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When last we left spiced pumpkin ailment, Peter King, he unabashedly spent 30,000 words gushing about Peyton Manning. Normally he would feel a tinge of guilt about giving the rest of the league he’s paid to cover the short shrift, but not this year! Pey-Pey is just that awesome! Eventually, PK quit talking about Manning long enough to praise himself for having the restraint not to choke out a barista for using non-lofty macchiato roasting methods. But what about this week? Were you not aware that Peter King isn’t done defending Greg Schiano? Well, he’s not and PK isn’t letting Greg go without a pathetic fight. READ ON.

Now that was a really fun day of football and sidebars to football.

Now that is a great lede for your writing as well as things tangential to your writing that could be connected to your writing without much effort good job good writing.

The highlights:

Mr. Freeman goes to Minneapolis.

Starring a Jew ‘fro Jimmy Stewart.

For now, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel will have company in the quarterback meeting room, and Freeman’s been brought in to play, not sit.

Except he’ll have to sit until he learns the playbook.

The Vikings are only 1.5 games out of the NFC North lead, but before you get too excited about Freeman, check out my Stat of the Week. He’s a 50.8 percent passer over his last 10 starts, and that’s not going to win any jobs in Saskatchewan, never mind the Metrodome.

That’s right. It might appear to be a basic statistic anyone could caluculate, but it’s still MYYYYYYY STAT OF THE WEEK. What else would you expect from a man who favorites his own tweets?

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It’s not the right day to say Romo’s a bum.

It’s okay to unfairly ridicule players, except when it isn’t.

I have a hard time, though, saying, “Same ol’ Romo,’’ when his line before that throw was 25 of 35 for 506 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions; when he’d put up 48 points and the defense had a track meet run on it by Peyton Manning. I’m not absolving him of the error — just saying it’s not fair to rip Romo when he’s played the game of his life, and when Manning made the exact same mistake just a few drives earlier, throwing one to Morris Claiborne is a tense time.

Well, Peyton didn’t exactly make the same mistake, though I do appreciate PK acknowledging Pey-Pey is, in fact, fallible. His interception allowed Dallas to get back into the game. It didn’t happen with the game tied deep in his end of the field. If you’re going by the Romo narrative at its most disparaging and facile then yes, it was the same ol’ Romo. The thing is, no one who feels like being fair is gonna place all the blame on Romo. You’re only arguing with people who want nothing more than to laugh at a celebrity quarterback who starts for the Cowboys. And that’s pointless because they’re just going to do that regardless.

How much longer for Matt Schaub?

Hopefully forever. I never want the pick-six streak to end.

I know Gary Kubiak said last night Schaub is his quarterback, and the Texans will do everything they can this week to get him mentally ready for the boos at home, because they’re coming. The Rams will come to Reliant Stadium, and it’s got to be Schaub’s last stand.

Because it’s not like the Rams have proven to be a salve for struggling offenses. Hell, they gave up 20 points to the Jaguars.

Amazing, really, how bad the Texans look right now, with such good players across the board (except for the offensive line, which is playing poorly and leaking too much pressure and, of course, the quarterback).

Let’s be real, they should be an unstoppable juggernaut if you discount six of their 11 starters on offense.

Dungy joins the chorus. As respected a voice on the NFL as I know, NBC analyst Tony Dungy

“is also the tenderest lover…”

said last night on TV that Washington owner Dan Snyder should change the name of his team.

Way to pile on, Dunge. Though at least you’re a slightly more progressive Jesus-y coach than Joe Gibbs.

“The Redskins nickname is offensive to Native Americans. In 2013, we need to get that name changed.” I reported last night that Snyder continues to be resolute about not changing the name.

Oh, did you break the scoop that Snyder, who once publicly stated he would NEVER, EVER change the name of the Redskins, remains steadfastly opposed to doing so even in the face of OVERWHELMING DUNGY FLIP-FLOPPING? Lofty journalisting, my friend.

