Monday Night Football Needs To Get Over Itself

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Gif: Elena Scotti (GMG), Photo: Getty

Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here. Buy his book here.

I don’t remember Howard Cosell. I was seven years old and not yet a fully armed and operational football fan when Cosell left the Monday Night Football booth and ABC turned over announcing duties to Frank Gifford, Don Meredith, and O.J. Simpson. I only became an NFL fan, and therefore a Monday Night Football fan, after Cosell left and took whatever fabled mystique he had with him, retiring to a twilight of drinking and bitterness.

And so I have spent an entire lifetime watching a mere shadow of Monday Night Football. It’s still football, and it’s still on Monday, but I have any number of old people in 30 for 30s assuring me that it’s not quite the same as it once was. I have been told that Cosell made Monday Night Football, and that Monday Night Football made the NFL. It’s a bit of lore I cannot escape, often because Monday Night Football can’t seem to either.


Underneath every Monday night game there has always been a fevered dragon chase on the part of ABC/ESPN to recreate the proprietary blend of booze, disdain, combativeness, social justice, and casual racism that Cosell brought to every telecast. They once invited Dennis Miller and his worn-out thesaurus into the booth. They also tried out Tony Kornheiser, whose defining attitude toward the telecast was that he didn’t really want to be there. They hired talking foam finger Jon Gruden to be Madden 2.0 and have him lightly spar with whomever was paired with him in the booth at the time.

All of those efforts to recapture MNF’s magic failed, but that hasn’t stopped ESPN from continuously trying to doctor up ways to make the game as much of an EVENT as it was back in the 1970s. This is a show imprisoned by its own history. They still have pictures of Cosell adorning the MNF production trucks. They still use the theme. They dragged Hank out of racist mothballs to sing his stupid fucking song from the 80s salad days. They still use ancient clips of Cosell slurring “He could go all the way” and “What a game this turned out to be” and all that nonsense. They refer to Monday records as if they are hallowed.


And when Monday Night Football isn’t busy living in the past, they are introducing needless broadcast innovations in a strained attempt to differentiate the game from the rest of the weekend’s slate. They put Booger McFarland on a fucking Mars rover. They concoct elaborately cheesy stat graphics for every broadcast, shit that looks like The Sims but sadder. They brought in Joe Tessitore, a Brylcreemed hype man seemingly born in a casino who’s less an announcer than a huckster who is always just five seconds away from trying to sell you a Showtime Rotisserie Oven. (Sample Tessitore line from last Monday’s Titans/Texans game: “I am all in on Bad Bunny.”) Tessitore incants the words MONDAY NIGHT every seven seconds as if the ghost of Roone Arledge will magically appear at some point and permanently banish the Niners from the telecast.

And yeah, sometimes MNF still gets a dream game like Rams-Chiefs from two weeks ago, but those games are few and far in between these days. Back in 2006, when the NFL rearranged its TV contracts, Sunday Night Football became the primetime showcase game, and Monday Night Football was more or less reduced to a Thursday game that happens to be played on Mondays. Sunday night gets more viewers. Sunday night gets Al Michaels. Sunday night gets flex scheduling. Sunday night is the priority, despite the fact that ESPN pays nearly DOUBLE what NBC pays for the right to air NFL games. ESPN has to pay through the nose mainly so that they can use NFL footage across all their platforms, but it’s still comical that they pay the NFL $3 billion a year to get treated like second class citizenry. When Monday night comes, I am tired. I have already experienced eventful football. Outside of the game itself, there’s very little you can do to amp me up for Texans-Titans.


None of that has stopped ESPN from still trying desperately to make Monday Night Football a thing. In the process, they’ve in fact cheapened the product. I wanted Chiefs-Rams. I got Tessitore screaming like he’s on guard for bombing raids and I got Suzy Kolber trying to get everyone jacked up for a special performance by the goddamn Chainsmokers.

