I forgot about the smoke. I was in Nashville and needed to find a bar with Sunday Ticket so I could watch my team. You can talk a lot of shit about Nashville. It’s tacky. It’s rife with beer-soaked tourists like me. It’s cut apart by highways. But what is indisputable about Nashville is that the people are all extremely friendly, and that it is very happy to accommodate anyone in immediate need of a bar.
So I only had to walk a few feet before I found a roadhouse willing to take me in. The sign outside reminded me that this was a “SMOKING ESTABLISHMENT,” something that no longer exists back in the filthy liberal enclave where I live. I walked in before kickoff and grabbed a stool in front of the TV designated for my game (like any good football bar, this joint labeled each monitor in advance so that it was clear which game would be displayed). Then I ordered a bunch of grubby bar food and settled in for a long afternoon.
The smoke was already everywhere: in the air, and in the walls, and embedded in the worn-down bar itself. And at first, I was offended on behalf of my pristine lungs. Then I took the stick out of my ass and accepted that shit was gonna stink like cigarettes for a while. You may as well bask in the dirtbag atmosphere while you’re there.
I was the only one watching my game. A Bucs fan parked his ass to the left of me. A mouse-quiet Jets fan sat to the right. A group of Bills fans came in and gathered around one of the TVs before they finally noticed the label underneath indicating that the Bills game was NOT gonna be playing on it. I saw another Bills fan and jokingly asked him if he was ready for the Nathan Peterman Experience. He rolled his eyes and started laughing. Everyone was filing into the joint and settling in, just like I was.
And then … the games started. This was, aesthetically speaking, a deeply shitty batch of early games. Virtually all of them ended as routs. But I didn’t care that much because A) My team won and B) I hadn’t properly watched football in a bar in years. Back when I was living in New York, my team had a bar. It was called Ship of Fools and it didn’t have much going for it except for the fact that they would put my team on the big screen in the back room. I remember watching Daunte Culpepper hit a 39-yarder to Randy Moss to take a fourth-quarter lead against Buffalo in that back room, and I remember the room roaring in approval and me nearly punching through the ceiling when it happened.
I didn’t have Sunday Ticket at the time (getting a satellite dish for an NYC apartment is, unsurprisingly, an expensive and unworkable proposition), so every Sunday I would trudge to the Upper East Side and jam myself into the back room. Seats were at a premium. I usually had to plaster myself to the wall. I always prayed for my team to be a national game so I wouldn’t have to leave my apartment, but those times were relatively rare. Most of the time, I had to go the bar to watch the game alone.
Ah, but I wasn’t QUITE alone. Because, of course, I was with other fans. I don’t even mean fans of my team, specifically. Yeah, there was a Vikings room at this bar, but it still got more than its fair share of Bears fans and Pats fans and the usual horrifying contingent of Steelers fans. It was this weird ad-hoc community of people brought together by their need for beer and their fervent desire to NOT watch the Giants or Jets on local television. I was always at the bar alone, but I always knew I would have someone to talk to, which is no small thing.
Being a guy is awkward sometimes. Guys can be clumsy and quiet and much more insecure than they care to let on. I’m 42 and I still have a hard time making adult friends … EXCEPT at a sports bar. At a sports bar, that awkwardness disappears. There’s no need to fish around for a conversation topic. It’s already on the TV. It’s right there on your jersey. The ice is broken. On some level, you already know each other. Everyone knows the ritual.
Watching football is a celebration of laziness. You sit. You eat. You drink. You yell when the big strong fast guys aren’t big or strong or fast enough for your liking. So it’s logical that I would normally prefer to watch games at home, without getting in the car, sealing myself inside a dark crypt of a bar, not seeing sunlight for five straight hours, watching miserable games while surrounded by loud strangers, and feeling way too shitty way too early about my food and drink choices. I don’t even like getting DRESSED on a Sunday. So when we left New York, I got the Ticket and was able to indulge my laziest fan impulses. I went years without having to do the Sunday bar thing.
