Steve Smith was never supposed to be this good. He was drafted in the third round out of Utah way back in 2001. During his rookie year, he was used primarily as a kick returner and was fantastic at it, scoring twice. But a lot of great returners have tried to make the leap to every-down wideout and failed. Remember when the Bears kept trying to make Devin Hester happen at wideout? I do. It sucked.
No one—except for the man himself—expected Steve Smith to become what Steve Smith has become. No one expected him to become the first player under six feet tall to have 1,000 receptions, and to still be playing well after other notable wideouts have come and gone. Steve Smith entered the NFL before Andre Johnson, Lee Evans, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, and Hakeem Nicks; and he has outlasted ALL of them. He even outlasted the OTHER Steve Smith, who is now forgotten to history because there can only be one true Steve Smith.
He has outlasted his contemporaries despite being relatively undersized, and despite cast aside by his original team (oh, how he has made them pay for it), and despite rupturing his Achilles last year at age 36. Not only did he return from the injury when he didn’t have to, but he’s played at such a high level that the Ravens are already begging him to reconsider his retirement plans. And I’d like him to reconsider as well. I think we all would.
It’s Thanksgiving today and I know this is gonna be a weird Thanksgiving, if only because the Internet won’t shut up about 2016 Thanksgiving Angst. Chances are, you’re gonna go see family today. Chances are, you may disagree with them on matters both personal and political. And I’ve lived long enough to know that the holidays do NOT always bring everyone magically together. People don’t always put their differences aside. You probably won’t make any breakthroughs with your Racist Uncle Hal. And even if you do, he’ll go back to surfing Breitbart the next day for takes about gays being from another planet. That’s how life goes. Sometimes shit never gets resolved.
And so you search for distractions, or you try to find common ground through some other, benign avenue … if only to re-establish some semblance of faith in your fellow man. For me, there is one clear and true example of common ground, and that is that Steve Smith fucking owns.
He has owned for 16 years. He owned when he did the Super Mario on the goalpost well before Antonio Brown was even in the league. He owned when he clowned Rodney Harrison, who always deserves to be clowned on. And remember when he told Aqib Talib, “Ice up, son!”? Holy shit, that owned so hard. Aqib Talib is a complete penis. He even owns when he’s watching the playoffs instead of playing in them…
He also makes babies in elevators!
And he makes the Texans look stupid!
And he teaches the youngs about their manners!
Steve Smith could punch a baby and I would be like, “Damn, Steve Smith owned the FUCK out of that baby.” He also gives the most accurate scouting reports of defensive backs in the business. When it comes to beefs, he is undefeated, even if that means beating the piss out of his teammates. He is not a perfect man, but listen: It’s 2016 and Trump is almost President. I’ll take any hero I can get, warts and all.
So this Thanksgiving—in a world that has gone completely batshit nuts—I will bow my head and give quiet thanks for Steve Smith and his commitment to ownage. One day, I hope to tell my grandkids about the time he busted Ken Lucas right in the eye.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Skins at Cowboys: I love these new “Future of Football” spots. It’s like one of those oil company ads that tries to humanize the industry by showing you footage of a butterfly farm. Ooooh, sideline video monitors! Tablets! “Radios that we all wear!” OMG IT’S LIKE I’M LIVING ON THE MOON! With these futuristic wearable “radios,” we’re sure to eliminate brain liquefaction from the entire sport.
Vikings at Lions: Time for my annual tradition of sweating my weight BEFORE the holidays have even arrived. Normally, you get in shape prior to the holidays, so that you can then destroy your body with alcohol and multiple helpings of brown food. That’s not what I do. No, before every Thanksgiving, I actually GAIN weight, which in turn makes me every meal and buffet spread. Then I eat it all anyway and hate myself. It’s pretty fun. You should try it.
Steelers at Colts: They’ve added PFF rankings to the Sunday Night Football graphics (Cris Collinsworth just happens to have a stake in the enterprise… FANCY THAT), and the graphics whizz by so quickly that they barely register. But I did notice that Josh Norman was ranked 20th during last Sunday Night’s game. Twentieth! I don’t make a habit of defending players on the Skins, but that’s crazy. Who’s making these rankings? What’s their methodology? Is it one guy in a dark room with a cigar and a green casino visor? You gotta pay $20 if you want full access to the rankings. The site says that 24 NFL teams use them. I wanna know about the eight teams that held out, and I wanna know why. WHAT IS PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS HIDING?
