So with Breast Cancer Awareness out of the way, the NFL shifted feel-good themes last week to honor Veterans Day with a "Salute to Service." They rolled out commemorative footballs and a special camo-pattern ribbon, and the announcers thanked the troops, and @NFL tweeted out large-scale tributes to military personnel like this one:
The league gives $300 to military charities for every point scored during 32 designated "Salute to Service" games in November (for a total donation thus far of $228,900). The NFL says it donated $800,000 in all last year. And that's all very nice. Like everyone else, I love the troops, I am grateful for the insane sacrifices they have made on behalf of the country, and I feel eternally inadequate for not doing MORE to support them and for not pitching into wartime efforts that are conducted, in theory, to my direct benefit. I'm the suburban coward who gets to blissfully ignore the tumult across the world while playing Candy Crush or whatever, and I'm for anything that helps get the troops money and/or added recognition.
But come on now: That $800,000 donation is essentially the world's cheapest licensing agreement, giving the league carte blanche to integrate armed forces branding into its website, its TV broadcasts, its apparel. For that small sum, the NFL gets to lease the goodwill and critic-proofing armor of the American military.
The league and the military have achieved such perfect symbiosis at this point that we don't even bat an eye at promotions like this. You know what I'm talking about: the hardass coaches who plot out offensive schemes as if they were executing troop movements along the Somme; the sportswriters and broadcasters who use war metaphors for football; the politicians who use football metaphors for war (the briefcase full of nuclear launch codes was at one time known as "the football"); the commissioners who trip all over their dicks to score photo ops with military higher-ups. We're so used to this stuff that we don't realize how crass it can be. It's one thing for individuals like Tom Coughlin to sacrifice their time and maybe a little of their personal safety to visit the troops overseas. That's a pretty cool gesture. But SALUTE TO SERVICE? That's horseshit. That's an ad campaign. That's a cheap way for the league to position itself as a kind of unofficial sixth branch of the military.
Any time the NFL slaps a camo ribbon on their unis, any time Fox cuts to a bunch of happy veterans watching a Thanksgiving Day game from the armpit of Afghanistan, that's the league doing its best to imbue itself with moral authority on a national scale. It helps portray the league as some kind of noble civic endeavor when it's actually just an entertainment venture and moneymaking apparatus designed to rake in billions of dollars and fuck your town out of stadium money. The Falcons, to take one example, managed to euchre $200 million out of taxpayers for their new stadium. One stroke of a pen, and Arthur Blank has an extra $200 million to put Sicilian marble in his luxury box shitters. Compare that to the $800,000 the league donated last year. That $800,000 helps buy the American flag the Falcons and other teams get to hide behind any time you start to wonder if the league really does have the public's interests at heart.
There's always been a marriage of convenience between corporate America and the nonprofit entities that they occasionally champion. If you toss a ribbon on a box of cereal and that increases sales and brings in donations, everyone wins! And in this case, the image-laundering works both ways. The military, in addition to the promotional force of the NFL and its captive audience of military-age men, etc., gets the best, most sanitized version of itself beamed out to the country. You see all the manly rah-rah shit at the stadium, and you see the troops smiling via closed-circuit cameras from far away, and you kind of get the impression that HEY, EVERYTHING IS OK!
Which, of course, is a lie. There is trauma and stress and death and rape and lifelong injuries and the very real consequences of armed conflict, which you will never ever see during an NFL telecast. All you'll see is the marketing equivalent of Roger Goodell walking into a Native American protest meeting, saying the word PRIDE, and then waltzing out. The NFL itself is a sanitized version of warfare—it is SOLD that way—and that superficial treatment extends all the way to the actual war participants the league trots out during the singing of the anthem. That's just the nature of the transaction. The military gets the NFL's audience, its unique hold on mass culture; the NFL gets the flags and bunting. Everyone wins. Everything is OK. Right?
