When we last left gelatinous bullet point mangler Peter King, he was still on vacation. Ah, but now, at long last, our lofty hero is BACK! And if you don’t think he’s going to spend an inordinate amount of time this week telling you just how he spent those four weeks off, you don’t know Peter King’s flooded bowels half as well as I do.

Where has Peter been? What hotels did he get to stay in and complain about? Did he learn more about this bizarre slavery fad that happened in the 1800’s? How much spicy shrimp can one man eat? And where does Rich Fitter fit into all this? Read on…

Since 1984, I’ve been covering training camps, and I was just telling someone Sunday how vividly I remember my first camp season. Wilmington, Ohio, July 1984, living down the dorm hall from Mike Brown in Bengals camp. Every night the players would come into my room to use the phone.

And the barrel hole!

I was speaking with Stefan Fatsis, the esteemed writer who’d spent training camp in 2006 as a kicker with Denver so he could write about it. (His book, A Few Seconds of Panic, is out in paperback this summer, and it’s good reading if you want to feel the innards of a team in training camp.)

Oh, me! Me me me! I adore feeling the innards of a team. You really get to figure out where the chemistry is produced that way. Did you know Brian Leonard is the gall bladder of the Bengals? He defines fundus!

I’ll do the best I can on SI.com, in SI, on Twitter and occasionally on Sirius NFL Radio (Wednesday morning from 8-11 with Ross Tucker will be one show I’ll do) to tell you everything I know.

BREAKING: I just learned that IHOP makes a surprisingly good crepe. One bite, and it’s like you’re in Montpellier.

Michael Vick knows he almost wasted his career.

Uh, almost? I would say the evisceration of his own life was quite complete. He could really feel the innards of it.

I’ve spoken to people who have been in contact with Vick since he’s been out of home confinement…

And they all agree, “Gran Torino” was flat out ROBBED on Oscar night. I mean, come on. It’s Clint Eastwood’s last movie! Ridiculous. I talked with “Rear Window” and it agreed with me.

I’m told Vick is a changed man.

You’re told lots of things, Peter. That’s why players like talking to you so much. “Hey guys, did you know if you tell Peter King something, he’ll actually believe it? Now, people don’t think I raped that chick anymore! Score one for rape!”

For Vick, a blessing would be going to New England, where Bill Belichick would give him the kind of structured existence on and off the field that would be best for him.

Hard to fuck up when you know it’s all on tape.

Miami would be good because of the same kind of firm hand he’d have over him, as would San Francisco.

Whoa, whoa. Since when did the 49ers deserve to be mentioned among disciplined, well-structured organizations? Did Bill Walsh reanimate the other day?

As for Favre … I’m told this could go either way

I’m fucking STUNNED. “Hey guys, here’s a piece of info that could be right or wrong. 50/50 shot. Also, the first American could land on Mars this decade. Could go either way. You never know.”

…but that it’s more likely than not he’ll sign and be in camp with the Vikes next week. Because I don’t know much more than that, no sense wasting your time or mine.

Now, watch with awe as Peter goes on to waste your time.

I do find it interesting he hasn’t worked out with his friend from Athletes Performance Institute, Ken Croner (more about him in a couple of paragraphs)

/scrolls down six paragraphs

CAN’T WAIT FOR MY CRONER FIX!

…or, apparently, with any personal trainer for any length of time this offseason. Croner got him ready for a physically strong season two years ago. Last year, without doing much in the offseason, Favre was spent by December. Maybe he’s been more disciplined and worked out hard on his own.

And maybe my penis tastes like bacon. “Hey, here’s a player who’s been lazy for decades and arrogantly relies on his arm strength to get him through each season, and we always give him a pass for it. Maybe he suddenly decided to actually apply himself. WOULDN’T THAT BE A STORY?”

“I’m not worried about my back at all,” Hasselbeck said. “The only thing my back cannot do is sit in a three-hour run-game-install meeting without getting up and moving around. Of the things I’m worried about — new coach, new offense, some new teammates — I can promise you that health is not one of them.”

Grunge music to Seattle’s ears.

Because if there’s anything Seattle epitomizes in 2009, it’s old Mudhoney records.

Hey Ozzie Newsome: I’ve got Amani Toomer’s number. You’ll be needed it this morning.

Hey Ozzie Newsome, I KNOW PEOPLE! ALSO MY RECTUM HAS MORE WATER IN IT THAN A POLAND SPRING BOTTLING FACILITY!

And that’s the way it is. Monday, July 27, 2009.

(I owe you a few, Walter. We all do.)

