Tuesday, September 2, 2014

13 comments MMQB Review: Roger Goodell's Mitigating Factors in Regard to Domestic Violence Edition

Peter King discussed the injury to Sam Bradford last week in MMQB, though he didn't ask the big question that I had, which was "How come the Rams didn't do better in bringing in a backup/competition for a quarterback they weren't even sure was the future of the franchise and is always injured?" Peter told us that history says the Seahawks won't repeat and complained about the price of a carry-on bag with Frontier Airlines as he vowed to keep himself to three lattes at Starbucks per week, which apparently don't cost him any money. This week Peter talks about domestic violence and how Roger Goodell's new policy (after Ray Rice got two games of course) will impact future NFL players in the same position as Rice, how Roger Goodell doesn't understand why everyone was mad at him, has more Chip Kelly coach-speak to share as if it were wisdom, and gets to the bottom on why Michael Sam was cut. Apparently "it was a football decision" is not enough of an explanation for Peter.

I was planning to address the Roger Goodell about-face on domestic violence later in the column, but the Ray McDonald arrest at 3 a.m. Sunday in San Jose, and the 49ers defensive tackle being charged with felony domestic violence, changed all that.

There is no time to talk later about Roger Goodell's about-face on domestic violence because an NFL player got arrested for domestic violence and this must be discussed immediately. After all, I'm guessing 25% of loyal MMQB readers just quit reading after the first two pages once the quotes, tweets and thoughts from Peter start showing up. If Peter buries the about-face from Goodell too far back then fewer people will read it.

So this bit of inside-MMQB for those waiting for my piece on Green Bay GM Ted Thompson: We’re going to run it Wednesday here at The MMQB, when we can give it proper treatment the day before the season. 

Because Peter wouldn't want any actual NFL information to take the place of any really interesting "Quotes of the Week," "Tweets of the Week" or the entire page dedicated to Peter's own thoughts. Obviously, MMQB is mostly about Peter King and not about relevant information on the NFL from an NFL insider. The information on Ted Thompson can wait, but Peter's interview with himself about Alex Smith's contract extension, another half page of Peter's thoughts about NFL cuts, and whether Logan Mankins is mad at Bill Belichick CAN NOT wait. That is all very time-sensitive information.

San Jose police responded to a complaint early Sunday morning involving San Francisco defensive tackle Ray McDonald and a woman that NBC Bay Area reported is pregnant. She had bruises on her neck and arms, the Sacramento Bee reported, and McDonald was jailed on suspicion of felony domestic violence charges.

“Felony domestic violence is a serious charge in any jurisdiction,” said Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in a phone interview Sunday afternoon, hearing the news for the first time.

Gandy was one of six national authorities on domestic violence who helped Goodell shape his decisive new policy, first in a lengthy phone call in mid-August and then in a meeting at the league offices in Manhattan on Aug. 21.

I like how Roger Goodell needs to call on six authorities on domestic violence in order to shape a new policy. Goodell needs no authorities when it comes to shaping policies on NFL players testing positive for drugs, getting a DUI or nearly any other offense that will result in an NFL player being suspended. Yet, domestic violence vexes the shit out of Roger Goodell that he needs six other people to tell him how to shape his policy. Goodell does have an agreed-upon drug policy to use when it comes to suspending players who violate the policy, but he didn't need help suspending Ben Roethlisberger or Pacman Jones for the season when they ran afoul of the law. It's just funny to me that he can't seem to appropriately punish NFL players who are accused/convicted of domestic violence without a little help. I guess there is no nuance in these other situations that result in an NFL player being suspended by Goodell.

The MMQB has talked to three of the outside experts called on by Goodell, and all were encouraged by the tougher policy on domestic violence laid out by Goodell: a six-game ban for a first offense (though with some wiggle room for “mitigating factors”), 

Roger says that there are mitigating factors. In fact, one of the mitigating factors in the Ray Rice case was "Did the bitch deserve it?" The answer to Goodell in this situation was "no, but kind of" while another mitigating factor was "Is the bitch cool with it now?" and the answer was "yes," so Goodell only gave Rice a two game suspension. Keep your girl in check, don't let her narc too hard, and you are cool with Goodell. There are other mitigating factors being considered by Goodell like,

-Was there a weapon involved? If so, the mitigating factor is "Did she deserve to be hit by the weapon based on her behavior?" Also, was the use of the weapon to discipline the woman for her behavior or just out of hatred for no reason? There is NEVER an excuse for hitting a woman without a good reason. Ever. Roger Goodell feels strongly about this. But if the woman wasn't acting right and causing a scene to embarrass the player in front of his boys, weapons without a blade or any other sharp edge (such as a broom, a baseball bat no longer than 30 inches, the handle end of a rake, and a belt) are appropriate to use and can be considered as fine with a mitigating circumstance involved. No weapons with a sharp end should ever be used, unless there is a mitigating factor, such as the woman just won't stop getting on the player's nerves. If the player has to ask more than twice for the woman to get off his nerves, then one strike (and one strike only, Roger Goodell feels strongly about this) with a sharp object is allowed, but there HAS to be a mitigating circumstance of the woman getting on the players nerves after being asked twice to stop.

