Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Find more of his stuff at his Twitter feed.
When I was a kid, there were two truisms about the Super Bowl. One: The NFC team always won. Two: The game always sucked. That stereotype of the Super Bowl – an event viewed by everyone and enjoyed by virtually no one outside of the winning team's fans – was justified throughout the course of the 1980's. Starting with the '84 49ers, the NFC won 13 straight Super Bowls. And the decade of the 80's was home to just one Super Bowl that can be considered memorable: the '88 Super Bowl, which featured Joe Montana driving the length of the field to beat the Bengals. Only one other Super Bowl that decade (also Bengals/49ers) ended with a margin of victory smaller than 10 points. The games sucked. Badly. The final straw was the '89 Super Bowl, in which the 49ers destroyed Denver 55-10. Holy shit, that was a bad game.
Anyway, things have changed considerably since that time. You, fair NFL fan, are now living in the Golden Age of the Super Bowl. Every sarcastic jeer about the Super Bowl has been blown up in the past ten years. Saints/Colts represents the final Super Bowl of a decade that lays claim to four of the best Super Bowls ever played (Steelers/Cards, Pats/Giants, Pats/Panthers, Pats/Rams).
In fact, if you go back to 1997, six of the past twelve Super Bowls have been among the finest of all time. No doubt, there have been a couple shitty games thrown in there (Ravens/Giants and Bucs/Raiders, which may be the worst one ever). But even some of the ones that don't lay claim to greatest status were memorable in their own, odd ways. Steelers/Seahawks had the referee controversy. Pats/Eagles had Donovan McNabb barfing all over the field. And I watched Bears/Colts while stoned, which was cool. Since the Broncos upset the Packers at the end of the ‘97 season, it's fair to say that the Super Bowl has lived up to its promise of being the greatest sporting event in America. I don't think anyone living in the 1980's would have foreseen this. But holy shit, it really happened, and it's tremendous.
Now, some of this can be attributed to luck. You never know when two teams will be thrown together and end up producing a masterpiece. But not all of this is sheer coincidence. NFL free agency was founded in 1993, and this glorious run of Super Bowls has come just a few years after that system took root. It produced a system where seemingly helpless teams could, with a few shrewd moves (and with a generous portion of income coming in from the revenue sharing pot), find themselves Super Bowl contenders in a relative snap.
I remember the 1999 Super Bowl vividly because it was so bizarre to see the Rams (who had gone 4-12 the year before) and Titans participating in it from out of nowhere. Back then, turnarounds like the kind engineered by the Rams were virtually unheard of. Now, improving your record by 10 games from one year to the next is a relatively common occurrence (Miami did it last season). It was insane back then. It's not so surprising now, and it's what has helped the NFL grow into the biggest sporting business this country has ever seen. Over 100 million Americans are expected to watch the Saints play the Colts. If the Pacers and Hornets played in the NBA Finals, that audience would be roughly 1% of this Super Bowl's, because the NBA is rigged and shitty. The turnaround performed by the Super Bowl is one of the happiest occurrences in sports history.
And it's all in danger of going to shit. No one out there doubts the NFL salary caps are about to become a thing of the past this coming March. That, in itself, is not such a big deal, given all the restrictions in place on prospective free agents as a result. What IS a big deal is that many believe a lockout in 2011 is all but preordained. There are NFL owners such as Jerry Jones who are sick to death of sharing individual team revenue they earned with teams like Buffalo, whom they perceive as leeches. And, in turn, teams like Buffalo and Cincy believe the current NFL pay system gives too much money to NFL players, thus leaving them short on profit. All of this will conspire, in 2011, TO FUCK US ALL IN THE ASS.
Not only could there be no football, or scab football, in 2011, but the system that results from this labor stoppage may end up destroying the perfect balance the NFL has achieved, a balance that I believe has given us the brilliant run of Super Bowls we've all enjoyed over the past 12 years. These have been GREAT games. The kind of games where even the casual fan at the party is telling the hipsters in the corner to shut the fuck up at the end because the game is getting so good. They have been an absolute joy to watch. Games like Steelers/Cards have had multiple HOLY SHIT moments, those moments where you jump out of your chair in complete disbelief at what you just saw. It's nice to see that happen on the biggest stage in sports. And I don't want it to ever go away.
So please, NFL owners. Don't stop this. Don't bring this to an end. It's been too much fun. I swear, if you fuck this up, I will come to your houses and fucking slap you all.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And, like every year, I switch to PICKING the games. Because why the fuck not.
