Apologies to Brendan Flynn for cribbing his insight on this — and thanks to him for the link — but Sports Illustrated’s Peter King sometimes seems like a very well-sourced livejournal goof. For all the almost tossed-off expertise about the NFL, King really seems most interested when he’s writing about his flagrantly middlebrow consumer preferences. This isn’t Bill Simmons-y narcissism-as-text-and-subtext, I don’t think, so much as it’s just blithely dorky daddery. Except this dorky dad breaks stories about the Arizona Cardinals while telling you more than you want to know about his lunch. It’s weird.
This week, as usual, there’s a tremendous amount of minutia in his column, but there’s an interesting overlap between King’s dorky over-detail and undeniable on-top-of-his-beatness in this bit about Brandon Marshall’s aborted Thursday Night celebration:
Gameday. Thursday afternoon, just before 3 p.m., five hours before Browns-Broncos. I was sitting in a Panera Bread place here, having lunch. My phone vibrated. The screen read: Brandon Marshall. I answered. “Don’t you have a game in a little while?” I said to the Denver wide receiver.
“Yeah,” he said. “But I need some advice.”
“Joey Porter?” I said. “The popcorn-muscle thing?”
“Nah,” he said. “Forget that thing. I’m thinking of doing something tonight if I score, and I wanted to run something by you.”
Uh-oh. I could just see it now — Marshall scores, does something lame-brained, gets penalized 15 yards, fined $20,000 and says, “Well, I ran it by Peter King and he thought it was a great idea!”
“Go ahead,” I said, with a little trepidation.
“I really want to make a statement, a positive statement, about our country because of what’s happened this week with Barack Obama getting elected,” he said. “So I was thinking — remember back in the Olympics when those two athletes did that black power thing? What was that?”
“The ’68 Olympics,” I said. “Two black Americans got on the medal stand. John Carlos and Tommie Smith. They put on black gloves. They put their fists in the air and looked down when the National Anthem was played. It was their protest over the conditions of blacks in America.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t want to do that. This is nothing political. This is about unifying the country. I want to color my gloves — half black, half white — and when I score, hold up my hands to the camera. You know, kind of a gesture of how far we’ve come as a country that we could elect an African-American as president. Forget Democrat-Republican. Forget black-white. It’s about the progress of our country.”
“Great idea,” I said. “Brilliant idea. I’m trying to think about whether you’d get penalized or fined. I don’t think the league would do anything to you.”
“I think I’m going to do it,” he said.
…In the wake of the game, somehow, the gesture got to be seen to some as a latter-day black-power salute. As in: We got Obama in the White House, white America, and now we’re going to use our power and might to right all these years of inequities. I asked Marshall about it Saturday.
“No, no, no, not at all,” he said. “Like I told you the other day, this was my silent gesture to say, ‘Let’s unify this country.’ I know what the black power thing was 40 years ago. This was definitely not that. This was about everybody being one. It was about the progress of our country.”
A reporter’s sources and a blogger’s inability to realize when not to talk about random bullshit…is Peter King’s weird middle-aged self the future of online sportswriting? It could be worse, but someone needs to tell this guy that you can eat lunch or get coffee somewhere other than the mall.