Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
The first Monday Night Football game I ever watched in its entirety was a Cleveland Browns game. This was back in 1990, when I had a set bedtime and I had to sneak downstairs if I ever wanted to watch football late at night. I’d sneaked down there before, but usually I hurried back up before the game was over because I was scared shitless that my folks would catch me and yell at me. It took me a while to build up the courage to watch a game in full.
I was a Vikings fan but I also liked the Browns because I was still a kid and sports bigamy is a little bit more acceptable for children, because children are fickle and stupid. I liked Frank Minnifield’s orange cleats. And I liked Bernie Kosar because, despite his Miami pedigree, watching Bernie Kosar was like watching someone let a stray dog play quarterback. Even when the Browns were a good team, they were never convincingly good. They seemed to have to work twice as hard to be good as other random teams. They were more than happy to play the part of perpetual, lovable underdogs. Also, they had the Dawg Pound and I liked the Dawg Pound because I was also watching a lot of Arsenio at the time (“And those people over there… those are people who think a Furby is a sexual position WOOF WOOF WOOF”). I was highly impressionable.
Anyway, I finally stayed up and watched the Browns win in Denver 30-29 on a last second field goal, three years after The Drive and two years after The Fumble. A random MNF win against the Broncos during a 3-13 season can hardly be counted as revenge. But if you like the Browns, you take whatever scraps of mercy the Lord gives you. I didn’t know at the time—couldn’t have known—that such a dramatic but ultimately small victory would be one of the scant few highlights of this franchise’s existence for the next 25 years.
I don’t really need to recap what has happened to the Browns since then. Every coach they’ve hired, including the greatest head coach of all time, has failed. Every quarterback they’ve drafted has also failed. Every GM… every scout… all bad. They’ve had no continuity in management, coaching, or even player position groups. We list their ongoing fuckups every year, and every year we have glaring omissions. It’s just too much to remember it all. Just this week, they reportedly gave the starting QB job BACK to Johnny Manziel, only to have their head coach—the man who is ostensibly in charge of such decisions—refute that report, and then openly talk about the disunity that is running rampant throughout the organization (Manziel, by the way, is officially starting Sunday).
The GM is a boob. The owner is a fucking crook. They couldn’t even orchestrate a proper fire sale at midseason and trade Joe Thomas to Denver because they couldn’t get the deal done in time. Their single greatest accomplishment since coming back into the league in 1999 was hoodwinking the Colts into paying top dollar for their own failed draft pick, which they then parlayed into another failed draft pick. They also share a division with the team they USED to be, a well-run team that has become the very model for everything the Browns WISH they could be.
Between Will Hill pulling a Georgia Tech on the Browns last week and the Bengals curb-stomping them a few days later, this has ceased to be all that humorous. As presently constituted, the Browns are not particularly lovable. You can’t call them underdogs because calling someone an underdog suggests they still have a chance. When the NFL preserved their records and uniforms and brought them back in 1999, it was operating under the idea that football is better off with the Cleveland Browns, and better off when they do well. But football hasn’t been better off since their resurrection, mainly because they’ve gone from being owned by a shady credit card magnate to being owned by an even shadier trucking magnate. This is shoddy operation that makes the rest of the NFL look cheap and shitty for having it around.
God forbid Roger Goodell do a fucking thing about this. God forbid he assess the situation and decide to take action for the genuine betterment of most everyone involved. For all his public displays of dick swinging, Roger Goodell is an extremely deferential commissioner. If you’re an NFL owner, you can pretty much do as you please without worrying about the Ginger Hammer coming down on you. He’ll fire a mailboy, but he’s not fucking with one of his bosses. And that puts him in stark contrast to guys like David Stern, or even Adam Silver, who just this week strong-armed the Philadelphia 76ers—another historic yet moribund operation—into doing SOMETHING about their ongoing shittiness.
But Goodell has done and will do nothing. Rather than act in the best interests of THE SHIELD and strip Haslam of his ownership—which NEVER should have been approved to begin with—this team will be a continual drag on football, year after year. In fact, Goodell will continue to prop up Haslam so that he never has to acknowledge the mistake of having vouched for him. It’s a gross and pathetic display of buddy-buddy, rich guy horseshit. And it shouldn’t be this way. As bad as NFL stewardship would be for the Browns, Haslam has been worse. The NFL is about to toy with the fate of three teams all vying to move into Los Angeles, and yet an established tire fire like the Browns is allowed to rage uncontained. It’s not right. The Browns deserve, at the very least, the chance to not suck. They deserve to at least be underdogs again.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Steelers at Bengals: Watch the Steelers blow this playoff spot. They’re clearly the best candidate to knock off the Patriots in the playoffs, and somehow they will buttfuck this game AND the Denver game next week and then let the Jets and Chiefs into the field instead. That always happens thanks to the vagaries of the NFL schedule. Some pud team gets in at 10-6 playing no one while a legitimately talented squad gets knocked out because they have to play the Pats, the 1995 49ers, and the Avengers all in the span of a single December.
