Monday, April 27, 2015

5 comments John Calipari is Culpable for the Scam the NCAA Runs Simply By Choosing to Be a Head Coach

I've read a lot of John Calipari-hating columns through the years. Some I agree with and others I don't agree with as much. I'm not a huge Calipari fan, but I often find myself countering attacks against him from certain parts of the media who seem to think one-and-done was his idea. Today, a guy who writes for Deadspin and Slate (well, at least he writes for Slate for one day) states that John Calipari is culpable for the NCAA running a scam on players with the one-and-done rule because he chooses to be the head coach at the University of Kentucky. That's the gist of what he writes. If true, this means every Division-I head coach who recruits a player that leaves after one year is culpable for the NCAA scam of one-and-done. As I always state, one-and-done is not an NCAA rule, but it seems few people care about that sometimes. It always comes back to John Calipari as the bad guy because he dares to recruit one-and-done players. It is unfair for Calipari to be blamed for something the NCAA has chosen to do. The only way Calipari could not participate in the NCAA scam is if he would resign as the University of Kentucky's head basketball coach and go find something else to do with his life. I'm not sure why this ultimatum only pertains to Calipari, but it seems that it does. I've explained too much already, so I'll let you get confused by what point the author is trying to prove in blaming Calipari. The author admits that the one-and-done rule and other NCAA scams are not Calipari's fault, but fuck it, let's blame him anyway. Actually, the author's point is that if Calipari were really on the player's side then he would quit his job at Kentucky. Because that would fix everything.

Last week I wrote about the ways that both pro- and anti-NCAA camps tend to miss the mark when talking about University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. He deserves less criticism for breaking NCAA rules and more for profiting from them, because even his “Players First” arrangement forces players to take huge risks for a reward artificially delayed by NCAA and NBA rules,

I am not going to wave a Calipari flag outside the courthouse steps or self-immolate in order to protect his honor. But let's be a little bit honest here. I like honesty. Almost every NCAA men's head basketball coach would like to be in the position that John Calipari is in. They can lie and claim differently, but the vast majority would take Karl-Anthony Towns on their team for one year. Most coaches wouldn't mind their program being a pit stop between high school and the NBA. Coaches like Bo Ryan can argue differently, but they are lying. Bo Ryan heavily recruited Kevin Looney, who is a one-and-done player. So getting that assumption out of the way, which I believe to be a correct assumption, most men's college basketball coaches wouldn't mind profiting from the NCAA rules. It is not John Calipari who forces Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to come to college for one year, it is the NBA who forces Kidd-Gilchrist to go overseas or play in college for one year. Sure, Calipari is profiting. He's not forcing these players to take these huge risks. They are free to sit out a year, go overseas (where there would still be risk for injury) or they can play college basketball for one year in the United States (where there would still be a risk for injury). Absent not playing basketball for a full year and then entering the NBA, the risk is always there. Calipari is not forcing these players to do anything because it's not his rule and he's simply recruiting these players like other men's basketball coaches are doing. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to play basketball for a year after high school prior to entering the NBA, it's just a matter of where.

while he himself risks nothing at all and has a guaranteed seven-figure annual reward no matter what becomes of the players who do all the valuable work.

This is an absolute strawman argument. Every men's basketball coach risks nothing at all while coaching. Saint Coach K isn't risking his career coaching Jahlil Okafor. Steve Prohm isn't risking his life or career coaching at Murray State. The risk will always be on the players. I don't know why John Calipari and his "arrangement" is more dangerous than Tom Izzo's "arrangement" where he gets paid millions of dollars and the players do all the valuable work.

On Sunday, Slate writer A.J. McCarthy published a thoughtful response to my piece. In his estimation, “Calipari’s unmatched success in getting his players to the next level—while certainly not entirely ridding him of the NCAA’s stench—does, actually, separate him from his rival coaches. Not just in degree, but in kind as well.”

To argue that Calipari’s arrangement with players is meaningfully different—in kind, not degree—from the one offered by other college coaches because of the high rate at which his players catch on in the NBA, strikes me as flawed in at least a couple of ways.

It can be a flawed argument, but it's an argument that is as flawed as arguing John Calipari is the most evil of evil head coaches because he profits from the one-and-done rule and forces his players to take huge risks prior to entering the NBA. The risks Kentucky players take are no more than the risks any college basketball player takes in wanting to make it to the NBA one day. Doug McDermott was coached by his father and his father didn't take a risk, it was Doug who did all the valuable work during his time at Creighton and took on the risk of injury.

First, and most importantly, it ignores the risk forcibly taken on even by those of Calipari’s players who emerge from his program with their NBA prospects unharmed, or even enhanced. Anthony Davis may have survived his lone season at Kentucky without, say, tearing his Achilles tendon, but he still carried the enormous risk of doing so throughout that entire season—

Every single college athlete in every single college sport suffers risk of injury during their playing career. Some of these athletes plan on making their living in sports, others don't. The risk of injury doesn't go away simply because Nigel Hayes is planning on spending four years in college rather than one year in college. If Anthony Davis tore his Achilles tendon, he has the option of going back to school for a second year. This risk of a player's stock being down or an injury occurring isn't present because John Calipari has put a gun to Anthony Davis' head forcing him to play, but because Anthony Davis is forced by NBA rules to either sit out a year, play overseas or play college basketball for a year prior to entering the NBA. Simply because John Calipari is an NCAA men's basketball head coach doesn't make him partially culpable for the NBA rule requiring Anthony Davis to play/sit out a year before entering the NBA, any more than Bill Self is culpable for coaching a group of basketball players at Kansas who may someday want to enter the NBA.

a season during which his work paid him no money, and helped John Calipari haul in at least seven figures.

You are blaming John Calipari for participation in the NCAA system. What does the author expect Calipari to do? Quit? If he quit as the head men's basketball coach at Kentucky would the NCAA system all of a sudden become fair and NBA prospects are no longer risking injury to play basketball in college? Of course not. Calipari coaches within an unfair system, but this doesn't make him culpable for the unfairness of the system.

Davis took a huge risk because artificial and unjust rules forced him to, and he’ll never be compensated for taking that risk—but his coach was.

So again, while being a problem spotter and not a problem solver, what is the solution here? Should John Calipari stop coaching college basketball because the rules are so unfair, which of course would fix nothing because 300+ other Division-I college coaches are still coaching teams under the same unfair rules they would embrace if Anthony Davis wanted to go to their school? Should John Calipari just not get paid for coaching the Kentucky men's basketball team? That seems like a rather unreasonable conclusion.

That would be true at any other college.

Which only highlights the absurdity of blaming John Calipari for an institutional problem.

Second, the notion that every instance of a star recruit making the NBA is an instance of a fair deal ignores how even those nominal successes can be screwed by their time in college (even apart from the fact that they don’t get paid for their work while there)

This is the part where the author has already blamed John Calipari for his recruits having to spend a year in college, allowing his prospective one-and-done guys to play basketball in live action games, thereby risking them getting injured, but now blames Calipari for the NBA rookie pay scale. That's his fault too now. 

Consider fellow Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel. Superficially, Noel might seem to buttress McCarthy’s point: He arrived at Kentucky as the top recruit in the nation, tore his ACL just weeks before the NCAA tournament in his freshman season, and still went on to a lucrative NBA contract as the sixth overall pick in the following draft.

BUT NO! McCarthy wasn't considering factors which John Calipari didn't have a hand in creating or legislating that show how Calipari is the real problem. If you consider another factor out of Calipari's control, it just goes to show the evil nature of Calipari and how he abuses his prospective one-and-done basketball players merely by choosing to coach college basketball. This is abuse caused only by Calipari.

But then, account for the NBA’s rookie pay scale system, under the rubric of which draft position determines salary for all first-round picks. Prior to his ACL injury, Noel was the presumptive first overall pick in the 2013 draft (actually, “presumptive” may not be strong enough; that he would go first overall was a virtual certainty); when the draft finally rolled around, he fell to sixth, thanks to concerns about his leg and how recovery might hamper his development.

So once you factor John Calipari's culpability in creating the NBA rookie pay scale system (which he has none), then you can see the real evil behind his mad schemes. So what if no men's college basketball coach had anything to do with the NBA rookie pay scale system? Fuck it, blame them anyway.

Here is another scam that John Calipari participates in. This so-called "American Dream" where everyone has a shot to succeed. How about those who never got a shot to succeed? Doesn't John Calipari care about them? He earns millions of dollars working at a lucrative job, while thousands go hungry, living on the streets, and without sufficient food or shelter. If John Calipari really cared about the scam of the "American Dream" then he would move to another country where (a) there is no poverty or homelessness or (b) no one pretended to care about the poverty and homelessness. As long as John Calipari lives in the United States, he's all a part of the scam.

The first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, received a first-year salary of $4,436,900; Noel, at sixth, received $2,643,600—a difference of almost $1.8 million in their rookie season alone.

And is John Calipari going to reimburse Noel for that $1.8 million difference caused by no actions on Calipari's part other than a freak injury occurring to Noel when Calipari had chosen to put Noel in the game? Of course not. It's all a part of Calipari's plan to recruit one-and-done basketball players and then steal hypothetical money from them when they get injured on the court, all the while Calipari is manically laughing at how his team has now a lesser chance of winning a championship. It's all part of the plan that John Calipari and the NCAA have.

Of course, one could also point out that Anthony Bennett was also a one-and-done guy, so the money Noel "lost" was "gained" by Bennett through the scam Dave Rice is running at UNLV where he recruited Bennett to play basketball. Dave Rice is culpable as a basketball coach in the NCAA scam too, right?

Over the maximum five-season lifespan of his rookie deal, Noel’s draft position is worth about $11,000,000 less than if he’d gone first overall, as he would have if he hadn’t suffered the ACL injury.

This has to be one of the most poorly defended articles I have read in a while. Okay, that's sad for Noel. I have absolutely no idea what this has to do with John Calipari. If Noel didn't tear his ACL as a member of the Kentucky basketball team then he could have done it as a member of the UNC or Indiana basketball team. I wouldn't argue against the NCAA costing Noel this money, but dragging Calipari into it due to his status as a basketball coach for an NCAA team is ridiculous.

And unlike Alex Poythress, the Kentucky player who decided of his own free will to return to school and wound up with an expensive and prospect-darkening ACL injury of his own, Noel didn’t lose a dice roll of his own choosing.

So now we are differentiating between the risk on the court a guy who may be one-and-done takes with the risk on the court a guy who may play in the NBA but chooses to stay in school for 3-4 years takes? The risk is the exact same. Nerlens Noel could easily go back to school and turn into a guy who stays in college for 3-4 years. All of a sudden, Calipari is no longer responsible for Noel's draft status!

He played the single season of college ball essentially mandated by the NBA’s age restriction, got injured, and got screwed.

But Noel could have gone back to school. Alex Poythress would have left after his freshmen year too if his draft stock would have been higher at that point. Noel rolled the dice of his own choosing by not coming back to school for his sophomore year. He could have made the same decision that Poythress made.

(Before anyone does the whole Hey, Nerlens Noel made $2.6 million his rookie year—if that’s getting screwed, sign me up thing: Likely there are people who would happily do your job for 40 percent less pay, too. Probably you would feel pretty screwed if your employer told you that you were about to become one of them.)

This isn't close to being an accurate parallel. A more accurate parallel would be if I had the chance to get a job, but because of circumstances out of my control they re-opened the job search and hired someone else for the position and paid them more than they were offering me. Then I would get a similar job for less pay at another company.

None of this—the NBA’s unjust age restriction and rookie wage scale, the NCAA’s criminal restrictions on athlete compensation and unfair asymmetry of risk—is John Calipari’s doing, or John Calipari’s fault.

I must have misread that. I'll try again.

None of this—the NBA’s unjust age restriction and rookie wage scale, the NCAA’s criminal restrictions on athlete compensation and unfair asymmetry of risk—is John Calipari’s doing, or John Calipari’s fault.

Oh, what you write does say it is John Calipari's fault. The author states the following in this column:

He deserves less criticism for breaking NCAA rules and more for profiting from them, because even his “Players First” arrangement forces players to take huge risks for a reward artificially delayed by NCAA and NBA rules, while he himself risks nothing at all and has a guaranteed seven-figure annual reward no matter what becomes of the players who do all the valuable work.

It sort of sounds like he is blaming Calipari for the unfair asymmetry of risk and unjust age restriction doesn't it?

You may rightly assert that his Wildcat pedigree and Calipari’s imprimatur helped secure Noel’s draft position against concerns about his health, in service of a Coach Cal gets his guys paid! argument.

But then, account for the NBA’s rookie pay scale system, under the rubric of which draft position determines salary for all first-round picks. Prior to his ACL injury, Noel was the presumptive first overall pick in the 2013 draft (actually, “presumptive” may not be strong enough; that he would go first overall was a virtual certainty); when the draft finally rolled around, he fell to sixth, thanks to concerns about his leg and how recovery might hamper his development. The first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, received a first-year salary of $4,436,900; Noel, at sixth, received $2,643,600—a difference of almost $1.8 million in their rookie season alone.

