Ape’s off speaking to young aspring journalists this morning, which means I’m stuck with off-season Peter King coverage, which is somehow more verbose than regular season Peter King. What’s even worse is that PK posted last night just after midnight on the East Coast, so I could have knocked this out last night since his ramblings went up around 9 p.m. Pacific instead of getting up early this morning. This is my punishment for not following PK on Twitter, or at very least not checking his feed last night. I would have failed the very journalism class Mike lecturing at today. Alas.

When we last left Peter King, he was telling us that Manti Te’o was still a first round draft pick despite his poor showing at the combine and the strangeness of falling for a fake girlfriend, how he would never stay in a hotel with a dead person in the water tank, USC quarterbacks are not overrated and that draft boards are ethereal notions and any movement up or down on such imaginary boards is meaningless. This week there is so much talk about contracts and Tom Brady that I am afraid I may have blacked out during the first portion of this week’s post. My apologies.

I’ll get to the news of the week in the never-ending NFL news cycle in a few moments, but let’s start with the elephant in the room in the wake of the Tom Brady contract. A majority of you seem skeptical (and that’s putting it mildly) that Brady did a good thing for the Patriots the other day.

That’s right. The best thing Tom Brady could have done for the Pats would have been to demand ALL THE MONIES NOW, cripple the team and keep New England out of the playoffs. He also should have done another photo shoot with a goat, because the internet needs more pictures of goats on things.

This is what I hear from people in the media business and on Twitter, by and large: The three-year, $27 million contract extension’s a phony deal. Or, put another way: He’ll never play for $7 million, total, in 2015. The quarterback and the Pats have to have some agreement — tacit, at least — to re-do the deal if Brady’s still Brady then. 

Fair, because Brady could be seen with another goat by then and goats are good for q-ratings. The good people of the internet know what they’re talking about what they’re looking for in a quarterback.

This, first, from the man who birthed the idea of the Brady extension and broached it to Brady in painstaking detail when they flew alone together from Massachusetts to Los Angeles the week after the Patriots’ season ended: ”No, no, no,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told me. “This is a real deal. Look at our track record. We don’t do fake deals. The contract we have with Tom Brady is a real contract we will both live by.” Kraft said he had “been thinking about this for three or four years. I was probably wearing my fan hat as much as anything else. I just didn’t want to ever see this become like Joe Montana leaving San Francisco, Emmitt Smith leaving Dallas, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, Peyton Manning leaving Indianapolis. If Tom Brady played out this current contract and left us, there was no doubt in my mind that someone out there would pay him top dollar, and they should, for his ability, his leadership and his unselfishness.”

Imagine if Cher left Bono, Lennon left the Beatles, Aaron Sorkin left “The West Wing”, Bjork left The Sugarcubes, Albert Pujols left the Cardinals, Patrick Roy left the Canadiens. What sort of point is Kraft even making here, or King for that matter? An owner talking positively about a contract? Quelle surprise.

And is it possible that Bob Kraft is even less interesting than Peter King? And this is a man who video tapes reading lines with aspiring starlets instead of talking about coffee. How can he be so uninteresting?

“I was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. If we were going to have to pay him elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn’t think we would be able to build a team. We don’t want to have a team where we’re paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap. I wanted to do something elegant that would work for everybody.”

Like a simple Vera Wang wedding dress.

For the sake of all of our sanity, let’s skip a good chunk of Kraft’s soliloquy on how he romanced Brady with a new contract that had more guaranteed money up front. An airplane, a six hour trip; basically INDECENT PROPOSAL without the little black dress.

“I presented an idea to him that I thought could work for both sides. He takes care of his body in terms of exercise and working out and his food. Tom’s intake of food is, really, so healthy. He has a whole style of living that is so important to him.”

God, he’s still talking. Did King just hand his laptop over Kraft’s assistant to type up the first 1700 words of his column?  ”Tom’s intake of food is, really, so healthy.” Was that actually uttered by an adult male over fifty, because honestly he sounds like the the hippies who run the raw food joint in my neighborhood and not the owner of an NFL team.

Skipping forward some more.

