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Peter King on D&H: Only Bill Belichick can handle Randy Moss

11.06.10 at 7:38 am ET
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Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports football insider Peter King joined the Dale & Holley show on Friday once again to talk about NFL news. The conversation covered everything from the NFL’s Top 100 Players list, the Randy Moss saga and player fines.

Many Patriots fans are upset that Brett Favre was ranked slightly ahead of Tom Brady on the all-time list, but King offered a consolation for the future. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they do another list in 2020, when the NFL turns 100, the 100 best players as the league turns 100. And again, if Brady just progresses at a very normal level, and if even if he ends at three championships, I’€™ve got to think at the end of the day that’€™ll he’€™ll be higher than Brett Favre will be.”

Following are some more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

How does Tom Brady make your midseason MVP but not your midseason All-Pro team?

That’s one of those decisions that at the end I really thought long and hard, I thought long on two decisions. One was [Steelers center] Maurkice Pouncey over [Rams quarterback] Sam Bradford as Offensive Rookie of the Year, which was a really difficult choice because Bradford has been so good. I picked that because Pouncey has been a better center, and solidified a really shaky unit of one of the best teams it football, been a better center than Bradford has been at quarterback.

But let’s focus on the Brady-Manning thing. To me, I think it’s arguable that Peyton Manning has played better in the first half of the season but that Tom Brady has been more valuable to the best team in football in the first half of the season. And at the end of the day ‘€” I finished this Sunday morning at about 7:30 or 8 in the morning. I could have changed after Sunday’s games if I had wanted to, but I didn’t. I couldn’t go back in with the Monday night game. I just think that Manning has been absolutely terrific, as usual, and has had a great passing season and a great season orchestrating what he’s had to do in Indianapolis with a new offensive coordinator.

Whereas Brady, I think his value has rarely if ever been higher to the Patriots, because he’s gotten five new receivers up to speed while having the whole Moss thing go haywire. I realize it’s a very subjective thing. At the end of the day, I sort of wanted to honor each guy, because I think each of them had been tremendous in the first half of the season.

Tell me why you think Brett Favre is ahead of Tom Brady [in the top 100 list].

Just to explain how this list was done: There are 85 people, from Ron Wolf and Dick Vermeil and Marty Schottenheimer, there are a lot of people a lot smarter than me who contributed to this list. There were 261 people on the ballot, 261 players both former and current players on the ballot. Our charge was to grade them from 1-10, 1 being the lowest, and 10 being the best. So, you could give any grade from 1-10 to all of these 261 players.

And at the end of the day, it was probably so razor thin between Favre and Brady, if you think about it. It probably came down to somebody giving Favre an 8 and somebody giving Brady a 6 or something like that. And then what they did is they totaled up all the numbers. You are right. It’€™s incredibly subjective. Favre will go down as the best statistical quarterback by a hundred miles in NFL history, at least until Peyton Manning breaks his record. And you could make the argument, and I think it’s a valid argument, that Favre has blown too many games at the end of too many games; he just has.

I think what history will show, especially because this is done, Tom Brady probably has about 40 percent, or at least 30 percent, of his career to go. And I think when this list is done in 2020. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do another list in 2020, when the NFL turns 100, the 100 best players as the league turns 100. And again, if Brady just progresses at a very normal level, and even if he just ends at three championships, I’€™ve got to think at the end of the day that’€™ll he’€™ll be higher than Brett Favre will be.

Who was your No. 1?

I didn’t really have a No. 1. I gave seven players 10s. And I probably won’t be able to name all of them. I know I gave Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Otto Graham, Don Hutson ‘€” I’m probably missing one or two. I forget.

You just named six. Marino?

I wouldn’t have given [Dan] Marino a 10.

How about Deion Sanders, who was offended he was No. 34?

I forget what I gave him. I probably gave him a 7 or an 8.

I’m a tough grader. I only had seven 10s and then I probably had a few more 9s than that, but not many. I know I gave [Anthony] Munoz and Deacon Jones 9s.