That’s a lot of windy days, and nights. The way Al Michaels calculates it, Sunday night’s Texans-Niners game was about the 340th football or baseball game (the 26th football game) he’s done at Candlestick Park… and barring a game in the old dump being moved via NBC’s flex-scheduling in the last two months of the season, it was his last one.

Holy shit, do I not remotely care that it was potentially Al Michaels’ last game in Candlestick. Is MMQB a newsletter for your stupid on-air NBC colleagues?

Monday Morning Football was fun.

With the Chargers driving frantically just inside the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter, rookie Raiders corner D.J. Hayden made the biggest play of his young career. He darted in front of San Diego wideout Keenan Allen in the end zone and intercepted a Philip Rivers pass, securing the 27-17 Oakland win with the first interception of his NFL career.

At 2:32 this morning on the East Coast.

Not that PK only gives a shit about what’s going on where he is.

The game ended at 2:39 a.m. Eastern Time, 11:39 p.m. Pacific Time, 8:39 p.m. Hawaii Time.

“There are these things called TIME ZONEZ. Tony Dungy says they’re the work of secular science demons who refuse to bow to the rightful GOD TIME! WEIRD!”

At 3 a.m. Eastern, I polled my Twitter followers, asking them if they’d like to see a weekly very late Sunday night game. More football! Let’s gorge on football!

If you can’t gorge on it, PK don’t want it.

The quarterback market will be rich next May.

(Still can’t believe I’m typing a reference to the NFL draft in “next May.” It’s too late, people.)

Yes, how very crass! Why can’t NFL teams hold off their preparations for an incredibly important part of roster building until three or four weeks in advance of the event, when PK is good and ready for it? Do they know how much it disgusts sportswriters to think less than a year ahead?

So I asked a veteran road scout who has been out this fall looking at quarterbacks — his team will be in the market for one in the 2014 draft—what he thought of us having nine quarterbacks, from Bridgewater at No. 1 to Fresno State senior Derek Carr (brother of David) No. 31.

“It would not surprise me when we make our board if we have nine quarterbacks with first-round grades,’’ he said. “Not at all. Obviously, that depends on which underclassmen declare, and you hear things out there. But I could see it.’’

That doesn’t mean nine quarterbacks will go in the first round, obviously. That won’t happen. But the big numbers at quarterback, assuming players like Manziel and Bridgewater and Oregon redshirt soph Marcus Mariota do come out, could be very good for teams like Minnesota and Oakland. The Vikings and Raiders could exit 2013 doubting Christian Ponder/Josh Freeman

Both of whom were first round QBs.

and Terrelle Pryor as their long-term quarterback answers—but they may not be ready to pull the plug on them for good. The market might be so good that teams thought not to be in the market (Philadelphia, Dallas, Denver, Cincinnati and Houston, for example) could see a highly ranked guy on their board sitting there in the third round and think he’s just too good a player to pass up.

Not thought to be in the market? All the teams he listed either have a starting QB over the age of 33 or a volatile situation under center. Oh, and Cincinnati because Andy Dalton sucks.

And so you want to be a Hall of Fame voter …

Not particularly…

Well, you can’t.

NOT UNLESS YOU BECOME MEEEEEEEEEE. THAT’S MYYYYYYY STAT OF THE WEEK! HOW MANY OF YOU ARE ME? ZERO! HOW MANY MEEEEEES ARE ME? A LEGIT 100 PERCENT!

/not enough alcohol in the world

But I’ve got the next-best idea: Have some input into the system of electing Hall of Fame players.

This week, The MMQB will give 10 of you a chance to make your best case for a player you believe belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nominate and support your favorite candidate in short, 250-word essays, and we’ll run the best ones Friday on The MMQB.

“Good news, readers! You don’t get a prestigious title like Hall of Fame voter – which comes with an array of perks like free under-the-table gifts from agents and GMs – but you do get to create content for my website that I don’t have to pay anyone for! Isn’t that just as good, if not better?”

Worth noting: Tiki Barber is on the list of running back candidates, because of course and shoot me.

The League of Denial hits the NFL hard this week.