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Chiefs at Broncos: They desperately need to get rid of the living SNF quarterback graphic. I don't need to see Drew Brees sitting there, smiling at me, in real time. A still photograph is just fine. It's like walking by a painting in a goddamn haunted house. Look at this:
Why is he looking at me like that? Why is he licking his lips? WHAT IS HE THINKING?! It's awkward for everyone involved. It's like that video from a few days ago where people posed for a video camera thinking it was a still camera.
Patriots at Panthers: I need a running count of how many times Gruden says one team is "taking it to" the other team. You can accurately gauge the momentum of any NFL game simply by monitoring who is "taking it to" whom. And it's always the full team name. THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ARE TAKING IT TO THIS CAROLINA PANTHERS FOOTBALL TEAM RIGHT NOW. Do not get "it" taken to you. Because I know exactly WHERE you take it.
Niners at Saints: I work for a print magazine, and I now know how some print magazines have managed to stay in business in the digital age: school craft assignments. Fifty times a year, your kid will be asked to cut out pictures of letters, or words, or photos of food, or photos of geographic locations, and bring them to class so that everyone can paste that shit to a giant piece of posterboard. Magazines are so ideal for this task that it's practically their sole reason for being at this point. There's a picture of a hamburger on page 227 that my kid NEEDS. It beats actually reading that 10,000-word piece of journo-porn about what George Clooney smells like.
Ravens at Bears: I'm 37 years old and I still put way too much effort into thinking about the AFLAC trivia question. I love it. The second they tell me it's time for the AFLAC trivia question, I get unreasonably excited even though I almost NEVER know the answer, and even though I could easily Google that shit within three seconds. Sometimes they'll throw you a bone and give you an easy one, but usually they'll ask you to name eighteen Bears who made the Pro Bowl before 1982, or some other question that has a group answer to it. Even the announcers get into it. "Well I can definitely say that Walter Payton is on there, Dave!" They'll blurt out the easy part of the answer because they know that you know it, but then they'll get stumped when they actually have to finish it. I wish there was an AFLAC trivia question twice per quarter.
Lions at Steelers: The Steelers and Giants have combined to win six of their past seven games, and it's not completely insane to think that one or both of those teams could climb all the way back to first place in their respective, horrible divisions. We've reached the point in NFL parity where a worst-to-first turnaround is now an IN-SEASON occurrence, and not just something that happens from one season to the next. I think this is good. I think it means that your season can still mean something even when you have seemingly gone into the shitter. But then again, it wouldn't exactly be a ringing endorsement of quality play to see these Steelers bumblefuck their way into a playoff spot.
Skins at Eagles: The Eagles haven't won a home game this year. AFTER ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT THE PHILLY FANS HAVE GIVEN YOU, YOU INCOMPETENT OVERRATED OVERPAID BAGS OF SHIT?! This is the reward that @FakeWIPCaller gets for never believing in you? You've got some nerve, Chip Kelly. MISTER STYLE POINTS.
Colts at Titans
Packers at Giants
Browns at Bengals
Jets at Bills
Chargers at Dolphins: I wrote about suffering from degenerative disc disease last week and one of the newer treatments for chronic back problems is called targeted dry needling, which is a kind of medically approved form of acupuncture. I got it last week, and HOLY SHIT. You should know that it works. It really does. They jam that needle down into your muscle and your muscle wakes right the fuck up. But it's a weird sensation, man. It feels like someone made you swallow an electric eel.
The physical therapist told me he had a couple of people refuse the treatment because of their fear of needles, and when I heard that, I totally felt like a REAL MAN. I may have squirmed and whimpered when that needle went in, but I took it, dammit! Anyway, if you have chronic pain, I'm all for getting stabbed. I feel looser than a ballerina.
