Jermichael Finley was temporarily paralyzed last week when he got hit in the head by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. If Finley had remained paralyzed, he would have been the first NFL player to suffer a severe on-field spinal cord injury since Kevin Everett of the Bills was seemingly paralyzed for good back in 2007. Finley also would have been the first player paralyzed in the era of concussion awareness.
In my lifetime, there have been five NFL players paralyzed on the field of play: Darryl Stingley, Dennis Byrd, Mike Utley, Reggie Brown, and Everett. I may be missing someone in there, but those are the names that cause the word PARALYSIS to flash in big bright letters in my brain. In a minor miracle, Kevin Everett managed to walk again, although he has yet to regain full range of motion in certain extremities. Here's Everett returning to Ralph Wilson Stadium, standing under his own power. It's emotional:
Brown was also able to walk again and is now a car dealer. Byrd, injured in November of 1992, never fully recovered from his injuries but can walk with limited mobility, which leaves Utley as the last NFL player who left a game unable to stand on his own power ever again, nearly twenty-two years ago (Stingley, permanently paralyzed by a Jack Tatum hit in 1978, died in 2007).
Depending on your perspective, that's either a remarkably lucky run for the NFL, or a small bit of evidence that the game is safer than it's ever been. It's possible that football is becoming safer just as we're finding out that it does more damage to the body and mind than many first realized. As we speak, the safety improvement curve is probably passing by the damage assessment curve on a chart somewhere. Perhaps they can wave to each other.
I have heard, on many occasions, that an NFL player will die on the field at some point. Just a few years back, Carson Palmer split a latte with Peter King and said, "Somebody is going to die here in the NFL. It's going to happen." And yet, history would indicate that is NOT the case. The last NFL player to die on the field was Chuck Hughes (of the Lions, because apparently God wishes grave misfortune upon those who play for the Lions), who was stricken dead on the field from an unrelated heart ailment. No NFL player has died on the field in the 21st century, and no one has been instantly immobilized forever. Like other people, I just assumed all along that NFL players would get bigger and stronger and bigger and stronger until every lineman weighed 700 pounds, had zero percent bodyfat, and could tear the head of a horse with his bare hands. I expected more than just one on-field death. I expected many of them: many deaths, many quadriplegics.
But that now seems unlikely. And it's perhaps unlikely that the NFL will ever have a case study similar to Mike Utley ever again. That sounds insane, given all the scary shit we've heard about brain injuries lately. But in the realm of sudden, catastrophic injury, it's hard to ignore the relative scarcity of broken necks over the past two decades. The equipment is too well-engineered and the first response from medical professionals is too good to allow it to happen.
In the case of these severely injured former players, I remember a distinct, boilerplate media narrative:
1. Players gets hurt
2. It's very fucking scary
3. Player may never walk again
4. Player swears to walk again
5. Player returns to hometown stadium—possibly on his feet—to raucous applause and much crying
6. Story is over. Everyone is happy!
Of course, it's much more complicated than that. Even for the guys who end up walking again, you're talking about a lifetime of pain and medical bills and endless, boring, horrible physical rehabilitation. That kind of shit gets glossed over because—if we're being frank—hearing about other people's aches and pains is a fucking downer. I'd much rather see Everett wave to the Bills crowd and assume that he is spending the rest of his days skateboarding down rainbows with a gaggle of flying cherubs trailing behind him.
But that boilerplate narrative will probably get blown to shit the NEXT time someone is paralyzed for good. If Finley had remained unable to feel anything below his waist—if he had ended up being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life—there's little question that he would have become the main prop in the ongoing, if somewhat illusory, War on Football. People who want football abolished would point to Finley and say THIS IS WHAT FOOTBALL IS DOING TO OUR KIDS! While people who love the sport would point to Finley and be like ONE CRIPPLE IN 22 YEARS AIN'T BAD, FOLKS! Finley's injury would become a point of debate, a touchstone moment in our ongoing crisis of conscience over our favorite sport.
But Finley got up. He can walk again, to everyone's great relief. We won't be confronted with another Mike Utley just yet, and perhaps we never will be. We are left only with the injuries that lurk in the shadows, injuries that do damage you cannot always see firsthand. I'm sure the NFL prefers it that way.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
None. This week is garbage.
