So I was watching the pregame shows on Sunday because I hate myself, and because I was looking forward to seeing how the yuk clusters that populate every network set would try to wrestle with what promised to be one of the most politically explosive days in league history. I turned on NFL Network and they were DEEPLY apologetic about having to address President Trump running his big orange fryhole. The preface to the conversation over the anthem demonstrations took up more airtime than the conversation itself because, as always, TV people are more deferential toward cranky wingnut viewers than ANY other demographic.
Then I turned to CBS and they had their usual crew along with Charles Barkley. I know Barkley was already to scheduled to appear that morning, because CBS and Turner treat him as a multipurpose bloviator and will gladly bring him onto ANY show even if he’s done no preparation of any kind, and even if he’s still hungover from drinking Triple Sec straight from the bottle the night prior. But even with Phil Simms gracing the set, I can tell you that Chuck had the most lunkheaded reaction of the bunch:
“We as players have to figure out what to do next. We’ve got to stop worrying about who is kneeling. We’ve got to not worry about who is not kneeling. We’ve got to figure out how we can go back in our communities and make a difference. We can’t be saying negative things on Twitter. That only escalates to the stupidity. But we’ve got these guys, myself included, we make more money than 99.9% of the people in the world. We’ve got to find a way to go back in our communities and raise up our communities. Let’s not worry about who is kneeling.”
Chuck has been coasting off his reputation for over a decade and and living off of his own patented brand of in-my-day-ism for nearly as long. His bullshit wasn’t always this tired and stale. Back in 2000, it was near revolutionary for TNT to bring Chuck onto the set. He didn’t spout clichés. He felt comfortable dumping on players. He said the shit you wanted every broadcaster to say. Like how MAGA fanboys get a semi anytime Trump starts cursing from the podium, there was a rush to seeing Chuck at halftime and knowing he gave zero fucks about decorum. His presence was an implicit message that no bullshit would be tolerated. Sports media people fawned over him.
But that was a long time ago. Now Chuck IS the bullshit. Chuck is a doddering, lazy old man who thinks three-point shooters are pussies and doesn’t even bother to parse WHY players are kneeling during the anthem. (It’s worth reiterating here that all Colin Kaepernick wanted was for police officers to not shoot black people, which is a more-than-reasonable request, one that he shouldn’t even have to make.) Chuck can’t even be bothered to do his homework and see if players are already doing the background community work to supplement their public statements (guys like Marshawn Lynch are already way ahead of him on that). His job now is just to spout out decent copy regardless of coherence, and the above blockquote hardly qualifies even as that.
I realize it’s projecting for me, a professional dickhead, to call out another professional dickhead for being tiresome. But it says a lot about the lack of imagination from networks that they can put anyone on television to talk about these issues—and they’re important issues that need to be handled with some measure of care—and they consistently turn to Barkley just because he happens to be there, because they’re still laboring under the delusion that his voice is as fresh as it was 17 years ago, and because dumb TV usually gets more attention than smart TV. Nate Burleson sat right next to Chuck that morning and had a reaction that was a million times better:
“Listen, we’re talking about what’s next, and I can appreciate your thoughts on that. But as players, we have to handle what is now. There are going to be players that will sit and that will kneel. We’re hearing about teams that will stay in the locker room. And because of things that are going on in this country, but also because of the words of our President. So I don’t want any narrative to be changed where people say look at the players and look at what they’re doing. This is almost in direct response to our president calling players, and I say us, SOBs. And this isn’t as a player woe is me, this is a woe is us as a country.”
That’s where we’re at with Charles Barkley now. When you put him on TV now, you gotta make sure there’s someone else there to debunk his bullshit properly. I bet you Burleson would have had even more interesting things to say if Charles simply hadn’t been there at all.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Skins at Chiefs: Okay, when did Sean McDonough become fucking terrible? After the anthem last week, he said “May God Bless America” in hushed tones, like he was an acting Senator or something. It was fucking weird. I can’t tell if McDonough was always bad and I never noticed, or if the NFL did this to him. I bet they have a secret indoctrination chamber where announcers are strapped to a table and forced to memorize praise points for new stadia and adopt the proper reverence for Salute To Service month. Romo’s course probably happens at midseason. I’m already in mourning.
