Tuesday, August 4, 2015

4 comments MMQB Review: Ronda Rousey Obsession Edition

In last week's MMQB, Peter King struggled a bit with the concept that not everyone thinks Russell Wilson is on the quarterbacking level that Aaron Rodgers is on. He also interviewed Adrian Peterson and nailed down that Adrian Peterson knew he wouldn't leave the Vikings even though he wanted to very badly. Also, he enjoyed his coffee this week and felt it was important to mention this immediately after brief commentary about a theater shooting. This week talks about sobering life lessons, Robert Griffin knowing this is his last chance (probably not), Brady v. Goodell (again), and the NFL has somehow managed to implement the dumbest fucking rule about giving footballs to fans. The NFL is going down a weird road with their Draconian policies. This one could cost Cam Newton $100,000 next year. Oh well, it's not like he can't afford it.

Here’s how football locker rooms have changed before our eyes, per Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who was a rookie in 2008:

“When I came into the league, guys would be playing cards in the locker room, and dominoes,” Ryan said Sunday. “Now, they’re still playing cards … but it’s like, one guy’s sitting at his locker with his phone, and another guy’s at his locker with his phone, and they’re playing poker against each other. That’s the way they’re used to playing cards now.”

NFL camaraderie, 2015.

"Kids these days..."

One of the best special-teams coaches in NFL history, Bruce DeHaven, had to ponder this spring one of the toughest choices a man could ever have.

Whether to continue coaching the 31st ranked special teams unit that somehow managed to have two punts blocked in the same game last year?

A doctor told him in May: It’s likely you have three to five years to live. He didn’t hear the doc say there’s a slight chance you will live for decades, or a slight chance you will live for a few months. He just heard, at 66 and healthy as a mule (or so he thought), that the finish line of life might well be coming about 25 years sooner than he hoped it would. In the next 10 days, DeHaven lost 11 pounds. From the shock of it.

Oh, well that's probably a little bit tougher.

It’s May. Mini-camps are approaching. The owner of the team, the venerable Jerry Richardson, tells DeHaven the team will support him in any way possible. If the prostate cancer and its accompanying spread into your bones makes it too tough to work, Richardson says we’ll get you the best care on the planet, wherever that is; if you want to work, we’ll get you the best care on the planet, wherever that is. Your call.

But first, Richardson made sure that DeHaven didn't have any tattoos, because we all know that Jerry Richardson does not like tattoos.

At home, DeHaven has a son about to go off to college, to his freshman year at Canisius, and a daughter still in high school. He thought about it. He thought about it for a long time. He did nothing but think about it.

Get treated and see how you feel from there. It's not like the Panthers special teams could suck any worse without you. Okay, they could suck slightly worse, but there's a small difference in being 31st and 32nd in special teams play. 

Should I coach this team with a bunch of guys I love? Or should I go home and just be with the ones I love more, just in case the end is near?

For a variety of reasons, I'm not going to downplay prostate cancer. It's a type of cancer that isn't as sexy as breast cancer to talk about curing (saving women's breasts? Yes, please) and it doesn't have the obvious physical effects that lung cancer has, but the mortality rate is about at 10%. That out of the way, the doctor said that Bruce DeHaven had three to five years to live, so it's not like "the end is near" prior to the NFL season starting. Stopping everything and waiting to die is probably the worst option DeHaven could have chosen initially. I understand the question Peter is presenting, but DeHaven wasn't given a definite six months to live. He was given 3-5 years to live as an average. 

But the story that made me stop in my tracks in the past few days happened on the bucolic campus of Wofford College, where the Carolina Panthers have trained for the past 20 summers, since entering the league in 1995. It’s the kind of place—small college, fans sitting on a hill watching practice, fans paying nothing for it, all 90 players signing for beseeching fans (“CAMMMMMM!!!!!!”) after practice—that’s perfect for training camp, and the kind of treatment by a team that’s a model for every camp in the league. 

To be fair, it's a great model, except it takes place in South Carolina. Without that, perfection. There are drawbacks to everything I guess (ducks as South Carolina citizens get angry). 

That’s the environment Bruce DeHaven works in every day. Only the fans don’t know the man with the wide-brimmed white sun hat, keeping the worst of the rays from damaging his fair skin on this typically oppressive 92-degree first day of August, hang-timing his punters while the rest of the team worked out on the adjacent field.

Actually, I would bet more fans than Peter thinks know who Bruce DeHaven is. His cancer diagnosis was covered fairly widely by the Charlotte sports media and it ties in to the whole "Keep Pounding" motto the team uses throughout every NFL season. So most fans probably don't know him, but more fans than Peter thinks probably knows a little bit about his situation.

