Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Buy Drew's new book, The Postmortal, through here. Find more of his stuff at his Twitter feed.

I have had my spine operated on three times in my lifetime. Colts QB Peyton Manning also just had his third spinal surgery, destroying his team's chances of looking like a functional outfit in the process. Our spinal injuries aren't in the same place. My problem is in my lower back. Manning's is in his lower neck. But the lasting effects of our injuries are similar. And while Manning will almost certainly be able to play football again, and play it well, his neck is never going to be the same for as long as he lives, and this is why.

According to the Spine Foundation, there are over 65 million Americans who suffer from back or neck pain, and the source of that pain usually comes from a herniated disc. The disc acts as a cushion between each of your vertebrae. Sometimes, the disc will burst open and the tissue inside will leak out, protruding and pressing against the nerve. If you have a herniation in your lower back, that means you get pain radiating down your leg, so in fact the majority of your back pain is actually leg pain (sciatica). Severe herniations can even cause you to lose control of your bowels and/or bladder function, which is FUN! If you have a herniation in your neck (as Peyton did), that means you get corresponding pain radiating down your arm.

In fact, you get more than pain. While radiating pain is every bit as shitty as you think it is, it can often be accompanied by stinging, tingling, numbness, and most important, weakness. That last one is the big one. One time, I walked into a doctor's office complaining about leg pain and the doctor asked me to walk on my heels. I gave it my best shot, but my right foot absolutely refused to go up. The nerve had been deadened, a condition known as dropfoot, which would make for a good name for a terrible band. And dropfoot, people, is fucking TERRIFYING. Because you're essentially paralyzed in that respect. No, it's not the bad kind of paralysis, where you're Christopher Reeve and someone is changing your bedpan until the day you die. Still, it's extremely alarming when you know that there are muscles in your body that steadfastly refuse to function. It's not that you can't lift your foot, it's that you can't even TRY to lift your foot. There's only the idea of lifting it. The nerve signals from your brain don't reach the muscle at all. Even today, with relatively few current back pain problems (knock on wood), I still occasionally walk around on my heels, just to make sure everything works.

Spine specialists test you for weakness when they think you might have compromised nerves. In addition to the heel walk, they'll hold your foot up and have you press down, and vice versa. Or they'll press against your leg and have you kick out, and vice versa. For neck injuries, there are similar tests they do on your arms and hands to make sure they have full movement. If you have just pain but still have full strength, they likely won't operate on you. It's when you're weak, when your functional movement is compromised, that they go ahead and cut you open.

Which is what they did for Peyton. Reports were that Peyton hard a hard time throwing the ball, because the rupture in his neck had deadened the nerve in his arm. So his strength was gone. I was warned by one doctor that, left unattended, deadened nerves risk permanent damage. That's why you go under the knife: to get your strength back (after surgery, it can return quickly; at least, mine did). Once it comes back, you're free to go out and throw as many TD passes to Dallas Clark as you like.

Manning had what's known as fusion surgery. Unlike my surgery, in which the offending piece of disc is removed and the rest of the cushion is left intact (Steelers LB James Harrison had this done in the offseason), a fusion surgery takes out most of the offending disk and welds the two vertebrae in place. A friend of mine had this surgery. They go through the front of your neck, which is fucking horrifying. The good thing about taking out most of the disc is that it reduces the chances of more disc material spilling out and ruining your shit all over again. The bad news is that once the disc is gone, it's gone, as is the some of the flexibility that came with it. A ruptured disc, no matter how it's treated, STAYS ruptured. You can't stitch it back up. You can't stuff all the goo back inside. There are artificial spinal discs out on the market, but most reputable spine doctors don't like them.

Once the disc gets blown, it stays blown. And that can have a lasting impact on the discs above and below it. If you're like me, you're susceptible to having any disc deteriorate at any time. When I asked my doctor if I'd ever have to get operated on again, he told me, "Life is a degenerative process," which is the single most depressing goddamn thing I've ever heard anyone say. Peyton Manning will be back. But his degenerative process has begun. And while I like ribbing the guy as much as anyone, it blows. It blows that he's not around to play this year, and it blows even more that he'll probably be dealing with this shit for the rest of his time on Earth. Life is a degenerative process. I can only hope it doesn't degenerate as fast as the Colts did in Week 1, because that wouldn't be good.

