Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
I watched the Vikings lose to the Ravens in the most Vikings-like way possible last Sunday and it was agony. They won, and then they lost, and then they won, and then they lost for good, because that's how the Vikings work. They wouldn't be the Vikings otherwise. They'd be some other, awesomer team. Anyway, I watched Vikes-Ravens from beginning to end even though, superficially speaking, the Vikings had "nothing" to play for. They were 3-8-1 with a lame-duck coach and three lame-duck quarterbacks. In theory, the only thing at stake when the Vikings played the Ravens in that snowstorm was their draft position. Their precious, precious draft position.
If the Vikings had won that game on Sunday, they could have theoretically screwed themselves out of a good draft pick, given that there's a raft of 4-9 teams waiting right behind them. Hop on Twitter during any game and you will hear fans of a shitty team rooting for draft position, or consoling themselves after a loss by celebrating the maintenance of draft position. Six years ago, Bill Simmons coined the term "fantanking" for this exercise: the act of rooting against your own team for what you perceive as its long-term benefit. And you now see fantanking regularly as the NFL regular season comes to a close and shitty teams burn off games.
Now here's the thing: If you are someone who is fantanking honestly, and not just bullshitting yourself after a tough loss, then you are a fucking moron. You suck. You really, truly suck.
And I'm not saying this as some kind of moral scolding. I don't think I'm a better fan than you. (I know I'm not.) This is strictly a practical matter, because fantanking makes rooting for a football team an even greater waste of time than it already is. Mathematically speaking, your favorite sports team will play a LOT of supposedly meaningless games in your lifetime. They will make the playoffs only sporadically. They will win a title once in a blue moon, if at all. There's a lot of meaningless horseshit in between all of that, and it make far more sense to CARE. It's more enjoyable to want your team to win every game, no matter what that game is, so that you can get the most out of your time with them.
At its best, your love of a sports team is an unconditional love. You love them when they suck. You love them when they fuck you out of ticket money. You love them when half the defense gets busted hosting an orgy at the local YWCA. And the way that your team pays you back for that love—when they deign to—is by winning, by offering you a fleeting moment of glory in between all that dreck. So you better enjoy those wins when they bother to pick up a few, instead of rooting for them to lose game after game after game just so you can have 15 minutes in the sun while watching the goddamn draft.
Because the more often your team loses, the more likely it is that it will fuck up that draft pick anyway. I'm not gonna dismiss the drama of a three-hour regular season game just so my team will make an even more egregious drafting error. My team—the Vikings—are a franchise that has drafted two All-Pro players (Kevin Williams and Bryant McKinnie) after FORGETTING to draft where they were fucking supposed to. They drafted McKinnie even though they wanted to take Ryan Sims, who turned out to be a huge bust. That's where fantanking gets you: a higher draft pick that ends up sucking and leading you to more fantanking. Last Sunday's game was one of three remarkable games featuring teams (Vikings, Browns, Steelers) who were all but out of playoff contention, and those games were only remarkable if you gave a shit.
And trust me: It's more fun to give a shit, even if the team loses. It's more fun to maintain the bullshit "sense of duty" to your team, so that you can Lord it over casual fans and become emotionally invested—EXCITED!—by whatever game you happen to be watching. The Super Bowl cannot be the only goal of a fan. You will drive yourself out of your mind if that's all you care about because most teams don't win the thing.
We are trained, as Americans, to only want first place or a title, and to think that everything else is shit. But keeping to that makes the fan experience even more miserable than it already is. There has to be some pleasure in week-to-week victories, even if they don't propel you to the ultimate goal. Even if you don't win the Super Bowl, you should still get the pleasure of some random Week 14 upset over a contending team, or a 200-yard performance from your favorite running back, or whatever else thrills you. That has to have value, otherwise you'd only feel the need to root for your team during the last two weeks of the playoffs, and that would make you a Pats fan. You don't want that. It's better to care. It's better to want to win.
Don't fantank. Don't pretend like squandering draft position is the WORST thing that can happen, enough to make you say "meh" when your 3-10 team pulls off an upset you don't want. Otherwise, at some point, you'll never care at all. You root for a team because you are rooted to them. Stay that way.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Chargers at Broncos: Whenever two players break into the dreaded "skirmish" after a play, the cameras always cut away from it, as if cutting away from it will somehow help cool tensions. This is stupid. Two guys are beefing and I want to see if anyone pulls a knife. Stop cutting away when there's chippiness afoot, networks. You're not taking the high road when I gotta watch a promo for the "The Following" two seconds later.
