Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
Holy shit, it’s the playoffs! FUCK YEAH! Unworthy division winners! Backup quarterbacks! Ed Hochuli explaining why he did that stupid thing he did! IT’S ALL HERE! I’ve got a couple of sad beers in the fridge and half a bag of chips. I AM READY.
For the past few years, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the NFL, mostly because the NFL is run by crooks and shitbags. You already know all the grievances. The sport kills its players. Some of the players beat their wives. The coaches are lunatics. The sponsors are relentless. The culture of the sport is one degree away from that of the Oregon G.I. Joe militia bros. The officials are morons. The replay system is horrific. The games can be dull. The rules change hourly. The owners routinely rip off customers and municipalities and starve school districts of badly needed funding. In a just world, the NFL would fucking die.
Frankly, I work with people who would like to see this happen… MAKE this happen. There are a number of people on this staff who believe football is utterly irredeemable and shouldn’t exist. I routinely have to defend my enjoyment of football to these people… people who watch goddamn SOCCER (a sport that is somehow even more corrupt!) on a regular basis. And you can get this sentiment from the greater media as well. Just this week, some pud at the Guardian called for the abolition of football:
In its current state, professional football is immoral and we as a society should end its existence.
I imagine some fans of American football felt their hackles rise upon reading that.
Oh, yes. CONSIDER MY HACKLES RAISED, BROTHER. Listen, I may bitch and piss and moan about football because that’s all I do because I am a miserable person. But I’m entitled to bitch about the NFL because it’s MY sport. Just like soccer fans will watch the World Cup despite the LITERAL HUMAN SLAVERY involved in staging it, I will watch football from now until the day I die. Even if the NFL manages to bomb every elementary school in existence. Even if football is shown to cause butt cancer merely if you WATCH it. The only thing more imperious or annoying than the NFL is the people futilely trying to get me to not like it. I saw more than a few people on Twitter say they “gave up” football this season. Do they miss it? No, they do not miss it. Oh, how they beam with PRIDE when they tell you how much they do not miss it.
Fuck these people. Okay? I grew up with sportswriters who were more than happy to express their disdain for football. Michael Wilbon hated football. The entire New York Times staff hated football. Fartsniffers like Thomas Boswell and Mike Lupica didn’t exactly hide their preference for other sports, like baseball. And if YOU hate football (would you like a cookie for it?), you now have the ammo you’ll ever need to call for its demise.
But I don’t give a shit. As always, I am here to lay down obvious takes, and here is one: FOOTBALL IS GOOD. I hate to align myself with GREGGGGGGGGGGG on this, but it’s true. I don’t want the NFL to die. I don’t want it to go bankrupt. I don’t want it replaced by an eco-league that forces me to root for the Minnesota Frost Bears as a healthy alternative. I want the NFL to live forever, damaging brains and corrupting everyone along the way. There’s too much about it I like: deep passes, toe-tap sideline catches, safeties busting out the motherfucking hit stick, Sunday drinking, fat men catching tipped balls, flea flickers, broken tackles, sad fan crowd shots, preparing to boo the ref when he announces his replay findings, SNOW, coaches stomping around like angry children, and giving my TV the finger. OH! Oh, how I love giving my TV the finger. I gave John Kuhn the finger 10 times last week alone. WHAT’S HE GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!
Last season was, from a quality standpoint, the worst season in NFL history. Almost every prime time game during the 2014 regular season was terrible. It was enough to make any sane viewer question if football was truly worth it. But then the playoffs came, and along came the picked up PI flag, and Dez catching/not catching the ball, and Brandon Bostick, and Malcolm Butler. Somehow, the playoffs wiped all that bitterness away and left me in my preferred state of football-induced engorgement.