Falcons at Bucs: I love that tidbit in the Braves' move to Cobb County where the team said this: Turner Field is a facility that was built for three weeks of use for the Olympics, but has now served us well for nearly 20 years. Like, "Whoa hey, we never MEANT to stay in that shithole for that long. If anything, we did you a favor by sticking around! It wasn't built JUST for us, and that makes it totally unviable!" That's the kind of shit that makes me want to tell sports to fuck off forever. Imagine someone gives you a nice house, and you live in that house for two decades, and you go say to the dude that gave it to you, "You know what? I'm glad I could do you a solid by living in your house for twenty years. But come on now... no hot tub? I can only tolerate these conditions for so long. TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS PLEEZ." Go fuck yourself, Braves. Go take a bat and jam it right inside yourselves.
Raiders at Texans: When Bum Phillips died the other week, I forgot to ask if an NFL head coach would ever wear a cowboy hat on the sidelines ever again. I mean, look at Bum here ...
That's fucking great! Every head coach now wears the same stock outfit with the same jacket and the same free hat and the same pair of ill-fitting khakis. It's boring as shit. I WANT COWBOY HATS AND SIX SHOOTERS, GOD DAMMIT.
Cardinals at Jaguars
Vikings at Seahawks
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"Wires," by Red Fang! Nice to have Red Fang back. From Bill:
Brick wall nominee and also greatest video of 21st century
Yep! I like any video that contains the phrase "Enjoy your diarrhea." Spoken by Brian Posehn, no less!
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of Tennessee, the Giants, and Indianapolis went 1-2 (oops!), making me 22-8 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 Seattle, the Giants, Philly, and train shows. Every month or so, there will be some weekend train show for you to bring your kids to, and it will SEEM like a good idea to go. Kids like trains. Looking at trains is fun, right? WRONG.
Here is what these train shows really are: A bunch of middle-aged toy train hobbyists go from county to county, set up their wildly expensive Lionel train sets in some local school or nursing home, and then you pay three bucks to stand there and admire them. You NEVER get to play with the trains. Ever. If you're lucky, you get a fucking button to push to turn on some light in a miniature model of the Empire State Building. These are train nerds showing off their sets under the guise of children's entertainment. It's crap. When you're a kid and you see a toy and some asshole adult tells you that you can't touch it, that's not fun. That's TORTURE. I'm onto you, train people. I'm not playing your game anymore. Find some other sucker to compliment your infantile hobbying. I will not CHOO CHOO CHOOSE you.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
Who had the manliest manly man sweet play this week in the esteemed TMQ's eyes? Not that HIGH-PRICED GLORY BOY Tony Romo!
Tony Romo, paid about as much as Super Bowl winners Tom Brady and Joe Flacco, does hit lots of passes but often vanishes in the clutch. The Boys were 0-for-9 on third downs. Ye gods.
Jiminy Ayer's Rock! Once Tony Romo, formerly a scrappy undrafted underdog, got handsomely rewarded for his hard work, he became a repulsive ME-FIRSTER incapable of completing a third-down pass! He's not clutch at all, except for the fact that he's had the second most comeback wins for QBs since 2011 and the third most game-winning drives since 2011. I'm sorry, but now that Romo has money he is all about the STATSAPALOOZA.
Jason Garrett, the head coach, is a Princeton graduate, so why is the Cowboys' football IQ so low?
Indeed! Anyone who graduates from an ELITE school is clearly someone of both high intellect and virtue. A POOR EATING FOR YOU, GOOD SIR.
And then there was the sight of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the New Orleans sideline. He was sent packing by Jones after last season, scapegoated for another year of the Boys not making the playoffs. Sunday, he outcoached the team that dismissed him.
If I had a nickel for every time Gregggg has bitched about Rob Ryan in the past, I could afford an NCIS boxed set. "Sour Ryan Boasting No. 1: Rob Ryan of the Cowboys sure did a lot of pregame boasting. ... Ryan is so concerned about drawing attention to his own perceived genius, he can't just orchestrate a regular defense." Boast boast boast! That's all you, Rob Ryan! Oh, but you're okay this week.
