Locker-Room Culture Change Starts Now

Geno Smith and Michael Vick will battle for the starting quarterback job when the Jets open training camp in July. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Geno Smith and Michael Vick will battle for the starting quarterback job when the Jets open training camp in July. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think the most meaningless, dumb story of this offseason is the constant, unending, logic-defying debate over who is the Jets’ starting quarterback, and that anything done before the battle is joined once training camp is a tangible factor in who will win the job—Geno Smith or Michael Vick. To recap all that matters: Smith is the incumbent. Smith gets the first snap in training camp. Vick was brought in to compete with Smith, whose minus-9 TD-to-pick differential and 66.5 rating was the worst for any starter in the league last year. Smith and Vick will compete for the job. If Smith is better or it’s a tie or it is a close competition in camp, Smith starts. If Vick is markedly better or Smith flops in camp, Vick starts. Period. End of invented story.

2. I think no matter what owner Woody Johnson, GM John Idzik, coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Smith, Vick or John Carollo—he’s the team dentist; surely he is the only one related to the franchise who has not yet been quoted on the subject—says, very little matters until we see Smith and Vick competing in practice and preseason games this summer. OTA practices matter a small amount; but no matter what impression is left this month, it will be overtaken by the reality of padded practices in full-squad camp and in preseason game action in August.

3. I think there’s an incredible story out there, waiting to be written about Josh Freeman. It could be called: “How to ruin your football career in just 18 months.” In the span of the past year and a half, Freeman:

  • Threw for 4,065 yards at age 24 in 2012, appearing to be one of the best young quarterbacks in football for a young Tampa Bay team.
  • Had his work ethic questioned in Tampa, where he was mostly scarce on game-planning Tuesdays, a day very few if any starting NFL quarterbacks take off.
  • Was benched by coach Greg Schiano in Tampa.
  • Was cut by Tampa.
  • Was signed by Minnesota last October.
  • Completed 43 percent of his passes, a laughable figure, in seven games in 2013.
  • Lost his only start as a Viking, to the previously winless Giants.
  • Got cut loose by the Vikings after the season.
  • Got signed April 21 by the Giants, who planned to give him a chance to win the number two job behind Eli Manning.
  • Got cut by the Giants on Friday.

4. I think it’s easy to say Sean Lee is injury-prone and leave his latest bit of terrible news—he suffered a torn ACL last week when he was jarred by rookie offensive lineman Zack Martin at a non-padded Dallas workout—at that. But with DeMarcus Ware and Lee gone for 2014 (Ware was cut in a cap move), and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher not re-signed, I cannot see any way new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can make a strong defense out of what he has left in Dallas. Talk about pressure on Tony Romo. He certainly was looking forward to not having to outscore every team he played this fall. Now, the Cowboys’ only real chance for the playoffs seems to rest on just how high-scoring the offense can be. The defense will be one of the worst in the league.

5. I think Arizona GM Steve Keim (see Quotes of the Week) is justifiably fuming over the year-long suspension handed to Daryl Washington, the best player on his front seven. Look at the team with Washington and without him last year. With: 8-4. Without: 2-2. In his first game back after a four-game drug suspension to kick off the season, Washington sacked Cam Newton twice and intercepted him once, and the Cards blasted the Panthers. With both Washington and the departed Karlos Dansby (Cleveland, free-agency), the Cards have lost all their linebacker playmakers, and there’s no time or market to find spares. In March, Keim essentially handed Washington a $10 million option bonus to trigger his contract for 2014. Now Keim has to feel altogether double-crossed, and it’s certain the team won’t allow Washington to keep that money without a fight. Arizona also could move on from Washington, figuring a player the coaches cannot trust (suspended for 20 of 32 games over a two-year span) is worthless to them.

6. I think Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III deserves a hand for helping a Centreville (Va.) High girl ask a fellow student with severe cerebral palsy to the prom. This is a terrific story from WJLA-TV in Washington.

7. I think when Stephen Ross says an NFL team will be in Los Angeles within five years … well, I’m not saying he’s flat wrong, but I will ask this question: Now that Steve Ballmer has handed Donald Sterling (apparently) $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers, how many other sports-freaky people have $3 billion to $4 billion to spend to do what it takes to put a pro football team in Los Angeles? Speaking of Los Angeles, here’s a tip: Read our NFL 95 story on The Day Football Died in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Cool story.

8. I think if Will Hill can blame second-hand smoke for his positive drug test—the league suspended him six games for the positive test last week—I can blame second-hand pizza for my weight. And if Tom Coughlin takes him back in October, I will be surprised.

9. I think it is impossible to read this well-reported story on soccer match-fixing by Jere Longman and Declan Hill of The New York Times and not worry about the other football—fútbol—beginning in 10 days in Brazil.