And as much as the NFL overstates it, there ARE nice things about football. I really DO watch football with my family. I really DO feel, at times, that playing the sport as a kid was a worthwhile experience. I really DO think there are players and coaches out there who mean well. I really DO think the sport is currently going through a painful reinvention that will hopefully result in a faster paced, potentially less lethal sport. Underneath all my craven bitching and moaning is a man who BELIEVES in football. It’s not the sainted congregation that Roger Goodell makes it out to be, but it’s all right. Virtually every large, worthwhile American enterprise has something quietly damnable going for it. But just because something is built upon a foundation of corruption (America, for instance!) doesn’t mean the thing itself isn’t worth having around. Wishing football away isn’t some kind of magical salve for what ails society. Young boys would probably just turn to backyard pro wrestling or invent some new traumatic sport called HEADKICKBALL instead.
If you love a sport, there will ALWAYS be something there to redeem it. And maybe you don’t think that’s enough to justify the existence of the sport. But I can’t go with you on that. I’ll never be a Lupica, or a Wilbon, or even a Marchman (who likes MMA, mind you). I refuse to become what I hate. Football is a mess, but I’ll always think it’s worth it. Throw me down a well if I ever say differently.
Also, I’ve been rooting for the stupid Vikings for a quarter-century and I’ll be goddamned if I give it up without them winning something. These are the playoffs, and this is your playoff Jamboroo. LET’S FUCKING GO.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And during the playoffs, I pick the games, because that is the bold and courageous thing to do.
Bengals (+2.5) 27, Steelers 24. Take it from Beaux Jackson…
I don’t trust Marvin Lewis to win a playoff game any more than you do, but the proper Bengals move is to win this game, knock out the best offensive team in the AFC, and then get absolutely DESTROYED when Andy Dalton comes back the following week.
By the way, as of this writing, not a single home team is favored this week. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. Some of these home teams are gonna win. VEGAS DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT’S DOING!
Redskins (+1) 35, Packers 30. There’s no way I’m picking against Washington until they lose. This team has already defied expectations and it has turned this fanbase into even more fervently delusional imbeciles. You would think playing against Aaron Rodgers in the playoff game—regardless of his struggles—would be a terrifying proposition, right? RIGHT? Ohhhhhh, but Skins fans aren’t like you and me, amigo:
Keep in mind this team went 9-7 and didn’t beat a single team with a winning record, and yet it takes NOTHING for these people to act as if they’ve already won the goddamn Super Bowl. Imagine Yankees fans, only they’ve hallucinated half of their championships. That’s Washington. Look what you’ve done, Kirk Cousins. ARE YOU HAPPY, YOU ASSHOLE?
Seahawks (-5) 24, Vikings 7. Our own Diana Moskovitz already took a shit all over this horrific Adrian Peterson cover story at Sports Illustrated, but it’s worth shitting on twice, because SI thoughtlessly handed Peterson a redemption story even though there’s nothing redeemable here.
Even Riley Cooper was a LITTLE sorry. Peterson isn’t close to that. The only reason he got this soft-focus bullshit is because it’s a year later and he has a rushing title. I’d like to focus on this quote from Peterson, who CLEARLY still whips his children in the testicles with sticks:
“Roger Goodell, man, I don’t know. . . . This is when I knew he was blind to the fact of what I was going through.”
What the fuck were YOU going through? No one is beating the piss out of YOU, kiddo. There’s no struggle to be had here.
“I sat down with him. He asked me, ‘What is a whuppin’? . . . It was one of the first questions...”
I refuse to believe this is true. It’s called a “whuppin’”. If Roger Goodell can’t infer the meaning of that, he is genuinely brain damaged.
“It kind of showed me we were on a totally different level.”
How can I relate to this commissioner if he doesn’t batter small children into near unconsciousness?
“It’s just the way of life. For instance, in Texas, we know what whuppin’s are.”
Oh, well that changes EVERYTHING. See, down here in Texas, we GET it. We know what a whuppin’ is, and we do a-whuppin’!
“Down there, if it snows, people are going to go crazy.”