I’m glad you’re a tough grader. You really have to nitpick.

When I saw the final list of 100, and I didn’t see it until last week, when I went  to NFL films to tape a show that aired last night, what was really interesting about the list, is I looked at the list and I tried to figure out who didn’t make it. And I started looking at it and thought, boy, Larry Wilson didn’t make it. When I was growing up, Larry Wilson was Ronnie Lott.  He was the man. I thought Steve Largent should have made it. I thought Dwight Stephenson should have made it. I thought Bill Willis of the old Cleveland Browns should have made it. I thought Shannon Sharpe should have made it.

But, hey, come on, whatever 100 you choose, when you leave 161 of those  names off there, there going to be a lot of people who have the right to say ‘well what about me, or what about him?’ It’s a fun exercise but it shouldn’t be taken as gospel by any means.

Were you surprised that only one team put a waiver claim on Randy Moss? Were you surprised one team did?

No, no. You know what, this would have been Wednesday when I made a bunch of phone calls about this. I wrote on SI.com that, either Tuesday or Wednesday, that I had a general manager tell me that this in essence was Manny Ramirez being waived by the Dodgers. And I said to this guy, “Well, with one exception; Manny Ramirez had one month to try to go help the White Sox in a pennant race.” That’s one-sixth of a baseball season. Randy Moss has half a season to help the Titans. So, I mean he could really help a team. And I’m not saying he’s going to be great or anything, but it was a bit of a different story.

In calling around, and I’ll tell you this. I’ve got to give Mike Silver some credit ‘€” my buddy who used to work at SI, who now works at Yahoo! He wrote a story that on Tuesday I think really shook some people up, and people who were trying to decide whether they were going to claim Randy Moss or not, and that was, if you guys remember, the story that said that Randy Moss last Friday went into lunch at the Minnesota Vikings complex.

Randy Moss actually did two things that I think signed his death warrant in Minnesota. One is he went to this lunch line with this barbecue spread out there and he very loudly said to the people who were carving the meat, “I wouldn’t serve this food to my dog.” I’ve got to tell you, that had a major effect on a team that was thinking very seriously of claiming Moss and would have gotten him ahead of Tennessee.

And something that didn’€™t surface until after the waiver claim, is the story out of Minnesota this morning that Moss last week after the Patriots game, where he catches one ball, walks into the locker room and sees Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Vikings, and says words to the effect of, “This coach is an idiot. He’s not getting me the ball. He shouldn’t get a job in this league,” words to that effect. Childress heard about that and he heard about how reverential Moss was about Bill Belichick and the Patriots in his post game remarks, and I think he just flew off the handle. And even without checking with the Wilfs, he just said, “Enough. We can’t deal with this guy.”

I’€™ll just say this about Moss, I’ve just formed this opinion over the years about Moss, that my feeling is he ought to be a boxer. He ought to be a tennis player. It’s very, very hard for him to exist in a team game, because when things don’t go well, or when he doesn’t get what he wants, he doesn’t mind having a 17-minute screed about not getting paid while Wes Welker, the star of the game on opening day, stands there very quietly and humbly off to the side after one of the most remarkable games of his career, coming back from an injury as dire as he had and playing as well as he did in the opener.

This is what another GM told me: “Randy just can’t help himself. He can’t help himself.”

Two things come to mind for me: One, was it personal? Two, was it about not doing homework? The Vikings treated a third-round pick like it was a moldy piece of bread.

The personal thing also, Michael, is professional. That affects your team. If you’€™re going to have a guy in the locker room saying that the coach is a fool and doesn’t know what he’€™s doing to the owner. Whatever you guys think of your boss. Whatever any of us think of our bosses, I’€™m sure there aren’€™t 53 guys in the Patriots locker room who are all warm and fuzzy about Bill Belichick. You lose your job or you don’€™t get the ball thrown to you on Sunday or whatever, you’€™re going to be bitter. You’€™ve got to swallow it. You got to swallow it. That was the thing that was so hard for Moss to do. If you look at where he went, and you start looking ahead. I look at this in a couple of ways.