With the book, League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth (Crown Archetype), coming out Tuesday, and the PBS documentary of the same name set to air Tuesday from 9-11 p.m., the subject will be hot.

alwayssunnyhot

I spoke to the authors Thursday.

PK: On a scale of one-ish to quasi-shitting your pants, how afraid are you of Roger Goodell’s wrath?

The MMQB: How culpable do you believe former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is?

“Please say UBER culpable.”

Mark: “I don’t know from a legal standpoint, but … he did not confront the issue until 1999, at least in a serious way … And what you’ve got is the commissioner of the time denying that this is a serious issue for the league. He’s trotting out a statistic about maybe one concussion every three games, or something like that. And then saying this is not about football and the dangers of brain trauma. And then he creates a committee, and the head of the committee is a rheumatologist who later becomes his physician, a guy who has zero background in research on concussions or brain damage or specials in that area. So we certainly don’t know what was inside Tagliabue’s head when he made these decisions, but I think our goal is to lay out what we think his mindset was at the time, based off his public statements and based off his creation of that committee.

So, yes, UBER culpable.

The MMQB: What do you think about Goodell’s role?

And before you answer, remember we know you have children.

Steve: “I think that he’s certainly been more proactive than Tagliabue on this issue.

/PK fistpumps and pelvic thrusts

At the same time, there was a meeting in Chicago in 2007.

/fingers in ears, yelling LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA

It was billed as a concussion summit. Goodell was there and he invited all of these medical personnel to sit in an amphitheater and discuss the issue. They also invited independent scientists who had a completely alternative view than the NFL had at the time. That meeting turned into a complete fiasco. They showed slides of brain tissue of deceased players who had been diagnosed with CTE and the head of the committee essentially mocked the findings… It’s a mixed bag. Goodell is certainly more proactive.

Mostly because his hand was forced, but whatevs.

People who have met with him, they believe his heart is in the right place. He’s really trying to implement change. At the same time, it’s taking him some time to get there.

PK: I know what that’s like. He touches me and I cum like a rocket. But sometimes I have to go to town on him for 30 minutes before he climaxes. That’s just his way…

Mark: I think the real lingering question for the league is not, ‘Are they doing everything they possibly can on game day to deal with this?’ But it’s the question being put forth by folks at Boston University: ‘The repetitious nature of the sport, especially from the line of scrimmage, is that inherently exposing to the kinds of damage we’re seeing down the road?’ When you look at the CTE cases, a huge preponderance of those cases are offensive and defensive linemen. And the argument is because those guys are being exposed on every single play to the repetitious nature of hitting.

So basically Goodell is doing nothing but window dressing that doesn’t even remotely address the real problem at hand. Progress!

Is there really a way to legislate that out of the game? I’m not sure there is. I love the sport, and one of the thing people love about it is that it’s an inherently violent sport. Whether you can really change that, at the core, or whether you really want to, beside legislating out the big huge hits everyone talks about, I’m not sure that’s really possible

welp

The MMQB: Should football exist?

“And how fast can we make it more like minor league baseball?”

Steve: “Since I have season-tickets for the 49ers, I hope so. I don’t mean to be flippant about it. But we love the sport. And I played the sport in high school and that was a major life experience for me. I don’t think in any way would we want to minimize that. It is a game, but it is a big part of our culture. At the same time, these are real issues.”

Oh man, the crazy violent fans at Candlestick are so gonna get this guy once they realize he killed football.

Fine Fifteen

1. Denver (5-0). Exhilaratingly exasperating on defense. But the offense looks unstoppable.

Good thing that combination always results in Super Bowl wins.

8. New England (4-1). Hard to say what that loss in the rain meant, but the protection of Tom Brady simply must get better—and Rob Gronkowski might want to play one of these weeks.

Dan Dierdorf was ready to file a protest with the league for how the rain was solely responsible for knocking Tommy Terrific off his game. PK being marginally smarter than Dierdorf, he’s only going to cowardly suggest that the rain might have factored in the outcome, but how much? WHO KNOWS!?

13. Tennessee (3-2). Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be better than 24 of 49 through five quarters to salvage the Titans’ playoff hopes while Jake Locker mends.

