Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
I worked at a bunch of ad agencies when I was in my 20s, and if you've ever worked at an ad agency, you know that the most important product that an ad agency sells is itself. Every agency I worked at spared no expense when it came to building websites and paying award submission fees and producing awesome business cards that were personally branded by a cattle rancher in Wyoming (because we took branding seriously). Award shows had entire categories dedicated to agency self-branding. Creative people were often pulled into long meetings to come up with placard headlines for industry banquets and shit. And those campaigns were always fun to work on, because you weren't encumbered by some moron client who had shitty ideas. You got to be your own client. You got to present your best self to the room.
That was 10 years ago. Since then, presenting your best self to the room has become the dominant American industry.
You already know what a fucking disaster the whole Ray Rice scandal has been for the NFL. One of the reasons it's been a disaster is because the NFL—like many large, slovenly entities—has become an organization that is primarily dedicated to its own PR, rather than the product it puts out on the field. The game of football itself is malleable in the NFL's hands. Challenge systems are added. New PATs are tinkered with. Certain rules get enforced or ignored. The game has been molded over the years into whatever the NFL needs it to be at the time. It used to be a celebration of violence. Now it's basketball. The game—and all of its related events both on and off the field—gets fed into a PR machine and shit back out.
This isn't unique among companies, or even people in general. Thanks to social media, everyone can have a public face now, and that public face has to be managed. I have a public face. I have a Twitter feed and I sit there trying to think of clever shit that will make me look AWESOME because making myself look awesome presumably leads me to riches and yachts and brony parties. And if that part of your life grows large enough, pretty much everything you do is for performance, and your humanity ends up dissolving in the process. Check Darren Rovell's feed for the most extreme example of this. At some point, everything you do is for PR purposes—either your own, or those of some master you are compelled to serve.
Not that this is so different from any other time, but we live in an age where very important people are making very important decisions strictly based on how that decision will LOOK. Presidents abstain from making key policy decisions because of how they might look. News organizations bury corrections quickly because of how those errors will look. Pizzas are coming to life just to say sorry to everyone. And the NFL essentially banned Ray Rice for life because they wanted to look active and thoughtful even though it was far too late. You and I know that Rice would still have a career if the league had simply suspended him for a year right off the bat, because that would have looked better. You make the call based on how it looks, and then people judge whether or not you looked good making it, and then you adjust for optimum good looks. Everything gets clouded in a fog of optics ("optics" copyright 2014 by Tommy Craggs), while reality lurks out of view.
When Roger Goodell amped up the league's domestic violence policy in the wake of the Rice furor, this is what he said:
Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football.
Does this sound like a man who has any internal, personal integrity? Fuck and no. This is a man who is openly announcing he's trying to make the NFL look good. And what's telling here is that Goodell cannot see how transparent this is. This is strong leadership to him. He has bought into his own delusion of the NFL being America's moral compass. Why anyone would want or need values from watching a fucking football game is beyond me, but that's where Roger Goodell has taken the sport … to a land of superficial authority and telegraphed values. When he spoke with CBS news about why the NFL didn't do more to get the original Rice tape, Goodell said this:
We are particularly reliant on law enforcement. That is the most reliable. That is the most credible. We don't seek to get that information from sources that are not credible.
This Goodell basically saying, Oh, we have too much dignity to trust anyone other than our upstanding folks in law enforcement. Not only is it a lie, but it's also blatant pandering. It is laziness spun as integrity. In Goodell's hand, football can't just be football. It has to look like some shining beacon of AMERICA or something, even though that's batshit crazy. And Goodell's bosses approve of this strategy. Listen to them of them lament the whole disaster to Peter King:
"I am starting to get a sick feeling about how out of control this is getting"
This guy doesn't give a fuck about the actual problem of domestic violence. He's lamenting they couldn't keep control of the narrative. He's pissed that all this looks bad, not that is IS bad.
This is what happens when you make every single decision based upon public perception: The image of you becomes the focal point, and not the person therein. When Peter King issued his weird mea culpa for his lax reporting on the Rice scandal, he phrased it just like a press release. See for yourself. That's the kind of public statement a celebrity issues after saying something racist. It's certainly not any kind of formal reporting. Is Peter King even a reporter? Or is he just a quasi-famous coffee enthusiast and PR dumpster? I can't tell. I can't tell much of anything anymore because every sports league and every TV network and every new album release is strategized to within an inch of its life.