“They’re going to close schools.”
“They’re going to shut it down.”
I’m lost. Does the snow beat your children down there? Does Frosty the Snowman come to life and then assault kids with his stick arms? Is your fist a weather pattern?
“Here, you’re used to that. It was just a tough situation, because of misperception.”
There’s no misperception! This isn’t a fucking anthropological survey. You can’t just write this off as, “Well, y’all don’t know what it’s like to be COUNTRY.”
“I get it. I get why. But you still shouldn’t pass judgment on people when you don’t know.”
I do know! There are photos! Here they are again, in case you fail to understand…
This fucking guy. I could honestly give a shit if he plays for Minnesota next year. Someone has to take a STAND, man (preferably in the offseason, and hopefully after Peterson has gained 600 yards in four playoff games. My ethics are always flexible like that).
Texans (+3) 10, Chiefs 9. Oh, the Chiefs have won 10 in a row? Well, THAT can’t last. I would say now is the perfect time for Andy Reid and Alex Smith to lock hands, squat down at midfield, and leave simultaneous dumps. That’s how it works.
None. No more Sunday Ticket. No more orgiastic days of fantasy binge-watching. That’s over until next fall BOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Now, onto the random crap…
•Last time around, I wrote a whole big rant about the grossness of the NFL’s L.A. bidding process, but I failed to recognize the unique position the Rams are in compared to the other two teams hoping to move. Before they got ripped away from St. Louis, the Rams, of course, were ripped away from their original fanbase in L.A.. And in fact, you can look at the time the Rams have spent in St. Louis as the perfect dystopian scenario for what happens when a mercenary team follows the money and puts down stakes wherever they can bilk the most taxpayers. That team was in St. Louis for two decades and won a title, and even THAT wasn’t enough to keep them around.
There’s nothing to suggest the same thing won’t happen in L.A. Twenty years from now, the Rams can just move BACK to St. Louis because the $2 billion StannyWorld stadium they erected doesn’t have heated toilet seats. Why fuck over one city when you can fuck over two of them?
•I don’t know if Chip Kelly is gonna get another NFL job but it can’t be a good sign that the Eagles shitcanned him after just three seasons, two of which were arguably successful. That team wants to be like the Steelers and Giants and have continuity, which is the super classy way of doing shit. So if they fired Chip, he must have been REALLY awful. Beyond watching his players take a whiz and ruining the company Christmas party, he must have also put cockroaches in the vents and what not. I fear Chip. He may be a cannibal.
By the way, Kelly was inarguably a decent football strategist, but got fired anyway because he had such terrible interpersonal skills (even Jim Harbuagh, for all his lunacy, was never ever badmouthed by his players). And it makes me wonder if coaching an NFL is essentially impossible. What are the odds you’re gonna find someone who is a brilliant strategic analyst but ALSO has the motivational skills of Patton? Those two personality traits tend to be at odds. The fact is that your average head coach is gonna do some things well, and some things horribly. Andy Reid is brilliant at building lasting regular season success, and HORRIBLE at clock management. It’s not easy as a fan to accept that a coach can be good while not necessarily being good at EVERYTHING, but it’s probably worth accepting it if you ever want to be happy watching your idiot team.
Coaches get fired all the time, and yet they are arguably, en masse, the most dedicated professionals in the workforce. EVERY coach works a hundred hours a week. In some other profession, working a hundred hours a week would probably be enough to get you ahead. That’s the STANDARD in coaching, which means you can be the most passionate guy in the universe and still fail. ANNUALLY. We should probably get these people better mental health care.
•A family member of mine suffered a concussion earlier this year when she tripped while running and hit her head on the frozen ground. And one of the lasting effects of a concussion is that you’re apparently supposed to avoid caffeine and alcohol after you suffer one. Who knew caffeine and alcohol had an adverse effect on brain function?! The doctor even recommended staying off caffeine for LIFE. Obviously, I can’t let my children play football now, because I don’t want to deprive them of a life without Four Loko. That’s just sound fathering.