It’s true. Peter King reminds me exactly of Walter Cronkite. I remember the time he got choked up on air when he found out the Kennedy Hotel’s free coffee program had been killed. He wasn’t just crying for the coffee. He was crying for America.

What I did on my summer vacation:

Oh boy. Here we go…

I’m in the fourth row of the bleachers at the baseball field behind Stony Brook Elementary, with a cadre of football intelligentsia behind me. Bill Polian, GM of the Colts. Steve Spagnuolo, coach of the Rams. Chris Palmer, quarterbacks coach of the Giants. Chris Polian, assistant GM of the Colts. Brian Polian, special-teams coach at Notre Dame.

ARE YOU SEEING ALL THESE PEOPLE I KNOW, OZZIE?!

They’re tight with Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

OZZIE, DID YOU KNOW I KNOW FAMOUS PEOPLE ARE ONE DEGREE SEPARATED FROM OTHER FAMOUS PEOPLE?

And Bill Polian knows these players. “I love these games,” he says. “It’s pure baseball.”

I’ve heard this said about Cape League baseball before. What the fuck is it about Major League Baseball style of play that is impure? Are games 14 innings? Is one of the innings designated for kickball rules? Do balks count as three runs? It’s the same fucking game. Only now the players are PAID to take steroids.

On the field in front of us, two LSU players and two from Texas — they’d been in the College World Series two weeks earlier –

AUSTIN WOOD! I WANT YOUR BABY!

are battling on a chilly night on a backwoods field with a kids’ playground instead of a big grandstand behind home plate. Life is good.

Oh, I’m sorry. Were you not at that game? Do you not know lots of bold-faced names? Were you stuck at work all month, forced to wear a suit in the face of 4,000-degree heat? Oh, dear. Life is bad for you, I’m afraid. Perhaps if you were filthy rich and got to hang out on the Football Night In America set, you’d appreciate things more.

July 11, Seattle. I meet maybe 400 or 500 Seattle Sounders supporters — including Tod Leiweke, who helped bring this team here, and Gary Wright, the recently retired Seahawks PR maven now running the business side for the Sounders — in Pioneer Square for the March to the Match. The Sounders, in their rookie season, are playing Houston in 90 minutes, and the team has started what it hopes will become a tradition in meeting the Sounders Band in midtown, getting fired up with a few soccer songs, and marching to the stadium.

It’s just like a Mother Love Bone concert! Chloe don’t know bettaaaaaaaaaa…

“It was Drew Carey’s idea,” Wright says. The part-owner of the team had similar displays at European matches — the bands and the marching to the stadium — and wanted to bring that fervor stateside. Interesting.

Intriguing. Beguiling. Mysterious. Like China.

Two years ago, Andrea Kremer invited me to join the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission’s annual venture to keep NFL interest stirred up at the L.A. Coliseum, and now I look forward to it as part of my summer calendar. (Free trip to LA! The Beverly Wilshire! Sign me up! For eternity!)

But Andrea, if there isn’t any free coffee in the lobby by 5AM sharp, you are fucking DEAD to me.

You know what’s great about minor-league baseball?

Using your considerable clout to bypass security and fool kids out of worthless foul balls?

You can hear everything.

Oh.

Tonight, it’s the Stockton Ports and the Lake Elsinore Storm. Future A’s and Padres on display.

Well, I can’t wait to see what they can do one day for those two powerhouse franchises.

Say Peter, how’s your dick?

Trip to the urologist. Regular checkup. Two docs.

“We’re gonna need another doctor in here to help wipe the feces off.”

First doc examines me, and I should say he examines me thoroughly.

Did he swab the meatus? I’m told this doctor is very good. Mike Dustytaint swears by him, and there’s a fella who needs good urology care.

He leaves and the other doc comes in. Very nice fellow, just like the first one. He puts on the rubber glove. Whoa! Whoa! This, uh, already happened!

This is my sixth handjob from a man this morning! I’m beat!

Second urologist wants to check out the situation for himself. Examines me a little more thoroughly.

“Oop. Look at that. You see that, Peter? That’s Tedi Bruschi’s football glove. Gotta clean this area more thoroughly with soap and water.”

Other than the self-inflicted left-hand bite mark, all’s right with the world.

How does that come into play at the urologist? “Peter, I can’t examine your genitals until you take your hand off of them. Wait, why is there a bite mark on your hand? And what are these claw marks on your back? Did you see Romo again?”

Gosh, I love vacation.

Oh, no! You had to take one hour out of your four weeks off to have a doctor’s appointment that’s covered entirely by your health insurance! AGONY.

Over the years, I estimate that I’ve written “arthroscopic surgery” in a story maybe three million times. Now I was having one. A month earlier, I’d wrenched my left knee stretching too aggressively after working out in a Boston Sports Club in my neighborhood.

