It seems that there's enough circumstantial evidence to suspect that Kerry Rhodes—a good NFL player who was photographed being physically affectionate to another man—has been secretly blacklisted by the National Football League. Drew Magary builds the case at Deadspin.
Free agent safety Kerry Rhodes was more or less outed by Media Takeout during the offseason (the pictures that MTO posted of him with another man appear to have been scrubbed from the site). He still hasn't found a job. This is fucked up, because Kerry Rhodes is good. In fact, by many metrics, he's very good.
Rhodes picked off four passes last season (two of them came against the Jets, but still!) and was part of the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the fourth-best safety in all of football in 2012. Apart from the retired Ronde Barber, Rhodes is the only player in PFF's top 30 safeties from 2012 that doesn't currently have a job.
Look at his career stats and you will see that there was no obvious drop-off in the quality of Rhodes's play in 2012 compared to the seven previous seasons. He's been serviceable at worst and Pro Bowl-caliber at best. Nothing about him has changed except for the fact that someone put up a picture of him with his arm around a dude. Rhodes has vehemently denied the gay rumors, and yet the mere suspicion of his gayness seems to have been enough to make him unemployable.
If you watched any of the games from Week 1, you know that there are roughly 50 teams that could use improved safety play. According to Mike Florio, four teams tried out defensive backs this week: the Bucs, Colts, Dolphins and Seahawks. None of them brought in Rhodes. The second David Wilson put two balls on the ground against the Cowboys, Tom Coughlin was sprinting to the waiver wire to find any running back with 10 fingers and a working spinal cord (he grabbed Brandon Jacobs, which indicates that he failed in that task). Why a team like the Ravens—who were DESTROYED by Julius Thomas and the rest of the Denver passing offense—wouldn't do the same thing and at least kick the tires on Rhodes is baffling. Florio told me this in an email:
From league source who requested anonymity: "There's no buzz about Kerry Rhodes." Also, from what I am hearing, I can't disagree with the possibility Rhodes is being blackballed. You can quote me on all of this.
I called 5 Star Athlete Management, which represents Rhodes, to ask if the safety had fielded any calls this week. Jennifer Thatcher, a VP at the agency, confirmed that Rhodes got no tryouts after Week 1, but she declined to comment any further.
Even if you're unmoved by any social-justice concerns here, there's the basic football problem of it. My favorite team BLOWS at strong safety right now, and it annoys me that they, along with 31 other teams, have so conspicuously avoided giving a capable defensive player like Rhodes so much as a tryout.
This is a league that pays endless lip service to the idea that the best players play, regardless of skin color, politics, religion, whatever. If Rhodes's sexuality is a nonissue for teams, then what else is wrong with him? What other explanation is there? Did his fucking legs fall off? There's no indication that Rhodes is no longer interested in playing football. As recently as July, Rhodes said four teams were pursuing him. He has yet to file retirement papers. As a nine-year vet, Rhodes would be entitled to a league minimum of $840,000 under the current CBA: not cheap but not exorbitant. There's no indication he is sitting around, expecting someone to hand him $30 million in guarantees. This is the NFL. If you're on your couch and the league calls and offers you a job for the minimum, you go. Ask Brandon Jacobs.
If Rhodes and Jason Collins spend the next full year unemployed, that's basically a gigantic FUCK YOU from general managers. DURRRRR WE CAN'T HAVE OUR BOYS DISTRACTED BY THE IDEA OF YOU SUCKING A DICK DURRRRRR. It would send a clear signal to closeted players to keep their mouths shut. And if Rhodes can be shunned, how many other players have been shunned for other various, imbecilic reasons?
