Peter King Retires*

E5 Yaz

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The asterisk is his (you'll find out why in this, his final column).

I know, I know ... he wasn't what he once was. Who is? At his peak, though, MMQB was appointment reading. I'll miss it.
Is that all there is? Don’t mean to be so deep; many of you who know me understand I’m pretty shallow. But I’ve found myself wondering, Am I meant to do one thing from the time I walk out of college until the day they put me in the ground?
And who knows—I may find myself jonesing to do something in the media when I’m bored in three months. But it’s like when Atlanta writer Jeff Schultz retired in December and said, “Let me get bored. I want to know what that feels like.” That resonated. I know I’ll want to do something with my time eventually. I just don’t know what it is.
https://www.nbcsports.com/nfl/profootballtalk/fmia/news/fmia-nfl-peter-king-retirement-its-time
 

loshjott

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I haven’t followed Peter King in ages but perhaps he’ll want to spend more time watching the field hockey team at his daughter’s old high school or drinking more Starbucks in Manhattan.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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More time to drink Allagash White. 'Guys, you'll never guess this rare craft beer that you HAVE to try...'
 

Mystic Merlin

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Nobody else unironically composes a thought quite like this, so he will be missed:

‘w. RIP, Flaco the owl. The New York City owl, zoo escapee a year ago, was in this column a couple of weeks ago. Flaco evidently crashed into a building on the Upper West Side the other day. Cool owl.’
 

InstaFace

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So the Owl Corey Lidle'd himself? How fitting.

As for Peter King: The day of centralized. homogeneous NFL commentary has passed into history, with everyone from Paul Zimmerman to Gregg Easterbrook finding either a lack of passion or lack of market for their services. Gone are the talents once seen in Grantland Rice or WC Heinz, and scattered to the four winds of the Internet is every fan's attention. Today, brilliant writing on free blogs at (say) SB Nation doesn't get picked up by professional outlets and given a wider voice, as Drew Magary once was - it gets pressed for ever-more free content until they break and go do something else with their time. Peter King may have outkicked his coverage, getting a national platform when his writing ability deserved perhaps a small local paper... but deserved or not, the position he holds in sportswriting is itself a dinosaur, and this may be King jumping before he's pushed. I won't miss King's columns, but I will at least somewhat miss the era in which it could be assumed that sports fans had generally read, or at least knew about and sometimes read, a few key opinion-makers and analysts. Whether today's brave new world is an improvement is hard for me to say, but there's no doubting that it's different.
 

tims4wins

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So the Owl Corey Lidle'd himself? How fitting.

As for Peter King: The day of centralized. homogeneous NFL commentary has passed into history, with everyone from Paul Zimmerman to Gregg Easterbrook finding either a lack of passion or lack of market for their services. Gone are the talents once seen in Grantland Rice or WC Heinz, and scattered to the four winds of the Internet is every fan's attention. Today, brilliant writing on free blogs at (say) SB Nation doesn't get picked up by professional outlets and given a wider voice, as Drew Magary once was - it gets pressed for ever-more free content until they break and go do something else with their time. Peter King may have outkicked his coverage, getting a national platform when his writing ability deserved perhaps a small local paper... but deserved or not, the position he holds in sportswriting is itself a dinosaur, and this may be King jumping before he's pushed. I won't miss King's columns, but I will at least somewhat miss the era in which it could be assumed that sports fans had generally read, or at least knew about and sometimes read, a few key opinion-makers and analysts. Whether today's brave new world is an improvement is hard for me to say, but there's no doubting that it's different.
Well put.

This is probably the nostalgia talking, but I do miss that era. A lot of that probably has to do with guys like King and Easterbrook hitting their peak during the early dynasty era. So I was craving any and all Pats and NFL content during that time, and as such, King on Mondays and Easterbook on Tuesdays (IIRC) were must-reads for me.
 