-If the player's only act of domestic violence was hitting his significant/insignificant other, how big was the bruise's diameter? The penalties for bruise diameter goes like this...0 games for a bruise or bruises less than an inch in diameter, 2 games for a bruise or bruises between 1-3 inches in diameter, 6 games for a bruise or bruises bigger than 3 inches in diameter, and a year ban for a bruise or bruises larger than 5 inches in diameter...though if there is a mitigating factor, such as the bitch being cool with it or she was acting a fool and didn't know her place, then Goodell will lower the penalty down 1 inch for every mitigating factor.

-Did the player marry or continue a relationship with the person accusing him of domestic violence? If so, that player has kept his girl in check and should be rewarded for doing so. This is a mitigating circumstance.

-Is the girl a known trifler? Does she has a history of being a trifling-ass who always gets jealous and tries to cause problems where there are no problems, so the only solution is to put her back in her right place? Goodell will mitigate the suspension based on the woman being a known trifling-ass, but as long as the player can provide three witnesses attesting to the trifling nature of the woman.

and a year-to-lifetime ban for a repeat offender.

Unless there is a mitigating factor of course.

“The [domestic violence] policy is going to be tested quickly,” said Gandy, a veteran of the fight to end domestic abuse. “I think it is probably a good thing for a policy to be tested quickly, to see if the policy works the way it was meant to work. I am very sorry to hear this news, but it is a reminder how frequent and common domestic violence in this country is, unfortunately. I believe the commissioner will say, ‘This is our policy and we are going to stand behind it and implement it fairly.’

I'm not against a written policy, but I think it is hilarious that Roger Goodell can't trust himself to handle domestic violence punishments for NFL players without having a policy to tell him what to do. I sort of thought he was clueless after he punished Ray Rice for two games, but I know he's clueless now.

But the news about McDonald, a valuable starter on the San Francisco defensive front seven already coping with the nine-game suspension to its best pass-rusher, Aldon Smith, and knowing the team could be without rehabbing star linebacker NaVorro Bowman until midseason, could not come at a worse time. Being in trouble with the law is one thing. But coach Jim Harbaugh has been open with his players about seeing red over domestic violence.

This is as opposed to Bill Belichick, who doesn't care who his players hit, as long as they are being aggressive and show up on time for practice everyday. Belichick's policy about domestic violence is even less stringent than Goodell's "Is the bitch cool with it?" policy in the Ray Rice situation. Thank God Jim Harbaugh is tough on domestic violence. I wish other NFL coaches would follow suit.

If McDonald did indeed lay his hands on a woman in the tenor of these times, he has just made the biggest mistake of his career—and at just about the worst time possible.

Right, Peter. There is a time and place to hit a woman. When everyone is focused on the NFL not getting tough on players who hit women is not that time. Perhaps try to hit a woman during Super Bowl week or in another year or two. Just not now. It's simply bad domestic violence strategy.

Five days after the Rice decision, CNN led its morning newscast with a panel ripping the league over the light sentence. Five days. In his letter to owners last week, Goodell recognized the outcry, and the league’s role in society that he underestimated.

Goodell wrote: “The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard, and properly so.

But if your belief is that the NFL is held to a higher standard, how come you didn't uphold that belief when suspending Rice two games?

This would be an appropriate question to Goodell that he would probably not answer.

Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football. We embrace this role and the responsibility that comes with it.”

Now. The NFL embraces it now. It took a public outcry and six experts on domestic violence to convince Goodell of the exact role and responsibility the NFL had, but this role has been embraced. Just don't criticize the officials. Roger Goodell knows how to embrace his role without any outside assistance in making sure the officials aren't criticized.

“When we talked,” said Gandy, “he said, basically, that he wanted to educate himself. He was genuine in wanting to understand the causes and wanting to know the best role for the league. At one point, we were talking about law enforcement, and he said to me, ‘Why isn’t everyone angry at the judge and the prosecutor in the Rice case? We actually did something, rather than nothing.’

Roger Goodell doesn't get it, just in case it wasn't clear. Yes Roger, you are being victimized by a mean society that holds a multi-billion dollar organization who thrive on fan interest and money to a higher standard than faceless and nameless prosecutors that have their salaries paid by citizen tax money. Who would expect the NFL, an organization that pretty much thinks it has the ability to do whatever the hell it wants to do, to be held to a higher standard than the court system that is a slave to the laws of the nation? Poor Roger Goodell.

One of the late additions to the letter Goodell sent to owners was trying to leave the league some flexibility on a hard-and-fast six-game ban for first offenses. Aggravating factors—assaulting a pregnant woman, for instance—could make the sanction harsher. But there also is no guarantee that the ban could be as long as six games.

But what if the player doesn't know the woman is pregnant? How can an NFL player be suspended longer for assaulting a pregnant woman if he didn't know that woman was pregnant? It's like Roger Goodell expects NFL players to do a total background check and physical on these women before they get down to the business of assaulting that woman. It's so inconvenient.

Read the letter: “Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant. Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.”

Notice how the letter about the new policy doesn't explain the mitigating factors, because they would seem pretty insensitive. That should be a hint, no? The NFL probably has no idea what a mitigating factor would be, but Roger Goodell does know he will sound like an asshole if he even tried to list one in an official NFL letter.

One size doesn’t fit all, and one size rarely fits all,” said Gandy. “We recognize there are greatly different levels of violence.”

Plus, Roger Goodell prefers it when a player can keep his girl in check and makes a commitment to marrying or continuing to date the woman that player assaulted. After all, how bad could it be if the woman stays with the person who assaulted her?

