Long Way To Go For Patriots

Going into yesterday, most people expected the Patriots to beat up on the Oakland Raiders, who were making their second East coast trip in three weeks, and heading out to London for next week’s game.

The Raiders put up a fight, and the Patriots continued their struggle to put the ball in the end zone yesterday, and wound up with a 16-9 New England victory. They held off a last-second Raiders drive when Vince Wilfork grabbed a deflected ball to come up with the game-sealing interception.

It wasn’t a satisfying win, but it was a win, and we’ll take it. Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Ray Lewis is not a good TV analyst – Chad Finn nails it here, especially in light of Lewis’ mind-boggling quote from yesterday – “There’s some things you can cover up. And there’s some things you can’t.“

A salute to the great sportswriter Joe Murphy – The legendary Eagle-Tribune columnist passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Michael Muldoon had written this column back in May remembering Murphy, who in many ways was a prototype of the cynical, opinionated sports columnist of today.

ESPN’s Cris Carter’s on-air growth showing in NFL coverage – Richard Deitsch looks back at a crazy week of NFL media.

On Friday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines released their devastating report on how the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL handled the Ray Rice case.

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL

Done by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, the report had the Ravens scrambling and promising a detailed reply this week.

While there is a ton to digest in the report, from a media perspective, and keeping a theme going that I’ve had on this site over the last few weeks, here’s another damning bit of evidence against Peter King and his role as Roger Goodell’s mouthpiece.

From the ESPN report:

By early July, NFL beat reporters kept hearing Rice would get a six-game suspension. But privately, Ravens officials said they felt confident Rice would get only two games. One source who spoke to Cass said he had heard at least two weeks before Goodell announced the penalty that Rice would receive only a two-game suspension. Rice’s friends say he didn’t hear his suspension was two games until July 23, the day before Goodell announced it.

This is from King’s MMQB in MAY:

Rice likely faces a short (maybe two-game) suspension from the commissioner for being a first-time offender under the personal-conduct policy. He’s got a strong résumé and is greatly admired for his work in the community. He shouldn’t be thrown out with the trash. But he’s got to realize that the performance the other day was tone-deaf.

So King knew that the suspension would be “maybe” two games before the Ravens or Rice did? How exactly did he know this, way back then? The reasons given are also what Goodell cited. He’s awful. The worst.

<insert picture of smoking gun here>

I also love the audacity of King to suggest someone else is tone-deaf. King has mastered the art of tone-deafness. Finn touched on it in his Sunday Mailbag yesterday.

Let’s look at today’s MMQB for some more tone-deal, ugly-American examples:

Walking back from Central Park around noon Saturday, I spied a crazy-long line outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. The line weaved in a maze of crowd-control stanchions, hundreds of people in the maze, and at the end of the maze, the line went east down 59th Street, a full city block to Madison Avenue.

It wasn’t too tough to guess what it was for—the rollout of the iPhone 6. I asked one of the security dudes: “How long a wait if I went to the end of the line right now?”

“Six hours,” he said.

So I went to the end of the line and asked a couple of young guys, 20 or 23, waiting with their heads in their iPhone 5s, “Did you know you’ve got about a six-hour wait in front of you? That’s what the security guy told me.”

“They told us it was about five,” one of the guys said.

Well, that certainly makes all the difference.

The guy who Tweeted delightedly about being able to inform a restaurant host about Robin Williams’ suicide now eagerly runs to the back of the line in Manhattan – where he lives – to inform the people there that they have to wait six hours. That last line is vintage Peter King.

6. I think if you’re waiting for me to call for Roger Goodell to be fired, you’ll have to wait a while. I’m not into mob rule either.

So people who are saying that Goodell needs to be gone are part of a “mob.” This is like when Peter referred to the “shrill cries” for his own job. And of course he isn’t going to call for Goodell to be fired. He’s got too much at stake himself.

Peter is also not into mob rule, but he is the one leading the crusade to change the name of the Washington football team.

a. My best to the family of Dave Rahn, former 49ers PR man, who died of melanoma Thursday. Dave was a good, good man with a terrific work ethic, and he was as professional a person as I’ve dealt with in this business. Rest in peace, Dave.

