes and Tweets you thought were the most interesting, in between making obvious comments about hockey and complaining about having to travel so much. Really Peter, MMQB is about you. It's not like the column is supposed to be a weekly useful resource about the latest NFL news as told by a sportswriter who has deep connections in the NFL and can better inform the audience as to what this NFL news may or may not mean. Really, tell us how good of an actress Cate Blanchett is, because that's why your readers read MMQB.

It’s time for Roger Goodell to earn his $44 million—if that absurd sum is possible for anyone running any sports venture. It’s time for him to professionalize professional football.

While I agree, I also disagree in some way. The reason the NFL can run the way it does and get around the monopoly rules here in the United States is because each NFL team is considered a separate entity. I do agree that Goodell should come down hard on the Dolphins or at least ensure what has happened in the Dolphins locker room is at least enough of a warning to the rest of the NFL teams to ensure similar behavior isn't happening in their locker room. I don't agree that Goodell should be responsible for making sure on a micro-level that this behavior isn't happening in the locker room of NFL teams. It's Goodell's job to punish and set a standard that NFL teams must follow, I agree with this, but it's up to the NFL teams to police the behavior in NFL locker rooms. So I think creating a written code of conduct for an NFL locker room seems incredibly difficult to achieve and on a micro-level it's not Goodell's job to professionalize professional football.

Goodell can set a standard, but he isn't capable of enforcing that behavior on a day-to-day basis. This situation that occurred with Richie Incognito and the Dolphins team isn't because Roger Goodell did a poor job of setting a standard of what should happen in an NFL locker room. Honestly, Goodell shouldn't have to tell grown men how to behave in a locker room, but apparently that's necessary now.

In the past 60 days, Goodell, I’m told, has met with more than 30 players, asking them how to make the locker room a more tolerant, more professional place. Players like Avant have told Goodell what he needs to hear.

I think it's a little silly that the players are going to Goodell asking him to make the locker room a more tolerant, professional place. He's not in the locker room on a day-to-day basis, so the players and coaches have the most influence on how tolerant and professional that locker room is. At some point there has to be a realization these NFL players are grown ups and they need to learn to act that way without Roger Goodell looking over their shoulder. And I would bet some of these 30 players who want Goodell to step in and fix NFL locker rooms also think that Goodell oversteps his authority by disciplining players for getting arrested or may think he is exerting too much authority to try to make the game of football safer. It's funny how the players want Goodell to get out of their locker rooms and stop trying to dictate standards to them until they need him to do so.

In the end, Richie Incognito and his perverse and persistent bullying and sister-raping jokes and goonishness gone mad will do a favor for the league. All the gone-too-far frat boys in locker rooms around the league can thank Incognito now, because when the NFL adopts a locker-room and meeting-room behavior policy, it’s going to be for adults. Will veterans be able to make rookies sing their college fight songs? Yes. Will vets be able to run kangaroo courts and fine peers $100 for especially stinky farts? Yes. Beyond that, vets won’t be allowed to shame young players the way it happened in Miami.

While I understand there may be a need for a code of conduct, though I really wish the NFL players could police themselves like adults, I philosophically have a problem with the NFL telling an individual NFL team what can and can not happen in their locker rooms. I just feel like these players should be adults and this code of conduct should be more understood than written down. I guess a written code of Hammurabi is necessary in order for NFL players to feel like it is wrong to make sexually explicit comments about a teammate's sister or mother. I'll remember this code of conduct is necessary the next time an NFL player claims he can determine for himself whether he should risk his mobility and health as he ages when complaining about safety measures Goodell has enacted to reduce concussions.

I say good. And good riddance to the bad-cop stuff—or whatever disgusting crap—Incognito and John Jerry and Mike Pouncey were advocating in the past couple of years.

It won't just magically go away. It will still occur.

And while they’re at it, the NFL is going to put in a seminar for players and coaches and staff on sexual-orientation training. Call it the Michael Sam Seminar. It’s coming, and it should. Homosexuality is not going away, and there’s no reason why any gay player in any NFL locker room should be subject to one-tenth of what Jonathan Martin had to endure over the past two years.