The Games
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton ManningS

Five Throwgasms

Eagles at Falcons: How many people in the stands on Sunday Night will be wearing a Vick Falcons jersey? Sixty thousand? I'd wager 80% of that crowd will scream out in ecstasy when Vick takes the field and boo the shit out of Matt Ryan. And you know why? Because people in Atlanta are REVERSE RAYCESS.

Chargers at Patriots I watched the Chargers play the Vikings last week and Ron Pitts and Jim Mora were the commentators and, at one point, they cut to booth so that Mora could show Pitts some kind of defensive line technique or something like that. Listen, FOX people. The whole reason I skip retarded NFL pregame shows is specifically because you have your dumbfuck analysts piss around on a piece of studio Astroturf so they can feel, for ten seconds, like they have a career again. The rest of us don't give a shit. Never cut to the booth for that kind of thing again. In fact, never cut to video of the booth ever for any reason. I don't want to be exposed to Cris Collinsworth's old man hands or anything creepy like that.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton ManningS

Four Throwgasms

Bears at Saints: I know it ultimately ended in failure, but Drew Brees' two-minute drill at the end of the Packers game was pretty much the most badass drive I've ever seen a QB run. There was 1:08 left on the clock, and Brees took the Saints from their 20-yard line all the way to the Packers' 9 before spiking the ball. Three of those initial passes were to the middle of the field, which meant that Brees then had to get everyone in position to snap the ball immediately, and then had to run a successful play. He did that three times in a row before spiking the ball to stop the clock. Do you know how fucking hard that is? If it was Donovan McNabb running that drill, they would have gotten off two snaps and the game would have ended. Brees got off five straight passes with no timeouts left before he felt compelled to stop the clock. If Sean Payton had left the ball in Brees' hands on that final play and let him win the game, you'd be watching highlights of that shit thirty years from now. Just an unreal sequence. I could watch a loop of that all day, preferably while eating ham.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

Three Throwgasms

Raiders at Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick is still ALIVE WITH PLEASURE. Dickey noted it here, and it's worth repeating: sportswriters and broadcasters go absolutely fucking insane for Ivy League pro athletes. Oh my God! He went to HARVARD! He must jizz calculus proofs! I bet I'm just one degree of separation away from knowing him! Hooray for hard-working white people! I BET HE LIKES GOOD WINE.

Cardinals at Redskins: I will never get tired of dropping my kid off at the school bus to go to kindergarten. It's like magic. You put them on the bus, they disappear for seven hours, then PRESTO! They're delivered right back to you in the same spot. It's a goddamn miracle. My kid could come back with a fucking black eye and I'd still be ecstatic about the process. Thank you, magical child-removal device! YOU TRULY ARE THE BUS OF KINGS.

Panthers at Packers: Oh sure, Cam Newton. You were impressive against a shitty team like Arizona. But let's see you do the same thing against a REAL team!

(watches Cam do it against a real team)

Oh, wow. Guess I'll go eat a bag of shit now.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

Two Throwgasms

Jaguars at Jets: My old lady to me last Sunday:

HER: Did you cry today?

ME: What?

HER: Did you cry today?

ME: What would I... Oh! Because it's the first week of the NFL season?

HER: No, you idiot. 9/11. Tenth anniversary of 9/11.

ME: OH! Oh, that! Shit, no. Should I have cried? Was that wrong of me not to cry? Did you cry?

HER: Yes.

ME: Oh.

I felt awful about it. Later in the week, I saw a picture of that one guy kneeling at the memorial where his son's name was engraved. That did the trick. Holy shit, did I cry.

Bucs at Vikings: Speaking of 9/11, whenever they showed players and military people holding onto the field-sized American flags last week, I kept hoping everyone holding the flag would lift it up so a dozen three-year-olds could go running under it, like a parachute in a baby gym class. There had to have been at least one toddler in the stands who had to be restrained from running out there and acting like it was a birthday party.

Chiefs at Lions: The fuck is with those Affleck voiceovers in the Madden ads? Why does he use a Quinzee accent? And why is he using it over footage of an Eagles fan? Is this just how it's gonna be now, with every Boston fuckface allowed to colonize every goddamn facet of the media? You know what, EA? FACK YOU. Find the copywriter who has a fetish for The Town and fire his sorry ass. The rest of the world is tired of this bullshit. The Earth does not revolve around that fucking city.

Ravens at Titans
Texans at Dolphins
Seahawks at Steelers

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

One Throwgasm

Browns at Colts: I wonder if anyone has ever tried to bake a shit. Like, if you made a bowl full of cake batter, then added a piece of human feces, and the baked it, what would happen? Would it ruin the entire house? Or would the smell not hit until your cake knife hit the molten poopy center? If someone who lives in a frat house could research the answer for me, I'd be grateful. Also, this game is terrible.