Well, that’s a nice sentiment, Peter.

b. I’ve had two significant melanoma surgeries, and it’s nothing to fool around with. Sunscreen and regular checkups are the only way to beat it—or to compete with it.

Of course. It’s always about Peter. He can’t even pay tribute to a man who died of cancer without making it about himself.

Tone-deaf doesn’t begin to cover it.

Peter King Needs To Turn The Finger-Wag On Himself For Once

The rise of Peter King in the sports media world is a curious one. The 57-year-old King really vaulted into prominence when he began writing the weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column back in the 1990’s. The Internet was still new, and getting this fast overview of the weekend’s football action was a popular idea that took off.

peterkingPrior to this, King had been a fairly ordinary sportswriter, with stints at The Cincinnati Enquirer and Newsday prior to joining Sports Illustrated in 1989, he wrote several books during the 1990’s, but it was Monday Morning Quarterback which really lifted him above his peers in terms of popularity and stature.

He had been a solid reporter, and in addition to the football reporting, people seemed to enjoy his “10 things I think I think” and non-football thoughts of the week, tales of travel woe, as well as updates on his favorite coffee stops, and later, his choice in (inevitably citrusy) beer. The MMQB success made him a sought-after guest on sports radio programs – here in Boston his guest spots on the midday show with Dale Arnold and whomever his current partner was at the time were very popular segments – and also TV shows, such as Inside The NFL, then still on HBO.  When the NFL came to NBC, he was a big part of that, providing in studio reports on Football Night in America.

Then, last year SI, following in the footsteps of Bill Simmons at ESPN, gave King his own website, and team of writers at themmqb.com. He was (and is) at the pinnacle of his career and power.

Yes, power. One of the more annoying things that King has developed over the years is his penchant for the finger-wag at those he feels are deserving of his scorn. He somehow has come to believe that he is a moral arbiter of society, taking people to task for failures in their own lives and professions. In addition to lecturing people inside the league, he’s weighed in on people’s lives outside of football, he’s scolded Red Sox players, and generally acted the part of the ugly American in dealings with any sort of service industry employee. He went to visit troops overseas and gave away details of the location of the camp. These things are all annoying, but mostly harmless.

He has also, like many in the media, gotten close to the subjects he covers and spends a lot of time pumping them up. He was a regular at Brett Favre’s house. Who can forget him eating popcorn in Jerry Jones’s office? Or spending  a week “embedded” with official Gene Steratore and his crew? Or the numerous exclusive sitdowns  (6000 words!) and gushing profiles of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

For some, those columns on Goodell serve to solidify the notion that King is nothing more than a publicity agent in service of the Commissioner. Events of this summer are further disturbing in exposing King’s reporting as being shoddy, incomplete and dishonest.

When the original two-game suspension was handed out, King wrote a column explaining what Goodell’s thinking was in suspending Rice for really only four days – the Ravens played Sunday and play again on Thursday night. The article, complete with bullet-points, was written at the time in which the public had only seen the tape of Rice pulling his fiance of the elevator, seems to be a direct missive from the Commissioner. In fact, King doesn’t say “I think this is what Goodell’s thinking was here.” he says This is why Goodell was softer on Rice than a four-game suspension.

The bullet points, which included he’s never done it before and he does a lot in the community rang hollow to many people who responded back to King in anger. He attempted to defend himself by citing “evidence” that he hadn’t mentioned in the first column.

Note the wording here.

There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée. I have heard reports of what is on the video, but because I could not confirm them and because of the sensitivity of the case, I never speculated on the video in my writing, because I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person. I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.

(Emphasis mine)

So much here. King never explains why he didn’t think it was “fair” to mention the tape on Thursday, but it was OK to mention it four days later. He also definitively states that the video had been viewed by both the NFL and the Ravens. (Later, we learn that he actually did not know this for sure.) He then goes back and forth with a bunch of contrasting phrases I have heard reports/I could not confirm and I never speculated/I cannot confirm.