Ravens at Lions: We need to do background checks and issue certifications for all Santas because I have no idea where these mall Santas come from. I took my kid to a trolley museum last weekend (yes, such a thing exists), and you pay six bucks to ride on some old trolley for eight minutes. But this was a special Christmas trolley, so at the beginning of the ride, Santa jumped aboard and he was fucking HORRIFYING. He had yellow teeth. He had one pant leg tucked into his boot and the other one loose. He looked like he had woken up under a park bench. He staggered to the back of the trolley and I closed my eyes and prayed he wouldn't come near my boy. The fucker said hi to my kid and I was like HE'S SHY. Then I saw him go to the back and he yelled, "It's better to be naughty than to be nice AMIRITE KIDS?!" What kind of Santa says that? I paid six bucks to be stuck on a streetcar with a madman. Santas are fucked and should be banned.
Packers at Cowboys: I know it's unlikely, but if Green Bay gets Aaron Rodgers back this week or next and somehow makes the playoffs, that's the scariest team in the universe, no? Seattle's getting the 1-seed and their reward could be a pissed-off Rodgers in the divisional round? I'd shit a brick. No thank you. Gimme the NFC East winner and a bag of M&Ms instead.
Pats at Dolphins: I goof on the Patriots a lot because fuck the Patriots, but they should probably play in primetime every week because good God do they deliver the goods. I'd watch the shit out of them.
Niners at Bucs
Cardinals at Titans
Bears at Browns: I'd like to know why Jay Ratliff decided he wanted to be called Jeremiah instead. Did he always hate the name Jay but was too shy to speak up about it in Dallas? Was he so traumatized by his tiff with Jerry Jones that he had to assume a whole new identity? DOES HE HAVE A DARK PASSENGER? You can't just say "I like it better." If that's the case, you can call me Turbo Gunslayer.
Saints at Rams: I tried watching Football Night In America for my post-game highlights last week because Rich Eisen doesn't do the NFL Network's wrap-up show anymore, but FNIA blows when it comes to highlights. NBC still treats it as more of a pre-game show than a post-game show, so you have 20 minutes of some shitty Bob Costas soft-focus interview and the highlights from the day are treated like a nuisance. Last Sunday was one of the best days of football in ages and FNIA didn't show anywhere near enough of it. What I need is an hour-long post-game show that's ALL highlights. No field reports. No fucking analysts trying to tell you what it means. Just keep Siciliano in the studio for an hour after Sunday Ticket signs off and have him run through everything one last time.
Seahawks at Giants: I watched the SEC title game last week and Missouri RB Henry Josey got hit late out of bounds and slid into the corner of the fucking injury cart, which was terrifying. It looked like he shattered eight ribs and punctured his aorta on the play (Josey said he was fine afterward). I couldn't watch the replay, and I think that's because, as you get older, watching sports injuries hurts more. If I were 18 and watching that play, I'd rewind it 50 times and be like OH SHIT LOOGIT THAT! But then you get older and suffer injuries of your own and have kids and your tolerance for that sort of thing decreases tenfold. I turn into everyone's mommy when I see a guy get badly hurt now. OH JEEZ I HOPE HE'S OKAY LEMME MAKE HIM SOME TOAST.
Bengals at Steelers: It's the Gawker holiday party tomorrow night, where we KEYBOARD COWBOYS all gather together and snark each other good! We guzzle wine and hate on the things you like! It's quite fun. Last year, I got really drunk the night before and spent the whole day sick with a hangover. I took my wife out to dinner before the party—the only dinner alone we'd had all year—and I went out into a back alley eight times to throw up. The waiter brought my wife free wine because he felt bad for her. Let's hope for a redux this year, gang!
Jets at Panthers
Eagles at Vikings
Skins at Falcons: I listen to sports talk radio, and everyone who doesn't listen to sports talk radio is always like, "Why would you listen to that dogshit?" Most of the time, their sneers are justified. Sports talk radio blows and most people listen to it just to get worked up. But then there are weeks like this past week in DC, when sports talk radio is GLORIOUS. The anger, the incredulity, the "What the fuck is this team doing?!" sentiment is so palpable. You can hear the catharsis coming through in waves, as if every listener wants to murder Mike Shanahan simply with their power of their speaking voice. It's a real joy.
By the way, now that Mike Shanahan is on the verge of losing his job, it's nice to look back at Mike Wise's legendary story about how the fucker was hired to begin with:
While watching NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game between the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts, (Snyder and his underlings) drank glasses of Sassicaia, a bold Tuscan red that is a Snyder favorite, those who were present said. They added that Snyder eventually graduated to Crown Royal. Finally, Snyder turned to the others. “Let’s go get Mike Shanahan,” he said... “Let’s not wait for him to change his mind,” Snyder said, those who were present recalled. “Let’s go now.”... The Bombardier BD-700 Global Express XRS corporate jet, which bore the team’s helmet on its tail, landed at Centennial Airport outside Denver at about 2 a.m. Mountain time, 4 a.m. back in Washington.
Fucking Snyder and Vinny Cerrato SLEPT at Shanny's house that night. Think about how insane that sequence of events is. A grown man did all this. A very rich and powerful grown man. So I'm very excited for Snyder to get shitfaced on Crown Royal, hop on a plane, and show up at Art Briles' house in the dead of night, only to get chased away with a shotgun.
Texans at Colts
Jaguars at Bills
Chiefs at Raiders
"Wendigo Pt. 1," by Bison BC. From Rob:
Just saw these fellas open for Red Fang in Vancouver and they completely stole the show. Heavy as balls with intricate riffs and harmonies? Check. Drummer potentially on PCP? Double check. Almost as loud as Motorhead? Oh yes that's a check. The last 3 minutes of this song are a full on eargasm.
Bonus points to any metal song that opens with a cello. Cellos are some heavy shit.
"Followed Home Then Killed," by Cannibal Corpse! If it's Christmas time, that means it's time to check in with Buffalo, NY's foremost purveyors of obscene death metal. Round up the children, pour some mulled cider, and sing along in the joy of the season to these lyrics!
Adrenaline is pumping as my heart is pounding faster yours slows down
Choke on blood and breathe your last breath mangled guts I wear to celebrate
Stay inside and fuck the corpse an innards orgy satisfies my needs
Finally I feel complete by eating brains and flesh
Move over, Irving Berlin! What's nice about Cannibal Corpse is that they switch things up occasionally. Sometimes, they fantasize about killing people. Other times, they fantasize about BEING killed. That's a balanced attack!
Last week's picks of Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and New England went 3-0, making me 32-10 on the year. Once again, we pick three teams for suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week's picks are Atlanta, Kansas City, Jacksonville, and snow days that don't have any snow. I live near DC, which is now infamous the world over for being the most spineless weather town in the universe. They cancelled two days of school here this week for a grand total of about two and half inches of snow. On Monday, the snow had melted so quickly that my kids couldn't even really go sledding. They just had to sit there and stare out at a bunch of fucking mud. This is what happens when you live in a region that is 80% lawyers, and it is agony. Even with snow, a snow day is charming for about sixty minutes. After that, it's THE SHINING. It should be federal law that all schools must remain open unless there is a total of 15 inches or more of snow outside. And if you want a driver's license, you should have to take a snow test to make sure you aren't the kind of brain-dead sandbag who doesn't know to turn into a skid. If the kids can't sled, then they will LEARN, god dammit.
Gregggg is off this week! You'll have to get your dam-building news elsewhere!
Reader Olaf sends in this story I call AS POOP AS IT GETS:
I was at work and had both a cold and the tail end of a fairly aggressive case of diarrhea. I was at the urinal taking a whiz when I coughed pretty hard. The combination of relaxing my nether regions to pee and coughing while that was happening caused me to very briefly lose control of my bowels. A small, but significant amount of liquid shit squirted out. Luckily, it was about noon so I waddled back to my desk, told my group I was leaving for lunch and drove home to change my shitty pants. I stripped off my jeans and boxers and cleaned myself up as best I could. Not a huge deal. To steal from George Brett: I'm good for about one of those a year. Flash forward to about a year later. I am in my almost re-finished basement hanging drywall with my friend Mark. My seven months pregnant wife is in the laundry room under the staircase cleaning up the pile of Home Depot bags, random tools and half used supplies we've been keeping under the stairs during our very long renovation project. As Mark and I are working, we hear my wife yell "OLAF" from under the stairs. Mark and I exchanged concerned looks as my wife walked out of the laundry room and into the living room. I was worried there was going to be a domestic incident and Mark was worried he was about to witness a domestic incident. As my wife came around the corner into view, we saw a seven months pregnant lady with rubber gloves, holding a crumpled pair of jeans in one hand and a pair of visibly shit-stained boxers in the other. When I'd gone home to change a year earlier, I'd hurriedly thrown my shitty clothes under the stairs and decided I'd deal with it later. My very pregnant and very angry wife then asked me - in an extremely condescending tone and while holding my shitty clothes in either hand - "How many times do I have to tell you? When you shit your pants, you throw your boxers away." Mark laughed so hard he couldn't stand up. He still brings this up years later.
"This week, I like the Ravens (+6) to beat the Lions—who are on the precious piss of disaster!—in Detroit! I love Joe Flacco's ability to come through in the conch. Here's a bit of fun Stevia for you: The Ravens are named after famous potent Edgar Allan Pope! In fact, there is a porn by Pope called THE RAVEN! It's true! Quoth the Raven: NEVERLAND!"