Doesn't this sound a bit like blaming Calipari for the rookie wage scale? Specifically since this was a point brought up to counter an argument that Calipari's success makes him different from rival coaches and therefore shouldn't be put to blame for "the deal" he offers his players.

The point isn’t that Calipari is out here doing anything more evil than what his counterparts are doing at other big-money NCAA programs—he’s not—but that the NCAA system itself is so corrupt and compromised, the ripping-off of athletes so fundamental to its business, that it cannot be navigated in a humane and ethical fashion by a coach.

So why in the hell are you singling out Calipari for disdain? Other than it pumps up pageviews and the comment section to have a debate about Calipari, of course.

To coach in the NCAA is to perpetrate the rip-off. John Calipari might make it as painless as it can be, but it’s still a rip-off—for Alex Poythress, for Nerlens Noel, for Anthony Davis, for all of them—and Calipari is still on the side of it that participates by choice. The side of it that gets paid.

As is every single NCAA college coach. I don't get the point that is trying to be proven here.

Tellingly, the defense of Calipari winds up echoing defenses of the NCAA itself. McCarthy objects to the use of Poythress to illustrate the shortcomings of Calipari’s “Players First” principle, on grounds that Poythress, who stayed in college longer than he had to and suffered a torn ACL for it, will still “have a free college education to show for his time at Kentucky.”

Well, that defense sucks then. There is no required defense of John Calipari. He coaches men's basketball at the University of Kentucky. Some of his players who choose to go to the NBA after one year, as they are required to wait that long by NBA rule. Some players wait longer than one year to go to the NBA and other players of his have no chance of making the NBA. John Calipari tries to win games for the University of Kentucky while teaching his players how to play basketball better, which may or may not help them make it into the NBA. His track record says he is pretty good at getting his players into the NBA while following the one-and-done rule set out by the NBA. The rookie wage scale has nothing to do with NCAA college basketball.

Remember that Poythress will have earned this education by playing many hundreds of hours of basketball for the university—basketball that generates far more money for the university and the NCAA than they return to him in the form of his athletic scholarship.

If John Calipari died as a child, then Alex Poythress would still be playing hundreds of hours for a university and receiving no money in return for the money he generates for the university.

Poythress has not received a “free college education.” He has received an incredibly expensive one! He has paid more for his college education than the average college graduate will spend in a lifetime.

When you find evidence that John Calipari is directly responsible for college athletes not getting paid, then call me.

To accept the premise that an undergraduate education is—or even can be—a fair return for the work high-level college basketball players do is to accept the central lie of “student athletics.” If Calipari’s deal as presented by McCarthy—NBA jobs after a year of underpaid work for some, free college educations for the rest—is a fair one, then so is the NCAA itself.

Maybe this is true. It sounds like both McCarthy and the author here are arguing about whether college athletes should get paid, but putting "Calipari" in the title in effort to gain more attention for the same old tired argument.

In this case the sheen of principled rebellion evaporates from Calipari’s rules violations in an instant, and he’s just a guy who cheats to get ahead, then leaves the consequences for others to absorb.

Oh, we are talking about Calipari's rules violations now.

But the NCAA’s deal isn’t a fair one. An undergraduate education isn’t a fair return for the work college basketball players do. And so Alex Poythress’s decision to stay in school and pursue his degree doesn’t vindicate Calipari’s methods.

If the NCAA isn't a fair deal, then no methods used by any NCAA athletic coach are vindicated in any way. This is because zero college athletes get paid for participating in their sport and generating revenue for the school. This is true whether the athletes be women's soccer players at Lehigh University or football players at the University of Texas. These athletes spend hundreds of hours of their time trying to perfect the sport they aren't getting paid to perfect. If the system is corrupt, this means any athletic coach in the NCAA is culpable on the same level as Calipari. No method used by a coach, interestingly other than to commit a rules violation (that the author felt the need to randomly bring up as a case against Calipari's methods) by paying the players, will vindicate that coach's methods because the NCAA system is corrupt.

Calipari runs the scam without the bullshit pretense of some lofty pedagogical mission, but it’s still a scam.

It's a scam, but not a scam of Calipari's doing. He's trying to do what other men's basketball coaches are trying to do, which is work within the rules and recruit a team that wins games. It's not Calipari's scam, he's simply choosing to work at the University of Kentucky. His quitting as the head coach at Kentucky would have zero impact on the scam the NCAA is running. Therefore, his culpability is the same as every other coach's culpability, yet for some reason other coaches aren't mentioned in this column. Weird.

McCarthy and other defenders are right to say that Calipari offers the closest thing to an honest bargain players can get from college basketball. It’s also true, though, that the comparison makes Calipari appear better than he is. Only in the context of the NCAA would justice-minded people look at him—a millionaire management-class white dude who asks for a year of underpaid labor, rather than four, from his black teenage workers—and see a beacon of fairness.

What are Calipari's other options again? Other than to quit his job as the head coach at Kentucky, of course. I don't think some people see a beacon of fairness in having basketball players at Kentucky stay there for a year before they go to the NBA. I think Calipari offers certain college basketball players a way to reach their goal of making it into the NBA, just like other NCAA men's basketball head coaches offer prospective one-and-done players or even players that will be at the school risking injury over a four year period.

Go easy on him, the other ticks are much thirstier. That flattering comparison is another of the many ways John Calipari profits not in spite of the NCAA’s awfulness, but because of it.

I don't think this article was quite as profound or persuasive as the author believes it was. To frame this argument in the context of John Calipari and try to make it seen as he's hero for college athletes is very misguided. It's simply not true. The basic argument McCarthy was making was this:

The NCAA is, for lack of a better word, evil. But while John Calipari might not be a hero fighting against its crooked ways, he isn’t the villain that many, including Burneko, have described.

Right, Calipari isn't the villain. Because if he is the villain then every other NCAA coach who participates in the scam is a villain as well. If the author doesn't blame Calipari for the NBA's rookie salary structure, the one-and-done rule, restrictions on athletes' compensation and the asymmetry of risk then what is he blaming Calipari for? Being a cog in the machine? I guess both arguments pro- and anti-Calipari are wrong in that case.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

7 comments Skip Bayless Evaluates Why NFL QB Draft Choices Fail; HAHA! I'm Just Kidding, Skip Bayless Talks about Himself and His Old Opinions of NFL QB Draft Choices

I imagine the home of Skip Bayless isn't really a home. I imagine it has approximately 500 mirrors and mostly serves as a shrine to Skip's favorite person, himself. Every article he writes at ESPN.com is really just about Skip's opinion and the opinion of others regarding Skip's opinion. There's no substance to any of Skip's writing, instead it is mostly "Here is my opinion and what others thought about my opinion and do you mind if we talk about me a little bit more?" So under the guise of figuring out why quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft miss the mark in the NFL, Skip reviews the quarterbacks who he believed would succeed and discusses how sometimes he's right and sometimes he is wrong, but mostly it's just another shrine to Skip Bayless and his opinions. The use of the words "I," "I'm," and "I've" in this article is so prevalent only the most noble and bored of adventurers would take on the expedition of counting how many times Skip uses these words.

I'll admit it's getting a little eerie. Six times before NFL drafts, I've taken a stand for quarterbacks doubted by many. For a while, they've all made me look like a genius.

It's eerie that Skip really doesn't know what the fuck he is talking about. Weird, isn't it?

Then ...

Things have gone wrong.

They have gone wrong for a variety of reasons, but mostly because Skip was never right and NFL defensive coordinators found a way to game plan around stopping the strengths of these quarterbacks. It's much in the same way that Skip would build a bridge and claim "for a while" it was a work of genius until one day the entire bridge fell and killed dozens of people and hundreds of innocent water creatures. Skip will still insist "for a while" that bridge worked really well, while ignoring that isn't the mark of success at all.

In each case I wound up publicly pilloried as a madman, a football fool, a quarterback hack who is daft when it comes to the draft. I still believe I deserve credit for always being so initially right. You decide.

It's all about Skip and the reaction of the public to the idiotic words he speaks because ESPN inexplicably gives him a forum to speak these words. And no, there is no credit being given for being initially right, because being initially right where a quarterback plays well for a season or two isn't correctly predicting that quarterback will succeed in the NFL. Success isn't determined over a short span of time. There's really no debate that can be had on this. Skip isn't right because Tim Tebow fooled defensive coordinators for almost an entire season, at least until they caught on to how to game plan around him.

But as we go case by case, you'll see a common cause of eventual failure -- one I can't account for pre-draft.

Skip tries to blame outside forces for the reason each quarterback didn't succeed in the NFL, in order to cover up for the fact "He isn't a good quarterback" could not have been accounted for prior to the draft. Skip can try and talk around it all he wants, and I will admit it's a guessing game whether some of these quarterbacks will succeed in the NFL, but the bottom line is that Skip went hard all-in on some of these quarterbacks and has ended up being wrong. He can talk around it, but that's the bottom line.

Most of these quarterbacks wound up with franchises whose executives and coaches were dangerously split on them. I was all-in. The team that drafted them was not.

Of course, it is the franchise's fault for not being all-in on these quarterbacks. Naturally. It's not that those executives and coaches who argued against the drafting of these quarterbacks were right, it's just they were only right because they argued against drafting these quarterbacks based on legitimate reasons that ended up being correct. But the reasons wouldn't have been correct if they had just been all-in on the quarterback. It all makes sense if you turn your brain off. 

You'll also see a common flaw: Several of "my guys" failed to handle their success and/or failure in unstable and uneasy situations.

And really, who could have seen that coming? Johnny Manziel partied a lot in college and was drafted by an organization that seems somewhat dysfunctional? Who could have seen that he wouldn't succeed? 

You can argue I've been much more long-term accurate on which quarterbacks are being dangerously overrated. I said on air JaMarcus Russell and Sam Bradford were very bad ideas for No.1 overall picks, that Alex Smith would never live up to being taken No. 1 and that Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were not first-round picks. 

You could argue that, but it wouldn't mean Skip wasn't wrong about these other six quarterbacks.

Those weren't popular stances.

Skip is a rebel and takes unpopular stances, based on the fact Stephen A. Smith disagrees with him. As is well known, Stephen A. Smith speaks for the majority opinion of the sports-loving world.

Neither were these ...

2006: I said on air the Houston Texans should take Vince Young No. 1 overall, in part because he grew up in Houston and had just led the University of Texas to the national championship with the greatest individual performance in title-game history.

Does Skip remember how popular Vince Young was coming out of Texas? It was not popular to say he would be successful in the NFL? I do disagree. Also, you can see from the start this isn't a column about WHY NFL quarterbacks taken early in the draft fail, as promised in the column title, but is about Skip Bayless and what he has said on the air. One other thing, to indicate the Texans should have taken Young simply because he grew up in Houston and led the University of Texas to a national championship is very bad reasoning for taking Young #1 overall.

Houston shockingly opted for defensive end Mario Williams, leaving Reggie Bush for the New Orleans Saints and Young for the Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese and Titans owner Bud Adams,

It was shocking in that Mario Williams really worked out well for the Texans and Bush never really was the running back he promised himself to be in college. So it's almost like the Texans knew what they were doing.

One big problem: coach Jeff Fisher was against drafting Young.

Jeff Fisher is never wrong and you take it back right now.

Still, Young often made me look pretty good. He was offensive rookie of the year. He made two Pro Bowls. He went 30-17 as Tennessee's starter.

And that's really what this is all about isn't it? Which quarterbacks made Skip look good and which quarterbacks didn't make Skip look good. Vince Young did have success for a while, but this doesn't mean Skip was right about him. I think Mario Williams was the right pick for the Texans. 

But predictably, he often clashed with Fisher. It appeared Fisher helped turn some in the local and national media against Young. His skin grew thin.

IT WASN'T YOUNG'S FAULT HE FAILED IN THE NFL! IF HE HAD JUST GOTTEN ANOTHER SHOT WITH ANOTHER NFL TEAM HE WOULD HAVE SUCCEE---

Incredibly, after a season in Philadelphia and a camp with the Buffalo Bills and another with the Green Bay Packers, the league rejected Young at age 30.

This is shocking that Skip blames Young's failures on the environment in Tennessee and Young goes to another NFL team and continues to not be a good quarterbacks. It's almost like, and I almost dare not say it, Vince Young wasn't really a great quarterback and Skip was wrong about Young. But no, I'm sure the issues Jeff Fisher had with Young followed him to Philadelphia, Buffalo and to Green Bay. That makes more sense than Skip just outright being wrong.

What if Fisher had wanted to draft Young, had publicly invested his pride in him, had supported him through the growing pains? Young was too good for it to go so wrong.

