pkroad[via]

When last we left lofty lardass, Peter King, he shared the tall tale of REGION LIFTER Peyton Manning, whose Paul Bunyan-sized forehead has brought economic revitalization to the Colorado area by getting fans to buy his jersey, which is something no other NFL quarterback has surely ever done. But what about this week? Well, he has an interview with Lil’ Wayne and a promise not to complain overmuch about the weather. Because someone who has a feature dedicated to complaining in his weekly column doubtlessly knows moderation in that department. Brace yourself for bitter rants about lack of New Jersey respect and READ ON.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Well now, a Jersey City dateline, six days before the Super Bowl.

Crazy! It’s almost as though the game is being held nearby.

There’s something I never thought I’d see.

Even though the location of the game was announced four years ago. Total spur of the moment change of events. No way you should have seen it coming.

Or type.

eastsh

A Super Bowl in New Jersey. But the hype machine for Super Bowl XLVIII alighted in the Garden State Sunday night, so let’s go there, to the tamest interview station of them all.

Ooh, we’re finally gonna find out who leads the league in tameness! Is it not Jim Caldwell?

Richard Sherman’s. Of course.

OH HO HO, LOFTY CURVENUGGET! THAT OL’ PK, ALWAYS KEEPIN’ ME ON MY TOES!

To all in the media hoping Richard Sherman does their job this week by spouting even a Triple-A version of the Erin Andrews diatribe, and to any of you hoping for another round of fun social debate on thuggery and race and sportsmanship, I bring you these gems from Sherman’s riser Sunday night at the Jersey City Westin, a week before Seattle-Denver just up the street in East Rutherford:

Incredible stuff. Can’t believe someone is more subdued in the middle of a spate of interviews during an otherwise calm day compared to seconds after making a play against a receiver he hates to send his team to the Super Bowl.

“It’s all going to come down to who plays the best football.”

“It really comes down to the execution.”

“It’s going to be a battle of wills.”

All right! Who went and stole Richard Sherman?!

“PACK IT IN, REST OF THE MEDIA. IF SHERMAN WON’T GIVE THE BEST QUOTES TO MEEEEEEEEEEEE, YOU KNOW THERE AREN’T ANY! MIGHT AS WELL CROWD AROUND TARVARIS JACKSON ON MEDIA DAY!”

Last night, I’d estimate about 75 reporters and camera people were around him, as you can see above. He was in a good mood, happy to be there and happy to be the Stanford Richard Sherman, not the Fifteen-Seconds-After-The-Game Richard Sherman.

Christ. I thought you were trying to avoid debates on racism and classism.

The one thing I can tell you about Sherman, from having gotten to know him a little bit in our conversations—me as editor in chief of The MMQB, he as a regular columnist—is he’s an optimistic person. A realist, but an optimist too.

In other words, you can tell me nothing of use about him.

I’ve heard him talk like that several times, when the cameras aren’t around. I think as a person, that’s who he is.

“I’ve been in the same room as him AT LEAST four times. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I can tell you what drives him and even the truths he won’t admit to himself.”

Some logistics…

The Broncos and Seahawks are staying 1.3 miles apart, just up from the Hudson River. Outside the Denver hotel is the better view: the icy Hudson, with the new World Trade Center glistening to the east. A beautiful sight.

UNFAIR HOTEL VIEW ADVANTAGE! Though you probably don’t want to give Pete Carroll a view of the World Trade Center lest he spend the whole two weeks on guard against another government false flag attack.

Returning to the scene of the not-so-prime.

Pete Carroll will coach the Super Bowl in a stadium in the same Jersey parking lot as the one where he got his first head-coaching shot. In fact, this month is the 20-year anniversary of Pete Carroll getting his first NFL head-coaching job.

This month is also the 19-year anniversary of Carroll getting fired from his first NFL head-coaching job.

That’s right. Carroll Chudzinskied the Jets’ job.

Very interesting tidbit that will have no bearing or emotional impact whatsoever on what transpires on Sunday.

Carroll succeeded Bruce Coslet as Jets coach on Jan. 7, 1994, and had the team at 6-5 in November, with the 7-4 and slumping Dolphins coming to town for a late-November game. A win, and New York would tie Miami for the lead of the AFC East. And the Jets were up 24-6 late in the third quarter of the game. That was a strange mix of a Jets team. (That is not the first time, nor the last, for that.) Boomer Esiason and Art Monk teamed that day for five aerial connections for 108 yards. Esiason to Monk! Bet you didn’t know they ever played on the same team.

