When we last left frothed milk-based lifeform Peter King, he was teaching us just how unimportant context is when you decide to quote someone out of context. Have you SEEN the way Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” glorifies Hitler? THE CONTEXT IS IRRELEVANT. Peter also kicked back at the Conrad hotel in Indy (go for the airport! Stay for the airport!), and was earwitness to many good nuggets at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. Peter loves steakhouses. He also loves eating at them. That’s what you do at steakhouses, of course. You eat.

So what about this week? Will Rick Reilly’s adjectives keep kicking Peter’s down the block? Will Peter keep drinking out of the same smelly, gnarled, slightly damp growler he usually drinks out of? Will he lose his iPad again? And will he find more people who “know things”? READ ON.

I’ve got a bit of a different column for you this week. Because of the ever-shifting sands of this labor story…

Oooh, shifting sands! Just like what you see on the MOON!

…Sports Illustrated thought it foolish for our man on the scene in Washington, D.C., at week’s end, senior writer Jim Trotter, to write a story for the magazine this week. Such a story could well have been overtaken by events of the week before the magazine hit mailboxes Wednesday and Thursday. I suggested that Jim write his story at the top of Monday Morning Quarterback, and the mag bosses and Jim agreed.

I’ve got a bit of a different column for you this week, in that it was written by someone who actually has critical information to relay.

So in a few paragraphs, you’ll see how close these negotiations were to blowing up last Thursday.

DE SMITH: We’re going to decertify tonight.

GOODELL: Well then… guess I’m gonna have to bust out… (takes shirt off, flexes biceps)… THE BIG GUNS!

DE SMITH: My God, you’re impossibly fit! What chance do we stand?

First, I have three things to tease:

1. Wanna know my thoughts about “Easy A”? STAY TUNED! Hint: I thought Emma Stone was cute as a button!

2. You’ll be shocked to learn what the Marlins are about to do with their bullpen.

3. I tried Rogue Dead Guy Stout the other day. Did I like it? POSSIBLY.

I think at some point this week you might see the owners give the players something they’ve wanted for a long time — more financial transparency. That’s a maybe…

But it’s a legit 40% maybe. Will the owners open their books? Maybe. Can Roger Goodell cause amputees to regenerate limbs simply by gazing at them with his piercing blue eyes? COULD BE. Could there ever be a better salad than Cobb Salad? REPLY HAZY.

Major League Soccer, a year ago, spent a couple of weeks locked up with this federal mediator the NFL and the players are using — and both sides left the building swearing by George Cohen. “I don’t know that we would have gotten a deal done without his help and his very calming demeanor,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told me Sunday night.

Oh, thank God for that. I’m much happier now that I know this man helped save SOCCER. That’s all the insight I need! If George Cohen could help solve a labor dispute between a soccer league that makes no money and its players who are simply lucky to have jobs, then surely that applies to a completely different business! I bet Don Garber is the son of a senator who does 5,000 pullups a day and can solve racial arguments with just a few dignified sentences!

One of the player reps in the talks, U.S. superstar Landon Donovan, said last night: “The moment we — me and some of the guys in the league who were a part of the negotiations last year — saw George was going to be the mediator for the NFL, we all said basically the same thing: that we think the league and the players will get a deal done.”

You heard it here first! A guy who plays soccer thinks the NFL is on the right track!

By the way, I strongly urge you to read Jim Trotter’s excerpt in King’s column. It’s… it’s just so beautiful. Paragraph after paragraph of actual reporting. Not a single wasted word. So blissfully economical. It’s like walking into a Honey Kettle chicken after walking through a desert for nine years. Look at this! Look at how great this copy is:

With only five minutes to go before the union’s deadline to decertify last Thursday — a move that might have obliterated the NFL as we know it today — a player walked into the negotiating room that included commissioner Roger Goodell, league attorney Jeff Pash, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Kevin Mawae and declared: “We’re done! We’re decertifying.”

At that point the aforementioned player — whose name is being withheld because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations — walked into the room upstairs, tapped Mawae on the shoulder and made a quick hand-across-the-throat gesture while making his decertification declaration.

My God! He’s like a nugget machine! Oh, Jim Trotter. Don’t leave us. Please. You’re so good at what you do, and you didn’t mention Acela or the Red Sox at all! Come back! DON’T GO! DON’T LEAVE US ALONE WITH PETER!

Thanks, Jim.