What if Vince Young had success early in his career and this pretty much rejects the idea the biggest issue with Young's progress in the NFL is that he wasn't supported enough, because it doesn't make sense for him to play well at the beginning of his career and suddenly need more nurturing as he played more NFL games? I'm sure the Titans could have done something to help Young more, but three other teams took a look at Young and rejected him.

Another quarterback taken in that 2006 draft made the Pro Bowl in his second full season of starting. When Jay Cutler was a junior at Vanderbilt (my alma mater) I began raving about him on air, predicting he'd be a "franchise quarterback." Of course, that proclamation was met with chuckles. A Vandy quarterback?

As always, it is about Skip Bayless. Sense a trend that permeates Skip's entire writing style?

"Here's a quarterback. Here's what I thought about that quarterback. Here's what others thought about my thoughts about this quarterback. Here's an excuse for why I was wrong, but this doesn't mean I was wrong and others were right."

Cutler was the "lucky" one of the six debatable quarterbacks I loved before their drafts. (He's also the most prototypical pocket passer who least relied on his legs.) Shanahan really wanted him. So did the Bears. I certainly wasn't wrong about Cutler's ability. He's no bust. But he is what he was at Vandy: a little more interested in pulling off the occasional "wow" throw than winning.

Skip wasn't wrong about Cutler's ability? Is Cutler a franchise quarterback? No? Skip said Cutler was a franchise quarterback and he isn't, so that leads me to the conclusion Skip was wrong.

2009: I said on air that Mark Sanchez was being overrated. He went fifth to the Jets. I also raved about Josh Freeman and said the Tampa Bay Bucs stole him at No. 17.

Ah yes, the inconsistencies of Skip come to the forefront. He uses "games won" to make a case for why Vince Young could have been a great quarterback if it weren't for that meddling Jeff Fisher. All of a sudden he skips over that Mark Sanchez went to two AFC Championship Games as the starter for the Jets. Sure, I wouldn't give Sanchez credit for that, but in his eagerness to show how right he was about Sanchez, Skip changes the metric he uses for quarterback success. All of a sudden "games won" doesn't hold as much meaning to Skip when he's talking about a quarterback he thought wouldn't succeed in the NFL. Weird how that works.

I'd watched Kansas State's 6-6, 240-pound Freeman play big in his biggest games against Texas and Oklahoma.

No one else saw this. Only Skip saw Freeman play big in his biggest games against Texas and Oklahoma. (By the way, notice how Skip's love for the University of Texas seems to play a part in his evaluations?)

In his first full season as Tampa Bay's starter, he made me look pretty great by throwing 25 touchdown passes to only six interceptions and leading the Bucs to a 10-6 record. He was a Pro Bowl alternate.

Then ... it all fell apart in 2011. Rumors swirled. Maybe Freeman let success go to his head (or stomach). Maybe Raheem Morris lost control of the team as it went from 3-1 to 4-12. Morris was fired.

Freeman played pretty well in coach Greg Schiano's first season -- 27 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions -- but the team went 7-9.

Welp, it seems using team performance to evaluate a quarterback means something important again.

After three starts in 2013, the Bucs tried to trade Freeman, couldn't and released him. After one horrendous Monday night start for the Minnesota Vikings, a 23-7 loss at the New York Giants, Freeman was out of football at age 25.

You still hear speculation Freeman will get another shot. But how could he go from 2010 to this? Again: so right, so wrong.

Probably the same reason a rookie baseball player can have a fantastic rookie year and then fail to improve on or reach those heights for the rest of his career. Opponents adjust to the rookie's tendencies, and when the player's true talent comes to light after opponents have adjusted, it turns out he isn't the star people thought he could end up being.

2010: I said on air I would take Tim Tebow late in the first round. "If you let him run the read option he ran at Florida," I said, "he'll win games in the NFL. He'll never make a Pro Bowl, but he can win games as a starting quarterback."

He'll "win games," which is exactly the type of thing you want your first round pick quarterback to do. Just don't suck and win a few games.

Under John Fox, the Broncos began the next season 1-4, and a new Broncos regime (led by John Elway) that clearly didn't believe in Tebow threw him into the fire, at Miami, out of desperation. I was asked on air what I thought Tebow's record would be the rest of the season. I said 7-4. Chuckles.

Tebow went 7-4, led Denver to the AFC West title, led the NFL in QBR in the last five minutes of games and turned the Broncos into the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack. 

And let's be clear that the Broncos HAD to become the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack with Tebow as the quarterback, because he wasn't going to win games by throwing the football. Regardless of whether the Elway regime believed in Tebow or not, it doesn't mean they stunted his growth. Tebow failed in New York, where Rex Ryan took Mark Sanchez (the same Sanchez that Skip didn't like as an NFL QB) to two AFC Championship Games and he flamed out in New England. I would think if Belichick could have used Tebow in any productive way then he would have.

That offseason the Broncos replaced Tebow with ... Peyton Manning! No shame there. Tebow was traded to the Jets, with whom he was never even given a shot at starting.

That's funny. Tebow was in New York the season that Mark Sanchez was horrible and the Jets needed someone, anyone, to come in and play well at the quarterback position. Even going up against the quarterback that Skip thinks sucks, Mark Sanchez, Tebow couldn't win the starting job on a team desperate for a starting quarterback. So yeah, he was never given a shot. That's the lie that Skip will go with.

Tebow began to doubt himself and drifted from one throwing guru to another.

Maybe he started doubting himself because he's really not that good at throwing the football?

It's still possible the Philadelphia Eagles' Chip Kelly will sign Tebow, but again, I was so sensationally right ... and ultimately condemned as so dead wrong.

No, not at all. You were so sensationally wrong. Tim Tebow is now a co-worker of Skip's at ESPN. Tebow is not in the NFL anymore, so Skip was right for a brief period of time, but in the longer span of time he was absolutely wrong about Tebow. Again, simply because a bridge holds up for a brief span of time before it collapses does not mean it was a safe bridge to cross for that brief span of time.

I do really like how Skip talks about how he was right about Tebow winning games as an NFL quarterback, while also ignoring that Tebow couldn't beat out the quarterback Skip proudly beats his chest in this article for correctly stating wouldn't be successful (Mark Sanchez). Ignore that which makes Skip look dumb. That's A LOT of ignoring.

2012: On air long before the draft, I said Robert Griffin III would prove to be an even better pro than Andrew Luck. The Washington Redskins traded three first-rounders and a second to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 to take RG III. Way too much? Not to me.

It's hard for Skip to talk his way out of this one. He'll try to do so by ignoring the issue he himself brought up when arguing for Griffin. The issue Skip presented was that Griffin will be a better quarterback than Andrew Luck. He's not and he won't ever be. Skip was wrong.

Still, In RG III's rookie season, at age 22, he went superstar on the NFL. Offensive rookie of the year, 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions, led the league in yards per pass attempt and per rush, led his team to the NFC East crown, had a better QBR than Luck -- 71.4 to 65.2.

FOR ONE YEAR! ONE SOLITARY SEASON!

RG III sprained his knee late in the season, then tweaked it just before his team jumped out 14-0 on the Seattle Seahawks in a home playoff game, then wrecked it late in that eventual loss. And he has spent the past two seasons looking like a sad shell of a guy who no longer trusts his legs or eyes or arm.

I like how Skip always blames outside forces for the failure of these quarterbacks. It's never, "Griffin got injured and his lack of mobility revealed him as a one-read quarterback who just couldn't grasp the passing concepts required to be an NFL quarterback." Skip reasons that Griffin no longer trusted his leg or arm after his injury. Of course, because Skip could never be wrong with his evaluation of Griffin's abilities.

He clashed with Shanahan and failed to click with new coach Jay Gruden. Now ESPN's John Clayton is reporting new GM Scot McCloughan will take Mariota if he's there at No. 5.

Now it feels like RG III's best bet is to start over with another team in another town.

Where when/if Griffin fails there, then Skip will conveniently ignore that Griffin was away from the Redskins' toxic environment and he still couldn't succeed.

2014: I said on air the Texans would forever regret not taking Texas native Johnny Manziel, the Heisman winner from Texas A&M, with the No. 1 overall pick.

And so far, the Texans have been correct twice when Skip has claimed they would regret not taking a quarterback that Skip suggests they draft.

I was told the Texans were considering Manziel until they asked him to lay low and behave himself in the month leading up to the draft. Manziel attended the Masters, had too much to drink and -- the Texans were told -- made a spectacle of himself. They were out.

Again and again I said before the draft: If alcohol proves to be an ongoing issue for Manziel, I'm out.

Skip is blaming alcohol for Manziel's poor rookie season, while acknowledging that he thought alcohol could be an issue for Manziel prior to his being drafted. This sort of contradicts what Skip said earlier in this column:

But as we go case by case, you'll see a common cause of eventual failure -- one I can't account for pre-draft.

Oh, except Skip did account for Manziel's alcohol use pre-draft. I wouldn't expect Skip to stay consistent.

Loggains showed the text to owner Jimmy Haslam, who encouraged GM Ray Farmer, coach Mike Pettine and coordinator Kyle Shanahan to trade up to take Manziel. The Browns did, from 26 to 22.

But the GM, coach and coordinator were not sold on Manziel. I said on air the next morning this was the wrong place for a quarterback whose coaches and execs must be united in their belief in him and his crazy-competitive playmaking genius. This, I said, will not work.

Me, me, me, me. Skip said this or that "on air." I wonder if Skip could write a column without once referencing his own opinion or in any way trying to bring the subject of the column back around to himself? Most definitely not. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for Robert Griffin when he had his great rookie season. I'm not entirely sure what this means, so forget I brought it up.

The Browns lost last year's starter, Brian Hoyer, a Pettine favorite, to free agency but have signed Josh McCown and Thad Lewis and recently (according to an ESPN report) tried to trade for Bradford. Manziel no longer appears to be in the Browns' plans -- and shouldn't have been in the first place.

Manziel needs a second chance with a GM and coach who completely buy in. Maybe he'll prove to be nothing but a bust. The other five did not.

The other five quarterbacks that Skip caped up for weren't busts, but neither were quarterbacks that Skip proudly tells his readers he never liked and look at how right he was about that. Mark Sanchez wasn't a bust if Tim Tebow wasn't a bust, Sam Bradford hasn't been a bust, and Alex Smith is a lot of things, but he's also been a better quarterback than the six Skip has listed here as QB's he was temporarily right about.

I can't predict injury or addiction or sorry situations. But I must admit, if I were a hotly debated draftee, I wouldn't want me pushing for me.

It's not like Skip is a well-known personnel genius or anything like that. He's just a guy with a hot take who likes to take guesses and then make excuses if he is wrong. But yes, I wouldn't want you speaking about me at all if I were a draftee. I would prefer you just disappear or try to write a column that isn't simply about you. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

7 comments Bill Simmons Posts an NBA Playoffs Mailbag and Promises More Mailbags to Come; Essentially Making a Mockery of the "Columns" Heading On His Grantland Page

In the last Bill Simmons post I did, which was about his NBA lottery preview, I wrote the following: 

Bill Simmons must have made a mistake. It seems he actually wrote a column and posted it on Grantland. I keep waiting for it to be pulled back and Bill to admit it was an accident and he didn't mean to actually write a column that isn't a mailbag.

But hey, I'm sure the SimmonsClones are just excited to have another column from Bill they can worship and send in questions to him about, thereby allowing Bill to answer the questions in a mailbag and justify the existence of the SimmonsClone asking the question.

So as expected, Simmons' very next column up on Grantland is in fact a mailbag. Let's just say I'm not entirely shocked. It's all circular. Bill writes a column, waits a week or two and spits out a mailbag. Then his readers respond to ideas in that mailbag and he writes another mailbag about these responses. Hey, it's better than actually having to think of a topic to write about when Bill really has no urge to put his quest for television celebrity status on hold to write like a simple little blogger would write. But, it's expected of him that he spit out words written on to a computer screen, so here is the mailbag reunion tour. Yeah, that's what he is calling it. If you would like to know why, it's easily explained in knowing that Bill Simmons has to have a contrivance for everything he writes now. He just can't write, there has to be a contrivance. Whether it's quotes from a movie, tons of YouTube videos in a column, comparing an athlete to something in pop culture or thinking of a contrivance to call the mailbag to cover up for the fact it's just a fucking mailbag, there will be a contrivance. So here is Bill's mailbag and I can feel Bill's indifference through my computer screen.

But first, it’s a Grantland Basketball Hour alert! On the heels of last night’s “Hardcore Playoff Preview” with me, Jalen Rose and Zach Lowe …

… we have a second playoff special counting down the “25 Most Intriguing People” of 2015’s postseason premiering tonight on ESPN at 7 ET. We’re also running these GBH shows as podcasts and throwing segments online (like this one). And we’re producing four to six more shows during the playoffs, so if you want to contribute a mailbag question, send it to mailbag@grantland.com.

