Scenes from an Ongoing Tour of Training Camps

Denver fans were out in force to see No. 18 and the Broncos go through training camp practices. (John Leyba/Getty Images)
Denver fans were out in force to see No. 18 and the Broncos go through training camp practices. (John Leyba/Getty Images)

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think if there’s any question about America’s appetite for pro football, consider this: The Broncos got 21,933 to watch an early-camp practice Sunday, and the Patriots got a total of 25,000 over the weekend for two practices.

It's All About The Browns

Cleveland's camp is one of the summer's most intriguing, and The MMQB has it covered.


Jenny Vrentas

Eyes fixated on No. 2 QB


Andy Benoit
It all rides on the defense

2. I think this would worry me—a lot—if I were Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, and Cleveland owner Jimmy Halsam: the photo of first-round rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel tightly rolling a $20 bill in the bathroom of a bar, as reported by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There’s no crime in that, obviously. But it’s certainly suspicious. And even if Manziel was kidding around (I have no knowledge of what he was doing), it’s not funny, and it gives every Manziel hater the fodder they need to say, “I told you so. I told you it was a waste to pick party boy in the first round.” Good for Pettine to call Manziel immediately upon learning of the photo. That’s got to stop.

3. I think if you’ve read me since March, you know I’m a champion of Manziel the player. I think he has a chance to be a terrific NFL player and game-changer. I don’t want him to go to a monastery every night. I want him to understand this is the big leagues, not the big party leagues. And image counts. It’s not everything, but it counts.

4. I think Doug Marrone sure looks like the smart one for passing on Ryan Nassib, his quarterback at Syracuse, in favor of E.J. Manuel in the draft last year. Nassib’s had a poor start to his second camp, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Curtis “House” Painter win the Giants backup job in the next month.

5. I think you can tell his contract is weighing on Ben Roethlisberger, and not just because he told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, “Playing this year at my current salary, it’s like I’m taking a hometown discount.’’ Roethlisberger is due to make $12.1 million this year and $11.6 million in the last year of his deal in 2016, and Steelers president Art Rooney II said over the weekend to Steelers.com the team would not be re-doing the contract this year. Thirteen quarterbacks currently have a higher average salary than Roethlisberger’s 2014 base. This is Roethlisberger’s 11th season. He’s been beaten up his share in his career. It’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers pay him what the going rate for playoff quarterbacks is—somewhere between $19 million and $21 million a year. I think he’d have to come through this season healthy and having played well for the Steelers to commit another $100-million deal to him over the next five years.

6. I think one of the most interesting things I’ve heard in Week 1 of the camp trip is the undue pressure some players and coaches feel from big-money fantasy-football players. I had one coach tell me there’s so much money in some of these fantasy-football playoff pools that people who used to gamble with bookies illegally are now gambling in high-stakes fantasy-football leagues, which is not illegal.  The NFL has its antennae up over this, and it’ll be interesting to see if the pressure escalates to more serious threats on players or coaches.

7. I think the way the league operates this will not happen, but if I were Roger Goodell, I’d take time this week to explain why I suspended Ray Rice for two games and not more. The reason he won’t do this is because it will extend an ugly story for another couple of news cycles, because whatever he says he’ll get bashed over the head for it by people who think he went far too soft on Rice for domestic violence on his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. But this is the one time, even if the criticism continued sharply, I think Goodell needs to come out and explain himself. Too many women, and plenty of men, feel outraged over this.

8. I think one of the dumbest things I’ve read in a while is Buzz Bissinger’s claim in his Nick Foles story for Philadelphia Magazine: “Acolytes get to heaven. Strut gets you to the Super Bowl.” It makes a good story, that quarterbacks need to be Joe Namath or Johnny Manziel or Brett Favre to be great, but it’s absolutely false that they have to be. Let’s look at the last four Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks:

  • Super Bowl 48. Seattle (and Russell Wilson, altar boy) 43, Denver 8.
  • Super Bowl 47: Baltimore (and Joe Flacco, who does have a little bit of counter-culture to him) 34, San Francisco 31.
  • Super Bowl 46. New York Giants (and Eli Manning, sleepy and totally non-controversial) 21, New England 17.
  • Super Bowl 45. Green Bay (and Aaron Rodgers, a swell guy who, like Manning, hates all aspects of fame) 31, Pittsburgh 25.

Foles is a boring guy in front of the press and maybe even throughout his real life. Fine. In his fraternity, that makes him neither a winner nor a loser.

9. I think that was a touching thing you did, Christian Ponder and Samantha Ponder, naming your daughter Bowden, after Bobby Bowden, and surprising him with the news over the phone.

