Early storyline for the Super Bowl: Can the Patriots protect Tom Brady better in this Super Bowl against the Giants than they did the last time they played?
Two controversial plays this weekend generated as much email and Twitter traffic as I've seen on plays this year, and so I'll use this space to explain as best as I can the reasons they were called.
In July, someone close to Cincinnati owner Mike Brown explained to me clearly the near- and long-term future of Carson Palmer, the quarterback who said he'd rather retire than return to play for the Bengals, though he had a contract with Cincinnati through 2014.
GREEN BAY -- "Do we play some of the most dramatic games in NFL history?!'' Greg Jennings said to me on Lambeau Field Thursday night, still short of breath from the end of Packers 42, Saints 34. I should think so. Let's try to make sense of the 10th Thursday night opener, the best one since the league went to the new concept in 2002:
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Five thoughts looking back at my day with the Chiefs:
It's been four years since Shawne Merriman has been Shawne Merriman. Maybe that Shawne Merriman is gone forever.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about Redskins camp in Ashburn, Va., which he visited on Aug. 1. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about Falcons camp in Flowery Branch, Ga., which he visited on July 30. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
Five things I think I think about the opening frenzy of the Summer of Frenzy:
And I thought after my annual four-week travelogue I could just ease back into the 15th season of Monday Morning Quarterback.
Rex Ryan stories in the SI Vault
(Editor's Note: This column will be updated as news develops. Last update: 2:46 p.m.)
I raised the issue in Monday Morning Quarterback about the likelihood of ownership sharing detailed financial information at some point this week with the players, who've been screaming for more financial transparency for so long. The players, rightfully, are saying, How can we know if you're in financial distress if you don't give us any detailed reason to prove it?
All Cam, all the time. A lot of thoughts today about the ability, future and football focus of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a big part of Monday's column and who could end up being the first quarterback taken in April's draft.
The best news out of the talks between the NFL Players Association, the league and a Washington mediator is that there hasn't been a leak of any kind.
Nearly two weeks have passed since Super Bowl XLV, and although I no longer remember the score or Aaron Rodgers' passing yardage or the number of advertisements that featured some sort of boneheaded lug and a potato chip, one figure refuses to escape my temporal lobe: $200.
The NFL's silly season officially has begun. Here are 10 Things I Think I Think on matters on and off the field:
DeMaurice Smith in the SI Vault
DALLAS -- In the wake of the snippet in "Monday Morning Quarterback'' about commissioner Roger Goodell's comments regarding the lack of player support for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, I issued a clarification on SI.com last night. I mistakenly inserted a parenthetical "Steelers'' in the middle of a Goodell quote, figuring he was talking about the Steelers in the quote. I erred, and apologize for it.
A couple of points about the New Orleans-Seattle wild-card matchup in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday afternoon:
Wes Welker stories in the SI Vault
I looked at the NFL stats this morning and found myself scrolling down the list of quarterback ratings in search of Peyton Manning. He's usually Mr. Passer Rating, high in the 90s or somewhere north of that. But as I scanned the list, something weird happened. I rolled past JaMarcus Russell, Kyle Orton, J.T. O'Sullivan and the immortal Matt Cassel. Then I found my target.
Scott Pioli stories in the SI Vault
It's time for the 91st NFL season to begin, but it wouldn't be a real NFL season without some really bad predictions from me. I'm the one who picked the Browns to make the Super Bowl in 1995 (they had fans throwing dog bones at them by the end of the year, as they tucked their tails between their legs and slinked off to Baltimore), told you to take Danny Wuerffel as your fantasy quarterback in 2002 (he lasted all of 92 passes), and, well, the last time I picked the Super Bowl winner was, I think, when Lombardi prowled the Tundra.