Ah yes, the partial true intent for posting articles or mailbags again rings true. It's a great way to cross-promote Bill's other ventures with Grantland. So Bill answers questions in a mailbag in his columns and answers questions from a mailbag on television. Essentially, he is just answering questions now. He's basically become a sports version of Andy Cohen from "What Watch Happens Live." As usual, I will be making fun of the person asking the question, as well as Bill.

Hey, speaking of mailbags …
 
Q: You do mailbags so infrequently, every time you actually do one, it feels like you’re doing a Mailbag Reunion Tour.
 

—Ryan, Boston

Bill's first question is from a guy who lives in Boston. I don't believe it.

BS: First of all, words hurt. Second, I’d like to welcome everyone to the 2015 Sports Guy Mailbag Reunion Tour! I’m gonna try my hardest to write a Friday mailbag every single week during the 2015 NBA playoffs. That’s 10 weeks in all. If you’ve been reading me for this long, you know that I’m notorious for making column promises that I can never totally keep.

It is difficult to write a mailbag. Bill has to have somebody else pick out the questions he will answer, then that person has to email Bill the questions he is going to answer/ignore/try to top with original ideas of his own, and then finally Bill will have to post the questions and his answers. This time could be better used to try and have conversations with famous people that he can publicly relay to his readers or trying to make tortured comparisons between an NBA team that hasn't won an NBA title in 60+ years and the New England Patriots.

Q: I have gotten laid TWICE since you wrote last. And I am married 10 years with two little kids, so you KNOW that is a long time. Don’t make me get laid again without writing. How about “just a mailbag”? Seriously.
 

—Brian, Harrisburg, PA

It's sad that Brian's life is so empty. His wife probably doesn't want to have sex with him anymore ever since that time she caught him jerking off to one of Bill's podcasts while simultaneously watching a DVR'd re-run of the "Grantland Basketball Hour." That's probably the real reason for his lack of sex.

BS: You got laid twice even though you have two little kids? You need to be happier about this. Cheer up. You’re putting a damper on the 2015 Sports Guy Mailbag Reunion. As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

Some of these actual readers are Bill Simmons reading his own columns and then asking himself questions, so I guess theoretically they are actual readers.

Q: Admit it Bill — Rather than following your instincts and declaring James Harden as the undisputed MVP candidate, you surveyed the field, figured out which way the winds of popular opinion were blowing and chose to give Steph Curry the edge. How could you do this, especially after coming up with the best way to judge the MVP’s candidacy? (‘Replace the guy with a decent guy in the same position and evaluate how the team would have done.’)

—Ram Sridhar, Rutherford, NJ

BS: There are a couple of other ways too. I spent four solid years working on a trial-and-error method of determining the MVP award,

Jesus Christ. This so worthless. Bill insists on creating rules for things where there are no rules because the situation changes from year-to-year.

I settled on four fool-proof questions for determining every MVP season. What better way to solve our most polarizing MVP race in years: Harden or Curry?

These are four FOOL-PROOF questions for determining every MVP season. These rules will not change until they are proven incorrect, at which point Bill will add an addendum as a way of pretending that he simply wasn't wrong about there being a fool-proof way of determining every MVP season. These four questions will stand the test of time (for one year, at the very most) and will go to prove that Bill's opinion on who the MVP is will consistently agree with Bill's opinion on who the MVP is. Few writers are better at using his own opinion to prove his opinion correct.

"Chipotle is better than Qdoba and Moe's due to this three-prong test I just created. LOOK! The three-prong test I created agrees with my already set conclusion Chipotle is better than Qdoba and Moe's."

Question No. 1: If you replaced an MVP candidate with a decent player at his position for the entire season, what would be the hypothetical effect on his team’s record?

This is a fool-proof question that contains two assumptions or questions that are purely subjective. What is a "decent player" and how do we measure the hypothetical effect on the team's record? Both of these are answers that rely entirely on a person's opinion.

Normally, you’d say James Harden wins under this framework — if you replaced him on that injury-ravaged Rockets team with, say, Arron Afflalo, Houston probably would win 35-38 games instead of 56.

Actually Bill, I have Houston as winning 45 games without James Harden.

I don't think it takes a genius to see how worthless this first question ends up being. Bill takes a guess at how many games Houston will win without Harden. It's an opinion-based question that leads to the answer simply being an opinion as well.

Couldn’t you say the same about the Warriors? Yeah, if you replaced Curry with Reggie Jackson, the Warriors might lose 15-20 more games while grabbing a no. 7 seed. 

No, actually I have the Warriors as losing 20-25 more games with Reggie Jackson AND Jackson will drown while swimming in the ocean midseason. Boy, this hypothetical is a brutal one.

It’s an exceptionally coached team with enough depth to just bench David Lee whenever they feel like it. 

I have absolutely no idea why "bench" is italicized here. It's a huge mystery to me.

And their defense has been as good as their offense, which people always forget because it’s so damned fun to watch their offense.

Nope, "people" remember this. "People" don't forget it simply because it's convenient for you to think "people" forget it so that you can feel like you just made an excellent point.

But Curry was the biggest reason that the 2015 Warriors were the seventh member of our .800/10 Club — any team that finished with an .800-plus winning percentage and a plus-10 point differential — which is relevant because the first six teams won a title.

Again, why italicize "won a title"? If you read this sentence aloud and emphasize "won a title" the sentence sounds ridiculous. Play this game at home if you like. It sounds stupid to read the sentence like Bill wrote it.

Oh, and don't forget if you are reading it aloud to use a grating voice as well for the full Bill Simmons effect.

Harden turned a .500 team into a 56-win team. Curry turned a no. 7 seed into one of the best regular-season teams ever, as well as an unforgettable League Pass team and the single best story of the 2014-15 season. So Curry wins this one.

So basically Bill didn't even get through the first question before he was like, "Fuck it, I'm not going to pay attention to my own rules. I want Steph Curry to win, so he will."

These are FOOL-PROOF questions that MUST be answered in order to find out who the MVP will be. By "fool-proof" Bill must mean "questions with arbitrary answers based on the person answering the question's opinion on the topic of who the MVP is and if the person answering the question wants a certain answer to be correct then he can just make up something on the spot."

Question No. 2: In a giant pickup game with every NBA player available and two knowledgeable fans forced to pick five-man teams with their lives depending on the outcome, who would be the first player picked based on how everyone just played in the regular season?

LeBron James. There are no other answers I would listen to as correct.

I love this question.

Bill loves this question. The same question that HE FUCKING THOUGHT OF HIMSELF! WHAT A GENIUS THAT BILL SIMMONS IS! BILL SIMMONS THINKS THAT BILL SIMMONS IS A GENIUS!

As much as I want to pick Russell Westbrook, the thought of hinging my life on a night when Russ might lose his mind and start going 1-on-5 while maybe earning a 16th technical that the league can’t even rescind because the loser of the hypothetical bet would be dead already … I mean, that scares the bejesus out of me. The safest bet? LeBron James 

I feel like Will Ferrell's version of Alex Trebek on SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy sometimes when I'm covering a Bill Simmons mailbag. I just want to rip up the cards with the questions on them and ask Bill, "What conclusion would you like to reach? Just state what you think and we can ignore all the bullshit you use to get there."

In this case, I'm going to try and ignore what "knowledgeable fans" would be considered in this situation. Again, it's a subjective opinion on who is knowledgeable and who is not.

You know who the answer to this question might be? KAWHI LEONARD!!!! 

It might be Kawhi Leonard or it might be Meyers Leonard or it could be Meyer Lansky. All of these would be the right answer in Crazy Land. This is the same Crazy Land where Kawhi Leonard is the first pick in a draft among knowledgeable NBA fans.

If I take Kawhi — who proved after the All-Star break that he’s the most destructive perimeter defender since Apex Scottie Pippen — then I can lock down the other team’s best offensive player and still grab an elite offensive guy with my second pick.

Or you could pick the elite offensive guy with the first pick and still have a few rounds to select Kawhi Leonard. And what if the other team doesn't choose James Harden? Does that ruin part of Leonard's value? I don't know why I ask these questions...

The truth is, there were too many terrific players this season. Westbrook was 2015’s night-to-night balls-to-the-wall alpha dog; LeBron was 2015’s hibernating alpha dog; Harden was 2015’s alpha-dog-as-long-as-Kawhi-wasn’t-around; Kawhi was 2015’s alpha dog stopper; Anthony Davis was the alpha-dog-in-training; and Curry was the alpha dog on 2015’s alpha dog. It’s a cop-out, but there’s no clear answer.

It's a fool-proof set of questions to where the first question has been ignored and the second question didn't come up with a clear answer. THESE ARE THE GREATEST QUESTIONS IN THE HISTORY OF HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS AND SHOULD BE ASKED BY ST. PETER UPON ENTRANCE TO HEAVEN! WHO SAYS "NO" TO THIS?

Nothing is more typical of Bill Simmons than to take four years to think of four questions to determine who should win MVP that provide no clear answer as to who should win MVP.

(Important: In mid-June, we might feel differently.)

Yes Bill, since you believe yourself to speak for every NBA fan on the planet because you are the expert of all experts, "we" may feel differently in June. Spoiler alert: I won't. If the Cavs don't make the NBA Finals, I'm still picking LeBron. I'm sure "we" will find out my opinion is wrong though, because overreacting to something that just happened is a specialty of Bill's.

Question No. 3: If you’re explaining your MVP pick to someone who has a favorite player in the race — a player whom you didn’t pick — will he at least say something like, “Yeah, I don’t like it, but I see how you arrived at that choice”?

Oh for fuck's sake. This isn't even really a question. My head might explode so I hope you see the issue I have with this question. How can a question be fool-proof if it is so overly-reliant on the opinion of another person? Riddle me this Simmons!

Applies only if you’re discussing the MVP race with a Cleveland fan who counters, “Um, we were so dreadful that we won three of the last four lotteries, and then LeBron showed up and helped us overhaul our team, and suddenly we’re -230 favorites to win the East, and LeBron has looked like LEBRON for the past three months, and since we’ve already collectively agreed that he’s the best basketball player since MJ and one of the best seven or eight players ever, um, why isn’t he the MVP again?

Bill should be kicked in the groin by a horse for writing "LeBron has looked like LEBRON..." Do Bill's readers realize just how awful he is at writing, arguing a point and just generally putting together a coherent, logical thought? His writing is that of a high school kid, but is it that he's so funny and in touch with today's youth and the struggle they go through that they don't care?

Important: The Bulls went 203-43 during the three regular seasons from 1996 through 1998, then 45-13 in the three postseasons (winning all three titles). They never lost three games in a row and played only one Game 7, even though they played 304 games in 31 months. JORDAN PLAYED IN 304 OF THOSE 304 GAMES.

Important: I don't know why this is important.

And during the second of those three seasons, even though we’d already decided that MJ was the greatest basketball player ever,

Who the fuck is "we" Bill? YOU? YOU decided that Michael Jordan was the greatest player ever? Even if it is true for me personally, it annoys me Bill truly believes because he's just written in 1997 "we" decided Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever that is is true. He should be kicked in the groin by two horses and one of the horses needs to be wearing spikes.

a majority of media members said to themselves, I think Karl Malone was slightly more valuable this season. It’s probably the dumbest thing that ever happened. Anyway, Jordan’s numbers never slipped during that stretch.

Oh, they didn't? And again, read that last sentence aloud and hear how dumb the emphasis on "slipped" sounds in the context of the sentence. Anyway, Jordan's numbers didn't slip. Not at all.

They dipped a little, but that’s it.

So his numbers did slip? See Bill, stating Jordan's numbers didn't "slip" and then using another word that means "slip" in place of "dip" only goes to show that you are making things up as you go along. There is no difference in "dip" and "slip." It's the same thing and attempting to differentiate them is simply a desperate way of making it seem like Jordan's numbers didn't decline just slightly when they did.

LeBron in ’15: 25.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.4 apg, 49-35-71%, 25.9 PER, .199 WS/48
 

LeBron ’08-14: 28.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.1 apg, 52-35-76%, 30.1 PER, .283 WS/48

Now that’s a dip.

It's the same things as a "slip." These things I end up arguing about when covering a Bill Simmons article makes me question my sanity.

Question No. 4: Ten years from now, who will be the first player from that season who pops into my head?

Oh for motherfucking fuckityfuckeverlastinglightforallthatisholyfuckityfuckfuck. The last "fool-proof" question depends, yet again, entirely on the opinion that a person holds? This is not fool-proof, this is just an opinion. A regular, boring opinion. It's not a way to find out who the real MVP is (which we all know is Kevin Durant's mom), but this question is just another in a long line of bullshit lists, questions, corollaries, etc that Bill spent all of 10 minutes concocting. These lists, questions, corollaries, etc all end up essentially just being a way to back up the opinion Bill holds by extrapolating out a series of opinions that Bill holds to reach his ultimate opinion. It's always, "My opinion isn't wrong because here is more of my opinion that proves my original opinion correct." The game is rigged to reach the conclusion Bill wants it to reach.