“Whoa!” DeHaven said Saturday afternoon, watching incumbent Brad Nortman skyrocket a booming punt off the sweet spot of his right foot. Then he waits, and Nortman watches, until the ball falls to earth.

The ball falls to earth behind him because it got blocked? I'm not used to punts from Nortman going forward, so I would have had to see this for myself to believe this punt went forward.

So now you know: DeHaven chose to coach this season. Well, that plus he chose, with Richardson’s approval and that of head coach Ron Rivera, to import one of his best friends in the coaching fraternity, retired NFL special-teams coach Russ Purnell, to help him during the season if his health drooped.

How do you say "no" to this request?

"Hey, I have the cancer you know and I would love to coach this season, but just in case I start feeling bad and potentially start taking a turn for the worse as the cancer starts to eat my bones, can we hire someone else to take over my job? If not, that's cool."

Before the afternoon practice, when DeHaven talked about his lot in life, he tried to explain why he so desperately wanted to keep doing what he did, for a 29th season in the NFL. He’d coached under Hall of Fame coaches Marv Levy in Buffalo and Bill Parcells in Dallas, under Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Holmgren in Seattle.

Then he coached under...Ron Rivera. It's not quite the same as coaching under Hall of Fame coaches, though Marv, Bill, Mike and Ron do sound like first names that members of a 1960's white doo-wop group might have.

“From life on the farm to the NFL … I mean, are you kidding me? Coaching in the Super Bowl? With Hall of Fame coaches? Marv Levy, Bill Parcells. My gosh, I understand what Lou Gehrig said. I honestly feel it. I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Let's wait until you deal with the 2015 special teams unit before stating how lucky you are professionally. Ron Rivera is called "Riverboat" Ron because he takes gambles during games, like sending his punt unit on the field rather than going for it on fourth down.

After practice, Carolina safety Colin Jones, one of DeHaven’s core special-teamers, considered his coach’s decision this spring. He got very serious. Solemn. “We didn’t have a very good year on special teams last year,” Jones said, “and Bruce knew that. He absolutely would not accept it. He was positive with us, and he had passion every day. But he is not afraid to tell us the truth. I made a mistake in a game last year, and I knew it, and the team knew it.

This "mistake" was being responsible for a punt being blocked. And yes, the replay showed Colin Jones blocked zero people and it was pretty obvious it was all his fault. Not calling him out would have caused DeHaven's sanity to be questioned.

“When I first was getting to know Bruce,” Cam Newton said, “I said to him, ‘Hey coach, you want to get a big raise?’ He said, ‘Sure, we all like money.’ I said, ‘Put me at punt return!’ We both laughed. He says to me I should be ready; you never know what might happen some day.”

That's...uh...a great story, Cam. It's probably one of those stories that you had to be there to enjoy.

Through the years, others felt the way Tasker felt, and the way Colin Jones felt. In 2001, DeHaven was coaching the San Francisco special teams when a young coach from Hofstra came in the office one day to interview for an entry-level job on the defensive staff. The kid was sweating profusely, nervous. Good résumé, but you never know how these things go. But the head coach, Steve Mariucci, liked the kid’s enthusiasm.

Who was this kid? Was it Barack Obama? Peyton Manning? Chip Kelly? 

Dan Quinn was hired.

Ah, the twist. It was Dan Quinn.

On Sunday, Quinn, the rookie Atlanta head coach, recalled the moment. “So I get the job,” he said, “and the next day, Bruce, who doesn’t even really know me, comes up to me with the USA Today sports section. He shows me the ‘Transactions’ column. He says to me, ‘You better save this. This is a big deal for a kid from Hofstra, being in transactions, getting a job in the NFL.’ That’s the kind of guy Bruce is.”

Then DeHaven probably walked away muttering, "This kid from Hofstra, he'll never be anything in this league. Hofstra, who from there makes it big in the NFL?"

In the past few weeks, DeHaven has been touched by scores of men in the coaching fraternity reaching out. Bill Belichick called.

(DeHaven's phone rings and he picks up) "Hello?"

(Bill Belichick) "Hey, Bruce. It's Bill Belichick. I just wanted to let you know that I have heard of prostate cancer, know you have it and wish you didn't. From everything I know it's not good and I hope you get better soon. Well, I'm on to practice."

(DeHaven) "How have you been doing Bill?"

(Belichick) "I don't really have any more information about that. My day just started, so I can't speak to how I'm doing."

(DeHaven) "The kids good?"

(Belichick) "Again, that isn't something I can answer right now."

(DeHaven) "You excited for the season."

(Belichick) "I'm on to practice right now, so I have no further information."

(DeHaven) "How's Tom doing?"

(Belichick) "Again, that isn't something I can answer right now. I'm on to practice."

