When we last left underground underdog faction supporter, Peter King, he was busy penning the screenplay to Shrugdog Millionaire, an off-beat Eli Manning hagiography that is now the prohibitive favorite of Razzie season. He also marveled over the discreet charm of Johnny Unitas’ testicles and imparted to his readers the harrowing story of how PK survived eight days of ankle fat kill shots.

So what about this week? Does PK discover personal side holes in Andrew Luck? Could RGIII benefit from Jeff Fisher’s epic meshology? How high could he uplift St. Louis? Peter King is also saddened by the death of Anthony Shadid because he was everything PK is not. READ ON.

Starting Thursday in Indianapolis, 326 players, 750 media members and 900 agents or so will collide at the stadium the Manning brothers made famous, Lucas Oil, for the rites of passage from college to pro football known as the NFL Scouting Combine.

And all of them better keep it down outside the JW Marriott or face the full brunt of Peter King’s late-night Peroni breath.

Every combine has a story, just as every draft has one.

“How wacky is it that Rich Eisen runs the 40, part twelve.”

Often it’s about the quarterback. Fourteen years ago, with a significantly smaller media crowd (maybe 10 or 12 reporters) on hand, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf competed to be number one, and Leaf came in overweight and botched his interview with the first-picking Colts, and the rest is history.

The bust-making Ryan Leaf wasn’t a mustard-passing option to the first-picking Colts, so instead the next-picking Chargers’ hand was forced and hilarity-ensuing was done.

Five years ago, it was the duel (yikes!) between JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn

Eep! Horrible quarterbacks make a scary! Then again, here’s a thing expert draftologist 101 Peter King said while covering the 2007 combine: “The top of this draft looks a lot like 1998′s.”

Prepare this week for an onslaught of news about Luck and the quarterback sure to be taken very soon after him (likely second if St. Louis trades the pick, or third or fourth if the Rams don’t deal), Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.

I spoke to their two coaches late last week, Art Briles of Baylor and David Shaw of Stanford, just to get a flavor of the two top prospects in the draft, and what impressed me was how similar the two quarterbacks are in many ways.

Both are 22 (born exactly five months apart). Both were recruited by Stanford. (Didn’t know that, did you?

Nope! Not you! Because you’re a MMQB reader and therefore know only of Funkhauser, Nard Dog, the Red Sox and which cities where Seattle needs to enforce latte consistency. You have no time for the nuggets of others.

Both starred academically; Griffin graduated with a 3.67 grade-point average in political science, and Luck was an academic All-America in architectural design and engineering.

An architect! Another Eli in the making! They’ll spend the next 10 years battling over who wins the fictional Pritzker Prize between fictional Friday nights of dream poker. All of their buildings will have LEED certification while still being constructed of concrete cyanide.

Both are athletic, though Griffin’s more of athlete. He had a Cam Newton-type career, with 2,199 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns at Baylor.

/consults racial decoder ring

“He’s a black guy who had a black guy-type career.”

Shaw, on Luck:

“I remember early on at Stanford, I told him one time, ‘Andrew, this is your huddle, take charge of the huddle.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Coach, before that can be my huddle, I have to earn it. I don’t want it handed to me.’

And thus began the Five Trials of Andrew Luck
1. Talk to teammates
2. Ask if they’re doing okay
3. Acknowledge that they are doing okay
4. Offer that you are doing okay as well
5. Take control of the huddle

Briles, on Griffin: “The thing about Robert is he’s a football player.

“I believe with Robert that going to a team that isn’t very good will be inspiring to him. Because he’ll realize he has to elevate that team any way possible.

Upliftville, RGIII is from it. He will place your 53-man roster on a cherry picker and drive it into the end zone, if that’s what it takes.

It’s all good now. The news always is in February. But the sense you get from the scouts and GMs who are studying both players is you won’t find many holes in either one — and certainly not on the personal side.

“Those aren’t personal side holes, they’re speed holes. They make the player go faster.”

/Simpsons quote mock draft Mr. Irrelevant

Four thoughts about the upcoming free-agent market:

1. We’ve thought all along spending would be curtailed because the cap is flat from 2011 to 2012. We thought wrong

Who the fuck thought that? Show yourselves and bring a switch from the yard.

