The Highs, and Very Low Lows, of Week 9

Gary Kubiak fell to his knees at halftime of the Texans' Sunday night game against the Colts and was rushed to the hospital. Kubiak never lost consciousness and didn't suffer a heart attack, according to the team. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Gary Kubiak fell to his knees at halftime of the Texans’ Sunday night game against the Colts and was rushed to the hospital. Kubiak never lost consciousness and didn’t suffer a heart attack, according to the team. (David J. Phillip/AP)

The condition of Gary Kubiak.

As of early this morning, Kubiak was with his family at a hospital eight minutes from Reliant Stadium. The team has announced only that he is in stable condition, is undergoing a battery of tests, has good vital signs, and did not suffer a heart attack. I’m told he left the stadium with a powerful headache, but we’ll have to wait for the diagnosis later today.

Marc Vandermeer, the Texans’ radio voice, had just finished the first half of the game and hustled out to get a halftime beverage when someone told him one of the coaches was down on the field, and it appeared to be Kubiak. “It was startling,’’ Vandermeer said early this morning. “He’s in such great shape. I have seen him on vacation, floating down a long, lazy river in central Texas, and he’s cut. He’s svelte. He really takes care of himself. He’s the last guy of the 32 NFL coaches I’d ever expect to have health problems at this age.’’

Vandermeer said the high and low of the moments before and after Kubiak’s collapse were stunning. Showing the presence and instincts of a veteran, quarterback Case Keenum, making his first home start for the Texans, had just scrambled 22 yards to the Indianapolis 5-yard line with the clock running late in the half and no timeouts left. Keenum sprinted to the line, yelling, “SPIKE! SPIKE!’’ and using the well-understood hand motion noting that he was about to spike the ball on first down to stop the clock. With 39 seconds left and everyone anticipating that, Keenum took the ball and threw immediately toward the left side of the end zone for Andre Johnson. The touchdown stunned the Colts and sent a record Reliant Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Three minutes later, the same crowd was stunned into silence. Kubiak was walking toward the locker when he put his hands to his head, then braced himself, hands to knees, and slowly dropped to the ground. Security people immediately began frantically waving for medical help, and within minutes Kubiak was on a stretcher and put in an ambulance for the ride to the hospital.

“People were so euphoric,’’ a glum Vandermeer said of that first half. “We were watching a Texans quarterback do things we hadn’t seen before, and bring such excitement to the stadium. And people went from euphoria to a situation where a man’s life was in danger. It became difficult, quite frankly, to do a football game on the radio, and you could feel it in the stadium. A lot of people couldn’t tell at first it was Gary, but they all have Twitter or texts, and they soon discovered what happened. What should have been the happiest time of the season just … well, it became bizarro world.’’

(David J. Phillip/AP)
(David J. Phillip/AP)

As you’ll read on The MMQB today, our Robert Klemko was in the stadium Sunday night, and he has some strong images and stories from the Texans’ locker room after the game. But clearly, the team was affected by the loss of the only professional head coach many of them have ever known.

There will be cries for relief from the long hours coaches work, and we should listen to those cries in the wake of what befell Fox and Kubiak this weekend. But let’s also be cognizant of what it would take to, say, put a curfew on coaches’ hours and make them live more normal lives. Many coaches would simply install office facilities at home to get around what strictures the NFL puts in place. But if the debate comes, let’s have it. If the Fox and Kubiak events happened three months apart instead of one day apart, would we be wondering if we should do something about the workaholic nature of coaches?

***

The Dolphins are down two starting offensive linemen after Richie Incognito's (left) was suspended for alleged hazing of Jonathan Martin, causing Martin to walk out on the team. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
The Dolphins are down two starting offensive linemen after Richie Incognito’s (left) was suspended for alleged hazing of Jonathan Martin, causing Martin to walk out on the team. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

The Saga of the Statements.

When something like the Jonathan Martin story happens—a perfectly normal football player cracks under some pressure, walks out on his team, then has his representatives forward charges of what they claim document harassment—the first instinct is to blame someone. But I don’t think there’s a single person or entity at fault. Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the reason Martin didn’t stand up to either the accused Richie Incognito or the reported hazing by mates is that he feared retribution from them, and that Martin felt pressured to pay $15,000 for a trip to Vegas for the offensive linemen even though he chose not to go.

The matter is now in the investigative hands of the league and the team. It’s hard to imagine Martin coming back to play in Miami; the tension in the locker room will be palpable, because some Dolphins will see Martin as a rat for going outside the family to air his grievances. That seems grossly unfair, obviously, if the harassment he is alleging is true. But it’s a way of life in the NFL.