1. Just say passes or completions. I don’t need a reception described like it’s a layover flight.
2. Fuck you, I did know that Boomer and Art Monk played together on the Jets.
3. Once again, Peter King is assuming his readers are fucking drooling, uninformed fuckwits.
4. He also assumes there are no Jets fans older than 20. Granted, a lot probably do die young by virtue of just being Jets fans, but still wrong all the same.
5. Why are we getting hundreds of words on the Marino fake spike game? So PK can cite “the ghosts of it” haunting Carroll if the Seahawks lose?

“To this day I have no idea why Mr. Hess fired Pete after one season,” Esiason said. “He was brilliant. He was the Chip Kelly of his time. I wish he’d have stayed our coach.”

So Chip Kelly is just 20 years and two head coaching jobs away from advancing to the Super Bowl? Good to know.

“I’m in traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel [the route from East Rutherford to Long Island, via Manhattan] and next to me there was an accident, and I’m thinking, Should I get out of the car and help? So I do, and the woman in this car is slumped over the wheel, with a cigarette in her hand. I rap on the window. ‘Lady! You okay!’ She opens her eyes. She says, ‘Boomer? BOOMER? Man, you guys suck! How’d you lose that game!’ ”

Very surprised not to see that story punctuated with a “What a country! or “Classic New York story!” comment.

This is a very significant storyline this week.

As opposed to the one you just wasted our time with?

I just don’t know exactly how to quantify it.

This should be fun. I’ll get my favorite shirt.

hateshirt[via]

Peyton Manning has never faced any of the eight Seattle defensive backs in the regular season or playoffs. He has faced the Seahawks twice in the preseason, but not when it’s counted since Oct. 4, 2009, a span of 68 games, including postseason. And, obviously, they have never faced him in a real game either.

Comparing the Seattle secondary in that 2009 game—when Manning riddled the Seahawks for 353 yards in a 34-17 Indy win—and now.

Amazingly, you’ll find that a team that finished 5-11 in 2009 has made a few roster moves in the ensuing four years.

Now the question: Who gets the edge—Manning or the Seattle secondary—because of the lack of exposure these two sides have had to each other?

At first blush I’d say Manning, because, well, as Richard Sherman said a few days ago, “You can’t get in Peyton Manning’s head. If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.” Manning, and his new coordinator-in-crime, Adam Gase, are very good are figuring out things to show a defense that they’ve never seen before. Last week against New England, Virgil Green, a tight end who’d never carried the ball in 47 previous NFL games, lined up as a lone back in the backfield in a three-wide, two-tight-end set—and Manning handed it to him. Gain of six.

That’s right, Seattle secondary, you better be careful because Denver might line up their tight end as a running back and hand the ball off to him. That’s really more of an issue for the front seven of the defense as it’s really just a standard running play, but you guys better be careful, too, I guess!

But Seattle has an edge here in that Manning hasn’t been able to replicate the Seahawks’ talent, size and physicality in practice. Other than Sherman staying at left corner—that’s an absolute given—we won’t know for sure until the game starts how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts.

To recap: Peyton has the edge here, except when he doesn’t. THE MOST IMPORTANT-ISH STORYLINE!

For once, the beaten-up story angle of the week (just watch)—Peyton Manning against the best secondary in football—could turn out to be the overwhelming story of the Super Bowl.

WEIRD! Because every other year, the story of how a starting quarterback fares against the opposing secondary plays no factor whatsoever in the outcome of the game.

The Browns coaching hire. It’s a tangled web in Cleveland—and I say that with much respect for Mike Pettine, hired as the eighth head coach in the reconstituted Browns’ 15-year history. Pettine did a fabulous job with the Bills in his one year as coordinator (Buffalo sacks in 2012: 36; in 2013: 57) and should breathe life into a team that underperformed on defense this season. But you get the feeling at the end of the coaching search that Pettine was the ultimate compromise candidate.

Oh boy. Here’s what happens when you don’t have the guts to become Schaino Men: you get lectured by his lone apologist. Probably preferable to the alternative of actually hiring him, but still unfortunate.