"I'd also like to talk beefly about what's going on in our national's crampital with Mike Santahand. I see him reflecting a lot of blame here! THIS IS HIS ROOSTER! He built it from snatch! So I'm a little sick of Santahand blaming his owner and blaming Robert Kiffin LLL for this! MAN CUP, SANTAHAND! Be discountable!" Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 5-8-2
Reggie Bush, the dreaded active scratch. If you activate a player but don't actually intend to play him, your organization needs to be fined $5 million. And docked 16 draft choices. This is not a game, people. LIVES ARE AT STAKE IN FANTASY.
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your potential 2013 chopping block:
- Gary Kubiak—FIRED!
- Mike Shanahan*****!!***!!*****!!*
- Leslie Frazier
- Jim Schwartz
- Greg Schiano
- Mike Smith
- Rex Ryan
- Mike Tomlin
- Joe Philbin
- Tom Coughlin
*-Potential midseason firing
Last week I issued a HOT SPROTS TAKE saying no coaches would be fired midseason, and was I ever wrong! JOY OF JOYS, firing season came early once again! And we've got Shanny to go on the docket. Give the Skins credit: They really know how to milk a firing for all its worth. With the Texans, Kubiak was out the door in a calm, orderly fashion. The man even thanked Houston in a newspaper ad, for crying out loud. Meanwhile, the Skins will be playing chicken with Shanny for THREE WEEKS. We even got RGIII shut down out of spite in the process! It's magnificent. No team does dysfunction better. It's not even close. I don't know where we'd be without them.
Egg nog candy corn, from Richard. Is it a Christmas candy, or a Halloween candy? IT'S BOTH! Richard says...
I picked up a bag at the Annapolis Pa. Dutch Market last week. Christmas candy was buy-one-get-one-free, and I was curious about both this and the candy cane candy corn, which is an S & M experience. Must be a tablespoon of peppermint oil in each kernel. Just painful. However, the egg nog candy corn is delightfully creamy.
I'll take your word for it. That looks like bagged uranium.
DUDE BEER! Finally, a beer for dudes! From Andy:
Dude Beer. Black can, white lettering, simple Dude Beer on the can/box. It's genius! We drank a shit load of this stuff up in B.C. while telling fucking hosers to TAKE OFF. Yeah, that is "Ugly American" stuff but the Dude was flowing, so I can't be held accountable.
There needs to be a BRO BEER to go with it, so you can order a bucket of DUDES and BROS at your local Buffalo Wild Wings. Who could drink this with a straight face? It would be like naming a wine YUPPIE. I MUST HAVE IT.
Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is Peyton Manning of the Broncos! I see there's a new Walt Disney biopic coming out soon. Strange guy. Brilliant? AS ALL HELL. Mysterious? NEVER TRUST A FELLA WITH MUSTACHE. Back in 1971, there were secret talks of a merger between the Mouse House and Paramount, where The Kid was firmly in charge. Old Walt invited me out to his compound in Orlando. Legend has it that the staff at his joint had to keep a shrimp cocktail at the ready for Walt at all times if he ever got the hankering, and that he often ate shrimp while bathing. I prefer a bit of pussy in my bath routine, but to each his own!
"Anyway, I never liked Disney movie because I dropped acid with Irish once and Nicholson had me convinced that I was a princess and some vampire duck was trying to eat me. But this was big business, so I shook Walt's hand, sat on his divan, declined the shrimp, and asked him what he wanted. I MAKE BIG PICTURES! I told him. YOU MAKE PICS FOR THE TRAINING BRA SET! Well, ol' Walt didn't take kindly to my assessment. He had a servant come over, took of his the many shrimp cocktail glasses lying around the house, and bashed that poor fellow right in the mouth with it. Blood? Everywhere. Shocked? YOU BET! And Walt turns back to me and says, 'Does that look like child's play to you, motherfucker?' Well, we got on famously after that, even if the merger never came through. I asked him if he wanted to go buy some French whores and he said he preferred the company of animals, which threw me. So shame, the way they froze his corpse. I think he really did want to be eaten."
Inside Llewyn Davis, which is musical even though they don't say it's a musical. It's the only acceptable kind of musical, where the characters are musicians and sing songs because they are in a club where musicians sing songs. They don't break out into song while walking down the fucking street, and for that I'm thankful. Anyway, it's a good movie, plus it features tons of swearing AND a poop story, so the Coens can still do no wrong by me. I'll watch any Coen brothers movie that features people driving in a car late at night in the middle of nowhere. Nobody shoots the road better.
"Let's all calm down. Everyone's going to be just fine, as long as I have enough beer."
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.