NFL Preview stories in the SI Vault The Pros Hit The Clover By Alfred Wright, September 5, 1955 After years of feuding, professional football has finally found a host of faithful fans and now looks forward to its finest year. Previews: East | West
Scattershooting around the NFL today, starting with an injury that's going to have a major impact on the NFC North race:
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Giants camp in Albany, N.Y. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
NFL fullback stories in the SI Vault
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Jets camp in Cortland, N.Y. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the 49ers camp in Santa Clara, Calif., which he visited on Aug. 4. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Bucs camp in Tampa, which he visited on Aug. 2. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Falcons camp in Flowery Branch, Ga. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Panthers camp in Spartanburg, S.C. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Cowboys camp in San Antonio. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
With Peter King on vacation until July 26, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took time away from his off-season vacation to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback Column. Ryan, the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008, has compiled a 20-10 record in two seasons as a starter, the second-best mark among NFC quarterbacks with at least 30 starts.
With Peter King off, Texans offensive lineman Eric Winston took time away from his offseason to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback column. Winston is entering his fifth season in the NFL and has started 55 straight games at right tackle for Houston. He is also busy off the field, staying active in the NFL Players Association and doing charity work for Shriners Hospital for Children. Follow Eric on Twitter here.
So one of the controversies of the day Monday, via e-mails and Twitter, centered on Pat Tillman and whether his valiant life, tragic death and turning down NFL millions to join the Army Rangers in the war in Afghanistan merits a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One of the most intriguing players in the draft is a receiver from Georgia Tech named Demaryius Thomas. In 2009, Thomas averaged 25.1 yards per catch (for his career, it was 19.5, on 120 catches), and at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, Thomas has the size and route-running ability to be a solid starting NFL receiver -- if not a star.
And now for something completely different: The San Diego Chargers not only did the right thing with LaDainian Tomlinson, they did the right thing at the right time. The next time a team has to deal with releasing a legendary player in decline, club officials should go to school and learn how Dean Spanos and A.J. Smith cut the cord with the eighth-leading rusher of all time.
Five quick observations, then your e-mail from a busy NFL week:
In this week's Monday Morning Quarterback, Sports Illustrated's Peter King provided some pretty damning numbers that suggest Pete Carroll's hire by the Seattle Seahawks may be a mistake. According to Peter's research, only one of the 10 college coaches hired by NFL teams over the past 20 years -- Dallas' Jimmy Johnson -- won even a single playoff game.
A few quick hits this morning -- on what ails the Vikings, on the fans' anger in Indianapolis, on the Sunday night Bengals-Jets choice by the NFL, and on the prescience of Trent Green. You'll be amazed when we set the way-back machine back six months and you see a prediction of Green's that's come true.
The kind of throw Alex Smith has to make if he wants to be San Francisco's longterm quarterback came with 52 seconds left in the first half Monday night at Candlestick Park.
One of the toughest parts of my job, but also one of the most enjoyable, is the winnowing process for selecting the Pro Football Hall of Fame class each year. This is a big month in the process. As one of 44 selectors for the Hall, I sat down last week, weighed the pluses and minuses of 131 candidates for the Hall, and submitted my ballot for the cut to 25. Later this year, we'll vote again, cutting the list from 25 semifinalists to 15. Then, on the day before the Super Bowl in south Florida, we'll gather to discuss the 15 modern-era candidates and the two Seniors nominees (Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little).
The latest in Sports Illustrated's series of best-selling, sport-specific coffee-table specials, THE GOLF BOOK will be the must-have holiday gift for golfers and golf fans. With lavish photography and award-winning writing from Sports Illustrated's archives, this majestic new volume tracks golf history from 19th century Scotland to Tiger Woods' latest heroics on the green. In 288 oversized pages, THE GOLF BOOK celebrates the royal and ancient game as only Sports Illustrated can, showcasing its biggest personalities (Nicklaus, Hogan, Palmer, to name just a few) and top performances in richly illustrated display. The sport's most beautiful landscapes, most treasured courses and most renowned artifacts are depicted in stunning large-format detail. With precision and passion THE GOLF BOOK tees it up and hits it straight down the fairway.
