Peter King is still on his cushy month-long vacation. Covering MMQB this week is Raiders punter Chris Kluwe, who adheres to the quasi-PK-ish format in talking about the life cycle of an NFL player and how Ray Guy should be in the Hall of Fame. Again, PK’s fill-ins are more insightful and generally better than he is, so instead of fisking that column, I decided to try an experiment.
I’m going to try to write MMQB how I imagine Peter King would if he weren’t off this week.
Yup, I’m too far gone to be helped. Anyway, let’s see how I did.
TRENT BAALKE’S ASSHOLE — As they say, summer is here. Before we get into the happenings of the football world that my new football-centric website will cover when it launches on July 22 – less than a month away! – a matter of importance to us Jersey Guys:
James Gandolfini 1961-2013
There may not have been a more Jersey guy in the public eye than James. This is coming from one of the Kings of Montclair. I know a thing or two about Jersey Guys, having been myself for life, except for the times when I lived elsewhere. Matt Zoller Seitz summed up a life well in a piece he wrote for New York Magazine’s website:
Friends felt it. Colleagues felt it. People who talked to him for five minutes and never saw him again felt it. People who never met him in person and knew him only through his performance on The Sopranos felt it.
It was real. It was deep. It was true.
James Gandolfini had an authentic connection with viewers. Everyone who watched him perform, in a starring role or a bit part, came away feeling understood. You watched him act and you thought, “Yes. He gets it. He understands.”
He wasn’t one of them. He was one of us.
“I’m an actor,” he once told a reporter. “I do a job and I go home. Why are you interested in me? You don’t ask a truck driver about his job.”
In the wake of James Gandolfini’s death – of a heart attack, at the appallingly young age of 51 – I keep coming back to that realness, and the source of it, his goodness. I got to know him a bit as a reporter, and I can testify that what you’ve heard is true. He was a good man.
Moving stuff. And a lesson more folks in the entertainment industry could stand to heed. They’re just actors, just musicians. I’m just an award-winning sports columnist. I try to tell myself that if ever I’m feeling like another award is going to my head.
Just a thought. You’ll be missed, Tony Soprano.
Onto the football world, though it’s hard to pretend the typical overrated off-season stories have much as much significance after that tragic news.
Scott Pioli joins the team.
Great hire by NBC bringing on former Chiefs general manager and Patriots dynasty architect Scott Pioli. Scott is a trusted friend who will shed all sorts of insight into why football executives make the moves they do. Can’t wait to see his reactions when sitting in the NBC Viewing Room this fall. Pioli and I are trusted friends, and if you think that makes me a biased source on him, that’s up to you. He’s had me over to watch games in the past and let me tell you, there’s no better company out there. Sundays just got a lot more fun.
What’s next with Aaron Hernandez?
That’s the question the entire football world wants to know. Don’t ask me. That’s for the boys in blue to decide. I do know that Roger Goodell has a tough decision to make. Does he protect The Shield as he has in the past for notable players who has run afoul of the law without being arrested? From what I’ve heard, the commissioner will weigh the facts carefully before arriving at whatever decision he makes.
A Pittsburghish draft
Steelers president Art Rooney II believes the Burgh should be in the mix for hosting the NFL Draft. Look, I’m already upset that the date of the draft is being moved back just so football people will have to suffer through a few more weeks of endless hype. Moving the location would be too much to do on top of that. That said, I talked with my buddy, Pittsburgh Phil and he told me there could be no more humbling, lunchpail town for NFL prospects to get their introduction to the league. Seeing the glitz and glamor of New York upon being drafted sets a poor example. What if they’re introduced in a blue-collar town rich with work ethic? Food for thought.
Shameless Self-Promotional Note of the Week
I continue to meet with advertisers for my new football-centric website set to launch July 22. I’ve been begging the SI folks to set up a meeting with Peet’s. That way, I can have an eye-to-eye with their company men and finally ask them to bring their excellent brew to the East Coast. Unfortunately, the suits at SI said that’s not exactly what the function of these meetings is. Excuse me, I thought this was my website. Oh well, another time.
Quote of the Week I
” … my favorite football team is not the New York Giants, it’s not the New York Jets and it’s not the Philadelphia Eagles. Get ready now: My favorite football team (is) the Dallas Cowboys — which, by the way — is not the smartest thing for the governor of New Jersey to want to be, is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.”
– Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, addressing kids at an elementary school in the Garden State.
Oh boy. Not the way to get re-elected in Jersey, big guy. Gonna find yourself getting “whacked” that way. That means executed for those who haven’t had a chance to watch The Sopranos. Great show if you get the chance.
Tweet of the Week I
“Six years ago today, I slapped franchise tag on the love of my life, the most beautiful woman I know. Love you, honey”
– @AdamSchefter, ESPN’s omnipresent insider Adam Schefter
Ever the football guy, that Schef. Does that mean he gets two first-round picks if another man takes his wife? I don’t know. I asked Scott Pioli and he said Bill Belichick was able to get with married women for years without surrendering picks.
Tweet of the Week II
“@Tmoseley20 @JaxsonDeVille . . . Yes, it’s very hard making ends meet by owning a website that does 50-100M page views a month.”
– @ProFootballTalk, the handle for my colleague Mike Florio, the man behind profootballtalk.com. Believe me, when Mike wants to bring the hammer down on someone, he knows how to do it. In this case, it was Jaguars mascot Jaxson DeVille.
Stat of the Week
– Average high temperature in New York City this week: 86 degrees
– Average high temperature in New York City in February: 40 degrees
Just a reminder: Winter is coming. It may be all nice and toasty in the city this week, but it won’t be when the Super Bowl arrives early next year. Let’s just hope it goes off as well as Roger Goodell hopes.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Kicker Gary Anderson at one point played with Jack Ham, Terry Bradshaw, and Mel Blount. He was later also on the roster with guy by the name of Albert Haynesworth.
Tough to wrap your head around that.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
No travel for me this week. Instead, a uniquely New York story.
It’s not often I ride the subway but I found myself doing it late last week. There were a gang of teenagers jumping around and on their cell phones of course. I tried to plead with them for quiet, but this only made matters worse. I tried to tell them in no uncertain terms that this conduct would never be tolerated in the Acela Quiet Car. What they replied to me, I can’t repeat in a family newspaper.
As Cindy Adams would say, only in New York.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. A lot of people have objected to the idea of Adam Jones returning to lecture at the Rookie Symposium, given his recent and now continuing history of mischief.
2. Is it just me, or is the Patriot Way going by the wayside a little these days? I wouldn’t hire them to be my latex salesman.
3. Paging Bill Belichick. Paging Bill Belichick. To the white courtesy phone.
4. Crazy that all this off-season drama can distract us from the fact that there’s a Manning Bowl this year. Just a few more months, gang.
5. Golden Tate recently said he’d like to give Jim Harbaugh the “Sean Lee treatment”. Somehow I don’t think that means a massage.
6. You didn’t hear it from me, but no NFL front office executive gets the media to skinny dip in his pool like Tom Dimitroff.
7. I’m sorry, but Bruce Arians is just a man who looks good in a hat. Loving the NFL’s most stylish new head coach.
8. If I don’t hear anything else about Vladamir Putin and this supposedly stolen Super Bowl ring, I can die a happy man. What a dumb, dumb story.
9. Need to know more about this hair transplant that Wes Welker got? Where are those hairs coming from. No wait, I don’t wanna know.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. RRRROW. Was I the only one who heard the war of words between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova?
b. Sometimes I think the country would be a lot better off if we focused less on what Paula Deen might have said decades ago and more on who can get their hands on guns.
Do something, Congress.
c. Did you see that SkyWalk? Incredible stuff. I’ve said repeated I’m a fan of walking, but you’d have a hard time getting me on one of those things.
d. You know who else I think could do a SkyWalk? Roger Goodell. There/’s a man with uncanny balance. And I don’t just mean with regards to navigating complex moral issues.
e. Haven’t said much to the Bowers recently. Hey guys. Heading down the coast this summer?
f. You know, I don’t know a lot about basketball, but I’m starting to think that LeBron James fellow is pretty good.
g. Coffeenerdery: Well, when am I getting my meeting, Peet’s?
h. Beernerdness: Tried to go back to the Summer Shandy for the warm weather months, but you know what? Not gonna mess with what works. It’s Allagash time, baby.
The Adieu Haiku
He’s gone but not forgotten
Bada bing, Tony
I want more like this!
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