Cowboys at Lions: It's the dreaded six-team bye week this week, which means that you will lose your fantasy matchup by a score of 35.6-27.4, with Brandon Pettigrew as your top scorer. I can't tell you how demoralizing it is to lose a fantasy game when your opponent has six players out on a bye and can't even be bothered to replace them.
Jets at Bengals: I have a friend whose father is an eye doctor, and the eye doctor always warned me to never wear contacts on an airplane because your eyes dry out at that altitude. I usually pay heed to that and wear glasses any time I fly, but last week I was too lazy and couldn't be bothered.
I wore my contacts on the plane and, sure as shit, 10 minutes after taking off, one of the contacts dried up and came flying out of my eye. I tried to put it back in but it had folded and its two halves had essentially fused together, an evil trick that contacts will sometimes play on you. Rubbing spit on it did NOTHING. My bag (containing my glasses and saline solution) was checked away, so I had to spend the next two hours with one eye shut, looking like a fucking pirate, trying not to keep both eyes open because it will fuck you up to spend any amount of time looking around with just one functional eye. By the time we landed, I was ready to retch into the seat pocket.
So take your contacts off when you fly. RESPECT THE AIR.
Skins at Broncos: Watch Wes Welker any time he fires off of the line of scrimmage and you'll notice that he nods his head furiously. No lie. At the snap of the ball, he's just like YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAH. He's gonna be the first player to ever concuss himself by nodding too hard. Motherfucker is a bobblehead doll.
Dolphins at Patriots: I was extremely disappointed that Tom Brady came out for his postgame presser in a normal suit last week. Brady is a proven fashion troll. I demand he come out in increasingly silly outfits until the Super Bowl, when he arrives at media week in a Lucite bubble filled with Charms Blow Pops.
Bills at Saints: Back in the 1990s, the NFL did a series of United Way ads with Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith and all these other players talking about how the NFL helps sick kids and what not. And they had this crazy dramatic music underneath it that got me all choked up whenever I heard it. I used to imagine myself as a prominent NFL player doing one of those promos—"Hi! I'm Drew Magary of the Minnesota Vikings!"—and then putting extra heart into the tagline at the end: "The United Way: Reaching those who need help... touching us all." I think I used to practice it in the mirror. Anyway, I finally figured out the music that they used for those spots. It's the "Journey to Fort Sedgwick" portion of the Dances With Wolves soundtrack, composed by the late John Barry:
So very majestic. I want to ride a buffalo down a waterfall when I hear that.
Falcons at Cardinals: I would like to have one meal with my children that does not involve them dragging their sleeves through a puddle of fucking ketchup. EVERY TIME. Every time they eat something with ketchup, they drag their sleeves through it like they're working a backhoe. And I say to them, "Hey! Watch your sleeves!" And they never listen. All they want to do is get ketchup in the sleeves and on their hair. Ketchup should only be allowed for children 17 and older.
Panthers at Bucs: I'm too lazy to verify this statistically, but this is the worst three-game primetime slate in NFL history, right? Look at how awful this game is, and then look at the SNF and MNF games (listed directly below), which are somehow even worse. It's like a weeklong telethon supporting the abolition of football.
Packers at Vikings: Flexible scheduling begins in Week 11 of this season, but it's clear now that they have to move that up to Week 8, maybe even Week 6. By midseason, you can tell that a team like Minnesota is in the middle of a lost season. They're fucking awful. They're so bad, I don't even bother with the whole "put on your jersey for gameday thing" anymore. That's so much fun early in the season, when you're like, "OH YEAH! Gonna bust out the jersey because it's fucking GAME DAY, BROS! LET'S CRUSH IT!" But when you're 1-6 and it's Week 8, there's no more fooling yourself. There's no good luck to be had from putting that thing on. I feel like a moron rocking that jersey when Josh Freeman is out there throwing every pass at the fucking cameraman.
Seahawks at Rams: Gruden used the phrase DOWNHILL HITTER last week, which is a breakthrough innovation in the field of football gibberish. Very excited to see a DOWNHILL HITTER collide with a DOWNHILL RUNNER, presumably in a valley of some kind.