Have you seen Ryan Fitzpatrick play before?

Defensive Players of the Week

Charles Woodson, FS, Oakland. His third-quarter 25-yard fumble return in the third quarter against San Diego was the 13th touchdown of his career, tying an NFL record for defensive players.

Which quarter was that? Perhaps your EDITOR could tell you.

Tramaine Brock, CB, San Francisco. Call him Wally Pipp — you’ll have to Google (or Bing) that if you need to know what it means.

So much shittiness.

1. Using a baseball analogy for football.
2. Using a famous baseball analogy that he assumes his readers are too clueless to get.
3. Using a famous baseball analogy that he has used in his column before yet still assumes his readers are too clueless to get.
4. Using said famous baseball analogy INCORRECTLY. Pipp was the one who lost his job to Lou Gehrig when he got hurt. This is the exact opposite. Nnamdi is Wally Pipp in this scenario, you shitheel.
5. NO ONE USES BING! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU! ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH

Coach of the Week

Adam Gase, offensive coordinator, Denver. For the smooth transition from Mike McCoy at offensive coordinator and offensive playcaller, for being able to bond quickly with a quarterback who clearly respects him (Peyton Manning), and for piloting an offense that’s putting up 46 points a game through five weeks.

Kudos to Gase for the smooth transition of letting Peyton Manning do all the work for someone else to Peyton Manning do all the work for him. Enjoy being the head coach of a terrible and foolish franchise next year. My guess: THE PANTHERS!

Goat of the Week

Matt Schaub, QB, Houston. It’s sad to watch the implosion of this productive player.

I don’t know. I’m amused, mostly.

And make no mistake—he’s imploding before our eyes.

No way, I thought he was ready to put it all together after he got benched for T.J. Yates.

For the fourth straight game, an NFL record, he had an interception returned for touchdown, this one 90 seconds into the first quarter. It was one of three picks in all for Schaub. Though coach Gary Kubiak said Schaub remains the starter, it’d be a shock if Schaub can hang onto the job with one more poor performance Sunday at home against the Rams. Who, by the way, have a risk-taking secondary.

Still talking up the Rams. It would cute if it weren’t so odious.

Quotes of the Week

Ia
“This is an afternoon game in Hawaii.”

—CBS play-by-play man Ian Eagle, with 1:48 left in the Chargers-Raiders game, at 2:32 a.m. today, in the NFL Network game telecast.

Time zone WEIRDNESS is the new travel itenerary weirdness. It’s different times in other places! What a world!

Ib
“And in Fiji.”

—Eagle’s partner, Dan Fouts.

Football announcers are apparently the type of people whose minds are blown by the IT’S 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE shirts.

Stat of the Week

One thing largely ignored in the rush to say how wronged new Viking Josh Freeman was by the Bucs in the last couple of weeks: He’s been playing bad football going back to last Thanksgiving.

And just when I suspected that PK had abandoned his futile quest of sticking up for Greg Schaino…

Shouldn’t we judge players by how they play?

You know what, Peter King? YOU’RE RIGHT. I had never thought to do that. Until now, I only judged players by how much pink they could cram on their jerseys and which endorsements they held. But I like your idea too. JUDGE PLAYERS BY PLAY. Crazy enough to work.

Seems like we’ve heard every excuse—coach Greg Schiano is a hands-on-your-throat, privacy-invading nutcase, mostly—for why the Bucs were losing and Freeman was playing poorly. Now, Schiano certainly deserves his share of the blame for a team that has lost nine of 10.

But?

But all of the blame on Schiano, or most on Schiano and some on second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan? I’m not buying it.

When I first read this, I completely lost my shit. I had to go walk outside for 10 minutes to collect the tattered remains of my exploded brain matter.

But after I committed some minor property damage and returned to my computer, I was at peace.

Why? Because Greg Schiano is going to be fired and soon. He will be laughed out of the league. And it’s Peter King who will get to look like a ridiculous toadying dipshit for not only romancing the SCHIANO FACTOR from the moment he came into the NFL and continued to do so right up until the point that Greg lost his team, lost the respect of everyone around him and got shitcanned back to the NCAA.