Rams at Cowboys: Speaking of Romo, I think other announcers are starting to feel the heat now that Romo has become the insta-darling of the booth. Brent Musburger is already noticeably irritable about such a cocky young upstart HACKING the announcing space. I think these guys are terrified that someone has come along and actually been useful in the booth. They know they’re fungible, especially now that ESPN fired everyone. Chris Spielman did the Bucs/Vikings game last week and I swear to you he was downright ebullient. He was diagnosing coverages and spitting with excitement and I was like, “Who the fuck is doing this game? Wait, is that Spielman?” Romo has everyone scared shitless, man.
Raiders at Broncos: Fang mouthguards have taken over the NFL without much fanfare.
Now these are very cute and whimsical, but it’s not Halloween yet. No one is intimidated by you wearing the sports equivalent of wax lips. If you really want to frighten your opponent, I think the little binky part of the mouthguard should have a chip in it that autoplays the Kars4Kids jingle. Clear path to the QB for you when that happens.
Bears at Packers: This week’s TNF marks the first time Amazon will stream Thursday Night games. And unlike other NFL streams, Amazon will feature four separate audio feeds, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, and—most intriguing—English for Football Dummies:
The secondary English feed will be especially unique. It is set up for extremely casual fans or people who live in English-speaking countries and don’t follow the NFL. The feed will be elementary, essentially for people who don’t know what a first down is.
I want that feed. I want to put that on for my kids so that they stop asking 50 million rule questions when the game is on. I can’t pause this thing for an hour to explain downs and distance to you little bastards.
Eagles at Chargers: This is something you probably already assumed but the NFL is not yet done fucking over San Diego. Here’s reader and former Chargers fan Barry:
I live in San Diego. My happiest NFL moment to-date is when my city told the NFL and the Chargers to GTFO. BUT WAIT! The NFL still haunts me this season because of regional television deals! Apparently, the NFL thinks that everybody in San Diego is still an ardent Charger fan, even though the Chargers now play in a shitty soccer stadium in an LA-basin hellscape, in front of 12k fans, or random people who got lost and said, “Fuck it, I’m done fighting traffic,” whichever is greater. Which means that for every 1:30 PST LA Charger “home” game, I lose the option of watching the late NFC game on FOX, because... why?
That is awful. I hadn’t even considered that the NFL would decide to keep San Diego as a Chargers TV market and haunt them every Sunday with three broadcast hours of Marmalard picks and blown field goals. Jesus. I bet the NFL knows they can’t keep any useful portion of Chargers fans this way. I think it’s just an evil ploy to get them to sign up for RZC or the whole Sunday Ticket package.
Bills at Falcons: They’re on the road this week but I remain convinced that when the Bills play at home, the TV camera is stationed closer to the game action that at any other NFL stadium. Every time I flip to a Bills game, the players look GIGANTIC compared to other game feeds. Either the cameraman there is somehow always a deranged Bills fan who wants to zoom in on his boys, or the #BillsMafia is nudging the camera closer when TV people have their back turned. I swear I’m not crazy.
Panthers at Patriots: Oh hey look, it’s Jerry Richardson being the absolute fucking worst:
I would pay 50 bazillion dollars for Julius Peppers to spit in Richardson’s Weetabix.
Lions at Vikings: I don’t know how in the world the NFL can keep that rule about the 10-second runoff after what happened to the poor Lions last week. I know they were out of timeouts to negate the runoff, but they still don’t deserve to be punished for that. If instant replay is solely at the discretion of the refs within the final two minutes of a half, why is a team penalized for it? It’s not like you can game the system to force a replay that gets you a little bonus timeout. Do the replay, then start up the clock the second the review is over. Let the Lions blow that game on their own merit, dammit.