Given that he gets injured a lot and isn't even all that great when healthy, the Rams should probably cut Sam Bradford and start all over again. The problem is that Bradford has two years left on his deal and is owed a remarkable $27 million over that span. I know he's not a bust on the level of JaMarcus Russell, but he's awfully busty, man. He was the most expensive rookie in NFL history and—given the new CBA—likely always will be. For $50 million guaranteed, your franchise QB should win 12 games every year and buy a free Jimmy John's sandwich for every fan in attendance.
Niners at Jaguars: One of the many reasons that you and I do not play in the NFL is SIDELINE AWARENESS. Look at Vernon Davis walk the tightrope here:
It's amazing how often NFL players run the sideline immaculately. If that were me, I'd step out of bounds 20 times within the first 10 yards.
Browns at Chiefs: Clearly, we all owe the Browns an apology for goofing on them when they traded Trent Richardson because Trent Richardson BLOWS. That trade was a goddamn heist. If they had waited until the end of the season to trade Richardson, they would have gotten a 2017 seventh rounder and a bag of gravel. Mike Lombardi knew he lacked blue chippiness before the rest of us did!
Giants at Eagles: I have a friend who calls the remote the "flipper," which is completely insane. And whenever I call it a remote, he gets pissed off and is like, "It's a FLIPPER." No one calls it a flipper, you asshole. If you did a regional study of this, you would find that 80% of Americans call it a remote, while pockets of people in Wyoming and the Carolinas call it a "clicker," while Mississippians refer to it as THE DAGGUM TEEVEE SWITCH.
Steelers at Raiders
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"Inhuman Creation Station," by CKY, submitted by Nicholas. FUN FACT: CKY stands for "Camp Kill Yourself". I thought it might stand for Central Kentucky, which is probably where a real-life Camp Kill Yourself would be located. I don't even have to listen to the song to like this band (but the song is good anyway!).
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of San Diego, Miami, and Carolina went 2-1, making me 16-5 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 Carolina, San Francisco, New Orleans, and losing your starting quarterback either to a season-ending injury or to a painful, horrifying groin tear. Last week was one of those weeks where I wish the NFL held an in-season supplemental draft, where you could elect to draft Johnny Manziel right this instant. Just air lift his ass out of College Station and create absolute chaos. That's a horrible idea, but when you have no QB, you want to get to the acquisition of a new QB right now. You don't want to have to wait. The wait is agony.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
What angered the Football Jesuses this week? Oh, Greggggg has no shortage of grievances for the pigskin almighty(s):
The night produced a reminder about Peyton Manning: Though one of the best ever at his position, he often comes up short in big games. Call it the Peyton Paradox.
Not unlike my book THE PROGRESS PARADOX, available as a $2 Kindle special right now! Why do we have so much yet remain so unhappy? TMQ WAS ON THIS STORY WELL BEFORE LOUIS CK DID SOME CRUDE FARCICAL ROUTINE ABOUT IT.
Some say, "NFL players are highly paid warriors who take informed risks." That is so. But they also set examples for the 4 million youth and high school players who emulate NFL behavior, are not paid, and are children.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN, MR. STRAW MAN? Ever think about them? No, I suppose you didn't. I suppose you want to live in a world where NFL players can take head shots and no one bothers to point out all the plot holes in The Godfather. You do not read as many books as I do.
TMQ credits this victory not to Griffin's improving knee, but to the Washington cheer-babes.
They wore bikini tops, which made the Football Gods VERY propitiated. Oh God, such pert young bodies. Now the Gods feel like they could fuck a planet. ALLOW US TO REWARD YOU WITH A VICTORY FOR THE VEINY BONER YOU HAVE ARISEN WITHIN US.
University of Oregon football went down a notch in this columnist's estimation and now is on the watch list for punishment by the football gods.
You hear that, Oregon? You are on notice. Once you piss off Greggggg: Official Herald To The Football Gods, you will suffer the consequences. Maybe not now. Maybe a couple of weeks from now. When you least suspect, Greggggg will have the Football Gods smite you viciously. UNLESS... unless you were to deploy a couple of hot, wet, naked coeds for the Gods to skeet upon. OH GOD I'M GONNA PREMATURELY CELEBRATE ALL OVER THEIR CHESTS.