(DeHaven getting frustrated) "Thanks for calling. Talk again soon?"

(Belichick) "I can't answer that right now. I'm on to practice."

(Both DeHaven and Belichick are quiet as DeHaven waits for Belichick to say "goodbye" and Belichick waits for DeHaven to dismiss him and stop asking questions)

Sean Payton sent a picture of the Saints’ staff, with well-wishes from all. “Heartwarming,” he said, shaking his head. “Sean Payton, with a division rival, reaching out. Just shows you what the fraternity of coaches is like. We compete, but we’re together.”

(DeHaven's phone rings and he picks up) "Hello?"

(Sean Payton) "Hey buddy, I hear you are feeling sick through no fault of mine or the Saints team. We did not cause your injury/sickness and this phone call is being recorded so please just acknowledge we had nothing to do with your cancer diagnosis."

(DeHaven) "Yeah, you guys had nothing to do with my prostate cancer."

(Payton) "Thanks, I am sending a picture of our coaching staff with well wishes. Can you please send me your home address, though we will not be using it to send anyone to your house in order to injure you for money."

(DeHaven) "Just send it to the Panthers office instead."

(Sean Payton) "Will do. Warm wishes to you and we are all thinking about you and hope you get better soon!"

(DeHaven) "Thanks, great talking to you."

(Payton) "You too! Bye."

(Payton thinks DeHaven has hung up, DeHaven hears the following as Payton turns to Rob Ryan and says) "$50,000 to the first defensive player to knock that old man out and off the sidelines when the Panthers come to New Orleans this year. They have a backup special teams coach anyway. Tell your players this."

(Drew Brees is in the room and screams) "I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS!"

“My problems are down the road, not right now,” he said. “There’s no telling how cancer progresses, and everyone’s immune system handles it differently. I plan on being here for a long time. I plan on something else killing me, way down the road. But whatever happens, I have had a great life.”

This positivity is not allowed anymore in the NFL. Roger Goodell will fine you for excessive celebration of your cancer diagnosis which has allowed you to appreciate life.

Spend a day around the Falcons, as The MMQB did Sunday, and you realize the tremendous early impact rookie coach Dan Quinn has had in his first six months on the job. Case in point: Setting the team’s mindset, daily.

It was no different early Sunday, when Quinn put up on the big screen in the team meeting room a video of UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey’s beatdown of Bethe Correia Saturday night in Brazil. It took all of 34 seconds. Now, Quinn has put up lots of sports highlights in front of the team. Boxing, and lots of basketball, and some baseball. But this one got his team’s attention.

And it only cost $59.99 to watch it! What a deal!

The tenor of the meeting room changed from the time the players first saw Rousey to the time they first saw her beat up her foe. “She is fine,” was one of the first reactions when Rousey showed up on the screen.

Lower your standards enough to where you eliminate a lot of other women who aren't really tough and don't participate in MMA and I'm sure she is.

“Man, is she tough,” one player called out.

“There was a genuine respect for her in the room,” Quinn said a few hours later. “I wanted to show them this fight because she is a great example of the fact that there is another level of competitor out there. We’re trying to find that extra level in all of our players. Athletes like her we hope will leave an impression.”

Rousey left an impression in her opponent's face. The Falcons offensive line and defense did not do that last year.

“That,” said quarterback Matt Ryan, “was a unique way to start a meeting. Holy crap. She kicked her ass! Rousey’s so dominant. Such an intimidating factor. You can see when you watch her; she wins before she enters the ring. I really like things like this. I think it’s a great way to tap into a diverse locker room. Guys love it.”

Matt Ryan is so funny. First, he talks about the players in the locker room playing cards like he's an old man or something and now he says "It's a great way to tap into a diverse locker room." Who says things like that?

So far we have learned that NFL players like their new head coach (has this ever happened before?) and NFL players like their coach who has been diagnosed with cancer. It's all love so far.

So it’s year four for Robert Griffin III, and not much has changed since last August. Except the desperation, of course.

The Redskins.

Coach Jay Gruden’s intention is to have Griffin rely far more on his arm and his reads of the defense than he's ever had to do as a pro. It’s something that Griffin will have to adjust to as the summer and fall go on,

While it's so easy to bash Robert Griffin, why would Jay Gruden not play to Griffin's strengths as a quarterback?

Gruden’s not stapling RGIII to the pocket, mind you. But he’s not designing the option-read for him either, as Griffin was allowed to run as a free-wheeling rookie three years ago.

But that is also how he succeeded as an NFL quarterback. So I don't see the reason for changing it up entirely and forcing Griffin to play from the pocket. It's like asking Peyton Manning to run the Seahawks offense. It's just not going to fit his skill set.