“When you play in the trenches,” Jets tackle Willie Colon said Sunday, “you always want to see a younger guy earn his rite of passage. And sometimes, that comes with either playing hard or doing what you’re told, even though you may not want to do it—some people may label it as hazing or whatever. But there is a fair line. And I was always taught, growing up in the league, you respect everybody, because you never know when you are going to need that one guy down the road.

“I played with two injuries today. We watched the film on [former Jets guard] Brandon Moore’s retirement speech, and he said, ‘All I ever wanted to do was earn the respect of my teammates and the guy in front of me.’ And that’s what you want to do as an offensive lineman, as an interior lineman, you just want to earn the respect of your peers and the guys you are going against, let them know that you’re battle-tested and you are ready. Sometimes that comes on and off the field. But there is a right and wrong way of going about it.’’

The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas asked Colon if “the right way” was a young player paying $15,000 for a linemen trip to Las Vegas. “When I was in Pittsburgh,’’ Colon said, “Mike Tomlin said something great: It’s unfair to make a sixth-round guy pay for a $15,000 trip to Vegas when you have your starting linemen making over two-point-something million [dollars]. [Martin was a second-round pick.] He doesn’t have that money. Guys don’t earn that money until later in their careers. To make a young guy pay, that is very unfair, and it’s selfish because that man has a family and people and other needs. So to take $15,000 out of any young guy’s pocket for a trip to get crazy is unfair, and it’s selfish. If you want to let a guy pay for dinner or a night on the town, that’s fine. It’s nothing that should hurt a man’s life or his way of living; that’s disrespectful.’’

As an interior lineman, you just want to earn the respect of your peers and the guys you are going against, let them know that you’re battle-tested and you are ready. Sometimes that comes on and off the field. But there is a right and wrong way of going about it.—Willie Colon

Incognito has toned down a wild on- and off-field life, and he was one of five players elected by teammates to the Dolphins’ board of player leaders; that board meets to discuss team issues with coach Joe Philbin. But Incognito’s humor can have a very sharp edge. Did it cross the line into hazing, or worse? That is up to the investigation to determine.

For now, Incognito will stay at home, suspended by the team Sunday; Martin is staying with his family in Los Angeles. Miami has to move on without two starting linemen, taken away just as the team began to show some life last week.

Sunday was a wild day for a team that had the weekend off, by the way. Look at the guts of three statements issued by the Dolphins within 15 hours:

Dolphins statement, 8:53 a.m. Sunday: “The Miami Dolphins, including coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan’s teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact … As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.”

Dolphins statement, 5:01 p.m. Sunday: “We received notification today from Jonathan’s representation about allegations of player misconduct. We are taking these allegations very seriously and plan to review the matter further … As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.’’

Dolphins statement, 11:37 p.m. Sunday: “The Miami Dolphins have suspended Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team. We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time.’’

The judge and jury met quickly, and decisively.

One last point: Philbin has to bear his share of blame here. He’s the head coach. The buck stops with him concerning what happens in the locker room. It’s fine for a coach to tell his leaders: You guys police the locker room. (I’m not saying that’s what Philbin said, but some coaches do tell their captains and other leaders to take care of the little things that flare up in the society of the locker room.) But whatever the understanding is with a coach and his players, the coach is ultimately responsible for player behavior getting out of hand. Philbin is a very good man, but he needs to take firmer control of his locker room. He needs to know when a Jonathan Martin is about to spin over the edge. In this case, he didn’t, and it’s costing his team dearly.

PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6NEXT VIEW AS A SINGLE PAGE
442 comments
JPW74
JPW74

Feel sorry for Cardinals fans?  They have two World Series championships in the last decade.  Shut.  Up.  

jimmybb25
jimmybb25

Peter love reading your column but had to chuckle at your defense of Ortiz. Given that you've excoriated Lance Armstrong in the past, it might be worth remembering, Lance never failed a drug test either.

If you're not "cheating" in today's sports world, you're probably not very good. And if you don't believe that, you're probably not looking too hard.

bayman
bayman

How can a Buffalo touchdown be described as 'decisive' when the team loses by 10 points?

Mikerw00
Mikerw00

Peter,

I greatly enjoy your weekly column as a source of insight with good humor, plus a good beer recommendation or two. Having said that you need to become a realist when it comes to PEDs. Every professional sport is rife with them, full stop. MLBs testing program is way to lenient. If every olympic athlete has to "pee in the bottle" anytime, anywhere, and certainly after a win why don't professional athletes in the US have to do the same?

