Watching Peter King

Disclaimer: The point of this post is by no means to discredit what the Philadelphia Eagles did on draft weekend. They clearly made some nice moves. The motivation is to shine the light on Peter King for being something of a hypocrite for his gushing praise at the Eagles for doing the very same thing that he mocked the Patriots for doing just the week before.

If you hadn’t heard, Peter King recently moved to Boston. If you read King at all, I’m not sure how you could’ve missed this point, as he’s told us several times, and has already told Boston Magazine all about the great coffee and food he is getting here in the city.

Since he lives in Boston, I guess he’s now on my beat.

In his column following the draft, King wasn’t impressed with all the moving around that the Patriots did. I’ve put in bold the statements that stuck out to me:

New England. I was told last night the Patriots loved Eric Wood, the Louisville center who projected to center or guard in the NFL, but if that’s the case, they could have had him at 26 instead of trading out of the round for yet more picks. So I remain mystified about the continued trading rather than picking… Brandon Tate’s a poor man’s Percy Harvin, with the same off-field question marks, picked almost exactly two rounds later than Harvin … I go into the Patriots in more depth later, but I thought it was a strange draft, almost drunk with the power of moving back. The one reason you can never kill this team about drafting is it’s taken a lot of no-name guys high over the years and many have become cornerstones.

“Drunk with the power of moving back.” What does that even mean? Then, in yesterday’s column, King lauds the Eagles for putting on a “draft clinic.” It’s way too long to quote in its entirety here, but I’ll offer a few snippets:

What would you think if I told you the Philadelphia Eagles got third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round draft choices, plus half a starting cornerback for nothing in this year’s draft?

That’s right. For free. There is no smoke, mirrors or cheating involved. Only thought and effort.

For moving down six spots in the third round — eventually taking a player they were considering for that 85th pick anyway — the Eagles got filthy rich. I am shocked more teams don’t run their draft the way the Eagles do. It’s almost irresponsible that teams don’t do it the Philadelphia way.

The Patriots do, (some feel they originated the concept) but they’re “drunk with the power of moving back,” and cause King to be “mystified” with all their trades for additional picks.

Then the Eagles GM is quoted, which might give you a clue as to why their moves are being so strongly praised:

“Actually, I’m happy more teams don’t,” said Tom Heckert, the Eagles general manager. “If more teams did, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

This may come out the wrong way, so bear with me. But if I were a football fan looking for a team to root for, I’d pick the Eagles, and what they did on draft weekend is a big reason. The Eagles think. They don’t do things the way they’ve always been done because that’s the way they’ve always been done.

In contrast, in last weeks column, King later called the Patriots draft was “uninspired” and “odd” and “greeted with shoulder shrugs around the league.” 

King then goes into details about all the moves that the Eagles made. In the end, the Eagles netted “third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round draft choices, plus half a starting cornerback.”

King will tell us that the Eagles netting Peters, Maclin, McCoy plus the six-pick trade-down is what makes Philly’s draft preeminent. That’s not the point. We’re strictly focusing on the practice of trading up and down and turning picks into multiple picks. As I said at the start of this post, I’m not discrediting the Eagles. The point is that the Eagles and Patriots did the same type of thing, and the unfriendly Patriots get hammered while the Eagles and their quotable GM get praised. King doesn’t get it.

But, let’s look at the trades that the Patriots made during draft weekend:

  • Started with the 23rd pick, traded it to Baltimore for #26 and a fifth round pick #162
  • Traded the #26 pick and the #162 pick to Green Bay for a second round pick (#41 Darius Butler) and two third round picks (#73 & #83 Brandon Tate)
  • Traded a second round pick (#47), a fourth round pick (#124) and a sixth round pick (#199) to Oakland to move up in the second round to #40 (Ron Brace)
  • Traded a third round pick (#73) to Jacksonville for a 2010 2nd round pick and a 2009 seventh round pick (#232 Julian Edelman)
  • Traded a third round pick (#89) to Tennessee for a 2010 second round pick.
  • Traded Ellis Hobbs to the Eagles for two fifth round picks (#137 and # 141)
  • Traded those two fifth round picks for a fourth round pick (#123 Rich Ohrnberger) and a sixth round pick (#198 Jake Ingram)

If you follow that list, and track that first pick that the Patriots started out with at #23, you’ll find that they ultimately turned that one pick into the following, without trading a single other asset that they started the day with already in hand:

  • Pick #41 Darius Butler (who King’s colleague Don Banks had the Patriots taking at #23)
  • Pick #83 Brandon Tate (King himself praised his skills)
  • 2010 Second Round Pick (From Jacksonville)
  • Pick #232 Julian Edelman (who Mike Reiss seems high on)

That’s not really “uninspired” to me. They took a late first round pick, and turned it into two seconds, a third and a seventh. Not a bad haul. In his own mock draft prior to the draft, King said of the #23 pick “One smart guy swears they’re taking UConn CB Darius Butler.” Well, they did, but they got an extra second, third and seventh round pick to do it. For free!