Column housekeeping note: If you are wondering, "Didn't he mention Mickey Kaus last week?" the answer is yes. The beauty of Tuesday Morning Quarterback is that I don't have to explain that kind of thing. I also mentioned the Martin Luther College football team for two weeks running — hmmm, and just made it three weeks running.
Hmmm. Yes. Indeed. Not one mention of Mickey Kaus, but TWO. Oh TMQ, you ol' rascal you! Next week, let's throw in a mention of Charles Krauthammer and see if the filthy masses pick up on it.
Here is the news story from the future:
I can't adequately explain the terrible piece of satire Greggggggg included in this week's column. I'll just leave this here...
we confirmed that Miley Cyrus was elected president in 2028, running as a conservative Republican. We confirmed that ancient humans never actually spoke to each other, communicating solely through small electronic boxes."
Perhaps it had something to do with primitive mating rites — this was in the era before heterosexuality was banned.
I guess Gregggggg fears that BIG GAY will rule the planet one day? I dunno.
Last week, TMQ excoriated Bills high draft choice Leodis McKelvin for fair-catching at his own 7
High draft choice! THAT MEANS HE'S GARBAGE.
Twice in the second half, Stevie Johnson, one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers....
...ran a third-down pattern short of the marker; both times, Buffalo punted on fourth-and-1. Stopping short of the marker is a rookie error that a megabucks guy should not make.
The lesson: Never pay NFL players anything. They should be paid in books.
"Hawaii Five-0" Update: Television's most ridiculous show is back for a fourth season.
There is not even a HINT of how cops working in Hawaii could be possible.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Tom sends in this story I call A POOP RUNS THROUGH IT:
When I was a young lad my brother and I used to go on weekend fishing trips with my Dad to a huge reservoir that had little waves and beaches and stuff. This was Colorado, so the water and everything else was always cold, even in the summer. I used to love these trips because we'd go in my dad's old rusty Scout II which was in such shitty condition that he could care less how much food and trash and other shit was strewn about the cab. He'd also let us take sips of his beer, which I found disgusting at the time but made me feel like such an adult so I choked it down anyway, and more importantly, we were free to swear as much as we wanted, something my mom would never allow.
One fall day, we had spent all day fishing and building sandcastles and jousting with driftwood sticks, when I felt the rumbling in my stomach. Having eaten nothing but Vienna sausages, a gas station hot pocket, and Mt. Dew for the last 12 hours, I knew this one was going to be bad news. Right at that moment, my dad starts packing up and tells my brother and I that if we want to go wading one last time, we better make it quick. I forget my bowels in my excitement and head into the water. A few minutes later, I am hit with a stomach cramp so powerful I fall over and get soaked. I come out of the water and promptly tell my dad that we need to find an outhouse quick. I strip out of my sodden clothing and moan in pain while he speeds to the nearest outhouse. I sprint inside and sit down, only to discover the seat is METAL and a temperature that felt like a few degrees above absolute zero.
After shitting my brains out, I had to peel my skin off the seat. As I exit the desecrated outhouse, I see a man standing there with blue jeans and a flannel shirt. My dad was dressed as such, so I blurt out loudly "God DAMN that toilet seat was cold!" The man turns around and is decidedly not my father. In fact, he's was the ugliest hillbilly gravel-faced dude I've ever seen. He gives a throaty guffaw and points at my while I scurry away in embarrassment.
As I go to climb into the Scout, I notice a brown stain on the seat cover. I had chanced a couple of farts on the way to the outhouse to relieve the pressure, and it turns out they were not just farts. At that point I was so exhausted that I didn't care, and sat right down in my own shit. Two weeks later my dad took the Scout to the junkyard, I've never asked if it was because of the poop.
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!
"This week, I like the Jaguars (+16.5) to lose a nailbrighter at home to the 49ers. I'M TALKING A REAL CLOSE SLAVE. A lotta people think the Niners will just go in there and THROBBLE the Jags, but those people underwatergate the heart of a CHAMPON. These men will not be downtroppin'. They're not just gonna sub-reddit to defeat! THEY HAVE PRIDE! THEY WON'T JUST LABIA DOWN AND DIE. I think the Niners will go into this game with a dangerous amount of hummus. You watch."
