On Softness

Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.

For all the bitching you and I (mostly me) do about the state of the modern NFL—the concussions, the stadium boondoggles, the officiousness of Roger Goodell, the terrible referees, the vague implementation of new safety measures, Chris Berman's continued existence—this is not a business that has suffered much for its transgressions. Ratings for the divisional round were up from last year. Ratings for the two title games were also up. Not only were they up, they were up significantly, and it's not like last year's NFC title game made for lousy television.

It's entirely possible that phasing out big hits and creating a kinder, gentler brand of football has only served to make the sport MORE telegenic, and more likely to appeal to the ladyfolk and such and such. All part of Roger Goodell's nefarious plan. Soon he will eliminate tackling and extend Breast Cancer Awareness sock month another six weeks and ratings will shoot up 97%. Turns out we like our football defanged. We like all the new stuff about football that football people don't like.

I wrote about the supposed War on Football a while back here at Deadspin, and for people who think that the sport is under siege, the War on Football represents yet another step in the ongoing softening of America. We can't lead with our heads because we're pussies. We can't let junior play pee wee football because we're scared Little Timmy will get hurt. The media wants gay players to be part of the sport because the gays just have to be a part of everything now, don't they? All of the arguments we have had about our collective national manhood—sexuality, bullying, rape, corruption—have seeped into our manliest sport this year in the form of Chris Kluwe and Jonathan Martin and the Missouri football team and on and on.

And for many, the verdict is clear: Football is being pussified now, and we are a nation of pussies. At least, that's according to the likes of Lawrence Taylor, and Gerald McCoy and this fine gentleman. ("It takes effort to haze, and guys generally only put forth such effort for those they want to make better.") And I have to tell you: Factually speaking, they may be correct.

With obesity on the rise, we are literally a softer species than in years past. And it turns out that our collective testosterone levels are dropping as well, apparently due to "health and lifestyle changes such as smoking and obesity." Obesity brings our testosterone down, but smoking actually brings them up. That's right. Don Draper seems manlier than you because he IS manlier. Because he smokes. That guy at the golf course smoking a stogie and looking like an asshole? More testosterone than you, I guess. We are eating more and smoking less, which means our man juice is dropping down as we get simultaneously healthier and unhealthier.

There's more evidence of our softness if you look around enough. It's no secret that blue collar manufacturing jobs—the ones you see Ford F150 ads ejaculate hot nostalgia all over—have been on the decline. This is the first year since 1997 that manufacturing jobs increased in the United States. That's less American men WORKING THE LAND and building boats and acting like miniature Ron Swansons than in years past. All those precious car plant jobs that the Greatest Generation won't stop lording over you? Gone.

And we're apparently not getting laid as much as we used to. Schools are cutting PE and more kids are getting cut from public school sports teams because the schools can't afford to field large squads. We're inside more. My fucking school district called for a two-hour delay on a sunny day last week. We're fucking fat. Asshole kids with long bangs are riding skateboards in front of the movie theater and doing tricks poorly. SOFT SOFT SOFT SOFT SOFT. This isn't just a red state lament. Louis CK called us the crappiest generation. There's meat on the bone everywhere you look. You suck. I suck. We ALL suck.

I worry that I'm a soft jackass just as much as the next guy, and much of the evidence points to it being true. I'm softer than I was years ago. I cried at the end of Turbo because I have three kids and so everything makes me cry. I do yoga because my back is a train wreck and it makes me feel better. The DVD even has new agey music and everything. I ask my old lady for permission before I go out (actually, I never go out). I like farro. I am softer.

But... but I'm better. I'm a better man than I was 10 years ago (an admittedly easy feat since I was a terrible person and still kinda am) and I'm better because I'm softer. I don't treat women with contempt anymore. I smell better. I don't use the word "fag" anymore. I am, like pretty much any man, a repugnant ball of urges in NEED of civilizing, and I am more civilized now, and better off for it. And if that makes me soft, well then a hearty FUCK YOU to all the old cranks who are just trying to make themselves look all manly and big-dicked by comparison. Softness isn’t always bad. Sometimes, softness is progress. After all, if football is potentially more popular and more entertaining despite being tamer, maybe that's true for all of us as well.

