The games were the fun part. That’s what we were told by our coaches over and over again. My coach was an affable man with a low rumble of a voice (super useful when you’re the HC), and every Friday he would bring everyone in and give us our marching orders for gameday. He always told us we had gotten the hard part out of the way: the practices, the tedious unit meetings, the lifting, the offseason workouts. The game was our reward for enduring all of that horseshit. All of things were labored so hard over during practice should now, for three hours, just come naturally to us.
“So let’s get out there and cut it loose,” coach would say. “Let’s cut the goddamn string and have fun out there.”
Have fun. Cut string. Got it, Coach.
And then we would go out there and I would be a nervous fucking wreck. The games were exciting but they weren’t always FUN, especially when we were losing, and especially if (when) I fucked up an assignment. The second we fell behind by a touchdown, the veil of fun would evaporate, and the game would be what it always is: life and death. That’s the point of football. It’s not fucking hula hoop. The excitement comes explicitly from the fact that men and boys treat it as deathly serious business. The fact that the sport CAN potentially kill you only emphasizes the un-funness of it all.
I know that there is a certain baseline joy that comes from participating in any sporting contest, especially a casual one. And I know that, for players who are GOOD, it really is fun to go out there and score three touchdowns a game. Maybe some of them really are genetically invulnerable to nerves. I bet that’s awesome. I was not so lucky. Every game, I was Anthony Rizzo:
See now, there’s a man who gets me. There’s a man who clearly understands that these big games are fucking AGONY. You can prepare all you like, and you can know the ins and outs of every game plan, but you will still be caught in moments where you are terrifyingly uncertain of winning and want to barf. In general, pro athletes whip out their little black book of clichés any time they have to talk about pressure. They LOVE pressure. They eat it for a light snack. Give them the ball down six with 30 seconds left and they’re in HEAVEN. Every goddamn Players’ Tribune article is some variation of this. So it was nice to see Rizzo caught off guard for a moment, experiencing the exact same kind of emotional distress I’m sure I would feel if I were in that kind of sphincter-clenching situation.
But this doesn’t stop coaches from trying to tell players at every level to have fun. It’s a cheap way of denying away pressure that is, particularly during the playoffs, virtually unavoidable. Fun is actually a philosophy now, as evidenced by this Jonah Keri post from August, or by this trite soundbite from Pete Carroll, who apparently only takes 9/11 conspiracy theories seriously:
“If you’re not enjoying this, you’re missing it. It’s great stuff, every part of it, every phase of it — the media part of it — all of it. It’s all fun and it’s really what we work for.”
But of course, it’s a lot easier to say you’re gonna have fun out there than to actually have it. I understand fostering an enjoyable work environment so that everyone gets along. But when it comes time to actually bear down and play, telling athletes to “have fun” is about the most useless shit I’ve ever heard. Coaches spend all week yelling at you, and then game time comes and suddenly they turn into a bunch of yoga instructors. “Just relax! Breathe deep! ENJOY!”
No. No, I can’t do that, man. I can’t just turn off the electricity and assume the persona of Deion Sanders like it’s nothing at all. Because the real fun isn’t in the playing, it’s in the WINNING. It’s in going out there and busting ass for three nerve-wracking hours so that you can win and then go fly to Miami and hang on a fucking boat and get drunk and chase tail. THAT is the fun part. That’s when you can cut loose, for real.
So this weekend, I do NOT want you to have fun out there. If you have a dog in this Wild Card fight, I don’t want you cutting loose. I don’t want you inviting friends over and having dip and pretending that this is all a big party. I want you to lock yourself in a dark room ALONE. Just you and a case of beer and three hours of shitting yourself until your team has delivered you glory. And if they don’t, I want you to take a video of your hot tears and send it to me so that we can post it here and get all the clicks. Because this is not fun. THIS IS THE GODDAMN PLAYOFFS, and this is your playoff Jamboroo. So let’s hit it:
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I also pick the games, because I KNOW VEGAS. I’m tight with all the “sharps,” as they are known to some.
