There’s a game in London this Sunday between the Vikings and Steelers, but you will not watch this game because it’s fucking terrible. There are actually two London games this season, the second one a Jags/Niners tilt in October that promises to be equally as unwatchable as the one this weekend. This is typical of the NFL’s international series. Whether deliberate or not, the NFL has subjected poor Londoners to some pretty horrific displays of football: game-ending Josh Freeman interceptions, 38-point blowouts, and even Bill Maas (real quote: “He has hands like cobras!”) up in the broadcasting booth. These games have given us a small data set that suggests that playing football in London makes the product shittier. The teams are tired. The play is sloppy. And it fucking rains EVERY TIME. So much rain.
And quality of play is just one of the concerns about putting an NFL team in London permanently. There would also be problems with jet lag, taxes, difficulty attracting free agents, scheduling, currency problems, concussed players driving on the wrong side of the road, England’s horrifying adoration of mayonnaise and, most important, no clear show of native support.
Most of the people at these London games are American expatriates. NFL UK director Alistair Kirkwood said this week that he could see an NFL team in London by the end of the decade, one of those pie-in-the-sky quotes the NFL loves throwing out there to make you think a bullshit piece of speculation is somehow ironclad. But he said that the UK needs to “triple” its NFL fanbase for the team to happen, and there’s nothing to suggest that massive increase in fan support is in the offing. (I also love the NFL delivering a dickish ultimatum to a town that doesn’t necessarily even want them there.) Most British kids don’t watch American football because the games are on at weird times (the late ones, at least) and because they like other sports, and they don’t play American football because their little pasty British legs are too weak to support wearing full pads. Also, many British people don’t like American football because they don’t like Americans, because Americans, frankly, are dicks. The fanbase isn’t going to magically grow just because the Jags rolled in and laid a turd down in Wembley Stadium.
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell (Is he a star? Jury’s still out!) outlined all of the difficulties that a potential full-time London NFL franchise would experience, and all the changes the NFL would have to make to accommodate a London team. He came to the conclusion that putting an NFL team in London simply wasn’t worth the hassle. And on the surface of things, he’s right. It’s an impractical, stupid, and potentially catastrophic idea to put a team there.
But the NFL should still put a team in London anyway, and they should do it specifically because it’s such an enormous risk. NFL owners are boring people who build boring stadiums and encourage networks to hire boring analysts all in the name of keeping the golden goose shitting out eggs. “Risky” for these people entails bringing in another team’s draft bust at the league minimum. Putting a team in London would be the most drastic move the NFL has made since the advent of Monday Night Football, and it would be fun to see if they could actually pull it off. Because if they could, it would change the sporting landscape permanently. Every league talks a good game about international expansion, but someone has to have the sack to see it through, no matter how daunting the task.
Right now, no league is in a better position to take this kind of risk. The NFL has gobs of money, and they have a weekly schedule that makes international travel far more plausible than for an NBA team. The NFL might fail in London, but it can easily afford that failure and send the team back to Los Angeles if it all goes to shit. For all the concerns about setting up an NFL team in London, you can’t really know if a team will work there until you PUT one there, so that natives can finally have a team to call their own, and players can discover the wonders of spending a bye week in Ibiza, and management can figure out efficient travel schedules, and London team owners can pony up so that the Wembley roof fully retracts.
You can’t do any of those things merely by dipping your toe in with two shitty regular season exhibitions per year. You have to be willing to settle in and get your hands dirty and build a real relationship with Europe. A team in London is something that people need to get used to, and that’s a difficult sell for NFL owners who like having everything rigged up for them in advance so they can swoop in and start sucking up cash immediately.
But the potential payoff is worth it. A successful London NFL team could become one of the most popular sporting franchises on Earth, particularly if it ends up being a winning franchise. They could even attract celebrities! Drake would go on First Take and declare himself a die-hard Rippers fan! And think of the WAGS. So many WAGS. I’d pay a good fifty pence for an NFL team to be in London just to read the Daily Mail shit all over the players and their wives every day. It would be majestic.
And COOL! As long as we’re sending American teams over to London, football will be ours and not theirs. That changes if London has its own team, its own strange fanboys, its own tailgating rituals and stadium chants that develop naturally as a result of permanent residence. They can make the game their own, and develop customs that perhaps echo back across the Atlantic and influence the entire NFL in ways that no one could have possibly foreseen. All of that is good. All of that can make the NFL a more cosmopolitan enterprise instead of humorless, braindead, truck-selling, ‘MERICA business it currently is.
