Before we begin, let me just say that the following all falls straight down into the #firstworldproblems mop bucket. I'm aware of this, so let's just pretend that we live in a world with no war or famine or disease or angry warlords and we all hold hands and dance around in circles every day because everything is awesome and we all have PERSPECTIVE, because people who don't have proper perspective should be thrown into jail and tortured. Good? Good.
I have three kids and one television. I have one television because we're trying to limit the amount of screen time the kiddies take in, a noble parenting endeavor that is, like pretty much every parenting endeavor, doomed to fail. As such, I can't always watch football whenever I would like. I know: The horror.
I have a DVR, and that means I sometimes tape games and watch them after the kids have gone to bed. And if you've ever watched a sporting event on tape delay, you know that it has its pros and cons. You can obviously cut through all the ads and replay delays and penalty delays and TV delays and lightning delays and halftime delays and Erin Andrews talking about how Colin Kaepernick once fostered a shelter puppy when he eight years old. That's all super duper.
The downside, of course, is that you aren't watching the game live, with the rest of the universe. You can't text a friend. You can't hop on Twitter and offer up your pithy one-liner. You have to spend hours before the game plugging your ears and going LALALALALALALA and pray the world doesn't ruin the game for you. Two weeks ago, I had to pick my kid up from a birthday party during the Colts' wild comeback versus the Chiefs. The game was on at the birthday girl's house and I had to plug my ears and then explain to the parents why I had to go stand in the hallway while my kid got her coat. Football will make you do weird shit like that.
Sports are a communal experience, and the beauty of the internet is that you can make it a communal experience even if you don't happen to be at a bar or a friend's house or staying on the Bud Light West Side Poop Cruise. Can being a NERDY BLOG NERD on Twitter during the game compete with actual human contact? No, but it's a nice substitute if you're in a pinch and looking for virtual company.
The problem is that having virtual company during the game can often prove to be a massive distraction. I'll watch some game and spend all my time thinking about some tweet to send or wondering what the Twitter folk think of that one fat dude in the stands and I'll completely gloss over what just actually happened on the field. Or I'll send a friend a text and I'll suddenly be like WAIT DID I TEXT THAT OR TWEET THAT? WHAT IF I TWEETED SOMETHING RACIST OH GOD I NEED TO STOP DRINKING. I'm not IN the game. I'm not in the moment. I'm in a kind of mental limbo, with one half of my brain tuned into the cloud and the other barely processing what's on the TV screen. I can feel my focus drift in and out, like a camera lens being constantly adjusted. And you can try to lay off the phone or laptop during live games, but if you're like me, you're pretty much powerless to resist.
Watching a game on delay, at least for me, usually ends with me absorbing more of the game. This is crucial if you want your scorching hot takes to be extra hot the next day. You're into the game, pretty much as if it's happening live. You jump. You scream. You see the shit that the announcers remarkably fail to notice (Dan Dierdorf REALLY doesn't like you taking that safety). You stand up during tense plays. All of the good sporty sports stuff is still there.
But there's nagging feeling to it, the idea that you've already missed out on the group experience and that you'll never catch up. I've been an hour behind on certain games and fucking sprinted with the remote to catch up. What's happening on the internet What's happening on the internet OH GOD WHAT AM I MISSING?! Knowing that you are utterly alone in experiencing the game in at that precise time in that precise way is oddly infuriating. I almost prioritize the conversation around the game more than the game itself, which is STUPID. You're supposed to be there to watch football, not stare at your phone like some kind of asshole.
But I can't shake the #FOMO when I watch a game on delay even though I wish I could. Sports, in general, have a short shelf life. This is why only crazy people watch game tape or full-on replays of old games on ESPN Classic. When you watch it live, you get the energy. When you don't, it's gone.
I belong to the last generation of world citizens to grow up in the pre-online era, which makes me older than I already am. I may as well have been a worker on the Transcontinental Railroad. The way I have personally digested football over the past four decades has changed and shifted in a dozen ways, and will continue to do so at an accelerated pace.
Obviously, I used to watch whatever game local TV gave me when I was a kid, which meant that I rarely got to see my favorite team play once my family moved from Minnesota. I took the rare prime time appearance of my team when I could get it and sucked it up whenever I had to watch the fucking Jets play. Then Sunday Ticket came to bars and I could see my team whenever I wanted, plus glance around at the other games whenever my team bored or annoyed me.
