Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest this week to reckless assault (is there any other kind of assault?) and won't be going to jail for beating the piss out of his four-year-old son with a switch. Peterson has missed eight games with pay for that incident, and now Roger Goodell, who has taken it upon himself to be the ultimate arbiter of such things, has to decide if he needs to send out a STRONG MESSAGE, as he likes to do when players do shitty things. He can reinstate Peterson next week and take no extra action. (The NFL has already ruled out immediate reinstatement, although no one really knows what "immediate" means there.) He can give him a retroactive suspension without pay and take away a few of Peterson's game checks. Or he can give Peterson an "official" suspension that's really an extra suspension because his current eight-game suspension isn't technically a suspension or something.
Is Goodell legally allowed to do this? Fuck if I know. According to the collective bargaining agreement, a TEAM can suspend a player only a maximum of four games. But of course teams rarely suspend anyone anymore. They leave that messy business to the Ginger Hammer, who apparently has free rein to spin a magic wheel and hand down whatever stern-sounding punishment the arrow lands on: suspension, the stockade, a lifetime of shitting softballs, etc. Next week, an arbitrator will rule if Goodell had the right to officially suspend Ray Rice twice for a single infraction. And regardless of what happens in that hearing, and what Goodell decides to do with Peterson (I find it fitting that he has yet to take any kind of decisive action at all), it's worth pointing out that both men—despite doing some really awful shit—should be allowed to seek employment again.
I'm gonna go ahead and disclose now that I'm a Vikings fan, which means I'm trying to throw down a hot ethics take while part of me kinda wants Peterson back on my shitass team. But the fact is that Peterson has missed half a season for what will amount to a misdemeanor (NOTE: I do not agree that reckless assault of a child should be a "misdemeanor" but that's Texas for you), while Cowboys DT Josh Brent missed just two more games for killing a teammate because he was driving while shitfaced. Pacman Jones was suspended for an entire season simply for being arrested a lot. Terrelle Pryor was suspended for five games for taking free money in college (juh?!). And Ben Roethlisberger was never formally charged with sexually assaulting anyone, so technically, he got five games for hanging out in a bar.
You see how this gets tricky. There's no way to properly grade out suspensions based on your offense. No one can say with a great deal of certainty if hitting a woman is "worth" more games missed than hitting a child, or if killing a shitload of dogs and going to jail is worth more missed games than killing a teammate. But ever since Roger Goodell caught shit for suspending Rice for two games (I will freely admit that I was one of the people who found a two-game suspension to be ludicrous), the idea of "two games" has become shorthand for a slap on the wrist. And since that disastrous PR blunder, Goodell has attempted to create a one-size-fits-all scale of justice for domestic assault (six games out, and then banned for life), while simultaneously punting disciplinary issues down the road thanks to the handy discovery of the commissioner's exempt list.
When the Rice and Peterson scandals hit in tandem at the beginning of the season, a handful of people said that Goodell would never lose his job because his job was specifically to take heat for the faults of NFL ownership, and he was doing just that, which is why the owners would never fire him. And on its surface, that's a perfectly fair assessment. After all, ownership has stood by Goodell through all this. The problem is that Goodell is NOT GOOD at taking flak. He sucks at it. He is in this bizarre suspension conundrum specifically because he has delayed taking action to keep people off his jock, or has taken certain actions to get people off his jock. He fucking hates getting criticized, which is why he's probably sitting in his bigass office right now, consulting with fancy consultants at a fancy table and trying to figure out the exact right action to take on Peterson to minimize getting shit on. He is making rulings strictly based on how strong it will make him look.
You know who hasn't been suspended at all? Ray McDonald. After getting arrested for allegedly beating up his pregnant fiancée (do these guys actively seek out pregnant women to allegedly hit just for extra bad karma points or something?), the Niners basically said, "You know what? He hasn't even been charged yet. So we'll play him and take your shit." McDonald has played in every game, and the Niners took some shit, and the charges were eventually dropped, and now the general public has moved on to the Niners' newest faults (fumbling, horrific pass protection, Jim Harbaugh making dick faces, etc.).
This remains a completely fucked up situation, and God only knows if this was a classic case of a victim walking back her story out of pure fear, but I don't know how else the Niners could have properly handled this. Ray McDonald provided a service for them, and they continued to pay for that service because they found it useful to do so. If they had suspended McDonald prior to any charges, they would have assumed the role of the justice system, and no one in football is qualified to do that. When Goodell partially blamed the legal system for his initial Rice ruling, no one bought it because, with previous suspensions, Goodell had already overridden its judgments.