Kansas City GM John Dorsey did the right thing Sunday evening, putting the finishing touches on a four-year contract extension for Alex Smith that will pay him, on average, $15.1 million over the next five years.

Yes, "the right thing" is what Dorsey did. Poor Alex Smith was barely getting paid for his performance over the past few years.

The way I figure it, Smith is now the 11th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in terms of average salary in the existing contract.

That sounds about right. (snickers to himself)

So let’s answer the questions many of you have this morning about the deal and about the player.

Peter is about to pose questions to himself that "many of us" have and then answer these questions. Please remember, in an in-depth discussion about Ted Thompson was left out of MMQB so Peter could answer questions he posed to himself about Alex Smith. 

Q: Why did the Chiefs pay Smith now instead of waiting for him to get to the market after this season?

But do you want to enter a year-to-year deal with the leader of your team, telling him: We don’t really trust you, and we’re going to pay Dwayne Bowe and other key guys to our future but not you? Not a good business plan, and not a good business plan to risk Smith having a very good year and potentially hitting restricted free agency next March at age 30.

While I understand the implication of paying other players around Smith, is it really such a risk that Smith have a very good year and getting the chance to be a restricted free agent? If he has a really good year then he prices himself out of the Chiefs market, which isn't very good, but if Smith plays well then perhaps he would deserve the money he'll be offered for his performance. Maybe I'm focused too much on this being Alex Smith.

Q: Smith isn’t worth $15 million a year. Never has been. Why cave to him and give him that money?

A: Look at the market. Flacco got paid $5 million per year more than 13 months ago. Matt Ryan got paid $5.7-million per year more over a year ago too. Rivers signed his deal four years ago and his deal still slightly exceeds Smith’s.

But Alex Smith is not Matt Ryan and he is not Philip Rivers. But hey, it's the Chiefs money, so what should I care?

Folks, it’s okay to change your minds about a player. Alex Smith of 2014 isn’t Alex Smith of 2007. He’s a pretty good player. Not the best quarterback in football. Not in the top five, or the top 10 probably...He’s going to complete 64 percent or so of his throws, he’s going to limit mistakes, and he’s going to give Kansas City a good chance to win most Sundays.

Yeah, we'll see. I'm just glad the piece on Ted Thompson got bumped so Peter could ask himself questions he would answer about Alex Smith.

Most notable about cutdown weekend, when 704 men lost their jobs and/or were assigned to various practice squads: There were no shocks. A couple of surprises, but can you honestly say it was a stunner to see Michael Sam cut? Champ Bailey? Nate Burleson? No. Nothing really strange happened, but here’s what caught my eye:

Hey look, more of Peter King's personal thoughts in MMQB. It seems his readers can't get enough of what Peter thinks he thinks, or in this case, what Peter knows he thinks.

1. Found it interesting that the average age of the Denver Broncos’ final 53 is 25.8. I would have guessed 28.8.

I thought it was 27.9.

3. Let history show it was a player with the exact dimension of the 6-0, 193-pound Champ Bailey—6-0, 193-pound free-agent Brian Dixon of Northwest Missouri State—who essentially took Bailey’s job with the Saints. Dixon does have one edge: He’s healthier (Bailey had some plantar fasciitis in training camp), and he’s 12 years younger.

OTHER THAN BEING 12 YEARS YOUNGER AND NOT A HALL OF FAME CORNERBACK, THESE ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME TWO PLAYERS!

4. Green Bay never keeps three quarterbacks, but Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn played well in the preseason and forced GM Ted Thompson’s hand. With Aaron Rodgers missing seven games last year, and with Thompson knowing Tolzien or Flynn likely would have been claimed elsewhere by a team needing a solid number two (or three), the Packers did the right thing and kept Rodgers, Tolzien and Flynn active.

Do you like how "the right thing" translates in MMQB to an NFL team doing what Peter King thinks that team should have done?

5. Fallout from the 2012 draft begins. Check out this ugly 32-pick span between No. 22 and 53:

53: Cincinnati—Devon Still was cut Saturday by the Bengals. Another wasted pick.

It's kind of cruel to call Devon Still a wasted pick when his daughter is fighting pediatric cancer.

Nothing like kicking a guy while he is down. Peter did apologize on Twitter...




First off, I find it hard to believe Peter was unaware of Still's situation with his daughter. I knew about it and I don't follow the Bengals that closely and even visited their training camp.

I realize Peter is too busy writing about Michael Sam, Johnny Manziel, coffee, how frustrating bad coffee can be and what he thinks about the Red Sox this season, but I find it hard to believe Peter didn't know about the situation with Devon Still's daughter. I think this goes to show how Peter is sometimes too concerned with things outside of the NFL, which is the sport he is paid to cover for a web site that covers the sport of football exclusively.

Second, this isn't out of character for Peter. He called Sean Taylor a bust not once, not twice, but three times in MMQB and his mailbags. The reason Taylor was a bust is because he was shot and killed, so he didn't exactly have a chance to live up to his draft status. So even if Peter knew about the situation around Still's daughter, based on how he referred to Sean Taylor repeatedly, I'm not sure he really is sorry for calling Still a "wasted pick."


9. Two of the great wheelers/dealers worked out a trade Saturday: Indy GM Ryan Grigson sending street free-agent cornerback Marcus Burley to Seattle GM John Schneider for a 2015 sixth-round pick.

Ryan Grigson is a wheeler/dealer, but I'm pretty sure there is still a question about the "great" part of the equation.