And so I say... bring on the newer, softer, watered-down-by-lawyers and utterly pussified Super Bowl. I think it'll be a pretty solid one. This is your Super Bowl Jamboroo, so let's get cooking.

The Games

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.

On Softness

Five Throwgasms

Seahawks (+2.5) 28, Broncos 16: Obviously, given Pete Carroll's history, this win will be vacated by the NFL six years from now. ZING! Now, onto the random crap:

—Apparently NBA players are bitching about having sleeved jerseys, but the NBA is keeping them because they sell extremely well. I'll tell you why they're selling well: Because for any fan, the basketball jersey is, by far, the hardest jersey to pull off. It takes a lot of confidence to walk out into the world with bare shoulders and your fucking pit hair sticking out and repulsing everyone. NBA players look great in sleeveless jerseys because NBA players are world class athletes. The rest of us are not. You get really self-conscious really quickly when you're standing there in a basketball jersey. You are already halfway to playing for the skins team, and playing for the skins team is TERRIFYING. If I'm an NBA fan and I have a choice between rocking the beater or a sleeved jersey, I'm going sleeves every time. It's not even close.

—I went to a Chinese restaurant in New York with my parents last month and I saw "spicy beef tendon" on the menu. This intrigued me because I like pretending that I'm eating the discarded portions of a cow's surgical ACL reconstruction. I asked the waiter if the dish was any good. "Oh yes, it's very good," he said. "But I'm not sure if you'll like it. Very very spicy. Might appeal more to the Asian palate?" THASS RAYCESS! I wasn't taking that shit lying down. That waiter was straight-up challenging my weak-ass Western tongue's manhood. NOT SOFT. I ordered it, and it was delicious. I drank the sauce right in front of the waiter to let him know I ain't no dandelion.

And then... my tongue started to tingle. Then it went numb. I swear to you, it was like someone bathed my mouth in Novocain.

"Does your tongue feel weird?" I asked my dad.

"Yeah! All tingly. Boy, that is weird!"

I think the waiter SPIKED my beef sinew with drugs, just so that he could prove I didn't have the stomach to handle the dish! I am not at all paranoid. Anyway, beef tendon is good.

—I know it was easy to find the words THUG and CLASSLESS on Twitter right after the whole Richard Sherman thing. But honestly, I really don't think he got all that much shit from the actual media for what he did. Apart from Whitlock, whose idiocy runs like clockwork, there weren't THAT many op-eds shitting on Sherman for what he did. Even Easterbrook went easy on him (see below), and when Slate said he acted like a dick, they did so almost apologetically. I think that most sportswriters are so primed now for the backlash to their HOT SPROTS TAKES that they don't even bother to write the hot take to begin with. We're basically writing Richard Sherman columns in response to a backlash that never actually arrives. This disappoints me because I rely on the likes of Mitch Albom to be imbeciles on a regular basis. It's almost as if they know they're going to get ripped apart! And that's not fun. The strong take well is drying up.

—There was an aborted halfback pass in the NFC title game and I think we can all agree that an aborted halfback pass is the saddest thing ever. You know the running back wants to throw the ball so, so badly. And as a viewer, I desperately want him to throw it, even if it's into triple coverage. I even scream at the screen BAW GAWD I THINK HE'S GONNA THROW IT! And then the RB tucks the ball away and my innocence is lost. If you call a halfback pass, you should be required by law to throw it.

—I watch Sherlock on PBS because I am civilized fellow with many bottles of Armagnac in my study and because Benedict Cumberbatch is just so dreamy, and I was wondering if anyone could actually DO that. Like, is there anyone out there who could tell I had a girls-in-cutoffs fetish just by seeing a mustard stain on my coat? I'm not demanding realism like fucking Easterbrook or something. I'm just wondering if there's some savant out there that could it off. I bet there's one dude and he looks REALLY weird. Not at all dreamy.

—Would you like to know about croup? No? TOO LATE. Croup is a kiddie DISEASE in which the throat gets inflamed and your child begin simultaneously coughing like a chain smoker and gasping for air. It's terrifying and it also comes around at 3 in the morning. My kid got it last weekend and I had to take him to the ER because he sounded like he was about to suffocate.

