This Week in Nuggetry is many things. A trip around the NFL Sunday that was. A peak into the Allagash White and Frappuccino-addled brain of Peter King, long-time NFL ‘journalist’ and author of the NBC Sports column/steaming pile of shit ‘Football Morning in America’. Mostly though, it’s a tribute to Mike Tunison aka Christmas Ape, who penned a superb column mocking King each week on the now defunct blog Kissing Suzy Kolber.
This week the NFL returned to something close to normality. The Patriots carved the Dolphins up like sushi, the Bills came crashing down to earth and Peter King clutched his pearls so damn hard, I’m worried his won’t be able to give Rodger Goodell that sweet release he needs after a stressful Sunday of fucking up the great game of football.
Peter is insisting on saying we’ve reached the quarter pole of the season. Does he want injured players to be shot and melted down for glue? It’s a question worth asking.
You know what’s great about the NFL? Thievery.
As a Patriots fan, it would have been nice if national sports writers deployed this hot take during Spygate back in 2007, but Peter is nothing if not a day late and a dime overweight.
We then launch into Peter’s top stories of the season so far, and true to form, he can only whittle it down to a sleek 10.
Seattle seems like a powderkeg. Narrow wins over Dallas and the Cardinals can’t put deodorant on the Earl Thomas story. Thomas, one of the best players in franchise history and who reluctantly reported to the team during a bitter contract dispute, broke his leg in Arizona. On his way off the field, he showed his middle finger to the Seattle sideline. We’re all guessing because Thomas did not speak after the game. But it’s not a tough guess. Thomas held out for the hope of a new contract, or to be traded to a team that would give him a new contract. When Thomas was getting wheeled off with the busted leg, his face didn’t show pain. It was a ticked-off look, for getting hurt before he could get a new contract. The next time Thomas is on the field, it will be for another team, at age 30, coming off a broken leg. Not exactly a great negotiating position. Bizarre story for a team that used to sing Kumbaya but now looks like it’s disbanding.
Hard to imagine Kam Chancellor singing Kumbaya, but then again I don’t have the access to players or enough caffeine and sugar to induce hallucination.
Patrick Mahomes looks like a million bucks. The numbers are ridiculous entering tonight’s game against Denver: 3-0 record, 13 touchdowns, no interceptions, a 137.4 rating. “We’re not surprised at anything,” his godfather and former MLB reliever, LaTroy Hawkins, told me. Football people are buying in too.
If Peter were as skilled at, say, investigating decades-old sexual assault allegations as he is at investigating NFL players’ tenuous links to professional baseball, we’d all sleep better at night.
The Raiders, a proper 1-3, got karma-ed by trading Khalil Mack. Oakland needed every break in the world to beat the Browns in overtime Sunday to avoid going 0-4. The Grudenmen will be haunted by dealing Mack to Chicago … and the Bears will thank their lucky stars every game Mack dominates some poor quarterback.
Grudenmen sounds like an old-school religion like the Amish or Mennonites. They believe football should be played on dirt not grass, that a fortnight is a period of time not a game, and that PCs are better than Macks.
Onto this week’s action, starting with the Titans knocking off the Super Bowl champion Eagles, thanks to a decision by Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel to go for it on fourth down with not long left in the game.
So how did he reach this decision? A few things. A 50-yard field goal attempt for Ryan Succop wasn’t a gimme. Vrabel knew his players wanted to go for it. And strategic conscience, assistant to the head coach John “Stretch” Streicher, had given him good advice from his perch in the coaches’ booth upstairs. “If you’re going to go for it,” Streicher said through the headphones, “make sure you leave enough time so you can run enough plays to score.” Vrabel met Striecher when he was an Ohio State assistant, and Streicher got some football experience as director of football ops at James Madison and Texas State before Vrabel called him to come to Nashville last winter.
“Strategic conscience” is a wild turn of phrase. I think Peter just invented a coaching position for the millennial generation, a guy who weighs everyone’s feelings and chakras before deciding whether to crackback block a defender. Whoever Andy Reid’s “strategic conscience” is has as much chance of being listened to as a woman in front of the Senate judiciary committee.
After some largely bland (and blandly large) thoughts on the Colts-Texans and Bears-Bucs games, some quicker-hits.