TALK BACK

Have a question or comment for Peter? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday’s mailbag.

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

a. Reader/Tweeter Scott Marler, @hunkish, asks: “I would enjoy a mmqb of you describing your approach to twitter, ie who gets retweeted or blocked.”

I’m fairly inconsistent, Scott. Most often, though, I have one rule: If you curse at me, you get blocked. Sometimes I can look at Twitter and laugh at the reactions, foul or fouler. Other days, if someone comes at me with total disrespect and is an idiot, that person gets blocked. I can’t define that; it’s more of a feeling. When Sports Illustrated asked me five years ago to interact with people on Twitter, I was told to go on for five minutes or so every day or two and answer questions. That’s how I started, re-tweeting the best questions and answering them. I still mostly do that, but I also throw some critical comments up, and occasionally a really negative one. I do not do that to elicit sympathy, but rather for two reasons: to illustrate the volume of those I get, and, sometimes, to embarrass those who send the vile or foolish comments. Hope I answered your question.

b. Holy cow, Edwin Encarnacion. You’re the most dangerous hitter in baseball right now. Encarnacion hit two homers the other night—16 for the month of May—that traveled the length of three homers in any ballpark in America. Wow.

c. George Springer: You don’t get cheated on your swing, do you?

d. I don’t know exactly how this is possible, but when I looked at the baseball standings Saturday night, Houston had a better record than Tampa Bay, by half a game.

e. Johnny Manziel throwing out the first pitching at Red Sox-Cleveland game Wednesday. Will Ortiz do the finger-rub cash sign?

f. My sympathy to fellow Hall of Fame voter Nancy Gay on the loss of her lovely dog Scooter on Saturday. What a great life you had with Scooter, Nancy.

g. RIP, Maya Angelou, who said in 2000: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” What a tremendous person to follow and read about and learn from.

h. Coffeenerdness: So I’m weak, and I just had a five-latte week. Just don’t tell the nutritionist.

i. Beernerdness: Thanks to The MMQB’s Robert Klemko, I got to try the new Maryland beer, Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale (now that’s a handful). Thought I’d taste some of the Old Bay seasoning, but there was none of that, just a crisp and new ale with a near-IPA taste to me. I liked it.

j. Keep fighting, Jim Kelly.

The Adieu Haiku

Freeman, cut again.
How were so many so wrong?
Two words: work ethic.

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443 comments
Mat X
Mat X

What, no excerpt from  Barack 0bama's epic commencement speech at West Point?  Where is the love?

johng721
johng721

If Smith/Vick is over, why did you have to write 2 points on it.  Like your column but you're adding to the nonsense

BruceWayneBasa
BruceWayneBasa

"That should be the significance of Glazer’s run in the NFL—he was colorblind at a time when many teams, and owners, in the league were not" - Please don't use the phrase "colorblind", that phrase is an oxymoron and false and minority folks like myself call BS on that......talk to your friends who are minority and get educated on why that term is insulting....

MickPatrick
MickPatrick

This is beyond parody: The NFL's sensitivity sessions are being held in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Be nice, boys.

metalhead65
metalhead65

I know it is all about the money but wouldn't you think goodell and the owners would want to listen the fans before they make changes to the game? nobody wants to see the playoffs expanded just so the cowboys can make them or a team with a good record could not win when they should have and did not make them. nobody wants the league to turn into hockey and the nba where everyone but the worst of the worst make it. and make no mistake when they do expand and the league makes more money because of it they will do it again. fans do not care that there is not a team in la la land and could care even less about one over seas. football is a American sport and should stay they way. the games sells out because it is a curiosity for them and another excuse to get drunk for a day but they do not know what they are watching or care about it. as for the culture change that is just what the game needs to slow it down are a bunch of stupid penalties for name calling. enough of the pc nonsense and let them play football! they are grown men and if someone is bullying them then stand up for yourself! it used to be if you stood for yourself even if you got your butt kicked you stopped being picked on.

ianlinross
ianlinross

Teams in Europe? Gimme a break. Can Goodell just maintain what's there? Does he have shareholders to answer to? Leave it alone.

wlewisiii
wlewisiii

Re: the greying of the league.


Green Bay. All teams should be owned that way. 

skanee00
skanee00

American football is an uniquely American experience. Keep the NFL in America. Let the foreign countries start their own leagues if they want teams.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

he couldn't have included people erick legrande.  also most nfl fans if you ask them, why do you care about growing the game in london, as i bet you ask these owners that have the london game there fuming because they lose a home date, and this year you're going to ask lions fans get up at 6 am to watch your team

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

I predict the Raider defense will be a top 12 defense this year go Raiders.

EmmettJohnson
EmmettJohnson

So what your telling us is that 2 of the best coaches in the game, Belichick and Payton, have no respect for you, yet the problem lies with them and not you. Peter, i think you needed a longer look in that mirror.