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. Great to see Liz Clarke, a pro’s pro, in Richmond, back covering the hometown team for the Washington Post.

b. Two other media shout-outs to indefatigable peers: Alex Marvez of FOX Sports and Sirius NFL Radio, and Steve Serby of the New York Post. I get tired just keeping up with Serby’s bylines, and Marvez simply cannot sleep. If he did, no way he’d be able to be as voluminous and productive.

c. The MMQB crew had a pleasant evening at the Potomac Nationals’ ramshackle home ground in Woodbridge on Friday night.  We have Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus on the trip, and I tried to show off my massive baseball intellect in the first inning. Carolina had the bases loaded with none out in the top of the first. Next batter walked. Potomac pitcher can’t find the plate. Goes to 2-0 on the next hitter. I announce: “Neil, the batter won’t swing here. Manager will make him take a pitch until this pitcher can throw a strike.” Words are just out of my mouth. Windup. Pitch. CRACK! A Puig-like laser lines into the trees high over the left-field fence. Boy, I know my baseball.

d. Tough call, whether to pay Jon Lester. I have no doubt the Yankees would sign him if he became a free-agent after the season and the Red Sox didn’t come close to the New York offer. The knee-jerk reaction is to say, “You’ve got to pay him! He’s your ace!” I lean toward agreeing—but at what price for a pitcher who’s 31 next opening day? Look at the track record of paying thirty-something players $20 million-plus, and it’s not good at all. I think if Boston offers $105 million over five, or something like that, it almost certainly wouldn’t get the deal done. But $25 million a year, for a 31-year-old pitcher? Count me out.

e. Coffeenerdness: Thought it was funny to see at the Hampton Inn in Lewisburg, W.Va., a coffee urn labeled “robust” put out with breakfast. It jut might have been robust if they put 8 ounces of water instead of 64 through the grounds. That coffee was as weak as a two-week-old Calico.

f. Beernerdness: Thank you, Potomac Nats, for having SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale from Atlanta on tap at your game. I think Bedard and Hornsby are hooked.

g. Caught snippets of the Hall of Fame speeches from Cooperstown. Greg Maddux should teach a graduate class in Cool at Harvard. And so much admiration for Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. I love the way they managed, always adjusting their styles to their talent. Great day for baseball.

The Adieu Haiku

Why I love these camps:
Rob Ryan’s a blast to watch.
And the voice. Priceless.

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201 comments
LJSpivak
LJSpivak

Flacco has a little bit of counter-culture to him?  I'd love to know what you have in mind.  This is the guy whose own Dad called him dull, who majored in accounting in college, celebrated a Super Bowl win by stopping for some McNuggets, summers at the Jersey shore like he always did, and pretty religiously attends the extended family pizza Fridays.  I think most Ravens fans are quite content knowing all of the above.  Joe can be as dull, and cool, and ordinary as he likes.  So long as his second six years are as good as his first, we'll be very happy campers.

Ciscos
Ciscos

Year two of the Saints defense under Rob Ryan.  The extra year grasping his concepts should help improve that defense.  Dumbest thing Jerry Jones do was letting that guy walk. That's besides the point tho. The Saints still get the bonehead award for trading Reggie Bush, a constant threat on the field, for drafting Mark Ingram, who really can't get further than 3-4 yards down the field.  And who, quite frankly, isn't a threat to anyone on the field. 


Chip Kelly, like I said yesterday is in the zone of finding out if his offensive philosophy will truly work in the League or not. DCs from every other team have had time to study film and develop new schemes. It'll be interesting to see what they've come up with.

busherbee
busherbee

Godell dismisses domestic violence.

CliffHaggenjos
CliffHaggenjos

Thought about Manziel-If I was his teammate and saw a photo like the one you referenced, I might start to question his commitment to the team and to winning. Might wonder if he felt the same way about his craft as I do. Might question his decision making, and perhaps begin to question my confidence in him as a potential leader. Not a good start at being the "guy" in Cleveland.

theYerg
theYerg

there DOES need to be more education by the NFL and roger goddell on the topic of domestic violence.  1 in 4 women in the US will be abused by a partner at some point in their life.  statistically the same number of women that are affected by breast cancer.  the only difference is that we can prevent domestic violence through education and break the cycle.  those who grew up in abusive households are more likely to become abusers.  and there is never anything a woman can do to "provoke" an abuser, contrary to what stephen a. smith thinks.  volunteer for an afternoon and you will understand why his remarks and a two game suspension are offensive to millions of survivors and the friends and family of those who didn't get help in time.