While circumstantial what Ortiz did is a statistically extremely low event. He not only shattered performance records at an advanced age, but also broke his own trends. This is extremely unlikely without PEDs. And, unfortunately, one has to suspect he took them.

As others have pointed out the "I never tested positive" excuse means nothing whatsoever.

We either want our athletes to compete clean, which means a truly rigorous testing program, or we don't. To this point MLB doesn't what to take it seriously (nor for that matter does the NFL, NBA, PGA (which I am told by those with a basis to know has the highest usage rate), etc.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

Every week I'm slightly shocked at the number of people who seem to hate Peter King but keep reading his column, and keep commenting and throwing criticism at him.


If you, in the past, haven't liked what he said, and you don't like what he said this week.... why not just make a choice to NOT READ MMQB?!

porsche356
porsche356

You should be a NFL GM. You seem to know everything. 

Your team  probably would never lose a game

Hektor
Hektor

Once again Peter King is so far out to lunch he's at dinner. 

"Half N____r" ... "I will kill you." ...

Says Peter King: "But Incognito’s humor can have a very sharp edge."

Yeah. That's real humorous. The first choice of "humor" will get you killed in some places, and the second one can also get you killed in some places. 

"Sharp edged humor." Get a clue King.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Peter King has gone to the dark side of political correctness. Every time a coach gets hurt, King elevates it to the most important story of the day. Of course King is also rolling around in the Martin/bullying story. Peter King spends too much time positioning himself as some sort of liberal moral voice than he does analyzing football.

jj55
jj55

Love it! Peter King, Official Liberal Democrat of the NFL, editorializes against hard work. Let's create a Federal Agency to protect coaches from themselves.

Rexal Parshapswich
Rexal Parshapswich

Come on Peter. Really? Defending Ortiz with the "never failed test" argument. Marianne Jones never failed a test, Lance Armstrong never failed a test. And they weren't 38-year old power hitters.

Smoke = fire.

decredico
decredico

peter,  you have always been a horrible writer and now you are really making some impressive strides in being a horrible human being as well


guthrie2912
guthrie2912

I don't feel sorry for martin at all, sure it's wrong to be a racially insensitive bully like incognito but i'm sure that type of behavior is comman in nfl, just like it is everywhere else, i've been working as a cook 15 years with people of every race and gender and have heard the most racist things you could imagine mostly in jest, and people would laugh it off because you got to get paid and there adults and have a sense of humor, martin could have handled this in house but he broke  a sacred code and that is this even if you hate your brothers in arms/co=workers, you man up and work along side them because that what being an adult and a part of a team is about.

Martin saying he was scared what ingonito would do makes him look even weaker, i'm 140 pounds soaking wet but my whole life when someone tried to bully me i'd mouth off, if the hit me i'd hit back,etc..., that's what a man does, not go crying to mommy and daddy and goodell , it makes me sick, nobody is going to want this guy on there team after this, he's to weak minded,

As for incogonito, he's a decent guard and if he can chill out a bit i would like my colts to pick him up next year, but martin shouldn't be in the league where real men play I wouldn't want him as a colt even with the stanford connection.

George
George

Seahens exPOSED again!  At HOME, no less.

Tampa Bay just might be the second-worst team in the league - certainly in the bottom 5 - and they gave the hens all they could handle.

From what I can see, the first time Seattle goes on the road in January, it'll be one and DONE.

Afiba
Afiba

From my probability course:  If the Chiefs really had only a 50% chance of winning each game, that means that there is 1 chance out of 512 = 0.19% of them winning 9 in a row.  Looks like blind luck as an explanation doesn't go too far.  As for the easy schedule, maybe, but Denver has the exact same schedule except for 2 games.  And many of their opponents would be over 500 if they hadn't lost to both the Chiefs and the Broncos.  The Chiefs finishing at the bottom last year only influences two games on their schedule.

Afiba
Afiba

Calling all Chiefs bashers.  Here's a good article for you to read from Lyle Graversen:
http://arrowheadaddict.com/2013/11/04/chiefs-won-anyway/
A quote from the article:  «Nobody in KC is arguing that KC is playing perfect. What KC fans are trying to get people to understand is that finding a way to win even when everything doesn’t go perfectly is a more valuable trait to have than being able to fill up a stat sheet.»
And nobody can say the Chiefs haven't been finding ways to win!  But of course the East Coast media dandies love to talk stats, stats, stats, as that's how they can earn their living.  But don't forget  the most important stat of all:  the "W"'s.  It's the only one that really counts.