Falcons at Panthers: I think that’ll be all for the dabbing craze. Right, Jerry Richardson?!
Yep, it’s dead. It died. You can’t have TWO NFL owners dab and have it remain cool. We’re gonna have to move onto a new dance, like The Brushoff, or The Knit, or The Concrete, or The Doodoo. Dabbing is off now.
Bills at Eagles: Please note that the outcome of this game will definitively answer, for all time, whether or not Chip Kelly is racist. There should be a ceremony and everything if the Bills win. They could present Chip with some kind of crown that blares RACIST in bright neon letters.
Raiders at Broncos: It was just this week that the sports world woke up to an important realization, which is that Danny Kanell BLOWS.
Kanell was hired to replace Scott Van Pelt after Van Pelt left his radio show to host the late night SportsCenter full time, and HOLY SHIT was that a dropoff in quality. I don’t even know how he got the job. Did he happen to just walk by the program director at the right time? “You! You’re wearing a suit! You’ll do.” Jesus Christ. This network has been so dominant for so long that they don’t even have to TRY.
Titans at Jets: Given the paid patriotism scandal that dropped this fall, it was pretty galling to see the NFL commemorate the Pearl Harbor bombing last week. In a vacuum, the NFL has NOTHING to do with that occasion. It’s not like the Chicago Cardinals played the Fort Wayne Spelunkers IN Pearl Harbor the day of the bombing. But the NFL just plows right ahead and pretends it’s still the official outlet for honoring America. What a load of shit.
Patriots at Texans: I love it when Belichick tries to exploit a little-known rule that he thinks only HE knows about because he’s a football savant, only to have it fail. The reason teams don’t drop-kick anymore is because drop-kicking the ball is fucking impossible. If there were a rule that made it legal to carry the ball with your tongue, that doesn’t mean it would be wise to try.
Vikings at Cardinals: My team can’t pass the ball and I apologize to you in advance for having to witness them flail at it this evening. There’s something especially terrible about watching a team that’s unable to complete a pass 15 yards down the field. The Vikings are 8-4 but I assure you that when they have to play an actual team, they are utterly helpless. It’s like fielding an offense of 10 My Little Pony dolls. And Adrian Peterson.
Saints at Bucs: I’d like to know when baggy sleeves became fashionable for NFL players. For the past few years, players outfitted themselves in hyper-aerodynamic sweat-wicking neoprene Kevlar topskins. Now there are linebackers trotting out there in your 1991 Frat Week long-sleeve tee. That shit will slow you down! I’m waiting for Eddie Lacy to run between the tackles with cinched sweatpants running down his calves.
Cowboys at Packers: I went to bed before the Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary last week and hate myself for it. That game encapsulates the modern day NFL as a whole: Just when you should be giving up on it, it TOTALLY redeems itself. I should have known better. For all the bitching people do about football, it’s still the best. Sometimes you just have to embrace the ugliness—the coaching, the stoppages, the shitty replays. You gotta accept that, and then wade through the garbage to get to the good stuff. Because it’s usually worth it. I am sorry, football. I’m sorry I ever doubted you. We ALL owe football an apology. Get on your knees and beg LORD GOODELL for forgiveness! They survived Pearl Harbor for YOU.
Skins at Bears: God bless Jason Garrett for that shitshow last week. After DeSean Jackson pulled a DeSean Jackson, all the Cowboys had to do was squat on the ball and then kick it. Instead, Garrett gave the ball to a running back who had already fumbled TWICE. To me, that’s an even bigger crime than what Darren McFadden did with the ball (ran out of bounds, then scored on the next carry without using any of the clock). Anyway, without that terrible sequence, you wouldn’t have had such an exciting ending to that game. Garrett’s idiocy led directly to 10 ADDITIONAL points scored in the final minute! That’s great bad coaching.
Colts at Jaguars: I can’t tell if the Jags are the best garbage-time team in the world or if they have an actual future.
Seahawks at Ravens
Giants at Dolphins
Chargers at Chiefs: Unlike the Rams, the Chargers wouldn’t be moving that far if they ended up moving to Los Angeles. So I asked Justin Halpern, a San Diego native who now lives in Los Angeles, if he’d keep rooting for them if they moved:
“I’m actually not sure. I hate Marmalard and everyone else sucks. That might be it for me.”