“Tom knows that it’s not like whatever we don’t pay him we’re putting in the Kraft family pocket. He gets it, and now he’s rooting for us to make the right decisions in building the team. By the way, I have heard that it’s been reported Tom made demands about who he wanted us to sign. Absolutely not. It never happened. I credit Tom for doing the right thing and thinking outside the box. That’s what we’re trying to do as an organization, and certainly what Bill Belichick tries to do as a coach. If you don’t have a good coach and a quarterback, you don’t have much of a chance to win. We are fortunate that we have both who are way above par. Tom is everything that we want.”

Yep, Kraft’s still babbling on. Tom is great, we’re great for getting that he’s great, he’s great for understanding we’re great, together we are great. This is basically the conversation middle schoolers have about going steady with each other.

My suspicion is that that PK was out getting a sandwich for this portion of his piece because even a sycophant like King would know to edit this down some.

Going ahead a few hundred words again.

“These people don’t know the relationship between Tommy and this team,” he said. “Maybe they hate the Patriots, or they’re jealous. I understand the naysayers are out there, but we want to build a team capable of winning every year, and while this is not perfect in every way, we think this will help us get there.”

Haterz and jealous haterz. Even Jerry Jones is starting to think Kraft is coming across as an egomaniac who will not shut his yap.

A couple of other points about the deal:

NO. No more points about Tom Brady’s contract. You just let the owner of the Patriots make his case for the legitimacy of Brady’s compensation for a good 1400 words. There are no more points to make.

The guarantees. Keep in mind Brady was going to make $30 million in cash in the next two years, not guaranteed. Now he’ll make $33 million, guaranteed. (In many quarters, it was reported Brady was handed a new $30 million signing bonus, but it wasn’t new money — just a guaranteeing of the money he was supposed to make in 2013 and ’14, with a $3 million sweetener added.) While guaranteeing the money is significant, think about it: What are the chances Brady wouldn’t play for the Patriots in either of the next two seasons?

I KNEW IT. King was out getting a sandwich while Robert Kraft was talking because the man just said he didn’t want Brady going anywhere else. He even brought up Joe Montana, for Pete’s sake.

Certainly he will be there in 2013,

and the only way he wouldn’t is with a career-ending (not -threatening) injury some time before opening day 2014. Some have compared that to Peyton Manning, and the Colts having no idea they would ever have cut Manning. The difference is, at a comparable point when the Colts would have had to make a similar decision on guaranteeing Manning’s salaries, he already would have had one neck procedure and two serious bursa-sac knee surgeries in the very recent past, and I doubt owner Jim Irsay would have been terribly eager to guarantee him two huge-money years coming off that.

Except the Colts almost got rid of Manning in 2004 when contract negotiations were going poorly. Oops.

As for the other guarantees, the final three years will be guaranteed year by year. In some quarters it’s been reported that Brady will have the final $24 million guaranteed if he’s healthy and able to play in 2015. In reality, the 2015 salary will be guaranteed if he’s healthy entering that league year, and the 2016 and ’17 salaries guaranteed similarly, year by year, if he’s healthy. Brady has $33 million guaranteed today. The $7 million, $8 million and $9 million salaries in 2015, ’16 and ’17 will be guaranteed, but only if Brady enters each of those league seasons healthy. Recent history. Time will tell if the Patriots do for this contract what they have done often, but not exclusively, with contracts of stalwart players. Which is, basically, very little.

But let’s break it down anyway, because I wasn’t listening to what Kraft was saying since I was busy procuring a sandwich. Corned beef, spicy mustard, marble rye if you must know. Only ate half, going to save the other half for a late-night snack like Dagwood.

Brady signed a contract in 2005 for six years and $60 million ($4 million per year, on average, below Peyton Manning’s deal), and no new money was added to the deal (some was moved around for cap purposes, but no new bonuses) until year six. In 2010, he signed an extension for four years (2011-14); the existing 2010 season on his 2005 contract stayed in force, and his four-year extension was for $78.5 million. He played the 2010, ’11 and ’12 seasons, and then the Patriots made this contract-for-life (presumably) deal. In the final New England deals of Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison, for instance, the Patriots moved money around for cap reasons but didn’t add money. When Brady signed in 2005, the deal called for $5 million in salary and $3 million in a roster bonus in 2008. Brady threw 50 touchdown passes, and the Patriots went 16-0 in 2007. And Brady still made $5 million in salary and a $3 million roster bonus in 2008, as scheduled. 