I’m trying to make sense of this. He states the tape was viewed. He heard reports on its contents, could not confirm so he’s not going to speculate. It’s especially unfair to use information that can’t be confirmed with more than one person – essentially giving us unwashed masses a lesson in the ethic of journalism here.

EXCEPT – he lied. He uses the information in an effort to defend himself, but it was information that he in fact did NOT confirm with more than one person.

You may know this as the John Tomase rule.

King however, wasn’t that humbled by the blowback. He concluded that section by writing:

In retrospect, I would have added a paragraph or two to the story at the end about what I thought, because that is clearly what so many of you expect from me.

Two things – I look at that sentence as just dripping with condescension. Isn’t he admitting right here that the talking points in the original Goodell defense were not his own, but were actually Goodell’s? The original article was written in such as way as to make you think that King is merely observing the whole situation from on high, detached from the situation and saying “This is what Goodell is thinking.” In reality, they were Goodell’s thoughts. and now Peter is distancing himself from them and saying he should’ve offered HIS thoughts too, as they would be very different from Goodell’s. The impatient “clearly what so many of you expect me from me” bit makes me ill.

How do we know he lied? He copped to it yesterday in this curiously titled addendum to the Ray Rice coverage.

He writes:

Earlier this summer a source I trusted told me he assumed the NFL had seen the damaging video that was released by TMZ on Monday morning of Rice slugging his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator. The source said league officials had to have seen it. This source has been impeccable, and I believed the information. So I wrote that the league had seen the tape. I should have called the NFL for a comment, a lapse in reporting on my part. The league says it has not seen the tape, and I cannot refute that with certainty. No one from the league has ever knocked down my report to me, and so I was surprised to see the claim today that league officials have not seen the tape.

I hope when this story is fully vetted, we all get the truth and nothing but the truth.

For King to write within the same paragraph that something had happened and then say “I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person.” is completely mind-blowing.

His defense is “no one ever told me I was wrong“? (Aside: How tone-deaf does someone have to be to use the phrase “knocked down” in referencing to his own reporting on a case which involved a woman getting knocked unconscious and dragged across a lobby?) This is the guy lecturing on ethics and the importance of multiple sources?

Then the last sentence. Isn’t that YOUR job, Peter? To advance and vet the story?

He continued on the topic with his mailbag today. Many readers were still upset, and King attempted to placate them and apologize – but not really.

I’ve been a reporter for 34 years and I’ve made my share of mistakes. This certainly was one of them. And I realize that a lot of people will not trust what I say on this issue, but I can assure you that it was simply an honest mistake. As far as resigning, if my bosses inside Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. don’t want me to report anymore, they’ll tell me. But I won’t be voluntarily quitting. I’m not sure what good that would do, other than to satisfy some fairly shrill cries for my head.

After looking at the above, can we really call this “an honest mistake?” Not at all. It was deliberate. There was no “honest mistake” involved in the least.

How about that last line? Again, the tone-deafness of Peter King is just insane. Does the term “fairly shrill cries” fill you with warmth at the thought of a humbled man looking to make good on his errors? Or does it leave you with the picture of a testy, impatient man scolding “leave me alone you screeching vultures?”

Way to go, Pete. Get your house in order.

Ron Borges Caught In Another Lie, Mazz Making Stuff Up, and Peter King’s Laughable Rationalization

Just another day in the world of the Boston sports media.

In the morning, we had Pete Sheppard taking on Ron Borges on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Borges, as usual sounded like a raving madman, screaming, yelling and cursing on the air- getting bleeped out, shouting down any accusations or points made against him. As far as defenses go, its a reliable one, if you’re on the offensive and changing the talking points every two seconds, it’s going to be hard to build that stable case against you in the short time you have on the air.

Of course, the case against Borges was made a long time ago, and it has only been added to since.

One accusation that Sheppard made was that Borges had had dinner at Drew Bledsoe’s house, and how this closeness was part of the reason Borges turned on Bill Belichick so venomously when Belichick named Brady the starter even when Bledsoe was ready to return in 2001.