13. I have never seen a more misleading 5-0 preseason than the one the New York Giants just had. Eli Manning completed 49 percent of his throws, Odell Beckham (hamstring) wasn’t healthy all summer, and the passing game looked just as sickly as Beckham. Yikes. Giants have to win a scoring contest with Detroit a week from tonight. I don’t like their chances.

You and Mike Lupica don't like the Giants chances. Also, every preseason record is misleading because the starters play very little and coaches hold out important players if those players have any semblance of an injury. The entire preseason is misleading in many ways, why should a team's record be any different?

16. That’s the hot breath of Zach Mettenberger (47 of 68 in the preseason) you feel on your neck, Jake Locker.

Welp, look for the Josina Anderson report in a few hours about how none of his Titan teammates have taken a shower with Zach Mettenberger yet.

18. None of the Rams’ last five draft picks is on their 53-man roster, including Sam. That’s either a sign of a much better roster in St. Louis, or the sign of some bad drafting late.

Or it's not the sign of bad drafting and four of these picks were 7th round picks who are generally not guaranteed a roster spot anyway. It could be bad drafting, though from what Peter King has told his readers in the past, it is theoretically impossible for a Les Snead/Jeff Fisher-led team to draft poorly.

Patriots fans are used to the cold reality of NFL life. They’ve seen Bill Belichick trade Drew Bledsoe and Richard Seymour and cut Lawyer Milloy and let go Ty Law and Adam Vinatieri and Brandon Spikes in free agency, and so who would be surprised if next in line was the consistent Pro Bowl guard, Logan Mankins, who once played on a torn ACL for the good of the team?

I enjoy how media members like Peter King take the "Bill Belichick will cut anyone" narrative and run with it, like Belichick is colder than most NFL head coaches. It's not entirely true. Drew Bledsoe was traded after the Patriots had won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback and the Patriots did a great job replacing Vinatieri with Stephen Gostkowski. Belichick isn't the only cold person in the NFL who doesn't mind letting players go in free agency. My favorite team has released Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, allowed Julius Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad go in free agency, and traded Kris Jenkins. They were all very popular players. I guess since it isn't the same GM/head coach who presided over all of these then the "he's so cold" narrative doesn't start, but the fact separate GM's/head coaches released these players does show Belichick isn't the only head coach willing to lose good players if he doesn't think they can produce. The narrative that Belichick is cold while other head coaches in the NFL aren't seems tired to me. The media wants to paint Belichick in one way and they will be damned if anything stops them. I know Belichick doesn't need anyone to protect him, but it's sort of unfair to him. He's just making decisions that he thinks are best for the Patriots, just like other GM's/head coaches would do for their team.

Interesting gambit by Belichick. He’s gambling the Patriots can make do on the offensive line and use the resources from the trade, offensive tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick next year, to continue what the Patriots have been for 13 years—a near-playoff lock and consistent double-digit winner. To do that, Belichick has to be impervious to the grenades tossed when he gets rid of such top players.

Again, every head coach has to be impervious to grenades when it comes to making tough decisions. Belichick isn't cold or mean, he's just focused on his team's needs and how to meet those needs.

“Oh, Bill?’’ Mankins said. “I still have tons of respect for Bill. He’s an awesome coach. I loved playing for him. He was the best coach for me to have—he got a lot out of me.’’

Apparently the only one who doesn't understand the NFL is a business is Peter King. Tough decisions are made every year. Bill Belichick isn't an unfeeling robot, no matter how he is presented, he's willing to make hard decisions to meet the needs of his team. He's not the only head coach who will do this either.

It's an interesting move by Belichick and the Patriots, but it's all a business. Players stick around until they are no longer useful.

“Why would his teammates feel uncomfortable taking a shower with Michael Sam? Does he use Axe Garlic and Rotten Egg Body Wash?”
—Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart on his “Daily Show,” after ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported a St. Louis teammate “seems to think Michael Sam is waiting to kind of take a shower as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable” in the locker room.

Ah yes, I look forward to the Ombudsman addressing this report another month from now when his next column is posted to ESPN.com.

Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week

Thank God this is back. One week away was one week too long. I need more Chip Kelly coach-speak that Peter King thinks is brilliance.

Kelly, the Eagles’ coach, on handling the cutdown:

“When every guy that’s here is part of the 90-man roster, their lifelong dream is to be an NFL football player and to be the one that tells them that it’s not going to happen here is difficult. It’s something that is inevitable. You have to go from 90 to 75 and 75 to 53. It’s part of the job but it’s not a fun part of the job.

Pretty brilliant so far. The guys on the 90-man roster of an NFL team do in fact want to be on an NFL team. Glad that's cleared up. Also, a team has to get to 53 players by August 30, so unless 37 players are murdered or hidden on the roster somewhere then someone is going to have to tell these 37 players they will not make that specific NFL team.

But it’s always a difficult time when someone’s goal is to play in this league.

Again, the big news here is that these football players trying out to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster do in fact want to be NFL players.

We told those guys on day one: I hope that goal one for us is that you make this football team, but then goal two is that you get an opportunity to make another football team with the exposure that you get here. Hopefully we prepare you for that.

I'm really struggling to find the wisdom in these quotes. It seems, yet again, like general coach-speak to me.

“[Free agent defensive end] Alejandro Villanueva, I’d buy stock in him as a human being.