RG33

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There was a 3-4 year period when I read MMQB pretty religiously — ususally, in 2 or 3 sittings, because they were so long and such laborious reads filled with non-football clutter and whimsical personal opinions I cared nothing about. I haven’t read it in probably 10-12 years though. King was kind of the opposite of Will McDonough for me — he had access, but didn’t really do much with it and was always so verbose. I’ll agree that I miss the era of the broad, top-down “Notes” columns though that were Must-Read-AP.
 

hube

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Back in the early oughts, at my first job out of college, we used to print out MMQB and read through it at lunch (remember not eating at your desk?).

Same for Simmons and a few others.

I won't miss King - I haven't read him in years - but I am nostalgic for those days. @InstaFace put it as well as anyone could.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Asked restaurant host "God, did you hear about Peter King?"
Host: "No."
Me: "Retired. Threw away his press credentials."
Thought he would cry.
 

ShaneTrot

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He was frozen out by BB after he went hard at Bill during Spygate. I lost interest because he did have some good Brady items over the years but you cannot be the pre-eminent NFL reporter and a 6 time Super Bowl-winning coach just won't talk to you.
 

Van Everyman

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In the words of @Sille Skrub ... new threads are nifty
Oh I agree -- I was simply reminiscing about some of the beauties in this thread. King had this incredible ability to put his foot so far into his mouth you could see his toes peeking out of his ass (my favorite example of which was his tweet about Arian Foster's big day declaring "It's an Arian Nation!") .
We once had a parody of King's column on the old board. Not quite as good as the Larry King parody column, but pretty damned good. If only I could find them.
I remember that as well.

The thing about King is that he was very enthusiastic and clearly cared a lot about the game of football -- and while his feting of Brett Favre and his agent Bus whatshisname was annoying, it was honest, came from a good place and, at its best, his excitement could be contagious (his interview with Brady the day after the 28-3 comeback comes to mind).

But King also covered the NFL at a time when the off-the-field culture and business of the game became increasingly important, controversial and at times ugly. King's brand of golly-gee fanboy journalism became increasingly out of step with how the game was covered and as a journalist he was ill-equipped to report on stories like Ray Rice, concussions, how Goodell expanded his authority during DFG, and the anthem/Kaepernick story with the objectivity, scrutiny and breadth it required.
 

astrozombie

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I read King way back when and even though I haven't for years, I decided to read his final article for old times sake. Something that struck me is that he just seemed kind of over football.
 

tims4wins

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In an interview King says his biggest regret is his confirmation of delategate.

The most notable thing, imho, is that he is saying this right as he retires. He clearly feared backlash if he voiced this opinion while still reporting on the NFL and it clearly bothers him.

View: https://twitter.com/savagesports_/status/1762592492329828789?s=46&t=2Ncci6pVLxm2q2YAXCD8zw
Wow. We need more of this. People who 10 years ago were so sure they cheated, talking about what a joke it was. It won't make a damn bit of difference historically but man it would soothe my soul.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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He needs to name and shame.

He says he talked to two sources who confirmed ESPN’s false story. Those people are complicit in promoting a concerted effort to take down the Patriots under false pretenses. Name them.

It’s entirely within King’s career history that he did nothing about this so he would not adversely affect his access. Really shitty to wait until now to say he feels badly about it. Fuck that, name the people who played you and make some small amends for the irreparable damage you helped cause.
 

Cotillion

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This is always the downfall of "access" journalism. So much of your writing and career come to rely on the access so that you no longer serve any purpose other than as a stenographer for people's agendas.
 

CantKeepmedown

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King probably knew he was wrong six months/year later. Just didn't have the guts to say anything. Everyone involved in that whole debacle should be ashamed. But nobody will say anything and like others said, outside of New England, nobody cares.
 

PedroKsBambino

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He needs to name and shame.

He says he talked to two sources who confirmed ESPN’s false story. Those people are complicit in promoting a concerted effort to take down the Patriots under false pretenses. Name them.

It’s entirely within King’s career history that he did nothing about this so he would not adversely affect his access. Really shitty to wait until now to say he feels badly about it. Fuck that, name the people who played you and make some small amends for the irreparable damage you helped cause.
I agree. To me, the real story of Deflategate turns out to be a massive and corrupt lie which the NFL enforced as a false reality in a dishonest and brutal way. It seems very clear that at some point in the "investigation" perhaps as soon as the week after the initial leaks, the NFL realized it was baloney. But for some set of reasons - Kensil? Goodell managing a small set of angry owners? Organizational inability to admit error? rather than acknowledge reality they spent a huge amount of time and money to obscure the truth and defend the early leaks/statements.