Ah, but that’s only because they suck at present moment, and because Philip Rivers has 700 kids running around greater San Diego, kicking locals in the shins. I think if I lived in San Diego or Oakland, I would just keep my fandom. I know owners are banking on that, and I know LA is spiritually not at all the same as San Diego or Oakland, but still. The Raiders were already the L.A. Raiders in recent memory, so that’s not all that different. And driving anywhere in Southern California means sitting in traffic for three hours anyway, so you can put the Chargers anywhere in that sprawl and they’d still be annoying.
Rams fans are off the hook, though.
Lions at Rams: I’m excited to get sick of that Machine Zone ad starring Schwarzenegger in phony general clothes. Those Game of War people killed Kate Upton’s boobs for America. Now they’re gonna run THIS ad into the ground. I’m angry already.
Niners at Browns: Nope.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Hatchet Job,” by Hot Snakes! From Augie:
Hot takes? Nah... HOT SNAKES!!!
Goddamn right. For the record, that’s a cat sitting on a pirate’s lap, brandishing a sword at a talking soccer ball. Makes perfect sense to me.
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week’s suicide picks of Chicago, Washington, and the Jets went 1-2. That makes me 22-17 on the season. Again, we now pick three teams for your suicide pool, along with one thing that makes me want to commit suicide. This week, the picks are Kansas City, Seattle, Green Bay, and pushing your kid on a bike and then they brake suddenly without telling you and then you walk right into the bike and the handlebar crushes you in the nuts. You might think this is a rare occurrence. It is not. It happens DAILY. Hey kid, how about you give me a heads up when you decide to stop on a fucking dime?
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
Good news, Boston! Your FAVORITE sportswriter, Dan Shaughnessy, won the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Spink award! I don’t know what that means—I assume “spink” is some kind of hybrid epithet of TWINK and SPUNK—but CHB won it because he speaks for ALL of you…
“A well-deserved and tremendous honor for one of the best sports columnists and baseball writers in America,” Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan said. “Dan writes well about all sports, but it’s when he’s writing about baseball in general and the Red Sox specifically that his work seems to shine the brightest.”
Indeed… it is within the confines of OW-AH FACKIN’ BELOVED FENWAY PAHHHHHK where Shank is able to concoct bullshit curses and then market those curses to a public that never asked for them.
“Dan bravely writes what most others won’t, his unfailingly provocative opinions grounded in an unrivaled knowledge of the history of Boston sports teams and the singular nature of its fans,” Globe Editor Brian McGrory said. “It’s beyond rewarding to see him get this richly deserved recognition.”
Singular nature… YOU EAT SHIT, MCGRORY. What planet do I live on? What fucking BOLD TAKE has Shank ever dropped? Let’s take a look at his archive…
WHOA. Now that’s truth to power. “Loss not good for local football team.”
WHOA WHOA WHOA STOP IT SHANK! My eyes are blinded by the light you shine on the hidden stories no one knows about Boston sports! SUCH BRAVERY.
Whoa now it’s all out in the open! DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION KNOW YOU’VE UNCOVERED THIS?
He has been named the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year 11 times, and nine times has been judged as one of American’s top-10 sports columnists by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
And now you know: In the race to be the absolute worst, it’s neck-and-neck between Massachusetts and sportswriting in general. It must be some kind of natural law that the worst sportswriters are also the most honored ones. Rick Reilly, Shank, and Peter King have roughly 8000 Sportswriter of the Year awards between them. There is never year in which one of those men is NOT honored for being a fucking idiot.
By the way, special mention to reader Anthony who sent in this take from the Arkansas Times:
So here’s something I learned in college: Virtually every ugly stereotype applied to African-Americans by white racists was applied to my Irish-Catholic ancestors as well.
KABOOM! Makes you think.
Emmitt Smith’s Lock Of The Week!
“This week I like the Atlantis Balconies (+7.5) to upset the Caroline Partners in Caroline! Now I have a TREMENULOUS amount of respect for what Ron Primavera and Cap Newman have done in Caroline. They’re uneaten! But I think—and this is somewhat counterclockwise—that it’s GOOD to lose a game before you get to the pornseason. Brotherwise, you’ll feel that torsion build up. The dress will be too much to bear! You don’t want your team pisstracted. You want your EYE ON THE BALLS. So I’d rest my farters.”
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 8-8
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Randall Cobb. With Jordy Nelson injured, I think it was perfectly fair to expect Cobb to go for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. You know, to help pick up the slack. But nooooooooo. No, he’s been only fine. WELL FINE DOESN’T CUT IT WHEN I GOT $2 IN DOUBLE UP POOL MONEY ON THE LINE, YOU HOT FUCK.
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 2015 chopping block:
Joe Philbin - FIRED!
Ken Whisenhunt – FIRED!