Your columnist sometimes takes a break from sports to do highbrow writing ...
YOU DON'T SAY.
... including this 2008 Atlantic Monthly cover story asserting the asteroid threat to Earth isn't science fiction.
But does that asteroid have proper customs forms? Because if not, then we're getting into crazy Hollywood writer daydreaming!
This column contends that corruption in government is a larger problem than commonly understood
You fucking filthy peasants... going about your lives without a care in the world as to all the money your elected public officials fritter away. Only TMQ is brave enough to tell you that your local politicians are not all they seem to be!
(Donald Penn) is TMQ's kinda guy, an undrafted free agent who has made the Pro Bowl.
But wait until he joins the Cowboys for a salary above market value! MEGABUCKS ASSHOLE FUCKFACE!
The Official Wife of TMQ was traveling in Africa on business last week
More cheerbabe fapping for TMQ! Enjoy Nairobi, darling!
As Florida boomed a punt in Vanderbilt territory, reader Laura Ammons of Jacksonville, Fla., tweeted, "Sounds like it'll be Florida's first lost to Vandy in 22 years." And yea, verily, this came to pass.
NO SHIT! It was fucking 31-10 in the fourth quarter and Florida had a 4th and THIRTY GODDAMN ONE. You don't get to make a goddamn biblical affirmation because they ended up losing that game after that point.
Who cares if it was fourth-and-31 from the Vanderbilt 38? Florida was behind, be a man!
Don't be a gay!
Needless to say the football gods caused the punt to roll into the end zone for a touchback.
NEEDLESS TO SAY. This is obviously how football works. One team calls a meaningless punt in a game that has already been decided, and then a group of HEAVENLY DEITIES literally take the ball and force a touchback just to publicly SHAME the losing team. NEEDLESS TO SAY. What the fuck am I reading here?
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Rob sends in this story I call GAS N' GO POOP:
When I was in college, I worked at a run of the mill clothing warehouse about a mile off of the campus, and I didn't have a car. Most days, I either walked there or rode a bike, and it never really mattered when I showed up because my boss a 35-year-old single guy who was either a huge stoner or a chronic masturbator (probably both). Anyways, I got typically liquored up on aThursday night, woke up hung over on Friday morning and realized I was going to be late for my shift. I threw some jeans and a t-shirt on, and my bike was out of commission at the time so I started walking at about 9:30. It usually took me about 20 minutes to get to work.
Whether it was a chemical reaction between Natty Light and the drunk pizza I ate the night before or some sort of spiting for my ungodly behavior, my insides began rumbling about five minutes into my walk. I wanted to get to work before 10, so I kept going until I got about halfway there and realized I wasn't going to make it. It basically came down to shitting my pants then going home and calling in sick because who knows what the fuck else you do in that situation, finding a place to shit in the middle of a residential area or attempting to reach the gas station two blocks away. Options one and three seemed pretty awful, so I found an alley and a cluster of trees and went for it. I proceeded to shit in a random person's backyard, and it was not just a run of the mill shit. It was diarrhea of the most explosive variety, probably the closest I'll ever get to understanding the pain of childbirth or a nuclear explosion.
Of course, I had no toilet paper, so I left my chocolate surprise in the yard, put my underwear and jeans back on and bolted for the gas station as fast as a guy with pants full of ass gravy could. When I got to the restroom, I wiped my ass cleaner than I ever have and ever will in my life and left a pair of freshly poop coated boxer briefs in the trash can. To this day, I wonder how the employee who had to see that first reacted. My deepest condolences, but I didn't know what else to do. I freeballed it all day at work and told my friends about it when we started drinking that night. I was unreasonably paranoid that the family at the mystery house would DNA test my shit and have me arrested, but so far I've managed to elude the authorities.
