Notes from the last pre-vacation MMQB—including Marc Trestman the people person, Jay Cutler the leader, and the first annual “Paul ‘Dr. Z’ Awards” by the Pro Football Writers of America—on the eve of tonight’s 55th annual National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Awards ceremony in this real-life Mayberry place.
I don't know why the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Awards Hall of Fame is in Salisbury, North Carolina. I know of no good reason for this other than someone lost a bet and the result is the NSSA awards ceremony and Hall of Fame are in Salisbury. More importantly, it isn't "real-life" Mayberry. Mount Airy, North Carolina is actually real-life Mayberry...at least they claim to be. Salisbury is nothing like the fictional city of Mayberry, though I'm sure every city below northern Virginia is just another small, dumb hick town to Peter King.
Good news, Bears
But I give special points to Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler for their efforts. And I’m learning more and more about how wrong we were that Trestman was some Xs-and-Os monk who couldn’t deal with players on a human scale.
(Looks around the room in confusion) Who said that Marc Trestman was "some X's-and-O's monk who couldn't deal with players on a human scale"? He was a pretty good coach in the CFL. I guess Peter has taken to Bill Simmons' use of the word "we" to describe when Peter's own personal thoughts were wrong, but he can't accept that he personally was wrong, so he says "we" were wrong, because obviously Peter's own personal thoughts reflect the thoughts of the sports loving population as a whole. Peter is OUR football voice and our thoughts are his thoughts.
Another example: Trestman and Cutler recently flew to New York to meet with the league’s new values-meister, Dov Seidman, to exchange ideas about fostering a more ethical culture in the locker room. I’ve heard of players and coaches working on football in the off-season, and maybe even on better forms of leadership. But for a coach and his top lieutenant in the locker room—who has never been considered a classic locker-room leader—to get on a plane and spend a day working on new techniques and dialog … that goes beyond the call of duty.
It also makes sense. I don't necessarily believe in the "high-fiving and hanging out with each other" stuff to the extent Bill Simmons believes in it, but I do think a team that likes each other can perform at a higher level because of their increased level of engagement in wanting to succeed for each other.
“In our locker room, everyone should feel safe. For some of the guys in Chicago, it was kind of new to them. There’d be no hazing. Lovie Smith had a great group of players—a great group—and he did a great job with them. There were some subtle things I wanted to add.
Things like stop showing pictures from the Smoking Jay Cutler tumblr to Jay Cutler and making jokes about how many men have slept with his wife by pretending they were filming a reality show and offering her cocaine? It's unbecoming and very rude.
Seidman, the CEO of the LRN Company, a company that works with businesses to stress principled performance, addressed club and league officials at the annual meeting in March, and has remained an adviser to the league...“You don’t just flip a switch on something like this,” Seidman said. “It’s about a journey. It’s about progress. I think teams are figuring out there’s a new way to win, and that includes caring for the player as a person, a father and a husband.
It all sounds so very sweet and kind. I'm sure this philosophy would fit in perfectly with the locker room of a sport where the purpose is to collide violently with the opposing player.
Then Peter shows a picture of Dr. Z, who looks pretty good.
If you notice, Peter King the diehard Boston Red Sox fan, has a Washington Nationals shirt on. This isn't the first time I've seen a picture of Peter wearing apparel of a team he doesn't recognize as his favorite sports team. It's just odd to me. Maybe I'm weird, but if I'm a big fan of a certain athletic team I'm not going to go around sporting shirts with the logo from a competing athletic team in that same sport.
Rodgers came to lunch and brought with him an Emmy—for Paul. The gold statuette sat on the table in front of Paul throughout the meal. He beamed. Rodgers choked up a couple of times talking about Zim and the experience of doing this wonderful story. “My favorite moment,” said Rodgers at one point, “was listening to an old interview of Paul with him in the room, and thinking how emotional it would probably make him, and I look at him, and he’s rolling his eyes as if to say, ‘Blah, blah, blah. Just shut up, will you?’ ”
That picture is Dr. Z with his Emmy, with Peter looking on wondering where he can get a Tampa Bay Rays knit shirt to wear with his Toronto Blue Jays Starter jacket, Detroit Tigers socks and Arizona Diamondbacks sandals.
It’s long past time that career assistants, who don’t make the Hall of Fame and most often work deep in the shadows of their head coaches, are memorialized for what they do. PFWA leaders Ira Miller and Dan Pompei pushed to honor Paul Zimmerman in conjunction with the award, seeing that Zim for so long chronicled these men in the shadows and was constantly drawing attention to the previously invisible work of so many of them. So the PFWA decided to christen the award “The Paul ‘Dr. Z’ Zimmerman Award” for lifetime achievement for NFL assistant coaches.
