Tuesday, June 05, 2007

MMQB: The Italian nut job

Achtung! Wo ist das Taxi Zum Klo? "MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK" FOR JUNE 4


1. Peter King begins his column this week by offering up his prediction for Super Bowl XLII: Colts 44, Saints 37. Such predictions, however ridiculous, are an offseason staple of professional football writers, and they aren't intended to be taken seriously, so I'm not going to ding P.K. for doing it. I'll also let slide the fact that King doesn't just offer his opinion on who will be playing, he also predicts an exact final score eight months before the game and three month before the season even starts. (Me, I have Indianapolis winning 45-37, but King expects Vinatieri to miss the extra point after the fourth Colts touchdown. He's the insider!) What I will criticize King for is his rationale for picking New Orleans at the NFC champion: "I like the Saints quite a bit. In the end, they have the fewest weaknesses in the conference, and they're the only good team with a quarterback and a running game that can stand toe-to-toe with the Colts and have a chance in a shootout." This could be true, but what gets a team to the Super Bowl is not how well it matches up with the other conference's champion, but rather how well it matches up against the top teams in its own conference. By King's rationale, the Colts should have played the Cowboys in Super Bowl XLI, because Dallas had proven it could beat Indy.

2. In explaining his choice for the AFC representative in the next Super Bowl, King writes: The three best teams in football right now -- and this cannot be debated -- are New England, Indianapolis and San Diego, in some order." This cannot be debated? I'll debate it. Indianapolis has lost major players from a defense that just barely got it together for the playoffs. San Diego's new head coach is Norv Turner, career record 58-82-1. Everyone's entitled to his own opinions, but to say something is not debatable just means that you're not prepared to defend those opinions.

3. "Butch Davis didn't part company with the Cleveland Browns with lots of handshakes and warm wishes. That makes one of his first signings in his first recruiting class at the University of North Carolina quite notable." Ooh, this sounds so meaty! Then comes the bait-and-switch. It turns out that Davis has successfully recruited the son of former Browns security director Lew Merletti to play for him at Carolina. King seems to be arguing that because Davis' tenure as head coach was, on balance, unsuccessful, it's somehow remarkable that during his four years in Cleveland, he developed friendships with people in the Browns organization. the only thing more shocking would be if he still sends his former secretary a Christmas card. And once again, the Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me interests only Peter King.

4. King presents without comment a quote from Buffalo News writer (and fellow Hall of Fame voter Mark Gaughan) on why Randy Moss doesn't belong in Canton: "Anyone who makes the statement "I play when I want to play' should never be put in the same category as players such as Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Jim Kelly." I'll agree that Moss doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, but since when is Jim Kelly in the same category as Walter Payton and Mike Singletary?
5. Addressing the accidental death of Patriots DB Marquise Hill, King makes the stunning (for him) admission that he didn't know much about an NFL player. He says:
"For those of us who did not know him, it's sad that when Hill's name came up in his three NFL seasons (which wasn't often, because he was not an impact player), the first thing we thought is, 'failed second-round pick.' Now we've learned about the work he did building a ramp for a multiple sclerosis victim in Massachusetts, and about the tireless behind-the-scenes work he did post-Katrina in his native New Orleans. The guy worked hard at football, but it never came for him the way the Patriots, or he, thought it would. But that should not define him in death."
Agreed, but ... what's irritating about this is that Hill's work on behalf of the less-fortunate was not a state secret. It was there for those who cared to look, but no one cared to look. The sports media fills reams of paper, stacks of tape, and terabytes of server space bemoaning the antics of dogfighters, wife-beaters and drunkards -- and yet rarely cares to look for anything else. Maybe Hill's good works would have drawn more attention had he been a star. But how sad is that? You know that if Hill had beaten up an MS victim rather than helped him, we'd have known his name -- regardless of how good a player he was.


Peter is well-connected: "Before my vacation began, I asked NBC boss Dick Ebersol which show I should download to my IPod ... "; "A few years ago ... I was at a taping of a TV show with New York sports radio host Mike Francesa.

Peter went to Italy and came back as Cliff Clavin: "Never have I been much of a wine guy, but staying in Tuscany ... "; "You know what's great about dinner in small towns in Italy? ... "; "The one Italian thing I am now addicted to: olive oil." (I don't have the heart to tell him olive oil isn't a beverage.)

Peter learned a language during his vacation in Italy: "Maybe Chicago wll by OK with the Lance Briggs and Alex Brown distractions on defense and the organization having silly blinders on when it comes to its uber-backing of Rex Grossman ... "; "Lew Merletti ... was the security-meister for the Browns when Davis coached there." Is there something inherently funny about German that I'm not getting?

Peter may be on the take: "Houston first-round pick Amobi Okoye turns 20 on June 10 -- the same day I turn 50. This means Okoye will go through mini-camps, a full training camp, a full regular season and most of the next offseason without being able to walk into a bar in Houston and say, 'I'll have a Coors Light, please.' "

Total number of quotes of the week: 4

Total number of things King thinks he thinks: 16 Total number unrelated to football before he gets to his "non-football-related thoughts": 1 (update on 1st Sgt. Mike McGuire and his team in Iraq).

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