Now I was in Nashville and realizing I had kinda missed it. Once the action began, the bar came alive. Fantasy bros ping-ponged around the bar, asking who scored. Anyone like me fixated on a single game became the de facto field correspondent for the rest of the bar anytime something important happened IN that game. One dude, already wasted, circled back a dozen times to ask me if Adam Thielen had broken the consecutive 100-yard game record (he didn’t), and then he was like THAT DUDE WAS A PRACTICE SQUADDER! Why yes, yes I knew that.
Whenever my team scored, I made sure to yell real loud, because it felt good and because I was basically sending up a signal that I had vital fantasy scoring information if they needed it. When other fans yelled, I checked their screens to get my own little McDonald’s Game Break. When a big play happened, you could hear it coming down the rail, like the distant roar coming from a golf course gallery. The Jets fan next to me bailed (understandable) and was replaced by an elderly Titans fan who was at the bar just to be at the bar. We shook hands and he asked me about my team, and I asked about his, and we formed a DIY studio analysis crew as the games unfolded behind the bar. We traded team diagnoses. We were friends. We were NEVER gonna see each other once the games were over. But for that little slice of history, we were friends, and I was happy for the company.
I traffic in sports enmity, and with good reason. Being a hater RULES. Not only is it fun, but it’s reliable. I can always count on the Patriots to be despicable. I can always count on Steelers fans being atrocious online. I can always count on Mike McCarthy undermining his own team at the exact wrong time. I love it all and I’ll never quit it. But I also drink up that haterade knowing full well that sports friendship—even if it’s temporary—is a thousand times stronger and realer than sports enmity. And it’s always nice to walk into a bar as a total stranger and, over the course of an hour, build a little zombie apocalypse community out of drunks and misfit fans and bros housing plastic baskets of lukewarm chicken wings. There’s joy there. There’s reassurance, even when your team sucks ass. And that’ll always mean more than whatever cheap shit talk gets piled up around it.
All that is to say that I really gotta get out more often.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Seahawks at Rams: In what would prove to be their final offensive snap of the game, the Rams had 4th and a short two at midfield against the Saints. And even though Sean McVay is a be-stubbled prodigy who remembers his own birth, he still dialed up this appalling formation:
Look at this shit. Todd Gurley is arguably the MVP of the league, but he’s set up in front of Jared Goff in blitz protection, essentially rendering the backfield empty. It’s barely over a yard, man. There’s no need to get cute with this shit. You can even sneak the ball from that distance. Tom Brady does it all the time, and yet the rest of the league seems oddly determined to NOT copy one of the most basic strategies of the most successful football team in HISTORY. It’s mind-boggling. If you need a yard and you decide to start the play an extra five yards back, you are fucking stupid. The Dolphins did this the other week and I wanted to throw my chair out a window. The NFL is just one endless cycle of coaches outsmarting themselves. When it’s 3rd or 4th and short, your QB’s hands should be on the center’s ass. Period. Sneak it, run it, or fake a run and roll out. It’s not time to bust out the Run And Shoot.
Panthers at Steelers: I have a weird habit in that I almost never check my fantasy scores until after, like, 3ish. I don’t wanna open up DraftKings and then have my day ruined instantly because no one has scored yet. I only wanna check the app when I at least know SOME scoring has occurred and I know I’m not gonna find a bagel when I check in. Looking at the score too early is bad juju. I won’t do it.
Saints at Bengals: I’ve never been to Paul Brown Stadium but I can tell you that one television it certainly LOOKS like the most depressing stadium in the fucking world. Do people die there during games? I feel like they do.
Patriots at Titans: Local election ads are an obvious scourge, but I will tell you that I get a morbid thrill out of visiting other places and seeing THEIR political ads. I can detach myself from reality and pretend that other place’s elections will have NO effect on me personally. And Tennessee had some truly insane wingnut political ads, man. They had the scary caravan images and all that other nonsense. JETHRO SCOTT LOVES THE CARAVAN BECAUSE JETHRO SCOTT WANTS YOUR WIFE TO BE MURDERED. That was some primo shit.