It sounds like the Redskins team isn't exactly in love with this idea either and (I'm guessing) think Griffin is being set up for failure.

“It would be difficult for anyone to change the way they play at this level,” said linebacker Keenan Robinson, who came to Washington with Griffin in the 2012 draft. “He has had to change the game he played for 14 years. But I like what I see right now.

Now from Griffin: 

“They are asking me to be basic and take the plays that are there. If that’s what Jay wants me to do, that’s what I am going to do. It doesn’t mean you take everything out of your game. When those opportunities come up to make plays out of the pocket I will do it and not think twice about it. But if they are asking me to do the ordinary, that’s what I am going to have to do.”

Being in this offense for the second year is really going to help. I know how to get us into the best position possible. I can’t worry about where I am going to be next year or where I am going to be 15 years from now. I just have to play.”

Unfortunately for Griffin, using his legs to put more pressure on the defense is how he just goes about playing. Yet, Gruden seems to want to take that away from him. It's almost like he's being set up for failure in some way...

What I wonder about Griffin is this: He has to know that if he doesn’t produce in year four, there is good chance he’ll be gone.

Right, which is why he has to be pretty salty that he's being asked to stay in the pocket and not (supposedly) getting to run some read-option plays.

“If I take all that baggage with me out there on the field, I am not going to be the best player I can be,” Griffin said.

Notice that Griffin doesn't deny all of the other stuff he's dealt with in Washington has been "baggage." What's annoying is the Redskins have a chance to be a very good team if they could (a) find a quarterback or (b) design their offense (for better or worse) around what Griffin does best.

Remember when Big Ben was Oft-Broken Ben? No more. Roethlisberger, who started 16 games once in the first nine seasons of his career, has started every regular season game the past two years, at age 31 and 32.

Steelers fans would like to thank Peter for jinxing it.

I maintain that it’s easy to forget about Roethlisberger—and many in our business and the fan business do just that—when the roll is called of great passers. Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Manning … it’s almost a cliché to not include Roethlisberger. You just can’t do that anymore.

This isn't to take away from Roethlisberger at all, but he's been blessed to have the Steelers dedicate themselves to getting him some good receivers. He has had a shitty offensive line, so that's a credit to Roethlisberger. Now that the Steelers have taken care of his offensive line and he isn't running for his life all day, he's shown he is easily one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Credit the line. Credit offensive coordinator Todd Haley for implementing a scheme that has Roethlisberger throwing earlier, and throwing more high-percentage routes. And credit the most dangerous group of young receivers in the game—a group that, in a rich-get-richer way, adds the speed of Sammie Coates from Auburn in the rookie class this year.

I am jealous of how the Steelers can find receivers in nearly every round of the NFL draft. They are very good at that.

But do not credit a newfangled lifestyle. Roethlisberger’s no born-again eater or sleeper or wheat-grass eater or yoga-practicer.

I said: “Mark Teixeira of the Yankees said he’s gone to a gluten-free diet and feels better than he ever has, and he’s hitting really well. You eating any differently at all?”

“Yeah, I heard about that,” Roethlisberger said. “My wife cooks, we have a chef that cooks, and I’ve had a blood test telling me which foods I digest well and don’t digest well. So I’ve paid attention to that. I’m in bed before 10 o’clock most nights anyway. But the lifestyle isn’t brand new to me the last couple of years.”

So other than the chef that cooks for him and the blood test that tells him which foods he digests and doesn't digest well, Roethlisberger doesn't really do much to change his eating habits in order to stay in good physical condition. You know, he just does the basics.

Whatever it is—fate, luck, Haley’s play-calling, the line, knowing when to get rid of the ball—Roethlisberger’s on the kind of steady run he’s never been on before. He’s not the kind of guy who over-thinks the game. He just plays.

Uh-oh, are we going to have a season of Peter King writing, "BEN ROETHLISBERGER PLAYS LIKE A PRECOCIOUS CHILD" stories?

The affirmation of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension by the NFL leaves these issues in the wake:

1. Both sides want a resolution by opening day. With the presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, ordering that Brady and commissioner Roger Goodell be available to appear at pre-trial conferences in New York on Aug. 12 and 19, it’s clear that he, and both sides, will push to resolve this by the Sept. 10 league opener.

Wait, so Roger Goodell hasn't named himself the judge for this case? I figured he would just go ahead and hear the federal case as well. I mean, because he probably thinks he can do that.

2. Good for the Patriots, publishing some emails to the league last winter, asking the league to clamp down on the leaks to ESPN (at least one patently false) and getting nothing in return.

