The NFL’s Big Test

Quotes of the Week

I
I’m not naïve. I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the N.F.L.”

—Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, to John Branch of The New York Times, in announcing he is gay Sunday night.

II
“Even with Stan Kroenke buying that stadium land, I would be surprised if there is an NFL team in the Los Angeles area in the next five years. I think the Rams will get a deal done to stay in St. Louis.”

—Sam Farmer, football writer at the Los Angeles Times, and the journalist most plugged into the future of the NFL in Los Angeles. You’ll hear his analysis of the NFL-in-LA situation on this week’s The MMQB Podcast With Peter King when it’s posted on Monday.

III
“Doug! We whipped their a–. That s— wasn’t even close.”

—Russell Wilson, 90 minutes after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, to teammate Doug Baldwin in the Seattle locker room, as captured by Sports Illustrated’s Scott Price in his insightful game story in the magazine last week.

IV
“Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.’ Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to relieve stress and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”

—Free agent safety Ryan Clark, in comments to ESPN about teammates on the Steelers using marijuana.

V
“He had a rare ability to illuminate the varieties of human ugliness. No one ever did it so beautifully.”

—A.O. Scott of The New York Times, on actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead of a suspected heroin overdose on Feb. 2 at age 46.

“Greatest actor of his generation,” Charlie Rose said the other day when we spoke, and I absolutely agree.

VI
“All of his saves have come in relief appearances.”

—Ralph Kiner, the Hall of Famer slugger during one of the hundreds of Mets’ games he broadcast during his five decades in the booth with the team. Kiner died Thursday at 91. He was folksy, to say the least, and second in malaprops in baseball history to only Yogi Berra.

Stat of the Week

A Mass Mess

The MMQB’s Emily Kaplan tried to travel to the Super Bowl via mass transit with two fans. It didn't go well. FULL STORY

Actually, this stat is eight days old, but I fear too many of you missed it. My number of the week is 281.

That’s 281 minutes, or the time it took two fellows to make the eight-mile commute from Penn Station in Manhattan through the turnstiles at MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl last week, and then back to Penn Station at the end of the game.

Four hours, 41 minutes.

If the game is ever to return to New York/New Jersey, the league and the home site are going to have to do something about the insanity of the train situation that made the commute miserable for so many people. You cannot ask a region used to driving to a stadium that seats more than 80,000 people to not drive at all—or to charge people $150 for very limited parking passes that would have allowed them to drive.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Pete Carroll, players’ coach. That was one of the storylines, and rightfully so, of Super Bowl week. I saw one aspect of it, as the Pro Football Writers of America’s pool reporter for Seahawk practices on Wednesday and Friday before the game. The music. Much has been made of Carroll playing loud music from the start of practices to the end. But I noticed one thing—and you will too, when you see these playlists:

Wednesday Friday
“It Takes Two,” Ron Base & DJ EZ Rock “The Pretender,” Foo Fighters
“Fly Away,” Lenny Kravitz “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” Jay-Z
“September,” Earth, Wind and Fire “Fast Lane,” Bad Meets Evil
“Bad,” Michael Jackson “More Bounce to the Ounce,” Zapp
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” James Brown “Last of a Dying Breed,” Ludacris
(Something by Timbaland, I missed the name) “Danza Kudoro,” Don Omar
“She’s a Bad Mamma Jamma,” Carl Carlton “Big Pimpin’,” Jay-Z
“Billie Jean,” Michael Jackson “We Ready,” Archie Eversole
“Hypnotize,” Notorious B.I.G. “We Own It,” 2 Chainz
“Sail,” AWOLNation “Give It To Me,” Timbaland (feat. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake)
“Face to the Floor,” Chevelle “Atomic Dog,” George Clinton
(Four others I didn’t catch) “Hold Me Back,” Rick Ross
  “Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” Tupac
  “Lose My Mind,” Young Jeezy

See? Sort of Hip Hop Lite Wednesday, and more hard stuff Friday. That’s because the dynamic of the playlist changes at the end of the week. Seems that Carroll programs the tunes early, with a nod toward the players’ tastes by Friday.

“On Friday, I’ve got to give it to the fellas,” Carroll told me.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

The most annoying thing about air travel, February 2014 Edition, from a Delta flight last week: The guy in front of you who not only reclines his seat completely so it’s in your face, but is a bulbous guy who then falls asleep with his two meaty hands (meatier than “Man Hands” in Seinfeld) stretched behind his head over the seat and into your airspace.

So I bit them off and spat them out on the floor.

Tweets of the Week

I
“Our coaches and players knew all along about this and noone said anything. Just show the amount of respect we have for our family.”