Friend of the site Chris Kluwe, who is not gay but has been a loud advocate for gay rights, also can't get work. Statistically, Kluwe was a middle-of-the-pack punter for Minnesota last season. You can perhaps justify teams ignoring Kluwe in favor of seemingly better options. But is it really so hard to see an NFL team looking at Kluwe's high profile and deeming his activism too much of a "distraction"? (Exhibit A: This ESPN column last year, in which the writer all but imagines NFL owners cracking their knuckles and saying, "That's a nice social-justice platform you got there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it." Sportswriters love to talk about "distractions," because the term is value-neutral and lets them pretend that media fusses are naturally occurring external phenomena, like thunderstorms and double rainbows.) And in the case of Rhodes, there's NO statistical justification for his unemployment. It's football malpractice. He's good. The numbers say so. And yet there he sits. Pretty depressing shit. Riley fucking Cooper dropped an n-bomb on camera and managed to stay employed, and Riley Cooper SUCKS. The longer Rhodes stays unemployed, the more glaring his absence becomes.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Redskins at Packers: I didn't realize until the Monday Night game just how old Dr. James Andrews is. He's 71 years old. An aging, name-brand superstar? No wonder Dan Snyder put him on the payroll. Supposedly, Andrews personally operated on RGIII's knee, but I don't buy that shit for a second. Doctors as prominent as Andrews walk around with an entourage of protégés that would put the average NBA player to shame. I bet Andrews made the ceremonial first cut into Griffin's flesh, like a sea captain christening a boat, and then turned the scalpel over to second-year med student Abbie McFreshfaced. He's a GLORY DOCTOR, I tell you.
You don't want a 71-year-old man or one of his unknown lackeys operating on you. You want a surgeon who's in his 40s or 50s, old enough to have decades of expertise but young enough not be hiding his progressively worsening arthritis/Parkinson's/hand cancer. Andrews is the Bentley of orthopedic surgeons: you're buying him strictly for the status symbol.
49ers at Seahawks: Every year Week 1 comes around and at least five people you've never ever heard of will score a touchdown. You can study every fantasy guide and participate in eight drafts and still never see a name like Jermaine Kearse pop up. Is that Jevon Kearse's nephew or something? So annoying. I would like random scrub players to announce to everyone when they plan on scoring touchdowns, please. And fuck you to any fantasy know-it-all who claims he knew about Julius Thomas' breakout potential five months ago. You are a liar and I hate you.
Cowboys at Chiefs: If it's NFL season, that means it's time for TRUCK ADS. Each truck ad grittier than the next, I tell you! KERRY RHODES DON'T DRIVE THIS F150!
What I love about these truck ads is that they're basically catering to a demographic that no longer exists: white people with industrial jobs. We don't have any jobs like that here anymore. The past 60 election cycles have been centered on that fact. You may as well try to sell trucks to the fucking Tooth Fairy. God forbid Chevy ever overtly advertise to Jorge, the El Paso subcontractor who has actual use for a pickup truck. No no, they wouldn't want to enrage the hard-workin' 'MERICA poseurs who drive their pickup truck to and from their jobs bussing tables at Denny's.
Jets at Patriots: LaDainian Tomlinson is part of the NFL Network crew now. He's useless. What was once the best of the postgame recap shows keeps getting more and more diluted. Ten years from now, the NFL Network set will look like the broadcast booth from The Naked Gun. All the NFL's broadcast partners trot out former players who have virtually no training in broadcasting and act as if the "Hey! You've heard of this guy!" element is enough to get people to give a shit.
Chargers at Eagles: The best part of watching the Eagles blow apart the Redskins on Monday night was the look on Mike Shanahan's face the entire first half. Whoa hey, they can't actually do that, can they? He looked like he was turning to fireplace ash. I bet Dan Snyder got loaded on Crown Royal and placed a frantic call to Kyle Shanahan in the booth during the second quarter, demanding the Skins get one of those blur things for RG3.
I watched that game and I fell right with all the other instant Chip Kelly worshippers. He fulfilled every childhood fantasy I ever had about being a new NFL coach and blowing everyone's mind with my warp-drive offense (although in the fantasy I'm thinner than Kelly and do not wear a visor). I was thinking... Oh my God, this is the future. No one will ever stop this offense and it'll score 50 points a game every game for the next twenty years. VIVA LA REVOLUCION, BITCH. Then the Skins adjusted and hit Mike Vick a million times and the Eagles were unable to score 70 points and run 140 plays in a single game, the way I was hoping they might.