That's why Rice and Peterson should be reinstated today and allowed to go back to work if a team will have them. The Vikings could cut Peterson and that would be fine. (Speaking personally, I would just like the situation resolved one way or the other.) Or they could keep him and plug him back in, take some shit from a handful of sponsors, and simply ride it out because everything goes away eventually, even when it shouldn't. And Rice, who has already been cut, can try to find work, only to have the door shut in his face by teams that don't want the flak. That could happen, and if it does, it's a better consequence that anything Roger Goodell—a man with no law degree or experience working in criminal justice—will be able to cook up.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
None. Terrible week.
Dolphins at Lions: Billy Haisley said as much here, but I’ll second it: No more fucking documercials for athletes, please. Every athlete now gets his or her own tasteful HBO documentary and/or extended Gatorade commercial that was clearly produced by a fucking agent and purports to be an "intimate" look at a superstar while being anything but. Any "dark" or "gritty" aspect of the documentary usually consists of the athlete being like, "I get ornery sometimes because I’m just so damn COMPETITIVE!" It’s shitty branding, just like any Katy Perry or One Direction 3D documentary. It’s packaged realness, and if you buy it, you are a fucking sucker. And I say that as someone who is fine with Kevin Durant. He seems all right to me. But these fucking documercials have to end. I don’t need any more out-of-focus shots that slowly focus in on the gritty street where you grew up.
Browns at Bengals: As you may have noticed, the Thursday night games are now exclusively on NFL Network and are no longer being simulcast on CBS. And while potentially missing out on Browns-Bengals isn’t the worst fate a man can suffer (I don’t care if they have winning records … they aren’t THAT good), I don’t know why the NFL would pull these games from network TV just when the season is kicking into high gear. I mean, I know that they think it’s a shrewd way of giving people a taste of TNF so that they’ll demand more cable companies carry their stupid network, but that is remarkably short-sighted. If they really want to make Thursday Night Football a thing, they gotta get the most people to watch it first. As of right now, it’s the most optional feature on the NFL viewing menu, because the matchups are usually subpar and the teams are tired. I’m not gonna FIGHT for TNF until the product is better, if it can be made better at all. Phil Simms sure as hell isn’t helping.
Niners at Saints: I’m fine with the NFL’s current playoff seeding, even if that means the occasional 10-win team gets hosed in favor of some terrible division champ. But, just for fun, I wanted to see what would happen if the NFL scrapped that system in favor of a selection committee, like college football has. As of right now, here are your current playoff seeds:
NFC: 1. Cards (!) 2. Lions 3. Eagles 4. Saints 5. Seahawks 6. Cowboys
Holy shit, the NFC is limp.
Anyway, here is the AFC: 1. Pats 2. Broncos 3. Bengals 4. Colts 5. Steelers 6. Chiefs
That’s under the current system. But if we threw out division and conference affiliations and let Condi Rice decide, it might look like this …
1. Cardinals 2. Patriots 3. Broncos 4. Colts 5. Steelers 6. Dolphins 7. Lions 8. Packers 9. Eagles 10. Seahawks 11. Chiefs 12. Bengals
That seeding would freeze out the 4-4 Saints and the bound-to-fade Cowboys in favor of the Dolphins and the Packers, which would make a lot of people angry, which would be amusing. The people running college football have managed to make an industry out of people’s dissatisfaction with their playoff formatting (even now, when they finally have one!). Maybe the NFL should do likewise. They’re already REALLY good at making people mad.
Bears at Packers: I was staying at a hotel the other night and the hotel was one of these country inns that is clearly designed to house a wedding. You could see all the wedding machinery in place: an outdoor wedding chapel, a patio for cocktails, and a pavilion for eating dinner and then throwing up on the dance floor. They had the system down pat. Anyway, I was staying there on a Tuesday, so no one was there. I may have been the only guest. Ever been the only guest at a hotel? You picture your own murder the whole time. I barely slept a wink.