But you can, Chip, you can!

He’s going to be successful. I talked to him about the reasons we were cutting him loose. He said, ‘Coach, successful people have to make difficult decisions. You don’t have to explain anything to me.'”

If anyone finds anything in these quotes that qualifies as wisdom, please give me a heads up. I can't seem to find anything that doesn't seem like coach-speak or just general comments from a head coach about how hard cuts to get to the 53-man limit can be.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Hunkered down last week and did some writing for 1.5 days in one of the prettiest places I’d never seen: the coast of Maine 90 minutes north of Portland, on the Pemaquid Peninsula. Thanks to the Bradley Inn there for a swell time, and to the Atlantic Ocean for being so beautiful,

THANK YOU ATLANTIC OCEAN FOR BEING SO BEAUTIFUL! YOU MAY TASTE LIKE SHIT WHEN PUT IN PETER'S COFFEE, BUT YOUR SALTY WATER IS A SWEET SALVE TO WHAT AILS PETER WHEN THE BARISTA AT STARBUCKS SPELLS HIS NAME WRONG ON THE CUP CARRYING HIS DELICIOUS LATTE!



For those who don’t know what Sam means about Sam, NFL parlance in a 4-3 defense for the linebackers is Mike for the middle linebacker, Will for the weakside outside linebacker, and Sam for the strongside outside linebacker.

Yeah, we got it Peter. Glad you explained it though.

Should I be thankful that Peter didn't tell his readers "to go Google" to see what this means?



A “mike flag” is the identifying network band around the microphone when a correspondent is interviewing a player. And I don’t think I have ever seen an ESPN crew not use ESPN identification when talking to someone on camera.

It would only be better if it were called a Sam or Will flag.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think Michael Sam being waived by the Rams came down to four factors:

I think it is funny that Michael Sam wants to be treated like any other 7th round draft pick and the media will simply not allow this to happen. Peter has to break down the four factors that caused Sam to be cut. Perhaps there is one reason the Rams cut Sam. They have other talent on the 53-man roster they would like to keep and Sam can't fit into what the Rams want to do at the defensive end position.

He was outplayed in camp and in preseason games—though not in a rout—by a more versatile player, undrafted free-agent Ethan Westbrooks, who the Rams think can play at defensive end or defensive tackle. Sam was strictly a defensive end.

All four incumbent defensive ends who made the team—Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes and Eugene Sims—plus Westbrooks, who showed better pass-rush ability in training camp and games, are signed at least through the end of the 2015 season.

Sam was on just one special team, kick coverage. He wasn’t valuable in the kicking game.

So allow me to get this straight...many of the same factors that caused Michael Sam to fall to the 7th round (he's not versatile, scouts question whether he could provide consistent production, he has no experience outside of playing defensive end and he doesn't play special teams) are the reason he didn't make the Rams' roster? Is that what Peter is telling us? What a shock!

2. I think NFL teams are seeing ghosts on Michael Sam, who, as of midnight Sunday, was still on the street looking for a practice squad to join. If a team plays a 3-4, as many do, he’s not a fit. But Sam is a 257-pound defensive end in a 4-3 system who has a chance to create a little havoc and a chance—a chance, I say, not a sure thing—to be a growth stock for teams. But I talked to three team architects over the weekend. They’re concerned about the circus coming to town with the first openly gay player trying to make an NFL roster. What circus, exactly?

The circus that involves a sportswriter like yourself talking about a 7th round pick at length, listing four reasons that 7th round pick didn't make the 53-man roster, and undoubtedly every move that team makes in regard to the player being analyzed seven different ways. I guess it's with no sense of irony that Peter asks "What circus, exactly?" as he provides more coverage of Sam being released than any 7th round pick has ever received before.

A little ESPN story about shower habits? That’s been the big controversy of the last four months with Sam. He’s had two press conferences, peaceful and uneventful ones, and met the press briefly after each of the St. Louis preseason games, as any player would be subject to doing. And that has created exactly zero problems for the Rams.

It has created zero problems for the Rams, but it has kept the Rams in the media spotlight regarding whether they will keep a guy who was going to probably not even be active on Sundays if he even made the team. Peter has talked about Sam at least every other week in MMQB. There's no controversy, but for Peter to act like it's not a big deal is disingenuous. Peter is one of many sportswriters who are like, "Guys, this is a big deal, but it's totally not a big deal. We are going to cover this Michael Sam story from every possible angle, then wonder why NFL teams worry a 7th round pick is getting too much attention."

4. I think the 49ers set a dangerous precedent for their team in a few ways Sunday, bringing back guard Alex Boone from his summer-long camp holdout, as Adam Schefter reported. One, they chose to not collect his fines for going AWOL from camp despite having two years left on his contract. Two, they told him they wouldn’t put the franchise tag on him when his contract expires after the 2015 season. Three, according to Pro Football Talk, the club raised his pay over the next two seasons from $3.7 million to $6 million total. With the first team offense looking offensive in Weeks 2 and 3 of the preseason, GM Trent Baalke obviously swallowed hard and did some objectionable things (for him) in bowing to Boone.

Oh, so the 49ers didn't "do the right thing" and pay Alex Boone? They "did some objectionable things" by paying him. Again, it's funny how "the right thing" and "the objectionable thing" are how Peter is referring to decisions NFL teams make that he either agrees with or doesn't agree with.