Chiefs at Broncos: I’m glad the Chiefs lost to Tampa last week so that we don’t have to continue the whole “KC is the best team no one is talking about!” thing. There’s a reason no one talks about the Chiefs, and that’s because they KNOW the Chiefs are fucking frauds. Andy Reid and Alex Smith could go 16-0 with a point differential of +200 and I would still bet everything I had on them losing in the playoffs. The Chiefs are never ever ever gonna trick anyone into taking them seriously. People know better.
Seahawks at Bucs: I made it all the way through C.J. Prosise’s ascension and injury without making a single dad joke involving his last name. I’m pretty proud of myself. To make a proper dad joke about him, you must be … PROSISE in your wording. HUH? HUH?! Hey where are you going?
Cardinals at Falcons: I know the Cardinals are having a shitty year, but it’s gotta be a real mindfuck for that fanbase to have actual expectations. Ten years ago, you would never write “What’s wrong with the Cardinals?” with a straight face. They’re the Cardinals. They’re SUPPOSED to eat ass.
Chargers at Texans
Panthers at Raiders
Packers at Eagles: If Jordy Nelson’s catch on Sunday night was a catch, then EVERY play like that should be ruled a catch. As it stands now, the rules vary depending on whether or not you are in the end zone when you make a catch, and whether or not you’re going to the ground AS you make the catch. Fuck that. A catch is a catch is a catch, no matter where you caught it. If you have the ball secured and two feet on the ground, that’s a catch. If the ball gets knocked out after the fact, tough shit! You fumbled. As always, football is better when there are more completions than incompletions. This isn’t rocket science.
Also, I just figured out that I say “catch” two ways. When I use the word as a noun, I say “ketch.” NICE KETCH! And when I use it as a verb, I say “catch,” with the short A. I don’t know what this says about me. I may have some sort of regional personality disorder.
Bengals at Ravens: I’ve seen too many evil teams win championships to believe in sports karma, but the Bengals really did deserve to have this season go off the rails after polluting the playoffs with their presence for the past five years AND for continuing to employ Vontaze Burfict. “Vontaze Burfict is dirty as shit” is perhaps the only hot take we, as Americans, can all agree on. I feel awful for A.J. Green and Gio Bernard. But outside of that, it feels good for the Bengals to be fully Bengalized once again.
Jets at Patriots: I lived in New York for six years and any time the President visited, all of Manhattan was basically paralyzed thanks to roadblocks and motorcades. And Donald Trump is gonna try to live there half the week every week! HOLY SHIT. I give it a month before someone burns Trump Tower to the ground. New Yorkers don’t like it when you fuck with their commutes.
Rams at Saints: The Rams are currently 4-6. Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule and see if we can get them to 7-9, because the whole world is DYING for Jeff Fisher to go 7-9 this season. All they have to do is split their remaining six games to hit paydirt…
Oof. That’s rough sledding. I know they always play well against the Seahawks, but that sure as shit looks like 5-11 to me. I’m sad. The Fisher Prophecy demands bland mediocrity.
By the way, Jared Goff kinda looks like Ryan Gosling. In my mind, I’ve already started calling him Goffling. I’m gonna need Russell Crowe to beat his ass in a public toilet to seal the connection.
Browns at Giants: I just bet Petchesky $10 on the Browns going winless and I already know that somehow, against all odds, I will lose that bet. One of their remaining opponents will take pity on them. Take the Giants, for instance. The Giants should win this game handily, and yet I know the Giants. I know how, any given week, they are liable to acts of self-sabotage so breathtaking you’d think the whole team was run by your alcoholic brother-in-law. I don’t trust the Giants or the Bengals or the Chargers (all left on Cleveland’s schedule) to finish the job, even with the Browns forced to glue hunks of pot roast together in order to field a starting quarterback.
By the way, Landon Collins is an absolute beast. Landon Collins is the reason the Giants aren’t Giants-ing games at their usual pace. It’s easy to forget how many studs are on this team when you’ve got Eli and Ben McAdoo’s hair running the show.
