When last we left people truster, Peter King, he felt it necessary to rank his favorite airlines based on completely inane and arbitrary bullsh*t, which is PK’s preferred brand of bullsh*t. He also asked whether the 49ers are becoming the Patriots West, because apparently he got the scoop that Trent Baalke is going nothing but tight ends and white skill players in the draft this year. Finally, Peter offered to do a commercial for Red Stripe since there’s nothing TV audiences love like ads with fat white guys affecting Jamaican accents.

What about this week? PK wants to know why people are still harping on this Manti Te’o story? Is it because it’s fascinating and bizarre and still not entirely understood by the public? Who cares, PK has decreed it’s time to move on and leave Te’o alone. Now, READ ON.

Five combine takeaways, inside and outside Lucas Oil Stadium.

1. Repeat after me: Two months to go before real decisions happen.

Because free agency never has an impact on what happens in the draft. And Kansas City possibly trading for Alex Smith because they don’t like the QBs in this draft class would only be a quasi-legitish decision based on what they’ve seen.

When you hear that players are “sliding down draft boards,” or “rocketing up draft boards,” understand that it’s a lie. Those draft boards now are mental. Most teams have their first version of player ranking set before coming to the combine. Then they return home and continue the scouting process, then reset the board in the week or sometimes day or two before the draft. If they’re sliding or rising now, it’s in the minds of GMs, not in any official sense.

That’s some excellent hair-splitting. Just because draft boards aren’t tangible things, it’s unfair to say that a player’s perceived worth is falling? There’s a philosophical argument to be had about whether something that exists only in the mind is real, which of course is trumped by the existential crisis brought on by the realization that Peter King caused you to think profoundly about the nature of existence with an insipid remark that he contradicts later in this column.

Alex Smith to Kansas City? Jason LaCanfora reported Sunday night that a trade of Smith from the 49ers was “effectively complete,” but the destination is unknown. It’s not Jacksonville. It’s likely Kansas City, and if it’s for a third-round pick or less, it’s a great move for the Chiefs. Smith would be the smart and accurate field general Andy Reid wants out of the position.

Not to mention MENSCH OF THE YEAR. No other quarterback could game manage them to six wins with friendlier demeanor.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o made a very good first impression on the NFL. No way the second- or third-rated inside linebacker gets to the bottom of the round now, in the wake of the fake girlfriend story.

NO WAY! After all, Peter has never been wrong about this sort of thing before, like when he proclaimed another Notre Dame product, Jimmy Clausen, to be the most pro-ready quarterback and bound to be in the first-round a few years back. That said, not sure what I’m rooting harder for: a team to take Te’o in the first round, or him slipping into the second, making PK livid.

The case of Matt Barkley.

Before interviewing Barkley Saturday night at the combine, I asked three scouts about him. One spent two days at USC last season, and he looked at a lot of Barkley tape. The verdict: They liked his junior year (69 percent accuracy, 39-7 TD-INTs), didn’t like his senior year (64 percent, 36-15) at all. One said he consistently put too much air under his throws and didn’t have a good fastball. One thought he was a victim of poor coaching and a deficient offensive line last year, particularly when his starting center went out against Stanford and Barkley was beaten to a pulp.

I watched extended highlights of the Stanford and Oregon games from last season on YouTube. I didn’t see the too-much-air thing, but I did see him trusting his receivers too much to make tough throws, throwing into traffic too much, and too many batted/deflected balls.

That’s nice work, scouts, but PK’s got this. He watched five minutes of highlights from two games. Consider the book written on this kid.

Barkley seems very confident and very sure of himself without being cocky. “As I start my NFL career,” he said, “I really want to set the record straight on a few things. People look at me like I’m some Cali boy, but I’m not that way — I don’t even know how to surf. I’m a football junkie. I’m football, 24/7.”

“No way, that’s not me. I’m no Calif kid. I hate California. I’ve never eaten at In & Out. Right turn on red? I’d have to be crazy. I wait for the green. Every time. I developed this pan-Northeastern accent just so I could seem more football-y.”

He understands there’s a prejudice against USC quarterbacks because of the recent failings of Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart, and because Carson Palmer’s career has declined. My thoughts: Sanchez started one full season and Barkley four, so that’s not really apples-to-apples. Leinart’s been a total bust. Let’s not revise history on Palmer, who, from 2005 through 2007, threw 20 more touchdown passes than Brett Favre. He hasn’t had staying power, but he’s no bust.

Damn straight. So take that, Trojan haterz. Take a USC quarterback high in the first round and there’s a one in three chance you’ll get three productive seasons out of him before his career flames out.