At the Super Bowl in January, I went to the Bud Light boat party, which was not actually on a boat. It LOOKED like an event. There were spotlights and pretty girls and famous people tucked away behind a curtain. You had to go through thousands of checkpoints to get to the party, every one of them festooned with branded signage. And after all that waiting and walking and anticipation, I was greeted with a makeshift ballroom that was largely empty inside, like I had just traveled through the vein of a corpse to find its heart missing. That's kinda what it's like to hear Roger Goodell talk. It sounds very strong and noble and then you look closer and there's fucking nothing there. That's what happens in a 24/7 PR universe. That's how punching a woman in the face gets buried under a mountain of horseshit.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Seahawks at Chargers: Watching the Seahawks last week was completely demoralizing and my team wasn’t even playing them. We’re just gonna have to cut the brakes on their team bus. It’s the only option. You know Pete Carroll deserves it anyway.
Eagles at Colts: I know Andrew Luck is good at mounting comebacks and near-comebacks, but holy shit does he make it look ugly. These are not graceful comebacks. He just muscles them through, like he’s stuffing a foot locker into the back of a Geo. It ain’t like watching Peyton Manning lead four consecutive touchdown drives. Those are pretty. Luck just drools and wipes his chin hair on the defense and they scurry away in terror. There’s a reason Russell Wilson gets lots of TV ad work and that guy doesn’t.
By the way, on Sunday night, Cris Collinsworth noted that Jim Irsay left detailed instructions on how the Colts should be run before he left for his suspension. I imagine him leaving post-it notes all over the joint and telling Luck to heat the frozen lasagna up in the oven before trying to eat it. I’m amused that Irsay thinks he’s that necessary to the Colts operations. DON’T FORGET THE GAME STARTS AT 8:30PM GUYS.
Steelers at Ravens: How many signs will get confiscated at this game? Eight thousand? Denny from Dundalk has a WE STILL LOVE YOU RAY sign tucked into his Zubaz that has NO prayer of making it past security. I'd like every Steelers player to write FIRE GOODELL somewhere on his uni and dare Goodell to fine him for it.
This is the first CBS Thursday night game, which means you will get Jim Nantz reducing the Ray Rice scandal down to roughly four generic words. “Such a difficult situation,” or something like that. I’m already annoyed. There are gonna be so many shots of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti (makes me want cookies) looking very serious in the owner’s box. Guys, he’s taking all this super serious. He even wore his power loafers for this game. He’s not here to fuck around.
Bears at Niners: Now we know: Between Cutler and McCown, the Bears should have picked Derek Carr. Or a fan from the stands. Or anyone, really. No one gives a shit about throwing horrible interceptions quite like Jay Cutler, man. I think he likes it. I think they warm him up. It doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
Chiefs at Broncos: I swear, Peyton gets uglier every year. His face looks like your face if you got punched 50 times.
Falcons at Bengals: I was at a house party with my kids the other day and while we were eating and drinking, my two-year-old took a full bottle of water and dumped it on a baby. All of it. The baby was just sitting in a car seat, sound asleep, when BOOM! Surprise baptism. And so the baby wakes up and begins screaming her poor brains out and the two-year-old looks up at me and says…
KID: What happened?
ME: What do you mean, what happened? YOU DID THAT!
KID: What happened?
Little punk. He’s lucky all the moms were drunk and found the whole thing hilarious. If I ever get arrested for robbing a bank, I’m just gonna ask the cops, “What happened?” Two-year-olds have no conscience.
Pats at Vikings: I now believe the Vikings can win this game and that is because I am currently in the throes of New Coach Syndrome, where your new coach wins his first game and you convince yourself on the spot that he is the key to winning five straight Super Bowls. If we can beat Austin Davis, we can beat anyone! That’s where I am right now. I should be locked in a fucking kennel. It’s like Washington fans and Jim Zorn a while back. I look forward to having all my joy crushed by Belichick’s Life-Eating Machine. It’s gonna be a long Sunday.
Lions at Panthers: Holy shit, Matt Stafford got skinny as hell. It’s like he gave all his baby fat to Scott Mitchell. Also, fuck Golden Tate for throwing a TATE III on the back of his jersey. That makes him a million times worse.
Jets at Packers
Dolphins at Bills
Jaguars at Blood Meridian: Washington's only redeeming feature is that they lose so often, and with such remarkable consistency. Just one week into the season, and all of their marketing campaigns collapse. I mean, imagine if this organization could actually win a game. Then they’d be insufferable. But every season rolls around and they find a new way to shit the bed immediately, and you can take comfort in Dan Snyder never winning anything because he’s so dumb. It’s a nice feeling.