Of course, it could all fail miserably and the London team could end up being just another shit NFC East squad and a failed international novelty. They could become Roger Goodell’s Eurodisney (still in business, by the way!). But it’s worth it to explore the unknown, to take the first bold step toward a 21st century NFL with international teams and cornerbacks with laser-equipped helmets and flying injury carts and all that other cool shit. Because as of right now, the biggest innovation in recent NFL history is to put a fucking big TV in your stadium. London is bigger. London is better.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Dolphins at Saints: I love that Louis CK smartphone bit from last week that everyone else fawned over, and I am likewise scared shitless about my kids getting phones and becoming brain-numbed assholes by age 19. But CK is operating on the assumption that all human beings are terrible and that all of us are powerless to resist checking our phones five million times a day. And that’s not true. I think most people crave face-to-face contact no matter what kind of technology they have access to, and I think people will always seek it out.
I have an iPhone because I’m a prick, and of course I check it wayyyyy too fucking often, enough for my kid to see me and demand one of her own. But there are also times when I’m using it and I think to myself, “If I spend one more goddamn second looking at this screen, I’m gonna throw this fucking phone in a river.” And then I take a walk.
The fact that so many people agreed with Louie is proof alone that we’re not just automatically all gonna become phone slaves. We’ve been having this crisis of conscience over technology for a long time now. Video games have been around for over three decades, and TV has been around for even longer, and they haven’t colonized every last vestige of the human race. There are more than enough people out there setting screen limits or playing that game where the first person to pick up the phone at dinner gets the check. We’re not ALL horrible. Most of us are. But many people, as they grow, usually want deeper, more meaningful contact with the world. We’re programmed to crave that. It’s gonna be okay. We’re not all gonna become bloodthirsty Google cyborgs, at least not until 2037 or so.
Seahawks at Texans: I was on a flight earlier this week and few things are worse than overhead bin angst. Before you get on the plane, the gate agent warns everyone that the flight is full and that you should check your carry-on even though NO ONE ever wants to do that. And so you spend all your time in the boarding line worried there won’t be any bin space left and you will be the sucker left having to check your shit and spending three whole additional minutes inside the airport. It’s pure anguish. Just once, I would like the gate agent to get on the horn and say, “Plenty of overhead bin space today, gang! Put your baby up there if you like! IT’S ALL GOOD.”
One time, I was on a full flight and a woman who had to make a connection was left having to check her bag, but then a good Samaritan volunteered to take her bag out and give the connecting lady her slot. I thought that was the most amazing thing ever. That lady deserves ALL THE BONUS MILES. I never even came close to making a similar offer because I am horrible.
Ravens at Bills: Oh God, fucking Ray Lewis on the sidelines. You know damn well that he believes that his SIDELINE JESUS POWER is what helped the Ravens beat the Texans last week. Ray Lewis is his own 12th man now.
Bengals at Browns: When you score a touchdown on a fake field goal, your fantasy defense/special teams should get credit for it. It’s no fun to watch the Browns score a touchdown on a fake and then realize you needed to start the punter at quarterback to get credit for the passing TD.
Eagles at Broncos: The Eagles ran a swinging gate conversion attempt against the Chiefs that failed, but it was nice to see a coach go for two against all sound logic, just for the fuck of it. I feel like Chip Kelly is happily sacrificing victories for the sake of entertaining you, and I’m okay with that.
By the way, Mike Vick broke free on a run in that Chiefs loss and eventually got run down. And that was really depressing to see. You know you’re old when Michael Vick isn’t fast enough to outrun a defensive back.
Patriots at Falcons: After watching the first three weeks of league play, I felt like NFL teams were turning the ball over at an insane rate (this may be because I watch the Vikings every week), so Marchman and Reuben checked the stats to see if there was any noticeable increase in leaguewide turnover rate this year. Turns out teams are averaging 1.7 turnovers per game, about the normal average over the past decade. They’re not turning the ball over more. They’ve ALWAYS been this terrible at handling the ball. You’d think they’d collectively figure out a way to get better at this sort of thing.
Bears at Lions
Cowboys at Chargers
Rams at Niners: Excited to see if Mike Mayock has charted Colin Kaepernick’s gigabytes for this evening.
Cardinals at Bucs: Why are so many punt returners fair catching the ball inside the 10 this year? I thought you weren’t supposed to do that. Stop doing that shit. It makes me nervous. I wonder if coverage guys scream AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!! just as the returner is trying to fair catch it. I bet that’s viewed as a bush league move, even if it totally works. I would be unable to catch a single punt if someone did that to me.
Jets at Titans
Giants at Chiefs: I had my wedding anniversary last week and my wife and I busted out the wedding album to reminisce. Any time we look at a photo album like this, someone (usually me) will always say, “My god! Look how young we/you/Mom/I look!” Indeed, who knew the passage of time would result in aging? I don’t know why I’m surprised by this.
Steelers at Vikings (in London)
Colts at Jaguars
Skins at Raiders
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
Reader Joe submits “Cheap Beer,” by FIDLAR. Do not drink Shock Top around angry biker guy. He’ll beat you senseless.