Giants (+4.5) 30, Packers 20. I think the winner of this game goes to the Super Bowl, and Lord knows I’ve been on QUITE THE RUN when it comes to predicting things. In fact, I’m gonna dig myself an even deeper hole and do that Simmons thing where I psychoanalyze an entire team from a thousand miles away. I think the Giants win this game because A) Beav can’t fucking coach and B) Ben McAdoo gave the media a perfect response to #Boatghazi. Some other pud coach would have been like, “Well, obviously, it was disappointing to see our guys down there.” But McAdoo was like, “It was their day off. They can do whatever they want.” The guy has a dumb haircut and calls too many fade routes, but I’d run through a wall for him if he had my (bare) back like that. The Giants are gonna come out blazing. NO ONE DENIES THIS.
Seahawks (-8) 28, Lions 14. Three of the four games this weekend feature at least one team that’s been heavily compromised at quarterback. Derek Carr is out for the Raiders. Ryan Tannehill is out for the Dolphins. The Texans QBs are the Texans QBs. And the Lions closed out the season 0-3 because Matt Stafford’s middle finger has leprosy. This is bad. They’re gonna have to fix things so that QBs are somehow even more protected than they already are. We’re two years away from the NFL giving every QB a red jersey and a personal on-field security guard, and I have no choice but to be okay with it.
Steelers (-10) 42, Dolphins 10. By the way, the Pats get to play either the winner of the Houston/Oakland game, or the Dolphins if they do New England a favor and knock the Steelers out. Thirty members of the Patriots could die in a ferry crash and that team would still walk to the AFC title game. It’s horseshit. Half the AFC playoff field is composed of amputees. Next year the Pats should be forced to battle a fucking Frost Ape if they want to advance.
Texans (-3.5) 21, Raiders 6. Since their inception, the Texans have subjected the NFL playoffs to Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Brian Hoyer, and now Brock Osweiler. What I’m saying is that we should end the Texans, for their sake and everyone else’s. I can’t decide if Bill O’Brien is a good coach because he’s made the playoffs two straight years without a good QB, or if he’s a terrible coach because he can’t ever seem to find/develop one. The guy was a QB coach. How is it that the rest of that team is always good EXCEPT for the quarterbacks? It doesn’t make any goddamn sense.
By the way, I highly recommend watching the video of O’Brien’s presser right after the Texans clinched the division two weeks ago. DOESN’T MATTER, BRIAN! AFC SOUTH CHAMPIONS TWO YEARS IN A ROW, BITCH! My man is gonna hoist those banners personally and then give double birds to the press box afterward.
Nothing. Only four games this week, and three of them aren’t even that good. Christ. Time for the random crap:
“Let’s put it this way: he’s not Kirk Cousins,” another scout said. “The person kills him. Selfish. He goes out too much. It’s a tell-tale sign when your teammates don’t like you, and I know they don’t. He’s good, but that position is more than physical attributes. It’s also leadership. Is he going to lead your guys? I don’t think so. He’ll be a starter but I don’t think he can lead you to the promised land.” Fifth-year senior from Hinckley, Ohio. Passer rating was 95.2, Wonderlic was 25. “He stinks,” a third scout said. “Wildly inaccurate (57.5% career). Average arm, average mobility, average field vision. Not a leader. Not aware. Someone will take him in the second, third or fourth round and he’s going to disappoint. The owner needs to fire the GM right after they pick him if someone takes him in the first. But when the Buffalo Bills took EJ Manuel in the first, all bets are off.”
Never gets old. They should have a sideline reporter read that out loud to Cook before every start to get his reaction.
•I know Matt Ryan had his best season as a pro, but anyone voting him for MVP over Brady or Rodgers is doing it just because they’re bored of Brady and Rodgers. It’s like when Derrick Rose won it in the NBA. I’ve seen Matt Ryan when Julio Jones isn’t around. JULIO IS DA REAL MVP. Anyone voting for Ryan will immediately regret it when the Falcons pull a Falcons next week.
•My doctor said I had to stop eating so much salt, mostly because I eat cold cuts by the fistful. So I checked around for good low-sodium foods and—this will not shock you—there aren’t any. Everything good has either salt or sugar in it, and both of them will kill you. When I went to the Livestrong website for advice, this is what they seriously touted as a tasty alternative to salty food:
“Top a baked chicken breast with pineapple rings and serve with a baked sweet potato and Brussels sprouts”
Jesus fucking Christ. Chicken and pineapple? What the fuck is wrong with you, Livestrong? Someone drag Lance Armstrong out here so we can shame him all over again. Some of us have standards, you know. I’ll jump into fire if I gotta eat that for the rest of my life.