I know John Mara put him on notice, but you Giants fans will have to put a silver bullet in Tom Coughlin and then bury his ashes in a concrete box before you’re finally rid of him. Like, they’ll fire him, and you’ll think it’s all over, and then by Week 1 of 2016 he’ll be BACK on the sidelines with his hands on his pleated pants, looking red and pissed, and you’ll be like BUT I THOUGHT WE KILLED HIM. Only you didn’t. You must go BEYOND killing to rid yourself of the old man forever.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Andrew sends in this story I call WALKIN IN A POOPY WATERLAND:
This is the account of the unfortunate events of Christmas Eve, 2000:
I was in 7th grade and had received the game Roller Coaster Tycoon for my birthday that year. I played that game nonstop for 9 months. On Christmas Eve the only thing that was going to prevent me from playing RCT all day was 7 o’clock mass, and even afterward I knew I was going to log at least 3 more hours before going to bed. I played for about 7 hours straight, never getting out of the chair. No food, no water; just building roller coasters and making sure my amusement park guests were happy.
I remember I had to poop for the longest time, but I just held it in and forgot about it. Finally my mom came in and told me to get ready for church. When I sat up, all of the poop I had been holding in came out at once. I waddled my way to the bathroom thinking I could get away with it.
But there was just too much poop. No matter how many times I wiped it just kept coming like brown spackle. At one point I tried to take a shower and wash my butt out, but this sent poop all over the bath tub and the shower curtain. The high-pressure shower head sent shit sprinkles all over the rest of the bathroom, as I didn’t have the curtain closed all the way. Being 13 in a tub full of your own poop isn’t fun.
The toilet and tub were clogged with so much brown water that I just started to cry. My dad stormed in, saw what I did and started screaming, as this was now his mess to deal with. I remember hearing him say to my mom “IT’S EVERYWHERE!” numerous times.
Needless to say we didn’t make it to Christmas Eve mass that night, so we had to go on Christmas morning, which was awful. I thought I had singled handily ruined Christmas. After it was all over, my mom and dad said we would never talk about the incident again. Even my brother, who was gifted enough firepower to take me down a few pegs, kept his mouth shut.
I didn’t play Roller Coaster Tycoon for much longer after that, as just seeing the game brought back horrible poop-covered memories. The incident was so unholy that that was also one of the last times we all went to church together.
Well shit, now I can never play it either.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Soup in a mug! It’s like regular soup, but in a mug! Tell me we’re having soup and I’ll be bored to death. But if you’re like, “Hey, want some hot soup in a mug?” suddenly I turn into the mother in a Folgers coffee ad. SO HOMEY! Let me wrap myself in a fleece blanket and bask in the warmth of the goodness. All soups should be mug-based. And all mugs should be 300 percent larger.
By the way, ordering a cup of soup is an easy way to circumvent the dreaded shared appetizer round. Oh, you got fried calamari and dim sum “for the table?” Well I’m getting a cup of soup so that I have something of my own as well. SO SUCK IT.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
SIWO! From China! China: Where Any Chemical Is Also Beer! Here’s reader Rory to explain:
My encounter with this beer came on an overnight sleeper train rolling along China’s east coast. Me and another expat buddy were looking for hydration and we weren’t interested in hot water/tea. Beer sounded good while we dealt with a crowded train and the steep learning curve for Chinese card games. Seriously, you end up with, like, half the deck in your hand. How do you ever win? It’s beyond me.
When the beverage cart rolled by and we asked for six of whatever beers, this is what we got. The beer made a big deal about being “FREE FROM FORMALDEHYDE.” It was certainly the most remarkable thing about it, because I’m not really able to recall anything about the taste, aroma or mouthfeel. It has some heft for a Chinese beer, weighing in at 3.80% ABV. That might help to explain why I can’t remember the rules for Chinese card games after draining a half dozen of these.
Mmmm… formaldehyde. I MUST DIE FROM IT.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“You always gotta keep a pack of spearmint gum on you, okay? Because you go out for the day and what happens? You gotta siphon some gas for your car. What do you do about your mouth after that, huh? Huh? GUM. Or you need to work up some heavy spit to lube up your wagon chain? GUM. Or you’re heading to the OTB and you know there might be a lady or two there? GUM. Always have that gum or else.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Badlands. The first time I saw Badlands, I was like, “Hey! They’re using the True Romance music!” That, of course, is all backwards, because this movie came first. They did not travel into the future to steal the score from Tony Scott’s masterwork. OR DID THEY.
Also, it’s the only Terrence Malick movie that has an actual plot, so it’s got that going for it.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“What kind of parents would permit such a lapse in scalpal hygiene?”
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. 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 Sam Woolley.