Saints at Browns: I saw a deer and a wild turkey (!!!!) in the backyard the other day, and I started to wonder who would win in a fight. At first, I thought, it’s gotta be the turkey, right? The deer can’t do shit except bat its eyelashes. I know they can run well, but if you locked them in a cage with the turkey, I thought the turkey would peck that fucker to death. Deer are fucking soft, right?
That is what I thought, until Barry showed me this video of a mama deer going HAM on a dog:
GODDAMN. She isn’t fucking around. She’s got the reach on the dog and everything. I guess the deer wins in an upset.
Cardinals at Giants: God, the Giants are fucking terrible. They even look fat. Are they all fat? I think they got fat. Those assholes are fat. There are gonna be two Giants/Cowboys games this season and they will be the most brutal shit to ever grace your television. I’m bored in advance. The idea of Tony Romo and Eli Manning both losing their jobs after this season should fill me with joy and wonder. And yet, here we are.
Cowboys at Titans: Did Jerry Jones send Ray Rice flowers and a coupon for a free private jet ride yet? Because at any other time, “Jerry Jones accused of finger-raping woman” would probably be a way bigger deal than it is right now.
Rams at Bucs Texans at Raiders
“Spit On Your Grave” by Sinergy. Featuring actual spitting! From Brian:
They have a female singer with a badass metal voice, plus guitarists from In Flames and Children of Bodom.
Metal as fuck.
Whoa, that’s a lady singer? GODDAMN! Her voice will rip your balls off.
Last week’s picks of the Jets, Texans, Pats went 2-1, making me 2-1 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 Tampa, Tennessee, Seattle, and every kid getting sick the first week of school. Happens every fucking year. You get excited for the kids to finally fuck off to school, and then they get there, and every last germ that was collected over the summer ends up incubated in that school, causing every kid to vomit green death. The first two weeks of school should be attended in HAZMAT suits.
I’m gonna single out the worst thing Gregg writes every week from here on out, because his column is longer than life itself. Here’s Greggggggg using Chuck Todd to give himself a rimjob:
Todd also had this to say: "Nothing causes me to miss more meetings and phone calls than reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback."
Jesus fucking Christ. You know, I live in the DC area, and Gregg is the perfect DC old person. He’s the prototype: an insufferable think tank pseudo-intellectual who insulates himself in what he takes to be his own intellectualism, and then hangs out with people who will praise that intellectualism like they just discovered clean coal. These are the people who attend cocktail parties at Sally Quinn’s house and read George Will books and pre-plan wars and go on Tony Kornheiser’s show to laugh at some endless story about how Tony needed to get his fucking windows replaced. They are just the WORST society people ever, and they can only be found here. Do not come here.
"This week I like the Carnals (+1) to go into MensLife Stadium and beat the Giants! What’s wrong with the Giants? They looked so old and listlist! I think everyone with the Giants needs a change of schemery. It’s like they say: family tree breezes content! And I think there’s a content breezing in that locker room right now. Where’s the fight? Don’t they have the caretaker to rise up? It’s sad to watch. Terrible bomby language. WHEN YOU HANG YOUR HEAD AFTER A PICK THAT TELLS ME YOU HAVE BAD BOMBY LANGUAGE. KEEP YOUR SHINS UP, BOYS!"
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 1-0
They just found a bunch of sea creatures in the deep ocean that defy biological classification. Well, I have a classification for them. Take a look…
Those are sea penises. I know a sea penis when I see one. That’s such a typical ocean move: to terrorize divers with disembodied, translucent alien penises. Fuck those penises.
Doug Martin, who was somehow outgained by teammate and apparent Polish avenue Jorvorskie Lane. Nine lousy yards on nine lousy carries. Jesus. What happened to you, man? I mean, apart from suffering a terrible knee injury? HARDLY AN EXCUSE. What a dick. I have no idea how to play fantasy football. I may as well set my roster while blindfolded.
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 know Harbaugh isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but he deserves to be here for at least this week. It’s also nice to have Gruden on here, because that was inevitable anyway. It’s always fun to watch Washington fans talk themselves into a new coach before realizing the team hired a complete boob. Anyone who coaches for Dan Snyder is any other team’s 60th choice.
Reader Dana sends in this story I call DEEP BLUE POOP:
In 2008, I did my undergraduate study abroad in South Africa. Our group arranged for a week in Cape Town so some of us scheduled a day to go shark diving. The night before, the entire group went to dinner on Long Street. I'm pretty sure everyone stuck with alcohol except for my friend Tom. Tom drank a pitcher of water - literally an entire pitcher.