But around 2007, I remember praising Nash for being the only “driver” who could have handled the race car that was the Seven Seconds or Less Suns; they were like a special Ferrari built for his exact qualities. You could say the same about Curry and 2015’s Porsche Warriors.

Okay Bill, let's play this game. If I were a Hawks fan, what if Jeff Teague is the player from this season who pops into my head? Does that mean Jeff Teague is the NBA MVP or does it just mean I'm a Hawks fan and that is the team I identify with most? Nothing can be fool-proof if it relies entirely on a person's opinion. Four opinion-based questions are even less fool-proof when based on four separate opinions. Please stop writing for Grantland.

Last Curry point: I grew up with my father telling me, You missed out on Maravich. Every weekend, they showed one nationally televised college game and we used to pray it would be Maravich. There will never be another Maravich. I always felt cheated that I never caught Pistol Pete in his prime; by the time he landed on the Celtics in 1980, he was pretty much washed up. Fast-forward 35 years: Isn’t Curry really Pistol Pete reincarnated as a more efficient, more unselfish model?

Yes, he is Bill. Steph Curry is reincarnated as a more talented Pete Maravich. You nailed it.

Over everything else, Stephen Curry performed.

Read it aloud. It sounds stupid.

This was a virtuoso performance that included staggeringly good individual efficiency and once-a-decade team success. When I think about the 2014-15 regular season, I will remember Curry and the Warriors first … and then I’ll remember everyone else. He’s my MVP.

But Bill, you said these four questions would figure out who the MVP was and you worked on these questions for four years (again, I feel like I'm Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek where there is so much stupidity being thrown at me I can't even focus on piece of that stupidity...Bill worked on these four questions for FOUR YEARS?...It would have taken me possibly an hour to come up with these rules). After four years this is all you got? These four questions figure out who you think is the MVP, so as I said, they are basically just a way to reinforce your own opinion. I think of LeBron James when I think of this NBA season. Let's pretend. So does that make him the MVP? That's what I remember most, so he's the first guy I would choose in a pick up game and if you take him off the Cavs we've seen what happens, plus it's never bad to choose LeBron and it's hard to disagree with LeBron as a choice. So this means he's MVP according to Bill's "fool-proof" four questions. Then how come Bill's MVP was Steph Curry?

Q: You once wrote that every MVP trophy’s size should depend on “the quality of the MVP race” and the “transcendence of the season itself.” How large should 2015’s trophy be?

—Josh, Grand Rapids, MI

Bill had separate weights for each MVP season and the heavier the trophy then the closer and more exciting the race was...or something like that. It obviously doesn't matter because it's another example of Bill just making things up and mistaking it for creativity.

Well, 2015 was an undeniably memorable race (along with 1987, 1990 and 1993, one of the four best of the past 30 years) … and Steph Curry is a future Hall of Famer (if he stays healthy) … and Curry definitely gutted out that award (we don’t even know if he won). So I’m awarding 25-pound status for the 2015 trophy.

(Bengoodfella makes a wanking motion with his hand)

The rest of my 2015 awards ballot, since we’re here: Andrew Wiggins for rookie (over Noel and Mirotic); Lou Williams for sixth man (over Isaiah Thomas); Steve Kerr for coach (over Budz and Pop);

Here is where I am a little confused. Steve Kerr is Coach of the Year because he took a team that was already a playoff team (got 6th seed over the last two seasons) and has the MVP on the roster over the Hawks, who were also a playoff team previously, but added no real impact players in the offseason and have almost zero stars on the team. The Hawks went from an 8-seed to the 1-seed in a matter of one season without adding real impact players, meanwhile Steve Kerr had the MVP (according to Bill) on his team.

Which guy did the better coaching job? The Warriors won 51 and 47 games over the last two seasons, while the Hawks won 44 and 38 games over the last two seasons. Both teams got a 1-seed and the Warriors went from 51 to 67 wins while the Hawks went from 38 to 60 wins. Which coach did the better coaching job again? Bill's buddy Steve Kerr of course.

Q: Don’t you think Byron Scott could play a police commissioner in a TNT drama? He definitely has the stache for it.
 

—James Houston, Redondo Beach

Uh-oh, one of Bill's readers has an original idea. We all know what this means. Bill has to shit on it and think of a much funnier, more clever idea to be the most clever guy in the room.

BS: I think it’s more fun to watch him play Unfrozen Caveman NBA Coach. I don’t believe in your pace-and-space offenses or spreading the floor so players can attack the basket. I see someone taking a 3-pointer and say to myself, “Why wouldn’t he just take two more dribbles and fire off a 20-footer?” I’m just a caveman! I was frozen during the 1988 Finals and recently thawed out to help turn the Lakers into a perennial lottery team! 

Yep, not really that funny. But hey, it's important to know that Bill heard a reader's funny idea and managed to again be the most clever guy in the room. It's about Bill's ego.

Q: How many more hours of motionless staring does Derek Fisher need to record during games before we can start calling him NBA Jim Caldwell?
 

—Ross, Santa Barbara

An idea that Bill wishes he had thought of writing down. That means he'll have to acknowledge this joke and then change the subject quickly so that everyone thinks Bill is the smartest, most clever guy in the room. Bill has jokes!

BS: Um, zero! We’re here! I always wanted an NBA Jim Caldwell. It’s too bad that Wittman doesn’t have an NFL equivalent; you can’t run the Clogged Toilet offense in football. We’ll have to wait for an NFL coach who spends every first and second down running the ball into the middle of the line, then every third down throwing it 25 yards downfield. Maybe this will be Jim Tomsula’s new offense for the 49ers. I mean, would you rule out anything incompetent with the 49ers at this point?

Bill is that guy who always turns one person's joke or idea into a dick-measuring contest where he feels like he can't stop talking until everyone has acknowledged HIS joke or idea is the best one yet. Bill has to be considered the best and therefore receive the most attention. It's shocking to know he's an only child when he certainly feeds the stereotype.

Q: Putting aside the once and future king (Jim Dolan), which team owner do you think is currently despised by the greatest percentage of the fans of their team? Right now I’d go with a toss up between Jed York and Jimmy Buss — they both feature similar combinations of ran great coaches out of town/running team solely due to nepotism/entitlement/general desire to be treated like a big boy by employees, media and fans without ever having earned it. Thoughts?
 

—James F., San Francisco, CA

BS: But in Jimmy Buss’s case, it actually is impossible — he couldn’t run a Jack in the Box, much less the Lakers. Still, everyone knows he’s getting pushed out by his sister soon. And also, he’s just been more hopeless and sad and overmatched than anything. I live in Los Angeles

You do, Bill? You live in Los Angeles? Why haven't you mentioned this little fact before in your columns? This is brand new information.

(By the way, I love how Bill's initials are "B.S." It's just very apt)

and don’t know any Lakers fan who actually hates Jimmy Buss. He’s the closest we’ll ever come in real life to Fredo running the Corleones. I feel bad even writing this paragraph.

And if Bill doesn't know any Lakers fans who like Jimmy Buss then obviously there are no Lakers fans who like Jimmy Buss. After all, how could the people that Bill knows personally NOT be a sample size that reflects the opinion of everyone?

Then again, nobody has a lower fan approval rating than Washington’s Daniel Snyder, who inspired me to write a December 2014 column based on the premise, If you’re a D.C. football fan, would you be OK if Snyder moved your team … as long as you got another NFL team three years later? When D.C. sports guru Dan Steinberg tossed that question to his readers, more than 80 percent of them responded “YES!!!!!” Now that’s a disapproval rating! Nobody is topping Daniel Snyder right now. Sorry, Jimmy Dolan haters.

But if zero Lakers fans like Jimmy Buss then that is a 100% disapproval rating. It's hard to beat that. Unless everyone Bill knows personally doesn't reflect the opinion of Lakers fans everywhere, which is an impossibility.

Q: Simple NBA lottery fix — what if any team that picks 1-thru-3 isn’t eligible for those picks the following year? So in 2015: the Cavs, Bucks and Sixers would be ineligible.
—Jordan D., Portsmouth, NH

BS: So everyone gets the same amount of lottery balls like always, but if Philly wins a top-three pick, they just slide into the no. 4 spot and that’s that? Fine by me.

Wait, Bill acknowledged a reader's idea wasn't bad AND didn't try to top that idea? I'm overcome with positive emotion.  

I’d also create a “no NBA team can win the first pick twice in a five-year span” rule. 

Oh. I guess Bill didn't top the idea, he just added to it. The positive emotion still somewhat continues.

Q: If Boogie pushes his way out of Sacramento this summer, which team is the favorite to get him? Probably not my Hornets I am guessing.

—Thomas, Ballantyne, NC

BS: You guessed right.

Because the favorites to get Cousins are the favorites that Bill will decide are the favorites.

I came up with three Boogie Summer Trade medalists without including the Celtics and their armada of future first-rounders.

Amazingly, Bill manages to include the Celtics in this discussion by not including the Celtics in this discussion. Everything NBA-related revolves around the Celtics, even when it doesn't.

THE BUCKS (Bronze) — What about Giannis, Zaza Pachulia and Milwaukee’s no. 17 pick to Sacramento for Boogie?

Stop it. A week ago Bill was comparing Giannis to Tracy McGrady. Now this.

And if I’m the Bucks, deep down, I know Giannis might be kinda sorta maybe slightly expendable with Jabari Parker returning next season.

I will admit Bill knows more about the NBA than I do, at least in general. But Jabari Parker is not anywhere close to the same thing as Giannis. Parker is a scorer who can play small forward and power forward in a pinch, while Giannis can guard seven positions on the court and can blend in well with pretty much any lineup the Bucks put out there. There is no such thing as another player duplicating what Giannis does, much less Jabari Parker being the guy doing the duplicating.

(My verdict: I don’t think Milwaukee should put Giannis on the table. It’s just fun to discuss.)

Kidding, not kidding!

THE KNICKS (Silver) — Let’s say they win a top-two pick, even if the odds dipped a little after Derek Fisher’s boys beat Atlanta on an unusually devastating night even for the always-devastated Knicks fans. Would you flip the rights to Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor for Cousins? And what would be more fun than Boogie in New York? Anything?

Why on Earth would the Knicks do this?

(My verdict: I’d do it if I were Sacramento … but I wouldn’t do it if I were the Knicks. Instead, I’d draft Towns or Okafor and spend Boogie’s money on a free agent.)

By the way, Bill is giving his verdict on what he thinks about trade ideas that he himself has thought of. This is like the first cousin to Bill using evidence he creates based on his opinion to prove his own opinion correct. So the first two trades ideas that Bill thinks about are both not going to work because Bill thinks his own ideas are bad. Thanks for killing space, Bill. 

THE MAGIC (Gold) — Your clear favorites. In July, the Magic could whip out a Nikola Vucevic/top-five 2015 pick package and maybe even throw in their future Lakers pick just to show off...And Orlando could build around their electric Elfrid Payton–Victor Oladipo backcourt, Boogie, Aaron Gordon and Tobias Harris (if they re-sign him), plus cap space galore.

Or the Magic could just keep Vucevic and the top-five pick and build around Payton-Oladipo-Vucevic-Winslow/Russell/Cauley-Stein-Gordon and Tobias Harris. Can you imagine Aaron Gordon and Cauley-Stein on the same team? They may set a record for "Most physical talent without any offensive game at all between two teammates." (How's that for a Bill Simmons-esque category?) Both Gordon and Cauley-Stein are great basketball players on paper, but their offensive games need a lot of help AND they would be on the same team? That would be fun to watch.

(My verdict: yes for Orlando, no for Sacramento unless Boogie unequivocally says, “GET ME OUT OF HERE.”)

Cousins is great, but I would almost keep the two high picks the Magic have and see how they shake out rather than trade them for Cousins.

Q: You said on a recent NBA podcast that the Thunder should have held out Durant longer, and that you can’t always trust the player’s judgement in this matter. I think you’re right. Look how Pop handled Kawhi’s wrist injury. Kawhi said his injury wasn’t that serious; Pop shot that down immediately. Even if Kawhi missed almost five weeks, look at the end result. The lesson, as always, is: Do things like the Spurs do them.
 

—Felix

BS: Should we be worried that Westbrook and Durant had six combined surgeries for two injuries? Who is the head of OKC’s medical staff, Dr. Dre?

The 90's called and they think this joke is hilarious. Couldn't there be a better punchline than "Dr. Dre" to this joke? How about an actual doctor who is incompetent or a television doctor who is incompetent? I mean, "Dr. Dre" as the punchline? That's some half-ass writing.

Q: What NBA starting Five would make for the best “5 guys who have to live in a Jersey Shore apartment” together? I first thought Cleveland, but the more I think about it I think The Clippers would be the best.

—Jonathan, North Hollywood

BS: Great call. 