So if Alex Smith had held out of Chiefs camp would it have then been "objectionable" for John Dorsey to give him a new contract? Peter has already said it made sense to give Smith a new contract because other important members of the Chiefs team got one, so if Smith held out for the money that Peter rightfully seems to think Smith should get, would the decision to pay Smith be "objectionable"? It's pretty clear the 49ers need offensive line help, so bringing Alex Boone back makes sense.

5. I think Tom Coughlin, who turned 68 Sunday, had this reaction when I told him in camp he was one win from passing Paul Brown and two from passing Joe Gibbs on the all-time NFL victories list: “Wow. Really?” Then he said that was nice. And that was all. But I do know this: Coughlin loves pro football history, and whatever happens this season with the Giants, he has no interest in retiring anytime soon. Which begs the question about what happens to Coughlin if the Giants have a really bad year. From watching them this summer, it’s possible. I think you have to wait to see the circumstances first. But club president and CEO John Mara does not take kindly to mediocrity. He was very prickly after last year’s 7-9 season, and there’s no question he liked the fact that Coughlin wanted to shake up his coaching staff. But if the offense is awful and Eli Manning struggles, I don’t know if Mara will say he wants back Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese,

That's great, but does this mean Peter doesn't think the Giants will win two games this upcoming season? I understand Tom Coughlin doesn't want to stop coaching, but if the Giants have a really bad year does Peter think Coughlin won't pass Gibbs and Brown? If this isn't what he believes, then why tie in how many games Coughlin has to win to have a chance to pass Joe Gibbs and Paul Brown with Coughlin possibly be fired after the 2014 season if the Giants play poorly again?

6. I think the league is not going to press a tampering case against Jerry Jones for his remarks in the great ESPN profile of him about Adrian Peterson. “Tipsy and waiving his arms,’’ Jones, according to the story, got handed a cell phone with Peterson on it after a George Strait concert at the Cowboys’ stadium, and seemed to be speaking with Peterson about making him a Cowboy someday. Talking to a couple of people with knowledge of the league’s view of the story, I didn’t sense much interest in the league pursuing anything against Jones when he was seriously into the Johnnie Walker Blue Label near midnight.

Oh, so it isn't tampering if the person doing the tampering is drunk? I understand. So I guess this means NFL GM's can get drunk (with witnesses attesting to this GM's drunken state) and then start dialing players under contract with other teams stating the interest that GM has in the player? Sounds great.

Reading the passage, I wonder how much of the conversation with Peterson he remembers. Now, that isn’t to say he should be talking to any employee of another team about anything other than having a nice day. And I’m sure he’ll get a reminder of that from someone in the league office. But it doesn’t sound like the league’s interested in whacking Jones for it.

So is this a mitigating circumstance for tampering? Maybe the NFL's reluctance in whacking Jones for this could have something to do with the head of NFL officiating getting off a party bus with Stephen Jones, but that was no big deal either I guess. That's my conspiracy theory of the day. Dean Blandino downplayed his being on the bus, but it would be awkward if Stephen or Jerry Jones could clarify what happened on the bus or embarrassed the NFL publicly in any way.

Tampering while being drunk still sounds like tampering to me. The excuse that an NFL owner was just blackout drunk doesn't seem like a very good excuse either.

9. I think Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin won’t need to send out his résumé when he goes in search of an NFL head-coaching job. Teams will be drooling to get him. Maybe not quite Chip Kelly-style drooling, but it could be close if his team keeps playing the way it did in routing South Carolina the other night, putting up 52 against the ninth-ranked team in the country, on the road, with a new quarterback.

If I'm an NFL team, I'm impressed by Kevin Sumlin, but I'm also wondering when he will put a defense worth a shit out on the field. I'm guessing if Jason Garrett gets fired, then Jerry Jones is going to call Kevin Sumlin. It seems like a Jerry Jones-type move.

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

d. The Red Sox traded Kelly Johnson to Baltimore on Saturday in a deal that will have absolutely no effect on either team. But the upshot’s interesting. Johnson’s now been on every team in the AL East over the last two 23 months.

This is just a depressing note for AL East teams.

e. Story of the Week (and many other weeks): Don Van Natta Jr.’s insightful profile of Dallas owner Jerry Jones. “I get madder every day about missin’ him,” Jones told Van Natta, “him” being Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft. “I was the only guy [in the organization] who wanted him.”

Sometimes I wish the Cowboys would just listen to every single personnel move Jerry Jones wants made, just to see what would happen. I want Jones to have no other advice when deciding to make a move and having control to make any trade, draft pick or free agent signing he wanted to.

g. Coffeenerdness: There is no better drip coffee in the universe, at least for me, than the Italian Roast at Starbucks. That’s an exclamation point driven home to me every morning with a jarring cup.

In your face Marriott! Your free drip coffee isn't as good as coffee that Peter pays for. Also, "every morning with a jarring cup"? Let's settle down a bit. It's coffee.

i. Happy Labor Day, everyone. I’m going to celebrate this great day by working.

Way to play the victim who has to work on Labor Day. I work as well. I'll remember Peter worked Labor Day when he takes a month vacation in July.

The Adieu Haiku

Three days till kickoff.
NFL’s 95th year
will be offensive.


But not as offensive as a haiku ending a football column. 

13 comments:

Chris said...