Cowboys at 49ers
Bengals at Broncos
Rams at Giants

Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

"The End Of Innocence," by Symphony X, which is not to be confused with "Return To Innocence," that Enigma song that had that video where shit is backwards the whole way through. Symphony X records its albums in the home studio of guitarist Michael Romeo, a studio the band calls "The Dungeon." I will be very disappointed if that dungeon doesn't include manacles and real-life shrunken heads.

Embarrassing iTunes Library Track I Own That Will Not Fire You Up

"I Can Make You Happy," by Davy Jones. My kids are batshit for old "Scooby Doo" episodes, and every episode of the show features a chase scene scored to a really shitty "groovy 60's" song like this one from the former Monkees frontman. This song sounds like it was written in two seconds and recorded in the children's section of an underfunded public library. I bet Jones was high on coke when he was doing it. That's the only way he could have tolerated the recording process.

By the way, the chase scenes on "Scooby Doo" are idiotic. The Mystery Machine can drive off of seven-story buildings, hit the ground, and remain completely intact. THASS BULLSHIT! Greggggggg Easterbrook wishes more cartoons would respect physics!

Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
ESPN's resident fuddy duddy spent 700,000 words this week comparing the Colts to the Chronicles of Narnia, because Gregg Easterbrook loves any fantasy series with heavy roots in bullshit Christian symbolism. It's like Simmons taking the Colts and comparing each player to a "90210" character, only somehow worse. Easterbrook also takes a moment to note the following stat:

Manning and Brett Favre had started a combined 548 of their 551 possible NFL games. Favre is done, and Manning might be. There will never be a pair like this playing at the same time again.

Poignant, but reader Anon says it's bullshit.

I'm not sure what "possible NFL games" means, but under almost any definition, his math is wrong. After the Houston game, Manning started 208 of 209 regular season games and all 19 of the Colts' postseason games, which brings the ratio to 227/228. (All stats via profootballreference.com)

Favre played in 302 regular season games and started 298 of them. He also started 24 postseason games. That would bring the ratio to 549/554, which is wrong. Even if you dump the Houston game, we're still at 548/553, which again, is wrong.

AND, this assumes we forget about the 3 games with the Vikings that Favre didn't play in, and the 14 games with the Falcons he didn't play. So really, the number is 549/570. Still impressive, but a far cry from our favorite Brookings Scholar's math.

Gregg also takes a moment to correct the New York Times for not being up to his journalistic standards:

An article "misstated the proportion of Americans who believe extraterrestrials live among us." Who in this context is "us"?

"Us" is all human beings, Gregg. Even Jews!

Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of Arizona, Kansas City, and New England went 2-1. Oops. Sorry about that. There should be a reverse suicide pool, where you pick one team to LOSE every week. It's much more in line with my sensibilities. Anyway, time to pick three potential teams for your suicide pool and something that makes you WANT to commit suicide. This week's picks? Detroit, the Jets, Buffalo and your wife or girlfriend monopolizing the sink by washing clothes in it. Happens every week. I go to brush my teeth, and sitting there in the sink is a fucking garment soaking in Woolite. What do I do with this, lady? You can't just colonize the whole sink for six hours just for one blouse. I have toothpaste crud to spit out. If I took up valuable sink real estate by soaking a jock in there for six hours, you'd be pissed. USE A BUCKET. Thanks to your treachery, I just gave myself a free pass from washing my hands after taking a dump.

Postmortal Book Tour News
There are two current readings/signings scheduled for The Postmortal. The next one is on Monday, 9/19 at Book Court in Brooklyn at 7PM. The second one is on Thursday, 9/29, at 5PM at the Black Sheep Lodge in Austin, TX. Come to Brooklyn Monday night and ask me anything you like, even a Funbag question. We'll make it a lofty time.

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.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton ManningS

"This week, I like the Bills giving 4 points at home against the Raiders. Apparently, a bunch of French people are getting all pissy because of the "Jew Or Not A Jew" iPhone application, which helps identify which celebrities are members of Satan's horned children and which are not. I guess this is the app you use if you're the one person on Earth who's never heard 'The Hannukah Song.' God, I hate that song."

