Jason Miller/Getty Images
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The NFL’s Silly Season Can Have a Serious Side, Too

From mid-June to mid-July, the NFL goes on vacation. But the news cycle never stops. Here, we separate the senseless (Sherman-Crabtree drama) from the significant (Josh Gordon) and appoint an all-time downtime star, Johnny Manziel

The Silly Season. Late June. Early July. No workouts. No OTAs. No meetings. Nothing.

Well, in full disclosure, it’s not like we’ve had nothing to help us through this football diaspora. We have had the stupendous World Cup. There’s been an NFL Network countdown of the Top 100 players in the NFL, voting methodology for which is loudly questioned by players who don’t like their ranking and barely mentioned by players who do. Of course, let’s not forget LeBronCenter, brought to you by the famed, fickle Sources Family—League, Unnamed and Close To The Situation. In this final week before the opening of training camp, we shall have the ESPYs.

But in the league Made In America and Played in America (except for now three games in London), this is the rare time of year when absolutely nothing is going on. It’s when everyone in an NFL office takes vacation. It’s why most weddings get planned this time of year. It’s why Peter King is off on the final week of his 2014 walkabout, probably searching for a Starbucks in places named Moose Jaw. And it’s why your humble NFL Network narrator writes this week’s MMQB on my way to shoot this year’s round of Courtyard commercials you’ll probably be seeing every three seconds during the season.

Don’t worry. I’m not driving. It’s just the way I roll during The Silly Season.

Guest MMQB

While Peter King is on vacation, we asked four NFL figures to fill in on our signature Monday column.


June 16

49ers TE Vernon Davis 


June 23

Bears coach Marc Trestman


July 7

Raiders LB Khalil Mack


July 14

NFL Network's Rich Eisen

Which, to be honest, isn’t completely silly. The headlines recently generated by troubled Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon are beyond concerning, especially when some of them express doubt about his entire playing future. The kid is clearly mixed up and needs help. Cris Carter believes the best thing for the Browns and Gordon may just be what the Eagles did to Carter and for themselves back in 1989—cut him. While that may or may not happen, it did lead to one of my favorite storylines of The Silly Season, care of my colleague Michael Irvin: Cris Carter, Nightmare Marriage Counselor.

Which, again, may not be so silly after all, especially if it involves someone’s life, career and/or family. It’s only silly if it has nothing to do with the ultimate question: Will this story affect wins or losses when toe meets ball in September? 

Sometimes, it’s easy to tell which stories reach these standards. Take, for instance, the Andre Johnson contract drama playing out in Houston. Nothing silly about this. First, it involves his bank account or, as players would put it, providing for their families. I understand his current salary ($10 million for ’14) is a dream come true for most readers (or the writer) of this Guest MMQB column. But it’s about Johnson getting his industry value while he can, which all of us would attempt to accomplish given the chance in whatever profession we undertake. 

So, one of the most prolific receivers in recent memory is threatening to retire at age 33 or sit out until he gets a trade. That absolutely reaches the standard for seriousness. New Texans coach Bill O’Brien and his new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick not having Andre Johnson around—even during training camp—would affect wins and losses in Houston this season. Thus, we have a Silly Season story that is not silly at all.

Then there’s the re-sparking of the Richard Sherman/Michael Crabtree feud this week, thanks to an excellent new reality series on The Discovery Channel called “American Muscle.” The show televises the exploits that take place in a Plymouth, Mich., gym owned and operated by decorated and popular strength coach Mike Barwis. In the pilot episode, Sherman appears in the gym to inspire some of the current NFL players and future NFL prospects who put their off-season workout programs in the iron hands (and legs) of Barwis.

The fireworks began when one of the trainers in the gym asked Sherman what the deal was between him and Crabtree. Fully aware of the rolling cameras, Sherman said: “It’s more than just I don’t like the dude.”

More fireworks are expected when Michael Crabtree and Richard Sherman meet again this fall. (Matt Slocum/AP)
More fireworks are expected when Michael Crabtree and Richard Sherman meet again this fall. (Matt Slocum/AP)

“It’s not going to be something that goes away,” he added. “I hope to play him every year for the rest of my career and choke him out. There’s not much else I can say about the subject. Nobody will understand it but him and me. That’s all that needs to understand.”

Oh. Snap.

