The King and I

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 18, 2010 – 12:33 pm

There is no one I respect more in this business than Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

There is no one right now I am more baffled by in this business than Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

My King has unveiled his NFL power rankings and he may have had a worse week than the NBA King. Peter admits this is risky business, pointing to last year when he logged the eventual Super Bowl champ Saints at No. 24 last spring.

But putting 20 places between the Ravens at No. 3 and the Bengals at No. 23 is as inexplicable as someone named Marcus Thames hitting a two-run, two-out walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium after Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon hit someone else named  Francisco Cervelli while ahead in the count at 0-and-1.

(Who are these people? I was just getting used to Darnell McDonald.)

The King and I have a good enough relationship that he is bequeathing me two of his Red Sox season tickets for a June game against the Rays that could be an elimination bout for the flagging Sox. But he already sent me the ducats so I can throw him a few brushbacks here. Except we’ll have more control than Papelbon and Josh Beckett in a week they’ve hit more bodies than radar guns.

Peter raves how “the Ravens have hit a few home runs this offseason, and those moves could carry them to the AFC Championship Game. I like the remake of their receiver corps. Anquan Boldin won’t make it through 16 games healthy, but he’ll give Joe Flacco a good, physical target for 12. Donte’ Stallworth will be reborn as an effective third or fourth wideout, with the speed at the position the Ravens haven’t had.”

The Bengals swept the Ravens last year and, at the very least, matched them in the offseason.

They came into 2010 mirrors of each other offensively. They needed weapons for their strong-armed quarterbacks and you’d have to say the Bengals matched Boldin with Antonio Bryant, Stallworth with Matt Jones, and maybe went one better when they got Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham with their first draft pick.

The Ravens later took two good tight ends back-to-back in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, but what are Gresham and Chase Coffman?

Boldin may have better career numbers than Bryant when it comes to catches and touchdowns, but he’s got 12.8 yards per catch compared to Bryant’s 15.3. How that helps Flacco get it down the field, I’m not sure but it is at least a wash, and here’s betting Bryant plays more games than Boldin.  And, Jones and Stallworth are clones. Underachieving first rounders that sat out last year but have the potential to go deep and get cut.

Peter says he’s worried about Palmer. That’s so in vogue to say now.

Why? Because his throws were so wild in the early part of the Wild Card game? He didn’t exactly have the Three Amigos out there, either, but yeah, he had to play better in a big game.

Yet the pundits want his numbers to be 2006ish even though he was throwing to a lesser cast with a watered down playbook.

That’s where we are now. Everything is “a legacy.” Every big game is now a legacy game and it always falls to one guy because it fits into 140 characters and 25 seconds at the top of the show.

At the tender age of 25 years old, LeBron James is now the Wilt Chamberlain of his generation. Can’t win the big one is the easy sound bite.

Perspective anyone? Can we hold off for a half hour and rummage for some context and some footnotes when making pronouncements of an era?

How about a Cavs front office that stuck him with an aging celebrity in Shaq? (Or was that Betty White?) How about not having a guy that can guard Rondo? How about Cavs coach Mike Brown looking like he was a day camper at a Doc Rivers Basketball Clinic?

Not only was Palmer working without T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry last year, he was also executing a playbook that bore no resemblance to the fire-and-fallback days of ’04-’07. And it had to be so he wouldn’t get killed behind a rebuilt offensive line.

Last season, the Bengals won four games by six points or less and we all know what Palmer did down the stretch with seven last drives that either tied the game or gave them the lead. The Ravens lost five games by six points or less.

Those are quarterback games. Flacco is a hell of a player. Great arm. But maybe more people should be worried about him heading into a season he lost quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, the Raiders new offensive coordinator.

Defensively in the offseason the Bengals and Ravens also matched each other. Cincinnati beefed up an already strong secondary with third-round pick Brandon Ghee at cornerback and veteran Gibril Wilson at safety. Baltimore added to its illustrious front seven by drafting Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle and Alabama tackle Terrence Cody in the second round.

King frets about the Baltimore cornerbacks, one of the most important positions on the field. The Bengals have maybe the best pair of starters in the league. If it’s a wash, the Bengals defense held the Ravens to two touchdowns last year and finished ranked fourth in the NFL. The Baltimore defense finished third.

Hey, if you want to put Baltimore ahead of the Bengals, by all means you can make the argument. But you can go the other way, too. They look pretty even, if anything.

Sorry Pete, there is no way there is a 20-spot difference. If you make the Ravens No. 3, the Bengals have to be within at last two or three slots of them. And since they swept them, maybe they should be even higher.

With all due respect, of course.

I’m angling for a Yankees game in ’11.

Here is the kind of guy Peter King is.

Rewind back to the Giants’ Super Bowl run in December 1986. King is in his second season covering the Giants for Newsday after blanketing the ’84 Bengals for The Cincinnati Enquirer. I’ve been deployed from the Upstate wilds by the Syracuse Herald-Journal to write a Sunday story on ‘Cuse product Joe Morris, New York’s little big man running back.

King doesn’t know me from Clell Lavern “Butch” Hobson, former third sacker for the Bosox and Yankees. Yet he sees what I’m doing and offers a Morris stat, his numbers on grass and his numbers on turf. The guy was Bobby Orr and Sid on the fake stuff.

“But I don’t have it here,” he says and I’m getting in the car to head home. “Call me tomorrow morning at 9:58.”

I call at 9:56 and he answers with my name and a download of stats before download was a word.

He’s been helping me ever since even though he got bigger and bigger and became The King and I’ll always be grateful.