The next day we are picked up at our hostel around 4 am. Tom mentions that he isn't feeling well but that he is going to be fine. The ride from Cape Town to Gansbaai is well over an hour and the entire time Tom was complaining about his stomach. I figure he is just really nervous and encourage him to eat something and take some dramamine. Eventually we are led onto the boat - which is super shady looking - and head out toward Seal Island.
The weather was rough that day. Huge waves and the boat was bouncing up and down - we were leaving our seats on each bounce and would land down HARD. Well we finally get to the island and everyone is told to go up top the boat for more instructions. We are heading up and Tom pulls me aside - he looks PANICKED and says to me "I shit myself." "Excuse me?" "I literally shit my pants. We went up, we came down and boom! I couldn't help it." He then turns around and there is no hiding what has occurred. I immediately start laughing at the absurdity of the situation - we're stuck on a tiny boat in the middle of waters baited for Great White Sharks and this kid shits himself - and promise not to say anything. I head up the ladder with Tom behind me. We get up top and the captain tells everyone to sit - the look on Tom's face is PURE terror. No way this kid is about to sit his shit-covered ass on a bench. I think he ended up half-cheeking it on the edge and praying to god nothing fell out of his shorts.
Eventually we all go back down and Tom books it into the tiny ass boat bathroom and discards his shorts and underwear in favor of his swim trunks. By this time I've told half the people on the boat what is going on and we can't keep a straight face for our lives. Tom manages to pull it together for the next few hours. But, at some point, the captain goes into the bathroom and comes out to declare "God to hell it stinks like shit in there." Poor Tom.
We survived the rest of the experience and Tom made it back to shore without shitting himself again. Turns out a water main broke on Long Street the night before and sewage was leaking into the tap that the restaurant used to fill their water pitchers. Let that be a lesson to stick with alcohol when in Cape Town.
Snowballimus Prime, from Liz:
Saw it at Walmart and could barely believe my eyes. The Transformers franchise beat Cleatus to the coveted Hostess collaboration.
But what does Snowballimus Prime transform into, besides a painful bowel movement? I demand answers.
BLUE LION! China’s tastiest lead-based Budweiser knockoff! From Kyle:
I picked up a couple Budweisers tonight at my local corner store here in Shanghai. I'm normally a Tsingtao guy, but today they just had the silver wrapper 3.1% alcohol bottles, so fuck that. America! But after getting home, it turns out only one was a Bud, the other looks like a Budweiser can but is actually "Blue Lion Beer". It tastes like car exhaust cut with simple syrup. That's not the only fake beer I've spotted in Shanghai. There's also the PBR found in a major supermarket. The special can is labeled "World War Two, Edition in memory of US Army". I didn't buy any. Would you?
I would! I MUST HAVE IT. I bet that beer has no beer ingredients at all. No rice. No hops. Not even water. I bet you open the can and a bunch of millipedes come flying out and attack you.
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 Matt Ryan of the Falcons! Such a shame to see NFL players treat women so poorly. Here in Hollywood, we treat our leading ladies like royalty! Private jets to Monaco? YOU BET! A tasteful fruit basket when we fuck the cleaning lady? STRAWBERRIES GO A LONG WAY. Yes sir, I’m proud of my industry’s track record when it comes to handling domestic violence. Except for Charlie Sheen. And Sean Penn. And Nic Cage. And Steven Seagal. Oh, and Brando! BOY DID BRANDO LIKE PUNCHING LADIES! Brando used to punch women as a way of saying hello! One time I introduced him to my mother, and Brando socked her right in the jaw. And I said to him, 'Whoa, Brando! That was my mom you put down!' And he said, 'I am the animal within us all.' I couldn’t even get mad! It was a bravura performance. No one punched people with the kind of smoldering intensity that Brando did!"
Mud, which is one of those Southern indie movies featuring a magical Southern hobo criminal who appreciates life and love a little more than ordinary folk do. This isn’t a very good movie, but it’s got McConaughey doing half a Rust Cohle, and it’s got people screaming MUD! a lot because his character’s name is Mud, which is fucking stupid. “You talk to Mud?” “I ain’t seen Mud.” “You tell Mud we’re looking for Mud. Things ain’t gonna go right for that crazy Mud.” They really should have named him Billy or something. The metaphor wasn’t worth it.
“Simpson, eh? Good man? Intelligent?”
“Actually, sir, he was hired under Project Bootstrap.”
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.
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