Cowboys at Eagles
Skins at Bucs: By the time this whole scam is over, Amazon will split their HQ2 into 90 different boxing locations and be absolved of paying local taxes in all 50 states. But before that happens, I just wanna say how completely fucking insane it is for them to consider the D.C. area, and especially the god awful location in Northern Virginia they’re reportedly eyeing. Crystal City is basically an ugly mall they dumped next to the Pentagon. It’s in an already dense and wealthy area of the country with HORRIFIC traffic problems. Driving in Maryland sucks, and yet driving in Northern Virginia is somehow even worse. It feels like being buried alive. NoVa doesn’t need more people and all the bullshit that people cause.
The whole pretense of Jeff Bezos’s gross little sweepstakes is that Amazon will bring jobs and prosperity to whatever area they decide to infest. So why isn’t he bringing it to West Virginia, or to Mississippi, or some other place that has the space and the need for them? He could, in theory, remake an entire state with his big box sweatshop. But he wants to park next to Reagan airport instead? He’s gonna leave desperate areas hanging and make prosperous places overcrowded and shittier. And politicians will still kiss his ass. Fuck that guy. And SUPER FUCK driving in Northern Virginia.
Cardinals at Chiefs: Everyone is understandably nuts about Patrick Mahomes, but it’s also worth noting that Kareem Hunt is also an insane stud. He’s got that burst where he can take a flare-out pass and suddenly he’s 20 yards downfield. He hurdles six guys every play. It’s a genuinely joy to watch him in action. If anyone injures him, I will END them.
Lions at Bears
Jaguars at Colts
Dolphins at Packers
Giants at Niners: It really is amazing how all the dead teams have managed to score primetime matchups against one another every week. It’s like a round robin of ass. Every Monday night game now features the Giants, Raiders, and Bills all mailing it in against each other simultaneously. A week from now they’re gonna flex Chiefs-Rams out of this slot for a Blake Bortles game. It’s gonna be pretty sweet.
Bills at Jets: At this point, the NFL should just cancel Buffalo games if they can’t find anyone to play quarterback besides Nathan Peterman. Peterman is essentially a major weather event at this point. His passes are causing active harm. Someone may DIE. It’s not funny anymore. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS, ROGER?
By the way, I know he may not play this week but my beloved son Sam Darnold is on pace to turn the ball over 32 times this season. Every rookie QB deserves at least a one-year grace period, but it would be a very Jets thing if they drafted a tall stiff at the exact moment the league was shifting all the way over to a more fluid brand of football that demands more athletic QBs. Frankly, this outcome was inevitable the second the Jets drafted that poor bastard. He might really, truly suck.
Falcons at Browns
Chargers at Raiders
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Headbanger Face Rip,” by Municipal Waste! Submitted by John:
I recently saw Waste this summer on a riverboat in the middle of the Hudson. They were on acid. Played something like 20 songs that were all under 3 minutes. Their frontman, Tony Foresta, flipped off the stage into my arms. I told him that he was a legend and he screamed back “WE’RE ON A FUCKING BOAT!!!”
Good concert. Please note that this video includes footage of actual faces being ripped off. I should have put my sandwich down before watching it.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
I spent this week hunting around for Michael Thomas takes and ended up disappointed. But I did manage to stumble on a Philip Michael Thomas take. Check out this profile of Ricardo Tubbs from 1985. I had no idea this guy was so deranged.
“I’m like Gandhi in a sense,” he says. “I don’t mind walking with the people. I will take off my suits and ties and get down there and work.”
Ah yes, who can forget Gandhi’s selfless, unyielding devotion to casual dress? It was his defining attribute, really.
“There are only a few who will be the Fords, the Edisons, the Carnegies, and I think I’m in that number.”
This profile was written 33 years ago. And since we know that Philip Michael Thomas’s career foundered shortly after Miami Vice ended, you could argue that extended hindsight has made his grand, youthful pronouncements kind of sad, in a way. YOU could argue that. I won’t. I think it’s fucking hilarious.