Titans at Texans
Giants at Bucs: Ooooooooh, Odell’s in trouble…
“I do not want to get into a discussion about this, but I will say that I am very unhappy with Odell’s behavior on Sunday and we intend to deal with it internally.”
You’re grounded, young man! And as extra punishment, John Mara is gonna order Eli Manning to overthrow the ball every time he targets you. SEE HOW YOU LIKE THAT!
By the way, everyone on the poor Bucs defense is hurt. I saw it with my own eyes last week. It was watching the end of Rogue One all over again.
Niners at Cardinals
Steelers at Ravens: Oh no. Not this time. Twice a year this is supposed to be a marquee matchup and immediately turns out to be a rock fight between braindead goons. Never again. I’d rather watch the fucking Browns.
Saints at Dolphins (London): God, the Dolphins should pay Trump some kind of tribute for drawing attention away from the fact that they got housed by the JETS. You belong in Supermax for losing to the Jets.
Bengals at Browns: Last week I proposed making holding legal to cut down on penalties and to prevent mass sucking at the QB spot. Before that post ran, I asked an actual NFL offensive lineman about the idea, because I am nothing if not an ace journalist. Here now is NFLPA prez Eric Winston’s reaction:
I can’t see how this is a good idea. A) Holding, as long as you aren’t restricting movement (guy getting by you and OL yanks him) is allowed already. B) On pass plays, OL would just “wrap up” like a LB, d lineman as they come for the QB. QBs would hold onto the ball for however long they want and throw bombs down the field.
So to recap: the idea is shitty, even in the eyes of an offensive lineman who would clearly stand to gain from such a rule being implemented. Thankfully, all the games last week were awesome and football magically cured itself. YOU ARE WELCOME.
Colts at Seahawks: I know this brings out the worst in me, but nothing brings me more joy than when Simmons pulls his VEGAS IS GIVING ME FREE MONEY YOU GUYS!!! horseshit:
Seahawks (+3) over TITANS
Hold on, I thought we just agreed that these types of gambling gifts don’t happen very often?
No one agreed about anything. You are lost in your own shitcave of a mind. The Titans won by six.
Jags at Jets: You will never get me to believe that the Jags are good. I don’t care if they win their next 10 games by a combined 300 points. They’re the Jags. They will Jag it up at some point. Bortles will hit a baby in the stands and they’ll have to put up protective netting for the rest of the season.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“All The Same,” by Josh Homme. I never knew this song existed, so my undying gratitude to reader Rob for pointing it out:
Joshua Homme. Nothing else needs to be said.
But lemme just say one more thing: Josh Homme is awesome. There. That’s it. I’m done.
Also, he’s a very snappy dresser. That’s it. Mic drop. I am OUT.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
Friends, if you thought last Sunday would result in the Good Lord gifting us with takes, you were correct. Let me introduce you to the Boston Herald’s Adriana Cohen, who believes kneeling, in general, is for pussies:
There are only two occasions a man should be on his knees.
When he’s praying to God or proposing marriage to the woman he loves.
Okay, but what if I have to tie my shoes?
No red-blooded, testosterone-jacked man should ever be in a position of submission, as kneeling signifies weakness and capitulation across cultures — and continents.
ROAR GRRRRR I AM JACKED WITH TESTOSTERONE AND I KNEEL FOR NO ONE
(has to replace a doorknob)
Okay, maybe just this one time. But after that, I STAND AND KILL.
When ISIS chops off victims’ heads, they are on their knees.
What in the living fuck, lady? I’ll give Adriana credit here: she wasted NO time jacking up the heat on this take. There was no subtle buildup. She went right from the NFL to ISIS like it was nothing. I’m dizzy.
When Iran captured a U.S. Navy vessel in the Persian Gulf last year, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forced 10 American soldiers to get on their knees and disseminated those images via propaganda messages — to humiliate America and our military.