It's important to remember the true spirit of Labor Day Ben. Labor Day is a day to remember those true Americans who work tirelessly to write about the poor quality of free coffee in hotels and thanking the Atlantic Ocean, and last but certainly not least, inscribing the quotes of the man, the myth, the legend, Chip Kelly. Next time your having a mediocre pumpkin spice latte by a clueless barista never forget the sacrifices of Peter King!

Chris said...

All joking aside I was wondering if you caught a bleacher report article today about Michael Sam that really made me shake my head. The writer basically flat out said that the only reason Michael Sam was cut and wasn't brought onto the Rams practice squad was because of hompohobia. Not only that but he also decided to smear anyone else who disagreed with him and said that anyone who said the cut had to do with something other than homophobia was a)an idiot who didn't know anything about the NFL and b) a closet bigot.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I feel patriotic simply reading what you wrote. I just wish I had posted this on Labor Day, so I could feel the true sacrifice that Peter was making by writing on Labor Day.

Are you referring to the Mike Freeman article? I didn't read it, but I read some comments about it on Twitter. A lot of football "insider" types agreed that there was a lot of homophobia in the NFL. I don't doubt it, but it's weird to me that the same organization that was lauded for being open-minded enough to draft Sam are now being sort of tagged as homophobic. It's odd how that works.

Honestly, this is part of the reason teams didn't draft Michael Sam. It's not 100% homophobia-related (though I have no doubt homophobia is present in the locker room), but the expectation from the media is he would make the team or make the practice squad. I know they won't admit it, but I think that was the expectation and anything short of that would result in indications that homophobia was part of the reason.

So I do get that there is homophobia in football, like other sports, but I don't really enjoy the idea if I disagree with the premise Sam was released and not on the Rams' practice squad is partly due to homophobia...and if you don't think so then you don't know sports and are probably someone who hates homosexuals.

Again, as I have said in MMQB, THIS is part of the reason why teams won't take on Michael Sam. It's a no-win situation for a team in regard to a fringe player. I hear Michael Sam wanting to be just a football player (and I believe him), but writers like Peter King run around saying, "Where's the distraction?" when he's providing weekly updates on whether a 7th round pick will make the roster. The distraction is Peter updating everyone on Sam's roster status.

Chris said...

I was referring to the Freeman article. I agree that I'm certain there is homophobia in NFL locker rooms and circles but in my view St. Louis gave very sound football reasons as to why they didn't pick him up for the roster or the practice squad. I hadn't even noticed that before but it is ironic that Jeff Fisher and the Rams are now bigots in the eye of Freeman but where roundly praised for picking him.

Maybe I'm not jaded enough yet but I can understand a team being wary about the media distraction surrounding Michael Sam and I don't see it as some lame excuse. The same media asks for Sam to be seen as only a football player yet ESPN is reporting on his showering habits in the locker room. Like you I believe Michael Sam when he says he just wants to be known as a football player but the media does not do him any favors and for some reason they don't seem to realize that.

I think what was more frustrating to me about Freeman's article was the amount of vitriol in it. It seemed as though he had already come to the conclusion long ago that because Michael Sam is gay the entire NFL had it out for him and this was inevitable. And ironically Freeman sort of ended up insulting Michael Sam and his football ability because he came to the conclusion that since St. Louis cut him then no NFL team was going to pick him up at all and Freeman said maybe he can be successful in the CFL. And now of course Freeman may have to end up eating his words because I've see reports Sam will do a physical for the Cowboys so apparently some NFL team is interested in having him around.

Snarf said...

I know Goodell is an easy target right now on the domestic violence front, which is its own fault. That being said, I think they are in a no-win situation and are treading as lightly as possible. In the suspension of Rice (which was definitely on the short side) he had opposing pressures of many groups for which no realistic suspension would be enough, while conversely if he abandoned precedent and went to 4 games or more then there would have surely been an appeal (probably well-founded to some degree) by Rice with the support of the NFLPA, which would drag the story through the news cycle further. Any reduction would be viewed as more leniency.

Fast forward to now, I think Goodell needs a panel of 6 experts and bodies to cover his ass. All of these experts sort of shield criticism that comes in the future because if they're on board, who is random fan to say the NFL is out of touch? Kind of cynical/pragmatic view of it, but I think that's where they are now. Everyone, fair or not, is ready to flame pretty much whatever they do or don't do at this point, so they are walking on the proverbial eggshells.

Not sure why I'm explaining Goodell's actions, but that's my thought on it.

Slag-King said...

I agree with Snarf. That was my impression with Goddell...it was one of those things that he is damned if he did it or damned if he didn't. I don't think it was cynical at all but reality as Goddell probably has never encountered domestic abuse in his life and now has to deal with it.

What gets me is Peter's very dry reporting of Goddell's memo. He usually interjects his own thoughts into most situations, but is unusually silent here. Hmmmmm.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin won’t need to send out his résumé

Once again, I'm still stunned that coaches send out resumes if they want a job as head coach in the NFL.

I think it is sloppy (and creepy) that Peter goes from a grim topic to a cheery topic without any transition (Domestic abuse to Alex Smith contract). I know he has the Smith Contract in the next page and it does have a header, but it still struck the wrong chord with me since I was thinking that Peter was criticizing the Alex Smith's deal--one grim subject to another grim subject. He really needs an editor to help put it together better.

Anonymous said...

"Let history show it was a player with the exact dimension of the 6-0, 193-pound Champ Bailey—6-0, 193-pound free-agent Brian Dixon of Northwest Missouri State—who essentially took Bailey’s job with the Saints."