Titans at Bears: The revised PAT rule is working exactly as intended, and it makes me wonder if we need to make other very small tweaks to the game that end up having a noticeable impact. For example, what if the end zone were 12 yards deep? Not 10, not 15 (because that would be too much), but 12! What if we give offense jusssssst a bit more breathing room down there, so that you don’t have to watch your team throw two consecutive shitty fade routes and then get stoned at the one on third down? I’m all about rule changes that create mass chaos without addressing fundamental problems with the sport.
Jaguars at Bills: I still believe any defensive player who jumps offside on fourth down when the other team is clearly trying to draw them should be forced to run wind sprints at the stadium after the game, in full view of the public. I don’t like tyrant coaches, but when you fuck up something that simple, you deserve to be treated like a big dumb child, running gassers with a dunce cap on until you throw up on your own shoes.
Niners at Dolphins: The Dolphins don’t play a team with a winning record until Week 17 against the Patriots. That’s right, Miami is this year’s “Hey, how the fuck did THEY make the playoffs?” playoff team. Once in a while the schedule breaks and you win 10 games just because football is weird. Savor the flavor, Dolphins fans. There’s no way this is happening again anytime soon.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Halo On Fire,” by Metallica. I know that the new album has gotten a lot of decent press (even Burneko likes it!), but I’ve listened to it all the way through now and it’s WAYYYYYY too fucking long. You should always beware of any double album, because a double album suggests that no one was around to tell the band to cut out the boring parts. Any time a band is like, “We just had so many good songs to choose from!”, they are lying.
“Death Magnetic,” the last Metallica comeback effort, was produced all the way through by Rick Rubin. And it was a better, tighter album than “Hardwired” despite having a couple of truly awful songs on it and being just a few minutes shorter in total running time. For this one, Rubin only stuck around for a smoothie breakfast before jetting off, so the end product has four or five very good songs, but then a lot of filler tracks that sound like classic Metallica (first four albums) but aren’t as good as classic Metallica because we’re all old as shit now. SAD BUT TRUUUUUUUUUUE-AHHHHHHH!!!
By the way, I’m still grateful for the decent tracks on here, like the one above. Metallica fans are absolutely brutal when they fall short of expectations, but now that I’ve lived through this band’s Seger Tribute Band phase, I appreciate ANY decent thrash they produce in between collecting Rothko paintings.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
O ho ho, it’s a take penned by J.J. Watt himself! SWEETER THAN THE SWEETEST PECAN PIE FILLING. Anyway, the Texans are currently fighting for their lives to stay on top of the AFC South (with a -34 point differential!), which makes it the perfect time for J.J. Watt to pen an existential essay about what it means to be J.J. Watt.
Am I Done?
That’s the headline of this essay, but allow me to spoil it for you: No. No, J.J. Watt is not done. J.J. Watt is gonna box jump his way back onto the field, and then he’s gonna give lots of military salutes, and then he’s gonna become a talking bobblehead on NFL Countdown and become a lifetime spokesman for Joe Weider’s Super WeightGainer5000X. We will never be rid of J.J. Watt. On my deathbed, I will be on the verge of closing my eyes and kissing the sweet void, and J.J. Watt will bust into the hospital room one last time to remind me that he worked harder than any other NFL player.
DEFENSIVE END / HOUSTON TEXANS
These bylines kill me. Ohhhhh, so it’s THAT J.J. Watt!
It was the beginning of this fall. Normally, I never get to be home in the fall.
BECAUSE NORMALLY I’M PLAYIN’ FOOTBAW!
The leaves were changing. The air was crisp. The nostalgia came over me. As we drove through my hometown, I thought about everything that had happened over the past year.
One broken hand.
One handjob from Lindsey Vonn.
One staph infection.
Five troops saluted.
Two torn abs.
ONE IRON HEART.
Three torn adductor muscles.
Eight winstrol injections WAIT CAN AN EDITOR LEAVE THAT OUT FOR ME? I tore five muscles strictly due to bad luck!
One herniated disc. (Twice).
All the Purple Hearts!
That was my 2015 season. Believe it or not, the scariest was probably the staph infection.
Tell me about that.
At the hospital, they immediately put me on three hours of the strongest antibiotic IVs. I went straight from the hospital to the team plane and we flew to Jacksonville. Once we landed, there were two more hours of antibiotics that night and two more the next morning before the game. The medicine had completely drained me…
but I played —
and we won.