One of the last things we discussed is Barkley’s trip to the Manning Passing Academy last July, his first trip to see into Peyton’s and Eli’s worlds. “I learned a valuable lesson from Peyton, about sometime you have to be a d—,” he said. In other words, if players don’t want to work out in the offseason, you tell them there’s no option; you tell them when and where to be somewhere. Now, maybe that doesn’t happen in the first year. But a quarterback has to have the respect and authority to make sure players do what’s necessary, particularly in these days of less intense offseason programs.

The Manning Dickishness Academy. “Eli said sometimes you gotta shrug your shoulders just so or else the receiver won’t know that interception was on him.”

I prefer to imagine that Peyton just gave Barkley the “dicks and pussies” talk from Team America.

There’s something about the Te’o story that stinks.

Television cameras focused on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o during his media period at the combine: 46. In total, it was the biggest media horde in combine history. “I’d say one-third more media than Tim Tebow got,” said combine godfather Gil Brandt.

No! Not more than Tebow! No one is allowed to be more shitshowy than the Godslinger.

Reporters who stayed for Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree’s complete media period at the combine: about 35.

Te’o was asked about the case of the phony girlfriend we’re all familiar with. Ogletree was asked about a positive substance test that resulted in a four-game suspension last season, and about his arrest for driving under the influence earlier this month in Arizona.

What is wrong with this picture? Ogletree and Te’o are first-round inside linebacker prospects. Ogletree has two huge red flags, the second one even bigger because who takes a risk like he did, driving while impaired, on the eve of the biggest job interview of his life? Te’o has one bizarre red flag that landed him in the cross-examination chair with Katie Couric. He never met a girlfriend who turned out to be fake, and when he finally found out she was fake, he perpetuated it for a time, he says, because he was so embarrassed by it.

All I can say if Te’o drops precipitously — and I do not believe he will; I think he goes no lower than the early 20s of the first round — this league needs to have its collective head examined.

Fuck you. The media is fascinated by the Te’o story – and understandably so – because it’s unlike anything they’d ever seen before with an NFL prospect. Is it for a salacious purpose? Yeah, somewhat, but PK has been in this business long enough to know how that works. There have been tons of talented draftees with failed drug tests and arrests. Yes, it’s something to be concerned about, which is why there were 35 reporters talking with Ogletree. That PK gets all indignant that the media is continuing to focus on this story just makes his biases more evident. Te’o embarrassed Sports Illustrated by exposing its lax reporting on his background. By just trying to make this about football, PK is trying to downplay the significance of his employer’s own failings. Moreover, PK just loves pumping Notre Dame prospects. At any rate, it’s rare for only one shitty Peter King conflict of interest to be present on any given story.

“I’m sitting here watching all this,” said Nevada coach Brian Polian, the point man in the Notre Dame recruitment of Te’o, “and it’s driving me out of my mind.”

Polian, son of Bill, was Notre Dame’s special teams coach and the chief West Coast recruiter when Te’o was wooed.

Oh good! Not only the fuckwit son of a long-time NFL fixture, but someone CONNECTED to Notre Dame’s program. No chance he has any vested interest in restoring Te’o’s good name.

“The reason I’ve been so upset at how Manti has been portrayed is that I know him. He doesn’t conspire to trick anyone. The people who would be so cynical, so jaded or such Notre Dame-haters simply don’t know him.

That’s right. Reporters are just cynical H8RZZZZ for continuing to dwell on this scandal that Te’o worsened by lying about it. God damn, PK might as well have gotten a member of Te’o’s family to back him up on this. It couldn’t look like any more of an obvious apology for the guy.

You have to see how he grew up. He lived in a little town on the north shore [of Oahu], where everyone knows everybody. Then he goes to a prestigious private school and, I’m not going to lie, he was sheltered. Then he goes to Notre Dame, and there aren’t many places that protect and shelter their students like Notre Dame. This whole story happens, and he’s guilty of one thing: trusting some sicko, because that’s what he does, he trusts people. He’s not jaded, he’s not worldly, he’s naïve. So he trusts someone who doesn’t deserve to be trusted, then he’s totally embarrassed by it when he finds out it’s phony. Really, what is this kid’s crime?

Being a lying dipshit who is liable to do something else to humiliate himself and the franchise that drafts him?

I don’t know Te’o at all. I have spent three minutes of my life with him.

But if PK spent five minutes of watching YouTube highlights of him, totally different story.

That happened Saturday after his press conference, which opened with Te’o looking out and saying, “Wow. That’s a lot of cameras.” Not just the 46 TV cameras and the 15 or 20 still photographers. But as he spoke, dozens of reporters lifted their phones up to take photos whenever he turned their way. And as he walked away from the scene and into an elevator to return him to his testing duties at the combine, I asked him a couple of questions.