No one, and I mean no one, will be writing a history about Champ Bailey's time with the Saints. It doesn't even merit "Willie Mays with the Mets/Johnny Unitas with the Chargers" type mention because he didn't appear in a single regular season game with them.

Some writers I find to be very good at fluffing up their writing, but maintaining perspective and not seeming over-dramatic. Peter is not one of those writers. The history of Champ Bailey with the Saints is one sentence; he was cut. He does this at other times, too. He'll call a team like the Packers the "Fighting Rodgers" or the Jets "the Men of Rex Ryan." Bring it down a notch, we can just call them the Packers and Jets.

HH said...

GM Trent Baalke obviously swallowed hard and did some objectionable things (for him) in bowing to Boone.

Phrasing!

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I understand that there are stats out there a/b how X number of players had sacks in the preseason and Sam is the only one not on an NFL roster. It's hard, because you have to look at things beyond the stats, like the Rams have enough DE's to go around. They don't want one on the practice squad.

As far as Sam not being on another team's practice squad, good players pass through waivers all the time. The Panthers waived Casey Walker, who had a good camp and preseason, and the passed through waivers and they signed him to the practice squad.

For God's sake, the Panthers starting safety last year, Robert Lester, was released and is on the practice squad. He was pretty good for a rookie last year and QB's had a rating of like 50 or something when they threw in his direction. He's cheap, he's young, but no other team wanted him after he got cut. My point is that good players are cut and not signed onto another team's practice squad.

I do think it is funny that the Rams were seen as open-minded and now they are probably seen as being bigots for not signing Sam to the PS.

I don't think it was inevitable nor necessarily based on Sam being a homosexual, but based on the pressure that would go with taking on Sam. Regardless of what sportswriters say, there is pressure when signing the first openly gay player in the NFL. There just is. A lot of the pressure comes from the same media that doesn't understand why there is a circus around Sam as they discuss his every move.

I think Sam could fit in well with the Cowboys personally. They need defenders and that's a good place where extra attention can be shared with other players and Jerry Jones.

Snarf, I know. I'm being ridiculous at times about Goodell. I just think it is interesting how he clearly didn't know exactly how to handle this situation. Greg Hardy isn't getting two games now, that's for sure. I don't even want Hardy on the Panthers team anymore, but I would like for him to get a 2 game suspension if he has to be on the team...that probably doesn't make sense.

I never thought about Goodell using those six experts to help shield him from criticism. For me, the biggest problem Goodell has is alienating the female fan base. I think a rabid and excited female fan base that buys NFL products is what makes the league so great. Not that women don't like other major sports, but almost every woman in my office has a favorite NFL or college football team. Granted, this isn't representative of every office, but it's just a fan base I think he wouldn't want to alienate and he sort of tried to do that. I didn't even think of Goodell shielding the NFL with the experts. Interesting.

Slag, I think Goodell could have not been damned if he had just hit Rice with a harsher penalty like he will do now (deservedly) for McDonald and Hardy. Rice could try and appeal it, but he would end up looking like the bad guy, as opposed to Goodell looking overly-lenient. Once Goodell put the penalty at 2 games, he was in a no-win situation.

I can see Kevin Sumlin's resume now. It's just his record as a head coach and how many points his offenses put up.

I think the header separated those two topics well for me, but there is an option to read MMQB on one page or print it, which would put them together. I re-read MMQB in that way and it is sort of a jarring topic change.

Anon, I forgot Bailey was on the Saints until about a week ago. Yes, Peter isn't always good at fluffing up the writing and not seeming over-dramatic. I think Peter's best writing is when he gives solid facts with a little history about questions like why, how, when, and then a short take of his own based on conversations he's heard. But as I've said before, sometimes writers start to think the readers want to read about them and they start showing off a little bit with the writing skills.

HH, I do get that now. Now if Trent Baalke is fired today, Mike Freeman may be on to something.

Chris said...

I agree there is undoubtedly pressure unfortunately it seems the narrative is that anyone who says their would be pressure is immediately labeled as a homophobe and a bigot.

Maybe I'm too cynical as I grow older but I find it curious that now that it seems Dallas will sign Sam, Mike Freeman's article is nowhere to be found on Bleacher Report's NFL page. In any case good for Sam and frankly I think he can be a better fit than in St. Louis Rams. Looking at the roster it seems, at least in my view, that Dallas could use a little more depth on the defensive side of the ball, certainly they need the depth more than St. Louis does.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, it's just how it goes. The narrative about Michael Sam didn't go the way it was supposed to go, so someone has to be to blame. There HAS to be blame. It can't be that Sam simply didn't make the Rams squad.

I will be interested to hear what Freeman has to say about it. Generally, I like his columns, but I am a little disappointed he sort of jumped on the homophobia bus.

Snarf said...

Rice could try and appeal it, but he would end up looking like the bad guy, as opposed to Goodell looking overly-lenient. Once Goodell put the penalty at 2 games, he was in a no-win situation.

I think you're ignoring the fact that it wouldn't just be Rice doing the appeal. I think the NFLPA would have a field day with the fact that Goodell was flaunting past precedent (i.e. Brandon Marshall, etc.) because of the publicity of this instance, that's why it was so important for the new policy to be explicitly announced. If Goodell had put a 4 or 6-game ban on Rice, it likely does not hold up if the NFLPA wants to fight and then who knows where that narrative goes?

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