The Chiefs run will end someday, maybe soon.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  It's great to see a team having fun and really, truly playing together and giving it their all.  

ianlinross
ianlinross

If Incognito ran for public office, I think he'd punch a baby in the face.

jhymas25
jhymas25

The Chiefs have had an easy schedule, but credit must be given for taking care of business. Sometimes even winning the games you're supposed to win is difficult but they have done that so far. Also, this happens quite often. A last place teams take advantage of an easy schedule to make the playoffs. It is what the Colts did last year. The Chiefs are just being scrutinized more because they have still not lost a game. Anyways, I don't see them having the firepower to hang with the Broncos so I think they'll be lucky to split the games against them. On top of that they have the Chargers (2x) and Colts in the second half. We'll get to see how good they are in those five games. 

Seattle's offense will get better, I don't think that's a worry. I do think the defense is a worry. In the last two weeks they've given up 400+ yards rushing at 5.4 yards per attempt. That is troubling IMO. However, I think ranking them sixth is too low. 

unit5139
unit5139

it's the Redskins, not the Shanahans. And Sally Jenkins is a weenie. Thank you for reading. :)

BY
BY

I get that it is not the Chief's fault that they have this schedule (although it kind of is because they were so crappy last year with the NFL's weighted schedule) but being 9-0 does not make them the best team, not by a looooooooooong shot. On a neutral field the 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, Broncos, to name a few, all kick their a$$.

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Chiefs will lose their first playoff game. 

mahaloluinoa
mahaloluinoa

@JahliSuwaghaman I only read to see if I can guess which of PK's moronic nuggets will be deservedly mocked on KSK.  Enhances the experience.

Mike N
Mike N

@jj55

Still pissed that Sara Palin didn't win the Vice Presidency?

SpartanTarget
SpartanTarget

@Rexal Parshapswich I agree that "never failed a test" is no longer a valid "he never used" argument, but I think that Armstrong, toward the end when he was still winning, was the equivalent of a 53-year-old, one-armed power hitter taking the home run derby.

decredico
decredico

@guthrie2912 you know we can read that, right?  thanks for taking the time to show you are just as big a dope as peter king

Merv
Merv

@guthrie2912    You know that Martin went to Coach Philbin last Spring and talked it over with him.  Philbin evidently called in Incognito and told him what Martin said and let it go at that.  It got worse rather than better (see tweets in April) and Philbin never bothered to follow through.  A serious lapse I think

Merv
Merv

@George Yet Seattle still leads the NFC by two wins.  Funny how that works

Merv
Merv

@Afiba That would fit Seattle perfectly also.  How many Ws next to your name is how the score is kept.

George
George

@Afiba The Chiefs have earned their status as #1 and should remain so until they prove otherwise.

And besides - it's a no-brainer - the Denver game(s) will determine who's the boss.  Two weeks from now, it's "put up or shut up time"  and that's the way it ought to be.

Jon8
Jon8

@BY 

Until that happens, unbeaten means best! 

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

Read it or don't it makes no diff to me, it must have made an impression since you took time to write a snarky reply so I guess my job is done here.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@sterculius65 @guthrie2912 I never said I was a tough guy , just that martin was to weak to stand up for himself and is to weak mentally to play in the league , I don't hide from anyone and don't avoid physical confrontation , my address is 2032 W maryland st Apt H evansville indiana 47712, it's been a while but fighting gives you a rush that I like, and standing up for yourself is always good.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@Merv @guthrie2912 Maybe i'm old fashioned but I have a code, and by even going to the coach he broke it he should have went to ritchie and said it wasn't cool and if not then maybe fight him or go to coach , from what I heard martin was to scared to do anything from fear of ingognito and that is just weak.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@rslai76 @guthrie2912 True everyone is wired differently, It's not in my blood to avoid confrontation just like my dad and his dad and probably dating back to scotland my family are drinkers and fighters, I just can't understand someone who would give up potentially millions of dollars because he can't stand up for himself. Sure fighting is dumb but it's also kinda fun call me crazy.

George
George

@Merv @George On the road in January, they will be exPOSED and eliminated.

Take it to the bank.

Merv
Merv

@guthrie2912 @Merv   I think the kind of fight it would have taken would have gotten them both hurt and maybe dragged in another player or two.  That could have gotten them both fired or maybe just Martin.  Plus, bullies tend to be cowardly when faced up to so you could have expected anything once he turned his back.

Jon8
Jon8

@blynder @Jon8 @GregAtkin 

Are you his agent? If he intended to say, I hope the Chiefs lose their first Playoff game, he would have said so!



Newsletter