In the final days before the hire, Cleveland rekindled its pursuit of Josh McDaniels, and went after him hard. I have heard McDaniels was the apple of owner Jimmy Haslam’s eye from the time a four-man team of Browns officials met with McDaniels in New England for seven-and-a-half hours on Wild Card Saturday, and that GM Mike Lombardi had at least two conversations with McDaniels about re-entering the coaching derby in the days after New England’s loss to Denver in the AFC title game.

The moral of the story: even the Browns can occasionally be momentarily rescued from their own stupidity.

I have also heard, after Bill Belichick pushed hard for his friend Greg Schiano to get in the Cleveland race, that some in the Browns’ hierarchy were revved up by Schiano’s interview with the club early last week.

How wouldn’t you be!? He pitched many radical concepts to cut down on horseplay. For instance, replacing the soda in vending machines with HUSTLE JUICE*

*contains weapons-grade MRSA

Speaking of McDaniels … Which no one in Denver likes to do.

Because he was an arrogant shitheel who brought disaster to the franchise.

People in Denver figure McDaniels “ran off” Jay Cutler, which he didn’t do, and then drafted Tim Tebow and got fired in the midst of a crash-and-burn 4-12 season. So the venom spews. But let’s be fair here. Look around the Broncos roster, which McDaniels had control of in 2009 and 2010. From the 2009 draft: Knowshon Moreno (1,586 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns this year), defensive end Robert Ayers (sack of Tom Brady in the AFC title game) and special-teams captain David Bruton are here. From the 2010 draft: the two leading receivers—Demaryius Thomas (92 catches, 14 touchdowns) and Eric Decker (87 catches, 11 TDs)—are here, plus starting guard Zane Beadles. Tim Tebow’s not here, of course. And the Tebow thing colors everything about McDaniels’ legacy. It should be considered, to be sure. But let me ask you this question: If Thomas and Decker hadn’t been on the roster when Peyton Manning was considering what team to choose 22 months ago, are you really that sure Manning would have signed with the Broncos?

Holy shit, Josh McDaniels is being lauded for not leaving the cupboard entirely bare. The Tebow pick was so bad that PK even sounds uncomfortable trying to gloss over it. Anyway, that’s how little to takes to get defended if you’re on PK’s good side or if you belong to the hallowed class of people who happen to be sons of football coaches. Truly, a precocious race!

Point is, McDaniels shouldn’t be a Denver pariah in this Super Bowl week. He should be thanked.

Sure. He coordinated an offense that played like dogshit against Denver in the AFC Championship. Couldn’t have made the Super Bowl without that!

A Lil Q&A with Lil Wayne, of all things.

Just gonna leave this here:


Well, I never thought I’d be interviewing a rapper for The MMQB.

“But luckily we rigged up bullet-proof glass interview chambers in the office so I could feel safe!”

But one of our writers, Robert Klemko, knew how passionate a football fan Lil Wayne is, and Klemko met his publicist, and one thing led to another, and Tuesday night the publicist said to me: “I’m patching you through to Wayne.”

“And that’s when I regretted hiring a token black guy to my writing staff.”

How he became a Packers fan

“They won the Super Bowl in my hometown, and I was hooked. I am not missing a Packers game. Never. I don’t care what kind of world I am in, where I am. When the Packers are playing, I’m watching. This year was tough. When A-Rod [Aaron Rodgers] went down, I was in a lot of pain.”

Lil’ Wayne was born the same year I was, so he’d have been 14 when the Packers won that Super Bowl in New Orleans. Too late! I pronounce you bandwagon fan forever!

Richard Sherman

“To me, the Richard Sherman thing … I think he does it, I don’t want to say for attention, I don’t believe it’s for attention, but I believe there is a technique to what he is doing. It all of a sudden doesn’t seem so natural. It seems like it used to be Richard Sherman loves to trash talk, but now, it’s kind of a technique. Not natural. I’ve seen people go back at him, and when they tell him something back or he gets his face busted, there’s no more barking. That tells me, I’m really not like this, I’m really not aggressive. I think it’s Richard Sherman mouthing off … I know the media likes to say he’s backing it up with his play. Well, Richard Sherman comes from the same place I come from, the street, and he’s doing a lot of talking where he really can’t back it up. I think he’s a shutdown player. But a great player? No. Great? I don’t think he’s a great player. Now if he plays great against Peyton, that will be huge. If he performs tremendously, that will [change things].”