The letter from NFL vice president David Gardi said that one of the Patriots’ footballs examined by the league at halftime of the game “was inflated to 10.1 psi, far below the requirement of 12-1/2 to 13-1⁄2 psi. In contrast, each of the Colts’ game balls that was inspected met the requirements set forth above.” Huge errors. The Ted Wells Report confirmed that no football measured as low as 10.1 of the Patriots’ balls. Gardi said the Colts’ balls measured within the range required. The Wells Reports said three of them were under the minimum of 12.5 psi. Never corrected. Why? Similarly, when ESPN reported that 10 New England balls were at least two pounds under the limit measured at halftime, the league never corrected that error.

The NFL laughs heartily at Peter's suggestion they should have to acknowledge a mistake or even (the NFL falls down on the floor laughing) admit they made the mistake (busts a gut laughing) and then correct that mistake in any way. The Patriots are working under the assumption the NFL can make a mistake and that's simply not true. If the Patriots would just believe, as the NFL does, that they can not make mistakes and just ignore what ESPN says or broadcasts, then their lives will be easier. The Patriots shouldn't worry their pretty little heads with any lies and the idea these lies should be corrected. Just pay the NFL the money they want and we can all move on.

What is most damaging about this is that these impressions were left as facts, particularly the ESPN claim, for a long period, allowing the public to be convinced the Patriots were guilty. Maybe they were, and are. But this evidence wasn’t factual.

But Peter, this evidence came from the NFL. That in and of itself makes it factual.

I’ve asked a few high-ranking team people in the past few days an open-ended question, with the proviso I wouldn’t use names. The clear sentiment: Teams think league officials are running scared after the Ray Rice verdict backfired on the NFL. 

It's hilarious to me that the NFL thinks being tough on deflated footballs will make up for the initial Ray Rice verdict. Deflated footballs and abused women. It's nearly all the same to the NFL. 

Two thought it was ridiculous how long the Wells report took to finish, one saying if the league is going to hire an outside firm to investigate a case, there has to be a deadline. “Why are we fighting this fight now?” one top team executive said. “We should be getting ready for a new season, but we’ve got our biggest star firing bombs at the league and the league firing back, a month before the season starts. It’s ridiculous. The headlines aren’t football. They’re about a scandal that’s eight months old.” [Not quite eight, but you get the picture.]

It feels like 8 months though. It feels like almost a year at this point. The NFL allowed an outside firm just have as much time as they needed to come to a conclusion that was as concrete as Jello. I'm okay with them needed time to investigate, but holy shit, there has to be an end date given. So now it's August and the same fucking topic that people were writing about in February is still at the forefront, except this time, the Patriots and the NFL are going to court. It's sports, people. Find some perspective on these crimes that Brady is accused of. Is it impossible to just enjoy the NFL games without court drama being in the background of every NFL story?

What happens if, say, the footballs in a northern city on a day when it’s 40 degrees outside lose 1.0 to 1.5 psi between the pre-game measure and the halftime measure? (Which, apparently, science would support.) That’s nearly what happened to the Patriots football that January day in Foxboro. If the NFL’s examination of footballs in 2015 shows that kind of deflation, naturally, on a chilly day, the whole case should be thrown out. But by then, Brady might have already served his four games.

Yeah, but the science behind the Wells Report was so solid that this could never happen. It's all a fiction the NFL could look bad.

The average of the other gauge was 11.11 psi, clearly lower than what the balls should have measured. Average all 22 readings, and you get 11.30 … two-one-hundredths lower than what the Ideal Gas Law would have allowed for balls that started the day at 12.5 psi. It is crazy to me, and just wrong, that the NFL issued a historic sanction when the inflation level of the football is so close to what science says it should be.

And yep, that's my basic point too. It hurts to agree with Peter, but the NFL came down hard on the Patriots for an inflation level that isn't too far off where it should be.

“We are going to open Pandora’s box. Last year, we just tickled it.”

—Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Dehner Jr.

I guess that means Andy Dalton’s going to be wildly imaginative this year. Or something.

It's fun to bash Andy Dalton, but he isn't the one that needs to be imaginative when it comes to play-calling and deciding how a certain play should be run. Dalton has to execute the play-call, so this comment is simply an acknowledgement from Hue Jackson that he wants be more imaginative. We'll see if Dalton can execute the play-call, but the snark about Dalton is a little misplaced.

The Seattle Seahawks will soon find out if it’s possible to stay great with the game’s ultimate salary star system. They now have 10 cornerstone players signed at least through the end of the 2017 season.