Ingram’s baaaaack … already. The Saints’ charter from Newark, bringing the team back from the 33-18 win over the Giants, landed at the New Orleans airport at 12:01 a.m. When the players and coaches cleared the secure area maybe a half-hour later, they had a guest waiting: running back Mark Ingram. The NFL suspended Ingram for four games for testing positive for a PED. With Ingram eligible to return to the team today, he wasted no time in doing so. Ingram hugged coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis, and while most of the players and staff headed to their cars, the last two Saints in the airport were Ingram and his running mate in the backfield, Alvin Kamara. Cool scene. Kamara and Ingram will be job-sharing over the next three months (longer, if the Saints make the postseason) and they’re good friends.
There’s probably nothing better to do at midnight in New Orleans on a Sunday night anyway. Why wouldn’t you show up at the airport to greet a bunch of exhausted dudes who just went through the equivalent of several car crashes each and will all clearly be thrilled to see you?
Peter has some thoughts on the botched replay reversal in the Browns-Raiders game, but he knows who butters his bread, don’t worry.
The NFL has done a much better job this year at not micromanaging replay challenges, and not overturning calls made on the field unless the evidence is indisputable.
Kind of like saying the Catholic Church has done a much better job of not harbouring paedophiles lately. For one, they probably still are, and for two, you don’t get credit for not doing that.
Time for some awards.
Offensive Players of the Week
Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams. You know your receiving corps is in fine fettle when the number three guy, Kupp, is on pace to catch 86 balls for 1,392 yards, 16 touchdowns and a 14.5-yards-per-catch average. Kupp beat linebacker Anthony Barr for one touchdown catch Thursday night and two corners for the other one in a nine-catch, 162-yard, two-TD night against Minnesota. Kupp’s a possession receiver and a field-stretcher.
I should be Peter’s editor, as I can give that last sentence some clarity. It should read: he’s made a lot of big plays for a white guy.
No less than four special teams players of the week, three of whom were kickers.
Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore. Heinz Field is, historically, a bit of a Bermuda Triangle for kickers.
Incidentally, Big Ben’s locker is something of a Bermuda Triangle for old sandwiches and 20-year-old co-eds.
Factoids features so many cuts it would even make a conservative uncomfortable.
One month. Six transactions. Unemployment. The recent life of Corey Coleman.
Before being a first-round pick of the Browns in 2016, Coleman, 30 short months ago, told NFL Network he was the best receiver in the draft. “I can pretty much do everything,” he said. “I can return kicks, I can return punts. I can play in the slot. I can play outside.”
Well, he can. But only if someone will employ him.
The month of September for Coleman, picked 15th overall in 2016—32 spots ahead of Michael Thomas, 150 spots ahead of Tyreek Hill:
Sept. 1: Cut by the Buffalo Bills 26 days after they traded a seventh-round pick for him.
Sept. 7: Worked out for the Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz. Not signed.
Sept. 10: Worked out for the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass.
Sept. 11: Signed by the Patriots to a one-year contract.
Sept. 17: Cut by the Patriots after they acquired Josh Gordon from Cleveland.
Sept. 19: Signed by the Patriots to the Practice Squad.
Sept. 29: Cut by the Patriots from the Practice Squad.
September 2018: a month that will live in infamy, and anonymity, for Coleman.
Surprising that the guy who literally cried about being benched while on the Browns couldn’t make it at the top organisation in the NFL. Dude has feet for hands, which allows him to wear two pairs of Jordan’s at once, so it’s not all bad.
Transaction of the Week
From the NFL’s Transactions Wire, last Tuesday:
Signed TE Pharaoh Brown to the practice squad.
Released TE Pharoah McKever from the practice squad.
The 6-6 Pharaoh Brown, 24, had been waived by Oakland on Sept. 1.
The 6-6 Pharoah McKever, 24, had been waived by Pittsburgh on Sept. 1.
Peter is working feverishly as you read this to uncover these players’ connection to a former minor league catcher with an Egyptian great grandfather.
Quickly onto things I think I think before I think that bleach in the corner of my room looks tasty.
Jon Gruden will see that dropped 53-yard touchdown pass by Martavis Bryant in his nightmares for a long time.
Jon Gruden’s nightmares also feature Snapchat photos of his players with various animal features superimposed on them being played on his projector every time he tries to go teach Spider 2 Y Banana.