•I have a fox living in the woods outside my house. And contrary to the song, the sound a fox makes is no mystery. Listen for yourself:
I assure you that if you hear this sound at night, you will think a woman is being stabbed right outside your window. It’s terrifying. The fuck is the fox doing that makes it yelp like that? What is it planning? We need to muzzle the foxes. I can’t sleep with them scheming so close by.
•I still believe in the Moonshine Prophecy that foretells Johnny Manziel and Jerry Jones coming together in unholy matrimony. But it’s getting to the point now where I doubt that ANY team is gonna bother signing JFF in the offseason. He’s failing to meet even the bare minimum of basic professional obligations. And he’s a quarterback. You wouldn’t let a fucking punter get away with half this shit before cutting his ass. There’s no way Dallas is signing an unrepentant drunk, no matter how hypocritical that may be given the Greg Hardy signing. In the NFL, you can be the world’s worst human being so long as you’re PRODUCTIVE. There’s no way that JFF will recover from alcoholism if some team hands him another million or so to keep it up for another year, with no lull in his playing career. There has to be some tangible evidence that his career is in mortal danger to make him stop.
•I took my kids to a trampoline park the other day. If you are not a parent: A trampoline park is a big indoor warehouse of interlinked trampolines, and it is fucking awesome. Anyway, these joints usually require that you wear footie socks with anti-slip crap on the bottom when you go bouncing around, which means you gotta pay extra for the socks, because of course. So I brought some previously purchased socks to this trampoline park, only to discover that a trampoline park will only let you use THEIR branded socks. If they came from another company, they’re banned. NO CONTRABAND TRAMPOLINE SOCKS YO. Still worth ponying up the extra cash to do some trampoline dunks, though. LOOK AT ME I’M THE PHOENIX SUNS GORILLA!
•Last chance this season to watch Shades of Blue promos! You can tell J-Lo is gritty for this one because her hair is, like, curly.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
CIVIL WAR! Did you know that Axl and Slash are reuniting at Coachella? That’s right: someone is broke. I bet it’s both of them! Axl Rose’s body is composed of 99 percent donor plasma at this point. He can’t keep that up strictly with album royalties.
By the way, nothing is more amusing than rock stars railing about war when rock stars tend to be highly volatile people who will trash a hotel room just because a hamburger bun wasn’t toasted correctly. John Lennon sang about peace and he beat his wife! Never trust a rock star’s anti-war takes.
Suicide Picks Wrap-Up
Last month’s suicide picks of the Detroit, Buffalo, Tampa went 2-1. That makes me 29-19 on the season, picking straight up with no spread. I am fucking worthless. Anyway, time to pick one final thing that makes me want to commit suicide, and that is my parents turning any simple question into a whole THING, like so:
ME: Do you guys have any AA batteries?
MOM: (already exasperated) He said he wanted some batteries!
ME: No, I mean it’s okay if you…
DAD: Let me just check the attic.
ME: No, it’s really okay…
MOM: Go to the store and buy him some batteries!
DAD: Does anyone have a flashlight so I can check the attic? Who moved the flashlight?
MOM: Go to the hardware store and buy him some batteries and get a new flashlight, for God’s sake!
ME: Wait, guys…
DAD: Okay, I’ll go to True Value…
MOM: No, go to the OTHER hardware store.
DAD: Well, let me just see where that one is then… (check phone) This phone… I cannot get this phone to WORK!
ME: I’m just not gonna talk ever again.
And scene. Love you guys.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
It’s only the first week of January and already the takes are fucking ABLAZE. This may well be the take-iest year in human existence. There’s the lady who bitched out Cam Newton for having a baby:
Congratulations would be in order if he had been man enough to marry the mother of his child and make a home.