John4
John4

The number on the Giants player's helmet does not match his jersey.  Why is that?

gary7
gary7

This how I like my Peter King, great 25....not the GM King or the Anonymous Source King

TomTofTampa
TomTofTampa

Peter,  Re your list of Classiest NFL people?  I know you say you missed some.....but no Tony Dungy???? Here in Tampa there's nobody in the NFL more deserving of the title "CLASSY".  Ask Derrick Brooks or Warren Dunn, two guys (deservedly) on your list, if they'd give up their place to have Tony on your list. No doubt in my mind on that question.


riverotter1968
riverotter1968

Love how Arthur Blank totally dodged the question of pricing fans out.

connorjohn508
connorjohn508

want to watch football players play football, and I could care less if they drink beer, smoke pot, or eat pancakes on their off-time. If they are a habitual user and risk taker the law will catch up to them and punish them accordingly (and the NFL can follow suit). It's tough to lose some of the most exciting players in football because of an issue that has more to do with an outdated moral system than harm to the game (or, arguable, to anyone). People justify the punishment by saying that "you have to be an idiot to fail a drug test in the NFL", shifting the culpable act from the recreational activity to the act of being simple minded. Since when has the NFL punished dumb players? I could really care less about the intelligence of Josh Gordon or Daryl Washington so long as they are not injuring innocent people... I mean, Ray Rice SLUGGED A GIRL IN THE FACE AND KNOCKED HER OUT but instead of a per se suspension (i.e., second time positive test), we wait for it to play out... as if some magical reason to justify punching a woman's brains in will arise in Rice's defense. I am not a Browns fan, nor am I a Cardinals fan, but I am a fan of the game and 2014 is now a year that those teams can never get back.... all because of a harmless recreational activity. It just doesn't seem right, and it doesn't help provide the product we as fans want to see. Peter King often makes connections between the NFL and broader society to show the leagues role beyond the hash marks.... Here is another opportunity for the league to affect social progress, because here, like in broader society, it is the drug policy and not the drugs that are doing the most damage.


P.S., an example of how other industries are struggling/adapting to the changing moral system, the FBI just went to Congress about the difficulty of hiring the best and brightest because many of those individuals indulge in the recreational use of marijuana. (http://fortune.com/2014/05/28/does-the-fbis-marijuana-policy-breed-dishonest-applicants/)

DickKeefe
DickKeefe

Peter - you forgot to include commencement speech remarks from Condoleezza Rice.  Oh wait...


Dan Hodous
Dan Hodous

6 pages - 25 years.. congrats but without one mention of anything for the Chicago Bears my proof of BIAS against them has now been proven beyond a shadow of any doubt.

vspoke
vspoke

Nice pic of Pete pressed up against a bent-over ball player.

Dani
Dani

'dumb story of this offseason' ! Yep ! For sure. Smith will be the starting QB. Why ? Vick does not getting  younger. And on the first injury ( it's gonna happen ) there will be no doubt on who will be the starting QB.

guykingii1
guykingii1

I have a problem with the Saints'   "bounty scandal" not being regrettable... when even PK recognized that many teams ran their own versions of the same effort.  Leaving out context details makes it easier to pick highlights and lowlights.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

I still don't get how Peter calls the Saints the best story of the last 25 years.



Pat Tillman's selfless decision to serve his country and turn down a million dollar plus contract to join the military was my favorite.  He paid the ultimate sacrifice for it.  Although he was killed by friendly fire, it does not diminish the role that he played or the inspiration he is to so many Americans.  In a time in our culture when the sports world stories are dominated by greed and bad behavior, this one made many of us proud.


The Saints story is murky at best.


JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@metalhead65


I don't think racial slurs have a place anywhere and whether you like it or not NFL players are looked up to by kids.  Parenting can only go so far, but I don't want to be at a game when someone on the field is slinging that cr^p out of their mouth around the kids.  It isn't all about the players.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@metalhead65


I disagree.  We have all seen too many times when a cr^ppy team wins their division with an 8-8 record only to have a 10-6 or 11-5 team not make the playoffs because they were in a tougher division.  Look at what happened to Arizona last season.  They went 10-6 in a division with Seattle and San Francisco and don't make the playoffs.  Green Bay gets in at 8-8-1 because they win the North.  Both teams deserve a shot in the playoffs.  I don't have a problem with a slightly expanded playoff to eliminate these kind of problems.  


I think most football fans don't care about this particular expansion as much as they care about having an expanded playoff format in college football.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@ianlinross


I don't care for the teams in Europe deal because we already hear too much about jet lag from coast to coast.  

olmanwinter
olmanwinter

@EmmettJohnson Yeah, because Belichek and Payton (Spygate and Bountygate, respectively) are the kind of stand up, morally sound fellas you hope for approval from.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

@TomTofTampa Tony Dungy is to religious for a liberal moon bat like Peter King but I agree very classy guy should have been mentioned

John4
John4

@Dan Hodous Yes, BIAS.  After all, the Bears were great for ONE SEASON.  