Do well, don’t be rewarded? Is that what Peter King is getting at? As if the huge upfront payments were not motivation enough for a player to do well? Is King’s salary at SI all based around bonus?

Although I’m going to be honest here, my eyes are completely skimming over the numbers here. Discussing cap space and bonus structures are possibly the least interesting of all NFL topics and there is nothing being added here other than a lot of words about how two parties are going to stick to already agreed upon principles. Even CPAs and lawyers are bored by this discussion.

My feeling is, out of principle, it’s pretty unlikely the Patriots will re-do the deal in 2015, even if Brady’s one of the lowest-paid starting passers in the league. He knew what he was getting into when he signed it. But we’ll see. Finally, I understand the skepticism about a player doing what Brady did, but looking at history, and listening to Kraft, I wouldn’t count on this deal adding any new money in the next three seasons.

You already said this. So not only does PK not listen to the owner of the Patriots, he does not listen to himself (said in every Fun With Peter King post since the dawn of time).

Still want to debate it? I’ll be happy to run your best emails in my Tuesday column, with my responses.

No, not really. Please. No one debate this with PK. Don’t make him happy with a response. Force him to find joy in the world that does not involve debating people on the internet.

So, that just about covers this… Dammit. There is still the rest of the column to go.

The rest of the Flacco story. On the other side of the salary spectrum comes Joe Flacco. News broke from Jay Glazer Friday that Flacco and the Ravens had agreed on a six-year, $120.6 million contract — $20.1 million a year, an average of $100,000 more per season than the previous highest-paid player in football, Drew Brees.

What I know now:

No. Not more cap and contract discussion. I miss the old days when didn’t pay attention to this part of our hobby and the players just showed up and we watched who was on the field. Granted, I was twelve the last time I watched a game this way, but I still miss it.

Fast-forward again. I want to get this done before the Man City game at noon. You know, an actual football game.

I’ve also learned a little bit of history about the deal, and just how close the two sides came to making a five-year extension worth about $17 million a year happen last year. The Ravens and Flacco were going to leave the 2012 salary as is ($6.76 milion) and extend the deal five years, through 2017. The two sides were agonizingly close — the Ravens wanted to pay Flacco $15.5 million in the last year of the deal, unguaranteed, and Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, wanted $17.5 million, unguaranteed. Keep in mind there’s a very good chance the last year of the deal wouldn’t have been kept intact anyway; it’s likely the deal would have been re-done before that season. When the two sides met for the final time to try to get it done, the Ravens were insistent on their 2017 number. Linta probably would have accepted if they’d split the difference at $16.5 million. But the Ravens — and who could blame them? — thought they had extended themselves for a player who hadn’t been a 4,000-yard quarterback yet.

So two sides were arguing over money that was not even guaranteed. That much like arguing if mind melds belong in the Star Trek universe, the Star Wars universe or in both fantasy realms. You just don’t know, because that’s what hypotheticals are all about.

In retrospect, the July 2012 position of the Ravens seems more understandable than Flacco’s. Only three players in football would have been higher paid than Flacco under the Baltimore five-year extension offer; that seems more than fair. But Flacco felt so confident in his ability that he gambled on himself, then went out and had one of the best playoff months an NFL quarterback has ever had. Baltimore, as it turns out, had to pay $3.1 million more per year than Flacco wanted last season.

The say the house always wins. From now on, we call Flacco The House since he bet on himself and won.

And sure, the Ravens now probably wish they acceded to Linta’s number last summer. But hindsight in contract talks is always 20-20.

Everything in hindsight is 20-20, this is not exclusive to contract talks. Just in case some of you were confused by the distinction.

I found one more thing compelling in the Flacco deal. Linta is an agent for mostly middle-class players and free agent hopefuls. On the first day of the Scouting Combine, the day before Linta was to meet in Indianapolis with Ravens negotiator Pat Moriarty on the Flacco mega-deal, Linta was driving through a snowstorm into Carbondale, Ill., to the campus of Southern Illinois, to work out a free-agent outside linebacker prospect named Jayson DiManche. DiManche wasn’t invited to the combine, but he’s the kind of player who normally is Linta’s stock in trade — a Rudy type who might not get drafted but will end up in some team’s camp with a prayer of making it. I’ve known Linta for a while, and he gets as excited about the Jayson DiManches as he does about the Joe Flaccos, because he doubles as a high school football coach in Connecticut and likes the underdogs. If he believes in a cause — and he believed that Flacco was worth every dime he was seeking last summer — he has no problem walking away from a deal that would have everyone screaming, “Take it!”