But I'm not giving up the dream. I still want to believe Kelly has come to destroy the NFL as we know it, and every killjoy who says, "Just wait until Vic Fangio studies the tape" or, "You'll get hurt running so many plays for so much yardage!" can eat a bag of shit right now, as far as I'm concerned. Don't be Debbie Downer for the rest of us, jerky. You don't get extra points for being Mr. Skeptical!
Dolphins at Colts: I mentioned it briefly in the Funbag, but if you're looking for a book to read to help you pass the time when Red Zone Channel goes dark for six awful days, I can't recommend Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove enough. Not only is it one of the best books ever, but it also makes you realize that the state of Florida is somehow even WORSE than you pictured it. Like, you think of Florida and you think of face-eaters and serial killers and naked people running through backyards. That's the GOOD shit compared to the history contained in this book. It's beyond fucked up. They should put a statue of Thurgood Marshall on every city block in this country.
Panthers at Bills: One of fun moments during any game broadcast is when the announcers witness a controversial play, think nothing of it, and then are stunned when they see the replay. Like, when a running back loses the ball at the end of a carry, and the play-by-play guy is like, "It sure looked like his knee was down well before the ball came out," and then they go to the replay and right when the replay shows the ball coming out, both guys in the booth go, "OH! Oh, that's a fumble! OH WOW THIS IS GONNA BE PANTHERS BALL!" I love that. Please note that you will never get to experience this moment if Phil Simms is your analyst. All you'll get is, "Hmm. Well I thought the knee was down. But... (three minutes of silence during indisputable replay) Tough to tell there, JEEM."
Bucs at Saints: Fox's in-game graphics have gone back to sucking. In the middle of the 2011 season, Fox finally started providing SCORE ALERTS on the bottom crawl any time someone scored in another game, which is important if you're like me and are far more interested in the scoring crawl than the game you're actually watching.
But last week I watched the games and there was jack shit from Fox for scoring alerts. What am I supposed to do, look at my PHONE for this information? That's crazy talk. Get your shit back together, Fox. Also, if you put lipstick on Curt Menefee, I bet he would look like a really big Mindy Kaling.
Broncos at Giants: If only the Manning brothers played for the Harbaugh brothers. Then we could stage a Manningbaugh Bowl every year and the national murder rate would increase by eight percent.
Cardinals at Lions
Rams at Falcons: I like seeing hot women rocking football jerseys as much as anyone, but those new NFL Shop ads are the dumbest fucking ads in history. "Hey ladies, here's a bunch of hot chicks strutting around in our merch and talking like Herm Edwards. DON'T YOU FEEL EMPOWERED, MISSY?!"
Titans at Texans
Vikings at Bears
Steelers at Bengals
Browns at Ravens: Why are the Ravens keeping the Ray Lewis dance alive? That is WORST thing about his legacy, and I'm including the death of two people. He's gone now. You had a chance to let that stupid dance die with him. This is not a torch that needs carrying on. It's unbearable. Why would you keep it around and remind the world how awful Ray Lewis is? I hope the Ravens go 0-98.
Jaguars at Raiders
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"Scapegoat," by Kylesa. Many football coaches prepare their teams for hostile crowd noise by blasting loud music during practice. I would very much like the job of selecting the playlist for those practices. You know damn well that Chip Kelly was excited to show off a bit of his iTunes library to some of his players. "I know you guys like the rap stuff, but this GNR tune rocks no matter who you are."
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City went 2-1, making me 2-1 on the year. Sorry about that. This week's picks are Baltimore, New Orleans, Atlanta, and being the last kid on the school bus route. You get picked up first. You get dropped off last. All told, you spend 106 minutes a day sitting on a poorly ventilated school bus while the token fat kid clouds up the back with his farts. I bet the last kid on the bus route averages a lower score in standardized tests due to fume inhalation.
Strong Take Alert!
When it comes to football columnists, I don't want any haughty dipshits lecturing me about advanced metrics and inflated personal security budgets for Washington GLORY BOY politicians. No no, I want something a bit more IN YOUR FACE. I want a columnist who isn't afraid to SPIT HOT FIRE and tell it like it is. I want a columnist who's brave enough to stand up to BIG SAFETY and tell the world that concussion sufferers are pussies. That man is CBS columnist and neck portraiture aficionado Pete Prisco:
Anquan Boldin made me eat my words Sunday. When the 49ers traded to get Boldin, I didn't think he had that much juice left in the tank. He was never a burner.