•I shouldn’t be more excited for the Taboo promos than the game I’m watching, but here we are. That show is clearly going to be an hour of Tom Hardy fucking people up while wearing Victorian-era clothing every week, and I fully approve. In fact, I’m gonna spend the whole offseason catching up on the Tom Hardy catalog. I haven’t seen Locke. I haven’t seen Bronson. It’s amazing I’ve managed to live this long without them, frankly.
•The Gizmodo Media holiday party was a few weeks ago (actual pictures can be found here, and no, I was not one of the reindeer gimps). Anyway, prior to the party, I wanted to smoke weed but had no weed on me. So, and this is true, I sent a group text. Here is a screengrab of that text:
I deserved that. There is no dignified way for a man my age to try to score weed. They need to make it legal everywhere if only to spare people like me the embarrassment.
•The Skins’ final humiliation last week is made even sweeter by the fact there is NO good solution to the Kirk Cousins situation. They have to pay him, because they had a nice offense this season and it behooves them to keep that offense intact. But they also CAN’T pay him $20-$30 million, because your team is inextricably screwed if it has that much money tied up in Kirk fucking Cousins. It’s the perfect dilemma. I hope they tag him again and he has the EXACT same season all over again. It’s a whole new flavor of dysfunction that they’ve brewed up here.
•Now that the Jets season is over, it’s time to remember this NY Daily News back cover:
Still holds up! The ultimate victory.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“You Can’t Stop Steel,” by Midnight! FUCK YEAH! I’m sold on the title alone. Here’s Corey:
This band’s entire catalog is intended specifically for getting shithammered and breaking furniture in the name of Our Lord Satan. Especially this one! I wanna shotgun a Steel Reserve and ride a flame-spewing motorcycle through the nearest brick wall while this song soundtracks my lawless rampage. Other great tracks from these hooded scoundrels include “Lust, Filth, and Sleaze,” “All Hail Hell,” and “Prowling Leather.”
I’ll prowl some leather with these fine men.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
We’ve never had Gary Myers in this section, which is a hideous oversight. Thankfully, the Daily News’ requisite “NFL Insider who doesn’t seem to actually have any inside information” has his sails a-flappin’ over the Giants boating non-scandal. GIMME THAT SWEET BOATGHAZI TAKE, YOU HANDSOME DEVIL.
All these years later, the Giants finally answered Cabogate in Dallas with their very own Biebergate.
As you can see, we’re already in good hands.
What does this mean?
Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookies Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis are grown men and obviously allowed to do what they want on their day off.
As with a great many bad takes, you could have stopped the column here and have it been correct. But that’s not how Gary Myers rolls. As one of the last of the great horrible newspaper guys, Gary Myers knows that you start your column with a salient point and then proceed to undermine it with a SHITLOAD of old man fist-shaking.
Did they break team rules or laws of the land? No they did not.
THEN WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE
Can Ben McAdoo be happy?
He already said he didn’t give a shit.
I can’t imagine he has the Biebs on his Spotify.
KABOOM! Spotify! That’s what you teens listening to the Biebs on your iTouches use, right? I have all the music apps: Spotify, Beads, Pamona, Zurgle, BoxxxxxxxX, FlimFlam, and Nipl (but not Tidal)
Even though the players were on their own time, was it a bad look and immature, less than one week before the Giants are in their first playoff game in five years, for The Fab 4 to be in Miami?
Give it to me.
Yes it was.
And there you have it. We’re in vintage football guy territory here, where if you do a thing that is inherently harmless, but people think it looks harmful, then it IS harmful. OMG WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS SAY?! I could roast a whole buffalo on a spit with the stick that’s up Myers’s ass.
There are certain things taken for granted at playoff time. Being a professional is one of them.
It was their day off.
There is no I in team, but there is in Justin Bieber.
And this little junket was pretty selfish.
IT WAS THEIR DAY OFF!