As weird as this may sound, I think Michael Sam would be subjected to less harassment than Jonathan Martin was subjected to. Players in the locker room know homosexuality is a touchy, hot-button subject so it's easier to make fun of a straight guy and his family than it is to make fun of a homosexual guy for his orientation. One can be played off as just good fun, while the other can't be played off for much more than bigotry. That's just my experience. I think any harassing Michael Sam will endure is going to be completely behind his back and not in the way Jonathan Martin endured harassment.

Get ready for several weeks (months?) of internal and external debate around the NFL over how to professionalize the players’ workplace.

Don't be a dick, family members are generally off limits, it's fine to tease someone and if you don't know the point at which teasing becomes something more perhaps you shouldn't tease a teammate, and don't be a dick. I think that covers it all. Obviously it's easier said than done.

the scathing Ted Wells report told the world what a soulless place an NFL locker room can be. “Can” being the operative word, because I do not believe there are many, if any, other locker rooms or portions of locker rooms that go so over the top as the Incognito-led Miami offensive-line group went.

Which means while I was a little offended by the behavior in that locker room, this is an outlying case it seems. I don't know if this outlying case should provide the impetus for Roger Goodell to provide a code of conduct for each NFL team's locker room. I'm a little surprised these players can't police themselves.

Roger Goodell has to suspend Incognito, and give more than a slap on the wrist to partners-in-intimidation John Jerry and Mike Pouncey.

I think this is the commissioner's job. I'm not sure telling each locker room how to behave as if it were a kindergarten class. Besides, what is and is not permissible to say and do seems easy in theory but I can't help but wonder how it will work in practice.

Miami will have to fire offensive line coach Jim Turner, who the report says was complicit in the atmosphere of bullying. How can owner Steve Ross say he’s serious about a respectful work environment and keep employing a coach who went along with Incognito’s incessant bullying of two of his linemen, going so far as to give a male blow-up doll to one player whom the others chided as being gay?

Here's a great example of how it seems easy in theory, but I wonder how the code of conduct will work in practice. Is a male blowup doll to a straight player in and of itself offensive or bullying? Ignoring all the factors around it, if the Dolphins team got Player X a male blowup doll is that offensive and does that break the code of conduct? What if the doll is given to a straight player and the doll is female? Is this harassment or bullying in and of itself? I would argue I'm not sure it is. Now the background of the Dolphins team calling this Player X gay is what makes the blowup doll harassment and offensive. Can the Dolphins team give a gay player a male blowup doll if they have never teased this gay player for being gay? Is that in and of itself offensive and harassment? How about giving a gay player a female blowup doll? Again, ignoring all of the other factors would this present violate the code of conduct as harassment? I'm not sure it would. Depending on the situation, it can be in good fun. I'm afraid this code of conduct is going to be more subjective depending on each situation.

Martin should have talked to Joe Philbin. Martinmight be a fish out of water in the NFL and certainly deserves empathy for having to deal with 18 months of mental beatdowns from veterans like Incognito. But he should have told his head coach what was going on.

Then Peter's very next point negated this one and shows why his criticism of Martin for not going to Philbin doesn't really matter.

For Philbin not to know anything definitive about the crisis with Martin, he had to be either tone deaf or not paying enough attention to his team. Head coaches have their locker-room sources.

And that is exactly why I don't buy Peter's criticism of Martin for not telling Philbin what was going on. Philbin should have known, and if he states he didn't know then he either, (a) is lying or (b) is negligent for not knowing what is going on with his team.

I do understand he asked Turner about what was going on with his players, and Turner told him everything was fine. But what caused Philbin to ask Turner? Obviously his antennae were up. Philbin, whom I find to be a good man, still should know better, and this had better be a very good lesson for him, or his time in the head coach’s chair is going to be short.

I obviously have zero inside information, but I think Joe Philbin knew what was going on and intentionally ignored it or didn't think it had escalated to the point where Martin had contemplated suicide. So yes, at this point I can see where Martin should have gone to Philbin, but perhaps Philbin should have gone to Martin first. 