There's something so enraging about this kind of columnist: That smug, Cowherd-esque "You gotta show me something!" attitude that makes me want to slap a baby with an iron. Anquan Boldin did a lot of amazing things on Sunday, but the most amazing thing was that he proved Pete Prisco wrong!
How nice is it for the Cowboys and Tony Romo to have a security blanket like Jason Witten? The guy is not only one of the class acts of the league, but he's also a special player.
Please note that you can overcome not being a burner by being a special class act.
I've been one of the few people who thought Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a chance to be a solid NFL passer.
Unlike you SHEEP out there who fell in line to decry concussions and say that Blaine Gabbert sucks, Pete Prisco has the stone balls to go against the grain and make horribly wrong assessments about Gabbert's passing acumen. That Gabbert has let Prisco down is perhaps his biggest crime.
Cameron Wake opened the season with a monster day. He had 2½ sacks and six quarterback hits against the Browns. The guy is special.
But is he a class act? I would like a running count of all the SPECIAL players in the NFL. And are there any extra special players? I bet Russell Wilson is triple special.
David Wilson, hold onto the football. You have star power. But you have to take the ball with you.
"Oh, so THAT'S my problem!" -David Wilson, upon reading this
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Ben sends in this story I call THE POOP HUNTER:
I moved out to West Texas to attend college. I married a woman who's grandfather was a gunsmith and who's dad makes the Marlboro Man look like Elton John. In my efforts to become more manly, I tried in vain to master hunting. Deer hunting, as it turns out, is easy as shit as long as you fill the feeders once a month and when hunting season rolls around just blast the poor bastard that has become accustomed to a free breakfast. Dove hunting on the other hand is hard as hell because:
1. Deep down the gun shot alone scares me
2. You go with friends and family that laugh at your dumb ass when you miss
3. The damn birds fly faster than a jai alai pelota
My first hunting trip with my father-in-law consisted of us and two of his buddies getting up around 4:30am to drive for an hour and a half to a spot that would have us "covered up" in birds. Due to the fact that we left before I could take a shit, by the time we arrived at our little dried up water hole my anus was fighting to hold serve against the flood of liquid shit (we drank the night before) that my body demanded I release.
I was trying to make casual conversation when I decided to admit my shame and asked if we had any toilet paper in the truck. One of the guys told me it was behind the back seat and my father-in-law said that when I was done to bring him a beer.
As my body cramped while approaching the truck, the feeling became so unbearable I had to stop a couple of times and double down on my clenching. When I got to the truck and cleared everything that was on the seat onto the floor I wrenched back the seat to see the TP on the other side of the cab, just out of reach.
At that moment my sphincter finally gave in as I dropped my pants (but not my underwear) and shit everywhere. When I say everywhere I mean on the stock of the gun, the back of my boots, through my underwear and on my pants. After I did my best to clean up, I casually walked back toward where my father-in-law was sitting. I gave him his beer and he saw the shit on the back of my hand and laughed.
Everyone else got their limit (15 birds) and I didn't hit anything. After being washed down with the ice water in the cooler, I rode back home naked from the waist down sitting next to my father-in-law.
That bastard hasn't invited me back since.
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week
"I'm hardly what you call a 'Vegas procrastinator,' but making these predilections can be fun! So this week, I think the New York Jets (+11.5) will masturbate the ball down the feel against the Patriots and make this a very close game! WHAT A CLASSIC CAVALRY. I know that Foxfire can be a very intimating place to play, but I love what Rex Ryan has done with Geno Smith. When I look at a Geno Smith, I see a young man with VIBRALITY and RECTUMTUDE. That will serve the Jets well as they transgender away from Mark Sanchez and run more of a Hagrid offense."
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 0-0
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
Turns out Argentine rodent breeders are passing off giant ferrets as toy poodles:
He had in fact purchased two ferrets that had been given steroids at birth to increase their size and then had some extra grooming to make their coats resemble a fluffy toy poodle.