Here’s the sad truth about Monday Night Football: it’ll never be what it was. Ever. Howard Cosell is never coming back. Dandy Don is never coming back. The Giff is never coming back. There will never again be a time when MNF is the only meaningful primetime game on during the week. The people that DO remember Monday Night Football as the most important game of the week, and a landmark in TV history, are dying off. TV execs always have a hard-on for big television moments of the past, which is why I’ve had to endure ABC and ESPN wasting decades cycling through crews and trying to recreate that old MNF magic when it’s been contractually bargained away. It’s way, way, way overdue for this telecast to stop wallowing in its own self-reverence.


You and I both know people mythologize the past to an insane degree. Memories age well, often too well. Recreating them in the present is always going to be a letdown, and I wish ESPN would realize that. I don’t remember Cosell. Maybe he really was magic, maybe he wasn’t. All I know is that the only reliable magic you’ll ever find is in the game itself, and racist-ass Hank Williams isn’t adding much to that.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

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Five Throwgasms

Chargers at Steelers: Last week I saw Philip Rivers do his postgame press conference in a Nunc Coepi hat, and I looked up the phrase, assuming it was some cryptic Aramaic phrase about how making babies is the ultimate weapon in the fight against Satan. But no! My heathen ass got schooled. Here, in a commencement speech Rivers once gave, is what “Nunc Coepi” means:

Now I begin. In our prayer, in our habits, in our relationships, in our profession. It is applicable to everything. Nunc Coepi (Now I begin). Whether you made a bad grade or didn’t do so well on a project. You must begin again. When I have a bad play or a good play, whether I throw a touchdown or an interception, I must begin again.


Actually, that’s pretty good. What else does Marmalard have to say?

My favorite hobbies are playing with the kids in the yard, endless hours of wiffle ball, swimming in the pool, walks to the park—all nine of us together, that’s what I love to do… Tiffany always tells me as I walk out the door to head to the stadium, after we say one Hail Mary together, “Do your best, and let God do the rest.” That’s all any of us can do.


Also not bad, apart from the “all nine of us” part! God, imagine trying to keep track of seven kids. I have three kids and when I take them somewhere and have to keep tabs on them, I want to die. Now imagine having double that number of kids, plus one! Shoot me in the balls. No literally, do that so I can’t reproduce again. My balls will thank you for it. I want to subscribe to the Quiverfull lifestyle, only without the quiver.

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Four Throwgasms

Vikings at Patriots: If you’ve read this website for a while, you know about Dr. David Chao, the former Chargers team physician who has been arrested drunk driving, was barred by two hospitals from performing surgery, has been investigated by the DEA, has been sued by nearly two dozen patients, and orchestrated a lobbying campaign to help the NFL seize control of Junior Seau’s brain. This man is discredited and disgraced… and YET! And yet he has carved out a niche for himself as an armchair diagnosis expert not just on Twitter, but for major newspapers as well.

Looking at the injury on video Sunday night, Dr. David Chao, a former San Diego Chargers team physician, wrote on the internet and said in a phone interview that he believed [Xavier] Rhodes had suffered a proximal hamstring avulsion, an injury he believed would end his season. Chao writes a column on NFL injuries for the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune and is a medical analyst for SiriusXM NFL Radio.


You’re not gonna believe this, but Chao was wrong about that injury. I hate people who put the handclap emoji between every work to make a point, but in Chao’s case it’s more than warranted: STOP [handclap] GIVING [handclap] THIS [handclap] QUACK [handclap] CREDIBILITY. He stole a fucking brain! He’s like Dr. Frankenstein, but drunk! Find another goddamn doctor to retweet! There are lots of them! How the fuck did THIS guy end up being the football medical analyst of choice?

Saints at Cowboys: I refuse to believe the Cowboys are worth a shit and it’ll be a great relief for all Americans when the Saints beat them by 87. Their winning streak is roughly as heartwarming to me as Ohio State potentially making the CFB playoff before Urban Meter fakes another skull clot.