Let’s not focus on what Sherman said but rather when he said it. Sherman said it mere days after Super Bowl 48. In February. When the story was still hot and the feelings still raw. When, as Sherman arrived in Barwis’ gym, he limped on the ankle he had just sprained against the Broncos. He was wearing a parka and there was snow on the ground. He said these words five months ago. It just happened to make air in July. 

Sure, it will be great when Sherman first lines up against Crabtree in 2014 … on Thanksgiving Night. But, right now, this affects no one’s bottom line. And, since the game would have been afoot between the two regardless of these statements, nothing will be affected in the win/loss department. It’s merely a fun story to help pass the time until training camp. Thus, silly.

And then, we have an occasional outlier. In that department, we have the fascinating case of one Jonathan Football. What to make of him? And of his … endeavors?

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92 comments
JimCody
JimCody

Are all you sportswriters afraid to criticize Sherman because you think you'll be called a racist, or do you just like making excuses for a-holes?

RawrRay
RawrRay

This comment section has been just as if not more entertaining then the MMQB this week. Next year during King's vaykay lets give the guest spots to  @Wombat @Mike26. As long as there is no real football news let us be entertained 

ArchMage
ArchMage

Mr Eisen, I enjoy reading you much more than listening to you.  This column is so good that I would hope you could be a regular substitute for Mr King who has gotten rather set in his ways and pleased with himself.  Perhaps you can nudge him off of his throne a bit!

I am glad you left out politics and filler Tweets which are getting to be so annoying to me on TV (in print I can just skip them).  If I cared what those people had to say, well guess what, I would subscribe to them.  It is lazy, cut and paste journalism.

You have an agile mind, and the discipline of writing suits you very well!


Thank you!

RobertGrier
RobertGrier

Gosh that was so much better than reading all of King's personal stuff.... an MMQB column actually about football....

JasonO'neal1
JasonO'neal1

Johnny Manziel is the worst thing to ever happen to the NFL. No one needs this crap, NFL has too many guys you personally would not get along with off the football field just because you don't like their lifestyle.

JasonO'neal1
JasonO'neal1

Sad to say, but the NFL will lose viewers when Peyton Manning retires.

Knowitall
Knowitall

Peter - how about a guest column from @Mike26? You could call it "Dean of Mean vents Spleen."

You either need to give this jerk a forum, or get him some therapy, but help us out if you can.

JakeSteed
JakeSteed

I am personally split on what I would like to see happen with Manziel. On the one hand I hope he succeeds so it it would fly in the face of the all the stuck in the mud fuddy duddies who believe that you have to sleep in your office to be successful ala Jon Gruden. You know, the Peyton Manning way. I think that is just BS because for all the countless hours of film study Gruden and Manning have only 2 Super Bowls. Both Orchestrated by Dungy IMHO. Gruden won in Tampa not with a dynamic offense or great QB play, his supposed expertise, but with the defense left to him by Dungy. These are the people who think touchdown celebrations are the root of all evil and are the epitome of the No Fun League and I would definitely like to see them taken down a peg. Also the the hypocrites like Barkley who talk out of the side of their mouth and have no clue wtf they are talking about! Not to mention if I were in that position I would be in Vegas with the Gronk and the Bikini models too! 

On the the other hand, just based on what Ive seen and things he says I think the kid is a spoiled brat and a world world class tool and he needs to fall flat on his face to get some kind of humility. 

So I guess I hope for something in between, maybe he falls flat on his face, but then recovers to be a star.

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

I can easily understand GB fans booing Favre.  When released from his contract he said he would not play in the division, and he did go to the Jets.  But then to go to the Vikings was a slap in the face to the fans.  As a life long Steeler fan, would Bradshaw be as beloved had he left and played for the Browns, Bengals or Houston?  Favre didn't care about his GB legacy, he wanted to attempt to stick it to GB for wanting Rogers over him.

dennis
dennis

The upcoming downfall of society got it's start by this new trend of pretending not to notice reality. Such as pretending like soccer is more than an inferior sport played by third world countries who don't have what it takes to play real football. Oops, oh yeah, I wasn't suppose to say that out loud.

dksherlock
dksherlock

Will it ever end, this gushing over a sport that's meant for third-graders?  Can't I even get away from it when I'm reading an alleged NFL column?


dawnsblood
dawnsblood

Number six makes me thankful I don't watch tv. That list sounds cringe inducing.

GraemeSimpson
GraemeSimpson

'the only sporting event that even comes close to mirroring the World Cup in terms of worldwide interest and epic magnitude of the outcome is the Super Bowl."