Then cell phones came (if I fuck up the chronology here, it's because I was and still am late to the party on many, many forms of technology) and I could call a friend during a game (I used to work on ads for AT&T Wireless and all of our sports ads were like CALL YOUR BUDDIES AND TALK SOME TRASH JUST FUCKING KILL IT BRO).
Then blogs rose up and I could check out live blogs of sporting events, which really helped improve shitty non-events like the Home Run Derby. You could leave your comments and hope Nibbles the Gawker server hamster didn't eat them, and you could dole out your +1's and pray that someone +1'ed you back because OH GOD I AM ALONE AND I JUST NEED SOMETHERE OUT THERE WHO THINKS NICE THINGS ABOUT ME. I slipped into Internet sports addiction so quickly that I barely noticed it happening.
Then came Red Zone and Twitter and Vine and internet fantasy scoring (Christ, I sound like David Brooks here, I am sorry) and now your viewing experience can be shattered into a zillion little pieces. Watching a game now can be a form of multi-tasking, and recent studies have all shown that people who multitask do every task poorly. I watched the BCS title game two weeks ago and dabbled in the Megacast and fucked around on Twitter and texted people and did all that shit. Imagine watching a game while sprinting back and forth between seven different house parties. That's kind of the feeling I get now, and it's hard not to suppress my inner old geezer telling me to shut everything off and just WATCH. Just sit there and take it all in and enjoy.
But I can't. I'm too far gone now. I'm gonna watch these awesome championship matches this weekend and it'll be a salad of live viewing and frantic DVR fast-forwarding and the constant nagging feeling that—no matter how I do it—I am watching sports wrong. There will come a day—if it hasn't happened already—when the sporting event will be subsumed entirely and act as wallpaper for the virtual activity I have placed on top of it. The same way people rarely just listen to music anymore. Like music, sports are a culture that annoyingly DEMAND purity. Guys that watch the All-22 film of NFL games are like assholes that brag about having an extensive vinyl collection. Watch any game in a distracted state and you will feel the sports guilt rise up within you. I can feel it now. I know I'm a worse sports fan than I used to be—whatever that means—but I like all this fancy new shit too much to stop. And as technology proliferates, the dilemma will continue to gnaw and gnaw at me until I realize, one day, that I really, really, really need more friends.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And during the playoffs, I pick the games because that's STRONG BUSINESS.
Patriots (+4.5) 40, Broncos 35: You have probably already heard far more about Manning and Brady in this lifetime than you ever cared to hear, so I'll spare you any horseshit about what it means. They're both awesome, and nothing that happens on Sunday will offer incontrovertible proof that one is better than the other. Oh, but who to root for? If you're a fairly neutral party, as I am (lying), allow me to help you make your choice by using this handy Manning/Brady Overplayed Narrative Generator...
IF THE PATRIOTS WIN...
• "OMG Peyton can't win the big one except that one big one but that was only one big one!"
• "OMG is Tom Brady the best ever because he got to six Super Bowls but he didn't win all those Super Bowls so maybe not?!!?!?!!?"
• "If Brady wins his fourth title, JEEM, he's definitely IN THE CONVERSATION for best ever!" (Being in the conversation is so, so key)
• "The Patriot Way wins out once again!" (barfffffffff)
• (random columnist pointing out that Bill Belichick's slogan is DO YOUR JOB)
IF THE BRONCOS WIN...
• Random columnists telling you Peyton is the best ever no matter what
• "Win the Big One, Peyton. Then you'll have shown me something."—spoken by Pete Prisco and Colin Cowherd, in unison
• Extensive reports of Peyton's most freakish OCD tendencies. HE WILL NOT EAT BUTTERED TOAST BECAUSE THE MILKFAT COULD AFFECT HIS GRIP.
• "JEEM, Peeton Meeneeng is playing football at a whole different level right now!"
• "Holy shit, Wes Welker's got a bigass helmet!"
I'll be rooting for Denver.
Niners (+3.5) 24, Seahawks 23: I still think Pete Carroll will do something stupid to blow this game. You can only hide the fact that you're Pete Carroll for so long. Onto the random crap:
• Unlike mayonnaise-slurping tyrant Albert Burneko, I think it's fine to use a fork and knife on your pizza on certain occasions. Sometimes you get a pizza loaded with toppings and if you pick up the slice the front will drop down, creating a toppings trap door that leaves you with a wet red triangle for the your first bite. If you gotta use a fork for that shit, then go for it. Or if you gotta use a fork because the pizza is still too hot, or because you got a runny pizza with 5000-degree cheese magma leaking from the front, so be it. Or if you've ever been to one of those strictly Neapolitan joints that won't cut your pizza into slices (I have to been to one of these miniature dictatorships and they are annoying) and you gotta cut it yourself, that's fine too. I won't judge you. I'll only judge you if you eat your CRUST that way. That would be fucked up.