To me, there’s only one coach in the NFL that can handle this guy right now. And that’s Bill Belichick. He’s the only one. But, Jeff Fisher has as good a chance as anybody else. And I believe when Moss walks in, whatever day that is, that Jeff is going to say to him, in essence, “You have a clean slate. I’m only judging you on what I see.” But I think he’s going to find some way to say, “You’ve got to leave your selfish hat checked in the coat room, man.”

Tennessee has a history of knuckleheads on Jeff Fisher’€™s watch.

They’ve taken on guys who are risky guys. But I think the one thing you’ve seen is eventually they’ve gotten rid of those guys. To me, they know they are going to have Randy Moss for two months. Randy Moss is not going to be there next year, barring something very surprising he’ll be somewhere else next year. I think Moss is going to be motivated, I don’t know how well, because he clearly wants one more contract. Right now, you’ve had two of the best teams in football of the last two years, New England and Minnesota, kick Randy Moss out. And however you turn it, the Patriots dumped Moss. They wanted him out. Which is why last week I was laughing so hard when everyone said, “Will Belichick bring him back?” Are you kidding me? You got rid of him.

But he knows that he’€™s got two months to earn a contract somewhere for 2011 and beyond.

Why did the winless Buffalo Bills grab Shawne Merriman?

Because in 2005, I was in San Diego on draft weekend in 2005 and I remember this vividly. They drafted Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo in the first round, both of whom had big time asterisk next to their name. Merriman because he was sort of a wild horse and he had substance abuse rumors around him in Maryland. And then Luis Castillo, because he admitted using a steroid to recover from an elbow injury before he was getting ready for the scouting combine. They picked both those guys in the first round and they were controversial choices.

And I’ll never forget this, I was there. And the guy who was very strong on both guys was GM A.J. Smith‘s chief assistant [and current Bills GM] Buddy Nix. Buddy Nix has had this feeling over the years, I think, that, “If I can just get Shawne Merriman with a new start, and particularly out of the mayhem in Southern California.” Do you think the chargers liked Shawne Merriman getting in the car and going up doing Fox TV all the time in Los Angeles? No, didn’t like that at all. He was a Hollywood guy.

Well there aren’t many more places further away from Hollywood than Buffalo. He’ll get off the plane today in Buffalo, and he’ll realize just like Randy Moss that he has eight games, and now seven because I forget when Buffalo’s bye is, he’ll have at least seven games to prove to the National Football League that he can still be an impact player, which he hasn’t been since 2007.

There’s outrage with how the NFL chooses to dole out fines. I think it’s crazy to put a $50,000 fine on some guy. I think they’ve gone too far.

I totally disagree. I think they have to do this because it is the only way to get players’ attention. We saw it in the first game when James Harrison came back and did not cream Ronnie Brown of the Miami Dolphins. He held up, and he pulled off to the side. I talked to James Harrison, this would have been 12 games ago, after that game before they left Miami, and he said, “I pulled off him because I didn’t want to get the fine.”

The bottom line is, Michael, I don’t mean to be Mr. Party Pooper or anything like that, but I’ll tell you this. There’s a woman over in Bedford, Massachusetts, at the VA Hospital, and I wrote about her in Sports Illustrated last week, who has been studying, she has studied now 14 brains of retired and obviously deceased football players. And in addition she has studied at least one high school and one college football player, and found that the damage from a lot of this blunt head trauma that the brain trauma is very much different in boxers, in football players, than it is for the larger society.

And I think at some point if you have to, even if it’s unfair, you have to emphasize to players, you have to do more than just think hard about not hitting someone with your helmet. If you hit someone with your helmet, we’re not going to allow that to be any excuse. If you go helmet-to-helmet against a defenseless player, quarterback, running back, receiver, we’re going to fine you and we might suspend you. I realize it’s not fair. It’s also not fair for so many guys to leave the game and suffer from dementia. And I believe with all my heart that it’s from trauma they took as football players.