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of Seattle, Denver, and Minnesota (NOOOOOOOOO) went 2-1, making me 7-2 on the year. Once again, we pick three teams for suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week's picks are Indy, Kansas City, Arizona, and wind-aided door slammings. It’s fall, which means that it’s nice time to open your windows and let the crisp air blow in AHHHHHHHHHHH SO VERY REFRESHING. The problem is that the crossdraft will grab hold of any open door in the house and slam it shut at 90 mph. It scares me to death. When the baby is asleep and I’m trying to be quiet, I will gently push the bedroom door closed, only to forget about the open window. And then I will listen in horror as the door smashes shut and the baby wakes right back up. Stupid wind. WE MUST DESTROY THE WIND. With bombs.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
Hoover damn, Gregg sure is more long-winded then usual to start the season. This week’s edition of TMQ runs roughly 30,000 words, 60% of which are dedicated to exposing the gaping plot holes in Revolution, Falling Skies, and Defiance. Did you know that no one on Falling Skies ever takes notes? SO UNREALISTIC. I dread Gregg’s forthcoming analysis of Agents of SHIELD. The only thing they’re shielding you from is proper bureaucratic protocol!
A few months ago, a mere three yards shy of Super Bowl victory, San Francisco was just pounded on its home field by the Indianapolis Colts.
Nope. That sentence makes absolutely no sense. Apparently, San Francisco was pounded in the Super Bowl by the Colts a few months ago, despite being three yards shy of victory, in a game that JUST happened. This from a man who bitches about script consistency on Longmire.
Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis repeatedly missed tackles.
A Pro Bowler? Sounds like a drug-addled GLORY BOY who’s no longer interested in anything but himself! CUT HIM. In Gregg’s world, “Pro Bowler” is an implied epithet.
In August, this column supposed "Smith is the real deal…
What THIS column presupposes is… what if he sucks on third down?
At the Niners, Harbaugh/West was so eager to showcase Kaepernick that Smith fell out of favor despite performing well. In Smith's final 2012 appearances with San Francisco, he combined to go 25 for 27 with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Should Smith play well in Andy Reid's pass-wacky system, this trade will be viewed as the year's steal."
OMG YOU NAILED IT. Three games in and you have been TOTALLY validated forever. Has anyone ever quoted his own past work as many times as Gregg Easterbrook has? This entire fucking column is dedicated to showing you how smart all the previous columns were.
Readers fairly have asked how they can know I write the words "game over" in my notebook when I believe a head coach has just made a fatal error.
Ah yes, the notebook: hallowed codex of ALL football knowledge. I must know that its credibility is beyond reproach.
In the North Carolina State versus Clemson contest, the Wolfpack faced fourth-and-2 on the Tigers' 40 in the first quarter. When head coach Dave Doeren sent in the punt unit, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook — and immediately tweeted that fact. Yea, verily, it came to pass that North Carolina State lost.
YEA VERILY IT CAME TO PASS THAT A TOP FIVE TEAM CRUSHED A FUCKING ACC ALSO-RAN. What a remarkable act of clairvoyance. Who would have guessed such a thing would transpire? But wait… more proof the system works!
Bob Stevens of Jamestown, N.Y., tweeted "game over" when Michigan State, trailing 17-13, punted on fourth-and-5 from its 45 with 6 minutes remaining. Stevens was correct.
My God… the notebook is spreading! Soon we shall all have notebooks and together, we shall end all sporting events verily before they have passed.
During the Chicago at Pittsburgh contest, announcer Al Michaels declared, "The Steelers have rabid fans." I don't want to sit next to a rabid fan.
I’M GREGG EASTERBROOK AND I TAKE EVERY FUCKING THING LITERALLY.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader JJ sends in this story I call THE DA VINCI POOP:
I was studying abroad and one weekend went with a friend of mine to Italy. This friend is devoutly Catholic and so of course we stopped at the Vatican first thing on our first day there. We didn't have breakfast at the hostel, but we spotted a cart of street-meat sandwiches (which were all over Rome), and decide the price is right and dig in. We wait in line at the Vatican, and though I can tell my stomach's starting to get rumbly, decide to "join" this giant tour group of Americans, so we can get the tour for free and in English. The tour is being led by a well-fed man who clearly was not familiar with the terms "shower" or "bath." We're wandering through the Vatican, and my stomach's really starting to hurt - that street meat did not sit right. But, as this place is thousands of years old, toilets are beyond scarce. And I can't just rush ahead, because my friend wants us to look inconspicuous in the back of the tour group so we don't get kicked out for not paying. So, 45 minutes later, we finally see the international sign for toilet, and I rush off.