Looks like we just found out who Sherman is yelling at postgame if the Seahawks win.

The Manning men: Father Archie and sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli

“I have a story about Peyton. A guy who has been on the road with us, he was like an uncle to us, he told us this story. When he was in jail, about to come home, he was put on one of those work-release things in New Orleans. Every morning, real early, he would clean the schoolyard of the [Isidore] Newman School [where the Manning kids attended]. Because he was a prisoner, he would have to clean the schoolyard at 4 or 5 in the morning. There was not one morning, 4:30, 5 in the morning, he wouldn’t see Archie, Peyton, Cooper, or Eli out on the field. He’d see Archie throwing passes to Cooper, or Peyton throwing routes to Cooper. I don’t know if people know this, but it was Cooper who was the prodigy. He [the roadie] would tell us the story, you know, like it was destined.”

Shame the roadie left out the part where he tried to hide drugs in Eli’s blankey.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I have never covered a Super Bowl in the town where I lived, so even though I think it’s a bad idea to have the Super Bowl in an outdoor freezer, I am pleased to be home this week.

“Even though this Super Bowl location is incredibly convenient for me, I’ll still find a way to complain about it.”

What will be odd about this Super Bowl: The media events with the teams, and the team hotels, and the practice sites, and the Super Bowl, will be in New Jersey. Everything else—the parties, the major-domo press conferences, the media center—will be in Manhattan.

Because in every other Super Bowl, the teams just partied in the lobby of the hotels, right? Can’t believe the NFL would want to take advantage of nightlife options and accommodations in perhaps the most glamorous city in the country, if not the world.

Ever travel through the Jersey state capital, Trenton? There’s a big bridge there, with the words TRENTON MAKES, THE WORLD TAKES. It’s a jab, I’ve always thought, at the big wide world that looks at New Jersey as a flyover state, or a drive-by state. I lived in New Jersey with my family for 24 years.

Until you left to live in Boston and then Manhattan.

I love the state. Not every inch of it, but I loved living there, and I’m grateful to have had wonderful homes and neighbors and lives in Montclair (mostly) and Bloomfield. So I’m a little sensitive about the New York-ification of everything major league that goes on in New Jersey.

They take credit for our stench!

Like this Super Bowl. The teams are in Jersey. The practices are in Jersey. The players and coaches meet the press in Jersey. The game’s in Jersey.

But it’s the New York Super Bowl.

I’ll be drinking in Hoboken Tuesday night, thank you.

This actually makes me a little sad for Jersey, because the person making a whiny defense on its behalf is Peter fucking King. I’m not gonna sing any paeans to the Garden State, but even it deserve better than that.

As for PK’s bitchfest, I would have loved to see the locals try to shop this Super Bowl as a New Jersey-exclusive event. It would have been laughed out of every fucking boardroom. No one is traveling to this thing to go to Montclair or whatever other small town you happened to deposit your shit before ditching it for the big city. Fuck you.

Tweets of the Week

“FYI: Three alums of the 0-16 Lions will play in the Super Bowl 5 years later — DEN G Manny Ramirez, LB Paris Lenon and SEA DE Cliff Avril.”

—@RobertKlemko, of The MMQB.

Worth noting that Paris Lenon is also the only active former XFL left. He deserves a title just for being involved with all that collected failure.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the oddest thing I’ve sensed about this Super Bowl from the public and some in the media is that Russell Wilson, in the eyes of many, is overrated. I think that’s absurd, and not just because he’s got a 3-1 postseason record and will be playing in the Super Bowl in his second season. It’s because of his presence, his ability to make those around him better, his drive to be great. Because his weapons compared to many contending teams (including the one he’ll play Sunday) are not nearly as good. For all those who say he’s just along for the ride, consider these two stat lines from his first two NFL seasons:

2012: 64.1% accuracy, 26 TDs, 10 interceptions, 100.0 rating, 12-6 record.
2013: 63.1% accuracy, 26 TDs, 9 interceptions, 101.2 rating, 15-3 record.

And, he’s totaled 1,028 yards rushing, and five rushing touchdowns, in two years. If that’s overrated, give me 52 other overrated guys on my roster. Every day.