Thanks, Jim! Way to give my column an actual purpose! Now… let’s get back to not knowing anything!

When the two sides agreed to extend for a week on Friday, I felt strongly that the players were saying, OK, now there’s going to be real movement. I think that will happen this week. Will it be enough? We’ll see.

Ah, that’s more like it. Thank God we’re rid of Jim Trotter and all his stupid “vital information.” Time to talk about what Oscar movies I’ve seen and which I haven’t!

It was interesting talking to Garber and two MLS stars Sunday night, Donovan of the Los Angeles franchise and Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

Yes, MORE soccer! Why listen to Jim talk about going to the NFL CBA meetings when you can learn so much more simply by listening to Landon Donovan’s opinion about the matter? I think soccer made a great decision to not hire a mediator from any small African country.

In particular, one of the final sticking points for Cohen was to bridge the gap on minimum salaries — both for rostered players and for the MLS’ version of practice-squad players, the developmental players. Minimum salary for active players rose from $34,000 to $40,000…

Oh, well that’s EXACTLY like the NFL’s ongoing negotiations. Only, instead of a $6,000 disparity between sides, the disparity is $750 million. That’s barely a difference! You can’t tell me a deal wouldn’t get done if Cobi Jones was in that room!

And now for just a little bit of football. Mind if I sneak some of that in?

Oh ho ho! Mind if I sneak a bit of triteness in?

No, seriously though. Time for some footba… JUST KIDDING! LET ME TELL YOU WHY I’M THINKING OF DRAFTING DEREK JETER NUMBER ONE IN MY ROTISSERIE DRAFT.

Last year, the Saints Super Bowl video had more of the inside, funny sideline stuff than this year’s Packer DVD. You remember Sean Payton getting mad when he couldn’t get the kind of gum he wanted. Well, I’ll gladly trade Juicy Fruit for juicy stuff.

Things Peter is also willing to trade for juicy stuff:

-Context

-Dignity

-Pack of Kit Kats

-Tickets to “Lombardi,” starring Dan Lauria

But no Coppola wine. That’s where Peter draws the line.

The Steelers were just a little off in the Super Bowl. Troy Polamalu was ineffective, as he was throughout the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger made a few terrific throws, but he might regret the Jarrett Bush interception in the second quarter for a long time.

This just in! Big Ben might regret the pick-six that cost Pittsburgh the game! Also, I think this Charlie Sheen fella sure has issues!

Had a swell time on my first trip to Atlantic City since 1982 (covering an Aaron Pryor fight for the Cincinnati Enquirer then). This time I got the Harrah’s Broadcast Award from the Maxwell Football Club at its 74th awards dinner.

God dammit, will you people STOP giving this man awards? This is worse than Tyler Perry getting 19 NAACP Image Award nominations. When did the NAACP start being against black people?

Lots of fun, and a swell honor. What a great club Ron Jaworski lords over.

JAWS: Peter, I think you have done an OUTSTANDING job with your coverage of the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. The nuggets! The loftiness! The coffee! That’s what you like to see out of a column. I think this could be an ELITE column for a very long time!

Anyway, I hadn’t been to any of these newfangled casinos in Atlantic City, nor to the city, in some time. A few things struck me. To be downtown on the streets of the Monopoly game was fun.

ADVANCE DIRECTLY TO JAIL.

But time has not been kind to many of those streets. Oriental Avenue, for instance, mostly doesn’t exist.

And free parking? Try $8 an hour if you leave your Prius with the valet!

Seriously, go back and read Jim Trotter’s account of the CBA negotiations. We went from that to, “To be downtown on the streets of the Monopoly game was fun.” It’s like walking off a fucking cliff.

One other thing about Harrah’s: In the valet parking area, where you wait for your car, there’s a vending machine. I found one row in the machine interesting: Skittles, Golden Oreos, Lance Peanut Bars, Goetze’s Caramels, 5-Hour ENERGY. That’s right. They don’t want you to fall asleep in the casino, apparently.

Yes, it’s time for another installment of “Shit Peter saw in the vending machine.” But why no Peanut Toffee Triple Latte Clif Bar?

Join us next week when Peter lets Jim Trotter write three critical paragraphs of NFL news, and then talks to you about how expensive Smarte Cartes have become.

I think the one thing I’m starting to hear teams be concerned about — if they can’t keep in touch with players or monitor their offseason workout regimen — is a sort of withholding of aerobic conditioning by some players…

AL HAYNESWORTH: Hey, I was doing that before it was cool!