GRRRR FUCK YEAH! TOUGH! STRONG! DESIRE! FIGHT THROUGH IT! BLOOD! I’m very excited for Mark Wahlberg to play J.J. in the Peter Berg dramatization of this staph infection. DAWK! DAWKTAH, AM I GONNA LOSE MY FACKIN’ LEG?! I HAVE TO GET BACK HOME TO TEXANS NATION!
I remember walking into the locker room after the game and just collapsing on the training table.
J.J. Watt is what would happen if the “Wanted Dead Or Alive” video were a person.
My body was completely shot, with nothing left to give.
Your team is 6-4 without you.
People deal with injuries and illnesses every day. In my mind, I was just doing my job, and what anybody would do if they were in my shoes.
Folks, don’t call me a hero. I just suffered through near death to gut our team to a victory. That’s all. Normal day at the office, people!
Some people started to wonder if I was done.
No they didn’t. Literally no one has asked if J.J. Watt is retiring.
There was a time when I genuinely wondered, “Am I done?”
No you didn’t.
Since that last surgery, I’ve spent the past two months recovering back in Wisconsin. Not allowed to play football, not allowed to train, not allowed to do anything more than walk.
No football! Pure torture! J.J. Watt without football is like Picasso without paint! Or Dylan without a guitar! Or Trump without bronzer! INCONCEIVABLE!
There were no interviews, no social media, no commercials, no appearances, no anything.
Except for this huge glossy essay in The Player’s Tribune.
I hadn’t had the months of October and November “open” on my calendar since the fourth grade. When I was in fourth grade, I wasn’t dreaming about money or fame or awards.
“I was a gritty child. Not a trace of Glory Boy in me.”
There I stood on (my old school) field. This time as a 27-year-old with three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a hundred-million-dollar contract. I had traveled the world, starred in commercials, and eaten dinners with presidents. I had achieved more in my short life than I ever even knew was possible for someone from my hometown.
Again, all J.J. cares about is football, folks. Not the money, although he makes a lot of it. Not meeting the President, although he has PERSONALLY DINED WITH MANY OF THEM. None of that, no sir.
Football has been everything to me since I was 10 years old.
I THINK I GOT IT.
For the past few months, all of that has been taken away. It’s been like a mini-retirement. And I realized that the money, the fame, the awards, the people talking about me on TV, none of that matters.
But I thought none of that ever mattered to you. I’ve caught you in your own web of lies! No amount of squat thrusts will help you break free!
None of those things have any effect on why I love this game and why I give everything I have to it. Don’t get me wrong, those things are nice, and I appreciate how fortunate I am to make the kind of money I do and experience the things I get to experience, but that’s not what I crave. What I crave is that feeling of being completely and entirely spent. When you walk off the field at the end of a two-a-day in the middle of August drenched in sweat, completely exhausted. When you finish a 6 a.m. workout before school and you’re fighting to keep your eyes open in first period. When you sit around the bonfire after the game with your boys, and your body has nothing left. You’re almost numb. And you know you laid it all on the line.
How much do the other Texans hate J.J. Watt? Like, your average Houston player probably has to deal with multiple injuries and grueling training methods on a daily basis. Then here comes ol’ J.J. into the training room, huffing and grunting and pretending like he just summited Everest on his own. I’d put staph in his Gatorade if I had to play with him.
Yes, over the last year, I’ve been through some dark times, and my body was beat up more than most people probably realize. But I’ve learned that a life without adversity is a boring life to live. I’ve experienced the highs, and I’ve experienced the lows, and both are better than living in the middle.
The kid in me is back.
Great. Now I gotta hear about how you’re like a kid out there. I don’t want you Favre-ified 10 percent.
Am I done?
Let me guess, since this is all one big block of ad copy: No.
I’m just getting started.
This is pretty much how every Jeterland essay ends. “Am I done? NO WAY. Am I ready? I’VE NEVER BEEN MORE READY IN MY LIFE. Am I gonna work hard? DURRRR I EAT WORK FOR BREAKFAST NOM NOM NOM.” J.J. Watt can go to hell.
Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Bucs (+5.5)
Schilling 2016 record: 5-5-1
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Cam Newton. Not only has Cam been erratic all season, but he’s also made his skill players more erratic by association. Since Oct. 2, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen have combined for ONE touchdown reception. One. UNACCEPTABLE. You listen to me, Panthers: you get your shit together, or there will be CONSEQUENCES. All I gotta do is make one phone call to Jerry “The Frown” Richardson and you will be busted down to sous chef at Denny’s. Don’t think he won’t do it! Jerry Richardson LIVES to humiliate his employees.