-Jared Yerg

Founder of Beards BeCAUSE


hozay.camp
hozay.camp

I play a lot of fantasy football. I once drafted Ray Rice with my last pick. He sucked last year & I would still brag about it. Now, no where near my draft board. Not that I don't make mistakes. Big ones but he's a little big tank unloading on a female. As Chris Rock would say in this situation. Oh there's a reason to hit a woman. You just don't do it.

gary7
gary7

Can't believe Snyder and Allen let any of you around any R E D S K I N S  Players or Coaches, but you all being the hypocrites that you are I guess they felt like taking the high road and letting you ill-informed lackeys in.

ianlinross
ianlinross

Yes Allen Barbre, "mitigated disaster" for the Packers. A swinging saloon door straight to Aaron Rodgers.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

Amazing how many people come here seemingly only to complain about how bad King is.

JimCody
JimCody

Wow, over half of this article was about football. That has to be some kind of record, Peter.

BillPetrello
BillPetrello

This will be the LAST article I read from Mr. King until he apologizes for how he reported the NFL's action toward Mr. Rice.  I was hoping to read an apology from him.  Sadly, he failed.  I said this before and I'll say it again, "If Mr. King was reporter only and NOT commentator, then why did he NOT ask Mr Goodell if he considered the bus incident in DC in September when Ravens players were involved in an incident where a player was hit with a champagne bottle by a stripper on the bus who was defending herself when deciding the penalty.  The Ravens have chosen NOT to do anything when this CLEARLY shows a pattern of violence in these Ravens players regarding women!  


The NFL coming out today saying it was "fair" is a total joke.  I am disgusted at how the NFL holds so little concern for women...yet will fake concern for Breast Cancer awareness.  2 games is a joke and the fact the Ravens could have added to the suspension themselves tells me all I need to know about that organization.  Ozzie, you caved here.  NFL, you too. Mr. King, get in line.

Test-Icicles
Test-Icicles

Even is Manziel is a screaming success in the NFL, he'll still have haters. That "I can't hear you I've got so much money" clip has got to be one of the Top-5 d-bag videos of all time.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again remember pete a few years ago big ben had two sexaual harrassment accusastions lobbed at him, but never ever charged, never, and guess what big ben got, as we had no video, only the women's words 6 games no charges, down to 4, here we have charges filled, part of the video released, and the nfl and goodell saw the other video and all rice gets is 2 games, taking of 2 game checks and a 3rd and oh yeah nice also to pete to overlook the fact that the fine could've been bigger, had goodell used rice's base salary this year and not his 2013 salary, as the fine rice could've paid should've been 7 figures, but goodell also decided to help the ravens out by fining him an ammount from last year.  goodell needs to be fired, as he is no longer the hammer of goodell and is just like uncle bud serving at the owners pleasure and instead of doing the right thing, instead being weak and doing nothing

alan.fournier49
alan.fournier49

How would you like to come out of the shower and have dozens of men and women staring at your junk. This is what management and media do to male pro-sport athletes. They have effectively silenced male athletes on this. They face fines and discipline by the leagues and vilification in the media. Look up an article by Shuana Richer in the Globe & Maillast year. It was the of the most disgusting, vulgar and voyeristic pieces of shaming thrash I have ever seen. You would never, ever see women being put into situations of forced nudity, ever, let alone a man writing an article like that about women. I stopped supporting pro team sports long ago because of this. These men are owned, and are treated as such. Nor do I think pro-sport an appropriate role model for boys. It tells them that their role models have no right to boundaries. In this day and age that's the last message that young men should be getting. On so many levels this is wrong. I will not pay for any endeavour that treats grown men like this.


LenaBrun
LenaBrun

Why is the Ray Rice suspension not the major story today? King have regurgitated repeatedly over the legal name of the Red Skins, yet can not bring himself to dwelve into the extremely poor performance by Godell, NFL and Ravens in how the Rice suspension have played out.


Poor job by Godell

Poor job by NFL

Poor job by Raves

poor job by Peter King

stagger
stagger

@Ciscos  Meh, the Saints got rid of Bush for Sproles, which was an upgrade IMO. I agree with the bonehead award for moving up in the draft for Ingram, however. He's just not good.

evetsyarsh
evetsyarsh

@Go_Niners! I actually take his football picks, bet the opposite, and do quite well. Never fails. So he is a must read for me.

Mike26
Mike26

@CobyPreimesberger Coby:  more periods, fewer commas.  Peter just may choose your question/issue someday for the Mailbag - if he can ever fully comprehend it.

evetsyarsh
evetsyarsh

@alan.fournier49 If this is your major issue then you need to get out more. I'm sure Kapernick is so traumatized he had to go out and pose for that nudie athlete magazine they put out. I mean these are grown adults, not scared little children cowering to hide their little bits. They work on their bodies and are proud of themselves. And what does your insecurities have to do with peter king anyway? I think also the message you think "young men" are getting is unique to you.