TWO IDEAS! BILL HASN'T TRIED TO TOP TWO OF HIS READER'S IDEAS! IT'S A MIRAC---

That’s not your winner, though.

Sadness accrues. It wasn't meant to be.

But here’s your NBA/Jersey Shore winner: the Phoenix Suns. You know, the team I described earlier this season as, “If you put all 30 NBA teams in the same nightclub, the Suns would be the ones that kept getting kicked out for reasons like ‘We didn’t like the way Blake Griffin was looking at us’ and ‘Who does Draymond Green think he is????’” You’re not topping Alex Len, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris living in the same Jersey Shore house, especially when Marcus Morris keeps sleeping on the sofa because he refuses to be left out of the show. It’s just not happening.

Haha! Bill's idea is a better idea than yours!

Can’t this just be a show? What’s stopping us?

Because these players probably don't want to be on a reality television show? Because nobody would watch it? I could go on, but I care not to. I'm sure Bill can relate to simply not giving a shit anymore.

Q: What (somewhat realistic) NBA Finals match-up do you think the NBA fears the most? Portland vs. Atlanta? And do you think Atlanta is getting any calls when it plays Chicago or Cleveland or will it be Kings-Lakers, Game 6, for the entire series?
 

 —Luke, Lee’s Summit, MO

BS: We know this much: From a “Who the F are these guys?” standpoint, the NBA should worry only about Atlanta crashing the Finals. In the past 35 years, the only teams seeded lower than no. 3 that made the Finals were the 1981 Rockets (no. 6), 1995 Rockets (no. 6), 1999 Knicks (no. 8 in a lockout season), 2006 Mavs (no. 4) and 2010 Celtics (no. 4). That’s five times in 35 years! You have an 86 percent chance of seeing two of the following 2015 Finals opponents: Golden State, Houston or the Clippers, and Atlanta, Cleveland or Chicago.

The NBA. The professional sports league that everyone who writes "There needs to be a salary cap in MLB" and "MLB is dying because only certain teams have a chance of winning the World Series at the beginning of the year" columns seem to forget about as an example of a league where only certain teams really do start the year off as having a chance to win the NBA Finals.

Let’s rip through the pluses and minuses of the Hawks making the 2015 Finals.

Hey, it beats Bill shitting on ideas from his readers. 

Pluses: Hawks-Warriors would feature the most diverse crowds, by far, in NBA Finals history … this is important: IT’S REALLY FUN TO WATCH THE HAWKS PLAY BASKETBALL BECAUSE THEY PLAY BEAUTIFULLY TOGETHER … there’s a Tree of Pop scenario if it’s Hawks-Warriors or Hawks-Spurs … oh, and Atlanta pro sports fans have rooted for exactly one championship team since 1958 (the ’95 Braves during the shortened post-strike season when everyone hated baseball).

Yes, EVERYONE hated baseball that season so this championship doesn't really count. It took the Yankees to really make the world love baseball again.

Minuses: I hate typing this because I love watching them, but the ’15 Hawks would unequivocally be our most anonymous Finals team since the ’76 Suns …

"Our" most anonymous Finals team. Because it's an "us" thing who don't know who the '15 Hawks are. By the way, if Bill hates typing this then why did he do it and thereby give credence to this idea?

Atlanta is America’s strangest big city because it doesn’t have a discernible downtown, which makes it a quagmire for “big sporting event purposes” (there’s no epicenter and it’s a traffic disaster)

This is important as it pertains to why it would be bad for the Hawks to make the NBA Finals. I know all the fans that watch on television would be deeply worried about the traffic situation in Atlanta.

if ABC got stuck with San Antonio–Atlanta, they’d have to save the Finals ratings by replacing Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Mike Breen with Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis …

Why would ABC do this? Because there are a lot of black people in Atlanta so the only way fans of the team would watch is if ABC replaced a mostly white announcing crew with a black announcing crew you racist asshole?

(I just like calling Bill racist in an absurd fashion...that's all)

Add everything up and there’s some undeniable 1999 Pacers/2001 Bucks/2002 Kings potential here for the 2015 Hawks. The good news: Officiating is better than it was during that 1999-2003 WWE era, and there’s more internal accountability for poor performance, as well as YouTube and GIFs and Vines lingering over everything (and a score of Internet detectives ready to pounce). The bad news: The way Cleveland is playing now, I can’t imagine them blowing Round 3 to an overachieving team that has only one defender to throw at LeBron. It’s just too far-fetched.

Yeah, but Bill, the Hawks have ubuntu and really believe in each other. Haven't you seen how they seem to enjoy playing with each other on the court and are constantly giving each other high-fives? The Hawks players do all this and from my understanding upon reading your columns is this type of team always succeeds because the players believe in each other. 

Q: Who’s winning the title? Who are we betting on in Round 1? Stop watching re-runs of The OC and text me back.
 

—Cousin Sal, Los Angeles

BS: I am making seven gambling recommendations, and only seven …

1. Cleveland to Win the East (-230)
 

Just parlay that number with Floyd to beat Manny (-210) and thank me after Memorial Day.

Yes, because Bill is historically so good at gambling. I'm sure everyone will be thanking him.

You could have maybe talked me into the Hawks if they were running on all cylinders and I had two drinks in me, but after the NYPD took out Thabo Sefolosha for reasons that remain ludicrously unclear, I don’t see how Atlanta beats Cleveland four times.

So after the Hawks lost a guy who played 18 minutes per game? Okay, then. It's not like Sefolosha could guard LeBron or anything like that.

3. Amount of Time Bill Simmons Watches the Hawks-Nets Series (52.5 Minutes)

Take the under. I can’t believe Deron Williams and Joe Johnson crashed the 2015 playoffs; I thought The Walking Dead already had its last episode. And why isn’t this entire series showing exclusively on NBA TV? What’s the point of having NBA TV if not for this series?

Bill just wrote this:

this is important: IT’S REALLY FUN TO WATCH THE HAWKS PLAY BASKETBALL BECAUSE THEY PLAY BEAUTIFULLY TOGETHER 

I hate typing this because I love watching them,

Bill likes watching the Hawks, except not really enough to watch them play a team he doesn't like watching play.

4. Cavs in Five (-120)

Here’s the smart bet. President Stevens isn’t getting swept. Baby Zeke isn’t getting swept. Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley aren’t getting swept. There will be one game in this series — in Cleveland, in Boston, doesn’t matter — when the Cavs are sleepwalking and the Celtics just care more. You watch.

Read it aloud again. The word "care" emphasized sounds silly to me.

Hey, Isaiah and Jae, can you measure this Cleveland basket for me?

A "Hoosiers" reference. It's so unlike Bill to make a "Hoosiers" reference.

Houston-Dallas has a chance to be one clunky, ugly, ridiculous, way-more-forgettable-than-you-think series. (I hope not.)

Thanks to Bill for telling "us" how forgettable "we" will find the Houston-Dallas series to be. I wasn't sure how forgettable I thought it would be.

7. Spurs in Six (+250) AND Spurs in Seven (+600)

This Spurs-Clips series is fundamentally overqualified for Round 1. That’s what makes it so great. I can’t imagine this being a dud. Too improbable.

I'm not even sure what the hell this means. This statement seems like an example of Bill giving a label to the series for the sake of something. I'm not even sure why. Apparently there are underqualified Round 1 series as well.

And second, Game 7 would happen on Saturday night, May 2, West Coast time … which would likely put the game head-to-head against Manny-Floyd in one of the all-time TV channel-flipping conundrums in the history of TV channel-flipping conundrums.

It is a channel-flipping conundrum unless a person might realize that it's not 2008, so Manny-Floyd isn't really going to be the boxing match that the headline "Manny-Floyd" makes it seem like it will be. So yep, Game 7 would probably win for me. As Bill would say, "Manny-Floyd" is underqualified for the amount of hype it will receive.

It’s destiny. It’s meant to be the Greatest Sports Night In Recent History. 

The Greatest Sports Night in Recent History, even though it hasn't happened yet to deserve this hypothetical moniker. 

So imagine having the Spurs +600 that night. Sign me up. Enjoy the playoffs, everybody.

Congrats on achieving another mailbag, Bill. The readers who worship you are an embarrassment to humanity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

3 comments MMQB Review: Peter Talks About Tim Tebow, Not Because He Wants to, But Because One Anonymous Coach Said Tebow May Make the Eagles Roster

Peter King described Troy Polamalu as a pure safety in last week's MMQB in order to explain how safeties aren't often elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, then went out of his way to get quotes from Dick LeBeau and Joe Flacco that show Polamalu was more of a hybrid safety. He also spotlighted Sarah Thomas again and wondered if she could handle grown men yelling at her. Peter also continued his useless Adieu Haiku. This week Peter talks about Tim Tebow being signed by the Eagles (not that he is just another media member obsessed with Tebow of course), talks yet again about Malcom Butler's interception in the Super Bowl, and has some strong feelings about how the NHL does their draft lottery. Oh, and Peter thinks the Patriots should have done more homework on Aaron Hernandez prior to giving him a contract extension. That's easy to say now.

Timeline of Sunday night:

It's important that Peter breakdown the timeline here. We are about two weeks away from Peter mocking the Tebow-mania that goes on in the media. It's the same Tebow-mania he is guilty of himself, but he won't be self-aware enough to realize this.

6:34 p.m. ET: FOX’s Jay Glazer reports the Eagles will sign quarterback Tim Tebow, unemployed by any NFL team for the past 20 months, on Monday.

7:46 p.m.: ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweets, “98,000 Tweets on Tim Tebow in last hour.”
 
9:02 p.m.: Assistant coach in the NFL who knows Kelly but does not work with him says to me, “This is not a prayer. There’s a chance here. If there’s one coach in the NFL who could figure a way to use Tebow, it’s Chip. Maybe not every week, but in spots.”
Substitute the word "Belichick" for "Kelly," then "Bill" for "Chip" and I have heard this shit before. I believe it was previously Bill Belichick who could use Tebow on the Patriots roster and would figure out a way to utilize him best.

Tebow signing with most teams in the NFL today might not lead this column, especially because I’ve got two other items I really like. Tebow signing with the Eagles leads the column because, as my anonymous coach says, Kelly will give Tebow a legitimate chance to be one of his three quarterbacks this season. I say “chance,” because that is what this is.

Don't bullshit us, Peter. It's unbecoming. You have Tebow lead the column because putting "Tim Tebow" in the title of MMQB and leading off with it increases pageviews. Don't be a liar and don't use horseshit excuses. It doesn't make sense to write, "Well, I wouldn't normally lead the column off with Tebow, but I'm doing it because some anonymous coach says Tebow has a chance to be the third-string QB for the Eagles." So simply because some anonymous coach gives Tebow "a chance" to make the roster all of a sudden it's worthy of leading MMQB with this story? Please. Just say you know Tebow provides pageviews and that's why you are leading the column off with Tebow. You can find an anonymous coach to give credibility to any roster move if you really want to. Peter really wanted to find one, so he can act like it's worth leading off MMQB with Tebow. 

This morning, Kelly has five quarterbacks on his roster, which will expand to 90 players in the next two weeks, once the draft and the signing of free agents is done. Kinne might be gone then. Who knows? Barkley might be gone then, traded or released. But Chip Kelly wants to get a good look for himself at Tim Tebow in the offseason program and presumably at training camp for at least a while.

Thanks for the inside information there, Peter. This does seem to explain why the Eagles signed Tebow, to get a look at him. The fact Tebow has "a chance" to make the roster, doesn't mean all of a sudden this Tebow is story more important than it otherwise would have been. Just say you wanted to lead off the column with the story that provides the most discussion and pageviews.

I don’t blame him. I applaud him. You’ve got 90 spots on your roster. If you think a player has a chance to help your team win a game somewhere down the road this season, wouldn’t you want to take a look at him for a few months—for free? Because the Tebow trial will cost Kelly essentially nothing.

I don't think anyone is blaming Chip Kelly. Little defensive here, Peter?

In 2010 he was a first-round pick.

Stupidly he was, yes.

He has a skill set that fits in Kelly’s spread scheme with an emphasis on quarterback runs (at times). I still think Kelly wants to have a mashing-type running game, with a physical back (he has that now, in DeMarco Murray) and a quarterback who, at least occasionally, can be a running threat.

Tim Tebow could succeed. He may not succeed.

Let’s be real about what this is:

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Peter is about to get real!

It’s a trial. It’s a chance. It’s a coach who doesn’t care about the distraction of having Tim Tebow in his camp, because he thinks Tebow might help his team. And about that distraction thing: Did you ever hear Bill Belichick or Robert Kraft or Tom Brady talk about Tebow being a distraction in Foxboro in 2013, when Tebow was on that team for the whole of training camp? No.

Well, I partially didn't hear them complain because I don't cover football for a living nor am I around the Patriots team to where I could hear them complain. The fact a tight-lipped organization didn't publicly complain about distractions a player brought to the team doesn't really mean there was no distraction. Do I ever hear Brady, Kraft or Belichick complain about any player being a distraction? No? It doesn't mean that player wasn't a distraction.