For the NFL, Sam and this report are two firecrackers designed to wake up anyone who can’t see that the league needs to have its collective head examined. It’s time, and Goodell can’t let this moment get away.

This isn't just an NFL problem though. Bullying and sensitivity problems in the locker room or clubhouse can be found throughout sports. 

A year ago, the American sports media trooped to Indianapolis for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and the story was the distraction that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o would be for the team that drafted him, in the wake of the girlfriend hoax. 

In the end, the Chargers drafted Te’o with the sixth pick of the second round. Think back now: What do you remember about his rookie year, on or off the field? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He was unimpactful on the field, particularly against the run, playing 56 percent of the defensive snaps. He kept his mouth shut off the field. He’s a vanilla interview anyway, and eventually the questions about the phony girlfriend went away.

I don't think this is a very good comparison. Te'o's lifestyle wasn't the issue in regard to what questions he would be asked. Michael Sam is going to be the first openly gay athlete to play in the NFL, which is a totally different issue than what Te'o faced and introduces a whole new set of questions that can be asked of him and the team that drafts him. I think it's typical Peter King to say the NFL needs to change the entire way it polices NFL locker rooms and introduce a code of conduct for NFL locker rooms, partially because of Michael Sam, but also believe Sam will not be a distraction or a subject of great discussion at the Combine or prior to the draft. Apparently Peter seems to think the presence of Michael Sam in an NFL locker room is the type of great sociological change to the NFL that no reporter or team official will care to ask about or discuss in any depth. To urge the NFL to introduce a code of conduct, partially because of Michael Sam, but to claim his presence could not initially be a distraction seems like conflicting points of view to me.

IT'S A CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN THE NFL! Except, it's not really.

Now, Sam is likely to be just as big of a story at the combine. And, unlike Te’o, Sam probably will be more of a lingering story, wherever he is drafted. But I think Sam will be a mega-story only for several days, when you might see Anderson Cooper with a CNN crew on the sidelines early in training camp.

And now Peter starts backing down from his comment that Sam won't be a distraction. Well yeah, he will be a distraction for a little bit at the Combine (I capitalize it for some reason), immediately after the draft, and probably during training camp...but that's about it and the story will eventually die. Well yes, this is absolutely true. The issue is that the Michael Sam story will be a bit of a distraction for a period of time. I'm not sure anyone is suggesting that no one will talk about anything but Michael Sam for the entire training camp or Combine, but it's going to be a big story and whichever team drafts him will have to be prepared for Anderson Cooper to possibly be on the sidelines during training camp for a few days. Since Peter has such great NFL connections, he would know NFL coaches consider something like this to be a distraction.

If Sam can play, his teammates will accept him—maybe with a hiccup or two from a very religious teammate who disapproves of homosexuality or an unenlightened teammate who thinks it’s cool to make gay jokes. And it could be that some of those on the team will simply steer clear of Sam. No one knows. But there won’t be much of a problem, I don’t think, if Sam is contributing as a player.

I don't think there will be a problem either. I think any real problems will come from outside the locker room to make their way into the locker room, when one of Sam's teammates says something construed to be insensitive and then it has to be taken care of in the locker room. This is known as a "distraction" and no matter how much Peter denies it, I can see Sam temporarily being one with the media covering his every move. The issues won't come from the locker room, but from outside the locker room to make their way inwards. Think of all the Tebow over-coverage and how that seemed to eventually make it's way into the Jets locker room where the team was just tired of hearing about him.

Speaking of Tim Tebow, I would love to get his comments about being on the same team as Michael Sam. I'm sure he would be very polite, but I think I know how he would truly feel.

The 3-2 victory by the United States hockey team over Russia on Saturday really wasn’t a significant event, if you consider that it meant nothing in the medal standings. But you couldn’t watch the game and listen to the explosions by the fans (particularly the Russians, who outnumbered the Americans so clearly) and not feel there was something riding on this.

It actually was a significant game because if the United States won their draw then they would have an extra day of rest before they had to play again.

But that’s what great about hockey: Even in a game that’s being played for future seeding only, the players care so much.