And the way they treat croup is with something called a nebulizer. You sit with the kid in your lap, hold a mask over their face, and keep it there for TEN MINUTES as the medication mists through their mouth and nose. I can't begin to tell you how fucking awful this is. I sat there with my son, restraining him while I gassed him. I felt like I was using chloroform on him. He squirmed and shook and my spine just about gave out.

Then, once the gassing is done, you gotta sit there for three hours to make sure the croup doesn't recur. At 7 am Sunday morning, the doctor came in, checked his lungs, and said he needed to be gassed again. NOOOOOOOOOO. My kid left the hospital nine hours later. Fuck croup. Just fuck it deep down right in its asshole.

On Softness

Four Throwgasms

None.

On Softness

Three Throwgasms

None.

On Softness

Two Throwgasms

None.

On Softness

One Throwgasm

None.

Last Week: 0-2 (0-2 vs. the spread)

Overall: 3-7 (3-5-2 vs. the spread—I'm so good at this!)

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

"Leper Messiah," by Metallica. FUN FACT: This song is actually about Tim Tebow. I used to listen to this song in my room when I was a kid and when the solo came along I was full-on air guitaring and headbanging at full fury. And once in a while, my mom would come in to tell me it was juice time or something and I'd get all self-conscious because she saw me being a ROCK GOD. And whenever she closed the door after that, I never rocked quite as hard. I couldn't shake the idea that she'd come busting in again. Parents are so lame.

Drew’s Chili Recipe

Every year, I post this recipe in the Jamboroo. I would strongly suggest you make chili the day before the Super Bowl, because a) hey, eating on Saturday is just as enjoyable, b) you get your fill before asshole party guests take it all and leave you with nothing and c) it always tastes better reheated. It really doesn't become chili until the next day. You can stir it and taste it and stir it and taste it and somehow it never really all comes together until it's been sitting around in a fridge for hours and hours. I like to check up on it in the morning, like a child I've put to bed the night before. I lift the lid and dip a spoon in and scoop out a bit and taste and then before I know it... NO MORE CHILI.

Anyway, as always, feel free to riff off of this recipe and make it your own because everyone likes having their own recipe and everyone likes bragging that theirs is the best even though it's probably a lie. FOR THE CHILI (Make 8-10 servings, I guess):

2 packs ground beef or chicken (make sure it’s the fatty percentage, like 80/20.)

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 shallot, chopped (ANNUAL NOTE: Shallots are the food that make restaurant food taste like restaurant food.)

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 tsp fennel seed

2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)

2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)

1/4 cup white vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Ashes from a joint (optional)

Lotta Frank's Hot Sauce

2 glugs olive oil

FOR THE SIDES:

Shredded cheese

Tortilla chips

Sour cream

Frank's hot sauce

1 bunch scallions, chopped

Beer

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 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Add water if you feel like it needs more time. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it's ready to serve.

Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit

On Softness

It's only Thursday and already the Football Gods are not appeased! They plan all their chortling, you know. Anyway, here's Gregggg sucking the joy out of everything:

Since the NFL MVP always goes to a quarterback or running back, for a decade TMQ has conferred a Non-QB Non-RB MVP, the coveted "longest award in sports."

Ah yes, to be conferred upon the remarkable PHIL LOADHOLT, or some other random lineman that Gregg watched on tape for three minutes.

The Non-QB Non-RB MVP must be a player from one of the Super Bowl entrants, my reasoning being that he who would wear the mantle of "most valuable" had better have created some value.

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Here is a man who talks about SPACE and PHYSICS and welcomes newfangled football metrics into the conversation. But when it's time to pick an MVP, he's like DURRRRR GOTTA BE A WINNER DURRRRR. And he's not even talking about quarterbacks! He’s talking about linemen who could be surrounded with 10 putrid teammates. Goddammit, Easterbrook. I am NOT propitiated.

Graduation rates should be factored into the new FBS playoff ranking system.

"Hey guys, let's ensure that no one watches college football!"

Want to impress your friends while watching the game? If either the Broncos or Seahawks score on a pick-six, immediately announce they will win. Teams returning an interception for a touchdown are 11-0 in the Super Bowl.

WRITE IT IN YOUR NOTEBOOK!