Player Position Ave. salary per year Last year of contract
Russell Wilson QB $17.82m 2019
Richard Sherman CB $14.0m 2018
Marshawn Lynch RB $10.8m 2017
Bobby Wagner LB $10.75m 2019
Earl Thomas FS $10.0m 2018
Jimmy Graham TE $9.0m 2017
Cliff Avril DE $7.13m 2018
Michael Bennett  DE $7.13m 2017
Kam Chancellor SS $7.0m 2017
K.J. Wright LB $6.75m 2018

That's $97.38 million per year invested in these players. Obviously some of this money will be renegotiated to a lower cap hit at some point, but this is the downside of keeping a young team together. It can get expensive and drafting good players becomes just as important as it always was. There's nothing wrong with a top-heavy roster as long as the Seahawks continue to draft well and are smart in free agency. One thing that sticks out to me is that there isn't a single wide receiver on this list. Though Jimmy Graham is pretty much a wide receiver.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Three of them:

First-week tally from the road: Six camps, four baseball games. Now, most were drive-by, 50-minute visits … like our two-inning stay at Camden Yards on Thursday night, or the three-inning stint on the drive from Latrobe to New York on Monday night to see the Eastern League Altoona Curve host the Richmond Flying Squirrels (other than the Hartford Yard Goats, is there a finer minor-league franchise name?).

Three comments:

1. Where is the fun in a two or three inning stay at a baseball game?

2. So Peter paid for tickets to a MLB game, paid for parking and then stayed for two innings?

3. Why? Why? Why?

Okay, those were all questions, not comments.

Team MMQB got into a Fairfield Inn here, 45 minutes south of Panther camp and 75 minutes north of Falcons camp, just in time for UFC 190, because Robert Klemko and Emily Kaplan are mesmerized by Ronda Rousey. They researched, and found that the Hooters across from the Fairfield Inn would be showing the mixed-martial-arts event, with Rousey fighting from Brazil. “We walked over,” said Klemko, “and Hooters had a capacity of 150 people, and there wasn’t an empty seat anywhere, and there were a dozen people waiting to be seated. We asked for a table, and they said it would be a two-hour wait. So, we came back to the hotel and found a pirated version online, realized the championship fight wouldn’t come on till at least midnight … and we realized it would probably be a 30-second fight anyway, and figured we would just watch it in the morning.” Prescient, that Klemko. Fight lasted 34 seconds.

A pirated version online...I have no issue with that, though I probably wouldn't broadcast that I'm stealing the fight from a pirated site. Also, if Peter King can spend $15 on a ticket (probably more) on a ticket to an MLB game, can't he shell out the $60 required for his friends/employees to watch the fight without having to fight for a spot at Hooters or steal video of the fight online?

All across the country (and world, I imagine), households were paying $59.99 to see Rousey, in a woman’s Ultimate Fighting bout. Times sure have changed when a woman is coaching a pro football team (even as an intern), and the best quarterback in football is staying up late at training camp to watch women joust. Wow.

What a country!

Peter is obsessed with Ronda Rousey in this MMQB. He mentions her five separate times in this MMQB. She's a great fighter, but it's clear Klemko's obsession with Rousey rubbed off on Peter.

This was 60 minutes after I Tweeted: “Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have agreed to a 4-year, $87.6-million extension, per source,” and 50 minutes after Wilson himself Tweeted he was “blessed” to be a Seahawk four more years.

It sounds like Robert Klemko wasn't the only one trying to steal something over the past few days. This is just normal attribution practice by ESPN. Nothing to see here. Talk to the Ombudsman that doesn't work there anymore and therefore hasn't posted anything recently.

I didn’t realize the time involved until Awful Announcing reported ESPN’s bizarre attribution and reporting practices Friday morning. But there’s no excuse for it.

Peter, this is ESPN. There doesn't need to be an excuse for it. They do what they want when they want...unless the NFL tells them not to do something, in which case ESPN does what they want when they want on behalf of the NFL.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think the smartest thing the Broncos can do—and, apparently, are doing—would be to take some of the offensive pressure off quarterback Peyton Manning, and shorten the game by playing more clockball on offense.

Random font change from Peter! Don't worry, it changes back in a minute...then changes again.

And I have no idea what "clockball" is, but it sounds like a dumb way to say "run the ball and work the clock." 

They should be running more. And Manning, who has averaged 613 passes a game in his three Denver seasons, wore down late last year. “The running game will be Peyton’s best friend,” Denver GM John Elway said the other day.

This may be the first and only time in his lifetime that John Fox will be accused of not running the ball enough. If it were up to Fox, he wouldn't even have a quarterback on the field. In fact, there was a game in 2006 (I believe) against the Falcons where he basically didn't even line up a quarterback and had DeAngelo Williams run the Wildcat for the entire game. This was a dream scenario for Fox. So his teams not running the ball enough is quite the accusation that Fox will take seriously and rectify this upcoming season when the Bears' quarterbacks throw a grand total of 100 passes on the season. 