Really? Get a grip. 

Interest in the Super Bowl outside USA is tiny compared with the World Cup - or a lot of other actual, you know, world events. Even the Rugby World Cup final has a far more international audience spread (and rugby sevens will be an Olympic sport in 2016). 

Love the Super Bowl and what comes before over the entire season, but the World Championships of the USA really doesn't cut it in the world, sorry.


ChitownTexan
ChitownTexan

You forgot "drinking champagne while floating on a swan" in the Johnny Football mad lib. 

seamillguesthouse
seamillguesthouse

must have a young wife with 3 kids 6 and under. he looks to be middle aged

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

I see Hoyer being the starter going into the season and having a fair amount of success. I think more than anything I am intersted in seeing how Manziel responds when/if his team has success with Hoyer. Does he play the good teammate happy for his team's success role or the pouty it should be me role.

Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan
Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan

Rich Eisen’s MMQB contribution above is well-written.His conversational tone doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of his piece, which need not be laced with colorful metaphors and flowery language to be successful.Unlike some national television sportscasters, Eisen is witty and has a good sense of humor.His book, “Total Access:A Journey to the Center of the NFL Universe,” is a great read.

One thought about those lazy, hazy, news-less days of the NFL’s summer “silly season.”As to Johnny Manziel, the last time I recall this degree of media-inspired sensationalism accompanying an NFL rookie, his name was Tim Tebow.Manziel would be wise to steer clear of all the glamour and glitz, and tune out the media’s seductive siren call to avoid risking damage to his football career.If given the chance, some in the media will tear him down just as fast as they build him up.It’s their favorite sport.

jordanN
jordanN

"But the news cycle never stops."

No, it does; you guys just pretend it doesn't by manufacturing nonsense.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus once again jameille hill showed basically how much of a racist she is by going why is everyone getting on Josh Gordon but not getting on Jim Irsay basically implying if Irsay were black the media would be all over it.  I mean she finds a way to always insert race, when she should be worried that the way Gordon is going he might kill someone

number18
number18

All Johnny FootBall has to do is to get drunk, kill somebody,do drugs,hang out with gang members,beat up a few women,give a frothing at the mouth sideline interview, and he will be Loved by the Media,including Wannabee eisen.

IHeartMotelCoffee
IHeartMotelCoffee

I came here for motel coffee reviews and insights to Amtrak car social norms. SMH. At least there are some thoughts that someone thinks they think, which I think I think is pretty groovy. But that's just me and the silly way I think I think.

pirate
pirate

Interesting column, mostly because of the difference in style. Eisen is a talker, not a writer, and it shows. This just feels loose, meandering, overwritten and fluffy. It makes me appreciate King all the more. That said, I enjoy the change up.

Mike26
Mike26

@Knowitall You seem upset about something.  What, pray tell, are you particularly ratted about this time?

BrentStorrs
BrentStorrs

@dennis Not sure how the world cup made the MMQB this week but I'll take it.  Many NFL-fan-only people probably skipped over it which is understandable. Soccer could learn something from the NFL's concussion protocol and many other things. Not sure why FIFA is so slow to deal with things. And for those of you that say soccer players are not the best athletes, which I understand, please view soccer players as NFL quarterbacks. Having a more athletic quarterback will not necessarily translate into a better quarterback. Just compare Vick and Manning. One is beast mode athlete and the other is a beast mode QB with a whole lot less athletic ability. Whats Peyton's 40 time? Imagine mixing the 2 and you have a soccer player. A smart, explosive and technically sound athlete who can run long distances and short sprints for 90 minutes or 120 minutes if needed. Average = 6 miles per game. Hey, even Dennis could play soccer for a few minutes. He could probably play "real football" too. Who knows? He may be 5 foot 10 and weigh 500 pounds. I've seen some real big American football fans out there, massive, just massive people.

LuisDaniel
LuisDaniel

@dennis The downfall of society got it's start when people decided to spend much more time and effort in things they hate, than in things they like. Like you, bothering to comment on soccer. If you hate it so much, get on with your life, and don't try to ruin stuff for everyone else. "World Cup" were the fourth and fifth word in that paragraph; you could have bypassed it easily.

Wombat
Wombat

@GraemeSimpson You know, one could get very tired of the whole "USA vs World" when it comes to soccer. Face it folks it has been decades since soccer became the Sport of the Future in the US and yet it still hasn't caught on as a top three pro sport. It may someday but as of now it hasn't... get over it folks...