Feel free to extract the words “too aggressively” from that section.

Since I live in a condo 63 steps up from the street, it’s a fairly big disadvantage to have to take stairs by going up and coming down one at a time.

63 steps EXACTLY. No car needed here, folks!

And now, just after 1 in the afternoon, I’m sitting on the edge of a hospital bed in Massachusetts General Hospital-West when my surgeon approaches. It’s Thomas Gill, the Red Sox and Patriots orthopedist.

OZZIE, YOU SHOULD CALL HIM. I KNOW FAMOUS DOCTORS AND THEY KNOW ME.

Gill’s had much bigger fish to fry than this little meniscus tear, and he’s so confident that it doesn’t occur to me to be nervous. An hour later, I’m awake, and warned about the pain, and told I’d have crutches and Vicodin, and I shouldn’t be afraid to use either. Happy to say I’ve not touched the crutches, have had to take but one Vicodin tablet and have aced the stairs all week. Don’t tell Dr. Gill, but I also walked two miles home from Fenway Saturday night.

That’s just between us chickens, folks. I heal faster than Wolverine. And I feel no pain, except if the Kit Kats are soft.

Quote of the Week I

“Since I’ve been working in the league, I don’t think the best team has won the Super Bowl any year. You get a ball bouncing the wrong way, a bad call from a ref, a windy day when you plan to throw a lot … There are just too many things out of your control.”
Eagles team president Joe Banner in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Aaron Schatz totally agrees with you, Joe! You guys should get together and bitch about how unfair it is that the games have to count!

Quote of the Week IV

“How can I help?”
–Texas shortstop Michael Young, asked by the New York Times at the All-Star Game what he’d say to President Obama if he met him at the game.

What a selfless thing to say.

Almost Favrian in its virtue.

something really strange would have to happen for the Steelers to pass the Pats as Team of the Decade.

Yes, something utterly bizarre, like winning another Super Bowl this year. That would be mystifying, like soccer in Seattle.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Curt Menefee, the FOX Sunday NFL host and a restless traveler, wins the award for best offseason vacation. He went to Antarctica.

Well, if he got lost there, he wouldn’t be hard to find.

“My seventh continent,” Menefee said when I ran into him earlier this month at LAX. “Now I’ve seen them all.”

Peter to Curt: “Doesn’t Europe have terrible European-style coffee?”

Aside from getting thisclose to a lot of cute penguins and 200-pound seals, one of the highlights was having a glass of scotch with glacial ice. “We were out in [a boat],” he said, “and we heard this cracking sound, and we see this big chunk of ice fall into the water. Our guide took it into the boat, and later I drank the scotch with that as my ice. So I had a glass of scotch with ice older than the scotch.”

Mmmmm… melted ice cap. That’s the one thing opponents of global warming fail to acknowledge. IT’S DELICIOUS.

Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week

I hurt my knee during vacation and had to muddle through three weeks with it, and I found myself on a plane to Seattle, changing in Chicago, to visit our daughter Mary Beth. When we changed, I got up to get something out of the overhead, and the man across the aisle stumbled getting out of his seat, lost his balance, and his knee rammed hard into mine. The man, about 65, steadied himself. I bent over, saw a few stars, straightened up, and limped off the plane, with the man right behind me.

He never said a word. No “sorry,” or “ooooops.”

And then he commandeered the PA and said something goofy with it. Outrageous.

Tweet of the Week

“At least 5 teams made playoffs after missing year before for 13 yrs in row. NFL=you never know.”

signoranfl, who is NFL media relations man Michael Signora. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why all of you read so much from those of us who cover this great game.

Wait, what?

I think I truly dislike training camp at teams’ home facilities.

It doesn’t feel vacationy enough for me. Why can’t every training camp let me stay at the Latrobe Wilshire?!

Last year, I watched Derrick Mason sign for 45 minutes after practice one day in Baltimore’s camp; I mean, he quite literally signed an autograph for everyone who wanted one at the practice that day.

Another incredible story of Derrick Mason: The Man With The Unfatigued Hand. What a selfless act. Perhaps he could get a job in the Obama administration.

I think Twitter America sends this message to the NFL: Moving the draft stinks.

And you’d best listen to Twitter America. Just last week, they defeated Facebook Russia in volleyball.

I asked on my Twitter account Sunday afternoon whether you favor the NFL moving the draft to one round Thursday, two Friday and four Saturday. In three hours, 462 fans responded. Of those with a yes-or-no opinion, 345 said no, 117 said yes. That’s 74.7 percent of my Twitter followers against the move.