This is true for most Olympic sports and not just hockey.

Sunday, when I got to ask Oshie about it, he was still stunned about it all. “The president tweeted about you,” I said. “America went pretty nuts. The New York Post and the New York Daily News both had you on the back pages this morning, with screaming headlines. Yesterday morning, no one knew you. Now, this.”

Great question, Peter! Wait, that wasn't a question at all. Glad you could contribute to the discussion, Peter by not really asking a question when given the opportunity other than to say, "So how cool is all of this!" and then stare intently into the phone waiting for Oshie's reply.

Then Peter gives the play-by-play on what happened during the shootout because killing space is important.

I asked Oshie if he’d been the kind of kid who grew up—in Washington state and Minnesota—shooting the puck into a net, imagining it was for the Stanley Cup or Olympic gold.

Sweet Jesus, Peter certainly sucks at asking questions. No Peter, T.J. Oshie has wanted to play hockey professionally for his entire life but he never envisioned himself trying to score a goal in the Stanley Cup or for Olympic Gold. He's the only kid who ever grew up not imagining this.

Not to be snide, but what does Peter think the answer to this question is? Of course Oshie imagined shooting a puck at the net for the Stanley Cup or Olympic Gold.

“Yeah, I was that type of kid,” he said. “I did it a lot, playing in the backyard, playing wherever, 9 or 10 o’clock at night, just before you leave the ice, you’re alone, and you think, ‘This one’s for the Stanley Cup,’ or ‘This one’s for the gold medal.’

Great, hard-hitting question Peter that got an answer where I learned nothing new from what I had already assumed to be true.

Oshie skated in deliberately, as always. “If you skate in fast, you’ve only got a chance to make one or two moves—that’s it,” he said. He swept in toward the right, the back left, then right in on goal, and he saw a little hole between the legs, and he aimed for it, and bang … right in.

Yeah, I needed Oshie to skate faster. He was going to slow for me. It worked obviously, but I think I lean more towards the "skate fast towards the goal" crowd.

And then the quote America loved, about how he felt about being an American hero, in a group interview with some American writers and TV people. Oshie said to them, “The real American heroes are wearing camo. That’s not me.”

Clearly Oshie is talking about the guys from "Duck Dynasty."

“Thanks,” I said when we were about to get off the phone. “Hope you bring home the gold.”

“Thank you sir,” said the 27-year-old hockey player, not hero, from Warroad, Minn. “We will sure try.”

Ignoring that Peter just threw a good portion of hockey discussion into his weekly NFL column, what was the point of transcribing this interview with Oshie other than to kill space in MMQB? There are better places to transcribe this interview with a hockey player than on a site dedicated specifically to the NFL.

“I was a kid who made some goofball decisions. That’s been part of my journey. Maybe it’s part of the whole Johnny Football deal that I’m trying to get away from. I’m trying to show people I’ve grown up, and I’ve learned from my experiences. I feel like you’re a stupid person if you continue to make the same wrong decisions. I don’t want to hear, ‘Oh, anybody in his situation would have been doing the same thing.’ I’m 100 percent responsible for my actions.”

—Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who wants to be the first pick in the draft to the Houston Texans, in an interview he clearly hopes will be image-altering with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Oh, it seems like someone has found themselves a PR firm to do good work for him. I'm sure the notes given to Manziel from the PR firm were very similar to this:

1. Own your actions.

2. Explain how you have changed.

3. Refer to it as a "journey" so your actions in college seem like a minor road on the overall path you take to being who you are.

4. Explain how you've learned from this part of your journey.

“Bob McNair and Bill O’Brien. Those are the two guys I really want to meet.”

—Manziel, to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. McNair owns the Texans. O’Brien coaches them. This was in response to a question about whom the famous Manziel really wants to meet.

Great answer. Of course it's probably a lie and Manziel probably really wants to meet Kate Upton...assuming he hasn't already.