I can't wait for 10 years from now when Peter pushes the PFWA to honor quarterbacks named Brett Favre who have contributed to the game of football and he will call it "The Brett Favre Award" which will go to Brett Favre and then never be handed out again.
The inaugural class of four winners:
Howard Mudd, who worked for 39 years as an NFL offensive line coach with eight teams.
The late Fritz Shurmur, a veteran of 24 years as an NFL coach, 20 of them as a defensive coordinator.
Ernie Zampese, a 24-year NFL assistant and one of the architects of the modern passing game.
The late Jim Johnson, a master of the disguised blitz, a 23-year assistant and defensive coordinator.
When is Mike Shula going to finally be honored for his dedication to the short passing game and obvious play-calling? It's past time he gets his due. His offenses don't stay in the lower half of the NFL in terms of total offense without all the hard work he puts in.
Mudd said. He’s best known for his 12 years with the Colts—particularly for his patch job in 2008, when Indy had Manning coming back from tricky summer knee surgery and a dangerous infection, and center Jeff Saturday was hurt, and Mudd had to get rookie Jamey Richard ready to play one of the most complicated center positions in football, with all the changes Manning makes at the line. The Colts won 12 games.
I'm not trying to take anything away from Howard Mudd, but this story followed by "The Colts won 12 games" seems to indicate that Peyton Manning wasn't the quarterback for the Colts and Mudd's work with Richard is why the Colts won 12 games. I understand Mudd just can't run any old guy at the center position out there and have success, but the fact the Colts won 12 games has a lot to do with Peyton Manning and his ability to avoid sacks.
Ask Barry Sanders about Fritz Shurmur: In a 1994 playoff game against Shurmur’s Packers, Sanders was held to -1 yard on 13 carries.
Oh sure, I'll go ask Barry Sanders about Fritz Shurmur. (goes through his phone looking for Barry Sanders phone number) It turns out I don't have Barry Sanders' phone number because I don't fucking know Barry Sanders nor would he have any reason to give me his phone number. But yeah, I'll go ask him about Fritz Shurmur should I run into him while he's walking around my hometown.
I greatly dislike it when sportswriters say/write "Go ask Famous Person X" about something, as if his/her readers can really ask that person the question they want to ask.
Zampese has the distinction of running for the winning touchdown as a USC tailback against Notre Dame in 1956 (bet you didn’t know that)
If only I were as smart as Peter King and knew information such as this little morsel of a factoid that I really don't care about (bet you didn't know that).
My annual look at books I’d recommend for dad/brother/uncle/grandfather/male friend/male whoever, with Fathers Day just six days away, is a bit abbreviated this year.
It's a bit abbreviated in that it takes up an entire half page of MMQB. 10% of the page space is dedicated to the Father's Day books with Peter recommending five books. I would hate to see what it would look like if it wasn't abbreviated at all.
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham (Doubleday). Fiction.
I never get tired of John Grisham. I believe this is the 28th Grisham book I have read, because it is the 28th book he has published (not including his teen-book series).
Peter has read Grisham's teen-book series five times now. The way Grisham writes is just so precocious. He's like a child in how he writes books and has so much fun putting words to paper.
In “Sycamore Row,’’ the richest man in his Mississippi county, the same setting for Grisham’s first book, hangs himself because he doesn’t want to suffer through terminal cancer. He leaves a will that shocks his family and the entire county, and dredges up one of the worst hanging stories there ever was, and leads to a harrowing cleansing, and if I tell you much more, I’ll be spoiling a typically spellbinding Grisham tale.
If Peter told any more then there would be no reason for anyone to read the book because he's already spoiled the ending of the book.
Good writers tie them together so you look forward to the tying-up of loose ends on one story as you’re getting pulled into the second and the third and the fourth. I’m not a daily reader or what anyone would call an avid reader. But of the authors I read, Coben is the best at making six or eight tributaries flow into one body of water sensibly.
Ah yes, it is Peter's typical "I know nothing about this subject but here is my opinion that I expect you to take seriously as if I did know a lot about the subject." Usually he makes these statements in regard to the NBA, but he's expanded to making statements like this in regard to books.
I’ll be taking two weeks vacation starting tomorrow, then returning to work for one week, for some unique coverage of Canadian football during the week of June 24.
Watch out Canada! Peter King is coming for you! Your Starbucks aren't safe and he's going to comment about just how stupid you Canadians act in public, as well as search for the Canadian version of Josh Freeman, so he can take his anger out on some innocent quarterback who has committed the sin of making one of Peter's friends lose his job.
I'm assuming Peter has friends in Canada of course.
We’re going to cover the opening week of the Canadian Football League season, assuming the players and owners have their labor (or should I say, “labour”)
Oh, the insufferability.
Assuming the league is playing in week one, we’ll be covering it at The MMQB. When that coverage ends on July 1, I’ll be away until July 17.