I think the premise is faulty. Of course there is going to be more trauma in football players than in radio talk show hosts.

Yes, but you’re trying to cut down the worst ones. You’re trying to cut down and eliminate, as much as you can, the ones that are the most damaging. And anything the NFL can do to enforce this and to make players know. This woman, Dr. Ann McKee, she’s a neurologist, I asked her, I said, “What would you say to these guys who got these really heavy fines, like James Harrison, what would you say to them if they were sitting here?” She said, “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d show them these brains, I’d show them these slides, which basically are the cross-sections of the damaged brains.”

And again, I understand many players that I have talked to in the past two weeks have basically said “Dude, what do you want us to do? I mean there’s nothign really we can do.” Keith Brooking was passionate with me, the Cowboys linebacker: “I can’t play the game any differently. I’m not trying to hit anybody with my head.

Guys like Ernie Sims, Dunta Robinson, are just trying to play football. I think they’ve got to find a way to make it fairer and protect the players.

If you are going to do anything about fining players, I just bring you to the voice of experience, bring you to Rodney Harrison. He never thought about changing his game one iota until the fines started getting in the six-figure category. I understand its not fair and I’m not arguing that it is fair. All I’m saying is its not fair for 45-year-old guys to be forgetting where they left their car keys, either.

Why will Wade Phillips and Josh McDaniels survive the year?

I think Josh McDaniels is in a much different category than Wade Phillips. Nobody thought before the year that Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos were going to win this division or go far into the playoffs. Plus, it’s McDaniels’ second year and he came in as a kid coach. Wade Phillips is a veteran NFL head coach, who had one of the best five teams in football talent-wise coming into this year. The Dallas Cowboys the last two weeks  have played like total stiffs.

Now, I’m not sure that you can look at the Denver Broncos, they’ve performed terribly, but have they quit on their coach? Look at what David Garrard said to me last week after the Dallas game. In essence he’s saying, “Those guys were not hustling like NFL players should be.” I look at that, and I don’t hear opponents looking at the Denver Broncos saying they’ve quit on Josh McDaniels. Now, maybe some have, I don’t know. And I’m not saying that Josh should survive. All I’m saying is I think it’s absolutely ludicrous that Jerry Jones is not doing something to tell his fan base this is totally unsatisfactory.

If I were him I would have fired Wade Phillips and given it to Joe DeCamillis, Jason Garrett, maybe even Ray Sherman, but just to say this will not be tolerated, this kind of performance where we get killed on consecutive Monday night, Sunday night games at home with two quarterbacks throwing four touchdowns apiece. I think they are two different situations ‘€” but who knows? ‘€” but they may both pay with their jobs by the end of the year.

I just want to read quote from Joe Ellis, the chief operating officer of the Broncos: “The type of loss we had at home , the fans emotions and feelings are understandably raw in terms of their anger and disappointment. Pat [Bowlen] understands that, Josh understands that. Because of the way that game went, we made our apologies, we told everybody how embarrassed we were through our head coach and players. But those words right now ring hollow. The only way you can win back the fan’s trust is to earn it on the field by coaching better and winning.” It doesn’t exactly sound like a vote of confidence.

It’s not a vote of confidence. It’s also totally different, in my opinion, from what’s going on in Dallas. Where Wade Phillips had a more talented team. The equivalent, if Wade Phillips had lost DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff for the year with injuries it would have been the same thing that happened in Denver, where they lost Elvis Dumervil, their best defensive player and Robert Ayers, probably their third best defensive player behind Champ Bailey. I’m not arguing with you that Denver has been awful or that Josh McDaniels might not get the ax after the year, but I just think Dallas has been, I’m stunned that Jerry is keeping Wade Phillips right now.

Read More: Brett Favre, Jeff Fisher, Josh McDaniels, Peter King
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