2. I think Marvin Lewis sure is bold these days. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer“I want to hand [club owner Mike Brown] the Lombardi Trophy, then walk away.” Lewis’ career playoff record: 0-6. That’s a man with some confidence in himself.

If Lewis didn't have confidence in himself and his team then he wouldn't be a very good head coach would he? What's he supposed to say? "I don't think we can win a playoff game this year, so why even try?"

3. I think in a league of silly sanctions, I’d be most furious about this one if I were a player: If you toss a football in the stands to a fan, or toss it into the stands out of celebration, you get fined $5,787.

This is the dumbest fucking rule ever implemented by the NFL. Cam Newton hands a football to a kid after every rushing touchdown (and passing too, though it only happened 18 times last year, so it's hard to remember for sure). So if the Panthers or Newton score 20 touchdowns this year then he is going to be shelling out almost $180,000 this year when handing out a football to fans (I'm hoping for 30 touchdowns, that doesn't seem to much to ask). It's a really cool thing that fans enjoy, especially the kids who receive the football. Maybe Newton should hand out IOU's and then mail the fan a signed football.

Either way, this is a ridiculously stupid fucking rule. It's not like the NFL can't afford new footballs. Maybe players should deflate the football by 0.5 PSI and then hand it to the fans. That way the NFL doesn't want the football back because it's been tarnished forever.

7. I think it strikes me that six games is a fortunate break for Aaron Kromer. In other words, the Buffalo offensive line coach is lucky to have gotten a six-game unpaid ban by the Bills as a punishment for an altercation with three boys over beach chairs in Florida last month.

If I'm the Bills then I'm probably more concerned with the fact Kromer, as the Bears offensive coordinator, threw Jay Cutler under the bus anonymously and then later admitted to doing it. It's hard to gain trust when you have a history of bashing your players.

9. I think it was a fun exercise to imagine what would be different about the NFL if the 2012 draft's top two picks were flipped: Robert Griffin III to the Colts, and Andrew Luck to Washington. Klemko and I discussed that while on the bus, and you can listen here:

I think Andrew Luck would still be successful in the NFL and Mike Shanahan would probably still be the Redskins coach, while basking in the glory of having finally produced another franchise quarterback who can reinforce his reputation as a quarterback guru.

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

a. We have a 2015 The MMQB NFL Training Camp Tour anthem: “Shut Up and Dance With Me,” by Walk The Moon.

I would murder myself if I had to be on the bus during a time when this song is the anthem. I have a list of songs I put on CD (shut up) last September and this was one of those songs. It's August of the next year and the song was played out back in May. Though I guess it makes sense for Peter to be late to the party. It's like how my mom tells me she watches "Downton Abbey" as if this is a new, cutting edge television show.

c. Re the baseball trading deadline: Toronto gets Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. Amazing how major a makeover a team can make in such a short time.

Yes, it's shocking what players a team can acquire when they trade away many of their good prospects. Just look at what the Padres built this past offseason!

e. First baseman Lucas Duda’s last nine hits have been home runs for the Mets, the strangest baseball team we have seen in a while.

Not really. Not that I wouldn't expect Peter to think a team from New York is the strangest team "we" have seen in a while, but the Mets always had great pitching and they are finally hitting the baseball of late. It's not strange, it's an obvious, easy fix. They upgraded their offense and now they are winning games because they are scoring runs. 

f. Midway through last week, the Mets stunk. Infielder Wilmer Flores on Wednesday believed he had been traded, having been told as much by a fan while he waited in the on-deck circle to bat.

Right, but Flores wasn't crying because the Mets were selling off players due to thinking they were out of the running for the Wild Card (or "a" Wild Card) or to win the division. The Mets were trading Flores because they had upgraded their offense by trading for Carlos Gomez. So the Mets didn't just magically get better, they were actively trying to improve the offense by trading Flores for a better offensive player.

Two days later, the Mets trade for needed power hitter Yoenis Cespedis.

It's "Cespedes" you big baseball fan. Also, the Mets traded for Cespedes because the first try they had at upgrading the offense, trading Flores for Carlos Gomez, fell through. So the Mets were trying to upgrade for three days, they didn't just magically become a better team over a span of two days and then decide to trade for Cespedes.

And the Mets swept the Nationals at home to tie Washington for first place in the National League East. What a long strange trip this year has been for the Mets.

All they needed was to acquire some hitting, but sure, go ahead and do your own thing Peter. See if I care...clearly since you can't spell Cespedes name correctly you know exactly what you are talking about.

g. Our video man, John DePetro, was talking about his girlfriend’s dog the other day.

That's a great fucking story, Peter. Listen I have to go do something else...