Some teams with monstrous cap room (Tampa Bay, with $67 million under the cap) are going to have to spend to justify to their fans that they’re trying to win. In Tampa, it won’t be good enough for GM Mark Dominik to sign quarterback Josh Freeman to a rich extension.

LOCKING DOWN A QB WHO THREW 22 INTERCEPTIONS LAST YEAR WON’T ENERGIZE THE FAN BASE?! What’s wrong with you Tampan people?

He’s got to go out and spend big on a free agent or two — even though player development, not player purchasing, will be the hallmark of the Greg Schiano regime — to spur fans to come back and buy season tickets in a depressed NFL market.

If your NFL market is experiencing signs of depression, consult your medical professional and have them sign journeyman returner Eddie Abilify.

Side effects may include: stroke, hair loss, perpetual rebuilding stage, cleft anus, weekly television blackouts, eye urination and occasional death.

I predict a few guys will make a fortune. Mario Williams, if he’s not franchised by the Texans, should lead the way. Five or six others should follow. But too many GMs have been burned too many times to spend crazy money in the market. I expect more teams to wait out the initial frenzy and try to do smarter deals 10 days down the road.

The best PK nuggets are the ones you know he’s going to sheepishly (SHEESHishly) explain away in two weeks. This is one of those prognosto-nuggets.

4. The most intriguing free-agent case out there? Matt Flynn. Two starts, 68 percent passing, 731 yards, nine touchdowns, two picks … against two playoff teams. That’s the maddening thing about Flynn. So alluring, so tempting, so dangerous. The Packers have $14.42 million available to spend. The franchise number for Flynn would be $14.41 million. Easy! (Kidding. Just kidding.)

Aww, look at PK trolling hard (yikes!)

The Packers have to worry about tight end Jermichael Finley ($5.5 million in a franchise tag), and Thompson has to be concerned about this: What if he franchises Flynn and then can’t find a taker for him, a trade partner that would give him a second-round pick or something valuable in exchange for Flynn?

Are you hopped up on nutmeggy goofballs? You don’t think the Packers could get at least a second-round pick for Flynn? A team traded a first- and a second-round pick for the retired husk of Carson Palmer last year. The Eagles got a second-rounder plus a starting cornerback for Kevin Kolb, who at the time of the trade had comparable experience but less impressive stats to what Flynn has now.

/starts drinking before noon

//has PK as an excuse this time

Remembering a man who deserves our attention today: Anthony Shadid, foreign correspondent, The New York Times

Shadid worked for The Washington Post the entire time I was there. I even met the guy. And I still rolled my eyes when I saw that PK put this memorial section together. What’s that? Dozens of journalists die in the course of doing their job each year? But they don’t work one of three outlets where I get my news from!

I’m writing about him not because he was a huge Packer fan, though he was. I’m writing about him because he was a heroic foreign correspondent, a two-time Pulitzer winner, the kind of man journalism schools should name buildings after.

The journalism school I attended is named after a fairly unremarkable rich publisher guy who donated a bunch of money to the school before committing suicide on his boat.

#MarylandPride

Reading Shadid several times over the years

Several. That means as many as two!

Shadid wrote: “Budgetary constraints aside, I listened to every game in Baghdad. When I won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, my editor at the [Washington] Post, Phil Bennett, gave me front-row tickets to a game with the Washington Redskins. Forget the Pulitzer! I’m going to the game!”

That’s all they gave you for winning the Pulitzer? Those cheap assholes. All the top editors at WaPo have season tickets to the various D.C. teams and they almost never go to games. Hell, they give tickets away to the kids in the mail room.

Quote of the Week I

“I appreciate the enthusiasm for it and I hear it from the fans consistently. People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that’s the concept we are talking about here. We wouldn’t add an extra two games without reducing the preseason and we are not going to do it without the players’ support, so we did that in the collective bargaining agreement instead of having the unilateral right, which we had. We determined that we were going to do this together. We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that we’ll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games, but I don’t think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14.”

– NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, on ESPN radio in New York, via sportsradiointerviews.com.