I just like the fact that the underdog quarterback won the Super Bowl, and the faithful agent backed him, and both were rewarded.

Gritty rewards gritty. Underdogs reward underdogs. This is of course in complete contrast to Brady and Kraft, who are lofty and also rewarded for their loftiness.

Where are we at here… Hmmm. Something about Keyshawn Johnson saying something stupid about defensive players not winning games and Revis, we can skip that because we’ll all be dumber reading it. What’s next.

Quote of the Week II: “I’ve got a better chance of following A-Rod at third base for the Yankees than following Benedict XVI as the bishop of Rome.” –Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the leader of the Catholic church in New York.

Oh, hilarious. Father Dolan got sports in his religion. The same priest who wore a foam cheesehead when he was in Wisconsin and oh yeah, oversaw bribing sexual predators as incentive to leave the priesthood. Guy is a laugh a minute.

Is it just me, or is every shot of Vatican City with those beautiful religious edifices the best advertisement for visiting Rome. 

Really, they’re a better advertisement for how important selling indulgences were back in the day when everyone had to walk behind a plow all day through cow dung.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I

According to ESPN’s Trey Wingo, first-round draft prospect Barkevious Mingo has a brother named Hughtavious Mingo, and another brother named Hugh Mingo.

Names: They’re not always WASPy.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II

Question (that surprises absolutely no one who follows the NFL and its never-ending quest for pie-growing)

Pie-growing? Unless a pumpkin pie shoots out of the ground, this is not a real thing.

on the survey emailed to fans who attended the Scouting Combine last weekend, gratis, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis: “If in future years the NFL instituted a charge of $25 to attend the NFL Scouting Combine for one day, how likely would you be to buy tickets?”

Peter King is disgusted with the league trying to make money to pay for all these lofty and gritty quarterbacks.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Twice on Sunday in Manhattan this happened: I was walking my dog, Bailey, on the East Side of town, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And on each walk I saw a person jogging — guy in the morning, woman in the afternoon — while talking on a phone, hands free, into a wire draping from the ears.

Hands free and a wire? How does that work?

The woman was gesturing quite emphatically as she approached, and for a second I thought she was talking to me. The one thing I heard her say as she jogged by was, “And so I said, THAT IS NOT HAPPENING!’ ” Free country. But it’s amazing we cannot live without phones for any length of time.

From the jogger’s perspective:

“I was running down the path listening to the ‘Marketplace’ podcast when I approached this man talking to his dog while on a walk. Something about that was a ‘great poo’ and ‘gritty performance, Bailey.’ Since dog walkers are the most annoying people in the park, I decided I had pretend I was talking into my phone lest this lonely gentleman talking to a dog tried to engage me in a conversation, like I have time to discuss fleas. So I just yelled out, ‘THAT IS NOT HAPPENING’ without thinking, not realizing I was vocalizing my fear of talking to strangers.”

Remember Brady Quinn’s plaintive screed after the death of Jovan Belcher three months ago, when he said sometimes we’re so preoccupied with our phone and social media that we don’t deal well with the relationships we have in front of us? I just think it’s bizarre to see people out for exercise talking on the phone.

Tweet of the Week I

Hold up. A lecture on social media and now PK is going to pull Tweets — a form of social media — for his column.

Just for that, I’m not sharing any of these Tweets. And if King wants to join me in this anti-social media stance, he should not include any Tweets in his column next week. Or the week after. He’ll have to call up people and not listen to him like in the good old days of journalism, better known as the top of this post.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the next time the NFL picks a woman to try out at one of these satellite combines, as the league did with a kicker named Lauren Silberman Sunday, it will need to be sure the kicker can kick the ball off a tee more than 19 yards, which is what Silberman did on a kick in which she apparently injured herself Sunday. “Just a hunch,” tweeted Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, “but I don’t think NFL Network is going to be consistently replaying Lauren Silberman’s ‘historic’ tryout.” Maybe she injured herself and it killed her ability even on the first kick, to be competitive. But it’s pretty bad to hype the woman the way the NFL did and have it turn out like that.