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “The King and I”

  1. By jagard23 on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    That was a very good post. One of the best I have read. keep up the good work, hopefully we can get more posts like this, more frequently.

  2. By hobsonschoice1 on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    JAG: Thanks for the kind note.

    Truth be told, I’d rather write a good story than a good post. Whatever it is, if the word ‘I,” is in it, it usually means it isn’t very informative.

    That’s OK, but only as a complement. When you say ‘more frequently,’ it can’t be at the expense of news and features. But we’ll keep looking for balance.

    Thanks again.

  3. By reguynnc23 on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    I was a bit in awe of the huge gap between the Bengals and the Ravens as well. It seems King thinks Cincinnati is not much better than the Lions. I see no reason to place the Ravens at 3 IF he thinks Cincinnati is 23. I do not have a problem with having the Ravens at 3 as they are a very good team however, at this point in the season, I think it is laughable for him to put Cincinnati 20 spots behind them. Cincinnati, in my opinion, is a top 10 team and clearly rules the AFC North. To be the champs, you have got to beat the champs!

  4. By krfeldner on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    Great story, Geoff….you always write such good stories. I particularly enjoy the ones that provide the “background” or little known info. on players, colleagues, etc. I’ve often thought Peter King’s negativity to the Bengals was due to him being a reporter in Cincy for such a long time and got tired of supporting his hometown team, only to have his hopes repeatedly dashed. But based on what I saw in this article, does this mean King was not in Cincinnati that long? If so, maybe his negativity to the Bengals has nothing to do with having been a local scribe.

  5. By hobsonschoice1 on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    KR: I think Peter calls it pretty straight. He wasn’t in Cincy very long but it doesn’t matter.

    Yeah, he and Mike Brown had some dustups. But I had some with Mike, too, when I was covering them for The Enquirer and King had his share with Parcells in New York. That stuff happens when you cover a beat no matter what you cover where.

    If you have a bad relationship with the club, no question it can seep into coverage that should be objective.

    But Peter isn’t like that and he’ll attest to this. When he was talking to the press, Mike never held a grudge on you if he didn’t like a story. Unlike a lot of guys, he was able to move on so I doubt there is anything lingering there since 1984. I mean, the only thing that remembers what happened in 1984 is a computer chip so I just don’t think it has any impact on what he writes now.

    I don’t think he’s taking a shot at them at No. 23. He admits these rankings aren’t very scientific and not very successful. But when you have concerns about a QB, that’s a legit ranking. I just think he’s misguided in not giving Palmer enough credit.

  6. By jagard23 on May 18, 2010 | Reply


    I am so used to the blogospehere it is crazy. You are correct, it was a great story! (I am so used to keeping responses short and sweet, since I am addicted to twitter)

    Nonetheless, thanks for the response, and I look forward to keeping up with the Bengals, through your stories…

  7. By 2ndboot on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    I’ll admit you lost me in there with some of it, but raking them (not ranking them) at 23 is a bit harsh. I can only hope Carson makes a lot of people eat crow and maybe even those rat birds of Baltimore.
    Last year the Bengals blanked the entire division, but I guess that means nothing if your starters are banged up a bit like they were by playoff time.
    With a lot more depth this year I think (or at least hope) the Bengals will make a lot of people dine on those fine black feathered birds.

  8. By theredbengal on May 18, 2010 | Reply

    Ah, I love the baseball references. My condolences to your Sox, Geoff, Beckett and Lackey have forgotten who they are.
    Anyway, as a Bengal fan, King’s rankings irritated me, and for the same Raven-like reason. The Bengals and Ravens were, for the most part, evenly matched last year, with the Bengals beating them twice, mostly with defense (a taste of the Raven’s own medicine). I can’t give the Ravens a nod ahead until they beat the Bengals. Who Dey is 7 of its last 10 against the purple birds.

    I look forward to the updates through this week on the OTA’s

  9. By carson9 on May 20, 2010 | Reply

    I too was shocked by the SI ranking. If you watch NFL Network’s Total Access, then it appears that Baltimore and Green Bay are the “En Vogue” teams to pull for. Despite this, I truly believe that we are going to sweep Baltimore this year, and make Mr. King appear foolish to pick the media queens as the North Champion.

  10. By coachwine on May 21, 2010 | Reply

    Peter King is a man of high integrity and considerable insight into the workings of the NFL, but like most others in the national media, he has shown vulnerability to being sucked in by the political “beltway” cesspool, where everything in NY, MA and MD rules. If Baltimore continually made the greatest moves in sports history as we hear “every year”, they would have won most of the last 10 Super Bowls. Two weeks before the Bengals beat them in Baltimore last year the game announcers had them in the Super Bowl. My bet is the Bengals will prove they are the team that had the better off season.

    That Carson survived last season with who he had to play with is a miracle and Flacco is one of the many over-rated players in the NFL–Carson is apparently not any more — and like most quarterbacks that are lifted onto a pedestal early in their career, but then torn down because their supporting cast falls apart, subsequently emerge into champions as those around them become more competent, Carson is at that stage in his career.

    Mr King rated New Orleans 24 last year and the Bengals 23 this year? Sounds like the Bengals are primed do the Saints one better! (is that possible to better a Super Bowl champion? Sounds good anyway) Obviously injuries will determine more than we wish they would, but with far deeper talent and a better off season regimen followed this past year (competition and structure) and greater player dedication to that, the team will continue to decrease the number of IR casualties in the coming years. It is apparent last year’s success has made this team even more hungry and the holes that have been filled will make for a much smoother ride. Man eating schedule or no, this is going to be a good team!

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