Coming into the draft, the Patriots had two second round picks. They ended up with four in this draft, plus an extra two next year. They got those two next year for a pair of third round selections this year. They clearly moved around with a purpose, they weren’t just “drunk with the power of moving back.”

Back to the whole point of the post. Why did King dismiss the Patriots moves while praising the Eagles? I tried to clarify with him, and we’ve been having the following Twitter exchange:

@SI_PeterKing – Why are you praising the Eagles for doing the same thing you knocked the “drunk with power” Patriots for doing last week?

SI_PeterKing Hi Bruce: Hope you don’t mind, but I am going to answer your question in my Tuesday column. Thanks for writing in.

@SI_PeterKing : I look forward to it, because 4 draft choices between the 3rd & 7th rounds = wow!, Two second round picks = mystifying?

SI_PeterKing: Hi bruce. Peter here. Peters, Maclin, McCoy PLUS the six-pick trade-down makes Philly’s draft preeminent.

@SI_PeterKing Thanks for the reply. My point isn’t really who did better, its that you knocked the Patriots for doing what the Eagles did.

I give the guy credit for responding and I do think King is one of the good guys in the media. Too often though, he allows himself to be used as a mouthpiece by his subjects. In this case, I think he’s just missing the point. It’s not that the Eagles did better or the Patriots did better, it’s that they did the same things, and the Patriots get hammered or mockingly dismissed, while the Eagles “put on a draft clinic” and are innovative and thinking outside the box, and not doing things the way they’ve always been done. He just doesn’t get it.

Why the contrast? Is it really simply because the Philly GM explained what they were doing, whereas the Patriots just went out and did it?

Update:

Here’s King’s answer in his column today.

TWITTER QUESTION OF THE WEEK: From Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch: “Why are you praising the Eagles for doing the same thing you knocked the ‘drunk with power’ Patriots for doing last week?”
Though in principle you might be right, Bruce, it wasn’t the same thing. The Patriots didn’t have the same result in trading down as the Eagles did, though they did acquire two second-round picks in 2010 in their wheeling-and-dealing. Philadelphia traded down six spots late in the third round and got one of the top guys they would have taken at 85 (Cornelius Ingram), half the value of a starting corner (Ellis Hobbs), a seventh-round pick this year and third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks next year … and still exited the draft with three potential impact players in 2009 — Jason Peters, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.

It remains to be seen if the Patriots got the same sort of impact out of their 2009 draft and beyond, but it didn’t look like it to me. It surprised me they twice traded down out of the first round for three additional picks instead of taking a tackle of the future like Michael Oher or some higher-rated player at 23 or 26. It could be that Darius Butler, for instance, could have had a mid-first-round grade and by getting him in the low 40s it constituted great value on their board.

As I wrote last week about New England, “The one reason you can never kill this team about drafting is the Patriots have taken a lot of no-name guys high over the years and many have become cornerstones.” So let’s see how it plays out.

I guess that’s all we can do right now.

  • KF

    The scuttlebutt is the Pats supposedly stopped giving King the access he wanted to the team 2 years ago during Spygate. Therefore, he’s got an agenda against the team now.

  • T. Carl Pickens

    King and SI dont owe readers anything. Their only obligation is to TW sharholders.

  • NASCL

    Seems like a decent guy :-)

  • Chris

    Maybe King’s move to Boston has caused him to be overtly cautious of praising the Patriots, lest he be accused of being a ‘homer.’

  • rob

    Peter probably thought about how cool the Eagles’ draft was, while enjoying an especially tasty mocachino with amazingly fresh cinnamon shavings layered carefully on a air-light cream topping prepared by a cheerful barista that reminded him of one of his lovely and talented daughters, and just had to write about it.

    Honestly, that’s why I enjoy his work. The guy is just blissfully naive and just getting to be part of his worldview by immersing yourself in his columns for a few minutes is a treat.