Cutting Tebow was justified. Tebow didn’t deserve to be on that team. He might deserve to be a cog in the wheel in Philadelphia. We’ll see.

But more importantly, Peter didn't lead off this column with Tebow because he wants pageviews, it's because there's "a chance" Tebow makes the Eagles roster. That is enough to give Tebow the lede for this MMQB. Peter almost HAD to lead the column with Tebow or he wouldn't be doing his job as a serious journalist.

Tebow getting signed by the Eagles is not the decline of western sporting civilization.

No one said it was. Calm the fuck down.

It is a coach running an offensive system that’s a good fit for a mobile quarterback just looking into whether one of the best mobile quarterbacks in college football history—and one, by the way, who beat the Dick LeBeau-led Steelers defense in an NFL playoff game—can be That Guy.

Oh my God. How long is Tebow going to be given credit for beating the Steelers at home in a playoff game?

Hall of Fame GMs on Winston vs. Mariota

Before we learn the real story behind the Malcolm Butler interception, and why I think Big Ben is bound for the season-opener, and finally someone going on the record in San Francisco on L’Affair Harbaugh,two voices of sanity on the great quarterback debate of 2015.

Peter sort of already did this. I'll guess he'll do it again. The Super Bowl was over two months ago. There is nothing better to kill space than hearing the "real" story of Malcolm Butler's interception? Nothing else?

In August, Ron Wolf and Bill Polian will become the first general managers since 1995 enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both are still active in the game. Wolf has been a consultant to several teams in recent years, most recently the Jets in a scouting and coach-and-GM-advisory capacity. 

Oh. He was involved with the Jets recently.

Polian works for ESPN as an NFL analyst, and has been watching tape of college players preparing to work the draft.

Bill Polian is like, "Draft Peyton Manning and then reap the benefits. That's my advice to the Buccaneers and Titans."

Polian had to choose between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in 1998 as general manager of the Colts, and between Kerry Collins and Steve McNair for the Panthers in 1995.

Hey, one for two isn't bad. Then Polian had to choose whether to build the Panthers for success for the future or build them for short-term success that would enable him to get a job somewhere else and I think I remember which option he chose.

I asked both Hall of Fame GMs over the weekend: If you had to choose between quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in this draft, who would you take?
 
In fairness, both answered with asterisks, which I’ll explain.

In fairness, I'm going to need a fucking solid answer if I'm to believe these two Hall of Fame GM's aren't just going to say nothing in the hopes they won't be seen as wrong.

“I’d probably lean toward Mariota,” Polian said.
 
“If I had to pick, based strictly on what I know now, I’d pick Winston,” said Wolf.

Actually Ron Wolf, you will be allowed a five minute look into the future. Put your head into this metal contraption that looks like a bear trap, but is totally NOT a bear trap, so just stick your head in there and I'll let you make the decision based on what you know in the future. But you only get a five minute look!

Every single decision a GM makes is based strictly on what he knows now.

The provisos: Polian said it’s unfair to make a definitive choice without knowing everything your organization would know about the mental makeup and off-the-field behavior of the players. Wolf said “it isn’t fair” for him to judge Mariota with finality because he’s done much more work on Winston, even seeing him on the field in warmups before the Florida State-Miami game last fall.

Well great, I'm glad Peter asked your opinion then. Because I know Peter's readers are looking for an opinion with a huge asterisk beside that essentially says, "I don't know enough about this player to provide an opinion on this topic, even though I've been set up as an expert on the topic."

With those “yeah buts” out of the way, it was clear in talking to both men they have strong opinions on these players.

Strong opinions that they would prefer not to be held to, because their strong opinions are based only on what they know now and they can't predict the future so if they are right please remember they were right, but if they were wrong then let's forget about it and hey look remember Brett Favre and Peyton Manning?

“I’ve seen Mariota on tape—I’d have to see a lot more of him—and I’ve seen Winston in-person and on tape,’’ said Wolf. “I’ve been exposed to Winston more. I watched Winston versus Miami before the game, down on the field, and then will his team back from a 16-point deficit. He’s an imposing guy. He has everything you’d want in a quarterback. I thought he was superb. What I know about Winston I like a lot. I’d take him in a heartbeat.”

But this doesn't mean in the next heartbeat he wouldn't take Marcus Mariota.

I asked: “If the psychological report on Winston was clean, would it still be Mariota?”

Polian: “Very, very close. But I’d probably lean toward Mariota, as I said. It’s closer than Manning-Leaf was. Way closer. More like Collins-McNair in ’95. With Mariota, I don’t think playing from the pocket will be an issue; he did a lot of that in the eight or nine games I saw. And he didn’t throw 18 interceptions either. On 14 of those 18 interceptions, Winston didn’t see linebackers underneath or he zeroed in on the receiver regardless of coverage.

“But look, both guys have a chance to be successful. They’re both gifted.

Thanks Bill Polian! I feel smarter now knowing that you would choose Marcus Mariota.

And I’ve got to go with the more sure thing in my mind—Mariota.”

But this isn't a definitive choice of course.

Memo to Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht: The moral of this story, this year, is there isn’t a 100-percent sure thing, for a variety of reasons. You’d better go with your gut. The gut sounds like it’ll be Winston as we sit here, 10 days before D-Day.

Oh yeah, D-Day. That's the day that resulted in Peter King having a lot of chances to ask soldiers how many people they killed.

I hope I don't forget to remember Peter called the 10 days before the draft as "D-Day" the next time Peter gives a lecture to someone about taking football too seriously.

The inside story of how Malcolm Butler made that interception.

(Deep sigh)

The still-stunning play that decided Super Bowl 49, of course, was little-used nickelback Malcolm Butler’s interception of a Russell Wilson pass with 23 seconds left in the game at the Patriots’ goal line, preserving New England’s 28-24 victory. On a soon-to-be released video series, a part of which I recently got to watch, you’ll be able to see the rest of the story. Namely, why Butler made the play, and how the Patriots’ coaches made sure an error in Thursday’s practice by Butler would not be repeated.

I'm not still-stunned. Miraculously, I have managed to move on with my life.

The still-stunning play that decided Super Bowl 49, of course, was little-used nickelback Malcolm Butler’s interception of a Russell Wilson pass with 23 seconds left in the game at the Patriots’ goal line, preserving New England’s 28-24 victory. On a soon-to-be released video series, a part of which I recently got to watch, you’ll be able to see the rest of the story. Namely, why Butler made the play, and how the Patriots’ coaches made sure an error in Thursday’s practice by Butler would not be repeated.

It's almost like practice is useful or something.

We were anticipating a bunch of pick routes, rub routes [by Seattle],” Boyer says on the video. “We didn’t do a very good job at the point … Malcolm kind of gave some ground there. Garoppolo ended up hitting Josh Boyce for a touchdown. Obviously, as a coach, that doesn’t make you feel good. Coach Belichick, Coach Patricia, they’re like, ‘Malcolm, you’ve got to play this a little better  … You’ve got to stick your foot in the ground and go and not give any ground and beat him to the junction point and make a play on the ball.’ ”

In the Super Bowl, of course, Butler went around the attempted pick by the first man in the stack—Jermaine Kearse, who was being blocked by cornerback Brandon Browner—and powered into position for the interception. Butler blasted Ricardo Lockette and caught the Wilson pass simultaneously. The coaches’ point hit home.

It did hit home. It was a great play by Malcolm Butler and he learned from his mistake in practice. So the inside story seems to be that the Patriots practiced defending this play prior to the Super Bowl and it paid off in the Super Bowl. I'm pretty sure I had heard that Butler got burnt for a TD in practice on a similar play, so maybe this wasn't quite an "inside" story. But hey, I guess Peter can't talk about Tim Tebow throughout MMQB.

Pittsburgh at New England, Sept. 10.

I’ll tell you why:

Why Peter? What reason is it? Could it be some in-depth scheduling quirk the NFL doesn't allow the public to know about? Is this matchup traditionally one of the higher rated games?

Ben Roethlisberger.

Okay. So I guess that explains it then...I guess.

So what do we have as candidates in a relatively weak New England home schedule? Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with the refurbished Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Tom Brady will be on one side, and the Patriots will be favored against any team on the other sideline that first night. But the one thing the NFL can’t have is a 24-3 game at halftime. Pittsburgh is the best insurance against that risk.

And Ben Roethlisberger is the only one who plays for the Steelers, so as the quarterback of the Steelers he is the key to the defense not giving up 24 points in the first half? It makes perfect sense to me.

Philadelphia, likely with new quarterback Sam Bradford, who has missed 25 of his last 32 games with back-to-back ACL surgeries in 2013 and 2014. What if he gets hurt again, or is rusty coming back to the game?

The Jets, with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith. Could be a debacle by halftime.

Buffalo, with Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel. Less of a chance to be a debacle at halftime, but there’s still that chance. 

Pittsburgh, with two-time Super Bowl champ Roethlisberger at the controls, a gunslinger capable of playing a four-quarter shootout with Brady.

So basically it took Peter a couple of paragraphs to explain that he thinks the opening game will be Steelers-Patriots because the Patriots don't have too many good teams coming to play them in Foxboro and the Steelers are the best team with the best quarterback that is coming to Foxboro. Wow, it took me once sentence to say it AND I saved the dramatics that Peter attempted. 

One interesting point about the opener, if it’s Steelers-Patriots: Each team would be without a suspended running back from the same pot-smoking incident in August 2014—Le’Veon Bell for Pittsburgh and LeGarrette Blount for New England.

What a nugget of coincidence! 

I'm surprised Peter didn't write,

"Two key players from both teams will be missing that first game if it is Steelers-Patriots. I'll tell you why."

"Drugs, carousing."

"Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are both in the same boat. A drug boat that is. Let me tell you why they are in a drug boat." 

"Suspensions." 

"Both Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrett Blount won't be present for the first game of the season due to being suspended and let me tell you why." 

"Drugs, cars. What does this have to do with LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell? I'll tell you." 

"They are both suspended for the first game of the season due to an incident they both participated in where they had drugs in a car. I'll tell you more in a second." 

"They were in the same car and will be suspended the same amount of time for the same drug violation. I'll tell you in a minute which team they were on when this happened and how it's relevant now." 

"They were both on the Steelers team at the time and they would be facing each other if the Steelers-Patriots play at a certain time during the season. I'll tell you which game that is." 

"The first game of the season." 

Peter has to extend those dramatic reveals a bit.

The schedule will be announced sometime this week. I’ve been wrong before, many times on many things. But Pittsburgh-New England makes the most sense to me.

Because this may be the most competitive home game for the Patriots. It's not complicated, yet Peter got a whole section of MMQB out of it.

Andrea Kremer has an insightful story Tuesday night on “HBO Real Sports” on Jim Harbaugh, who wore out his welcome in San Francisco and is now the University of Michigan coach. The piece has detailed quotes from Niners guard Alex Boone, who says Harbaugh gave the team a great initial spark when he got there in a time of major malaise for the franchise in 2011.

Continues Boone: “He just keeps pushing you. And you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain. Stop. Let go.’ He kinda wore out his welcome. I think he just pushed guys too far.

I know. I hate it when NFL coaches are constantly trying to push professionals to be better than they think they can be. Lay off them, the 49ers had won a few Super Bowls. They were over the mountain.

There’s no question San Francisco owner Jed York wanted a little more of a kumbaya attitude with the front office out of Harbaugh that wasn’t forthcoming.

Jim Tomsula says the attitude around the team still isn't going to be all Kumbayan, it's going to be a straight American attitude. These Kumbayan people probably don't know how to motivate themselves like Americans do.

And now we see that some of the players—at least one, and I’ve heard reliably it isn’t just one—didn’t like Harbaugh as time went on in San Francisco either. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he should be gone. I covered the Giants in the eighties, and Bill Parcells was hardly a players’ favorite in all corners of the locker room, even after the Giants won a Super Bowl.

Bill Parcells, Bill Parcells, Bill Parcells. The standard upon which Peter King compares all head coaches.

“The players have nothing to do with him getting fired,” Boone says to Kremer. “I think that if you’re stuck in your ways enough, eventually people are just gonna say, ‘Listen, we can’t work with this.’ ”

That's a great point. The 49ers had reached the mountain, so what else did they have to accomplish at that point? So Harbaugh should have just laid off knowing he had an incredibly successful team that achieved every team goal an NFL team could achieve. Every. Single. One. Mountain. Climbed.

“Why did Pete Carroll throw that ball? Seattle’s at the half-yard line. If anybody in the league can get a half-yard, it’s Beast Mode [Marshawn Lynch].”

—Spike Lee, speaking at the premiere of “The Greatest Catch Ever,” his half-hour documentary on the David Tyree catch in Super Bowl 42 that helped the Giants end the Patriots’ dream of a 19-0 season.