My observation about the media on this one is that pretty much all the thoughtful/analytical NFL reporters began to steer clear of the story as this became clear...and that fter the NFL failed to release any of the ball air pressure data allegedly collected the next season that even most of the moron Bob Kravitz-level beat reporters realized they had been had (though not all of them admitted so). I have plenty of pats-hater friends and by the next year all the ones with three-digit IQs had acknowledged maybe the NFL didn't have the goods on this one (but often pointed to videotaping or something else instead!)

So, as SJH notes, for the huge majority of NFL reporters who didn't call out the lie one has to ask: do you have any standards at all? With the exception of a few, the answer is pretty clearly no, and that is why we should not treat most of them with the same deference we do actual journalists. Most of these reporters are some version of Shams/Schefter/Woj which is to say mouthpieces with sources who sometimes sprinkle in opinion. But not remotely objective and principled journalists with standards, sources, and searching editorial processes. Chris Mortensen remains the poster-child for unethical, standards-free, accountability-resistant deflategate baloney...but he sure does have a lot of company. King may be too late and nto quite as transparent about who pulled him into the dishonest conspiracy, but he's far ahead of most by acknowledging it and being willing to be accountable for it.
 
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tims4wins

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I agree. To me, the real story of Deflategate turns out to be a massive and corrupt lie which the NFL enforced as a false reality in a dishonest and brutal way. It seems very clear that at some point in the "investigation" perhaps as soon as the week after the initial leaks, the NFL realized it was baloney. But for some set of reasons - Kensil? Goodell managing a small set of angry owners? Organizational inability to admit error? rather than acknowledge reality they spent a huge amount of time and money to obscure the truth and defend the early leaks/statements.

My observation about the media on this one is that pretty much all the thoughtful/analytical NFL reporters began to steer clear of the story as this became clear...and that fter the NFL failed to release any of the ball air pressure data allegedly collected the next season that even most of the moron Bob Kravitz-level beat reporters realized they had been had (though not all of them admitted so). I have plenty of pats-hater friends and by the next year all the ones with three-digit IQs had acknowledged maybe the NFL didn't have the goods on this one (but often pointed to videotaping or something else instead!)

So, as SJH notes, for the huge majority of NFL reporters who didn't call out the lie one has to ask: do you have any standards at all? With the exception of a few, the answer is pretty clearly no, and that is why we should not treat most of them with the same deference we do actual journalists. Most of these reporters are some version of Shams/Schefter/Woj which is to say mouthpieces with sources who sometimes sprinkle in opinion. But not remotely objective and principled journalists with standards, sources, and searching editorial processes. Chris Mortensen remains the poster-child for unethical, standards-free, accountability-resistant deflategate baloney...but he sure does have a lot of company. King may be too late and nto quite as transparent about who pulled him into the dishonest conspiracy, but he's far ahead of most by acknowledging it and being willing to be accountable for it.
Side-tangent, but one of my favorite lines ever on SoSH was when Mortensen got oral cancer and someone wrote "I didn't realize that lying caused oral cancer" or something along those lines. It still makes me giggle.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Cancer vs Chris Mortensen is one of the few matchups where I do support Mortensen. Fuck cancer.

If he battles al-qaeda I'd support him there.

Or if, Space Jam style he is defending the planet against aliens? In which scenario we're really screwed.

That might be the list.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Great post PkB.

If I had to lay someone else's money down on who the sources for King might have been, Kensil would be at the very top of the list. Longtime Jets executive with a grudge to hold, NFL bigwig who King wouldn't out because he would lose access to the league immediately, and the guy who was strutting up and down the Pats' sideline that night (where by rule he wasn't allowed to be) screaming "YOU GUYS ARE FUCKED NOW!"