• I also think women use the knife and fork more than men because women are so dainty. I prefer to pick up the slice with my hands, bite down all the way to the crust, throw the crust to the side, and continue onto the next piece. No time for forks getting in the way of my obesity.
• By the way, Twitterphobia is a very real phenomenon, especially ever since that one lady got shitcanned for making a bad AIDS joke. One night, after I drank lot, I got up in the middle of the night and double-checked my phone just to make sure I hadn't tweeted anything stupid (or more stupid than what I generally post). Because all it takes is one bad posting, man. One offhand joke about slavery or whatever and that's it for you, even if—like David O. Russell—your momentary bout of poor taste probably doesn't say much about who you are as a human being. It's like a man can't drunkenly joke about slavery in public anymore, I tell you! Such a pity.
• If you need a book to occupy you during the horrible two-week wait for the Super Bowl, I recommend Mary Roach's Gulp, a book devoted entirely to eating and pooping, which is right up my alley (or down it, as it were). Here's a fun tidbit from the book: Did you know that Elvis Presley may have died from constipation? Apparently, Elvis was born with an abnormally large colon (megacolons are a real medical thing), and when he was a kid, his mom used to have to jam her finger IN HIS ASS to work the poop out of him. Anyway, one of the working theories about Elvis' death is that while he was stuffed with drugs at the time, none of them were at lethal levels, and that he died on the shitter while trying (and failing) to push out an impacted stool, which can happen to people. I'm trying to think of a worse non-violent way to die, but I don't think I can top that. The poor King.
• Mike Pereira and Frank DeFord look exactly alike. They could be twins. Twin Hungarian vampire counts.
Last Week: 3-1 (1-2-1 vs. the spread)
Playoffs: 3-5 (3-3-2 vs. the spread)
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"An Infinite Regression," by the Animals as Leaders. From Casey:
Bit of personal background — stumbled upon this song while working from home one morning a few weeks back and, upon listening to it for the seventh time in a row and air-guitaring throughout, it immediately dawned on me that, if anyone were to see me, they probably would've assumed I was going into some weird kind of seizure or having a stroke. But seriously, try to air-guitar that intro and not look like a convulsing idiot.
Looking like a convulsing idiot is the BEST part of air guitaring! Let's take a moment to appreciate the heavy metal instrumental track. Most of the time, singing RUINS a good heavy metal song anyway. Best to just let the guitars do the singing for you. I remember when I was a kid, I used to listen to Metallica's "To Live Is To Die," and I would think to myself, Dude, this is classical music. Like, it's like classical music, but in a new whole way. James Hetfield is my Beethoven! I was not a smart child.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
At the end of last season, I swore that I would stop goofing on Gregg Easterbrook because that shit gets old and because, even though it's Greggggggg, you will feel like a bullying asshole if you pick on one person week after week after week, no matter who that person is. And so I will again try to end this part of the Jamboroo for good when the season's over. But it won't be easy. I mean, look at that tweet. Fucking look at it. Think about everything that went into making that tweet possible: a lousy sense of humor, arrogance, stupidity, general dipshittiness, etc. And this week's TMQ is like someone took that tweet and made a fucking encyclopedia out of it:
Who would have thought the West Coast, known for fads, high-tech, casual dress, laid-back evenings and now for legal marijuana, would be shining the light on traditional football?
I know! The West Coast is usually for pussies! It's the Finesse Coast. Frankly, I'm surprised they play ANY football over there.
TMQ notes hidden plays — ones that don't make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives.
And by "hidden," he means plays that were actually perfectly visible on screen, but that he assumes you were too stupid and gullible to notice. You WHORES. I bet you didn't even finish college. That is why you must rely on TMQ to explain every game to you after it has occurred.
Last week Mike Munchak was fired as head coach of the Flaming Thumbtacks, after being offered the chance to scapegoat his assistants by firing them. Munchak refused, and was shown the door. Reader Jonathan Flanders of San Antonio writes, "This is the opposite of a weasel coach — perhaps, a bald eagle coach."