—@Kentrell_Mizzou, defensive teammate Kentrell Brothers on former Missouri teammate Michael Sam Sunday night.

II
“Hats off to you Michael Sam, that takes some guts.”

—@J_Martin71, embattled Miami tackle Jonathan Martin.

III
“Today is National Grown Men attack high school kid on twitter for not signing w/their school! I hate seeing those stories.”

—@GeoffSchwartz, the veteran Kansas City offensive lineman, on the day of one of the worst media creations in sports history, National Signing Day for top high school football prospects.

IV
“That big dumb Texas Tech fan getting shoved is what happens when fans think they’re still on Twitter. Racial slur or not, he deserved it.”

—@ItsCrab, Tampa Bay tight end Tom Crabtree, after a big, dumb Texas Tech fan allegedly directed a racial slur toward Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart, prompting a shove from Smart.

V
“Creativity is intelligence having fun. –Albert Einstein.”

—@bigfresh, a web design firm in Bellingham, Wash.

VI
“With drops factored in, Aaron Rodgers was league’s most accurate QB this season. Accurate on 79.3% of passes.”

—@PFF, the Pro Football Focus Twitter account.

I think that’s great … and I’m sure it is a hugely impressive number. Does accurate mean “catchable?” And I need context. Anyone else close?

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1042 comments
MalcolmXavier
MalcolmXavier

"The NFL''s Big Test?"  The NFL has nothing to prove here.  Sam does.  The fact is that Sam is a homosexual.  The other fact is that Sam is a late draft pick, if any at all.  He had one good year in college and stunk in the Senior bowl.  But the NFL and teams can't win here;  They'll be called bigots and homophobes for not drafting him and celebrating him as if he was the greatest player in the draft.  


If people think a openly homosexual man can be in a heterosexual lockerroom, they are ignoring the obvious issues.  There are reasons why women don't like to share showers and bathrooms with men.


I'll be glad when the draft passes so we can stop reading about Sam and how the rest of the world is bigoted and intolerant for not being a fan.

SMM214
SMM214

Does it matter if he is gay? The decision for Sam to make the announcement of his sexual orientation will make his path to the NFL rough.  Unfortunately, I think that this will make his stock in the draft to plummet.  If Sam is in the final group of players in a teams draft room then the tie breaker will be about him being gay. I don't think the distractions that he would bring to the team would be worth it, even if he is in the 5th or 6th round.  I don't believe it will be his fault or anyone else's, except the media for threatening Sam's NFL career.  I do not think anyone cares that he is gay,  other than the media.  The media has made this the main topic in the NFL news.  If a coach puts him on the bench or cuts him from the team I think the coach will be made out to be a "Bigot" as was his father.  His father was vilified for being unsettled by what to him was shocking news.  So what, his dad did not know. It is not like he disowned him.  I read that his dad said he loved his son and wishes him success in the NFL regardless of his sexual orientation.  It seems that he is a good person that just wants to play football at the next level and I believe him to be brave for what he did.  There are gay actors and actress's out there, but I do not see anyone making it a big deal.  Why is this such a significant deal for a professional athlete to be.   Because Sam is gay doesn't mean that it will affect how he will play on the field. 

neptuno4163
neptuno4163

Good for Sam s   Bravissimo   I love it   one man from Barcelona


JonathanA.Micod
JonathanA.Micod

Well, unfortunately those people who are stuck in the fifties are OLD now, and will die, and be replaced by people who have beliefs more in line with people today.  Good for Sams, good for Missouri football, and good for progress.  Not a lot needs to be said, but I fear people will say it anyway...


RichardWeed
RichardWeed

I find myself skipping over most of King's stuff now. Pretty soon I won't read anything from him

CaptainSurreal
CaptainSurreal

If Michael Sam has a thick skin and the talent to ball in the NFL, he will likely be alright. If he doesn't have those things, it will likely turn into something else. I would like to see him succeed on his talent, not something else.

DrZin
DrZin

I don't think separate showers and changing areas is unreasonable.

Michael88
Michael88

Its funny to hear the hateful people here talk about how the "vast majority" of folks think the way they do...maybe 10 - 15 yrs ago, but times, they are changing indeed. And all of your vitriol toward homosexuals amounts to nothing more then pi**ing in the wind. And the sweetest irony of all will be when your son or daughter comes out of the closet and puts this issue in your face for the rest of your hateful life.

ezwriter69
ezwriter69

You, Peter King, need to find the BALLS to tell your sources: Put your name on it or STFU. Sick of gutless journalists and their sources with this anonymous BS. Put your name on it, or just STFU. Sure that'll get censored, so I'll paraphrase it... put a name on it, or just shut the bleep up.