I feel like the “capturing” part was the bigger problem. But sure, yes, the Revolutionary Guard had a Stone Age mentality and believes that bringing a man to his knees is somehow an act of defilement. Good thing no one here shares that kind of viewpoint!
Again, no American football player, athlete or any other self-respecting man should ever willingly get on his knees unless he’s at God’s mercy or giving his heart to a woman he’s truly, deeply, madly in love with. It’s about pride and never parting with your masculinity or dignity — even for a minute.
Was this woman raised by John Wayne films? You listen to me, you weird Boston lady: I will not be WOMANSPLAINED into what makes me a man and what doesn’t. If I need to take a minute off from being a RED BLOODED MEATMAN GROWLLLLLL to take a knee and search for the quarter I dropped, that’s my right. You can fall down a sewer.
What NFL players should understand — along with NFL owners, the commissioner and ESPN — is that the world has problems. People have grievances with society, government or even the police.
Sometimes the police shoot you YADA YADA, shit happens, AMIRITE?! (Michael Palin voice) Let’s not bicker and argue about WHO KILLED WHO.
But one of the many reasons millions of regular, non-millionaire Americans watch sports, attend games or support the industry as a whole is to escape. The day-to-day grind that is our workweek.
God, I had a real shit week at work. This one girl would NOT stop talking. Now please go damage each other’s brains for my amusement. And please don’t vent. Venting is just for ME. Now about what a bitch Sarah is…
The hardships and challenges we all face in our lives from dreaded commuter traffic to the serious stuff — like battling cancer or burying a loved one. And, for a little while, to escape this nation’s bitter, divisive politics.
“Kneeling is like ISIS!” said someone who is very much against divisive things.
There is one other time you take a knee, and that’s in football. When you don’t want to be tackled.
Actually, it’s when you’re in the Victory Formation and want to run out the clock. Who the fuck is this person? Stop plucking idiots out of tiki torch rallies to write this shit.
Rex Ryan’s Lock Of The Week: Rams +8
“Men. MEN. You ever see another man motorboat a taco?”
(motorboats a taco)
“THAT IS WHAT THE FUCK I’M TALKING ABOUT. All filler, still killer! I’m flushing this shell down the toilet.”
Ryan 2017 record: 3-0 (!)
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
I don’t know who replaced Amari Cooper’s hands with a pair of dictionaries, but they better give them back right fucking NOW. Amari has dropped so many passes they may as well make him an honorary Seahawk. This is some bullshit.
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 2017 chopping block:
(*-potential midseason firing)
Bill O’Brien, you son of a BITCH. You had the Pats on the ropes in Foxboro and all you had to do was convert a fourth-and-1 with a gifted and highly mobile rookie passer at your disposal. And, of course, not only do you boot the field goal like a coward, but then the Pats end up recovering their own fumble on the next drive. Do the Pats EVER lose a fucking fumble? They do not. Satan appears and rolls the ball right back to whoever dropped it. And then Tom Brady threw a pick right through Corey Moore’s hands before tossing the game-winning TD. It’s maddening, and it’s all Bill O’Brien’s fault. I will never forgive him. I will sneak into his house and plant bamboo seeds in his chin cleft. Bamboo’s an invasive species. He’ll never get rid of it.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader John sends in this story I call WE CAN POOP IT OUT:
My two-year-old son had constipation really bad a couple months back, went a full week without a dump, and he was miserable. Into the eighth day we called the doctor and she was like, “Give him prune juice and massage his bowels,” which sounds fine until you realize prune juice is gross and kids don’t want it, plus we were already massaging him. Furthermore, the doctor said if it lasted another couple days we had to bring him into the clinic, which I did not want to do.