“I have found total satisfaction in the arts,” says Thomas, who sees himself as a sort of cultural missionary. “I will have a captive audience, and I can teach them techniques that made me great,” he says.
You know what? This man BELONGS in 2018. Get him a job at Palantir. He has the EXACT right temperament for that company. They pay you to say dumb shit like this now, and they pay you handsomely for it! I could easily see a lobbying firm putting Philip Michael Thomas in charge of a ballot initiative to give companies official statehood. Have him replace Common in the Microsoft ads.
Then there is the PMT women’s clothing line, targeted for national distribution, which debuted in October in a chain of Florida stores. And last month his first single, Just the Way I Planned It, hit the record counters followed by his first album, Living the Book of My Life, part of his multimillion deal with Atlantic Records.
I did not realize a record label gave Philip Michael Thomas a multimillion dollar record deal. The old music industry truly was an amazing thing. Let’s have a look at the video!
Actually, let’s not. Picture the “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” video. Now picture someone openly pissing on the film negative of that video.
“I don’t care about people who don’t share my vision,” he says.
“I will always be a gypsy, and if a woman is going to love me, she will have to love the gypsy spirit in me,” he says. “This is the thing in the past most women have not understood. They want to embrace the physical relationship and settle down. That means death to me. I gotta fly.”
Here’s a fun fact about Philip Michael Thomas. He has 11 children: five with his first wife, and then six more scattered about the universe. Their names are Noble, Kharisma, Sovereign, Sacred, Imaj, Sacha, Khrishna, India, Gabriel, Chayenne, and Melody. Let’s hope they share his vision!
As for his future, Thomas is certain it will be rosy. (What else would he say?) “I’m locked in as one of the showbiz superstars,” he says. “Like Dr. Kildare is forever. Telly Savalas is forever.”
As are you, good sir. As are you. Philip Michael Thomas is truly FOREVER. God made him in His own Imaj.
Cryptkeeper Al Davis Lock Of The Week: Bears +6.5
“EEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE-troit! It sure seems like you’re having a hard time protecting Matt STIFF-ord! I bet coach Matt MORTICIAN won’t like that! Pity that your QB won’t be able to get the ball to CARVIN’ Jones if SHIV-cago puts him IN THE GROUND! DIE-troit might end up COFFIN up the ball! Hey, Cody Whitehair! Save some of those locks for your dear Cryptkeeper, won’t you? After all, being dead is real TORTURE on a man’s hairline! EEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!”
2018 Cryptkeeper record: 5-3-1
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
I’d like to congratulate the Skins on getting the full Adrian Peterson experience in just half a season. He’s the ideal back if your offense happens to be fucking terrible. Enjoy spending the rest of the year watching him run against nine-man fronts. It makes the game go super fast!
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
ELK & ELK! This is a fairly basic ambulance chaser ad, EXCEPT… Well, I’ll let Jeremy explain it to you:
I think these guys are based out of Cleveland, but they run all over on the “Fox Sports Ohio” channels that show all of the Cleveland/Cincinnati games. Top five worst toupee of all time.
Forget top five. Arthur Elk’s rug is the WOAT. It’s half a rug. It’s a wardrobe glitch. It’s a motel curtain drawn halfway closed. It’s ELECTRIFYING. What really caused your child’s cerebral palsy? It’s his hair. That hair did it.
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 2018 chopping block:
Hue Jackson – FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(*potential midseason firing)
I actually don’t think Jerry Jones will fire Jason Garrett before the season is over, if he fires him at all. All Jerry gives a shit about is attention, and Garrett is such a milquetoast sideline presence that the cameras can’t help but pan up to Jerry in the box, ass-slapping the balcony in drunken frustration. He may be pissed, but he’s even happier that you KNOW he’s pissed. That’s why he keeps crummy coaches around for years on end these days.
By the way, Jerry’s smile gets disturbingly wider every year. You can see his molars ALL THE TIME now. It’s like the Joker cut his cheeks open and they stayed that way.