Browns at Texans: Let’s assume the Browns have to win out to even have a shot at making the playoffs. Here’s the schedule: At Houston (owners of the most underwhelming 8-game winning streak in league history), vs. Carolina (fading), at Denver (5-6 but still intimidating), vs. Cincy (dead team walking), and at Baltimore. I think that’s doable, right? I’m a moron for even entertaining the notion, but I don’t care. If Baker Mayfield drags this team to the playoffs, it’ll be like the Bills clinching last year times 7,000. I’d set my OWN couch on fire and I don’t even like the Browns. I’m gonna savor the idea for now, like I just bought a Powerball ticket. When it goes bust, that’s fine. I just wanna dream a little.

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Three Throwgasms

Broncos at Bengals: Last year all the good quarterbacks got hurt, but this year all the incredibly mediocre quarterbacks have gotten hurt. This is a tradeoff I can live with and I hope the trend continues. If August rolls around and Jameis Winston snaps his tibia, I feel like that’ll be a good omen for the rest of 2019.


Skins at Eagles: God, put the NFC East on a raft and shove it out to sea.

Rams at Lions: The other day I charged my phone and then went to go work out for an hour, leaving my phone’s battery to suck up all that sweet, precious electricity. Then I took a shower and returned to my phone, triumphantly expecting to see it charged to a full 100%. And you know what happened? Somehow the charge didn’t take, and that shit was still stuck at, like, 19%. RAGE. I raged like the sun. I could have charged that phone with my pure fury. Or at least, I could have is my stupid charging cord worked! LOUSY CORD I’LL STRANGLE YOU WITH ANOTHER CORD!!!


Ravens at Falcons

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Two Throwgasms

Niners at Seahawks: I am stunned and disappointed that the Seahawks are good. It’s not fair. We DESERVED to have the Seahawks suck shit for a full season. Instead, we’ve been treated to a stellar running game and Russell Wilson making predictably fantastic, Russell Wilsonian plays. I guess that’s fun to watch, but still: I WANTED BLOOD. I wanted them to go 0-16 and then I wanted six different longform exposes about how everyone on defense hates Russ and keyed his car. That would have been really great football.


Bears at Giants

Panthers at Bucs

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One Throwgasm

Chiefs at Raiders: I’ve always thought arm strength was overrated in QBs until I saw Patrick Mahomes actually USE that arm strength. It’s quite a treat when an NFL offense draws up specific plays for the QB to huck the ball 700 yards. A dozen other teams are gonna try to copy what the Chiefs are doing and they’ll end up drafting a dozen JaMarcus Russells by accident.


Titans at Jets: All liquor ads are terrible, but the Mila Kunis Jim Beam ads occupy their own little opera box in advertising hell. It’s Beam. It’s the garbage you mix with Coke when you pregame before heading out to Cotillion. But these ads pretend like Beam is the most sophisticated drink in the world, and they drag out Kunis to be a BOURBON GHOST who commands young couple to order a Beam on the rocks before she up and vanishes from a leather chair. ZOMG! Where did she go? Is she the Spirit Of Hangovers Yet To Come? Jim Beam needs to calm down. A proper Jim Beam ad would show a college kid wearing Bama colors booting into a port-o-toilet.

Cardinals at Packers: I had a bunch of leftover gravy the other day and you know what I did with it? I ate it like soup, in bowl with a spoon. Don’t judge me. In some states, that counts at gumbo.


Colts at Jaguars: You’ll see Blake Bortles play for these Jags again. They’re not ridding themselves of the bortovirus that fast.

Bills at Dolphins

Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

“Overthrown,” by Oh Sees! Here’s August:

This song absolutely slays. How fucking metal is that album cover? If physical media was still viable, this album would fly off the shelves.


It’s so true. I do miss going to Sam Goody and perusing through the heavy metal section, oohing and ahhing at all the demons and busty women slaying dragons, and then being too cheap to buy anything. Then I’d go get a Mrs. Fields cookie instead.

Anyway, this album cover is indeed metal as shit. Anytime you have a Balrog-sized creature looming over a destroyed city, you’re onto something good. The song itself sounds like Judas Priest playing in a trash can… in a good way!


Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

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You probably heard the story of John Allen Chau, an American missionary who foolishly visited remote North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal and was summarily killed by isolated Natives who have had virtually no contact with the outside world. Chau’s contact with the North Sentinelese tribe doomed him, and it may doom the tribe as well if his death attracts gawkers, missionaries, and rescue workers to the island. The obvious lesson here is that we should leave the tribe the fuck alone …….. UNLESS you are Spectator columnist and beard-lectual Brendan O’Neill, who took this away from the entire tragedy:

It is time we civilised the Sentinelese people

I know, right? All my life, I’ve said to myself, “When THE FUCK are we gonna civilize the Sentinelese people? It’s way past time for them to share their lagoons with people like me!”

John Allen Chau behaved immorally and recklessly when he approached North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal last week.


So far, so good. But I sense a twist coming.

It would be better, eco-leftists and other luvvies insist, if we just left the Sentinelese people as they are.


Yeah, that sounds about right. I dunno what a luvvie is, but I guess that makes me a luvvie-lover.

They’re probably happy.

I have no idea if they’re happy or not but that’s not really the issue here, kiddo.

What, living brutish, backward lives?


I think it is crueller to abandon the Sentinelese people to the fate written for them by the terrible quirks of geography and history than it is to try to contact and civilise them.


Again, the whole point is to keep people away from the tribe because germs from the outside world will kill them. Is infecting native peoples with bloodpox a creuller fate than leaving them masters of their own fate? I SAY YES.

Yes, civilise them.

Using an S makes the verb extra civil, or should I say… SIVIL?!

‘Civilise’ is seen as a terribly judgemental word these days. It conjures up images of Victorian colonialists venturing into the ‘heart of darkness’ in Africa and elsewhere and subjugating unwilling peoples to Biblical writ and British rule.


Well yeah, because that’s all true. BUT????!!!!!


Shoot me with an arrow.

…the civilisation instinct needn’t be a forced one. We could find ways to try to encourage the Sentinelese people, and the world’s other lost tribes, to exchange their unforgiving way of life for the more comfortable, knowledgable existences the rest of us enjoy. This may take a very long time, more than a generation perhaps, because it would need to be done patiently, carefully, and with an eye for informing the Sentinelese people of the world beyond their shores, rather than pressuring them or humiliating them in any way. But it is worth trying, surely?


Definitely. We should airdrop copies of the New York Post and bags of Funyuns onto the island. Happiness shall readily ensue. I mean, tell me you don’t love living in civilization! We’ve got everything: corruption, student loan debt, an insane President, raging fires, endless guns, horrifying pollution, you name it! Those “terrible quirks of geography and history” can’t touch us here, nossir! I FEEL SAFE AS CAN BE.

Those laughing at Chau for his missionary folly seem content to leave a very small section of humanity — between 40 and 500 people, according to estimates — living in Stone Age conditions… Through no fault of their own, they, and the rest of the world’s estimated 100 uncontacted tribes, are humankind’s losers.


You might think this column is satire, or least the clumsy right-wing brand of satire that is only conveniently noted as satire once it’s proven to be idiotic. But no, no Brendan here is dead serious about storming the island and seizing all the unobtanium. I know this because I browsed the rest of his archive, featuring takes like:

LA used to be fun – dope has just made it dull

The real reason people voted Leave? They’re fat

The problem with hate crime (HINT: It’s not that they’re hate crimes!)

I love Advent – it’s the gentle waltz to Christmas excess

Students are the new masters – and the result is campus tyranny

Tantrum of the climate alarmists

You get the idea. When this man calls the North Sentinelese losers, he does so without irony. Or a mirror, for that matter.


Cryptkeeper Al Davis Lock Of The Week: Panthers -3.5

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“EEEEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! Tonight’s lock concerns the Bucs, who I don’t think can… HANG?... with MASSACRE-olina! That DJ HORROR really knows how to CARVE up a defense! He plays great out of the SLAUGHTER! And that young Christian McCaffery certain enjoys running it up the GUT. All the guillo-TEENS just adore him, don’t they kiddies? EEEEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! It’s like I tell all my best FIENDS: If you wanna win, you have to EXECUTE!”

2018 Cryptkeeper record: 7-4-1

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

If you’d like to be depressed, go look at David Johnson’s game logs from this year. I am deeply worried that the rest of his career will look like that. There’s nothing about Josh Rosen right now that signals a dynamic passing offense is coming to help Johnson out anytime soon. He’s super fucked.