2011 Nazi Shark Record: 1-0

Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Matt sends in this poop story I call THE LAST POOPURAI:

So I just recently got back from a two and a half week vacation in Japan. When I first got there, I basically rolled into Tokyo on a Friday, met friends, then proceeded to drink non-stop for the entire weekend. Like go to bed at 6AM, then wake up at 10AM and immediately start drinking again. All Japanese sake and Asahi beer which my body is not used to in such quantities. We finally leave on Monday and go to a different, smaller city in Japan where my friend is currently living. He joined a local volleyball team to meet people and learn the language a little better. They had a game that night and I was invited to play. Even though I haven't played in forever I figured it would be fun and a chance to meet some cute Japanese girls.

As we get close to the gym I can feel one of those rumblers coming on. I had already had a few bad poops earlier in the day but not that awful one that you always have after a non-stop drinking weekend, the one that's so horrible at the time, but when it's over you know that the weekend of booze has finally been evacuated from your body. Well this was that one.

We finally get to the gym, and I take off my outdoor shoes as you have to in Japan. We get onto the court (by the way it's 100 degrees in this gym, no A/C at all) and before I could even start putting on my sneakers I realize that I can't wait. I run to the bathroom and put on the little toilet shoes that are customary in a lot of bathrooms over there. I only wear 10 1/2 shoes but every pair of toilet shoes I found was too small for me. Anyway, I had been warned about the "squatter" toilets that are fairly common in Japan, but up until this point I had been pretty lucky in that all the places I'd had to go had proper American-like toilets. In fact some even had a lovely butt wash that shot right up your hole. Quite refreshing.

So I run into the stall with my tiny toilet slippers on and, this being my first time in a squatter, stand over it as if it was a normal toilet, squat, pull my shorts down, and start going. Not that I had to push anything out, as it was straight brown water and had some force to it. Right away I knew something was wrong as my shit was hitting the sides of the bowl and just bouncing back up over the sides. Also my shorts are getting dangerously close to my poop trajectory so I'm holding onto the handle on the wall with one hand and kind of pulling my shorts farther in front of me with the other so I don't get dirty. And I'm having to spread my legs farther apart as it's getting close to my feet as well. Meanwhile my poo starts spilling over the side of the "bowl" and onto the floor.

Thinking that it was time for a courtesy flush to try and get some of the poo down I look around and all I see is a green button on the wall. Must be the flusher, I think. So I press it. Then an alarm starts going off. I press it again to try and turn it off but it's still going off throughout the whole gym. So I'm sitting there pulling on my shorts at my ankles and shit all over the floor, in tiny slippers that don't fit, when 6-8 Japanese dudes come running into the bathroom yelling something in Japanese. I see all their little feet outside the stall and they're all talking loudly. I hear them say "Scott, help your friend!"
I'm thinking they have to be able to see the shit on the floor underneath the stall door. I say nothing the whole time (maybe 1-2 minutes) as I'm paralyzed with fear and embarrassment, plus I don't know what the fuck anyone is saying. Eventually the alarm goes off and the commotion dies down, and the feet scatter away. I turn around to grab the toilet paper to try and clean this mess up and as I do, I notice the manual flusher right at the base. Apparently I'd been standing the wrong way, hence the poo not going down the drain like it should. I turn around and grab onto the base thing and finish the job. Things are going much smoother now and it's actually splashing the water.

Once I'm done I clean the shit off the floor, and go out to the sink to wash my hands. I finally get back out onto the court dripping wet with sweat as I just spent the last 10 minutes furiously cleaning up poo in a 100 degree bathroom, and my friend is just casually stretching and laughing at me. There were other smiles but no one said anything to me as they are the most polite people I have ever met in my life.

So if you ever have to use a squatter in Asia, face the base of the toilet or else things don't go well. Oh, and my team lost the volleyball match.

Brutal.

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 potential 2011 chopping block:

• Tom Coughlin
• Marvin Lewis
• Tony Sparano
• Jim Caldwell
• Pete Carroll
• Jack Del Rio
• Todd Haley

Oh, what joy it brings me to add Todd Haley to the list this week. I was unaware of this, but according to Proposition Jason Whitlock, Haley spent the whole preseason just running conditioning drills and played his starters for nearly the entire final preseason game. What an asshat. You know how, in any Army movie, there's always that one sadistic colonel who secretly gets his nuts off on punishing cadets and has a side career as a serial rapist? That's Todd Haley. AND he fucked Jamaal Charles again! He's like six assholes in one!