Saints 38, Colts 37: I fully expect Indy to win this game by three touchdowns, but I'll pick New Orleans anyway because A) This pick is inherently meaningless, and B) Everyone else is picking Indy anyway. So FUCK IT! Saints win. Everyone goes batshit. YAY! Now, to the random crap:
-One of the things that amazes me about Peyton Manning is the speed at which he can go through his progression. There are QB's like Big Ben and McNabb and Favre and the like who will spend a lot of time scrambling around and doubling back to try and buy time and find an open man (in Big Ben's case, because his line has issues). But you NEVER see Peyton do that, and the reason why is because he never has to. There's no real way to measure this, but I bet Manning has the fastest read time of a defense of any QB in NFL history, and that he's leaps and bounds faster than the next guy on the list. He sees his options fucking instantly. It's a wonder to behold. The guy is barely ever sacked. He's barely ever touched. Part of that is his o-line, but the other part is that he's made his decision about where to throw before the defense has even taken two steps. That's why blitzing him rarely works, and NOT blitzing him is even worse. He's fucking Speed Reader.
-I wonder how long Manning will play football. He's been relatively healthy this year. As always, he's rarely sacked. He barely even has to move in the pocket. Couldn't he, conceivably, play until he's 45? I'm telling you, if you think Favre has stuck around forever, Manning will outlast us all. He'll play for at least another decade, then become the Colts official head coach immediately afterwards.
-Before the AFC title game two weeks ago, Jim Nantz narrated this big montage of game highlights. Only he dropped his voice in an attempt to sound like John Facenda. He failed badly. I really hope he doesn't do that again.
-By the way, Nantz made a cameo on "How I Met Your Mother" recently, and if you had any doubt as to whether or not that's the whitest show on television, now you know.
-My kid's birthday is the same day as the Super Bowl. I'm gonna have to clean up after her and her friends all afternoon before the game. You'll pay for that, kid. You will pay dearly. No college for you.
-Last Nantz item: There will be shitloads of Masters promos during this Super Bowl. Tiger Woods HAS to play in this. I mean, why keep up the whole "save my marriage" parade at the expense of the Masters? That guy fucking napalmed his marriage. Any reported reconciliation between him and his old lady is strictly PR bullshit. So, if your marriage is already a shambles, may as well go out and break some records. In fact, I don't know why Woods is even going to sex rehab, apart from a PR effort to save his ad contracts. You already ruined your marriage. KEEP FUCKING! YOU MAY AS WELL! Why would you stop fucking crazy ladies NOW? What's the point? You're too late to save yourself, asshole. I say Tiger goes to rehab to salvage a small amount of his rep, and then goes right back to Strange Tang.
-I steal US Weeklys from the gym as a "present" for Mrs. Drew when I get home. And US Weekly is fucking racist. Actually, US Weekly readers fucking racist, because they always have this "Who wore it best?" section, where two retard celebrities wear the same shit and you're asked to vote on who looked better in it, and the black girl NEVER beats the white girl. EXPLAIN THAT, SPORTS GAL.
-I don't own a Playstation because I have kids and they cut into precious gaming time. But I would totally buy one if they rebooted the King's Quest series for it.
These games were fucking awesome, and the last one in development was cancelled in 2001. DAMN YOU, ROBERTA WILLIAMS! These were the games you played back when everyone had some piece of shit IBM and the game itself came in a package of 97 floppy disks. And the installing process took at least seventy years. You'd have to wait until DISK 4 was installed, THEN insert DISK 5. And if you pulled out DISK 4 too early? ANARCHY.
Anyway, I played these games and killed Sir Graham off roughly 7,000 times a day. You could always save your game before you died, so if there was something that you KNEW would kill his ass, you could save the game and make him do it anyway. Is that snake poisonous? FUCK AND YES, IT IS. Then it always played this really sad music. Loved that sad death music.
-It has snowed an inordinate amount here in DC this winter, and I have fallen victim on multiple occasions now to snow dingleberries. I do not like snow dingleberries. You know of what I speak. You wear any kind of cotton or wool garment in the snow, and the snow will instantly adhere to its fine threads and form little clumps that are impossible to take off. Next year, I'm buying a Hazmat suit made entirely of Gore-Tex.
-First an Earthquake hits Haiti, now there's planned remake of "We Are the World" featuring Barbra Streisand, and REM is rerecording "Everybody Hurts" to help support Haiti victims. Holy shit, haven't these poor people been through enough? Those two songs make me want to kill myself. Stupid musicians. Couldn't you help these people with GOOD music?
-One question never addressed to the mailbag: How long is it acceptable to use the same pillow? I have slept with the same pillow for about 11 years now. That can't be good. It's flat as shit because my giant freak head rolls around on it for 8 hours every night, and when I take it out of the pillowcase, I am presented with this GHASTLY sight of stains virtually every shade of yellow. The stains even have rings, as if they age the way a redwood might. It's as if I spent the past decade working out with the pillow tucked in my armpit. BUT IT'S SO COMFY!