You hear that, NFL? Only pick women who cannot possibly be injured doing something athletic, ignore the fact male players are injured kicking the ball all the time. UNBREAKABLE OR BUST.

4. I think I am dreading this expanded NFL calendar, if it happens. And I can tell you what the already overburdened coaches and scouts and front office people would think of late March/early-April free agency and a mid-May draft: More meaningless hype to shop the NFL product, less time to be a person. As one agent said to me: “I have not talked to a single person in the business — coach, scout, agent — who wants this to happen.”

“Plus, I’ll have less time to walk Bailey and weird-out the joggers.”

6. I think Randy Moss played well enough to get one more year somewhere in 2013. Where, I don’t know. But it’d have to be very cheap, and the coach would have to be secure enough and comfortable enough with his own decisions and scheme to bring in a guy he’d have to manage pretty carefully. Can’t see him back in New England after his selfish rant a couple of years ago, but you never know.

Joe Flacco disagrees with hedging your bets, PK. Declare something and go for it. Betting on yourself makes you a winner.

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

a. Watched a good bit of Blackhawks-Wings on NBC Sunday. A treat to see Chicago pass the puck, like Gretzky-to-Kurri used to be. What a special team. No regulation losses through 22 games, after a Patrick Kane goal with 122 seconds left in the third period erased what was close to a 1-0 loss.

b. We should all know more about an 19-0-3 team. That’s the fault of a lot of things, but I can’t help but think the long lockout killed any casual hockey fan’s ardor for this season. A shame. A great, great team, and a great story.

You mean except for the part where hockey is putting up their best television ratings in years and the arenas are selling out on reg. Heck, the NHL is going to make almost as much money with with a half a season as it did with a full season last year. In short, KEEP MY HOCKEY OUT OF YOUR WHORE MOUTH, PK.

c. Still hate the shootout in hockey. The five-minute four-on-four OT is fine. How about a three-on-three second OT, and if no goal is scored through two overtimes, then give me the tie anytime.

Did I stutter?

h. I keep hearing about how the Obama administration is shutting out the press corps, which is reprehensible. Don’t see how you win doing that.

i. However, the Bob Woodward “threat” thing seems ridiculous.

Ooh boy. Let’s just leave that there and pretend we didn’t see it.

j. Had a swell time at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Saturday. Next year I’ll go and listen to more panels if I can. A privilege to be with ESPN’s Buster Olney, Chad Millman (my old SI and Montclair friend) and Dean Oliver talking about the future of analytics to decide Hall of Fame votes. My take, in a sentence or two, is that I think I’ll use whatever tool I can find to help me determine which candidates are Hall worthy, but there are some things that are going to be difficult to measure. Particularly when you look back at the career of a center like Mick Tingelhoff, who was one of the most durable workhorses (never missed a game in 17 seasons, including preseason and postseason) in history, and made the All-Pro first team five times, same as Mike Webster. Not sure you’re going to be able to watch enough tape of so many of these players of bygone eras that you’d be able to compare them with players of different eras and advance their causes much.

Considering most of those older players don’t have tape on YouTube, a popular source for PK’s research, I’d say any player who was in the league before 2006 is screwed.

k. Coffeenerdness: My free advice for you, Dunkin Donuts: Please, please, please put your dark roast in more shops. That is a very good cup of coffee, cheap.

Next nugget of coffee wisdom is going to cost you, DD. Big time. Coffeenerdness nuggets don’t grow like pies in the NFL.

l. Beernerdness: One of the great things about visiting Boston (and I’m a broken record here)

(Every Fun With Peter King post since the dawn of time could point this out.)

is finding Harpoon’s UFO White beer in a bar — and then having your boss pick up the tab for a couple before getting on the train back home. That’s one of the great underrated beers in America.

WOOO I’M DRUNK AND RIDING THE RAILS. FREE BEERS!

Mad at Flacco? Why? 
It’s the American way. 
Bet on himself. Won.

Still not a haiku.

Seasonal illusion, fail.

It’s hot in this hell.