    I mean, really, you cannot take him or his work that seriously when he once predicted Danny Weurfel would be a league MVP. All that access and all those resources and he could say something like that with a straight face? King is to be enjoyed for purely entertainment purposes only.

    • Classless

      Rob, you nailed it. His stuff is a like pastry made in the North End: it may have all these secret ingredients, hours of work put into it, and some old tyme recipe, but it’s still bad for you in the end.

  • Joeybags

    Bruce,

    Kudos to you for keeping King and others like him honest. Keeps them from getting a fat head reminds them that they are held responsible for what they print.

  • Lance

    It’s clear since a year ago that with King you can’t spell “can’t” without the “U.” Maybe he is one of media’s good guys but his writing is too effete, too smirky to be able to appreciate it.

    He lost me for good last year with Favre and his proctologist type access. His insight to the NFL right now is the consistency of coffee flavored water.

  • kk

    I see the problem the teams drafts are very different so why would he comment on them the same. If the Pats got so highly touted talent on top of the picks it would be similar otherwise it is apples and oranges.

    Plus nobody should take King or any other media guy as a sport expert he gives his opinions/predictions fine, but are his predictions right any more than anyone else? He is good at gettng info from around the league and people go on the record with him, that is his only value IMO.

  • J.R.

    By this time, we all know the equation: Give lazy hacks in the media access + provide good soundbites and quotes = results in fawning coverage for teams or individuals. It’s really that simple.

  • Tony

    This still goes back to Spygate IMO.

    King was pissed off that Belichick didn’t give him the exclusive on it–and even more pissed off that he wouldn’t talk about it during the season. Since then, he’s pretty much been anti-Patriots, but who cares, really? He’s a lightweight “talent” and he’s quickly devolved into the Peter Gammons school of sports journalism: be nice to the guys who give me access and either look the other way or make excuses for their transgressions (like Gammons making constant excuses for Barry Bonds through the years).

  • Fred

    Why is when someone criticizes the Patriots in any way people always sum it up as “Well the Patriots don’t give them access, so that’s why they bash them”. It’s really a shortcut to thinking. Just because he might be wrong here doesn’t automatically mean he has an agenda vs the Patriots.

    • Bruce

      Track record, mostly. But you do have a point.

      • Tony

        Fred does have a point, but the track record does speak for itself in this case. Those in the media who feel particularly slighted by lack of access (or in the case of Borges, the loss of their “insider” contacts during the Belichick Era) down in Foxboro have been the ones coming down particularly hard on the organization in their articles and sound bites.

        King has exhibited those characteristics ever since Spygate happened. In fact, as far as the national media coverage goes, the scale of ludicrous, over-the-top hyperventillating about the story went: ESPN (both TV and online, in the person of Easterbrook), Peter King, everyone else.

        • Fred

          Peter King’s track record is easily accessible on Si.Com. What he said about the Patriots draft was out of the ordinary. After Spygate you really have to look hard to find an anti-patriots agenda. I don’t see it.

        • Brian

          I think it’s somewhat the opposite. Peter seems to have a pro-people who talk to him agenda rather than an anti-Pats agenda. I’ll guarantee you that if Belichick returned his calls and ate lunch with him during training camp that he would have liked the Pats draft a lot more. He probably wouldn’t be as high on the Eagles if they didn’t talk to him. Either way draft grades are dumb.

  • Tom

    Peter King is a gossiping moron who adds zero value to sports journalism. He basically just flouts rumors, and is a barometer/parrot of mainstream mediots.

    His disgraceful articles and complete lack of understanding and hypocrisy over the Video Witch Hunt were despicable. Even now the guy doesn’t understand that any team can still videotape hand signals at dozens of other locations in the stadium, just not on the sideline.

  • http://df dseidman

    You Pats fans have superbowl rings. I bet if our teams reverse roles and you were the Bills of this decade he would be saying the same thing about the pats. I wish my eagles could get one SB ring. Who cares what King says. Your team is a gold standard in the league, who cares if he didn’t like the draft. All of the picks the eagles grabbed could all be busts(I hope not). Then he would say how stupid the eagles are. Again I feel no sympathy to you pats fans because of your enoumous success. I did not mean to make this sound negative.

    • fishercat

      WE MUST BE VALADAITED!!! WE WON 4 TITALS AND PETER KING SHOULD SHOW COACH BELECHEK RESPECT!! THIS IS NO DOUBT PART OF COMMISHONER ROZELLE”S FASHIST PLAN TO HAVE THE MEDIA GO AFTER THE PATRIOTS!!