No. Please. No no no. No more fucking terrible nicknames or cognomen or Gladwellian terms for coaches. Yes, good for Mike Munchak for remaining loyal to his assistants, even though they all ended up getting fired anyway. THAT MAN IS A PATRIOT. The Football Gods smile upon he! One day, they shall reward him for making his players wear blazers.
Wade Phillips, recently shown the door by the Texans — his defense only finished seventh overall in 2013, get rid of the bum! — was fired by the Bills as head coach in 2000, after refusing to scapegoat assistants by firing them. Buffalo had been 29-21 with playoff appearances in its first two years under Phillips; the front office and fan base were furious because in his next season, the team "missed the playoffs for only the third time in 13 years." The Bills have not made playoffs since! Perhaps the football gods cursed Buffalo for firing a head coach who was a winner and who had the backs of his staff.
I can't. I just... This is Wade Phillips we're discussing, right? The one that's 1-5 in the playoffs? The one that benched Doug Flutie right before a playoff game? That one? That's your fucking Bear Bryant? Listen, I think Wade Phillips is really good defensive coordinator. If my team hired him for that post, groovy. Ol' Wade can do that in his sleep. But seriously, IT'S WADE FUCKING PHILLIPS. No team, not even the Bills, has ever regretted not being head coached by Wade Phillips. And then you're bringing your stupid football gods into it and CHRIST.
If so, the next few years for the Houston Texans may be unpleasant.
Yes, that's exactly it. They'll be haunted by the GHOST OF WADE and not the fact that they don't have a quarterback. That's dead on. What the fuck is wrong with you?
The Bills playoff drought is a league-worst 14 years, beginning with the dismissal of bald-eagle Phillips.
HE'S NOT AN EAGLE HE CAN'T EVEN FLY
What if the reason the Bills have missed the postseason for 14 years is not the Phillips Curse but the TMQ Curse?
That makes more sense, because every theory TMQ touches on turns to shit. SERIOUSLY SOUR.
The Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey, but all the talk will be of New York. So TMQ will try to keep the focus on New Jersey.
The DUMBSTREAM MEDIA would have you believe that the Super Bowl is being played atop the Freedom Tower (where bald eagle coaches are said to nest). But TMQ sees through your ruse, NFL!
The Football Gods Chortled: Seattle leading 16-0 late in the third quarter, punter Jon Ryan dropped the snap. It might have been a huge loss for the Seahawks and a momentum swing for New Orleans. Except — the Saints had called a return, so no one rushed the punter. Ryan got the kick away.
So true. Clearly, the Saints should have known in advance that Ryan would drop the snap and called for a rush. The fact that they lacked ESP made the football gods chuckle quite a bit! Bald eagle coaches would have seen it. What. The. Fuck.
Great Moments In Poop History
People (poople?), we're only a week away from the annual POOPOROO, a collection of poop stories to tide you over during the Super Bowl bye week. So if you've got a good story for the anthology, send it on over. In the meantime, reader Eric has a story I call MAGIC POOPDOM:
Five years ago I was a junior in high school. In May the senior class ahead of us was on senior trip. Because I wasn't there physically, some minor details may be left out, but this is pretty much what happened. Our school's senior trip was a five day trip to Disney World. The last night they were there would be a day-long cruise that culminated in a luau at night. While on the cruise, something went horribly wrong. The cruise ship immediately turned around and everybody was forced to retreat back to their rooms for the night.
Turned out some kid shit on the poop deck and just left it up to the cruise attendees to find it. They knew it was a student because the only people on the cruise were the senior class and the people who work on the ship. This kid did not realize that his innocent poop gag would shape the entire senior trip for years to come. Being a year after, my class didn't get a goddamn cruise. Our replacement was a crappy dinner at Sea World and an after party that consisted of two DJs.
There would never be a cruise again due to this pooper. The funniest part of this is that to this day, nobody has come forward taking ownership of the poo. Our high school was relatively small, and with social media, everybody is friends with everyone one way or another. On the five year anniversary, some kid wrote an open letter on Facebook asking the Disney cruise pooper to come forward, show his face, but they never did. I never know if we'll ever meet this legend, but he has changed the landscape of future senior trips for years to come.
I just assume that piles of shit litter every last corner of Disneyworld anyway.
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!