I will be writing Monday Morning Quarterback, live from Regina, Saskatchewan, on Monday, June 30. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, defending Grey Cup champions, open their season on Sunday, June 29 (assuming they’re not on strike), and I’ll be there. Unless I screw it up, my MMQB on Monday the 30 ought to be a CFL spectacular. I’m looking forward to my time in Canada.
Canada looks forward to deporting you after you have been warned multiple times about leering at their citizens while riding on public transportation, criticizing local coffee shops for having too long of lines or weak coffee and transcribing entire conversations strangers are having on the street.
As is our usual custom, we’ll have replacement “Monday Morning Quarterback” columnists for four of the next five weeks. San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis will write one, and Chicago coach Marc Trestman will write another to kick off our Canada Week festivities;
What a shock! A person that Peter compliments in this very MMQB is going to end up writing a MMQB this summer. Who would have thought Peter would compliment a person and then have that person write a MMQB? It's like when Peter named Coby Fleener one of his favorite interviews and it just so happened Fleener wrote a MMQB last year or when Nnamdi Asomugha wrote a MMQB several years ago and then Peter acted like his free agency was the biggest deal since Reggie White became a free agent (which is something Peter actually said). Nothing like friends helping friends to increase interest on the free agent market.
Oakland first-round pick, Khalil Mack, is slated to write another one of the MMQBs, with Rich Eisen of NFL Network rounding out the fearsome foursome.
Hopefully Eisen can bring along his NFL Network buddy to take shots at people who are in wheelchairs or make a few comments about how Stevie Wonder is supposedly blind, but he plays keyboards pretty well for a guy who "can't see."
I am privileged, and humbled, to accept the National Sportswriter of the Year award tonight here in Salisbury, home of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
So maybe next the Marriott doesn't have fresh coffee at 6am they will change their stance once they are reminded a Hall of Fame member wants that fresh coffee. It's not that Peter is important now, it's that he now has proof of his importance the next time a Starwood Preferred Member tries to jump in front of him for the elevator.
Rick Reilly and Marv Albert will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight,
As I've said before, sometimes I feel the best way to get recognized for being a good sportswriter is to be sure to have friends, work at a large national publication and don't die. At some point, you will probably receive an award for being a good sportswriter. There's no reason Rick Reilly should be receiving any type of award, but yet, he is in the Sportswriter Hall of Fame. I would consider him to be more of a compiler than one of the best sportswriters of all-time. I hope someone shows up and asks him to pee in a cup to prove he didn't use PEDs.
Then Peter thanks everyone who helped him get there and those who helped THE MMQB win the best blog in the Time Inc empire. So even though I can't be there to hear him get his award I already have read Peter's acceptance speech.
I still can't believe the Sportswriter Hall of Fame is in Salisbury, North Carolina. Just a random place for it to be.
“The time I spent with him, I don’t think I would have been able to be at this point so quickly, if he hadn’t been such a great mentor with me and help me along.’’
—San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who signed a six-year contract worth up to $126 million last week, crediting former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith with a good mentoring job in Kaepernick’s first two years with the team.
Kaepernick appreciates you getting that concussion, Alex Smith! What a great team player you are to get a concussion and then allow Kaepernick to take your spot as the starting quarterback for the 49ers. He's so grateful.
I like it when New York plays Los Angeles in sporting events because it's guaranteed that one of them will lose.
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) June 5, 2014
Tremendous is from Kansas.
And Ken Tremendous is a fan of the Red Sox and (I believe) the other teams around the Boston area, so it's a little interesting he likes it when a team from Los Angeles and New York lose because it's probably how many people feel about his favorite teams.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I’d love to hear what an NFL locker room, or a big-league locker room in baseball or basketball or hockey, would say to a coach who said this publicly: “We cannot win our league this year, because we are not at that level yet.” U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann said to Sam Borden of the New York Times: “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.” In the last few days, since I derided Klinsmann for saying we cannot win an athletic competition that we, as one of 32 World Cup teams, begin to compete for starting next Monday, I’ve heard all of the theories about why he said it.
Peter is like Michael Wilbon and wants Klinsman to get out of America. Show us your green card Klinsman!
My point is simple: It’s absurd for a group of players, who have been practicing and drilling and (I’m sure) watching all kinds of video on first-round foes Ghana, Portugal and Germany, to hear from the man leading them into the World Cup that they have no chance to win. I’d love to hear what Herb Brooks would have thought of that form of “motivation.”
Yeah me, too. What would a hockey coach have to say about a World Cup soccer coach motivating his team in the way he sees fit? He would probably say, "If that's how he wants to coach his team" and then go back to staring at his gold medal.
The U.S. opens World Cup play a week from today against Ghana. I’ll be watching, even though we don’t have a chance.
