Three items in the news, all non-Harbaugh related, today:
? Russell Wilson says he hasn't asked for, and won't ask for, a new contract. Chris Mortensen reported that a representative of Wilson's reached out to the Seahawks and asked that his contract be modified in the way of his terrific rookie season, capped off by his 385-yard passing performance in a 30-28 playoff loss to Atlanta. Wilson reached out to me this morning to say: "I speak for myself, and I never demanded or asked for a restructured contract ... I have complete understanding and respect for the new CBA rules ... Anyone who knows me knows I play for the love of the game. I play for the challenge of being the best one day and know I have a long way to go.'' The CBA Wilson refers to is the Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed in July 2011, which mandates that rookies' contracts for draft choices not be "renegotiated, amended or altered in any way'' until after the final game of the player's third season. Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 of the Seahawks, will make $527,000 and $662,000 over the next two seasons, and then, early in 2014, could get a commensurate payday from the Seahawks. But not until then. "I respect the NFL, respect the new CBA, respect my teammates, respect all of the other players across the league, and respect the Seattle Seahawks,'' Wilson added. So that puts a lid on that.
? A four-hour meeting, quietly, ended the Sean Payton suspension. When the NFL wants something to be quiet, it finds a way. And so when commissioner Roger Goodell wanted to meet with suspended Saints coach Sean Payton, he did it without telling those in his office, and he did it on a holiday -- Martin Luther King Day -- when many league employees had the day off. Goodell and Payton met for four hours on Monday afternoon, and it was totally under the radar until the announcement this morning that Payton had been reinstated with full privileges and authority to run Saints business immediately. Payton, clearly, wanted to be back now, to make sure he could resume coaching and administrative duties, which include going to the Senior Bowl this week to begin scouting players. And he needed to get back to be sure the coaching staff got his attention. I know at the end of the season Payton had to be highly concerned with the mess his defense is in, and whether to keep defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. I expect he'll be looking into all facets of his coaching staff. As I said a couple of weeks ago, Payton intends to return to the Saints as a rookie head coach -- meaning all aspects of the job, his coaches' duties and the team will be under review.
As for his relationship with the league, keep a couple of things in mind. Payton has never been one to be schmoozy with muckety-mucks, and I don't expect that to happen now. I am sure he'll always feel Goodell was way over the top in his discipline of the Saints, and him. But he knows how to be political. You can bet in his meeting with Goodell he emphasized nothing like a bounty program or a pay-for-performance system would ever happen with the Saints again. As Payton said in his statement today, "I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed." That's what Goodell needed to hear to drop this whole thing.
? The Tom Brady slide looks iffy, but I don't expect discipline. When I watched the Brady right-shoe-up slide into Ed Reed's upper thigh several times this morning, I thought it bordered on intent to spike another player. Can I prove it? No. It just looked bad. Now, it didn't look as bad as either of Ndamukong Suh's spikes -- the one to Evan Dietrich-Smith's arm in 2011 or to Matt Schaub's groin this season, for which Suh was fined $30,000. The NFL announced today that it's going to review the Brady slide, so we'll see what happens. Again: I don't think there's definitive intent, but I'd certainly be suspicious if I were the Ravens.
Now onto your email:
GOOD QUESTION. "Peter, how does 49ers">49ers coach Jim Harbaugh NOT get nailed with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he went ballistic next to two game officials after losing the challenge on the Harry Douglas catch? I guarantee if that happens in a basketball game, Harbaugh gets assessed with at least one technical foul --and maybe a second with an ejection to go with it. Can you shed any light as to why a flag wasn't thrown on his reaction to the result of the review?''
--Randall Allen, Fruita, Colo.
I think there should have been a flag. I agree with you. The NFL stresses to officials that they should allow coaches to rant and to express disapproval, but I did think that was over the top.
ON MANTI TE'O. "Great point regarding Manti Te'o. The coddling of star athletes is certainly a contributing factor to an inability to develop certain basic social skills that is surely much more prevalent than most fans are aware of. This is probably not the first time a college or pro athlete has been duped in this manner (if that is indeed the case here), this would be a great opportunity for the NFL to add internet predators/fraud to the list of topics at the rookie symposium. It is also a topic that should be addressed specifically by the NFL as part of the players' transition out of the league."
--Gino Riccardini, Tinley Park, Ill.
I'm reminded of the New York Giant defensive lineman cut years ago who was dropped off at Newark Airport for the trip back home. The guy asked the driver: "Where do I go?'' He hadn't flown other than with a team, or when a team had sent a ticket for him. And this was the way he was headed off to face life. NFL teams in the past few years have begun to take the job of educating players for a post-football life seriously, and it's needed.
NOTHING RACIST ABOUT THE NFL'S HIRING PRACTICES. "Can we please stop it with this 'NFL owners and GM's are racists because white guys got hired' nonsense? There's not one organization in the NFL that wouldn't hire someone who they believed was best for the job because of their race and suggesting otherwise is ridiculous. Seriously, find just one, ONE owner in the NFL who would interview a black coach/GM and say 'Hey, he's clearly the man for the job and I think he could lead our team to the Super Bowl, but he's black so I'm not going to hire him.' It's not 1950; comments like yours and Chris Rock's hurt the cause for equality more than they help. Why hasn't Lovie Smith been hired? He's an overrated coach. I love your column Mr. King, never skip a Monday, but the unnecessary indignation detracts from it in my opinion.''
-- Brian, Bridgeport, Conn.
This email mirrors many that I got saying the same thing. Here's my view: I don't believe owners and GMs are racist. I am not accusing them of racism. I am saying that in a league with a large majority of African-American players, and a strong cadre of African-American coaches (most of them assistants) and scouts, they notice the league going 14 for 14 in white hires in this progressive day and age. And it hurts them. And some of them seethe about it. You're right: No owner would pass on a black candidate if he thought that candidate would get his team to the Super Bowl. But are all of the black candidates being properly vetted? Why are there so few black coordinators and play-callers? Why no interview for Perry Fewell? The questions are valid and the NFL needs to address them.
MORE ON THE COACHING ISSUE. "In any profession, the person with the best resume is not always the person best suited for the job. General manager and head coach especially require candidates whose personalities and philosophies mesh with those of the owner and each other. Perhaps this season's openings were not a good mesh with the minority candidates. That said, it sure does seem that certain teams identify their head coach before even one interview is conducted. And that, I believe, is where there is a problem. You can't change the culture unless you are open to the process. Expanding the Rooney Rule will help to expose minority candidates to interviews, but unfortunately will not help to open the minds of a generation of powerful white men who also have not lived the plight or felt the suffering of minorities being denied opportunities for being themselves.''
-- Dave, Chantilly, Va.
Thanks for writing.
BAD GAME PLAN BY THE PATRIOTS, HE SAYS. "Any idea why the Patriots appeared to run exactly the same offensive scheme against the Ravens that the Broncos had failed with the week before? Lots of inside runs, short passes in the flat, short crossing patterns. If they were trying to make Ray Lewis look good, that was the offense to do it with. And then both head coaches choked in key situations -- Bill Belichick punting from the 34, John Fox telling Payton Manning to run on third-and-7? Did they forget they both have the best quarterbacks of their generation? Or did they just over-think?''
-- Jim, Regina, Saskatchewan
I believe both coaches, as you say, played it too safe. But Manning didn't throw downfield much in the game at all; I would have liked to have seen more of those throws. Punting from the 34? Ridiculous. I agree with you. I think the Patriots, particularly, got way too conservative with a great quarterback on their side.
BRADY HAS HAD FAR BETTER DAYS. "Come on Peter, say it like it is. Brady played pretty crappy. And this isn't out of nowhere, he was nothing special against the Ravens and Giants last year, and the Jets the year before, and was a major reason they lost to the Ravens in 2010. And all we get is a "C game" comment on page 3? I know he's the Golden Boy, but a supposedly All-Time-Great putting out a stinker, and this being generally more or less in line with his previous postseason experiences is not something to be buried.
I get all that he's done, though, to be fair, he's been more successful in the postseason when his leash was shortened and his defense was the best part of the team. But we can't go on pretending that Brady will always be the clutch superstar. Especially if he is going to play another four or five seasons as he suggests. Older quarterbacks frequently are a shell of their youthful selves. It doesn't diminish their previous accomplishments to point out they can't make the throws that they used to.''
-- Charles, of Chicago
Good points. I've seen him play too well this season, though, to think a mediocre playoff game is some sign that he's not going to play great in the future. One throw he made last season still does bug me, though -- the long throw picked off by Chase Blackburn in the Super Bowl. He had Rob Gronkowski open for a potential touchdown and underthrew him by five to seven yards. But ... I just don't think you bury Brady now. He was too good too often in 2012 to do that.
I AM A SNOBBY, PATHETIC CAB CONSUMER. "How do you live with yourself, treating that poor cab driver that way? The way you described the cab ride to the airport in your column, I wish he left you in the middle of Queens so you had to walk the rest of the way to the airport."
-- Tom, of Richmond, Va.
I thought my anger was quite restrained, but maybe not. Think I should change the name of the travel note to: Peter King Snobby Cab Experience Travel Note of the Week?
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