NEW YORK -- Just what you need: more King. Well, you're getting it, like it or not. Welcome to the first edition of "The Game Plan,'' my new Friday column. This is the first of 22 weekly columns I'll write between now and Super Bowl Sunday.
1. Short-season Rookie League games
(Editor's Note: To commemorate Peter King receiving the Dick McCann Memorial Award at Pro Football's Hall of Fame ceremonies on Friday, former NFL.com writer Adam Schefter penned this tribute to King for SI.com.)
So I joined Peter King on his training camp tour for the past week in order to continue my quest to become the best writer that I possibly can be now that my playing days are getting further and further in the rear view mirror. And I loved every second of it. I mean, is there really someone better to learn from than the preeminent professional football writer in America? But so many people have asked me what he was like, that I decided to devote the top of my mailbag column to giving you some insight into the man behind Monday Morning Quarterback.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Sorry for the late column today, and a couple of notes before I get into one of my favorite people in the NFL, David Tyree.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Redskins' camp in Virginia.
Training camps and real football are finally here, and this year I am joining SI.com colleague Peter King on the first leg of his annual training camp tour to both check out some teams and learn from Mr. MMQB. As luck would have it, our first two stops were to the teams I most identify with from my playing career: the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. I think of those teams often because I spent the most time with them, starting and finishing my career with the Redskins while receiving the most playing time in Buffalo. Still, I hadn't been back to either camp since I stopped playing for those franchises, and there are a number of things about training camp and going back to my roots that jumped out at me now that I am on the other side of the white lines.
With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton took time away from vacationing in the Florida panhandle to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback column. Payton, who was voted NFL Coach of the Year in 2006, is entering his fourth season in New Orleans.
With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley graciously agreed to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback column.
These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.
With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, veteran offensive lineman Matt Light took time away from conducting a summer camp to write today's MMQB: Tuesday Edition column. Light is entering his ninth season with New England, where he's been a starter on three Super Bowl-winning teams this decade.
With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, veteran offensive lineman Matt Birk took time away from his holiday weekend to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback column. Birk, who played 11 seasons for the Vikings and was voted to six Pro Bowls, signed a three-year deal with the Ravens in the offseason.
With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, recently retired quarterback Trent Green took time away from moving his family into their Kansas City home to write today's Monday Morning Quarterback column. Green, who played 15 seasons with the Rams, Dolphins, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers, is in discussions with networks about doing some TV and radio broadcasting this fall.
My last mailbag for a month will be yours, mostly, with a few announcements up top:
I'll have a few quick hits before completely diving into today's e-mail, but first a cardiologist speaks from the heart:
Will the Lions dare pass up a potential franchise quarterback? Who'll make the move for Mark Sanchez? Here's how Peter King projected the first round in time for the Monday deadline of this week's Sports Illustrated, with his updates as of Friday morning noted:
I had the chance to sit with the new executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, for three hours in Washington last week. I liked him. He's personable, he listens, he makes good arguments ... and, more importantly, he's a huge football fan. He loves the game, and it's going to be tough for him to tear himself away from his beloved Redskins and become a fan of all 32 teams. But to me that's a good thing. He's excited about meeting the men he's watched on TV over the years and was tickled that Peyton Manning was trying to reach out to him last week to congratulate him on the new job.
Eighteen short days until the draft, so it's time for yours truly to start devoting days and nights to draft education. I started with a conversation with Mike Mayock of NFL Network, a guy I like a lot because he's blunt and not afraid to be wrong. If you're afraid to be wrong in the draft business, you'll be mealy mouthed. That's not Mayock.
Now, the first question for Fred Taylor is: Why should anyone in the NFL take a chance on you? Taylor's 33 years old, which is the age running backs often are in their third year of retirement. Or fourth.