That alone would be a good start to the year, but we also got Thom Loverro throwing down a Hall of Fame take too. STOP IT THOMMY YOU’RE SPOILING US ALL. Did he invoke the character clause? You know he did!
‘In a movement that may soon have the hashtag #steroidnumbersmatter, a number of voters publicly have admitted to voting for the two greatest heroes of the Cheated Generation — perhaps more than in past ballots.
Oh that hashtag will TOTALLY become a thing. I’ll use frequently and without irony!
There are six criteria for election to Cooperstown, under the rules of the Hall of Fame. Three of them are sportsmanship, integrity and character. I chose to take those seriously.
Maybe you HEATHENS out there choose to ignore character, but I do not! GO AHEAD AND DISREGARD YOUR MORALS. Dance around in goat skins and sacrifice human babies. Around here, this ballot MEANS something.
When I released my ballot, I received the typical amount of hate reaction from Cheated Generation fans, as has become the case for voting for the Hall of Fame — baseball’s version of sitting on the O.J. jury — for leaving Bonds and Clemens off the ballot. Somehow, I managed to not break down from the attacks.
Yes, this bold soldier sallies forth, unperturbed by the raised black fists of the Steroid Brotherhood! Stay strong, amigo. I, for one, am comforted to know that the hallowed ground of our athletic institutions remains under the close vigil of this man.
Emmitt Smith’s Lock Of The Week!
“This week, I like the Greenland Papsmears (-1) to march into Worthington and beat the Kreskins! Lot of people out there loving Kurt Cummins, but Kurt Cummins isn’t PROVEN! He’s an unknown quarantine! A WILD CARP! To me, you can never ever count out someone like Aaron Rimjobs. Bet against Aaron Rimjobs at your own pearl! Come at the king, you’d best not piss!”
2015 Emmitt Smith record: 9-10
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
It’s Big Ben. I know there have been some terrible fantasy flops this season, including scores of injured players now littering the waiver wire. But Big Ben… oh, you big stupid man. How I loathe you. In his final five games this season, here are Big Ben’s touchdown totals: 0, 3, 0, 3. YOU DICK. If you start Big Ben, he will do nothing against the No. 32 pass defense. If someone starts him AGAINST you, he will throw for 500 yards and eight touchdowns against the No1 pass defense. He’s awful. I hate him. BURN, BIG BEN. BURN FOREVER.
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 2015 chopping block:
Joe Philbin - FIRED!
Tom Coughlin – PUSHED OUT!
Chip Kelly – FIRED!
Ken Whisenhunt – FIRED!
Mike Pettine – FIRED!
Chuck Pagano – NOT FIRED?!
Jim Tomsula – FIRED!
Lovie Smith - FIRED!
Sean Payton - TKTKTKTKTKTK
I don’t think the Browns should stop at hiring ex-baseball people. They should also bring in basketball people. And hockey people. Oh! And chess people! If I were Jimmy Haslam, I would hire some chess guy and then be like LOOK AT ME! I AM THE KING OF ANALYTICS! Then I would have the chess guy draw lots of fancy-looking equations on the windows of the Browns’ offices. People would be in awe. OMG THEY’RE DOING MATH STUFF IN THERE!
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Eric sends in this story I call IN THE HEART OF THE POOP:
One summer when I was seven or eight, my mom took my brothers and me to a local waterpark. There was one section of really shallow water that had spouts in the ground that would shoot streams of water several feet into the air. Disrupting the water streams seemed like a fun idea. After putting my hands over the spout to try to stop the stream of water proved ineffective, I decided to sit directly on top of it.
It worked - for one second. Then I was suddenly and brutally overwhelmed with the feeling that I had to commit horrible acts of diarrhea immediately. The acuteness of pain in my urgent bowels was almost as terrifying as the thought that I might shit into a public waterpark at which nearly my entire hometown was present. I waddled very carefully to the nearest bathroom and holed up in the first stall.