Also, I went for a walk in the woods nearby, alone. There were leaves rustling at my feet and the sounds of a hedge trimmer coming from a mountain on the other side of the valley, and I felt like some asshole contemplating Walden Pond. It was very nice, pretentious author moment until I though t… Hey man, what if there’s a bear around? TOTALLY FUCKING RUINED IT. I walked fast as I could back to the hotel, ready for a fucking bear attack. It’s like being in the ocean and remembering a shark could eat you. Later on that night, I was at East Stroudsburg University (Go Warriors yo) and the prez told me there was a "bear problem," and that a family of bears was occasionally roamed around on campus. I could have been mauled by a bear, man, which would have been a fitting end for me. Bears and homicidal maniacs all around me. The football Bears should sign that family of bears to keep the locker room in check.
Chiefs at Bills
Rams at Cardinals
Giants at Seahawks: I understand why they’ve implemented it, but I’m sad that suplexing the quarterback is no longer legal. In the future, the NFL and Riddell will conspire to invent a concussion alert helmet that turns red if it registers a brain shake, and then the ref can flag the play accordingly. And then defenders can be free to suplex the QB so long as his helmet doesn’t turn red. TOTALLY WORTH THE RISK.
Dallas at Jacksonville (in London): Are they filming the airlifting of Tony Romo to London? Because they ought to. I want to see the velvet-lined litter that Jerry Jones had built to transport Romo’s sad, mangled body across the ocean and back. I bet Jerry demanded that other Cowboys take turns rubbing Romo’s feet and abdominal wall. And I bet he yelled at the pilot for encountering turbulence. “I DIDN’T PAY YOU FOR WIND, YOU BAG OF SHIT! NOW GIT HIGHER! YEEEEEHAWWWWWW!!!!!”
By the way, this game starts at 1pm Eastern, unlike the Lions/Falcons shitshow that started at 9:30am Eastern. The NFL is considering more 9:30am start times in London, and I heartily approve. NFL Sunday mornings are always the longest goddamn mornings. They should take the Thursday night game and just stick it in this timeslot instead. And not put it on the goddamn NFL Network.
Panthers at Eagles: Imagine if Mark Sanchez makes the Super Bowl while the Jets go 1-15. Tom Brady may as well sex Mrs. Ryan at midfield of the Meadowlands to finish the job. It’s just one humiliation after another.
Broncos at Raiders: Did Tony Sparano dye his goatee blond? He should dig up that ball he put in the ground and put his frosted goatee there instead.
Titans at Ravens: I drove four hours to Pennsylvania and back this week. I am incapable of driving in a leisurely fashion. Every time I go on a long trip, I’m like I’ll take my time. No rush. I’ll stop to rest my back and it’ll be cool. And then I get in the car and I’m like FUCK THAT LET’S BURRRRRRRNNNNN. I’ll never drive cross country because I’ll just end up snorting a gallon of speed and trying to make it to the West Coast in less than 20 hours.
Steelers at Jets
Falcons at Bucs
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Lite Dream,” by Diarrhea Planet. I did not know there was a band named Diarrhea Planet. And they’re WAY better than a band named Diarrhea Planet has any right to be. From Patrick:
That part when the guitars come back in after the breakdown makes me swell up like Ronnie freaking Coleman. Too bad they have the worst band name of all time. Enjoy the looks on your coworkers' faces when you tell them that you're really into Diarrhea Planet.
Does this video feature a severed hand comet? It does. Does it feature women in thongs chopping off zombie heads? It does. Does it feature a woman standing in front of a giant statue’s vagina and raising a sword to fire lightning through that giant statue? It does. But do you know what it does NOT feature? A planet made of diarrhea. Kind of a letdown, if I’m being honest. I would live on Planet Barf before I lived on Planet Diarrhea.
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week’s picks of the Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Cleveland went 3-0, making me 18-10 for the year. Time again to pick three teams for your suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week’s picks are Denver, Arizona, Green Bay, and any time two huge trucks decide to ride side-by-side together for 40 miles on an open stretch of highway. Hey Jimbo and Virgil, how about you two knock it the fuck off? No one likes it when you decide to form an impenetrable moving blockade just so you can chat about which rest stops are good for hooker killin’. You are trolling the highways, man. I do not approve.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
You know what? I’m not reading past this…
Over the years, TMQ has lauded Authentic Games: quality wins versus a formidable opponent.
That’s you! That’s you lauding your own invented thing! “Over the years, TMQ has lauded TMQ.” You know what? That’s exactly right. That’s Gregggggg in a fucking nutshell.
Okay, I lied. I’ll read a little more…
All victories count the same, but authentic victories foretell a team's future.