Bieber and Manziel. Now that’s quite a pair. Maybe Beckham can get them sideline passes in Green Bay.
I feel like you don’t mean that sincerely.
Nine years ago, Tony Romo went to Cabo San Lucas with then-girlfriend Jessica Simpson…
NOTED STRUMPET AND CURSED TIKI IDOL JESSICA SIMPSON. Note the I in her name! Yes, I think we can all remember the halcyon days of #Jessghazi, when even Jay Mariotti got in on the DURRRR WOMEN DISTRACT YOU WITH THE SEX columns. Simpler times.
I wonder if Ashlee Simpson is still alive.
…and best buddy Jason Witten during the Cowboys’ bye week prior to playing the Giants in the 2007 divisional round of the playoffs. Romo is a quarterback, so he was being held accountable. He is still hearing about his misplaced priorities and his commitment back then.
So, I asked Manning on Tuesday if he will be giving a tearful defense of Beckham on Sunday in Green Bay if the Giants lose and Beckham drops a key pass. “I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m not thinking about that possibility.”
Finally, someone has the balls to ask Eli the tough questions about future scenarios that might serve as ideal copy for a hectoring newspaperman. “Eli, what will you say to me when Odell smokes THE WEED on the sideline and punches out a nurse?”
Beckham plays with incredible passion and if the offensive line gives Manning time, OBJ will rip up the Packers secondary.
OH YOU SCAMP
…this is the first playoff game in his three-year career.
THERE’S NO BOATING IN THE PLAYOFFS!
He is the Giants’ best player. His traveling companions are role players. Manning is the leader, but Beckham established the tone. I think he should have waited until the season was over to take a break.
Here’s what I think: It’s more than reasonable to shit on Odell when he has a bad game, or when he loses control and turns into a flag factory when another player gets under his skin. But imagine being a football player and having your every game—every play, really—broken down and scrutinized by fans and coaches and writers alike, and the ONE fucking day you get to get away from all that… the one time you think you can enjoy yourself, there are people out there STILL trying to control your actions from up the Coast. Fuck all this. Let the man have his sex boat for a day.
If the Giants beat the Packers at Lambeau to advance to likely play the Cowboys, the next stop on Monday’s day off for Beckham and his pals could be to the Bahamas.
(gasps) But what if… what if they have relations down there?!
Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Packers (-4.5)
Schilling 2016 record: 7-9-1
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
As always, you have only yourself to blame if you play in a league that has its title game during Week 17. I lost five bucks on DraftKings last week because I went ahead and joined a pool and willingly drew from a minefield of broken down assholes. I started Matt Stafford. Why did I do that? His lost his finger in an Arctic whaling expedition, for God’s sake.
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 2016 chopping block:
Mike McCoy – FIRED!
Rex Ryan – FIRED!
Jeff Fisher - FIRED!
Gary Kubiak – RETIRED! FOR TWO SEASONS MAX!
Gus Bradley - FIRED!
Chip Kelly – FIRED!
Chuck Pagano – JUH?!
Good news for one of you loser teams out there… Josh McDaniels is coming to the rescue!
If this plays out the way I think (hope) it does, McDaniels will go to a new team, fail, and then have the exact same career trajectory as Lane Kiffin. That’s the dream. I’m so excited I could squeal. Also, Kyle Shanahan is still lurking out there. Have a look at Kyle and tell me he isn’t the guy who’s named CEO by his dad and then proceeds to lay off 300 workers while sending out vague memos about how “the future is video storytelling content.”
As for Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson, I’m as baffled as you are. They haven’t been fired as of this posting, and I picture Jim Irsay butt naked in his mansion, hopped up on Ritalin, praying to a Janis Joplin poster and asking it for guidance.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Jimi sends in this story I call POOP OF AGES:
So apparently I’m constipated, which is something I realized I’ve never truly experienced before. Maybe it’s my 41 years of fast food and cheap beer diet, which makes me pretty regular. But, man, it’s miserable. Hadn’t pooped in two days. So one nite I woke up at around 2 AM and had to go. Not an emergency diarrhea thing, just a regular old poop, simple pressure in my rectum. So I got up and went to bathroom, pushed, and nothing, wouldn’t come out. Back to bed. Still awake at 3...tried again and nothing. Same thing at 4. Gave up and lied in bed until time to get up for work. Before work, I had two espresso shots at home, then large coffee at Starbucks on my way.