“In light of the Incognito/Martin story, people would have you believe that you have to be some raving lunatic to play in the NFL, wound so tightly that the slightest spark will insight an insatiable inferno. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m 48 years old now and about the least confrontational person you’ll ever meet. My fists have never found purchase on the flesh of another man’s face. I’ve never been in a fight. Yet I succeeded for many years in the trenches of the NFL, in which there are several confrontations on every play. It can be done—

—Former NFL guard Mark Schlereth, in an excellent column written for ESPN.com about how, from his experience, he feels what happened in Miami is more of an outlier than common. 

This brings me back to my point that I think an overall code of conduct for NFL locker rooms may seem to be a bit of overkill. Not that I don't think NFL locker rooms probably don't need changing in some aspects, but the Incognito/Martin issues seem to be the outlier and having the commissioner dictate what can and can't be said or done in NFL locker rooms seems a bit much. Of course, Peter also thinks Michael Sam won't be a huge distraction, yet he supports this idea of a code of conduct being passed down, which I'm still having trouble rapping my head around.

I am still trying to figure out why NFL Network and NFL.com are based in Culver City, Calif., and not in either Mount Laurel, N.J. (home of NFL Films) or Manhattan (home of the league office).

I don’t buy the it’s-good-for-business-to-have-a-West Coast-presence thing. You mean it’s good for business to be 3,000 miles away from the capital of the capitalism world, New York?

Maybe, and this is just a guess, NFL Network and NFL.com don't want to be based in New York? Maybe that's a good reason to not move to New York. Of course Peter King has a massive East Coast bias and can't figure out why everyone doesn't want to move to the upper Northeast because that's obviously where anything important in anyone's life comes from.

Let’s say the whole operation was moved to One Sabol Way in Mount Laurel (yes, that’s the address of the huge office park that contains NFL Films). On a Monday after a big weekend, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles or Giants receiver Victor Cruz could be in studio to dissect big wins on the set, and they could cycle through NFL.com to be grilled by one or two of the writers on site. Let’s say the Ravens are the hottest team in football, with the best defense. On Tuesday, the entire Haloti Ngata-led defensive front comes in to do the car wash on TV and the website.

What if they want to have the Seattle Seahawks on the show or the 49ers have just won a big game and want to come do the car wash on TV and the website. There are NFL teams not in the upper Northeast, Peter. Sometimes they matter and win Super Bowls too. Shocking, I know.

Take a look.

Culver City to:

San Diego 129 miles
Santa Clara, Calif. (S.F.) 345 miles
Oakland 371 miles
Tempe, Ariz. (Cardinals) 393 miles
Denver 1,028 miles
Seattle 1,137 miles

Mount Laurel to:

Philadelphia 17 miles 
New York City 83 miles
East Rutherford, N.J. (Giants) 83 miles
Florham Park, N.J. (Jets) 88 miles
Baltimore 119 miles
Asburn, Va. (Wash.) 179 miles
Foxboro, Mass. (N.E.) 282 miles
Pittsburgh 321 miles

So: seven teams and the league office are within 330 miles of Mount Laurel. One team is within 330 miles of Culver City.
I just don’t get it. Never have.

Maybe NFL Network and NFL.com don't care if they are close to NFL teams. I recognize that Peter hasn't ever thought about that because his East Coast bias warps his thinking, but maybe they don't give a shit if they are close to NFL teams. It's 2014 and there are other ways to interview or talk to an athlete when that athlete isn't in the same room as the interviewer. I know it shocks Peter to think that not everyone and every company wants to be based out of New York or based on the East Coast, but it does happen.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Worst part about going someplace warm for three days and flying back into New York in February: When you return, you fly low over inlets and small fingers of water that are either frozen or ice-capped, and you get off the plane and walk back into the freezer and think there is no way spring is coming. Ever.

Hey, maybe this is a reason NFL Network and NFL.com don't want to be based in New York. Also, Peter chooses to live in New York so his bitching about the weather falls on my deaf ears. If only we lived in a world where Peter King could live anywhere in the United States of his choosing and wasn't forced by no one in particular to live where he does. What would Peter bitch about, besides free coffee, the service industry, and anyone else he comes into contact with during the week?