Our conversation:

Me: “What’s his name?” DePetro: “Paddington.” Me: “What do you call him for short?” DePetro: “Paddington.” Me: “Got any funny names for him?” DePetro: “Paddington.’’

Without these little nuggets of comedic conversational exchanges I don't know how I could go on laughing through life. I should probably just be happy that Peter didn't eavesdrop on someone else's conversation and is relaying this eavesdropped conversation to his MMQB readers. For that, I should be more thankful. 

i.  Beernerdness: The gem of the first week of the camp tour, from a Saturday night trip to Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., home of the Single-A Greenville Drive: Son of a Peach (R.J. Rockers Brewing Company, Spartanburg, S.C.), a wheat ale lightly tinged with peach, is one of the easiest-drinking, flavorful and pleasant beers I’ve had in a while.

Peter should just stop drinking beer and start drinking fruit juice. It's probably cheaper for him in the long run. I have a feeling we are a few weeks away from Peter recommending Mike's Hard Lemonade or one of the various other beers in that beer family.

j. Shane Victorino, you’re everything that’s good about sports. Good luck in Anaheim. Thanks for lots of things, especially the Game 6 grand slam against Detroit that got the Red Sox into the 2013 World Series. (Boston traded him to the Angels last week.)

Thanks for stating "Good luck in Anaheim" to Victorino AND THEN explaining Victorino got traded to the Angels. It's smart to assume your readers aren't bright enough to figure out that Victorino is going to play baseball, his chosen profession, in Anaheim, as opposed to you wishing him luck at his new gig playing Donald Duck at Disneyland. Also, good job spelling his name correctly.

n. I am still ticked off at that Minnesota dentist, days later.

Explain, Peter! Your readers are too dumb to understand this reference.

The Adieu Haiku                 

Ronda Rousey rocks
Klemko's got a crush on her
As does the U.S.

I do not have a crush on Ronda Rousey. I feel like she is an excellent MMA fighter. If only Rousey could crush the use of the Adieu Haiku in MMQB.


Slag-King said...

They should be running more. And Manning, who has averaged 613 passes a game in his three Denver seasons, wore down late

You think? 613 passes A GAME! I'm beating a dead horse here, but Peter needs an editor.

The tenor of the meeting room changed from the time the players first saw Rousey to the time they first saw her beat up her foe. “She is fine,” was one of the first reactions when Rousey showed up on the screen.

I did a double take when I thought that Peter meant that the players want a woman to beat them up for a change.

I think Marvin Lewis sure is bold these days. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I want to hand (club owner Mike Brown) the Lombardi Trophy, then walk away.”

I read the article and I didn't come away feeling that Marvin Lewis meant this year, but just a general statement that is his goal. Don't all coaches do this? Does Peter think one coach in the NFL has this in their locker room: "We are failures. We are last!" A seriously blown up hyberbole by Peter.

As for the font changes, I do not see it. It looks uniform to me. I'm using Chrome.

Chris said...

It's very odd Hue Jackson would reference opening Pandora's Box in regards to Dalton since if I'm remembering mythology correctly the very act of opening Pandora's Box was actually a bad thing to do.

Has Matt Ryan lived in a hole for 10 years? I remember having an old flip phone in high school and being able to play blackjack on it and that was about 2006 so that was almost 10 years ago now. It's not that startling that guys can play cards on their phones.

Lastly Peter the Minnesota dentist's name is Walter Palmer. His name has been plastered all over the news for the last week. If he is so anguished about the killing as he says he is you would think he would be able to remember the guys name.

Slag-King said...

Last point: Do you think Jay Gruden is not trying very hard to help his qb succeed? He certainly did not seem to help Andy Dalton change much or help him get around his limitations.

Bengoodfella said...

Slag, I missed that "game" part. That does seem excessive. No wonder Manning's arm got worn down during the season. I wonder if Peter does have an editor. I have to think he does.

I thought Lewis meant WHEN they win a Super Bowl, not just this year. It was made out to be this year. I use Firefox and I just love how the font changes when it gets copied over. I guess in Chrome it looks good. Perhaps I should use Chrome...

Also, I do think Gruden isn't helping Griffin succeed. I don't know why, but the idea of changing him around doesn't seem like it's going to help the team win games. I think Gruden is a pretty good offensive mind, but he needs to play to Griffin's strengths more I think. Maybe he doesn't think Griffin has strengths.

Chris, it was a bad thing. I use that phrase a lot in the negative, like "If we do this, then bad things will eventually happen as a result."

I think Matt Ryan might be an old soul. Not a good week for NFC South QB's. Cam's story about DeHaven was pretty pointless. But yeah, games have been played on phones for a while now.

I wonder if Palmer has lost or gained business? I bet he gained business, but that's probably just me guessing.