Well first off, Pete Carroll doesn't call the plays. He may have signed off on this play, but he isn't directly responsible for the play call. There is no second off. That is all. 

I was at the documentary premeire Sunday in New York, and three things occurred to me:

That you were subtlety trying to brag about being at the premiere of the documentary?

1. Lee kept coming back to this in a post-doc Q&A on stage. He was legitimately angry, confused and befuddled by the Carroll call, and no one in the theater could give him a smart answer on it.

If no one in the theater could give Lee a smart answer, then obviously the theater was full of sportswriters like Peter.

2. The star of the doc was Rodney Harrison, and I don’t say that just because I work with him.

Yes, Peter probably does just say this because he works with Rodney Harrison.

He was, well, just so moved, in a bad way, by the failure to dislodge the ball from Tyree. So moved, in fact, that when he went back to his hotel after the game, he said he holed himself up in the bathroom of his room and cried.

This is probably a typical response to losing the Super Bowl, though this catch didn't win the game for the Giants so Harrison would have had a few other chances to make up for not dislodging the ball. Like maybe he could have figured out a way for Plaxico Burress to be covered better in the end zone.

“I never want to kill the dream of playing two sports. I would honestly play two sports … I may push the envelope one of these days … I know I can play in the big leagues. With the work ethic and all that, I think I definitely could, for sure. And that’s why the Texas Rangers, you know, got my rights. And they want me to play. You know, Jon Daniels, the GM, wants me to play [baseball]. We were talking about it the other day.”

—Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, in an interview with Bryant Gumbel for Tuesday’s “HBO Real Sports” show.

I personally find Russell Wilson to be a disingenuous person. He's a great quarterback and I don't think he's much worse than other pro athletes, but I don't buy the whole "nice guy" act he puts on. I think he creates his own reality at times (for example, his comment about being "kicked off" the N.C. State football team) and this quote is simply Wilson trying to get some leverage in negotiations with the Seahawks. That's all. Wilson chose to play professional baseball and that's why he got "kicked off" the Wolfpack football team in favor of a quarterback who had talent (Mike Glennon) and actually cared to be with the team during the summer. But of course Wilson sees himself as the victim there. Now he's pretending he can or would really play for the Rangers. I don't buy it for a second.

Very interesting. This quote will make the bulletin board of Seattle GM John Schneider, who is trying to get Wilson signed long-term. The two-time NFC champion quarterback’s contract expires at the end of this season, and the two sides are eligible to sign a new deal now, though no agreement is close.

This is all it is. A feeble attempt to pretend he would actually play baseball for the Rangers rather than play in the NFL. I don't buy it and Wilson will play football over baseball for the same reason he didn't play for the Rockies and chose to transfer to Wisconsin. That reason being he'd rather be a football player and knows it would be hard to make it in baseball at this point.

“I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect. I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say.’’

—Part of a statement attributed to Johnny Manziel and released through the Cleveland Browns on Friday, after his three-month stay in a rehab facility for treatment of substance abuse.

The last part is most important: Manziel said a lot between February 2014 and December 2014 about his devotion to football and his maturity and—well, all the good stuff he had to say to convince everyone in the NFL he was worth a first-round pick, 

Yes, but the only ones who believed it were the ones who wanted to believe it. The idea Manziel would stop partying and get more serious about football just as soon as he gets paid to play the sport was just not realistic. This of course wouldn't matter if he performed on the field.

For the Why Would Philip Rivers Ever Favor A Trade To Tennessee crowd:

Rivers is a homebody.

He and wife Tiffany, both from northern Alabama, have their strongest family ties to the Deep South.

Yes, but Tennessee is not the Deep South. Maybe northern Alabama is, but Tennessee is not.

Rivers was born in Decatur, Ala., 114 miles south of Nashville.

Rivers was a high school football star in Athens, Ala., 97 miles south of Nashville. 

The closest NFL franchise to Athens, Ala., by far, is Tennessee. The Atlanta Falcons are twice as far away.

In his most accurate season as an NFL quarterback, 2013, Rivers’ offensive coordinator was Ken Whisenhunt, now the Titans coach and a fervent Rivers fan.

It makes sense, but the thought of Rivers in Tampa Bay with Evans and Jackson is terrifying to me.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying Rivers would rather play anywhere else but San Diego. But too many people wonder why he’d ever want to play for Tennessee. Those are a few clues.

"Tennessee bound for Rivers? Maybe. Why? Peter will get to this."

"Why would Philip Rivers like to play in Tennessee? I will tell you in a minute."

I should probably be happy that Peter didn't have any dramatics surrounding why Rivers would like to play in Tennessee.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think there are two points about Aaron Hernandez that can’t be forgotten.

I should probably just be happy that Peter didn't write he has a few "bullet points" regarding items about Hernandez that can't be forgotten. Peter would write that, Richard Deitsch would defend him saying Peter takes too much shit and then Peter would apologize explaining that he didn't know guns shot bullets.

One, if a player has strong ties to a sordid past—either gang-related or simply sordid in some other way—it’s not very smart for that player to be playing in the backyard of his youth. Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn., is 115 miles from Foxboro.

Well Hernandez certainly wasn't going to request that he didn't play for the Patriots because he was afraid he would end up murdering someone. The Patriots probably didn't know the extent to which Hernandez had gang ties.

As Greg Bedard reported last month, Hernandez went to the combine in 2013, ostensibly to ask Bill Belichick for a trade to distance himself from some dangerous friends back home. Bedard couldn’t nail down the details of the story. Was Hernandez trying to start a new life and just couldn’t get out of his current one?

Hmmm...this seems like an action that was too self-aware for a guy who later committed murder.

Two: The Patriots can, and should, be faulted for their private-eye work, or lack of it, before giving Hernandez a rich contract in 2012. It’s true that teams can’t know everything about their players, but I’d think it’d be reasonable to expect that if you’re going to commit $40 million to a player on your team with a history of some transgressions off the field (and Hernandez did have them at Florida), you’d do more investigating than the Patriots did before signing him to the rich extension.

Perhaps the Patriots did what they thought was a sufficient amount of investigation into Hernandez prior to the draft and then prior to his signing an extension. I would imagine the Patriots looked into Hernandez prior to drafting him and then the organization saw him all the time when he was actually a member of the Patriots. In hindsight, more investigating makes sense, but the Patriots may have felt like they knew Aaron Hernandez. Besides, plenty of NFL players have gang ties and that doesn't mean they end up murdering someone. It's fun to fault the Patriots for what they should have known, but whether a guy will commit murder or not after being drafted by an NFL team isn't exactly predictable.

3. I think I’m starting to have my mind changed. I’ve thought all along that Adrian Peterson has likely played his last game for Minnesota, because he obviously doesn’t want to be there. But the question is: What team out there wants to commit $13 million in cash to a 30-year-old running back—albeit a great one—with salaries of $15 million in 2016 and $17 million in 2017 on the horizon?

That's a great question and one reason I thought it was a bit silly that Peter thought Peterson could force his way out of Minnesota. Peterson can hold out of camp all he wants, but he's only getting older and more expensive for whatever team trades for him. While Peterson has leverage over the Vikings, the Vikings have leverage in that Peterson understands if he wants to play in the NFL, time isn't on his side and he can't afford to hold out of training camp.

I don’t believe Vikings GM Rick Spielman will be pressured into a deal. And I don’t believe Peterson will choose to forfeit the weekly paychecks of $765,000 this season. So though it may get ugly, I think there’s an increasing chance the Vikings are not going to bend to Peterson by draft weekend unless the offer for him is a high pick or picks.

I feel sad for Adrian Peterson that he thinks this is going to work. Running backs are being devalued, Peterson is on the wrong side of 30, and he's a very expensive player with a weird history of tangling with the court system over the whipping of his kids. He's got baggage, so Peterson may want to just play for the Vikings.

5. I think if I were the Giants at No. 9, I’d take Trae Waynes over Brandon Scherff. Rare cornerbacks—and the 6-1, sub-4.4-in-the-40 Waynes is potentially quite rare—are harder to find than very good offensive line prospects. Pro Football Focushas Waynes

Is "Pro Football Focushas" the international version of "Pro Football Focus"?

with problems on change of direction, which would be a issue with a cornerback, so it’ll be interesting to see how teams factor that in—if they agree—as the first round approaches.

I can't imagine why a cornerback would need to change direction.

6. I think the Seahawks players did a smart thing, both in inviting new tight end Jimmy Graham along on a training/fun trip to Hawaii last week, and in poking public fun at the feud they had from the 2013 season with Graham. Before a playoff game, Bruce Irvin and Graham jawed at each other on the field, and last week Irvin sent out a photo on Instagram of Graham having to be restrained from fighting Irvin. They were play-acting.

Oh, so they were play-acting and weren't really going to fight? Thanks for clearing that up Peter. If you had not cleared it up then I'm sure your readers would have been so foolish as to think Bruce Irvin would Instagram a picture of him fighting one of his new teammates.

Also, Jimmy Graham IS soft. I don't want that to get confused.

8. I think Georgia running back Todd Gurley, five months after ACL surgery, got some good news the other day at the combine medical re-check in Indianapolis. So good, in fact, that one team interested in Gurley now thinks it’s legitimately possible he wouldn’t have to start the year on the physically unable to perform list; he could well be active. Seems little doubt Gurley will be a first-round pick.

Draft Todd Gurley or pay $45 million for three years of Adrian Peterson...I know which one I would take personally.

9. I think one name stands above others on the Mysteries of the 2015 Draft list: wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Boom or bust. Very big boom or very big bust. A GM who takes Green-Beckham in the first round is a GM who feels very secure in his job

Just write it Peter. You know you want to. List the same teams you always list that could draft a player like Green-Beckham and surround him with veteran players who will show him the right way. The Patriots, Seahawks, etc. Or have the Patriots been kicked off that list due to the whole "Aaron Hernandez committed murder so there goes the Patriot Way" issue?

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

Quick joke for college football fans...did you know Nick O'Leary is Jack Nicklaus' grandson? You would think this could get mentioned every once in a while.

e. I’m not much of an NBA fan (in fact, I’m not one at all),

And here comes a conclusion based on Peter's lack of experience in watching NBA games. It's a guarantee Peter will come to a definitive conclusion after stating he doesn't watch the NBA.

but did anyone notice the Celtics finished the year on a 17-7 run and ended 40-42? Brad Stevens must be pretty good.

Yes Peter, Brad Stevens must be pretty good based on your observation the Celtics played well at the end of the year in a bad Eastern Conference. You don't watch the NBA at all, but you feel free to come to conclusions about players/coaches/teams in the NBA.

f. Paul Blart. One of the great, and most apt, names in film history.

Peter King. One of the lofty, and most apt, names in history for Peter's opinion of himself.

h. The Edmonton Oilers won the lottery to pick number one in the 2015 NHL draft. Okay. Shouldn’t sports leagues have some sort of rule how many times you can have the top picks in an X-year span? Since 2010, and including this year, Edmonton has picked (in order) first, first, first, seventh, third and first. This year they’re bound to take an incredible prospect, Connor McDavid. Edmonton must have taken some other incredible players the past five drafts, and the Oilers still stink. Why reward this?

What's the alternative, Peter? Be a problem solver, not just a problem spotter. The lottery is designed to allow the worst teams an opportunity to acquire the best players in the draft. If Peter thinks this shouldn't be rewarded, then I'm sure the NHL would love to hear suggestions on how to fix this. Suggestions that of course Peter doesn't have.

j. Maybe I’m wrong about this. Tell me if I am. But to continue to reward a team that simply can’t turn it around … It just seems wrong to me.

Says the guy who covers a sport where the Raiders have picked in the Top 10 over the last decade. What's the alternative that Peter prefers? A lottery like the NBA (a sport Peter doesn't watch) has? It's not like there aren't teams in the NBA who get Top 10 picks every year and still can't turn their team around.

k. Coffeenerdness: It’s okay on a warm afternoon to stray from coffee. You can have the occasional unsweetened iced green tea, and you’ll get the desired jolt. And the quenching of the thirst at the same time.

Thanks for the permission to drink unsweetened iced green tea. By the way, "unsweetened iced green tea" sounds like the way someone who is in the 1% of income earners like Peter is would drink iced tea. I can think of no loftier, more haughty way to drink iced tea.

n. Man, that Britt McHenry video is tough to watch.

She's on television, bitch.

o. This must have been weird: The Giants, riding an eight-game losing streak, got their World Series rings Saturday night.

It possibly could have been more motivational than weird. The Giants did win the World Series last year. It would be weird if there were few players from the 2014 World Series winning Giants team still on the roster when they got their World Series rings. 

The Adieu Haiku

Draft’s 10 days away.  
Still. Explain that. I beg you.
Thing should be in March.


Why would Peter's readers have to explain this? It's the NFL's decision. Also, the haiku is still pointless and useless.