If King had reported that Kensil, an NFL executive, had played a key role in lying about Deflategate in order to push a league-mandated agenda against their most successful team, that would have been the story of the century. Kensil would have been fired, and perhaps Goodell as well. There was a fantastic opportunity for real "punching up against power" reporting to be done there. And King passed on it.

He can have as many regrets about Deflategate as he likes, but King doesn't have the one regret that he should have: not reporting the story of the league trying to kneecap a franchise based on shitty science and grudge-holding by its execs.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Great post PkB.

If I had to lay someone else's money down on who the sources for King might have been, Kensil would be at the very top of the list. Longtime Jets executive with a grudge to hold, NFL bigwig who King wouldn't out because he would lose access to the league immediately, and the guy who was strutting up and down the Pats' sideline that night (where by rule he wasn't allowed to be) screaming "YOU GUYS ARE FUCKED NOW!"

If King had reported that Kensil, an NFL executive, had played a key role in lying about Deflategate in order to push a league-mandated agenda against their most successful team, that would have been the story of the century. Kensil would have been fired, and perhaps Goodell as well. There was a fantastic opportunity for real "punching up against power" reporting to be done there. And King passed on it.

He can have as many regrets about Deflategate as he likes, but King doesn't have the one regret that he should have: not reporting the story of the league trying to kneecap a franchise based on shitty science and grudge-holding by its execs.
Yup, very true. I do not think Goodell would have survived a story that Kensil leaked it and NFL backed the initial report which was totally false. At least, they would have to have outed Kensil in the first week or two....once the lie wasn't immediately exposed Goodell was on the firing line too.

I still wonder a bit why the owners didn't do it anyway---sure, many of them liked the Pats getting abused in this but I'd think they are sophisticated enough to know that having a dishonest fraudster running the league is as likely to screw them and their team the next time around as anyone elses. As the "too crappy a person and owner for me to have sympathy for" Dan Snyder found out....
 

Average Reds

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He can have as many regrets about Deflategate as he likes, but King doesn't have the one regret that he should have: not reporting the story of the league trying to kneecap a franchise based on shitty science and grudge-holding by its execs.
To me this both oversells and undersells what happened.

I don’t think this was a plot to kneecap the Pats. I think the league 100% believed (and still believes, to a great extent) they had Brady/the Pats dead to rights. And once that thought took hold, they were so dug in that they became willfully blind and ignored evidence to the contrary. They also felt free to leak like a sieve to drive public opinion.

Basically, these were idiots being driven by a misguided sense of righteousness. Which is shitty. Peter King’s willingness to stay silent about what he learned because he feared losing access is far, far worse. It’s literally the antithesis of what being a journalist is supposed to be.

Of course, the reality is that King was never a journalist. He was a human dictaphone.
 

PedroKsBambino

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To me this both oversells and undersells what happened.

I don’t think this was a plot to kneecap the Pats. I think the league 100% believed (and still believes, to a great extent) they had Brady/the Pats dead to rights. And once that thought took hold, they were so dug in that they became willfully blind and ignored evidence to the contrary. They also felt free to leak like a sieve to drive public opinion.

Basically, these were idiots being driven by a misguided sense of righteousness. Which is shitty. Peter King’s willingness to stay silent about what he learned because he feared losing access is far, far worse. It’s literally the antithesis of what being a journalist is supposed to be.

Of course, the reality is that King was never a journalist. He was a human dictaphone.
I believe that was true for a while - the Exponent report makes completely clear to me (and to others, as I recall the discussion) that by the time that report was created Pash, directing Ted "I used to have a spectacular rep" Wells had to know for sure that the underlying event simply did not occur. And I think almost no chance he didn't share that with his boss.

Speculation, but probably an ethical breach for that not to have happeend (because, the Exponent report was so carefully crafted around what it did and did not study and opine on that it has to reflect specific direction from Wells' team, which he would have to have disclosed to Pash or gotten approval for) Whether Pash told Goodell is more speculative, but I'm comfortable with the conclusion he had to have. I guess there's an unlikely scenario Pash said to Wells when he hired him "I need this investigation to back this deflation being real no matter what, and I don't want to know how you get there" but even in that scenario---it already gives away the game, really
 

Cotillion

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The report is a masterclass of hiding the ball.