J.J. Watt, it’s like you never left. Two more sacks, one stripping Andrew Luck.
A stripping Andrew Luck. Shudders.
When Josh Allen looks back one day on the dumb throws of his career, the first throw on the reel will be the pick he threw across his body, falling out of bounds, desperado-style, that was picked by Jaire Alexander at the goal line on a series the Bills desperately needed points.
When Peter looks back on the dumb columns of his career, this stinker won’t even make the top 15.
I think Sunday was the first time I thought Todd Bowles has an expiration date on him. Not his fault that the offense looks like a green rookie is leading it. But not many teams in New York give a coach a fifth year after four playoff-less seasons, which is where the Jets are heading.
And here I thought Todd Bowles was kind of like tinned goods, you never actually want them but can’t quite bring yourself to throw them away, as they’ll never be so bad you can’t eat a bit.
But what bothered me more than anything was this realization: The people who sat in majority control of this hearing, the 11 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, are, in order: white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male, white male. Their ages: 85, 84, 67, 66, 66, 63, 58, 55, 47, 47, 46. Think about that. Eleven white males, average age 62.2, sitting in judgment of a 53-year-old white male from the upper crust of society. There is a dispute, a she-said, he-said dispute. She is eminently believable. He is adamant about his innocence. Certainly it’s going to be impossible to know with certainty what happened. But why is it in the United States of America in 2018—with a population of 327 million (median age 37.8 years old), of which 165 million are women—that the ultimate jury in this case is so non-representative of what this country really is right now? We are 50.8 percent women, and there are no women on the Republican side of the Judiciary Committee. We are 39 percent non-white, and there are no non-white Republicans on the committee. Incredible to me that in this day and time, the political process is stuck in 1969.
It takes someone truly locked in to the serious and very important business of covering pro football to only realise in 2018 that America is run by old, white men. Like Peter King.
Thank you for the outrage, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher. And thank you, Jeff Flake, for having the guts to call a timeout in these proceedings.
Yeah good job Jeff, you’re a little bit less shitty than your colleagues! Gold star!
Disturbing Media Story of the Week: by Robert Silverman of The Daily Beast, on the raunchy, over-the-top culture at Barstool Sports, particularly the instances in which female reporters who dare write about the sexist stuff are harassed.
Some of the skin-crawling stuff, led by Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, done to reporters like Laura Wagner of Deadspin, is a disgrace. It’s Howard Stern gone too far. As Silverman reported:
“Portnoy filmed a Barstool blogger in the shower without his consent, then called his employee “crazy” after he vigorously and repeatedly objected; he also told another 20-year-old employee her looks would deteriorate in five years, such that she wouldn’t be worth putting in front of the camera (the employee fled the radio segment in tears); Portnoy wondered on-air if Harvey Weinstein should be able to offer roles in movies in exchange for consensual sex, and he wrote blog posts mocking the appearance of Deadspin’s editor in chief and the editorial director of Gizmodo Media Group, both of whom are women.”
Late in my tenure at Sports Illustrated, we were in discussions to do a Sunday NFL segment with Barstool personality PFT Commenter. It didn’t work out and—though I like the clever weirdo PFT Commenter—I’m glad it didn’t, after reading all of this misogynistic stuff in Silverman’s story.
Not that it will generate a pebble-in-the-ocean effect, but I won’t be appearing on any more of the programming in the Barstool empire.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Peter can’t form his own opinions, after having read his articles filled with regurgitated trash the NFL office has fed him for so many years, but I guess I’m a sucker. Nothing in the Silverman story was especially new or a shocking revelation, and Peter has appeared in both video and audio Barstool content as recently as this summer. So why did it take till now for Peter to bravely stand up (a few thousand words into his weekly column)? Perhaps he hadn’t cared to learn anything about a company he was working with. Maybe he thought being shown a picture of Peter North’s cock during an interview was the sort of thing a normal, uncontroversial company would do (I guess SI has the swimsuit issue). Or maybe this is just a box-checking exercise seeing as large parts of the sports media are speaking out about Barstool, covering his bases and staying on the right side of history? Either way, he should be thanked for his brave service, and not slammed for grandstanding.
Chaotic day, but …
Kudos to A Ballplayer.
Well played, Joe Mauer.
Noble Peter King
He stands with abused women
Remember Ray Rice?