Finally at work, after pushing til my forehead pulsated and my eyes popped out like Arnold in Total Recall, I pooped one little marble (or so I thought) at around 9 AM.
This was a scheduled half day at work, so I left at noon, went to park to run and changed in car (taking off pants/underwear to put on only running shorts) and went for 30 minute jog, then went and picked up the 1st grader at school, went home, played with kids til about 4, and started making dinner.
While cooking I felt a weird tug or something on my shorts right in the mid-crack area. I felt back there and found a little bump basically halfway up my crevasse. I reached my hand in and was thinking “did a rock fall in there or do I have a huge mole I need to get checked out” and pushed and rubbed this thing. It kinda collapsed in on itself. Went to bathroom and fucking realized it was a damned solidified turd that was now smeared all over. This miracle nugget made it from this morning’s poo session, thru my work day and changing clothes and running and changing again...about 7 hours.
Now, I’m making dinner so didn’t wanna stop cooking for too long so I grabbed the packet of baby wipes and started wiping. It was so thick and hard and dry that I probably used 45-50 wipes and it was still coming off, so I gave up and decided to take a shower. As I stood up from the toilet and turned around, to my horror there was what looked like hundreds of super tiny brown dots all over the back of the toilet seat.
I thought it was fuzz from my shorts so I blew on them and they scattered like dust. I then realized they were little poo niblets that were so dry and hard they rolled off the seat onto the floor and bathmat. And of course I had already stepped all over them with my bare feet and pants around my ankles.
I always wondered why people complain of being constipated. Now I know.
And of course the wife then walks in:
Her: “It’s five, why isn’t dinner ready?”
I should have opted for the super cool “well, you know, shit happens.” But instead I simply hung my head and said “you don’t wanna know.”
Luckily, at dinner my 4- and 6-year-old boys explained to her every step of the way, since they refused to leave the bathroom the whole time.
Citrucel, men. Get yourself some Citrucel.
Gametime Snack of the Week
Dog treats! We got a dog from a shelter over the break, and now I’m going to spend the next few years struggling to differentiate between the dog treats in the house and the human treats in the house. Some of these dog treats look like Slim Jims, which I eat with frightful enthusiasm. I’m gonna slip at some point. At some point I’ll see a pouch that says BEEF & RICE SNACKS on it and cry out, “Beef and rice! Oh boy! That’s Drew food!” It’s coming.
Also, I went to the pet store a few times. Dog toys and baby toys are interchangeable. They don’t need to be separately labeled. And they should sell human versions of those big carpet tunnel thingies for cats. I would lounge around in a carpet tunnel for an afternoon.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
KC Lite, because drinking never has a bye week! From Dustin:
What better way to show your Kansas City civic pride than by drinking a light beer. I give you KC Lite. It’s no coincidence that the can’s color scheme and logo are similar to the Royals. When the Royals got good a few years ago everyone in Kansas City suddenly remembered that they were life-long die-hard fans. As soon as the Royals are bad again I expect KC Lite’s cans to be switched to red and gold. As far as the taste of the beer, much like life in Kansas City, KC Lite is tolerable given the reasonable price ($3.99 for a six-pack.)
The logo on that can looks like it could also double for a local morning show or a local light radio station. Kansas City: Where It’s Always 1982! I MUST HAVE 20 IN ORDER TO FEEL A SLIGHT BUZZ. If I saw that beer at a house party, I’d clap my hands with delight.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“You can make chewing gum. People don’t know this. You see that seaweed on the beach? Okay, you think that’s just seaweed, but it’s got gummy qualities. You boil that up, skim the top, let the agar cool, and you got perfectly good chewing gum. The flavor lasts longer, too, because you’re chewing on the sea. None of that fake fruity business. As humans, we were never meant to eat Strawbana.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Cape Fear. In case you were wondering, the whole finger-sucking scene is still VERY disturbing, almost as disturbing as when De Niro pulls a Mike Tyson on Illeana Douglas.
Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote
“I am gonna send you to a deep dark place, and I am gonna have fun doin’ it.”
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone.