Is Mystique Horseshit?

Image by Jim Cooke/Photo via Getty
Image by Jim Cooke/Photo via Getty

Your letters:


What happens to coaches in the fourth quarter against the Patriots? Why do they shit their pants and make decisions that make no sense?


Because of the LEGENDARY POWAH OF WAHLBERG NATION. In all seriousness though, I remember back when Tiger was ripping off Major wins all over the place. A lot of times, he wasn’t necessarily playing his best golf, but the field would wilt around him. Golfers openly talked about his mystique, and how daunting it was to win a tournament knowing Tiger was out there, ready to crush them. He’s just a broken-down, horny old guy now. But back then? THE BOGEYMAN.

I think that can happen in team sports as well. The Falcons were playing in only their second Super Bowl (their first with that roster and coaching staff), and they were going up against Tom Brady at his seventh rodeo. Every Super Bowl that the Patriots play in gives them a distinct advantage for the NEXT Super Bowl they play in, and I have to think that occasionally crosses the mind of whoever they’re playing. (This is why Eli Manning was their Kryptonite; he’s too stupid to feel pressure.) It’s only human. The Falcons went up big, and then slumped, and then the Patriots seized upon an opening. And suddenly it’s like, “Oh shit, we can’t fuck up now because they certainly won’t.”

Now, that’s a gross generalization, especially given that we’re talking about world-class athletes who are far, far tougher mentally than some random dipshit fan like me. Just as certain NERDY STAT NERDS have debunked the idea of clutch performances, haughty dipshit Gregggggggggggggggg Easterbrook once suggested that choking is also an illusion, and that teams blow leads because of standard variations in gameplay (and because the winning team is, you know, good).

But ol’ Gregggggggggg is wrong. Here’s a great old rumor about Marty Schottenheimer succumbing to the mystique of these very same Patriots a decade ago:

“Goddamnit, I’m so hyped up someone needs to get over here and calm me down.” So the special teams coach comes over to him and talks to him and Marty says, “I was pulling into the parking lot today and I decided we were going to be aggressive. People don’t think I can be aggressive but I decided driving in that we were going to be.” And the ST coach says, “Coach. You can’t let the outside stuff get to you.”

And remember when Bill Belichick himself went for it on his own 28 against the Colts way back when? That was because he knew Peyton Manning was on the other team and could score in a heartbeat! That’s cold-blooded analysis with a dash of mystique thrown in. Coaches will always defend their play-calling by describing it as situational, but I think one of the reasons Kyle Shanahan went into brain freeze and kept passing the ball on Sunday night was because he knew, somewhere deep down, that 28 points weren’t gonna be enough. Tom Brady always gets his, and it’s not crazy to think opponents know that, and even fear it a little.



On a scale of one to incredible, how amazing has this last nine months of sports been? Cavs/Warriors, Cubs/Indians, Pats/Falcons — Has there ever been a run of drama like this that you can remember among the major sports? Plus adding in the CFP to boot. Remember when major sports titles used to suck?


Yeah, I don’t think there’s ever been anything quite like this. Off the top of my head, there are some other crazy sports years like 2004, with the Pats beating Carolina at the gun, the Pistons upsetting the Lakers, and the Red Sox finally ending their title drought. But even that can’t compare to the run we’re currently on, especially given that both the NBA Finals and the World Series went seven games.

I bet this is an amazing time to be, like, a 15-year-old sports fan. I’d shit my pants if I were witnessing all this as a horny teen instead of a lame dad. These PAMPERED MILLENIALS are in for a rude awakening when the Finals start sucking again and the Super Bowl goes back to being an ‘80s-style procession of horrible routs. They’ll drop sports the second it stops delivering all this kickass melodrama.




Right? What the fuck, man? YOU HAD ONE JOB.


What would happen if the harness failed and Lady Gaga fell from the roof to her death like Owen Hart? Would the game be rescheduled? Would they have cleaned it up and continued the game like the WWE did?


Ah, well that jump was pre-recorded, so if she had jumped to her demise THEN, the NFL could easily have cleaned up the body and held a memorial, then played the game as scheduled. In fact, I guarantee that’s the reason why it was pre-recorded in the first place. Can’t have the death of a beloved artist ruining an otherwise perfectly good football game.


But let’s say she actually jumped during halftime, as it was presented on TV. And let’s say she plummeted to her doom. I bet they still would have played the game. They would have taken her away in an ambulance and then the broadcasters would promise you updates on her status right as they can get them (questionable to return!), and then the two blissfully ignorant teams would trot back out and keep playing, serving as a WELCOME DISTRACTION to your grief over Gaga falling to her demise. They’re not canceling shit. This is TV … they can report and process something horrifying and then move on within SECONDS. Goodell would probably conspire with Pepsi Coke Zero to order the field cleaned up immediately just so claims adjusters would have no crime scene to examine. And Buck and Aikman would affect the proper levels of solemnity when discussing the accident…

BUCK: (between plays) Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with Lady Gaga and her family at this time.


AIKMAN: That’s exactly right, Joe.

By the way, I totally bought that she was up on that roof at the start of the show. I was really worried about her falling. Would have killed my WHOLE buzz.



Let’s make two football teams, one comprised of nothing but the 30 NFL starting punters and the other comprised of nothing but the six best offensive lines during the 2016 season, so you have a team of punters at every position versus a team of O-lineman at every position. They play one full game. Who wins?


The O-linemen. Remember: FOOTBALL GAMES ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES. Whatever advantage the punters have in quickness would be violently erased by the vicious beating they would take along the line of scrimmage. They’d have no time to throw the ball and no support running it.

And it’s not as if linemen aren’t athletic. Joe Thuney of the Patriots runs the 40 in under five seconds. He’d truck a defense of Lechlers.



Can you rank the douchiest suburban areas in the country? Here’s my top five:

1. San Francisco - This includes Silicon Valley.

2. Los Angeles - I’ve never been there but it just seems like everyone would sell you on their screenplay or something.

3. D.C. - All the government people and their 2nd hidden families.

4. New York

5. Chicago

I think you’ve got L.A. too high, because A) L.A. is so big I’m not even sure what counts as a suburb there and what’s just part of that city’s enormous sprawl, and B) Most of the awful people in L.A. live right in it. If I were gonna mess with the rankings, I’d put them like this:

  1. Dallas. Everything you know that’s awful about Texas can be found in the Dallas suburbs: racism, bad hair, gaudy displays of wealth, etc. It’s like a million Tomi Lahrens in one place.
  2. Detroit. As much as Detroit has a rep for being blue collar and REAL, it’s got insanely rich suburbs like Bloomfield Hills that are PACKED with snotty rich kids who aggressively suck. Take it from a former Midwestern suburbanite: we’re the worst.
  3. San Francisco. Like L.A., a lot of San Francisco’s worst people live in the city proper (and are the only ones who can afford it, really). But yeah, Silicon Valley is full of haughty scum.
  4. D.C. You already know I live around these parts, so that’s a big strike against D.C. Also, Loudoun County is packed from border to border with Skins fans who don’t deserve to have a Wegmans so close by.
  5. Boston. I’ve exhausted all my capacity to hate on Boston this week, but obviously it deserves to be on this list because every Boston suburb thinks it’s the single most unique neighborhood on Earth.
  6. Baltimore. They play SO much lacrosse outside of that town. It’s all of the lacrosse.


Am I the only who stares directly into high beams from oncoming traffic? If it seems like they might have their high beams on, I will stare directly into them to make a final determination, often giving them a quick flash of my own to show my disapproval. It is like a moth attracted to light. I don’t really understand why I can’t just ignore them.


Of course you can’t ignore them. It’s a pair of halogen beams sent from some asshole’s BMW to directly attack your retinas and cause you to get into a fiery wreck, so that they don’t have to share the road with anyone. A lot of those high beams aren’t even high beams. They’re just regular headlights, but still brighter than the fucking sun. This has angered me for a long time. Why are these lights not regulated? IS TRUMP IN BED WITH BIG WATTAGE?!

The worst is when you get those halogens caught in a side mirror and can’t shake them. I’ve nearly had a heart attack trying to maneuver a pair of overly bright headlights out of my side mirror. It’s like they deliberately camp out there to murder you.



I have a 3-month-old, and keeping socks on a baby’s feet is god damn impossible. Why don’t all baby pants come with attached feet, like footy pajamas? Solving cold fusion is easier than keeping their fucking socks on their feet.


Yeah, don’t bother with socks or shoes for newborns. Baby shoes are fucking worthless. That Hemingway short story isn’t sad at all. It’s perfectly logical for them to never be worn. Never buy them as a gift unless you enjoy publicly announcing that you have wasted money. The only reason to put shoes on a baby is for looks. The baby hates them. The baby is like, “Wahhhhhhh what the fuck are you doing to my perfect little feet?”

If you need to keep a newborn’s feet warm, you can put them in a onesie with footies, or wrap their little trotters in a blanket. When my kids were babies, we also had these cotton gowns that were basically long shirts with elastic at the bottom, to seal in the baby’s feet and stew them in their natural juices. Those gowns were much more useful than socks. A baby sock is ASKING to be lost. There are probably 700 baby socks hidden in the crevices of this house. You could make a game of it.




Here is a hot take: biscuits and gravy sucks. Biscuits are great because they are flaky and buttery and airy. Once you dump a bunch of quickly-congealing gravy on it, the biscuit becomes soggy and mushy, plus the actual flavor of gravy is not as good as the biscuit flavor it overpowers.


I feel like you just issued your own death warrant. Every professional southerner on the Internet is gonna come for you now, you filthy Yankee. GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO NOW YOU AIN’T HAD BISCUITS AND GRAVY TILL YOU HAD MY MAWMAW’S BISCUITS AND GRAVY.

Anyway, my take is that biscuits and gravy are perfectly good. I rarely order it, because it’s death on a plate (and most places offer SAUSAGE gravy; they may as well cut your throat right at the table). But everyone likes bread dunked in fatty liquid. It’s pretty much the same dynamic here. It helps if the biscuits are made from scratch and the gravy isn’t white glop. I demand my gravy be made only from the finest homemade stocks whisked into a loving roux.


In theory, I’m with you on smothered foods. You just fried up a crispy piece of chicken. Why are you gonna douse it in gravy or some other shit? Seems like it would ruin the precious TEXTURAL elements, but no. When it’s done right, the crispy parts stay crisp and the sauce coats it all in salty ecstasy. Plus, the liquid cools off the big bite so that you don’t incinerate the inside of your cheeks. Everyone wins.

By the way, I’m gonna doxx my wife here and tell you that her favorite drunk food is fries and gravy. Poutine without the cheese, basically. At 3 a.m., it has curative powers. Gravy is an antibiotic at that hour.



How long will it be (if ever) until someone surpasses Brady’s accomplishments to where that person is undeniably better? At the current rate I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime. McCarthy has already wasted so much of Rodgers’ prime years I doubt he can catch up. Luck’s internal organs are going to explode from lack of an O-line before he even makes it to a Super Bowl.


Like I said on Monday, you’re not gonna see this again. Brady has the skills of Joe Montana and the longevity of George fucking Blanda. And he’s done it all while playing his home games outside! It’s insane, and it’s gonna be virtually impossible for anyone to duplicate his accomplishments in an NFL that is still structured to break apart loaded teams, AND with players much more willing to retire early because of concussion fears.

It’s inevitable that other great players are gonna come along and rise to prominence while Brady’s career recedes into the past. Dormant bar arguments always get kicked up again, if only because guys have nothing better to do. But no, I think we’ll all die with Brady as the GOAT. He’ll go out with six or seven Lombardis, and then take a sweet gig as Emperor Trump’s ambassador to the new Russian Virgin Islands.



I just returned from gallivanting in Europe for a week and a half and found out that Europeans FUCKING LOVE VAPING. I don’t get it. Why does vaping have such an appeal? What am I missing?


I mean, it’s not just Europeans. There are plenty of vapers vaping away here in the US of A, because A) Vaping lets you smoke in a lot of places where smoking is no longer allowed, B) No one gives you dirty looks for puffing away, C) You can put weed in it, and D) People think e-cigarettes are healthier than normal cigarettes, even though nicotine on its own can cause a lot of health problems. Vaping offers more excuses to smoke, along with the mild illusion that it’s not as harmful as the real thing.

My parents quit smoking before I was born, and my mom said the hardest part of quitting was that she missed having a cigarette in her hand. She would often hold an unlit cigarette just to quell the urges. I think, buzz aside, vaping offers the same kind of satisfaction. People like having their little smoke break, something to preoccupy them from other shit they’d rather not do. Also, I think people who vape think it looks cooler than it actually does. It’s like driving a muscle car. Look at the vaping Congressman. Tell me he isn’t humming “Born To Be Wild” to himself while he’s doing that shit.



I’m 44 and have been a Falcons fan all my life. I thought I’d been let down every way I could by the Falcons, Braves, Hawks, and my GEORGIA DAWGS, but this is a hollow feeling I didn’t even think possible. My question is one being tossed around talk radio and message boards down here: is that maybe the worst way to lose a championship game? Can you think of another franchise in any sport that blew such a chance? Would it have been better to have been blown out from the get-go and not have the torture of thinking of the Super Bowl Champions gear you were gonna buy and if you’d play hooky from work for the Parade?


I think the huge blown lead is the worst way to lose. That Super Bowl had echoes of the infamous Bills/Oilers game, where Buffalo came back from being down 35-3 by just methodically chipping away until suddenly Houston’s lead had vanished. I was rooting for Houston in that game (I liked Warren Moon when I was a kid; I’ve got a real knack for picking ‘em), and I remember the overwhelming dread that came as the Bills got closer and closer. That dread is the worst. That’s the shit that haunts you until death, because you spend hours and hours ruminating on all the little things that could have happened to stop the comeback but didn’t. The fact that the result is irreversible is so, so brutal.


It also sucks to lose on some kind of once-in-a-lifetime play and/or last-second mistake, like the Music City Miracle or the Miracle at the Meadowlands. But you can at least comfort yourself by treating those moments as strange flukes. With a blown lead, there’s no one small cosmic accident to blame. It’s definitively your dumb team’s fault, and that’s hard to accept.

You will also now have to relive that comeback pretty much anytime the Falcons play. They’re gonna have the footage queued up and rolling for EVERY game, even preseason shit. That Edelman catch is gonna live inside your TV FOREVER. I suggest you start drinking more.



I was watching Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg and in that scene where the lead singer is being replaced, just before he quits the band, he whips off his wig to reveal that he is balding. It got me wondering, what percentage of rock musicians wear hairpieces? It has to be a lot, right?


All the old ‘80s guys are bald as shit because they spent that whole decade teasing their hair out using jet engine cleaner. That tends to do lasting damage to your poor follicles. There’s a reason Bret Michaels still wears that stupid bandanna all the time. His hair extensions are probably sewn directly into the cloth. And look at Kevin DuBrow now. Look at this fucking poodle on his head. [CORRECTION: Kevin DuBrow is in fact dead. I am very sorry.] Rock stars age horribly because they insist on looking and dressing like rock stars well past the right age for it. Unless you live in prison, finger tattoos look stupid on a 50-year-old. Look at how David Bowie aged before he passed away. He looked solid because he was willing to let it go and just look like a normal guy. That’s the way to do it.


I know this is idiotic (as are all bar debates) but my friends and I have genuinely been at odds for months over this: Do lizards have lips? I say no. But my friend recently emailed the Virginia Herpetological Society positing the question. Today he got a response:

“We do speak of the labial (lip) scales of lizards and snakes—the supralabials on the edge of the upper lip and infralabials on the lower. We also use the word ‘lip’ for the edges of openings, as in the lips of wounds, beer bottles, pitchers, and so on. Why spare lizards? Perhaps your friend would like to reserve the word for edges that are a bit fleshy or protuberant. Lost cause, I think. At any rate, “lip” is not a specifically or strictly scientific term. We let lizards have lips.”

This is an obvious outrage. Is Mr. Science Man full of shit?

No. If you check out pictures of lizards, a lot of them have clearly demarcated edges or scale patterns around their mouths. As far as I’m concerned, those are lips. They’re not GREAT lips. You’re not gonna have a great makeout session with some iguana, but they do the job well enough. A mouth with no lips is a beak. Turtles have beaks. Komodo dragons do not. Got all that? I KNOW BIOLOGY.



What would happen if you, personally, had to guard Russell Westbrook for one full NBA game? You could only get subbed out when Westbrook sits. You have no time to train or work with the team. Obviously he would own you, but what would specifically happen regarding TV coverage, post-game analysis, etc.?


I’d foul out within the first 60 seconds of gameplay. There’d be no choice. If I couldn’t foul Russ, he’d easily score over 100 points. Shit, he’d probably score 150, because he could simply blow by me on every possession, and he’d have no reason at all to pass the ball out. So what other recourse would I have? I’d have to play HACK A RUSS, and karate chop his forearms at every opportunity (if I could even catch him, which is unlikely). I’d even cut block him, like a dirty lineman. I would be like Delly for a full minute before getting tossed and booed out of the stadium tunnel. Then Russ would call me a cheap shot artist in the post-game and it would be 100 percent accurate.

By the way, I bet I could literally punch Westbrook as he’s driving to the hoop and he wouldn’t even flinch. My chubby little fists would do nothing. He’s made of titanium.



What do you think the fallout would be if Russia leaks a video of Donald Trump physically abusing Melania Trump ala the Ray Rice video, and such a video were released by Anonymous or someone like them?


Nothing. They would just say the tape is fake and enough people would choose to believe it. Also, the Venn diagram of people who support wife-beating and people who support Trump probably looks like the fucking rings of Saturn. Trump spends every day thinking to himself, “Hey, what can I get away with this time?” and then testing the waters. He could probably drop kick a severed head on live TV and then just lie his way out of it. Looking forward to it!

Email of the week!


At what point should you acknowledge someone - be it with a head nod or a verbal greeting - when you are walking down a hallway towards each other? We have a main hallway at work that’s 150 feet long and it results in lots of awkward encounters when I spot them walking towards me from the opposite end and I KNOW they’re going to pass me on their way to the stairs or the bathroom. The way I see it, there are 3 options here:

1) Make eye contact with my counterpart when they’re 100 feet away and maintain it the entire way, only to squeeze out a hello when the gap has been closed.

2) Whip my phone out of my pocket as soon as I see them coming and pretend I just got some urgent, compelling text that captivates me until I pass them.

3) Look straight ahead and do not acknowledge the other person until they’re within 5 feet of you. Greet them like seeing them is a pleasant surprise.


The phone. Do the phone option. God bless phones.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.