Sherman's postgame diatribe after the NFC title contest was pretty silly, but the reaction was even sillier.

Okay, now picture Michael Crabtree making that catch and delivering the same outburst on national television. How many words do you think Gregggggg here would expend blasting him? Ten thousand? Ten thousand and four? If you went to an ELITE school and were drafted low, TMQ will gladly excuse your petty behavior. But have the gall to be a well paid GLORY BOY? Oh, you will incur the full wrath of the Football Jesuses (see below).

Tuesday Morning Quarterback contends the outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl will be either a rousing success or total fiasco.

Bold! Either people will like it, or they will not!

The cult-status "Sopranos" episode "Pine Barrens" — in which Chris and Paulie Walnuts wander incompetently through New Jersey's famed pine barrens searching for an equally incompetent Russian mobster they are supposed to whack — was not filmed in the pine barrens. The episode was filmed in New York's Harriman State Park, whose tree species differ significantly from those of the pine barrens.

I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH THOSE TREES. And why didn’t those trees stop Paulie and ask for proper identification? Am I just to sit here and believe that a work of fiction is somehow not fictional? The spruce gods wince. Okay, now prepare yourself for this, because this is puke.

Crabtree Curse Revived: Early in Michael Crabtree's career, TMQ tracked the Crabtree Curse — the 49ers were more likely to win when Crabtree was hurt than when he was in the lineup. Many readers, including Herman Hou of London, note the Crabtree Curse lives.

Note: When the Niners win, NO CURSE. When they lose: Oh my God the Curse lives! ZOMBIE CURSE.

Not only was the final throw of the NFC title game, intercepted by Seattle, targeted at Crabtree: all three of San Francisco's final throws of the 2013 Super Bowl, all incompletions, were targeted at Crabtree.

And all obviously his fault!

Bad enough that the 49ers let Crabtree onto the field; when they try to throw him the ball, a Curse awaits.

Oh, like in Green Bay? When it was minus eight hundred and Crabtree caught everything in sight? Or when Crabtree came back for the last five games of the regular season and the Niners won EVERY ONE of those games? Yeah, big fucking curse there. Crabtree’s ghostly chains echo ‘round the city whenever he helps his team win a lot. Jesus.

NFL cheerleaders are women who are being taken advantage of financially by a male power structure, yet feminists and intellectuals have shown no interest in their situation. Feminists may not like pretty girls dancing in miniskirts, though NFL cheerleaders are a fit, assertive interpretation of sex appeal (most can do military pushups)

Oh, they can do pushups! Take that feminists! I bet you stay home with your cats eating Chubby Hubby by the pint while these hardworking gals take the field half naked all for Greggggg’s mighty boner! This grotesque discrimination against gorgeous women must stop!

The Broncos stand for digitized chaos — they are the smartphones of sports. The Seahawks stand for your grandparents' dinner-table customs — they are throwbacks, if in radioactive colors.

The above passage was ghostwritten by Frank Bruni.

Yours truly will be freezing his keister off at the Super Bowl — let's hope nothing goes wrong and the New Jersey Generals don't trot onto the field. I ordered fleece-lined jeans from L.L. Bean. Cold would be fine by me.

You heathen. Here you are moaning on and on about coaches and cheerleaders having to be cold to appease your imaginary football gods, and you gotta bust out LL Bean half-jammies in the stands? PATHETIC. What a hypocrite. I guess the laws of TMQ don’t apply to TMQ himself! You are no bald eagle writer, sir.

I also ordered a reporter's notebook that claims to not to run in rain.

You cannot kill the notebook. It lives forever and anything written in it comes to pass. It is not unlike Tom Riddle’s diary. A giant snake lives inside it.