Mike26
Mike26

@Orange Crush Without any WR talent, it's unlikely that EITHER QB will have much success in Cleveland this year - at least until they send 2 #1's and 2 #2's to Houston for Andre Johnson....

Mike26
Mike26

@CobyPreimesberger Thanks for bringing in complaints about a writer for a completely different site here to SI - your semi-coherent ranting should be on Bookface back over at TWWL.

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@CobyPreimesberger Well it is somewhat true. The main reason is Gordon is a professional athlete and we hold them to higher standards than just about anybody in America for some weird reason. Race is probably a factor in this. Both he and Irsay seem to struggle with addiction but Irsay seems to get a lot more sympathy. Irsay probably should have been charge with the far more serious felony intend to distribute. 

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@number18 The media does love him. He does get drunk and possibly does drugs. I would say being involved in bar fights is much worse than a frothing at the mouth sideline interview.

Wombat
Wombat

@number18 All Johnny Football has to do is survive more than a year as a Browns QB! Better men than he have been shown the door.  I don't mind him drinking... I think it's probably a good idea in his position. 

Mike26
Mike26

@IHeartMotelCoffee I suppose you're trying to be witty, but you failed miserably.  Go back to winning comment sections on CNN.

ruggerrick9
ruggerrick9

@pirate He all but admits that in item 10 on his list.  The trick to writing pieces like this is the ability to think and write in an abridged manner- keeping things short an incisive rather than long and rambling.  I will take some issue with dismissing him as being simply a "talker".  If he's like most anchors, he probably writes alot of the stuff he reads on air.  But it's not easy and we shouldn't expect someone accustomed to writing short news items to air on live TV to be able to adjust effortlessly to the format.   

Wombat
Wombat

@pirate I agree on the style difference but you have to admit that there was nothing to write about this week. Gordon - old news. Manziel - yawn! That's why PK vacations this time every year. This way he doesn't have to produce 2500 words on nothing. Eisen is a rambling kind of guy be he pulled these pages OTA.

BrentStorrs
BrentStorrs

@Wombat @GraemeSimpson Soccer has been around 2 decades maybe 3. In another 2-3 decades we could see it challenging baseball and basketball and even overtaking it. Either way, soccer is a very young sport in the good ol USA and its only going to grow.

usameos6
usameos6

@Mike26 @Orange Crush I don't think the Browns would give up much for Johnson as there would be concerns that he wouldn't show up since he wants to play for a contender and they're still a few years away (maybe more depending on how the QB situation shakes out).  That being said - they are the Browns.

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@BushidoBrownsRevenge @CobyPreimesberger Wrong. Gordon came into the league with question marks. He has already failed numerous tests and faced suspensions because of them. He is now facing another suspension and then gets a DUI on top of it. Now Irsay doesn't face the same testing as a player does, but this was his first legal offense. If he continues to spiral downward and get into trouble like Gordon has then he should face the same scrutiny, but we are not even close to there yet. When you hear of all the players getting first offenses for DUI's/possession they face far less scrutiny than Irsay has regardless of color. That is why it is not the same.

IHeartMotelCoffee
IHeartMotelCoffee

Ok, I think I think I will. This place is just too intellectual for me. CNN, here I come!

Buck2185
Buck2185

@Wombat @pirate  As opposed to PK's 2500 word ramblings on his political beliefs, opinions, anything Patriot, beer, coffee and hotel amenities??......

Mike26
Mike26

@BrentStorrs @Wombat @GraemeSimpson Brent:  It's NOT young in the USA and the same mantra has been repeated for over 30 years, yet there's little movement at all at raising its profile or consciousness in American sports.

Mike26
Mike26

@usameos6  I agree completely.  I threw it out there to stay consistent with my previous comments about Johnson and what it would take to move him at this point of the NFL calendar.  But hey, we should just let Cleveland be Cleveland and see what happens....    ;)

Wombat
Wombat

@Buck2185 @Wombat @pirate Yes, but imagine what PK would have brought up in his stead... that's right, all of the topics that provide fodder for this forum! Admit it Buck, you wouldn't have half the fun on Mondays that you do now if PK stuck to sports.

Wombat
Wombat

@jordanN @Buck2185 @Wombat @pirate Really? I found is a consistent response to my comment. His comprehension appeared adequate. What are you basing your judgement on sir?

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