“Dempster is a real character. Wore a t-shirt around the clubhouse with a picture of Shakespeare. ‘This **** writes itself’ it said.”

@peteabe, Boston Globe Red Sox beat man Pete Abraham, on pitcher Ryan Dempster, who announced Sunday he was walking away from a contract that would pay him $13 million in 2014 for physical and family reasons.

Let's say I'm a distant relative of William Shakespeare and my family runs a Shakespeare museum here in the United States. I'm also a teammate of Ryan Dempster, so does this count as bullying or harassment under the NFL's new code of conduct for the locker room? I ask because my family takes great pride in our relation to Shakespeare and Dempster has mocked me repeatedly in the past for loving reading Shakespeare's writing. He's called me a nerd and made derogatory comments about my love for reading. I know when he wears this shirt he is trolling me, which makes me upset. Would this shirt pass the code of conduct?

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think I really hope one team—the Saints or Ravens—challenges the idiotic tight end franchise-tag designation, a $4.8 million difference between the tight end and wide receiver positions. My feeling on this is simple: If Jimmy Graham and Dennis Pitta are drafted as tight ends and used as tight ends and voted to the Pro Bowl as tight ends, then their team’s salary caps should not be punished by having them shown as wide receivers.

There's nothing idiotic about it. It's in the CBA. As it reads: 

The CBA requires a franchise player be tendered at the position

“at which [he] participated in the most plays during the prior League Year.”

If Jimmy Graham is lined up as a wide receiver for the majority of the plays during the League Year then he may have a good argument as to why he should be franchised as a wide receiver and not a tight end. It's right there in the CBA and it's not idiotic, no matter how much Peter wants to protect his friends who are NFL coaches and GM's. The Titans chose not to fight this fight with Jared Cook and the Packers settled with Jermichael Finley rather than keep fighting with him about this issue.

Being placed in the slot or split wide on multiple occasions per game should not change their designation.

Maybe this "should not" change their designation, but according to the CBA the owners and players agreed upon there is a case that Graham being split wide or in the slot could theoretically change his designation as a tight end. Thems the rules. I can't figure out why Peter is so vexed by this. Just because a guy is drafted as a tight end doesn't mean that if he is used mostly as a receiver then he shouldn't get the receiver designation. The CBA specifically lays this situation out.

4. I think many of you have rightfully asked me, and others who work in NFL locker rooms, how surprised we are about what was in the Wells report...Now, I know lots of untoward stuff goes on, because it always has, and there’s an Animal House element to every locker room. But I just don’t believe what happened in Miami is common to every NFL locker room.

Again, this causes me to ask the question...if what happened in Miami isn't common to every NFL locker room, then why is it so necessary to put together a code of conduct for NFL locker rooms or enforce rules that teams must follow as to what is and is not proper conduct? If NFL teams do a generally good job of policing themselves, why overreact to an outlying incident? NFL locker rooms probably need a change in attitude and mindset, but no rules can make a player change his mind on what he thinks about a homosexual person. If that player's locker room is policed it won't be an issue though, because that issue gets squashed before it becomes a bigger issue. That's the hope at least.

8. I think, with franchise tags able to be used beginning today, I would be stunned if defensive end Greg Hardy isn’t tagged by the Panthers—who have the moderate sum of about $8 million in cap space and will have to shed some contract in order to tag him. But Hardy, 25, is the kind of player teams develop and keep, not develop and let walk.

Unless that team has $8 million in salary cap room and has a secondary and offensive line they desperately need to improve, along with 26 free agents they may or may not want to sign.

9. I think the University of Missouri must be a great place these days. A great journalism school, obviously, from the alums who work all over our business … but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the loyalty to Michael Sam. An AP dispatch out of Columbia over the weekend quoted the student body president, Mason Schara, thusly: “The majority of us knew [Sam was gay] and we just didn’t think anything of it because that’s just who we are here.” And a large group of students, hearing there would be a protest Sunday on campus opposing Sam’s declaration, linked arms in solidarity as a protest to the protest.