“Do you think this weird girlfriend incident matters to football teams?” I asked.

This Te’o girlfriend thing is overblown! Let me ask him about it!

He didn’t know how to answer it, and hemmed and hawed for a second, then said: “I truly believe what I did on the football field matters,” he said. “That’s what’s important to being a football player.”

And I asked, “What did you think of that scene in there?”

Te’o smiled. “That was a great experience,” he said. “People were nice to me. I enjoyed it.” And then he was gone.

Now there’s an answer I didn’t expect.

Because you’re a simp.

Maybe, “Holy crap! That was incredible!” But, “People were nice to me?” I spoke to Polian after this, and it all seemed to fit — this bizarre thing may have made him trust fewer people, but he still seems like a truster of people he’s just met.

He has a sucker’s innocence. Who doesn’t want to give someone like that millions of dollars and huge responsibility?

One last story: Our combine photographer Rosenberg had a short session with Te’o Sunday. He had quite a few players in his home-made studio in the Lucas Oil Stadium concourse, and he’d ask them all to pose, and then to do some action things. Rosenberg had to tell most of them to really give some effort, because it was strange to run or make sudden actions in such a confined space. When Te’o was in there, and Rosenberg asked him to run, he sprinted past Rosenberg, past the camera position, into the concourse. Sprinting. That’s what he was asked to do, and so he did it.

Holy shit, Manti Te’o is Forrest Gump.

Maybe Manti Te’o is the greatest actor in combine history. Who knows? I doubt it. I don’t know how good he’ll be in the NFL, but I can predict this: He’s not going to be a phony.

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW!? You just last week highlighted a remark from another writer about how journalists never truly know the athletes they cover. And here you are, A WEEK LATER, swearing that Te’o will never be a phony even though he was already revealed not to be the guileless wonder player the media once thought he was. Does PK have that fucking Memento short-term memory loss? It would explain how he makes the same stupid mistakes over and over again.

Quote of the Week III

“Of all the people here at the combine, the one person you don’t want to be is him. Seriously, I’d rather have six positive drug tests, a DUI, a domestic abuse charge and some theft incidents than have to deal with all the questions that guy’s going to face. He’s going to be probed by most of the teams, and all of you guys, until his head is spinning.”

– One NFC head coach on the scrutiny that awaits Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o after his phony girlfriend experience of last fall, according to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports.

So … let me get this straight, Mr. NFC Head Coach. You think that a prospect who is addicted to cocaine, beats his girlfriend and steals cars would be less investigated and fine-tooth-combed by NFL scouts, coaches and private investigators than a player who was catfished by a stranger pretending to be a girlfriend, either with or without his knowledge?

YES, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE! And he’s right. Because drug problems and violent crime – while perhaps more serious – are something NFL teams are well versed in dealing with. Te’o’s scandal is so bizarre and unprecedented that more people still don’t know how to confront it or derive meaning from it. Of course he is going to be questioned more. Because your average person has little to no understanding of what happened or how it could happen. How is this difficult to comprehend?

There is so much wrong with this NFC head coach’s opinion that I do not know where to start.

I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’ll be with some dipshit in Notre Dame’s athletic program.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II

Troubled former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said he was awakened at 4 a.m. Sunday to take a drug test.

And how many reporters were there to catalog THAT?

Stat of the Week

A measure of the impact of Matt Birk, who retired Friday after 15 years at center with the Vikings and Ravens: Since Birk turned 30 in July 2006, his teams played 120 regular season and playoff games. Birk started all 120. The 120th, as mentioned earlier, was Baltimore’s win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl.

How the fuck does that measure his impact? It shows Birk was durable.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I have two.

1. Why, oh why, have I missed the breakfast gem in downtown Indianapolis (with other locations in the area) called Patachou? Aptly nicknamed A Student Union for Adults, the wide-open breakfast room had NFL people there all weekend. “Shhhh,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said Saturday morning. “This is the best hidden secret in Indianapolis.”

It must be shared, Howie. I recommend the broken yolk sandwich with the Smoking Goose Apple Chicken Sausage.

Peter must have taken those lessons in necessary dickishness from Peyton Manning.

2. Remind me to skip the Hotel Cecil on my next trip to L.A. Per CNN: “The decomposing body of Elisa Lam floated inside a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel while guests brushed their teeth, bathed and drank with water from it for as long as 19 days … Strange things began happening with the hotel’s water supply later in [February], according to Sabina and Michael Baugh, a British couple who spent eight days there until checking out Wednesday. The water pressure dropped to a trickle at times. ‘The shower was awful,’ Sabina Baugh said. ‘When you turned the tap on, the water was coming black first for two seconds and then it was going back to normal.’ The tap water ‘tasted horrible,’ Baugh said. ‘It had a very funny, sweet, disgusting taste. It’s a very strange taste. I can barely describe it.’