Oh, and how is that? Tell me how your certificate of game authenticity has mystical fucking powers…
An Authentic Game is like pornography — impossible to define, but you know it when you see it.
GOD DAMMIT. Just, god fucking dammit. WILST THOU STOP?
A team might be an authentic opponent early in the season, then drop out of that classification if its performance fades. Or it might start weak and end up authentic. Right now I'm counting New Orleans as an authentic opponent because TMQ takes the Saints seriously
You just were in first person and then you shifted over to third person in the same sentence! I do not like how Drew feels about this! Who does this? Take Terrell Owens and have him fuck Freddie Mitchell and the resulting GLORY BABY still wouldn’t think to do that! You’re taking your dopey grit metric and pretending it’s actual science! You should be disbarred from whatever guilds have you as a member. Authentic Wins. Jesus. You’re an Authentic ASSHOLE. How about that?
Emmitt Smith's Lock Of The Week!
"This week, I like the Bills playing in Buttalo against the Can’t This City Keiths! I know Keiths are rent hot, but you know who’s even MORE rent hot? ME! My picks are back over five huntered! I am like Lazysaurus rising from the dead! I’ve got the hot ham and I’m riding this porny for all its worth! Who knows? They may just bring me out to Las Vagels and put me in charge of the ManToLay Bay sports boot! Watch out, AIDS Rothstein! It’s my turn to run the Pacino!"
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 6-5
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
Here’s a snake that tried to eat a possum, only the possum proved too large and the snake threw it back up after swallowing 3/4ths of it. This is what happens when you live in Australia. You walk outside your door and there’s a dead possum with a gallon of snake stomach snot all over it.
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
Jeremy Hill. Gio Barnard was basically my only functional fantasy player, and all it took was one little injury for this Hill asshole to magically turn my best player into a fucking committee back. God damn you, Jeremy Hill. I have nothing left. I am on the sidewalk, begging for loose yards. Have you no pity, Jeremy Hill? Football players are dicks.
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 2014 chopping block:
(*potential midseason firing)
I actually don’t think Jim Harbaugh is getting fired or resigning, even if the Niners go 6-10 and he pisses in Trent Baalke’s coffee. Michigan fans are sooooo fucking excited for Harbaugh to take that job. I wanna see how they react when Harbaugh turns them down and their school resorts to hiring Mike Munchak instead. I was a huge Michigan fan when I was a kid, and I always labored under the delusion that Michigan fans were cooler and way less uptight than Notre Dame fans. Holy shit, was I wrong.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Jeremy sends in this story I call UNCOMMON POOPOR:
I got sick during basic training, had to spend three days in the hospital before returning to my platoon. I got back less than three days before graduation, but while I was in the hospital I'd missed our final physical training/fitness test. I needed to pass that test else I'd be held back from graduating, possibly having to retake the entire 9 weeks of basic. Basic training sucked, so there was no way I was going to go through the whole thing again. So I took the test solo, save for a buddy who was going to pace me during the two-mile run portion of the test. Note: The US Army PT test consisted of pushups (2 minutes), sit-ups (2 minutes) and a timed 2-mile run, which I needed to run in less than 16:00 minutes to pass. I'd never been a strong runner (lumbering is an accurate description), but I was determined to pass.
I made it through the pushups and sit-ups with characteristic unspectacular but acceptable scores, and was absolutely blasting my way through the run, heading to my best time ever, until I started the penultimate lap. All of a sudden, my stomach locked up with a horrible cramp and I was nearly overwhelmed by THAT FEELING. I slowed noticeably as we entered the back half of the quarter mile lap. "Frank", I called out to my running partner, "I have to shit." "You only have a lap and a half left, don't quit!" he replied. Frank was a good dude, a good motivator. "I can't, man, I just can't. I've really gotta shit," I panted. I was nearly doubled over, and moving at just barely faster than a walk a walk as we passed the drill sergeants manning the stopwatch at the finish line. "Last lap!" one of them called. "You're at 14:01!" "Come on, you've got to run!" Frank yelled. "Do you want to roll back to day one? If you have to shit, just shit!"