As I'm 99% positive that I'm going to shit my pants if I don't squat down immediately, I get to the bathroom door only to find that it's locked. I wait outside, sweaty, desperate to shit, holding this shit in for dear life. Finally, mercifully, the door opens and out walks the well-fed tour guide, who had dropped a demonic deuce. I hold my breath, rush in to the toilet, and release the beast of a shit. After getting the shit out, and after having to inhale the noxious fumes, I can't help but let out a "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST" - in the middle of the Vatican. I finished up, and when I opened the bathroom door, there were two religious-looking types waiting to escort me out of the place. Lesson learned: never eat street-meat sandwiches before 9 am.
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!
"I believe that, despite suffering a percussion against the Broncos, Terrelle Pryor will convulse and lead Oakland (+3) to a victory at home at home against the Skins. When I look at a Terrelle Pryor and an RG3, I see kindling spirits. I see two young prostates who can hurt you both with their arms and their legs. DOUBLE THREADS! I believe Robert has been encucumbered by that brace on his knee. That has limited his motility and left him vulvable! Without those legs, you can more easily defenestrate him. And so I will be watching this game Dillingery!”
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 1-0-1
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
Eighteen people died in China this week as a result of a massive hornet attack (link from @jsmeudt). That’s just how determined China is to overtake Florida in the World’s Most Insane Territory sweepstakes (winning territory gets a basket of hornets!). This news comes on the heels of a million cockroaches overrunning a Chinese town after they broke loose from a fucking cockroach breeding facility. So if the hornets don’t kill you, the cockroach factory will.
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
C.J. Spiller. What in the living FUCK? I kept you, you asshole! I kept you over A.J. Green! Do you know how awful that makes me feel? Do you realize how much that hurts my very SOUL? I’ll never get over it. Never! Even if I’m reincarnated as another being, there will still be some leftover remnant of me inside my new body that remembers that you are a heartless dick. Never trust a guy with initials for a first name.
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*
- Ron Rivera*
- Leslie Frazier
- Greg Schiano*****
- Gus Bradley
- Dennis Allen
- Tom Coughlin
- Mike Shanahan
- Mike Tomlin
*-Potential midseason firing
This might be it for Tom Coughlin, which makes me sad because there’s no one in football who makes the “What the fuck are you guys doing out there?” face better than Coughlin. Coughlin has been around for so long that his assholishness is kind of charming now. I bet when he gets mad now, Giants players are like, “Uh oh! We upset grandpappy again! LOOK HOW RED HE IS LULZ (drops football)”
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Granola mixed with yogurt. This is the greatest nutritional con job of the 21st century. Every fucking coffee shop in the universe sells a yogurt/granola parfait for eight bucks, and that parfait probably has 4,000 calories and 90 grams of sugar included. But you’ll see yoga moms devour that shit like it’s some kind of miracle elixir. You just undid all that tantric sweating, lady.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Seemingly untitled Canadian pilsner. From Andrew:
I'm on my honeymoon in Alberta, Canada and randomly picked up this swill. According to Wikipedia it is sometimes referred to as "Pilly Pop" or "Saskatchewan Champagne." In all honesty, it's not that bad!
Who goes honeymooning in Alberta? You went in the wrong direction, friendo. Anyway, look at that can. What a fantastic can. It’s got trains and bi-planes and little tiny Indians on it. Remember the days when Indians lived in teepees? THEY HAD SOME GOODASS BEER BACK THEN. 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 NFL MVP is Peyton Manning of the Broncos! I’m not usually one to dip my toe into the cesspool that is basic cable television, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in Breaking Bad like the rest of America. Gritty? YOU BET! Based on the life of Dennis Hopper? VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL. Few people know this, but ol’ Hop was a teacher back in the day. Well, turned out that his local shaman diagnosed him with Furfap’s Disease, which is not a real disease but had Hop convinced he was dying anyway! So he lit out for the desert, rented out an old trailer, started brewing injectable acid, and soon found himself with a burgeoning ‘flower speed’ empire! He must have killed at least seventeen people during that run. He showed me the bodies once during one of his 16 bachelor parties. WHAT A CUTUP! No, literally. He was good at cutting people up.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans
Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic. I didn’t realize until I watched this movie that Pryor’s legendary “Live on the Sunset Strip” concert was actually a make-good. After Pryor attempted suicide by lighting himself on fire (he did so after getting high and seeing the infamous footage of a Tibetan monk lighting himself on fire, which means Tibetan monks are just as poor a group of role models as the guys from Jackass) and went to Maui to recover from his horrible burns, he agreed to do a comeback show. But Pryor bombed at the first show and fled the stage after barely an hour. And then, to make up for it, he came back the next night and performed what is arguably the greatest standup set in history. Holy shit.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Marge I ate those fancy soaps you bought for the bathroom.” 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.
Art by Jim Cooke