RickDesper
RickDesper

It's "ludicrous" that Jimmy Graham should be paid as if he were playing a position he's not actually playing.  He should be paid as his team's leading receiver.  Most teams' leading receivers are WRs.  


Actually, the entire franchise tag system is ludicrous.  Each team gets to screw over exactly one player with a below-market contract.  Congrats!  

mgleegs
mgleegs

The 4th GM who "knew the story and that Sam was the player" is at best a liar and at worst a homophobe bigot. If as he says, they didn't "think he’s a very good player" then why would they spend any more time talking about him? If you don't want to draft him based on his football skillset, then what does it matter what his sexual orientation is? The truth is you wouldn't spend any more time than the absolute minimum speaking about him if he wasn't in your opinion "a very good player". And to say you discussed him coming out at draft meetings reeks out dishonesty and the GM's own personal agenda. 

What an unbelievable coward. At least have the guts to speak on the record about this. But if you're this much of a dishonest bigot, I guess we shouldn't be surprised you want to stay anonymous... 

DaveC
DaveC

And I am tired of having to hear about this endlessly, day and night, leading to nothing but the same old arguments.  A guy projected as a mid to late round selection puts his name loud and clear in the limelight.  Good luck to you, Mr. Sam, but I see this as a ploy, and not a simple matter of you wanting to let everyone know who you are.

BruceTrotman
BruceTrotman

@DrZin  They could make a few private shower stalls available for those who would feel more comfortable with privacy. The Israeli Defense Forces make that option available for their gay soldiers who, by the way, have served openly since the early 1990s. On the other hand, if gays and straights in the US Military shower together, well, if it's good enough for the US Military it should be good enough for an NFL locker room. 

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@DrZin But the perverted libs do. One crackpot here is already calling for men and women to share showers and locker rooms and walk around naked together. Next it'll be adults and children out naked together, no problem.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Michael88 Nope, unfortunately for your ilk, that isn't the case. It's simply a case of militant liberals forcing their views onto the rest of society. In California for example - gay marriage was voted down twice and overwhelmingly by the California voters - before a militant activist liberal judge overruled the will of the people of California. This in militant liberal language constitutes people *changing their minds.* 

As for the NFL - most of the players are absolutely against this, but will be forced into PRETENDING to not mind, or else face the same militant liberal media backlash that Chris Culliver faced for daring to express his disapproval. So, once again, it's silence the opposition and then claim victory.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@mgleegs Or he is a GM hoping by floating this fear based crap out there it will cause all the other teams to pass on Sam so he can snatch him up in a later round.  Teams try to undermine value of players they actually want.   That may not be the case here, but it is possible.  

konenp
konenp

@DaveC  SEC defensive player of the year and now he is a "late round selection?"  Right away your post becomes meaningless.  

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@DaveC If only you lived in a country where you were able to choose what media you were exposed to, and were able to choose how much you heard about something, then you would be relieved of this burden, wouldn't that be great? 

SweetLightCrude
SweetLightCrude

@DaveC  Sure. Because being gay is a big advantage in the NFL. What a sleaze. Trying to take advantage of the huge advantage gay people enjoy.


You? Are an idiot.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

@Dave

This point has been addressed over and over in the posted comments. Why is it so hard to accept Sam's explanation that his orientation was sure to come out, and indeed, had already started to come out, so he wanted to control the timing and method of his response. Wouldn't you be smart enough to do the same thing?

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn @DrZin I see you're still using name-calling as a tactic. No one has called for men and women to share showers and locker rooms. It was only used as a point about social constructs based in the belief that in days long ago people believed men could not control their sexual urges. Now many people (straight men, in particular) tend to think gay men cannot control their sexual urges. There is no evidence to suggest as much. But perhaps the point is too nuanced for the name-callers to consider. Because if we don't agree with you, it must be because we have "an agenda!"

o-scar
o-scar

@HughJardonn @Michael88 

No one is forcing a view on anyone. People can hold onto their beliefs, but no one has the right to prevent anyone from pursuing a career or use intimidation to coerce him into giving up. Trying to prevent people from being openly gay in the NFL (or anywhere) isn't merely holding a belief. It is actively attacking another human being. No one is being silenced. People are allowed to express their opinions, no matter how unpopular. You are doing so now.

And, the judge was only upholding The Constitution. It is what America and its freedoms are based on.


Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn @Michael88 Have you taken a poll of most NFL players? Without such, you would have no way of knowing what they care about. You are assuming you know, because you are assuming it's not possible that these "macho," "aggressive" men you revere could possibly be open-minded enough to realize that their co-workers' sexual orientation doesn't matter one bit in their ability to win a Super Bowl.

Rick56
Rick56

@BillRobinson  We got the message that he is gay, but why does the media have to go on and on about it??? I with Dave...I am getting tired of it myself. 

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn As it turns out, I have posted comments suggesting that people who are lowering the level of the debate - on either side of it - by calling names are off track. You seem determined to stick you your method of argument, and content to place the responsibility for civility on other people. It's not uncommon for people on both political sides of the aisle to assume they know the other's motives and tactics. Just as you assume there are people who want Same to succeed because he's gay, I could assert there are people who want Sam to fail because he's gay. In the end, only time will tell how this plays out. As one of those libs you seem to dislike so much, I can only say that I hope your vitriol works for you. You don't seem to be immune to the nasty self-righteous behavior you are accusing liberal of, so I guess we have that in common.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 Honor whatever you want. He's the first openly gay player in the NFL (if he lasts). He will get a pass for the same reason this president gets a pass. He fits the left wing script, the left wing media will be championing him 24/7, and nothing must get in the way of his success if humanly possible, as far as they are concerned. My end game is the same as you claim yours is. If you haven't seen a single person suggest they want this guy to succeed simply because he's gay, that is fantastic and far out. However, I have no doubt there are many out there who want exactly that. I've been around and have talked to far too many so-called progressives to think otherwise for 10 seconds. 

As for the rest, the self-righteous crap still ain't workin' for ya. I'll be the judge as to what I refer to and how often. I couldn't care less about having the respect of these nasty self-righteous libs here any more than I care what they call me. You wanna preach about name-calling, preach to them first, otherwise it is not respected. See how that works?

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn But lots of players get a pass. I won't even honor the idea that he would get a pass if he behaved inappropriately, on the field or off, because he has no known history of such behavior. Getting "a pass" for being gay doesn't hold a candle to getting "a pass" for any number of things active players get away with these days.


I ask you, what's the end game. What do you want to see happen here? I want to see a person excel, or not, because they deserve it. I haven't seen a single person suggest they want him to excel simply because he's gay. (Though I have seen a lot of people suggest things that make me think they haven't followed the careers of college football stars.)


As for the rest...If you really don't care that people called you a bigot, maybe you shouldn't keep referring to it. The "he insulted me first" argument is noted, but not respected.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 He'll get a pass in a lot of ways - exactly right, and that's my point. The way the media is frothing at the mouth over this story, and the liberal bent in which 90% of them operate under, there's no question in my mind that Sam will get every benefit of the doubt they can conjure up - including if hypothetically he were to try something in the locker room with someone. The liberal zealotry of the media is what I'm commenting on there.

As for me being called a bigot by these clowns. I couldn't care less. It's simply the hypocrisy - and I simply consider the source. FTR, the vast majority of the people I've insulted, insulted me first. 

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn I disagree with your assessment of how ANY media would cover ANY person grabbing ANYONE in the workplace. But it's such a pie in the sky notion scenario to even put forth. If you aren't suggesting that he might grab someone, then why even suggest it? Is there a common theme in NFL locker rooms of men grabbing other men's junk? Why does it only come up in reference to a gay guy? The media may give this guy a pass in a lot of ways, but suggesting that they would give him a pass for grabbing another teammate inappropriately suggests you think it's more likely to happen with this guy than it is with any other guy.


I have seen people call you a bigot. I don't know you, so I can't comment. I do think you've used language that is offensive, and I think you have jumped to conclusions about other people posting here, including myself. If you want to complain about being called a bigot, it's easier to do so if you're not also slinging insults.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 Nope - I never suggested he might grab anything, I simply put forth a scenario in regards to the media, meaning that even if Sam did go as far as doing that, and the guy he grabbed took offense, the lib media would blame the guy he grabbed and call him a "homophobe" and all the rest. Because for the lib media, it's all about a gay guy playing in the NFL openly. It's the liberal media's "urges" that are the problem. Maybe you haven't called me a bigot, but most of the rest of the libs here have called me and anyone else agreeing with me that and worse.

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn I haven't called you a bigot, but thanks for playing. You were the one who suggested he might look at his co-workers inappropriately or grab someone's genitals--a ridiculous suggestion. Not putting words in your mouth.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 Yeah, I'm using name-calling as a tactic. LOL Just like every one of you here dubbing someone a "bigot" and the rest of the typical gibberish because that someone doesn't agree with you. As for me, it has nothing to do with whether or not the guy can control his urges. Nothing. And you people need to quit putting words in other peoples' mouths.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@o-scar Well, this would be fine and dandy, except that the rest of the NFL players will certainly be silenced, and if any of them who don't approve of this openly speak their minds about it, they will get the same treatment Chris Culliver got. They will be attacked and attacked mercilessly by that militant liberal media I have mentioned a time or two.

JonathanA.Micod
JonathanA.Micod

@HughJardonn @Clink127 Well I guess the entire Missouri football team that rallied around Sam had an "agenda?" I guess they succeeded, and ended up with a #5 ranking with the best defensive player in the SEC. They have nothing but kind words to say about him, and made the M in Missouri into SAM. The words around here that are unkind, come from the thoughts of the ignorant.

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn Fair enough. I will admit that, given what I see as bravery in this situation, I would like to see Michael Sam succeed. Maybe that's because he's gay. I certainly knew nothing about him other than an ESPN alert when he was named defensive player of the year in the SEC (I'm a Pac-12 fan, and more of an NFL fan than any NCAA sport).


I don't think he's being given a fair shake on how he announced it. Everything I've read is that this was a story ready to break, and it would have made news either way. He had a lot of choices on how to address it, and I don't have a problem with him calling a press conference to address what was reportedly headed for news stands with or without him. I understand why it's easy to assign motive, but no one but Michael Sam and his close friends and family really know why he chose this path.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 Okay, I'll give you that. I don't recall you personally calling me names. That said, I know damn well that many liberals, including in the media, want this guy to play in the NFL simply because he's gay. They HOPE it upsets the apple cart. One moron here said as much. IMO, if Sam wasn't gay, they couldn't care less about him one way or the other. They don't care whether Michael Sam makes it in the NFL, they care whether "gay" Michael Sam makes it in the NFL. I myself have NO problem whatsoever with Sam being gay nor with him playing in the NFL. Zero problem. My issue is with how he announced it, and with how it will play with the league and in the locker room(s). I also wait to see what happens if he isn't that great a player in the NFL, and what happens if he isn't signed, or if he's signed and cut later.

Clink127
Clink127

@HughJardonn I see, so only one of us is allowed to put words in people's mouths. Now you know what's important to liberals and not? You have no way of knowing how this guy will react to vulgar comments in a locker room, though I'm guessing he's been around that culture for quite a while, given his success so far in football. But it seems you'd rather keep assuming you know what will happen and how "militant" (you should see my arsenal of liberalness) liberals will respond. I have no way of knowing if or how Michael Sam will fare in the NFL. Other people may have called you names, but you haven't spent one second trying to rise above the fray. I have neither called you names, nor attempted to personally insult you. I disagree with you, and I'm stating my opinion. I'm sorry you don't like it.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@Clink127 Once again putting words in peoples' mouths. Has nothing to do with my "revering" anybody. I've been around enough football players in my life and I've heard enough of them. Football ain't tennis and it ain't ice skating. These guys have a different mindset than most other athletes, especially in the locker rooms, and they will not like having to change their entire locker room atmosphere in fear of offending this guy. Like I said, Chris Culliver and what happened to him is more than enough of an example of why NFL players will simply keep quiet about their disdain for fear of the militant liberal media's wrath. I don't have to prove this to you. Sooner or later it'll hit the fan - just as soon as someone does offend Sam by simply talking and behaving as they have throughout their entire career. Not to mention what will hit the fan if he isn't signed to a team somewhere. I can see the headlines now about the NFL being all homophobes - regardless of whether or not he can play in the NFL. That isn't what's important to libs. What's important is that a gay guy is in the NFL openly. Period.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

@Rick

Well, I think most people are tired of the story and wish it wasn't newsworthy. But you can't blame the media when Sam is the first man to acknowledge he is gay and wants to pursue a professional football career. And you certainly can't blame Sam, who merely wants to preempt the news story that was certain to come out.

The potential good news is that Sam will be drafted and go on to have a successful football career, and each successive gay football player will be less newsworthy.

From what's published so far, the GMs and scouts who were quoted are out of tune with the players, most of whom have been supportive. Times are changing - more rapidly than I would have ever guessed. Look at the sea change in the area of marriage equality. A few years from now, most people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. For the younger people, they already wonder why the old farts are so laughably riled up.

As an old fart, even I laugh at the way some guys are so concerned that a gay guy will see their stuff in the locker room. It really is pretty funny in a sad kind of way.

CoreyHardin
CoreyHardin

@Rick56 @BillRobinson  because people click on the articles, that's why.  If you don't want to read about this...don't click the clearly named link to the story.  

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