I fought through the panic that I might not get my clammy suit off in time and prevailed. The torrent that was expelled from my body was intense. The force and echo it created sounded like spraying a water hose inside of a plastic bucket. My relief quickly turned into puzzlement, as after the first wipe, there was nothing on the paper. I looked into the toilet, and the water was as clear as when I got there. The only way I could explain it to my young self was that I pooped so forcefully that I torpedoed my load down the hole of the toilet and out of sight. What other explanation was there for what happened?
It wasn’t until a little while later that I realized I had given myself an enema with public pool water when I sat on the water spout. I don’t think I ever told anyone that story.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Garlic bread! You know what this makes starchy pasta even tastier? MORE BUTTERED STARCH. I like to pile the spaghetti ON the garlic bread and enjoy a makeshift open-faced spaghetti sandwich. Then I fall asleep right in my chair for four days. It’s good livin’.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
333! From Vietnam! Reader Robin explains:
I’m currently in Vietnam, and spent a couple of days hiking in the jungle of Cat Tien National Park. Our guide was an older gentleman who fought in the war for the South. As we would hike (he called it tracking) he would tell us about the war and the aftermath. He pointed out the gigantic mounds of dirt and explain they were termites. The VC would use the mounds to hide air ducts for the tunnels. They would put bamboo up through them, and put pepper in the mounds to keep termites away. The mounds were everywhere. Trees all around us destroyed.
He also told us of the four years he spent in the re-education camp doing hard labor in the jungle. He made it through, but his father wasn’t as lucky. He died in the camp. His father in law fled the country for America before they could get him, but was lost at sea along with countless others.
For part of the tracking, we wore leech socks, because there are about a billion leeches out there; minus the ones I had to pick off me. Those fuckers can climb. I had to pick one off my neck. Whenever you felt an itch, check it. It’s probably a leech biting. So after hours of this tracking so we could see some monkeys, we got back to our room. I took off my bloody socks, and checked my leech bites. I then opened up our room fridge and found this beer. 333. I have no idea why it is called that. I just know it was only 15,000 Dong (about 67 cents). Shit, that’s cheaper than the bottled water, that you have to drink because the tap water has all sorts of shit in it; literally.
I popped it open, and quickly crawled under the mosquito netting (the background of the picture). What did the beer taste like? Fuck if I know. I’m Sure those old vets in the jungle don’t waste time thinking about stupid shit like that. I know I wasn’t.
Goddamn, that story made me thirsty for THAT beer. They should have an ad for this beer featuring men pulling live bloodsuckers off their legs before cooling off with an ice cold 333. I MUST HAVE IT.
(For real though, Vietnam sounds awesome. That’s way up on the “Places to go I’m too cheap to go to” list.)
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“Fired? That ain’t nothin’. I’ve been fired from a million jobs: ax handler, truck starter, door holder, live gun target, hay baler, piano re-polisher, Jet Ski mechanic, rumrunner, gravel sniffer, baggage tagger, gum taste-tester, fart cleaner, substitute gym teacher for when the original substitute gym teacher is sick, cord inspector, keyboard duster, oil rig bartender, cannery vice-foreman, coal licker, cockfight scout, Indian war chieftain, kazoo smelter, rodeo luxury box waiter, hook baiter, professional trade show mime, plutonium scrubber, sign language bingo caller, balloon catcher, dog mortician, pasta shaper, sea horse collector, sungazer, human ship ballast, village idiot, tongue bleacher, you name it. Gettin’ fired ain’t no big deal. You can feel sorry for yourself all day, or you can move on. The people that move on… they get somewhere. I’m movin’ on. I saw a broken-down Datsun on the street just now and I know a guy who will pay decent money for that fender. Not TOP money, but decent all the same.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Finally, the movie that gets fatherhood exactly right. All I want is for my family to leave me be so that I can go join the space aliens. That’s being a dad in a nutshell, folks.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“So long, Stinktown!”
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone.