The Ray Rice story dominates the mailbag, which also includes questions about hope in Cleveland, watching games on Sundays and a rule change suggestion
With the start of the regular season, The MMQB is separating Peter King’s Tuesday content into two columns—On Further Review, which usually will look at a understated but important factor or team from the weekend’s games, and the Tuesday Mailbag, where reader emails will be answered.
The mailbag this week was dominated by the news of Ray Rice being cut loose by the Ravens on Monday after the distressing TMZ video that surfaced Monday.
WHY DIDN'T ROGER KNOW? How can Roger Goodell claim he never saw the elevator video? Either it was gross incompetence in investigating, ignoring inflammatory evidence, or doing an NFL owner a favor. You need to dig to the bottom of this. NFL fans need to know what Goodell knew/viewed before the first Rice suspension. Someone needs to hold his feet to the fire to find out how he blew it. We need answers.
Goodell is adamant he didn’t see it, and if that is so, I think we all should ask, "How could that be?" I’m not saying the video was for sale on the street corner. What I am saying is this is a very powerful sports league with tremendous investigative resources, and if he didn’t see the video I would wonder why. It’s absolutely something that should have been seen before a decision was made. According to Pro Football Talk, Rice’s attorney had a copy of the video. Wouldn’t it make sense to say to that attorney, "We need to see that video before we pass judgment on your client?"
CALLING ME OUT. I used to read your articles all of the time … the only NFL reporter I read on a consistent, weekly basis. What happened to you? You call for this Ray Rice incident to be vetted. Isn’t that what you once did … report on incidents within the NFL?
I am trying. I will continue to seek the answers. I think in a situation like this, the public says it wants to know and it wants to know now. Well, sometimes if there’s a story that some people don’t want to see the light of day, it’s difficult to break. I’ll try my best, as will many people in my business.
LOSING A READER. I consider myself a devoted reader of The MMQB. I am a sports fanatic and I have used The MMQB to consume information related to the NFL. As of the writing of this email, I will do so no longer. Mr. Peter King has proven to be nothing but a corporate shill who prioritizes access and connections over accuracy and completeness. There is no excuse for Mr. King's abject failure to do his job with respect to the Ray Rice arrest, investigation, suspension, and the controversy that followed.
Mr. King's statement today concludes by saying the following: "I hope when this story is fully vetted, we all get the truth and nothing but the truth." Do you know how Mr. King could ensure that the statement is fully vetted and that we get nothing but the truth? He could do his job. He could ask the tough questions. He could investigate the answers to ensure their accuracy. He could press for more direct answers rather than a recitation of talking points. He could be a journalist.
But nope, Mr. King has made no such promise to get to the bottom of it. He seems content merely other people will do it for him.
I appreciate you writing and I appreciate you reading over the years. You should be upset with what happened today. I didn't do my job the right way. I will attempt to earn back your trust and the trust of others and I hope that at some point in the future you will give us another shot. I could argue with you about some of your points, but I feel that your main point is a valid one: I let you down.
BUMMED BILLS FAN. Jim Kelly cancer free. First game without Ralph. A whole offseason and preseason of being told you are terrible. I'm sure EJ and the boys were hoping for more than one line in your column. Really disappointing.
This happens every year and almost every week. There’s simply not enough time for me to cover 32 teams when I sit down to write the vast majority of my column at 11:30 p.m. Sunday. I’ve written a lot about the Bills this summer, and I agree: that was a great win for a franchise starved for great wins. I’ll try to cover the Bills a little better as the season goes on. Thanks for reading.
GOOD SUGGESTION FOR RULE CHANGE. There is a situation that has always puzzled me. If you are on your own 1-yard line and get a penalty for offsides or something else, there isn't enough yardage to move back 5 yards, so the result is moving the ball back a half-yard and to keep the distance the same.
Wouldn't it make sense for the Competition Committee to consider that in this situation, the actual way to penalize the team would be to make the offending team to gain 5 extra yards and make it 1st and 15 rather than simply moving the ball back a half-yard and leave it at 1st and 10?
That’s very sensible. I wish I’d thought of it. The next time I see either Rich McKay or Jeff Fisher, the co-chairs of the Competition Committee, I’m going to ask them if that has ever been considered.
HOPE IN CLEVELAND. I’m a loyal reader. I appreciate your insight and judgment. My question is simple—as a lifelong Browns fan after yesterday’s outcome in Pittsburgh is there reason for optimism or is it the same old Browns?
I was extremely impressed with Brian Hoyer in the second half of that game. Four legitimate scoring drives, plus some stops by the defense, told me it’s a franchise making progress. Is there hope? Absolutely. The most important thing the Browns can do in 2014 is make progress towards finding a long-term quarterback. It’s unlikely that it will be Hoyer; at some point, you’re going to want to give Johnny Manziel a chance. But I saw some hopeful signs out of the Browns at Heinz Field on Sunday.
A LIGHTER SUNDAY. I appreciate that the NFL likes to have games in more time slots and especially wants more prime time games. However, on Sunday an unintended consequence became clear … the NFL on Sunday is hurting. With a game Thursday night, a game Sunday night and 2 games Monday night, there were only two late-afternoon games on Sunday. For the first time in years I found myself flipping away from football on a Sunday afternoon. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and whether it concerns the NFL.
I think whenever the NFL goes light in the second window of the day on Sunday, it makes sure to have what appears to be one marquee matchup. When the league made the schedule in April, that marquee matchup was San Francisco vs. Dallas. That looked pretty good until Dallas had such a lousy offseason.
PUNISHMENT FOR KICK? I've watched Antonio Brown's "kick" a few times, and I think you're being a little severe. It looks to me like a failed hurdling move. Imagine the punter falling forward (like a tackler would normally do) instead of backward, and you'll see what I mean. I've never hurdled, but I'm pretty sure it's harder to do when the hurdle is moving. Once the foot meets the head, the rest is simply momentum.
I saw Antonio Brown forcefully smash into Spencer Lanning’s face mask. Whatever the reason for doing that, I believe it deserves some discipline. There’s just no place for it.
BACK TO RICE. You should resign over your work on the Ray Rice story—or at least remove yourself from reporting for the rest of the season and donate your pay to a domestic violence association. Do you really expect your readers to believe that you did not vet your source this one and only time? Who is your source? Do you think he or she lied?
I won’t comment on the source. But I can assure you that my statement on Monday had nothing to do with taking the hit for the league so that they will like me and give me stories. People don’t do something that is professionally embarrassing just so that down the road somebody might pick up the phone and say, "Hey, you should write this." I know that’s what a lot of people think, and there’s not much I can do about it.
I’ve been a reporter for 34 years and I’ve made my share of mistakes. This certainly was one of them. And I realize that a lot of people will not trust what I say on this issue, but I can assure you that it was simply an honest mistake. As far as resigning, if my bosses inside Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. don’t want me to report anymore, they’ll tell me. But I won’t be voluntarily quitting. I’m not sure what good that would do, other than to satisfy some fairly shrill cries for my head.