Sure, the embarrassment ultimately won’t affect PK. After all, he gets away with every ethical lapse imaginable. In fact, he gets rewarded for them. But you gotta cherish the small things, I guess.

So: I set out to compare Freeman’s last 10 starts to some reviled quarterbacks, just to see how he fares. Let’s say I asked a good football fan, “Who’s the worst starting quarterback in football right now?” My money’s on the fan saying Blaine Gabbert. If Gabbert isn’t the one, he’s close. And who else has been judged to be a bad quarterback in the last couple of years, so bad he can’t find employment in the league? Tim Tebow.

Comparing the last 10 starts (including playoffs, in Tebow’s case) of the three men:

Yup, PK is letting loose the dogs of Tebow. That’s how far out of context he’s willing to go. PK is the dipshit protester sitting outside in Jacksonville yelling at Pete Prisco “THE DENVER YEAR HAPPENED!” This is what it’s come to.

Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Oh my God. I can’t believe there’s more. Kill me now.

Of the 46 players who dressed for 5-0 New Orleans Sunday, 19 entered the league as undrafted college free agents. That’s 41 percent of the roster coming up the hard way. Seven of the 22 starters weren’t drafted.

What does that mean? Seattle and New England have a boatload of undrafted players on the roster too, and it tells me those teams scout well, know the kind of players their coaching staffs want, and then go and get them. And the coaches coach them well.

And those coaches won’t be hampered by the glory seeking GLORY BOYZ who only mean to undermine everything in the pursuit of GLOREEEEE. Truly an unstoppable team would be 53 undrafted tight ends from Lunchpail State.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

There is no moral or lesson to this story. It’s not deep, or even very interesting.

Those two lines sum up Peter King so perfectly, I’d say I want them framed, but I’d only burn any reminder of him in a fit of rage.

It just is something that happened to a traveling person.

Just a travelin’ man and his travelin’ yarns. He’s a ramblin’ man, that Peter King.

I went to Boston for Game 1 of the Red Sox-Rays series. On Saturday morning at 8:15 I boarded the Acela in Back Bay, the second stop on the Boston-to-New York route. The train was crowded already. I walked through the Quiet Car, found an unoccupied two-seat row, and sat down. The train left the station. A few seconds later a fellow came up and said the two seats were taken. I looked at the back of the seats, which had no tags on them noting how far the passengers were going. And there was nothing on the seat—no bag, no newspaper, nothing to show that anyone was sitting there. “You sure?’’ I said. He said he was. He and a friend were sitting there, and his friend had gone to the café car to get something to eat, and he was quite sure the seats were his. I gave the guy a good look.

A fiery gaze that set his soul aflame.

Seemed like an earnest man.

Semi-Breer-esque!

If I didn’t move, I was basically calling the guy a liar.

“And I only ever do that from the safety of my shitty column.”

So I moved, and sat with a quiet apple-eater (he had two of them on the wordless journey) for the 3.5-hour trip to Manhattan.

Go with the apple-eaters. They are wordless and their intentions are true.

I didn’t think much about it. He probably was telling the truth, and when I looked down the aisle later, he was sitting there with another guy.

Yeah, yeah, tell yourself you did the right thing. Deep down, we both know YOUR SHIT GOT TOOK. Haha, you had to spend the rest of your trip on an expensive luxury train next to Johnny Appleeater. FEEL THE STING!

Tweets of the Week

“Cracked open a window in the warm Oakland Raiders press box. Weed seems to be wafting into the press box.”

—@MartyCaswell, producer/reporter for the Mighty 1090 Sports Radio station in San Diego, covering the Chargers-Raiders game, in a tweet logged at 1:58 a.m. ET this morning.

Of course the weed smell stood out. Molly is the drug of choice for Raiders beat writers.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 5:

i. Dallas’s time of possession in the first quarter: 13 minutes.

You liked Peyton not having the ball? Like hell you did.

j. Great blocking downfield by Wes Welker.