The Rog, still fucking that 18-game chicken

/awaits PK to breathlessly explain how the NFLPA will cave once they watch Goodell deadlift a Buick

Unless there have been some double-secret-probation meetings between the commissioner and leadership of the NFLPA, I am missing something here. Just who exactly is the commissioner hearing from “constantly?” And if you’re out there, I’d love to hear from you. There is no good reason to subject NFL players to two more games that count. The only reason is greed.

Oh ho ho! Beer-bloated Petey grew Unitas-size Michelin Man balls all of a sudden.

The idea of an equal exchange — two regular season games in, two preseason games out — between games that don’t count and those that do is folly. On average, veteran players play between four and six quarters in the preseason, and some not that much. On average, veteran players play all of a regular season game. So to say the four series a veteran would play in the preseason (at less intensity, for the most part) is equivalent in any way to a regular season game is misleading at best. I’ve asked fans, by Twitter poll, if they’d like to see 18 regular season games, and the overwhelming answer was no.

Quote of the Week II

“I had a handful of friends coming to me at our [wedding] reception say, ‘Who’s that guy?’ I was, like, ‘Oh, that’s my super-agent. That’s the biggest agent in the sports world.’ And they’re, like, ‘Wow, he’s the drunkest guy at the party.’ ”

– Drew Bledsoe, talking to Armen Keteyian of HBO Sports, on agent Leigh Steinberg, whose crash-and-burn life is detailed in an “HBO Real Sports” story this week.

Oh, please. If I had to go to Drew Bledsoe’s wedding, you’d best believe I’d be ripshit on rum ham the entire time, too. I’d also bring Mo Lewis as a +1 and openly beg him to nail Bledsoe on the altar and replace him with a more dashing groom.

I don’t expect Wes Welker to leave New England, but if he does, that’ll add to the free-agent mayhem.

Project Grithem

Having said that about Welker, if I’m Bucs GM Mark Dominik, Welker agent David Dunn is my first phone call out of the box on March 13. Welker’s just what Josh Freeman needs.

That’s right, a receiver who makes a catch 150 times out of 100, except for those in Super Bowl, not that the Buccaneers will get there any time soon.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs and Chiefs each steer clear of Welker. Something Bill Parcells passed down to Bill Belichick about steering clear of each other’s free agents; Parcells needed a kicker in Dallas when Adam Vinatieri was free, but he wouldn’t touch him.

Good philosophy, which is why he signed total washout Mike Vanderjagt instead.

I’m not sure about it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott Pioli and Belichick disciple Greg Schiano take a hands-off approach with Welker.

Because Belichick disciples are franchise poison.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Found myself on a Delta flight from Newark to Atlanta Saturday, and the bouncy, incredibly happy flight attendant greeted everyone with a huge hello or welcome as we boarded the full flight. Turns out it was her 50th birthday, and everyone cheered for her midway through the flight. She had a way about her of telling the idiots who don’t obey the rule on planes to wise up, as in what she said when the door was closed and the plane taxiing to the runway.

Wise up, as in recounting what happened to you on a flight in an awkward sentence to your readers, who in turn have their heads explode.

“All you with those iPads still working now, you know, I have three grandbabies who would just love an iPad, and if those are still on when I come back down the aisle, well, they’re going to be very nice gifts for the kiddies!”

What a kindly old thief. “You think I won’t see your secret melty Kit-Kat tweets, but I have an iPad in the back of my head.”

I assume she’s been a flight attendant for years; she had all the PA speeches and the galley stuff down pat. I’m always so impressed with people who do their jobs for a long time and still seem to love them.

At least we know PK is unimpressed by PK

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think, ESPN, that most of America is going to tune into “Monday Night Football” for your opener Sept. 10 and say, “Who’s the idiot who thought ‘Monday Night Football’ would be better without Ron Jaworski?” Jaworski is without question one of the five best analysts doing NFL games. And now he’s not doing NFL games. Great! Throw another log on the fire of the studio shows! Add the 942nd analyst!

So Peter thinks most of America is assholes.

Eh, close enough.

2. I think I’m stunned, shocked and dismayed — and whatever you can say that’s stronger than that — to see an ESPN headline about Jeremy Lin on Saturday with the word “chink” in it. I don’t understand how a thinking person, regardless of age or professional status, could think, “Hey, it’d be cute to use the word ‘chink’ in a headline with a Jeremy Lin/Knicks story.” ESPN was smart to fire the offending editor.