Wow. What a Super Bowl to take in. What an amazing game, and yes, I still say it's the best ever ... but let's examine the quality of the officiating, the quality of the game and then Ben Roethlisberger's performance for the ages:
TAMPA -- Thursday, 3 p.m., Pittsburgh Steelers practice, University of South Florida: After a surprise deluge leaves players and staff drenched, 78-year-old owner Dan Rooney walks the sidelines with a towel for headgear, warding off the light rain that lingers. He looks, quite frankly, bizarre. "Hey, Mr. Rooney,'' calls out Hines Ward, with a mischievous smile, from 20 yards away. "You with the Taliban?''
My good buddy Don "Donnie Brasco'' Banks and I debated the overtime system today on SI.com, so I'll skip the top of the column and go right to your e-mail:
You have bombarded me with questions about the seemingly unfair way (and I'm sure Mike Smith, Rich McKay and Arthur Blank would not include the words "seemingly'' there) the Atlanta-Philadelphia game ended, and so I've scrapped plans to write about the new Dallas stadium 'til next week. Instead, let's examine the play, and the game situation, that I can guarantee you will be reviewed after the season by the National Football League. I'll start with one of the most cogent letters, from John Hyman, of Chicago:
Five observations from a fairly compelling Monday night affair:
I read an interesting comment the other day in Peter King's MMQB Mailbag . When King asked Phil Savage, the Browns GM, what he thought when Monday's debacle of a loss to the Giants was over, Savage responded, "I don't know. You never know. It's preseason.''
JACKSONVILLE -- In keeping with my one-day tradition of covering the other 2,500 players in the NFL aside from The One You're Hearing Too Much About, I bring some nuggets from the St. Louis Rams.
Do you know how rare it is to stand on the sideline of a football field and have to move your feet quickly to dodge a tackle in front of you? Do you know how often it happens that there's a fight five feet in front of you, and you have to have incredible peripheral vision to avoid the bodies flying into the fight? And do you know how rare it is to stand alongside the head coach of a National Football League team as he twirls his whistle, with cornstalks one long spiral behind him, as he prepares to start his team's afternoon practice?
ATHENS, Ohio -- Quite a daunting task, giving a commencement speech. Even more daunting to do it twice. Because Ohio University, my alma mater (Class of '79), can't fit all of its 3,300 grads and families into the on-campus arena, the commencement is done twice -- at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. So my 11 minutes of wisdom to the highly impressive class of '08 (and I mean that; OU graduated a bunch of very serious world-savers Saturday) were heard twice.
After reading an advance copy of former NFL first-round pick Jason Peter's riveting memoir about his grotesquely self-destructive life in football and as a drug addict so out of control that he used to take 80 pain and sleeping pills in a day -- 80! -- I called him Sunday and didn't know quite how to begin the interview. So I just said it.
There's so much good e-mail -- clearly one of the best e-mail weeks in the history of this column -- that I'm going to allow you to take it over. I'll just stay out of the way. On with the show:
I've been in Manhattan all day, following the Matt Walsh-Roger Goodell circus, so this column will serve as the top to my weekly mailbag.
MOST VIEWED 1. Brett Favre retires 2. Peter King on QB Derek Anderson re-signing with Browns 3. Don Banks on the NFL free-agent market
I talked with commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday night about my USO trip with NFL players Luis Castillo, Tommie Harris and Mike Rucker, and I probably got a little excited about our week in the middle of the war. "Sounds like a life-changing experience for you,'' Goodell said.
Editor's note: Peter King is on a seven-day USO trip this week with Luis Castillo of the San Diego Chargers, Tommie Harris of the Chicago Bears and Mike Rucker of the Carolina Panthers. Here are his latest diary entries from Afghanistan and a link to a composite file.
Vindication should be Charley Casserly's. It's still early, and we can't judge the top of the 2006 draft after 1 3/4 seasons, but the last major decision Casserly made before being nudged into the CBS NFL Today studio show (where, by the way, he's doing a thorough, cool and insightful job) has turned out to be brilliant.