Yes, but maybe the ferrets suffered from SPECIES CONFUSION and wanted a species change operation. These transferrets don't deserve to be looked down upon as monsters. If they want to use the poodles-only bathroom and participate in poodle track and field events, I say we let them. Why must we bound by anatomy when defining people or animals?!
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
David Wilson. It's not even close. Imagine all the people out there who drafted Wilson hoping that he prove to be a capable statistical replacement for Ahmad Bradshaw, only to watch him fumble twice (FUN FACT: when you desperately need a fantasy player to score in a primetime matchup, he will inevitably turn the ball over and put you in an even deeper hole) and lose his job. He didn't just ruin one game. He ruined ALL OF THEM. He went from promising to utterly worthless in the span of half an hour. He may as well have died.
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 2013 chopping block:
- Rex Ryan*
- Mike Munchak
- Ron Rivera*
- Jason Garrett
- Leslie Frazier
- Greg Schiano
- Gus Bradley
- Dennis Allen
- Tom Coughlin
- Mike Shanahan
- Mike McCoy
- Mike Tomlin
*Potential midseason firing
I don't think Gus Bradley will be fired, but I still think it's more embarrassing to lose a game 28-2 than to get shut out entirely. Scoring just two points really drives home how useless your offense was. Your defense managed to score two lousy points and you couldn't even do that. Jesus.
I feel bad for anyone who owns a Jaguar on their fantasy team. You have to spend every week knowing there's a very good chance that your player's offense won't score at all. Ever. Meanwhile, the Broncos pile up touchdowns like they're PTA flyers.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Weird Trader Joe's pea-flavored snacks. These are snacks that are shaped like snap peas, taste like snap peas, but have the nutritional value of a bag of Cheetos. You could simply eat REAL peas instead and presumably live a longer, healthier life. And yet, here I am, devouring a bastardized, unhealthy version of a real vegetable. I'm ashamed to eat any kind of chip or curl that tastes like something healthy, because that seems inappropriate. A chip should taste like meat, or fat, or some kind of dip. Making it taste healthy kinda defeats the purpose.
My one-year-old eats these and I have convinced myself that he's eating REAL vegetables when I give them to him. "Look at me! I'm feeding my child responsibly!" This child will grow up thinking that Salsa Rio Doritos belong in the produce section.
Gametime Cheap Malt Liquor Of The Week
Country Club! From Matt:
It probably doesn't count because it's malt liquor. It's horrible.
I have no doubt of that whatsoever. You have to admire the sack on Country Club brewers (do you brew malt liquor, or simply leave it on a windowsill?) to try to class up their product with such a remarkable misnomer. They also tossed a crown on the can to really drive it home. DRINK THIS AND YOU ARE THE KING OF CONGRESSIONAL. It looks like it tastes like cigarette butts and used gauze. 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.
"Baby, my favorite for the NFL's MVP award is Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers! There's a new pic called The Family coming out this weekend, and I'm so happy for my dear old friend, the fabulous ROBERT DE NIRO! Such a mysterious man. Quiet? YOU BET! Hooked on every pill ever formed in a pharmaceutical lab? YOU KNOW IT. When De Niro comes to Woodland for a friendly orgy, he holds himself to a strict limit of twenty spoken words and three black women. VERY black. One time, I made the mistake of bringing in a handful of gorgeous, top-of-the-line light-skinned women for Robert—real chocolate angels!—and he waved them off. 'Little darker,' he muttered. So I brought in a new group. He shook his head. 'Little darker.' So I brought in ANOTHER group, now at considerable expense! And he shook his head again!
"'Bobby, baby, I can't go any darker!' I said. 'THESE GALS ARE FROM RHODESIA!' So Bobby walks out, comes back with four leather gimp outfits, and dresses himself AND the girls in them before heading off to the grotto! He really likes black. I think it reminds him of New York."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Star Trek: Into Darkness. I would watch Benedict Cumberbatch read a Pete Prisco column out loud for 150 minutes. He's a badass. I'm a full-on Cumberbitch.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Take it easy, Marge. How about if we dope you up real good?"
Enjoy the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.