A lot of people really don't like Peter King, NFL columnist formerly of SI.com, a distinct entity from his current operation at MMQB.si.com. I wouldn't say I'm one of those people.
I enjoy parts of his articles, and the parts I don't I skip over. I find his somewhat-folksy take on the NFL and life in general to be sometimes interesting, and often times harmless. There aren't many columns on the Internet that I do read every week, so that should indicate that I do hold a level of interest and respect for most of King's other work.
His MMQB column today, too, is mostly fine over its six pages with thousands of words. On the second page, he devotes a couple hundred words to the Jonathan Martin story. He interviews a journeyman offensive lineman who says it's not fair for veterans to make rookies pay for things, and provides some anecdotal information about how locker rooms are places where people have to earn respect. There's not much of a substantive discussion of the issue, but honestly that might be okay in this format of article. Maybe he'll be publishing a more in depth look later in the week.
But then, three pages later in the article, as his Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me segment, King writes (emphasis mine):
We know, via Jay Glazer, that Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin, in response to a table full of teammates leaving when he went to sit down last Monday, threw his tray down in the Miami cafeteria and left the building in anger. Now you’ll know the rest of the story: The meal he threw down was spaghetti.
Seriously? I have no idea what that last sentence adds. Were people so interested in the story that they just HAD to know what Martin was eating when he left the team cafeteria? Not only does this "fact" add nothing of substance to the story, it trivializes the entire issue, as I tweeted earlier.
What exactly is King trying to say by including that fact? Is it that Martin must be disturbed if he's willing to throw down a plate of spaghetti? Is it that the Dolphins serve their players spaghetti as part of a carbo-loading diet? Is it that the spaghetti could possibly be Barilla, whose owner has a strong stance against gay marriage, possibly indicating that Martin is gay?
I have no idea.
I'm not asking Peter King to be the authority on the effects of mental health in professional sports. I'm not asking him to interview a medical professional to diagnose Martin's condition. Hell, I'm not even asking him to explore locker room culture for other teams.
I'm no expert, but as a fan of the NFL and good reporting, I'd hope that I'd at least have the chance to read articles about serious issues — and there's no doubt this qualifies — with the degree of gravity they deserve. Maybe King would say the "fact" is just a throwaway, meant to lighten the mood.
Look, there are plenty of other stories in the NFL where that's appropriate, and often necessary. This isn't one of them. As evidenced by my frequent comments, I'm hardly the one to tell people to be serious. But I don't think this is supposed to be a joke. It's just an unnecessary bit of information that's been unnecessarily highlighted.
There are plenty of other websites for that.