Frank was right, I had no choice. Entering the first turn of the final lap, I forced my guts to relax, no easy task when you’re trying to run. Consequently, a mighty load propelled itself into my shorts. In those days, thank God, part of the Army PT uniform was a pair of spandex undershorts you wore beneath the cotton exercise shorts. That spandex now contained a horrible, stillborn brown baby. As the bomb released, my stomach un-cramped magnificently and a surge of energy swept over me. No doubt it was partially due to the fact that I needed to finish the run as soon as possible so I could decontaminate myself.
I flat-out sprinted to the finish, running the final quarter mile in less than a minute and thirty seconds, ending with a 2-mile time of 15:30 or so. This is certainly no great feat, but it was my fastest time ever. My drill sergeant knew it, and as I stood panting at the finish, he asked me, “Private, what got into you?" "It's not what got into me, Drill Sergeant, it's what came out!" I gasped. He paused, scenting the air like a hunting wolf. His nose wrinkled suddenly, as my noxious offense washed over him. He stifled a retch as Frank stifled a laugh. "Get the f*ck out of here and go take a shower, Private!" he bellowed.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Fried banana bites. I don’t have a picture of these things, but I’ll describe them to you. I’m at Cluck U in rural Pennsylvania. I stop at this place because it’s one of those restaurants in PA where you go to buy beer because PA liquor laws are fucking insane. So I see "deep fried banana bites" on the menu and I ask the dude what they are. "They’re like, bananas and cream cheese, but fried?" TAKE MY TWO DOLLARS, AMIGO. I took these abominations back to my hotel room, and they were repulsive, everything bad people say about American food in one fried cube. I ate the whole container. Delicious. Fry me up a wad of bananas and cream cheese anytime, gents.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
SUPER COOL BEER! Watch your ass, Coors Light! China is coming for your coldness crown. Reader Jeff explains:
I spent some time in China for work this past summer, and on my walk back from the office to the hotel every day, I would stop in a local convenience store to pick up a beer or two to enjoy as I watched completely unintelligible Chinese television. Most of these China brews were similarly bland, watered down light lagers, and the occasional disgusting "how can anyone enjoy this taste?" surprise. This one wasn't bad, though. It had a much bolder taste and was one of the few that was over 3.5% alcohol. It was on the shelf right next to the high end American import beer, Budweiser, and the can color and design was similar enough that I'm sure they were relying on people not paying attention to which one they grabbed. I bought it on purpose though, both for the name and the cheapness. For the US equivalent of $0.83 for a half liter, it became my preferred local refreshment. It did not, however, make me feel any cooler at all.
I would drink that. Just put SUPER COOL in front of any alcohol product and I’m on it.
Robert Evans's MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about this season's candidates for the NFL's MVP award. Every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for MVP is Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers! Whoa baby, I hear there’s a new movie out about wormholes. Strange? YOU BET? Has Evans ever been through one? I WAS THE FIRST, BABY. Don’t believe me? I’m not surprised. 1971. Nicholson’s house. We had just finished up sucking on a bedsheet soaked in acid and huffing steamed, hallucinogenic 'black' asparagus (from Eritrea!). Well, the acid and the black asparagus worked their magic, and before Nicholson and I could pull out of our dates, a giant black hole opened in the center of the room! Did I go in? NEVER TAKE EVANS UP ON A DARE.
"I walked through the portal and within seconds, I was standing on the surface of a vast red lake, with nine moons rotating around each other in the distance. A space rabbit came up to me and said, 'Hello, Mr. Evans' (He knew my name! Gossip has wings, baby!). We are an ancient race, and we have traveled through space-time to find you. Decades from now, your planet will be in grave danger. This is your chance, Mr. Evans. This is your chance to save humanity and begin a new life here on our fair planet, where fresh water runs in the oceans and you will never want for food or fuel or shelter again. Join us. Tell humanity about us.' Well, I was mulling it over, when Nicholson starts fucking the rabbit! Just sticks his dick right in it. And I say IRISH QUIT FUCKING THE RABBIT! But then he sprays his Prizzi’s Honor all over it and I wake up back at the house, covered in rabbit poop. YOU TALK ABOUT A TRIP! The rabbit never spoke to us again."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Raiders Fans
Interstellar, which I have not seen yet, but please, critics of the world! Please see it three weeks in advance and tell the world how uneven it is. Have entire conversations about the fucking movie before the general public even has a chance to lay eyes on it. Suck all the fucking enthusiasm out of moviegoers before they have a chance to decide for themselves. That’s a valuable public service you’re providing.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“My raisin roundies!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Photos via Getty and AP