"For the NFC title game, I like the Saddle Seahawks (-3.5) to take care of bigness against the Niners and make it all the way to the Big Game! IN NEW DORK. I have played in Saddle before, and let me tell you, it is LOUD. Deathening! You can't even hear yourself drink! I tried everything when I played up in Saddle. I wore eardrugs. Coach had heavy mental music punked into the practice sneakers... Everything! And I still was not prepared for the high decimal level of Qwik Field. You can feel the stands vibratoring there! My cat's off to those Saddle fans.
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 7-10-2
Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Poor Marques Colston. It's never a good thing when you throw a lateral and it looks like a lateral that YOU could throw. There's something endearing about an athlete making a mistake that occurs normally at the 6th grade level. It's nice to know that Colston can suck just as much as I can.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your updated 2013 chopping block:
- Gary Kubiak—FIRED!
- Mike Shanahan—FIRED!
- Leslie Frazier—FIRED!
- Jim Schwartz—FIRED!
- Greg Schiano—FIRED!
- Rob Chudzinski—FIRED!
- Mike Munchak—FIRED!
- Jeff Ireland—FIRED!
- Joe Philbin—NOT FIRED I THINK?!
- Dennis Allen—POSSIBLY LOCKED IN SOME KIND OF TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED CELLAR!
Here's one added benefit of winning all the time: You get to keep your assistants. The pressure to hire a new coach is so immense now that most teams feel like they can't sit there for weeks and weeks to wait out some Super Bowl assistant, unless you're the Browns and no one wants to work for you anyway. I guarantee that if the Niners hadn't made three straight NFC title games, Vic Fangio or Greg Roman would have a top gig by now. The rich stay richer. It's not right. I demand a dispersal draft of all championship assistants four days after the Super Bowl is over.
/puts hand out
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Maple bacon chips, offered by Chris. These are not at my store. They have every other kind of Kettle Chips flavor, but not this. I demand to know why. I want a Congressional probe. I need these inside me.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Bear beer! From Ethan:
Found this beauty at a supermarket in Lithuania, though it's actually a Danish beer. It wasn't the cheapest beer on the shelf, but fuck it. Bear Beer.
If it's Danish, it was probably brewed with foraged peat moss and retails for five thousand dollars a can. But it sure LOOKS shitty. The polar bear lets me know it's cold! I MUST CHILL IT.
For the past couple of weeks, I've posted reader stories about Chibuku, the African beer that comes in a carton and sounds like the name of a monster that wants to kill you by breaking into your dreams. Reader Daniil says the story of Chibuku goes even deeper:
My fiancee worked in HIV clinics in Swaziland and Botswana, where the carton beer was widely consumed. She says the beer was foul-smelling, tasted bad, and was really thick. All things you generally don't want from your beer. HOWEVER, it was filling and had enough "nutrients" to keep a lot of starving people "alive." It was even given to malnourished and sickly babies when food wasn't readily available. Can it make the claim of being both, the worst beer ever made and the beer that has saved the most lives?
If so, that would be astonishing. At least give that starving baby a pint of Guinness.
Robert Evans's MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is still Peyton Manning of the Broncos! You think Marty Scorsese knows about wolves of Wall Street? EVANS PARTIED WITH THE ORIGINAL. The year? 1970. The player? A big shot banker by the name of Hurley Ascock. Ol' Ascock was a legend in the banking game. They used to say that he could walk into any room and that room could be divided equally into the people he fucked and the people he fucked over. They say he had a cock that turned at a 45-degree angle. He called it THE BOOMERANG. Anyway, back in '70, Ascock brought aboard his sixteen-story yacht—The Montage—and told me that he had an investment that could triple my money within a year. Dangerous? YOU BET! Does Evans like to live on the edge? ALWAYS. My balls beat out my brain, and I cut Hurley a check for $200,000 in Paramount's cash that very same evening. He used it to cut our coke!
"Turns out that Ascock was using the money to fund a pyramid scheme for a Tunisian warlord named 'The Rude'. They would take the cash and literally put it into a hole! Then they would bomb the hole. Or so I was told. I don't understand economics. Anyway, I divested right before the Feds closed in and hauled Ascock off for good. Made $600,000 that I never had to give back! At least, I don't think I did. Was that wrong? TOO LATE IT ALL WENT UP IN CHAMPAGNE BUBBLES, GANG."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Texans Fans
Memphis Belle, submitted by Augie, which is a damn fine movie and features Harry Connick Jr., who has literally not aged a day since its production. His secret is called Pearl Cream and it's made from real pearls.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Nice beating, Lance. Especially around the eyes."
Enjoy the title games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at email@example.com. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.