That's not what Klinsman said in the quote. He said they "cannnot win our league this year, because we are not at that level yet." The key word is "yet" in that sentence. Who is to say he won't feel the US team won't be at that level by the time play starts?
And who knows Klinsman's motivation for saying this? Klinsman wouldn't be the first coach to publicly say his team will probably lose while privately telling his team they are going to win. I feel like some of the criticism of Klinsman comes from the fact there are certain people (ahem, Peter?) who view him as a non-American coaching the American World Cup soccer team. That's just my opinion of course. There are quite a few head coaches in various sports who have publicly stated their team can't win (or will struggle to win) and then said something completely different in private to his team. Maybe Klinsman is just trying to manage the expectations of the general public who are casual soccer fans at best and expect the United States to be good at everything, no matter what.
2. I think Bruce Arians has no prejudice against playing rookies, and he certainly wants to improve his deep receiver speed from 2013, and he has been more impressed with third-round wideout John Brown of Pittsburg (Kans.) State with his 4.34-in-the-40 speed and his quick pickup of the Arizona offense … all of which leads me to believe if you’re drafting your fantasy football team in June, taking a late-round risk on Brown would be a smart idea on a deep roster. The Cardinals, so far, love him.
It's June. The Cardinals haven't played another team nor have they really gotten ready for the upcoming season. Probably a little too early to suggest drafting a rookie wide receiver based on how much the team likes him. Does Peter know how many receivers look great in June and disappear once the time comes for real training camp to start? The answer is 35. 35 receivers disappear every year after being loved in June.
7. I think the funniest headline of last week was one about Andrew Luck not being concerned about Colin Kaepernick’s new contract. People: Andrew Luck is not concerned about much of anything that is outside his Colts universe, and he certainly isn’t concerned with what anyone else’s contract is.
Well, thanks for clearing that up for us all Peter. I was concerned that Andrew Luck was concerned about making enough money in his next contract. Thank God that Luck isn't concerned and is only worried about things that are within his Colts universe. Though I am sure this will change once Luck's agent presents comparable contracts paid to NFL quarterbacks to the Colts when the time to discuss a contract extension does come.
He knows when it’s time to sign a contract, he’ll get what the market rate is for a player playing his position at whatever level he’s playing at the time. For him to worry about something like that would be incredibly anti-Luck.
Thank you for clearing up WWALD. It's very important that Peter clear up the headline that stated Luck wasn't concerned about Kaepernick's new contract by pointing out that Luck isn't worried about Kaepernick's contract. The misunderstanding that wasn't present is now completely cleared up. I wonder if Peter would take the time to point out Russell Wilson and other quarterbacks up for a new contract in the next year or two aren't worried about Kaepernick's contract or is it only Andrew Luck who gets this treatment?
8. I think Monica Seles would be one heck of a first lady of Buffalo football.
I think Peter doesn't know enough about Monica Seles to make this claim.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. That Belmont was really, really fun to watch.
As long as you are in to a three hour lead up to a moment that lasts barely two minutes (no jokes, please) and are in the mood to watch an animal get beaten with a whip in order to get him to move faster. Then yeah, I guess it was fun.
h. Coffeenerdness: I give up. I can’t drink any drip coffee but Italian Roast. I am officially the snobbiest coffee snob of all time.
Because a person who goes to Starbucks every single day should accurately be described as a coffee snob and all. Starbucks is the place a person goes to get a cup of coffee they know will be consistent, while I think a coffee snob would choose to go somewhere a little less commercial. Perhaps Peter is confusing believing he is a coffee critic with being a coffee snob. I wouldn't consider him to be a coffee snob based on how often he goes to Starbucks. Maybe it's me.
i. Beernerdness: Always happens this way—it’s hot out, it’s near summertime, and I move from heavier to lighter in beer selection.
It probably happens that way because brewers tend to make more lighter seasonal beers during the summer season than they make heavier beers during the summer season.
l. Think of this: Cranston plays LBJ at 8 p.m. Friday, at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. That’s four times in the span of 45 hours. Just watch Cranston’s exertion level and tell me that’s not an incredible task—particularly for his vocal chords.
You know what? I'll call Barry Sanders and we will go watch Bryan Cranston's exertion level together.
The Adieu Haiku
Why can't it be "Adieu to the Haiku"?
Kaepernick got paid.
Sort of—but it’s a good pact.
Play well, get rich. Good.
Anytime a player gets paid in the double-digit millions I don't think it's fair to say he "sort of" got paid. Not to over-analyze Peter's haiku but can a person "sort of" get paid and then be described as "getting rich"? I guess Kaepernick didn't really get paid but is now rich. I wonder how Peter would feel about Andrew Luck getting a deal where he doesn't have to play well, but gets rich? I imagine he wouldn't have an issue with it.