Borges went ballistic on Sheppard, screaming, asking what evidence he had of this supposed dinner, and when pressed on it yelled “NO I DIDN’T” and demanded again to have Sheppard reveal evidence.

Here’s your evidence, Ron: From Drew Bledsoe himself:

So there you go. Yet another documented case of Ron Borges lying.

Gerry Callahan was his usual loathsome self during the show,  at one point dropping into his whiny, feminine voice to say that Sheppard would now be wearing a fireman’s helmet to the games and leading the cheers of P-A-T-S, PATS!

When the topic of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning throwing the ball on the Packers with five minutes to go came up, the goalposts were shifted again, instead of it being only the evil Patriots and Bill Belichick that do this, it became “we’re only concerned with Tom Brady and him getting hurt.

In the afternoon, Tony Massarotti spent the afternoon yelling that Jermaine Cunningham was clearly much bigger than he was in previous seasons and that the suspension was definitely not for Adderall.  He presented absolutely zero evidence of this, and really,  how could he? How much is he around the team? I’m not convinced that he even watches the games.

Meanwhile, if you want to know about Adderall, and why NFL players might want to take it, and why it is banned, Tom E Curran has it all.

A GIS search of Cunningham shows no obvious changes in his body since joining the Patriots. Some modest increase in strength, but no Barry Bonds-like transformation. Yet Massarotti was screaming that if you didn’t see, it, you’re an idiot, a moron and just plain stupid.

I continue to be baffled as to way anyone who actually enjoys sports and their teams would listen to this type of programming willingly. I’m clearly old-school, maybe not this old school, but definitely from before the time when sports radio only existed to dump on the local teams 24/7.

The running-up-the-score hypocrisy will not die. Peter King in his MMQB, Tuesday Edition answered an email from a New England NFL fan:

BELICHICK DOES IT ALL THE TIME. COUGHLIN, NOT SO MUCH. “How about a team that is up by four touchdowns (38-10) with five minutes left and keeping the starting quarterback in and is STILL throwing the ball? Man, that Belichick is one evil…. oh wait… that was Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning against Green Bay Sunday night. When it’s not Belichick, the moral outrage goes away, right?”
— Tom, Portsmouth, N.H.

It’s a little different. Belichick’s done this often over the years. You need more than one hand to count the times Tom Brady’s been in a total blowout in the middle of the fourth quarter. But Coughlin had a reason, I believe. His offense had been struggling for four weeks, and he has every right to use the game to do what he can to make sure his team is back on track for the stretch run. People wouldn’t be killing Belichick if it were a one-time occurrence. Obviously, it’s not.

My mind is still spinning at this.

It’s OK for Coughlin to use a real, live game to work on things to make his team better and make sure they’re in top form for the postseason. Bill Belichick does it, and it’s just out of spite and poor sportsmanship. Got it.

I mean, it’s not like Saint Tony Dungy ever did this sort of thing with Peyton Manning. Oh, wait.

I think this might be the more accurate explanation for why only Belichick gets flayed for this.

The other thing to wonder is how often are other teams even in this position? It’s all well and good to say that Coughlin, or any other coach doesn’t leave their QB in with a 35-point lead, or isn’t passing under five minutes with a 35-point lead. How many teams routinely have 35-point leads?

Still on the Patriots, with the Gil Santos era winding down, the subject of his replacement is gaining momentum.

John Rooke, The Obvious Choice To Take Over For Gil Santos – Derek Havens looks at why Rooke and his 20 years of working for the Patriots make him the best choice for the job. I’m on-board with this, certainly if it keeps Gary Tanguay or Jon Meterparel away from the gig.

Meanwhile, Red Sox reporters are waiting for something to happen.

Abraham of course, wrote a Lester column himself, but that was sort of his point. Right now, the Red Sox media is jumping on any scrap of information and writing about it.

I thought Abraham and Chad Finn had a nice 1-2 punch on the Jon Lester for Wil Myers rumor(?) Is it even a rumor? Speculation?

Lester for a prospect? Here’s why it’s crazy – Abraham

Jon Lester for Wil Myers? Why not? – Finn