I think this is a really good, thought-provoking piece by Bill Simmons, and even though he writes for a rival site, I strongly recommend it.

Oh, the one where he deploys an extended self-reverential hypothetical to illustrate the obvious point that NFL owners are greedy pricks? I adored it. NO ONE DENIES THIS. BEARS-PACKAHS IS NAWT A RIVALRY!

Now, the only thing he has slightly wrong is that every owner in the NFL is making $100 million a year, or whatever ungodly sum the general public believes every NFL team is making in profit.

Hey, some of these owners ONLY make $80 million a year! You watch your facts, Simmons! Being an NFL owner isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes, you have to take out a mortgage on your Lake Como retreat.

But the point of greed is an interesting one.

Hmmm, I never thought the owners were greedy until just this very moment! In other news, Roger Goodell writes letters to starving kids in Namibia.

I think it’s nice that the Chargers signed Bob Sanders. Nice. Nothing more.

For all the Chargers fans who’ve gotten excited about it, don’t.

What Chargers fan got excited about it?

I think what really surprised me about Mike Holmgren discussing Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher as legitimate candidates for the Browns coaching job was this: He said Cowher “wasn’t ready to come back and he was very honest about it.” I find that very, very illuminating. Think of it.

Think of it. IMAGINE it. Savor every word. He was NOT ready to come back. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to coach. Very, very telling.

I think I’d give Plaxico Burress, who turns 34 in August and is a year-and-a-half younger than Hines Ward, a shot in my training camp. Any day of the week. Burress is likely to be hungrier and more focused than in his prime. And remember how great he was just 38 months ago.

I agree that Burress is worth taking a flyer on, but the sentence there killed me. Why, remember JUST 38 months ago. That’s a scant three years! Barely the bat of an eyelash! Nothing changes in three years. Look at this column if you need proof!

I think it was good to have a chance to spend time with Patrick Peterson at the Maxwell event in Atlantic City. Very nice kid. Honored to be at such a cool event…

Cool because it honored me!

…and determined to be good.

“Patrick, the most important decision you can make right now is what you stand for: goodness… or badness.”

I think this’ll be a momentous week for (Matt) Millen, Anthony Munoz and Merril Hoge as they head into the war zone to visit the troops in the Persian Gulf.

MILLEN: Say, what does this do?

(pulls grenade pin, wipes out entire battalion)

MILLEN: My bad.

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

a. Sure seems to be a lot of people rooting against the Heat.

Yeah, who knew they were unpopular? And were you aware that NFL owners can be a touch avaricious?

b. I’m thrilled to not care about Charlie Sheen.

And add Peter to the list of tiresome people who publicly declare their indifference toward Charlie Sheen. #lofting

e. There must be something wrong with me. I’m a 53-year-old man, just spent 20 hours in a casino in Atlantic City, and never once said, “Hey, let’s go play some blackjack!” Never even put a quarter in a slot machine. Just seems so fruitless. Do you ever really win? I mean, win and then walk away without the temptation to go back and turn your winnings into the big score?

I don’t gamble AND I don’t care about Charlie Sheen! Tell me I’m not better than you. You know it’s true. Do you know Tony Dungy? I rest my case.

g. Coffeenerdness: Atlantic City has its problems, economic and otherwise. But right there in the middle of a renewal area downtown, with all kinds of trendy outlets stores, is a Starbucks. Pretty surprised at that, and pleased.

Listen, we make fun of Peter all the time at this site, often to the point of gross exaggeration, but I’m being sincere when I tell you that may be the dumbest thing he’s ever written. First of all, who’s surprised to see a Starbucks ANYWHERE? “Whoa hey! A Starbucks! I never would have guessed a corporation with 750,000,000 franchise locations would set up shop in an urban area!” Secondly, what the fuck does one Starbucks have to do with that town’s perpetual descent into economic despair? “Well, Atlantic City sure is run down. And people like to shoot each other here. But I did see a Starbucks, so I can only imagine Boardwalk will be worth two grand again LICKETY SPLIT!”

And I love that this pleases Peter. “This place is horrible and destitute. Thank God the Starbucks people are here to set it right!” God, I love that paragraph. It’s just so perfectly terrible. Almost as terrible as this one:

Doesn’t seem like Libya is going to have a happy ending, that’s for sure.

Never change, Peter. Never change.