Great Moments In Grandpa History
Here’s Tim with a darker kind of grandpa story:
I’ve got a pretty messed up family history on my father’s side. I’m the only son of an only son; my father died when I was three and he didn’t really know his own father, who had knocked up my grandma and then spent the next 30 years in the military avoiding her and his kid. So needless to say, I didn’t have a relationship with my grandfather. But in my late 20s I decided to try and at least meet him, so in the fledgling days of the Internet I finally tracked him down.
I flew to Florida to meet him and we spent about two hours talking about his life. He drifted in and out of sleep while we spoke - he was well into his 70s and he told me he’d survived three minor strokes and a full-on heart attack, so I presume his heart was barely feeding oxygenated blood to his brain by that point.
But the most memorable part of getting to meet him, other than learning about my high likelihood of developing hereditary heart problems, was when his wife came into the room and asked if we wanted some lemonade. I turned around and saw she was using a walker. He said yes, and she shuffled out of the room. He paused and quietly said to me “It’s a terrible, terrible thing that happened to her,” then proceeded to explain how about a decade earlier HE RAN HER OVER WITH A GOLF CART AND NEARLY KILLED HER. The doctors didn’t even know if she’d walk again. He said it was an accident, though they lived across the road from TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in a house that was far too expensive for a military pension. I guess his wife was old-money loaded, so who knows if he had ulterior motives?
Anyway, that was the first and last time we spoke. He died about two years after that, so my lasting memory of my grandfather is how he tried to murder his wife with a Club Car.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Cheese and crackers! The best cracker for cheese is a Triscuit, and if you disagree well then you can cram it with glass, buddy. They sell these pre-sliced packs of Vermont cheddar at the store, and they’re extremely tasty. You can buy it in Extra Sharp or Seriously Sharp flavors. Now, I ask you: which of those is MORE sharp? Can something that is extra sharp not ALSO be seriously sharp? I need an official cheese sharpness meter to know exactly what the hell is gong on.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
COOL BEER! From the leaf-humping puck eaters of the Great White North comes Cool Beer, which seems poised to challenge Coors in the beer coldness space. From Matt:
I humbly submit Cool Beer. I was spending the Labour Day weekend in Lake of the Woods, and hopped into the local LCBO to stock up on a selection of craft beers, when a display caught my eye. “It’s here!” the banner read, excitingly conveying that, finally, this long anticipated product has made its way to the majestic wilderness of Nothern Ontario. “It” being the campaign promise of Doug Ford (brother of the late Rob Ford), of the infamous Buck-a-Beer. I was skeptical, but the name won me over. And the price. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the worst beer I’ve had. Drink it cold and it tastes like any light beer, but with a 5% ABV and $1.00 each. Definitely worth electing a crack addict mayor’s drug dealing brother to run your province.
For background, apparently Canada had a minimum price for beer of $1.25, but Ford apparently rolled it back to just a looniepence, or whatever those filthy Canadians call their money. Still seems like too high of a price for Cool Beer, in my humble opinion. I won’t go higher than half a Canuckle for one.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“I voted for Two Shovels Magee in our railyard caucus. He promised all of us two shovels, okay? If he doesn’t come through, ‘Ol One Knife Jim is gonna have a few words with him.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
The Third Man, which is currently on Netflix. Young Orson Welles looks exactly like Seth McFarlane, which fills me with hope that Seth McFarlane will one day be too fat and too drunk to make movies on a regular basis.
One fun thing about old-timey movies is that the good guys and bad guys hang out CONSTANTLY in them. There are always two dudes in a room and they’re always like I’LL GET YOU ONE DAY YOU SCOUNDREL, and then they just kind of idly threaten each other for another 80 minutes before shit goes down. It’s like a Thanksgiving dinner.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“The Burns bear, perhaps the most valuable widdle bear in the world, could be anywhere. It could be in your house! You could be looking at it right now. It could be right in front of your face as I’m saying this, waggling back and forth, perhaps being held up by a loved one.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.