First of all, at least cite one person making the always incredibly pointless claim that someone is overrated. PK didn’t sense shit. Either he saw specific criticism or he didn’t. It just looks like he wanted an excuse to toss in a complimentary section for Russell Wilson because he doesn’t want to look like he’s just heaping all the praise on Peyton these days.

6. I think I loved this story from Len Pasquarelli of National Football Post on the rise of the tall cornerback. You see the trend in Seattle: Richard Sherman (6-3) and Byron Maxwell (6-1) make plays with their reach as much as with their legs.

It’s not a trend given that teams are always generally on the lookout for talented corners who happen to be tall. There just aren’t a ton of them. But let’s not let that get in the way of you dispensing kudos to your writer buddies.

7. I think San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, unfortunately, may turn out to be the offensive version of Mike Zimmer, who had to wait far too long for his chance to be a head coach. Cleveland not interviewing Roman … absolutely amazing.

Aw man, I thought with the Zimmer hiring that’d be the end of at least one obnoxious PK talking point: “WHY WON’T ANYONE HIRE THIS GUY!?” but I should’ve known he’d just transfer it to another white coordinator.

9. I think I will make this promise to you, as Super Bowl Week dawns: I promise I will not hit you over the head with weather reporting/complaining. It’ll get a mention now and again, but not a daily pounding.

Holy shit, I hope you get sodomized with an ice pick. But you know, not like a daily pounding.

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

a. Spend some more, Yankees. Pay Stephen Drew $14 million a year. Come to think of it, pay J.D. Drew $17 million.

b. Just adds to the fun. And all of America saying, “This is why we love football. Football’s fair.”

c. I don’t blame the Yankees one bit, by the way. All they’re doing is playing by the rules.

That’s one way to deflect criticism of obnoxious weather-related bellyaching. Make shitty Red Sox fan complaints about free agency.

d. Bieber. Lohan. How do you tell them apart?

Tits, probably.

e. Great job by the NHL on the Stadium Series. The L.A. game Saturday night had some great pageantry (Vin Scully, the USC band, beach volleyball)

f. All who attended Kings-Ducks: You lucky dogs.

g. Same to you at Yankee Stadium. What a visual on TV.

What’s that? Fans watching an outdoor sporting event in New York in cold weather are lucky now, are they? DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE. FOUR FUCKING YEARS OF YOU TRYING TO SAY FANS STUCK OUT IN THE COLD ARE MISERABLE AND NOW, DAYS BEFORE A COLD WEATHER SUPER BOWL, YOU’RE SAYING IT’S GREAT IF IT HAPPENS TO BE A HOCKEY GAME!? FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU!

j. Coffeenerdness: Super Bowl Week Visitors Coffee Guide Dept.: I have found the most consistent drink-making Starbucks in Manhattan, and believe me, I have tried all 9,000 of them. It’s the one on East 51st, between Park and Madison. Bunch of kids in there. They care.

You know, the temptation to mock Peter King for this recommendation is strong to quite strong, but if there’s anything I would actually trust him to tell me, it’s the quality of particular Starbucks baristas near where he lives – which, again, is not New Jersey. Screaming at and vetting Starbucks wage slaves is the only thing PK does with anything approaching diligence.

k. Beernerdness: Had the good fortune to meet Jim Koch, the Sam Adams brewer, on the SI Now show the other day in New York. We talked craft beer, and he handed me one of his new ones. “Cold Snap.” A wheat beer, he said, with spices like coriander and orange peel. And I’m thinking, “Hmmm. Allagash White.”

That sounds obtuse in that context, but Peter has thought every 20 seconds no matter what he’s doing.

So I popped it open Friday night. A tad darker than Allagash, but the same nose and similar taste. Loved it.

Shouldn’t you be drinking some glorious Jersey beer instead? TRAITOR!

Coriander rocks, and I don’t even know what it is.

Industry secret: it’s goblin ejaculate.

l. Matt Garza to the Brew Crew. I like it. Good signing. If healthy, he should win 15.

Welp, you know football season is drawing to a close when baseball content goes from 33 percent to 55 percent of a MMQB column.

The Adieu Haiku

Sad thing re Pro Bowl:
End of Tony Gonzalez.
At least in football.

Sad thing: your writing
It makes me nauseated
Yet hungry for death