Last week I was in some office building and went to go piss, but didn't shake out enough, and when I walked out of the bathroom I dribbled inside my pants, so much so that my underwear was fucking soaked clean through. So I went back in, stripped the boxers off, threw them away, and spent the rest of the afternoon freeballing. That is not a good freeballing. You know exactly why you have no undies on, and that's never a comfort. I may have medical issues.
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!
"This week, I like Greg Piano and the Bucs (-1.5) to beat the Falcons! There's been an awful lot of conversion this week about BULLFIGHTING in the NFL. I heard all this wild conjunctiva about Richie Inburrito bullfighting Jonathan Martin, and it just didn't make sense to me. In this day and age, how can we allow bullfighting to happen?! And with racial epitaphs, no less? That is SICK. ALL BULLS WERE CREATED SEQUEL. We shouldn't judge bulls based on their color. It's not right."
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 2-6-1
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
...was an experienced worker who had an "amazing" rapport with the big cats, said officials at the facility yesterday.
Not to be a dick, but her rapport with them couldn't have been THAT amazing if they ended up killing her. /goes right to hell
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
Lamar Miller. Oh, Lamar Miller. Oh, we will have words. All I needed was three stupid points from you to beat Will "Marty Poppins" Leitch last Monday Night, and you couldn't even get that done against a winless goddamn team. A special FUCK YOU also to Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin for having your little lover's spat right before I needed quality running back play. This was just a goofy story before, BUT NOW I BELIEVE IT TO BE A NATIONAL CRISIS. You have all hurt me deeply. You know what? You have BULLIED me. Your absence and/or poor play has hurt me emotionally and stunted my growth! I WILL SUE.
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:
- Leslie Frazier*
- Greg Schiano*
- Mike Munchak
- Mike Smith
- Mike Shanahan
- Mike Tomlin
- Dennis Allen
- Joe Philbin
- Gary Kubiak
*-Potential midseason firing
Let's go ahead and put Kubes back on the list. One week is the only grace period you get after a stroke. THIS IS A TOUGH BUSINESS. By the way, Kubiak is back coaching this week and I find that fucking terrifying. He could be jumping and clicking his heels together and I'll still be scared that his head will explode ten minutes into the broadcast. Take your time, man. Go sit on a beach. Rest your mind. Please don't coach.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Baba Ganoush, the most hilariously named of all Mediterranean dips. FUN FACT: Some baba ghanoush is made with mayonnaise, which I did not realize until I was eating some out of a Sabra tub and my old boss pointed out the MAYONNAISE right on the label. I nearly threw up on his shoes. That's a dirty game you're playing, Sabra.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Crazy Brewski Imperial Pils! From Max:
From Lithuania. Absolutely horrifying. 15% alcohol, and it is advertised as "naturally fermented." Tastes like shitty malt liquor, but with even more alcohol burn. For $3 I couldn't resist trying it, but my internal organs aren't happy about it. Stock up on this to give to people you secretly hate.
My God, that is terrifying. That bottle LOOKS like it wants to kill you. I DO NOT WANT 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.
Actually, I'm gonna skip the fake Evans story this week out of deference to the man himself, because he just released his new book this week and it is glorious. Whatever stupid fake story I post here can't begin to compare to the real deal. The man uses "champagne" as a verb, for fuck's sake. He spent eight hours banging Beverly D'Angelo in a hospital room while she was in a full leg cast. Sexy? YOU BET! Dishy? THE MAN DELIVERS THE GOODS. Even if 99 percent of what Evans tells you is bullshit, he's still lived the most interesting life in world history. Buy it.
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Falcons Fans
A Simple Plan, suggested by Mark. If you ever see someone stumble upon a bag of money and/or drugs in a movie, you can rest assured that there will be horrible, violent consequences. Just once, I'd like to see someone find a bag of money in a movie and just go hang out in the Bahamas with it.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"I just scheduled a tetanus booster. Maybe I'm being a little anal, but barefoot season is coming up and there's a world of rusty nails out there!"
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.