The part that makes it very apparent is where Walt's memory is used as the only evidence for lots of damning things because his memory is just that good and precise guys. Trust us.

Except, in the one spot, where his memory (and he is adamant about what he remembers) makes the scientific study wrong cause it gives numbers that are insignificant from normal deflation cause Walt remembers using the bent needle gauge for the testing, and they need him to remember using the long unbent one.

Oopsie. We'll just say he was mistaken in this one detail, but trust us with everything else that is needed to make it all work. Walt Steel Trap Memory Anderson.
 

Harry Hooper

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PedroKsBambino

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The report is a masterclass of hiding the ball.

The part that makes it very apparent is where Walt's memory is used as the only evidence for lots of damning things because his memory is just that good and precise guys. Trust us.

Except, in the one spot, where his memory (and he is adamant about what he remembers) makes the scientific study wrong cause it gives numbers that are insignificant from normal deflation cause Walt remembers using the bent needle gauge for the testing, and they need him to remember using the long unbent one.

Oopsie. We'll just say he was mistaken in this one detail, but trust us with everything else that is needed to make it all work. Walt Steel Trap Memory Anderson.
It's a complete joke, at least if imagined as any sort of truth. Your framing is apt---it's a masterclass in what it was actually trying to do. Clearly, the subset of people who have created/drafted/sponsored technical expert reports for litigation is relatively small...but I suspect 100% of the people in that small group recognize what that report was and what it says about what Wells' team and Pash knew the truth was.
 

Van Everyman

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To me this both oversells and undersells what happened.

I don’t think this was a plot to kneecap the Pats. I think the league 100% believed (and still believes, to a great extent) they had Brady/the Pats dead to rights. And once that thought took hold, they were so dug in that they became willfully blind and ignored evidence to the contrary. They also felt free to leak like a sieve to drive public opinion.

Basically, these were idiots being driven by a misguided sense of righteousness. Which is shitty. Peter King’s willingness to stay silent about what he learned because he feared losing access is far, far worse. It’s literally the antithesis of what being a journalist is supposed to be.

Of course, the reality is that King was never a journalist. He was a human dictaphone.
I would say Schefter is the human dictaphone. King offered a lot of commentary, and was more of a cheerleader and puff piece artist. And, if I'm being charitable, I think King recognized that something changed over the last twenty years with the league where it was expected guys covering the league would be more objective -- and he was increasingly uncomfortable with that role.

As for DFG, there were a lot of motivations. Goodell used the scandal to solidify his power with the union. The owners (I've always suspected Mara) wanted to knock Kraft down a peg after Kraft's role in the CBA and bailing Goodell out on Ray Rice. And the other teams were looking to drive some sort of wedge between Belichick and Brady. And I suspect The Dynasty is going to demonstrate that they succeeded on the latter account.
 

Hoya81

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The report is a masterclass of hiding the ball.

The part that makes it very apparent is where Walt's memory is used as the only evidence for lots of damning things because his memory is just that good and precise guys. Trust us.

Except, in the one spot, where his memory (and he is adamant about what he remembers) makes the scientific study wrong cause it gives numbers that are insignificant from normal deflation cause Walt remembers using the bent needle gauge for the testing, and they need him to remember using the long unbent one.

Oopsie. We'll just say he was mistaken in this one detail, but trust us with everything else that is needed to make it all work. Walt Steel Trap Memory Anderson.
This has always been a underrated aspect of the whole saga. The only evidence that the balls were even at the rulebook PSI pre-game was because the crew said that they were. I always felt that the league discovered during the investigation that most crews give the game balls a cursory look at the most and realized that they were screwed.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I would say Schefter is the human dictaphone. King offered a lot of commentary, and was more of a cheerleader and puff piece artist. And, if I'm being charitable, I think King recognized that something changed over the last twenty years with the league where it was expected guys covering the league would be more objective -- and he was increasingly uncomfortable with that role.

As for DFG, there were a lot of motivations. Goodell used the scandal to solidify his power with the union. The owners (I've always suspected Mara) wanted to knock Kraft down a peg after Kraft's role in the CBA and bailing Goodell out on Ray Rice. And the other teams were looking to drive some sort of wedge between Belichick and Brady. And I suspect The Dynasty is going to demonstrate that they succeeded on the latter account.
Yup. The issue in the court case wasn't whether or not Brady and the Pats had deflated footballs, it was whether Goodell had the power to essentially do whatever the hell he wanted in is role as commissioner.
 

ifmanis5

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Also never forget that Kensil was gently re-assigned after they caught him trying to sell game balls for profit.
It's maddening that all the top Google hits from this story are from 2015 and they're all wrong because guys like King didn't do their job at the time.
 

Harry Hooper

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Also never forget that Kensil was gently re-assigned after they caught him trying to sell game balls for profit.
It's maddening that all the top Google hits from this story are from 2015 and they're all wrong because guys like King didn't do their job at the time.
Kensil got banished to China, but he wasn't the NFL staffer involved with the kicking game balls. Florio
 

Van Everyman

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Yup. The issue in the court case wasn't whether or not Brady and the Pats had deflated footballs, it was whether Goodell had the power to essentially do whatever the hell he wanted in is role as commissioner.
Taking this back to King again ... I think from that interview you can see that he thinks Goodell did Brady wrong and feels terribly about it. He says he still thinks about it to this day.

Personally, I'd rather King live in eternal regret over his incorrect reporting that effectively blamed Goodell's failure to punish Ray Rice on the victim of Rice's abuse--his wife (King falsely reported that she made an emotional plea for her husband's leniency)--than how some millionaire athlete was wronged for deflating balls. But you can't ask for everything I suppose.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Taking this back to King again ... I think from that interview you can see that he thinks Goodell did Brady wrong and feels terribly about it. He says he still thinks about it to this day.

Personally, I'd rather King live in eternal regret over his incorrect reporting that effectively blamed Goodell's failure to punish Ray Rice on the victim of Rice's abuse--his wife (King falsely reported that she made an emotional plea for her husband's leniency)--than how some millionaire athlete was wronged for deflating balls. But you can't ask for everything I suppose.
But King is also missing that the Pats were docked a first round pick over this, for literally nothing, for something that NEVER happened. Tangible harm was done to the organization in large part due to King's promotion of the story, and instead of reporting on how he was lied to, who lied to him, and what their motivations were, he shrugs and says "Gee I feel bad."

It's not enough.
 

astrozombie

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Not to relitigate it, but Deflategate was one of the times I felt shittiest as a Pats fan. Not because I thought the Pats did anything wrong, but because everyone who hated the Pats (including my friends from school, message boards, the national media, etc.) took it as proof positive that the Pats were cheaters of the highest order and never won anything legit. And any kind of pushback (ideal gas law, the faulty reporting, the buried results of the testing the following year) was brushed aside as the hair-splitting rantings of a lunatic. To this day, I am sure that most people still believe the Pats cheated, no matter what came out of it. Losing a first round draft pick on top of all it was a harsh make-up call on Spygate. It was an incredibly unfun time to be a fan, all based on nothing.
I also believe that Goodell was using this as a makeup call for both Spygate and his own mishandling of the Ray Rice situation. Here, he had a guy that people outside of NE largely disliked (Brady never seemed to get the national love that someone like Manning got) doing something allegedly wrong in the context of the game. Goodelll could swing his hammer as hard as he wanted and not have to worry about having to address social issues like DV. Brady was the perfect target for Goodell to flex his muscles with no repercussions or pushback. Just an awful situation all the way around.
King's mea culpa? A day late and a dollar short. I'm not mad since the way 99% of media works this day is based on access to the principals and that access gets revoked once people start getting critical. I mentioned above that King seemed sort of over football in his final article and I wonder how much of it is due to the grind, and how much of it was due to the realization that the NFL has serious problems (concussions, non-guaranteed contracts, treatment of social issues, etc.) that he was sort of tired of carrying water for in order to maintain his job. Not that it makes King noble at all... just that he hit a natural end point and wasn't sad to be leaving.