-You may be heading out to a Super Bowl party on Sunday. You never know what you get with these things. You may find yourself subjected to a party filled with nothing but casual fans. Happens to the best of us, and it sucks. This is because of the unique phenomenon of SOCIAL CIRCLING. Go to any cocktail party, and circles of discussion will inevitably form. And you must navigate these circles to find people who aren't a complete waste of fucking time. Allow me to diagram. Let's say you're at a party…
Okay, as you can see, this is a real fucking minefield. There are six social circles that have already formed at the party. Half of them are lawyers. You never want to get stuck in the middle of lawyer circles. That's death. You want to find the cool circle to squeeze into. It is a law of cocktail parties that you will find the circle of sports fans DEAD FUCKING LAST as you make your way around the room. You're gonna have to talk to every lawyer, every dick, and every woman who is likely a new mom and talking about her kid. Terrible. Your goal is to spend as little time with the lawyer and dick circles as humanly possible. And the only way to ensure that is to drink. You get your drink, try one circle, find it's a dud group, and then bottom out your glass as quickly as possible so that you can say I NEED A REFILL and get the fuck out of there.
I am not a shy person, but I'll often find myself at parties trying to enter these circles only to fail. You see an intriguing circle of people and you kind of stand outside in the hopes someone will make room for you to physically join (FUCK ANYONE WHO DOES NOT ALLOW AN OPENING), then you have find an ideal time to chip in. I always have trouble with this. It's like merging into traffic. Half the time, I'll just stand there like a fucking idiot, with nothing to say, and then drift away without saying a goddamn word. Again, drinking helps.
So prepare yourself for this. You never know when you'll end up having to navigate parties in this fashion.
Two Weeks Ago: 1-1 (1-1 vs. the spread)
2010 Playoff Picks Record So Far: 5-5 (4-6 vs. the spread)
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"Battery," by Metallica. No fucking around with this one. It's the Super Bowl. I love any Metallica song from the first few albums that starts off very soft, only to have the guitars rumble in a minute later to FUCKING CRUSH YOUR SHIT.
Embarrassing Song I Once Liked That Will Not Fire You Up
"Climbatize," by Prodigy. I loved the intro to this song when it first came out. I used to go get stoned at my friend's apartment when I lived in New York. He had this CD and I would smoke a joint and then play the first minute of this song a thousand times in a row, to the point where he had to physically restrain me from playing it again. He had one of those Bose wave radios, the kind you see advertised on TV where it's like, "State of the art sound can be yours for just 54 easy installments of $379.99!" Anyway, if you've ever toyed with these things, you know that they can get really, really, really fucking loud. The thing looks like a hideous, oversized alarm clock. But holy crap, you can legitimately turn it up to the point of pain. Do not mess around with Mr. Bose wave radio.
Open Mailbag Tuesdays
Got something you want displayed for show and tell in the Deadspin Tuesday Mailbag? Come across a particularly obnoxious personalized license plate and/or boat name? Email me any question or observation you like.
Drew's Chili Recipe
I've added a new ingredient this year. Everyone, say hello to FENNEL SEED. Fennel seed is the shit in Italian sausage that makes it taste like Italian sausage. Besides the ground-up pig assholes, of course.
I have a friend named Jeremy who cannot cook, save for one thing: this chili. So, if you ever go to his apartment, the only thing you will ever find in his kitchen are the nonperishable ingredients from the list below. It's quite humorous.
FOR THE CHILI:
2 packs ground beef or turkey (I use one pack of ground chicken and one pack ground turkey)
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (optional)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tall red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can beer
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)
2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)
The merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango, grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum (optional)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ashes from a joint (optional)
Lotta Frank's Hot Sauce (Frank's is the fucking best.)
2 glugs olive oil
FOR THE SIDES:
Frank's hot sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped (As always, don't skimp on the fucking scallions)
Put a big pot on the stove on medium. Pour in the oil. When it's hot, toss in the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and shallots and stir them around until soft. Toss in the ground meat. Salt and pepper the ground meat in the pot. Sautee the meat until it's good and brown. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, beer, broth, liquid smoke, sugar, cumin, chili powder, fennel seed, joint ashes, vinegar, and Frank's. Bring it to a simmer. Half cover the pot and leave it on low medium heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it's ready to serve. SERVES ONE.
Player That Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Every player in the Jets secondary not named Darrelle Revis. You people cost me Rex Ryan in the Super Bowl. SHAME ON YOU. I hope you get locked in a basement and forced to listen to "Everybody Hurts" on a loop for eight years.
Nazi Shark's Vegas Lock Of The Week
Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Deadspin can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.
"This week, I like the Colts giving 5 points on the road against the Saints. You know what? I'm under .500 for the year. But that doesn't matter, and you know why? Because reader Matt remembered that I picked the Saints to win the NFC title back in April. I DID! TAKE THAT, JEWS!"