Straight to your e-mails from this week.
Running backs, running backs, running backs. What's a fantasy player to do about all these weird running back situations, where they're dropping like flies and even Patrick Pass finds a home? Runners dominate my fantasy tips of the weekend:
Did you notice the rushing leaderboard for Week 10? And did you notice the inactives last night for the Seahawks? There's a correlation. And the moral of the story is that running back is the last position I'd ever spend big free-agent money on if I ran an NFL franchise.
At NBC last Sunday, a bunch of the Football Night in America on- and off-air people were watching the early action in the network's viewing room with nine games on one huge wall of TVs. Adrian Peterson was putting on a show for the ages. But here was Buffalo-Cincinnati, a mildly interesting game, getting really good in the second half. And here was Marshawn Lynch running wild in the second half. As Lynch ran for a long touchdown, Jerome Bettis piped up, "Peter, there's your guy!'' Which brings me to the No. 1 point in my fantasy items of the week:
Before I get to your mail, two observations on the events of the weekend:
NEW YORK -- You've got to love text messaging. I haven't always felt that way, as a card-carrying member of Generation Square. I once had to quasi-ground my daughter Mary Beth for a 1,700-text month at college. Anyway, this quickie form of communication came in handy Sunday night, when Miami quarterback Trent Green was still in a haze from an afternoon concussion.
I want to begin my Tuesday morning by thanking Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt for debunking the biggest myth in all of football: that you can't replace your starting quarterback for three or four series during a game because you'll ruin his psyche.
NEW ORLEANS -- Loved one of the questions to Sean Payton at his funeral-like press conference late Monday night. "Coach, after three losses like this, is it time to panic?'' someone asked.
If you have watched the Indianapolis Colts much the first two weeks, you know the big difference in their team is the competent, occasionally lethal defense they have flying around the ball. It's overly simplistic to give the credit to one man, but there's no doubt in my mind that, next to Peyton Manning, the most indispensable player on this team through two weeks (with apologies to Dwight Freeney and Joseph Addai) is strong safety Bob Sanders.
Oh Fantasy-ites, I never urge you to panic in Week 2. Big mistake. Stick with the guys you liked in the preseason and you'll be rewarded.
Whoa. How about all those injuries? It's enough to make us rethink the let's-go-to-the-17-game-schedule bandwagon we've jumped on.
You know who's been almost invisible this preseason? LaDainian Tomlinson.
I thought I might make a list, the best of the best.
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- I have one thing to say about the Indianapolis Colts, my Super Bowl pick from June: Uh-oh.
The other day at Browns camp in Berea, Ohio, I kept hearing over and over from fans and people in the organization: Where is Brady Quinn?
It's been a little boring around the NFL over the last month or so. Lots of off-the-field crappola going on, but not much to sink your football teeth into. Here's my attempt to stir things up. It's the first MMQB Quarterback Ratings.
What we have, ladies and gentlemen, is some really good e-mails this week bashing me and my unabashed love of the New England Patriots. Yes, you believe fervently that I work for the team, or I shill for the team, or I desperately want to have Tom Brady's baby.
OK, Brendan, you've done it. You've touched my heart, with your mea culpa Philly apologia. "Don't cringe because of my hometown," writes Brendan Boyle of, you guessed it, Philadelphia. He says that no one will let him forget the stadium's more famous booings, including one that happened a few Christmases before he was born and for which he still has to answer, an event he says Peter King and I will never let go of, and so forth.
The year was 1968. I was covering the summer Olympics in Mexico City and I was on my way to one of the venues, driving on the Pereferique, the freeway that ringed the city. All of a sudden there was this tremendous commotion of horns and sirens and flashing lights behind me. I thought it surely must be an ambulance or a hospital emergency and pulled the wheel right, hitting the shoulder of the road and nearly flipping.