  • Jack

    Whenever King writes something negative about the Pats (or in this case, quasi-negative), it turns in to open season on his talents as a writer. I don’t get it. I read him every week and think that he is one of the top NFL writers. Just because he doesn’t think highly of the Pats draft doesn’t make him a hack.

    As for praising how much the Eagles got for all of their draft moves, I think you need to take into account what they started dealing with: a 3rd rounder. With that they got a bunch of potential talent and our starting cornerback (also one of the leagues best return men). The Patriots started dealing from the late first round and ended up with a bunch of potential talent and picks for next year. I don’t think its out of line to suggest that they did better than us.

    • Bruce

      Perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough…the issue isn’t who did better in the draft – you’re not going to be able to determine that for some time to come – it’s that both teams did a lot of moving around, and the Patriots are called “mystifying” and “drunk with power” while the Eagles merit unbridled praise and the statement that they “put on a draft clinic.”

  • STI

    Bruce:

    One other key point here—King is giving the Eagles credit for Jason Peters, when that happened *before* the draft, so he’s not even comparing apples to apples.

    • STI

      +1 here:

      Pats’ net trades:

      23 47 89 124 199 + Hobbs for
      40 41 83 123 141 162 198 232 + 2010 2 (JAX) + 2010 2 (TEN)

      Eagles’ net trades:

      21 85 141 195 for
      19 213 + 2010 3 (SEA) + Hobbs

  • Kipper

    Bruce:

    Thanks for your hardwork here on this site! I stop by and visit every day!!

  • Jason Coyote

    Has anyone informed Mr. King that Rhode Island’s state drink is the coffee cabinet? Maybe he could be convinced to move down there with the great taste of Autocrat.

  • Classless

    King probably drives up to Dunkin Donuts and gives a 5 minute speech to the drive through guy on the merits of a venti soy chai latte. The kid probably says back, “uh yeah whateva…$1.77 pal.”

  • Angry Old Bastard

    Peter King excells at ONE thing and that would be “league news”. Such as, coaches that are on the hot seat and may be fired. Upcoming fines/suspentions. Things to do with the NFL schedule etc etc……but he is HORRIBLE when it comes to the nuts and bolts of football. He STINKS (and admits it) when it comes to predicting games. He STINKS at evaluating talent (had Tony Romo going to the Hall of Fame after Romo’s first 5 games in the league) In 2000 he said the Patriots got the “steal of the draft” in J.R. Redmond……bottomline, Kings opinions are basicly, ya know…USELESS

  • Johnnysaint71

    Peter King is a complete chump…..He is a man with an agenda and his feelings were hurt by the Pats after he threw BB under the bus during spygate….He no longer had the team love…..Soon thereafter his Pats worshiping turned to bashing and so this is where it’s at…..Anyone who takes Peter King seriously is a fool….His opinion is one of the most uninformed I have ever read/heard….

  • Paul

    Personally, I think King’s reasons for his negative slant on the Patriots these days goes just a little deeper than simply being ignored by Belichick during the Video Witch Hunt (that’s a good term for it, BTW). King’s reactions both in print and on TV were so over the top that it reminded me of a spurned & bitter girlfriend going after her ex.

    If you go back and look at his columns during the championship years, they were gushing in praise of the Pats and of BB. But in 2007 when the howling mob started yelling “CHEATER!!!”, I think King felt personally betrayed by Belichick.

    IOW, all those words of praise were worthless because if the Pats “cheated”, then they weren’t as good as King said they were. Therefore, it make him feel like a fool. It’s the only thing I can think of that explains his attitude swing from one extreme to the other.

    • Tony

      That’s a pretty good argument, I must say.

      Of course, all King, or anyone in the media, had to do in the wake of “Spygate” was to talk to any one of the multitude of former NFL head coaches who, to a man, all came out and said “this is being overblown and is no big deal;” or “I did the same or similar things when I coached.” Then the whole stupid thing would never have taken on the life it did.

      But no, we had presented to us mostly the views of ex-players, like the “outraged” Collinsworth and Schlereth (whose team cheated on the salary cap to win two Super Bowls when he played on them), and the views of Belichick-hating “journalists” thirsting for revenge against their nemesis.

      A sad, sordid tale in the history of American journalism, and King was a leading purveyor of the nonsense.

      • Angry Old Bastard

        I’ve been thinking about “spygate” lately…..The hysterics over the Swine Flu is why…yet another completely blown out of of proportion story…..the media should be tarred and feathered