I could feel the lack of draft selection in all of his blocks.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 5:

a. The NFC East—all below .500.

What is that supposed to mean? That you openly root for the NFC East to do well?

c. Luke Joeckel, four days after the Eugene Monroe trade, goes out with an ankle injury. Pity the Jags.

Don’t pity them, they’re already dead.

f. Linebacker James Anderson wearing No. 50, Mike Singletary’s number, for the Bears. Just noticed it Sunday, and I don’t like it. It was given to Anderson in April.

Should’ve binged that factoid earlier, asshole.

h. Blaine Gabbert.

i. I mean, that’s all you need to say.

THOSE AREN’T SEPARATE ITEMS. WHY DO YOU SUCK AT EVERYTHING!?

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

a. Excellent New York Times story on Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who has suffered five game-day epileptic seizures in the last three seasons, causing him to not be able to coach. The most recent came Saturday morning, and it prevented him from coaching the game against Michigan. I feel for the guy, and he’s such an admirable role model for people with epilepsy. But I wonder how long he can keep doing the job.

That is the second time PK has harped on Jerry Kill with the same level of feigned sensitivity for his condition while not subtly implying that Kill should be fired.

b. And this from the Times, about a 12-year-old girl interviewing major-league baseball players, is very cool. Haley Smilow, for instance, knows Andrew McCutchen has a sock fetish (from an interview with the Pirate), and says of her player interviews: “I don’t ask them statistic-y questions because that’s grown-up stuff and I’m only a kid,” she said. “They’re sick of hearing, ‘Why did you go 0 for 3?’ when they have no idea why they went 0 for 3. I might ask ‘What’s on your iPod?’ or ‘What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?’ ”

Develop a fondness for coffee and compromising relationships with front office personnel and you have quite the career in loftiness ahead of you, young lady.

e. It’s Oct. 7, and the Buccos are alive (more than alive; up 2-1 against the great Cardinals), and the Steelers are on life support.

WEIRD

f. And no, I didn’t expect Boston to get 19 runs and 25 hits off the Rays with Matt Moore and David Price starting.

Fuck you, you humblebragging piece of shit.

h. Looks like a long year for my Devils.

“I skimmed the hockey standings and this is what I saw.”

i. Saw Enough Said, the romantic comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. Meh. Let’s just say the acting is significantly better than the story. We’re going to miss a lot of good roles Gandolfini would have played.

How the fuck would you know which roles an actor would have been cast in after he’s dead?

j. Coffeenerdness: Did Amtrak do something to the weak coffee on the Acela? Tasted a little more like real coffee and not coffee-flavored water Saturday.

The secret ingredient: THE SHAME OF KNOWING YOU GOT YOUR SHIT TOOK! BAHAHAHAHA

k. Beernerdness: I thought Saranac Pumpkin Ale was the best pumpkin beer I’d tasted — and I’ve sampled maybe eight or 10 of them in recent autumns.

“Recent autumns” = the last week

But Friday in Boston I had the best: UFO Pumpkin, by Harpoon.

Had it. Couldn’t be more average.

A good pumpkin beer can’t be overpowering, and it can’t be sweet. UFO Pumpkin, which is unfiltered, is exactly the right touch of both, though the woman who served me asked: “Do you want that with cinnamon and sugar?” God no! She said some patrons like the rim of the glass coated with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, the way some like margaritas with salt. The beer itself is very good the way it is.

That does sound gross. Good thing Peter only had her pour the sugar in the hand so he could shovel it in his maw.

l. It’s easy to root for Northwestern.

If you’re an asshole.

m. I hope Art Briles is the next Texas coach. I don’t mean to pilfer him from you, Baylor, but he’d be a smart hire for Texas.

Behold the staggering self-delusion that is PK apologizing to Baylor fans because surely him wanting a coach for a job is sufficient cause for it to actually happen.

The Adieu Haiku

Two a.m. football.
Surprisingly, I want more.
And I want it now.

Two a.m. beer blast
Predictably, he wants more.
And he’s drunk right now

[Always Sunny GIF via]