“But for a week, they never complained. ‘We never thought anything of it,’ she said. ‘We thought it was just the way it was here.’ New guests continued to check into the Cecil in the hours after firefighters removed Lam’s body from the water tank. But each guest was asked to sign a waiver releasing the hotel from liability if they became ill. ‘You do so at your own risk and peril,’ the hotel’s release said.”

Gee, what a swell place!

I’m shocked that PK didn’t use this as a cautionary tale for not bitching enough about lodgings. “YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T BITCH ENOUGH ABOUT HOTELS? You end up drinking dead people. You wanna drink dead people? Do ya? Think about that the next time you read The Onion making fun of me for travel whining!”

Tweet of the Week II

“Rex says #NYJ aren’t trading Revis unless they trade him, which isn’t happening but could happen.”

– @MikeSielskiWSJ, Wall Street Journal writer Mike Sielski, after listening to Rex Ryan at the Scouting Combine.

Semi-Peter-esque!

Tweet of the Week IV

“I could listen to Adele sing the phone book. In fact, I’d order multiple copies.”

– @nprscottsimon, the National Public Radio host, watching Adele sing at The Oscars Sunday night.

Why would she need multiple copies of the same phone book? Is that a diva thing? “OY! IF YEWWW FINK I’M SINGIN’ THE SAME PHONE BOOK OVAH AND OVAH, YOU ARE MISTAKEN!”

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think if the Alex Smith-to-Kansas City rumors are true, the most heartbroken person of all won’t be Matt Cassel, who knows he’s not in the mix to start with the Chiefs. It’ll be Matt Barkley. Andy Reid would have loved working with Barkley, and I believe Barkley would have fit superbly in K.C.

If that were true, wouldn’t he just fucking draft him? No one is forcing Andy to trade for Alex “Embattled” Smith.

3. I think, Jacoby Jones, the pressure’s really on now. You thought returning a kick for a touchdown in the Super Bowl was tough? Dancing With the Stars? Tougher. Ask Hines Ward.

So tough that Hines Ward won the competition, like a lot of NFL players have.

4. I think nothing much changed with the quarterbacks Sunday, the day they worked out, except that Florida State’s E.J. Manuel threw the ball very well and raised his stock some.

And here is the point where I refer you back to PK’s earlier argument that a player’s stock rising and falling is just an imaginary mental constructs and therefore meaningless. Of course, he might argue that “stock” is different than “draft board” in some meaningless but significant way, because PK exists only to make your brain bleed out your ears.

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

b. Argo was my choice for Best Picture of the five nominees I saw, so I’m glad it won. Yes, it was partially historically inaccurate; all of those Hollywood historical re-enactments are. But it was a rollicking good time with some education thrown in at the same time.

No movie is ever just a good time. It’s always a rollicking good time. “As a people, we overrollick.”

d. I know basketball as well as I know horticulture, but after a long weekend and lots of SportsCenter, just wondering how anyone can stop LeBron James.

A few more minutes of YouTube highlights will doubtlessly provide the answer.

f. I not only think it’s possible Toronto and Baltimore could finish ahead of New York and Boston in the AL East, I think it’s probable.

Sound the alarms!!!! Lousy stupid upstart teams might finish ahead of two shitty behemoths that have been able to buy division titles for more than a decade.

g. Don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling great about the chances for an Oscar Pistorius conviction, unfortunately. Maybe I’m wrong about thinking Pistorius has to be guilty. I hope I am.

Yes, but what of his perceived phoniness? Can he stand trial for that, too?

i. Coffeenerdness: If you go to the aforementioned Patachou in Indianapolis, the coffee selection is good. The Simon Blend is the best.

A very trusting blend. No qualms about being drunk.

Good and dark.

Definitely the first time those words have gone together in a Peter King column.

j. Beernerdness: And if you go to the aforementioned Sun King in Indianapolis, give Scottish ale Wee Mac a shot. Heavy on the malt, and creamy, like a dark cream ale. Liked it a lot.

It sucks that Peter’s taste in beer has broadened enough beyond the Shock Top shit he used to exclusively drink that he’s recommending beer I’ve never had before. Because I’m spiteful enough to avoid something just because PK enjoyed it.

The Adieu Haiku

Draft’s two months away.
I know but one thing for sure:
Mike Mayock knows things.

Te’o no phony
PK knows for sure, he thinks
Never hurts to guess