They had an anchor do it on-air, too, but he got to keep his job. It’s okay, he has a subservient Asian wife.

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

a. Was that Spike Lee with a Jeremy Lin Harvard replica jersey Sunday at Madison Square Garden? Wow! That guy has some serious friends in high places to be able to pull that one off.

Wow! He must some have met some guy selling knockoffs on the street in Chinatown. That’s a privilege only the rich, famous, connected enjoy. Oh, and anyone who has $40.

Spike also wore Lin’s high school jersey to a game on Friday, because Spike Lee has uber-connectedology.

b. I repeat: I know nothing about the NBA.

I repeat: yeah, I know.

But this Lin story is so terrific, and that win Sunday over the defending champ Mavericks was so terrific, and Lin’s game so complete (28 points, 14 assists, three 3-pointers) that it’s settled. I’ve just got to start watching the New York Knickerbockers.

/adds uninformed Knicks commentary to Pinterest page

c. Lin appeals to so many factions in our society. The underdog faction … because he went to Harvard

As a place that produces set-for-life underdogs, we underrate Harvard.

On its face, this appears to be an out-and-out outrageous statement, but in truth, Harvard admissions in recent years has made a concerted effort to bring in more underdogs and not just cocky secret-intelligent white janitors who never exist in real life.

was cut by two teams, was in the minor leagues and, when he exploded in New York, was apparently on the verge of getting cut again. The minority faction

…A haunting dystopian novel by Philip K. Dick.

d. Great job with your cover story in SI this week, Pablo Torre, telling America lots it didn’t know about Lin … Amazing in this day and age that in college, in the Ivy League, for crying out loud, Lin got peppered with slurs like “chink” and “sweet and sour pork!” on the road.

Racism among the most sheltered and affluent? I WON’T HEAR IT!

f. Kudos, Wall Street Journal

Fodder for future tiresome “Things Shitheads Say” video

for a front-page read the other day on a bacon festival in Iowa on Saturday, a party that sold 4,000 tickets in 25 minutes. But as Jeannette Neumann reported, the organizers of the event were ready “for a bit of oinking from outsiders.”

Someone owes Steve Serby 10 grand for that line.

Vegetarian doctors from Iowa worried about the long-term effects of eating bacon were out to promote the unhealthy side of bacon, though it probably wasn’t doing much good. One of the lectures at the event was: “How bacon is changing my life.”

g. Resistance is Futile Dept.: Jack in the Box, the West Coast fast-food chain, is still selling the bacon milkshake.

Chock-full of E.coli goodness!

/’90s-era cheap shots

h. Coffeenerdness: The winner of the King family espresso machine competition is Breville. We broke down and bought one in the city the other day, and after experimenting this week, I’ll let you know whether I’m going to become an at-home latte guy most of the time. (Be still, journalistic hearts.)

Anthony Shadid, still ahead of the game!

/one for Hell, please

i. Beernerdness: I don’t know how I missed this in the last three years, but I had my first Berkshire Brewing Steel Rail Pale Ale the other day, and it won’t be my last. Classic bronze color, malty, not overwhelming in bitterness but just the right hoppy flavor for an ale.

No citrus? Well, this is an unusual MMQB. Unless….

l. So Josh Beckett on Sunday talked about “lapses in judgment” in his clubhouse behavior in 2011. Why, oh why, oh why, can’t he come clean and say, “I was wrong to drink beer in the clubhouse during games.” If that’s what happened — and with no one ever denying it, it’s hard to imagine it didn’t happen — a full apology to the fans is what’s needed from the Red Sox and the offending players. Based on what I’ve heard in the last few months, and over the weekend, that apology is never coming. Sad. Just sad.

ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? AN APOLOGY!? FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU. YOU ROTUND GORMLESS ASSHOLE WHO SPENDS HIS SUNDAYS CHOKING DOWN BACON-BY-THE-FOOT AND SHOTGUNNING BLUE MOON WANTS TO SHAME A PITCHER FOR DRINKING BEER ON A DAY THAT HE ISN’T EVEN PITCHING! GET FUCKED BY A JET ENGINE YOU ENTITLED SHIT! DIIIIIIEEEEEEE

m. Thanks, Tim Wakefield.

“Eat knuckledick, Peter.”