So I kept up the tummy massaging, and the next day (Day 9) after lunch he started farting a bunch. He did right in my face, which sucked, but also made me feel like we were getting close. That night we gave him avocados mixed with mac and cheese for dinner. It was first time we ever gave him that particular combination of foods, and it was like entering a cheat code. Maybe twenty minutes after he ate, and ate better than he had in a couple days, we heard him screaming bloody murder in the playroom. My wife and I jumped up and ran in, afraid he’d decided to end it all and pulled the basketball hoop down on his head or something.
Instead, he was standing at the window sill, staring out to the street, fists clenched, straining his entire body, positively shrieking. Moments later, we smelled the smell of a thousand dead and knew he’d finished the job. I brought him into the family room, laid him down on his changing pad, opened the diaper, and…
I swear to whatever God you believe in this thing was the size and consistency of a baseball. Its size and shape would have hurt a full-grown adult, never mind a thirty-pound two-year-old. We could not smash the diaper down when we folded it up to throw it out, we just had to roll it over and tape it shut, and it would not fit into our broken, only-one-side-opens Diaper Genie, so we had to put it in a plastic bag and take it straight out to the street garbage.
He basically went catatonic from the effort once we cleaned him up, so we let him veg out to an extra Bubble Guppies and put him up to bed early that night. He was a little gun shy the next couple days, too, and with good reason. I’ll see that poop in my nightmares for the rest of my life, and it wasn’t even one of mine.
Goddamn. Solidarity, brother.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Smoked trout! Just three bucks a can. Almost makes it worth going to Trader Joe’s and throwing elbows with soccer moms and having to hear some cashier in a hula shirt tell me how AWESOME the pumpkin macadamia nougat chews are. I go to that store to stock up on this and on frozen soup dumplings and then I hightail it the fuck out of there.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
STAG! Oh fuck yeah, give it to me. Reader Eric sends in this can of paint drippings:
I was golfing with my stepfather near Will Leitch’s old stomping grounds in central Illinois when I came across this gem in the trailer that was functioning as a pro shop. Nestled in with the usual macrobrew dreck, the gold can and bold red lettering caught my eye. Since the alternatives were basically Bud Light and Busch Light, I figured why not.
In the context of a shabby golf course on a hot August day, Stag was… fine. The taste was inoffensive and beer-like, but there’s a reason this relic of American brewing history is sporting an “okay” rating over on Beer Advocate. It’s an okay beer for an okay day on an okay golf course in an okay country when there aren’t really any better alternatives.
Good enough for me! I’m gonna throw a party with all my rowdy man friends and fill a tub with nothing but Stag. NO GIRLZ ALLOWED! This is boy time!
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“I don’t know what all the kneeling hubbub is but I can tell you I’ve found a lot of great stuff down on my knees, okay? Found a piece of glass down there once. Perfectly good glass. You can use that glass to cut a t-shirt, or hold it up to the sun and cook up a pinto bean, whatever. And that’s not even the best thing I’ve found down on the ground. I’m talking buffalo foot pennies, tubing, a little thing of snipped wire, very smooth rocks, old ginger root skin, a very pretty flower that smelled like butter, soda tabs, mulch chips, hardened poop for fuel, vintage gum, even a moon pie wrapper. Moon pie wrapper makes a GREAT car freshener. Come check out the inside of my Datsun and you’ll work up one hell of an appetite.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Everybody Wants Some!!, which isn’t as good as Dazed & Confused but still lives up to its billing as that movie’s 1980s equivalent (it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime, by the way). It’s also the best baseball movie I’ve seen since Major League. It’s the only baseball movie I’ve seen since Major League, but still. I watched it while drunk and it was a DELIGHT. There aren’t nearly enough period movies where characters do nothing except get loaded, have sex, hop from party to party, and insult one another.
Also, this movie is very good at nailing the college athlete dynamic, where all the guys are weird to one another at first, and then it starts to become clearer who’s cool and who’s a fucking weirdo, and then a whole hierarchy is established the instant everyone takes the field and it’s clear who’s good and who isn’t. You can be a weird guy, and you can be a shit player, but you can’t be both.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“This is my sandbox. I’m not allowed to go in the deep end.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.