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@alan.fournier49 :  I just read the story authored by Shawna Richer that you mentioned and I didn't read anything vulgar nor voyeuristic except the stories related by her and other female sportswriters about players being vulgar to them.  I'm afraid you have your head so far up your rear end that all you see is crap.

Here's the link, make up your own minds what the story is about:


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/a-womans-eye-view-of-the-mens-locker-room/article11717125/?page=1

ianlinross
ianlinross

@alan.fournier49 Is this the same Shawna Richer who was fired as an editor in New Brunswick for running a story in 2009 that resulted in the paper printing a front page apology to the Prime Minister of Canada?

blynder
blynder

@alan.fournier49

I believe there is a "grace period" where media are not allowed in NFL locker rooms immediately after a game so that players can do the things they need to do.  Now I'm not a pro football player and never will I be lol - so who knows if that time is actually appropriate or adequate for that use.  It *might* provide an opportunity for those who do not wish to be viewed starkers to get showered and cleaned up before the press arrives.  Let me stress that *MIGHT* bit; cause 20 minutes after a game just isn't enough time in my estimation.

Wombat
Wombat

@alan.fournier49 1) These guys are paid bazillions of dollars for this scrutiny. They can leave if they want to

2) Most guys don't give a crap who sees them starkers... admit it, we'd all run around like that if we were that young and in that good condition. You don't hear them crying about it. It's a non-issue.

Wombat
Wombat

@LenaBrun Your outrage is noted but will have little, (actually no), effect. Sadly the news cycle has passed this item by...

Mike26
Mike26

@LenaBrun Probably because it was so reported, rehashed and rehashed from the rehashing that there was nothing new to say.  It's obvious that PK doesn't have a strong enough opinion he wants to share with it, so he just briefly acknowledged it and moved on.  I and many others have no interest in going over it again - the horse has been beaten to dust on this one.

alan.fournier49
alan.fournier49

@evetsyarsh @alan.fournier49 You're just upset because your heroes are being objectified and sold like livestock Believe it or not all men don't share your exhibitionistic fantasies. Your gladiators are owned by the leagues and media who treat them like the bi*ches they've become. No insecurities here. There's plenty of porn out there for you buddy This is sport, not a forced sex show. The action takes place on the playing surface not the locker room.     

alan.fournier49
alan.fournier49

@Shane Mac @alan.fournier49 If you can't see what's wrong with that article, then your beyond your rear end. How would you feel about men in your mothers, sisters, wives or girlfriend locker room hero?

Wombat
Wombat

@blynder @alan.fournier49 Most, if not all, team locker rooms now have dressing areas free of all media. The team can come out once showered and dressed. I just can't see giving up watching a sport for an issue like this... to each his own.

alan.fournier49
alan.fournier49

@Wombat @alan.fournier49 Sure I used to love running around naked A lot of women and men used to do it with me. I'm very liberal when it comes the human body.


                                                        BUT


It's called choice. Not all men enjoy it. And it shouldn't be a prerequisite too being a pro-athelete.You don't force anybody into situations of nudity for an audience. That is and should always remain illegal. Not women. Not men. Why is that so hard for some guys to accept. 

usameos6
usameos6

@Wombat @LenaBrun Actually - I think this issue will have more legs than some of the other off the field incidents in the NFL - since the NFL will start trotting out pink helmets, gloves, etc. in October which will bring this issue back to the forefront in the discussion about how serious the NFL truly is in taking a stand against domestic violence.

Wombat
Wombat

@usameos6 @Wombat @LenaBrun The NFL is long on platitudes and PR but short on understanding sometimes, (look how long it has taken to really get traction for the concussion thing). I may be wrong but I don't think it's the Ray Rice issue that will bring domestic violence into focus for them.

Knowitall
Knowitall

SlowHairyAndWeezus - or as the rest of us refer to, Mr Tedious - can you find another place to pursue your therapy?

usameos6
usameos6

@Wombat @usameos6 @LenaBrun I do agree with you there - especially since there's no pending litigation to force any changes in their behavior.  I'm just surprised at how poorly they've done at managing the messaging around this.

usameos6
usameos6

@Wombat @usameos6 @LenaBrun I almost wonder if it isn't the opposite and putting the old adage that 'there's no such thing as bad publicity' to the test.  Had they given him 6 games and then let it be reduced to 2 on appeal - that would likely have been enough to sweep it under the rug.  The way it's been handled has pretty much guaranteed that it is being talked about and discussed not only in the sports media world but in the larger media circles as well.

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