Great Moments In Poop History

Today’s poop story comes from my friend Justin Halpern, author of Shit My Dad Says and the co-creator of Surviving Jack, which is very funny (I am biased) and hits TV this March. Here’s him shitting himself:

So, I got real sick a couple months back. Kind of sick where you're throwing up, and every fart feels like a coin flip. So, anyhow, I manage to down an orange gatorade (If Gatorades were the Miami Heat, Orange is the Mario Chalmers of Gatorades in that it sucks but it's never going away) and finally drift off to sleep. A while later I awake and something doesn't feel right. There's something wet and squishy under the sheets. I slowly pull the covers back in a Godfather-horse's-head-scene kind of way and reveal that I've shit myself in my sleep. Now, I'd shit myself as an adult once before, but that was when I was awake. And when you shit yourself when you're awake, your asshole alerts your brain almost as it's happening, as if to say "I'm really sorry about this, here's a heads up so you can get started on problem solving." But when you wake up to having shit yourself, it's like a big fuck you from your asshole and you have to run through all the stages of grief before you get to the "how do I clean this up?" Since I'm sick, the shit is the consistency of one of those Odwalla smoothies. I stand up from the bed and it starts to run down my leg. So in an effort to not have shit drip on to the floor, I rip off the sheets and I shove them in my ass crack, much like you might do if you were trying to stop a leak on a boat. So now I'm totally naked, with a sheet stuffed in my ass and hanging down on to the floor, like I'm wearing the bottom half of a horrific wedding gown. And as I waddle towards the bathroom I hear the bedroom door open and turn my head just in time to see my wife staring at me, mouth agape. Real litmus test for the relationship, that one.

Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!

On Softness

"For the Super Bowl, I like the Broncos (-2.5) to futile their density and beat the Saddle Seahawks in a grout! I think it's going to be very hard for Saddle to win without the Elf Man on their side! Their so used to the Elf Man eloquating their level of play! I just think it will be very hard for them to keep up with Peyton Manning (especially when he uses those "OMYGOD!" auditals!) on a neutron field! It's Peyton's time now. The Seahawks are young. Preexpealidocious. They'll be back. They remind me of our first Super Bone team in Dallas! Oh man, now I'm getting all nose algae. (chokes up) Hate it when I get nose algae."

Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 8-10-2

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—RUN THINGS NOW?!
  • Dennis Allen

Please remember that Roger Goodell praised Jimmy Haslam as a “man of great integrity” prior to this season, even when the whole world knows that guy is a fucking crook and can’t run the Browns for shit. Roger Goodell is the worst.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

On Softness

This bag of mystery meat, sent by Canadian reader Adam Carv. I’ll let him explain:

I was at a Farmers Market and saw this Cryovac package of meat displayed. I didn't bother asking what it was before saying "I'll take that 'Product X'". I then asked what it actually was, and was told that it was "Pulled Peamale Bacon" aka "Pulled Canadian Bacon" (which would be a different version of Pulled Pork).

I bought it in October (and froze it) and have been saving it for the Super Bowl party, so I can make a Poutine outta it with caramelized onions.

I would eat that poutine, sir. “Peamale” sounds like some kind of new vegan-based gender.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

On Softness

Unidentifiable Russian dogshit! From Damien:

Found in the foreign aisle at the supermarket. Had the aroma of wet Fancy Feast. Note the cheap, cancerous Russian plastic. The taste, when ice cold, was bearable. Three sips was quite enough.

This is what Putin will force-feed to you if you’re a foreign journalist in Sochi who takes a picture of an incomplete building. I MUST HAVE IT.

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.

On Softness

"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is still Peyton Manning of the Broncos! Another fantastic Super Bowl party in the offing this weekend at Woodland! We make it a two-day affair. Long? YOU BET! Chicken wings in bodily orifices? LOTS. We always have an ex-NFL player or two show up. Alex Karras used to juggle the hookers. And Ed Too Tall Jones once punted Nicholson right in the nutsack! Nicholson didn’t even blink. He just looked Too Tall right in the eye and said, ‘Ed, that one had some leg on it.’”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Texans Fans

Her, which I really liked despite the fact that it scared me shitless. I mean, this is completely what will happen. All my kids will grow up and have sex with their goddamn operating systems. There’s no stopping it. One day I’m gonna walk in on my son and he’ll be tongue-bathing his Oculus. I’m not looking forward to it. By the way, the only thing missing from this movie is when ScarJo Windows tells the Yum! Brands food group about all of Joaquin Phoenix’s post-coital taco-eating habits. Because your virtual girlfriend will betray you like that.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

"What're you cackling at, fatty? Too much pie, that's your problem!"

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.


Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at drew@deadspin.com. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.

Image by Jim Cooke; photos via Getty and Shutterstock.