OZZIE, LOOK AT HOW MANY TWITTER FOLLOWERS I HAVE! Let’s hear from some of these tweeters.

c. Harlen Coben (the real one):

NOT THE REAL HARLEN COBEN! IT CAN’T BE. Are you sure? Droppinadeuce strikes again! Harlen Coben fans, consider yourselves warned.

“Why not start right after Super Bowl and have two picks every day till start of season?”

That’s the single dumbest fucking idea I’ve ever heard. I expect that sort of brainless prediction from Sue Grafton. But you, Mr. Coben? I hardly know ye.

I’ll pick out a bit from Carl Eller’s acceptance speech in 2004.

“Young men of African-American descent, hear me now. It breaks my heart, and it breaks all of our hearts. This is not the future your forefathers have built for you. This is not the future that we fought for in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s. What breaks our heart is to see you involved in gangs and selling drugs and killing each other. That breaks our hearts. We put our lives on the line so that you could enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy today. We put our lives on the line yesterday so that … there could be a Barack Obama today. And there could be a Carl Eller today. And there could be other Hall of Famers sitting before you today.”

How about that? Eller referring to Obama three or four before America really knew him. A very good read.

Whoa. You’re telling me Eller knew who Obama was in 2004? After Obama gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention that made him one of the most famous politicians in America? That takes a pretty deep reservoir of knowledge. That would be like a fantasy football player knowing who Tashard Choice was!

“Michael Jackson Dies.” Five observations:

1. HE WAS CONCRETE CYANIDE
2. Don’t you think he kinda looked like Johnny Damon?
3. Why couldn’t his music have sounded more like Coldplay?
4. In the music industry, he was definitely quasi-LeBronish
5. Sometimes, when I think of Montclair, I think: “Neverland”

Best song, all-time, at a Super Bowl halftime show is “Black or White,” at the Rose Bowl 16 years ago when Michael Jackson was the greatest performer in the pop world. And this comes from a U2- and Springsteen-aholic.

If only he had covered “Breathe” during that set.

Brooke Shields made me laugh at the memorial service when she got all emotional about her deep friendship and ultra-close relationship with Jackson — while admitting she had not seen him in 18 years …

It’s nothing close to the kind of bond I have with Bill Polian.

I covered boxing for a couple years at The Cincinnati Enquirer in the early 80s, and spent a day with Arguello at his home in Miami before his first big junior-welterweight title fight with Aaron Pryor in 1982. Great guy.

Lofty guy.

For those of you too young to know Cronkite only as a name, understand he was Anderson Cooper, Charlie Gibson, Wolf Blitzer and about 10 other news people, all rolled into one iconic voice.

So he was gay AND he had a lush beard?

“Michael Vick and Roger Goodell Meet in New Jersey.” Hearty congrats to Don Banks for breaking the unusual story of Vick and Goodell meeting in a leafy suburb in New Jersey, hoping to avoid being noticed.

I’m pretty sure “leafy” is King’s standard descriptor for all suburban environments. Goodell to Vick: “These leaves will provide us with all the cover we need!”

Nice job, Brasco.

Way to break news, kiddo. Sounds like a hard thing to do. Lemme buy you a plate of jalapeno poppers.

I think one of the guys we’ll all have eyes on this summer is the first-round pick of the Raiders, wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey. Seems like a classic boom-or-bust pick. His college coach, Ralph Friedgen, is a huge fan of Heyward-Bey’s, but he also says the wideout needs to improve his hands.

“He’s a great receiver, except that he can’t catch. We’re talking real Troy Williamson potential.”

I give up on the Black Berry Storm.

I can afford to buy luxury products and throw them away when I find them subpar!

I was seduced into buying it when it was The Next Big Thing, but the weird and hard-to-use keyboard should make it the Edsel of mobile phone and e-mail devices.

I never should have obeyed the sign telling me to check it out!

Incredibly, I sat behind the man who invented the hard-to-use keyboard of the Storm at Fenway one day when I was off

GTFO!

… and ended up telling him what I thought of the keyboard.

“You sir, have failed First Grade in Keyboardology 101. These are not the anal traits I look for in a wireless device. Harlen Coben is my Twitter friend and he concurs.”

A tad awkward, but someone’s got to address how hard it is to hit each key just so when you’re trying to send a text.

“The fingers you have used to dial are too fat.”

Coffeenerdness: I had a lot of coffee in a lot of places over the last month, but the coffee shop coffee, a dark roast, at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle — biting and intense but smooth, almost an Italian roast — was easily No. 1.

I shall recommend it to everyone I know: Harlen Coben, my two cock docs, and Donnie Brasco. CALL THEM ALL, OZZIE!