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 2-3-1
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
Tainted jerky treats have killed over 600 dogs in China. This happened in China because of course it happened in China. If you told me that an animal holocaust was being caused by tainted mass manufactured meat products, I would instinctively know that it happened in China. Florida would be the next guess.
According to Mary Roach's "Gulp," which is a solid book, the reason dog food smells horrible is because dogs are natural scavengers and actually find the smell of decomposing flesh appealing, so dog food manufacturers have to make dog food smell like roadkill to get your stupid dog to eat it. So you can imagine how bad a bag of poisonous doggy jerky would smell. I bet it kills you without you even needing to put your tongue on it.
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
Larry Fitzgerald. And to think that, prior to the season, people thought that adding Carson Palmer would somehow IMPROVE poor Larry's fortunes.
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:
- Ron Rivera
- Leslie Frazier*
- Greg Schiano*****
- Gus Bradley
- Gary Kubiak
- Dennis Allen
- Jason Garrett
- Jeff Fisher
- Joe Philbin
- Tom Coughlin
*-Potential midseason firing
We're getting closer to Whisper Season, when people start randomly throwing out names like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden for every possible coaching vacancy, even though both men have been gone from the profession for so long now that the idea of them coming to your team is actually something of a letdown. Regardless, I look forward to two months of GRUDEN WAS SPOTTED AT THE TAMPA AIRPORT! and DID JERRY JONES EAT A SALAD WITH THE BAYLOR GUY?! I believe every single one of those rumors, regardless of its veracity. I want to believe that Jon Gruden is frantically calling every struggling team, gripping the receiver like it's a fucking barbell, and shouting "Sounds like you guys could use a little Gruden in your lives!"
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Pickle pops, from reader Matt. Because nothing says refreshment quite like frozen brine on a stick. Somewhere out there is a fancy pants Jose Andres restaurant featuring a deconstructed hamburger with patty made of bread, a "bun" made out of meat, and pickle juice popsicle as a strategic chaser. This is NOT that pickle pop. This is a frozen douche insert.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Montucky Cold Snack! THE BIG SKY BEER! From Beege:
It touts itself as 'the official unofficial beer of Montana.' I would describe it as starting with an aggressive metallic note, carried by a mellow body with hints of dead skunk and armpit. A lingering aftertaste of the fart from 'Step Brothers' finishes the experience.
Such a fine can. It has everything I want in a beer can from Montana: horses, mountains, and... well, that's about it, really. After a long day of driving a herd of wild elk across the plains, it's good to know that there will be a cheap, horrible tasteless beer for my riding partner/occasional lover and I to enjoy as we settle round the campfire eating beans and tellin' cowboy stories all night. I MUST HAVE IT. YEEEEEHAWWWWW!!!
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 still Peyton Manning of the Broncos! I see that Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy have a new movie coming out this week. Real men? YOU BET! Tastefully photographed trees full of dead babies? I ASSUME SO. This wouldn't be the first collaboration between these two GIANTS. Three decades ago, a hot-to-trot whippersnapper of an intern brought me an unpublished McCarthy novel about cannibal hermit living in the mountains, who only eats his victims after baptizing them in a tub of his own semen. VERY DARK STUFF!
"And so I call up McCarthy and I say to him, 'Baby, this book is brilliant. But we gotta give it some HEAT!' And he starts going on and on about pebbles that are older than man and the heaviness of air, and I'm thinking, 'This cat's out there!' So I rope in Ridley, the ol' English coot, and I tell him, 'Work with this, baby. MAKE IT GOLD!' And he comes back with a script that SINGS. Why, it was tighter than piano wire! He turned the cannibal hermit into a grizzled Vietnam vet named... JOHN RAMBO! That's right! Rambo was originally a McCarthy character AND a semen baptizer! Oh, what could have been."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans
Moonrise Kingdom. I'm helpless to resist it. It'll drain the cynical asshole right out of you.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"What? What? What what what what what? This better be about pizza."
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 email@example.com. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.