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@guykingii1


So you are saying because other teams did it then it was ok?  That's stupid!

olmanwinter
olmanwinter

@JimSmith4 Tillman's story is not really a football story though is it? The politics surrounding it are messy. 

The Saints, and their impact on the city of New Orleans post-Katrina is an amazing story. 

guykingii1
guykingii1

@JimSmith4 The murky part is how everybody forget other teams had their version of a bounty on opposing teams.  Highlights are easy to pick out when journalists leave out any semblance of detail in the context.  But "best" and "worst" are absolutes which are impossible to prove.

Scramble
Scramble

@JimSmith4 If someone had attacked us and he was going to defend our country, then it is a great story.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@olmanwinter


The Saints and their story comes with baggage.  Bountygate swept under the rug to try to dog and pony a feel good story.  


The circumstances surrounding Tillman's death were cloudy until the investigation was finished and I believe that it was important to display those facts of what happened that day.  


Friendly fire does occur on the battlefield, but it in no way detracts from the service and ultimate sacrifice made by that individual.  The public needs to understand this about war.  I am not going to argue about what war is or about what that war was or what it was about.  I am going to support those serving us in the military because ultimately they do not make the political decisions.  The serve when called and I am grateful for that.


Regardless of how he died what mattered about this story was the choice he made to serve his country in a time of perceived need and that he walked away from a profession that by all accounts he loved dearly because he felt it was his duty.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@olmanwinter


Completely disagree with that point.  The politics are not messy.  He chose to serve his country regardless of any political leanings.  


He was a highly successful pro football player that passed up a contract worth millions to serve his country.  It is absolutely a football story.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@guykingii1


So you are saying because other teams did it then it was ok?  That's stupid!

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@Scramble


I am supportive of our military personnel without the right/left leanings.  They serve when called.  Period.

Mike26
Mike26

@MickPatrick @olmanwinter @EmmettJohnson They might be really bright guys but it's hard to respect them with the garbage they've pulled over the years - or garbage they've ALLOWED over the years.  Both deserve disdain for their arrogance in that regard.  Payton has won ONE Super Bowl in 7 seasons and hasn't sniffed it since.  Belichick has dominated a mostly-weaker division for a decade but hasn't won a title since Spygate FOR WHATEVER reason.  They are both good coaches/strategists but as management types aren't overwhelmingly effective.

arthur3
arthur3

@JimSmith4 @guykingii1  It's not that. It's that the whole thing turned out to be crap, seized upon to prove the NFL's concern for it's players (I mean dollars).. 50,000 pages of so-called documents; film of the "give me my money" clip; etc. etc. Mary Jo White impaired her integrity by declaring that they had it locked. What did they come with? About 5 handwritten pages from a coach that was fired and an audiotape of Williams the loudmouth before a game in which NO had no penalties and the only player knocked out was Pierre Thomas on a helmet to helmet hit by Whitner. It was so worthless that Goodell's patron Tagliabue threw out all the charges and held specifically that no money ever changed hands nor was there any evidence of a deliberate attempt by any player to hurt anyone. But he couldn't humiliate Goodell completely and the season suspensions were already up for everyone except Payton, so he let that slide. Peter King bought the whole thing hook, line and sinker, and now says he was justified in doing so.I like King's work, but it's no wonder Payton has no time for him.

duder
duder

@JimSmith4 @Scramble of course they deserve support and sympathy -- but the wars themselves are immoral and imperial. 

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@arthur3 @JimSmith4 @guykingii1


Oh please with the nonsense already.  The reason the suspensions were allowed to "slide" as you put it and the supposed lawsuits from players didn't materialize is because the NFL realized that they could be opening up a Pandora's box due to the rumors that a few other teams did the same.  


No matter what the NFL always spins it just like King for the survival of their enterprise.  


If you believe there were no bounties you are just another Saints fan drinking the Kool-Aid. 

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@duder


That's your opinion.  Regardless of your political views, it does not change what kind of character Pat Tillman had that has made many of us proud.

arthur3
arthur3

The player suspensions did not slide. They were OVERTURNED. No money changed hands means Tagliabue found no evidence of bounties being paid. You need to get your facts right. Or maybe you can prove Tagliabue was on the take.

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

@arthur3


All to preserve the NFL.  Just like concussions and every other laughable thing that they do.  Its all about the money.  They know public image doesn't mean squat to most of their fans.

arthur3
arthur3

Oh I can agree with you there. We have common ground and that was my point.. They had to get rid of the concussion lawsuit so they tried to prove their bona fides.

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