I hope this gets remembered the next time Peter or one of his sportswriting friends writes about "Middle America" and the supposedly conservative and overly-religious nature of the middle part of the United States. There seems to be a "Wow, Michael Sam was accepted in Middle America" vibe going on at times, as if citizens west of the Mississippi and east of Colorado all think being attracted to a person of the same gender is the same thing as being attracted to one of the farm animals that every family in Middle America has.

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

a. A fond farewell tour is my hope for Derek Jeter. And that, to him, would mean a 162-game regular season and playing well enough to lead the Yankees deep into the playoffs. As I’ve written, I believe he’s the best all-around baseball player and leader I’ve seen play a complete career.

Or as Peter originally wrote this statement a few years ago, Jeter is "the best player of his generation" or some variation of this statement that was just absolutely absurd. Peter later clarified that he meant Jeter was the best player whose career he (Peter) has seen completely, which was a backpedal so hard that it left skidmarks.

it’s amazing to me how he not only played at such a high level, but led at the highest level as well—and never the hint of a scandal, playing on the team with the highest profile in American professional sports.

So Derek Jeter is the best all-around baseball player and leader Peter has ever seen because he doesn't give a good juicy quote? Sounds logical.

d. Hey Pierre McGuire: Great call on the heretofore unknown T.J. Oshie being one of the U.S. shooters in the shootout as everyone debated who would get the call for the Americans.

It's almost like he gets paid to cover the NHL or something.

i. Coffeenerdness: I’ve crossed over to the darker side now. Four shots of espresso in a medium drink at Starbucks now. Someone has to stop me before it’s too late.

It's been too late for many years now. We are just a few months away from Peter accusing a Starbucks barista of only putting in three shots of espresso (because Peter watched him only put three in there) and then the barista deny it when Peter confronts the barista about this. Peter will obviously share this story in MMQB.

k. I saw The Monuments Men, and though it had its share of clich├ęd dialog and scenes, I liked the story a lot. Cate Blanchett’s really good in it.

If Cate Blanchett died of a drug overdose then Peter could tell us all that he finds her to be the best actress of her generation. She has to be dead before she gets this distinction though.

The Adieu Haiku

The combine’s this week.
Hearty welcome, Michael Sam.
Welcome to mayhem.

But not too much mayhem of course, because Manti Te'o wasn't a distraction so Michael Sam certainly won't be either. At least until he is a short-term distraction, but this doesn't count because it doesn't count and being the first active NFL player to be gay is the same thing as pretending you have a girlfriend who died and then lying about it for three months. The social issues and media interest from outside football are the same in each case obviously.


Snarf said...

And while they’re at it, the NFL is going to put in a seminar for players and coaches and staff on sexual-orientation training. Call it the Michael Sam Seminar. It’s coming, and it should. Homosexuality is not going away, and there’s no reason why any gay player in any NFL locker room should be subject to one-tenth of what Jonathan Martin had to endure over the past two years.

This made me laugh. "Call it the Michael Sam Seminar?" Yes, because I know if I was worried about being bullied in a new school, or something to that effect, the first thing I would want is an assembly to be called with the primary topic being "No Bullying Snarf." Seems like the opposite of how to help smooth this transition. Maybe some sort of workplace sensitivity training is required, even if its solely as a CYA move by the teams, but this idea specifically is stupid.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, that's really true. I didn't think about that. Naming the seminar after him probably isn't something that Michael Sam would like to see happen.

Teams are definitely going to have to do some sensitivity training and I am sure there will be a seminar at a rookie symposium or something like that. Rules for the locker room just don't seem workable to me.

Anonymous said...

Peter King says Derek Jeter has never had a "hint of a scandal"...let's see, he's played with Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte...that's not a lack of a hint of a scandal, that's everyone putting their heads in the sand because they want to believe the best about Jeter. I'm not saying he's guilty of anything, of course, but how is Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza any more guilty?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, oh good point. See, Jeter didn't hit a lot of HR's and we all know PED's only make you hit HR's and don't help you do anything else, right?

So yeah, that's a great point. Though the idea that Jeter would be guilty by association is ridiculous, while Craig Biggio is guilty by association.