Fantasy Player That Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Shonn Greene. Oh, Shonn Greene, they promised us things would be different this year. and then you went out in Week 1 and once again took five seconds to be upstaged by LaToeInjury, who is eighty-six years old. YOU FUCK.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton ManningS

Candy cigarettes! Did I buy these as a child and pantomime actual smoking? SURE DID! In fact, I remember pantomiming smoking with pretty much everything back when I was a child: pens, pencils, carrot sticks, chop sticks, markers, paint brushes. I couldn't WAIT to start smoking. One time, I went under my trampoline, rolled up a piece of paper, lit it on fire, and smoked it like a cigarette. I was unaware that cigarettes had, like, stuff inside of them. I wish someone had told me.

There should be more candy products based on narcotics, like rock candy that comes in a crack vial, or gummi bongs, or syringes filled with grape jelly. There's really no limit to what you can do.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

Xihu! Reader Jeff in Boulder sends in this Chinese beer that, as its label states, is "free from formaldehyde":

I drank this in Hangzhou, China after picking it up in a convenience store. It wasn't very good, but as long as it was cold, it was drinkable. It's the bragging about being free from formaldehyde that gets me. So many questions. Did it used to have formaldehyde? Do other beers in China have formaldehyde and I didn't know it? Either way, while I'm glad to know this beer supposedly didn't have formaldehyde, it was a bit disconcerting considering all the other beers I drank while there. At least I'm still alive.

Indeed you are, Jeff. And even if Chinese beer killed you, at least the dangerously toxic levels of formaldehyde it contains would preserve your body on the flight back to America. This might be the worst-looking beer ever submitted. The can might be made out of lead. I MUST HAVE IT.

Robert Evans' MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about who the leaders are 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.

Let's Go Deep Inside The Spine Of Peyton Manning

"Baby, my favorite for the NFL's MVP this year is Tom Brady of the Patriots! All week, I've been in the Great White North for the Toronto Film Festival! EVANS IN CANADA! It's not my first trip north of the border. Few people know this, but back when we were shooting The Cotton Club, the mob had put a hit out on yours truly for 'skimming off the top' of Carmine Lugazzi's fourteen-year-old daughter. So I hightailed it to Toronto. Snow? YOU BET! Men wearing flannel shirts? OH BOY. My travel companion for this little hideout was none other than the fabulous Richard Gere! Now, I don't want to put any rumors out there, but suffice it to say that Richard was a man who liked penises. So we get to Toronto and I book us a suite at the Four Seasons. Molson in champagne flutes. Poutine with smoked sturgeon on top. THAT'S HOW EVANS DOES CANADA.

"But Gere isn't happy. He keeps calling the concierge over and over, trying to figure out where he can find a companion for the night. He tries every gay code phrase he can. 'I need to find a bear trap, sir.' 'I'm looking for strong company, sir.' 'I'm looking for a mentor,' all those things you say at a New York hotel that get a Midnight Cowboy delivered to your door right away. But this was Canada. That all got lost in translation. Finally, Gere just decides to venture out on his own to find a hustler. He comes back three hours later, and his face is beet red. And I ask him, 'Did you find a man?' and he says, 'Evans, I'm the only queer on this fucking iceberg.' Then he jacked off in the jacuzzi and went to bed. CANADA!"

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Colts Fans

Source Code, another perfectly acceptable average movie. I could live the rest of my life watching movies as halfway decent as this and be content. I always overreach when I rent a movie. Sometimes, I'll end up getting some acclaimed indie that critics like but that no one else in the universe would ever tolerate. Or I get some old classic movie that I haven't seen that I end up guiltily disliking. I got Annie Hall the other week and never bothered to finish it and felt like a complete asshole about it. From now on, I'm sticking to movies like Source Code, which makes no goddamn sense but has Michelle Monaghan, which more than makes up for any mile-wide plot hole. Also, I like Jake Gyllenhaal. Guys seem to hate his fucking guts, and I'm not sure why. It's like my sister's open hatred for Andie MacDowell. Although Andie did slash her tires, so I guess her beef was legit.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Now, as you all know, Springfield's 200th birthday is only a week away. Every class will do its part to make our local bicentennial just as memorable as our national bicentennial. Of course, you children are too young to remember that, with the possible exception of Kearney."

Halftime Masturbation Kit
• For the guys: It's whole gallery of hot women eating watermelon. Because eating watermelon looks and sounds so very, very dirty.
• For the gals: Oooh look! It's a big pile of money! Think of all the unnecessary luxury purchases you could make with it! Dream of throwing yourself a lavish birthday party, because all girls like doing such things! GOD IT'S SO HOT.

Enjoy the games, everyone.

Top image by Jim Cooke.