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:
(*-potential midseason firing)
At this point, the only way McCarthy wriggles out of getting fired is by offering up Dom Capers’s combover as a scapegoat. I’ll be so upset if that happens. I’ll be livid if they ditch Capers and then put on their best Midwest hoedown faces and are like, “Round here, that counts as a big change!” Fuck that. Beav is the real problem up there.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Eric sends in this story I call UNCLE BUTT:
About 5 years back, my Fat Uncle from Memphis came to visit. I hadn’t seen him in a year and he always came to play golf. I wasn’t regularly golfing at that time but agreed to dust off the clubs and go with him.
My Fat Uncle is about as disgusting and crude as that name implies. Farting and grunting is a typical day for him.
Anyhow, we are on a green on the back nine, and he’s standing over his putt. He’s delaying for a moment, so I know he’s gonna fart. He does it all the time. Well this particular fart, I can hear the exact moment the fart goes from gas to shit. He gives a look of perplexion, but holds it together. Drains the putt. Somehow he extracts the ball from the cup and we walk to the cart. I don’t say a word. He sits down in his now shit filled pants and drives to the next hole. It has a bathroom next to it. It’s a county course so it is a pit toilet.
He continues to play it cool. With a steel will, he hits his next drive. I walk to the tee box in confused amazement and he tells me he’s gonna go to the bathroom.
I hit my shot and start waiting. I few minutes later, he emerges from the bathroom and chucks his tighty whities into the woods on his way back to the cart.
Again, not a single word is spoken and we drive off.
After the round he insists on having a brat and beer, and goes on in length about how another team needs to give Tebow a shot at being a starting quarterback again.
Took me two years to muster up the courage to tell my family about this day... at our Christmas celebration he wasn’t invited to.
Thanksgiving Food Of The Week
Turketta, as noted by my fine colleagues over at GQ. That’s a fully deboned turkey smothered in herbs and fine salts and then rolled up and roasted until mouthwatering. I want that in me, and I want it now. You turkey haters were always misguided, and now I have proof.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Dutch Gold! From Michael:
When I was studying abroad in Ireland this was the cheapest beer we could find at about 1 Euro per can. It tastes like stale popcorn, smells about the same, and is pretty low ABV so even if you drink a bunch of ‘em you will still be sober enough to immediately regret it. Did I mention it was really cheap? Lord have mercy on your soul if you try and drink this at room temperature. On the plus side, check out this logo! I’m not sure if that guy’s a pirate or what, but he looks very strong. I want to be friends with that guy.
What I wanna know is why they called an Irish beer (or least one brewed by a faceless corporate behemoth to sell in Ireland) “Dutch Gold”. What Irishman was pining for Dutch-labeled beer? The whole point of Ireland is to drink Guinness until you’re throwing up black vomit in the alleyway. You can’t get into a quality street brawl if you’re drinking some light-ass, yacht-rock, Rotterdam poser beer. I MUST AVOID IT, LADS.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“Me? Oh, I’m gonna have a great Thanksgiving. ‘Dumpy Bear’ Mike invited us over to his camper for pot luck. This isn’t some fussy Thanksgiving like your rich grandma makes, okay? This is real food. We’re gonna have all the classics: fried possum tails, foam casserole, mulled sewer wine, sour potatoes, used gum gravy, candied shoelaces, wool pie, cum fritters, ‘hanging rice’, chopped antler, roasted baby crow, mac and jeans, blood dip, cold-brewed toilet ale, and Aunt Lanny’s famous ear salad. No one knows what kind of ears she uses. Supposedly it’s a mix. All I know is that she cooks those ears up right. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. Once in a while you get a little mystery nugget in there, but that’s no big deal. Dumpy Bear will actually ask to eat yours if you stumble on one. Nothing goes to waste. Real pilgrim spirit.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Midnight Special. Any movie that features A Child With Special Powers is usually insufferable, but this one’s solid. It’s also got Michael Shannon making really intense Michael Shannon faces. One day, Michael Shannon will kill us all with his intense gaze. I’m all right with it.
Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote
“There are friendlier places to drink.”
Enjoy the games, everyone. And Happy Thanksgiving!