Bad Local Commercial Of The Week! 

Pizza Shuttle! Here’s Dustin:

This is a commercial for drunken Kansas State student favorite Pizza Shuttle. Not sure this one counts because it may have intentionally been made bad (hard to know). I will say that the commercial is somewhat effective because every time it comes on I stop and watch it. I probably have bought pizza as a result of this commercial.


You definitely have. I’ll say this for Pizza Shuttle: they definitely know their target audience. If you’re hungry AND you’re horny, there’s no possible way you can resist these close-ups of pepperoni intermingled with porn backstory content. Pizza Shuttle knows you better than you know yourself! I assume Papa John has harassed Pizza Shuttle on 17 separate occasions.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vance Joseph

Adam Gase*

Dirk Koetter*

Matt Patricia

Jay Gruden

Mike McCarthy*******

Steve Wilks

Doug Marrone

Todd Bowles****

Dan Quinn

Marvin Lewis

Ron Rivera

(*potential midseason firing)

I stuck a bunch of asterisks next to Mike McCarthy’s name but that’s probably wishful thinking. I’ve seen no concrete reports that the Packers are actually considering firing him. Knowing how the Packers move, they could easily keep him around, fire a tight ends coach instead, and then pretend everything is fine. “With new tight ends coach Glarby Boone, we feel like we’ve solidified our coaching staff for years to come.”


Great Moments In Grandpa History

Reader Samuel sends in this story I call SMELL ON EARTH:

In 1997, Grandpa came to my family’s door asking for them to take him to the doctor for his nose. A quick glance at his face let us know this immediately. He had a trail of blood streaming down his face from the outside and top of his nose, and on the top of his nose was a crater about the size of a dime as well as a slice all the way into his nostril.

Turns out that morning, Grandpa had gotten sick of what he thought was an ingrown hair on his nose and decided to open it up. So he grabbed a knife and cut it open. But when he started cutting, nothing came out. There was no cyst or zit like thing that you would typically find with an infected ingrown hair, so he cut a bit deeper and found a weird, as he would describe it, ‘numb shit’ that seemed to make up the huge bump on his nose. He decided that this was a problem, so he proceeded to cut it out. He got about 80% of it out, which is where the crater came from, before he had to stop because it started to hurt too much. That is when he hopped in his car and drove an hour and a half to our house to get a ride to the hospital.

After the initial shock at the hospital, they checked it out and it turns out it was a large cancerous tumor that had appeared. Normally they wind up having to put someone under for removal, but because he had already removed about 80% of it, they were able to give him some local anesthetic and get the rest out right then and there. The next day a plastic surgeon closed his nostril back up and he went home. He died a few years ago at 98 years old of regular causes.



Gametime Snack Of The Week

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Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. Let me tell you something: I haven’t purchased a Little Debbie item since I was a teenager in Minnesota, biking to the drugstore so I could sneak looks at dirty magazines and buy a box of Swiss rolls for a buck. But every time I go to the supermarket now, I pass by the Little Debbie/Tastykake aisle, and it calls to me. These Christmas tree cakes are made entirely of wax, lard, corn syrup, and arsenic, and they are delicious. One day, when I am dying of cancer, I will go to the store and I will buy up the whole fucking snacky cake aisle. It’ll be me on my deathbed, surrounded by loved one and fifty Nutty Bar wrappers. That’s when I’ll be ready to come home to the lord.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

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KLANG! Oh sweet Jesus, here’s Ian with…

…The finest ale Sihanoukville, Cambodia has to offer.

I was fed many of these fines gems on a booze cruise and was told that Klang is the Khmer word for strong. A quick Google search tells me that Klang translates to Klang, but whatever!

Can you argue with a can with an elephant that majestic and the words “Extra strong and smooth” emblazoned across the top?

Honestly, it tastes like tuk tuk fuel. Feed me more!

Yeah, I don’t need any translation for Klang. It’s KLANG! It’ll make you klang real fucking good. I feel like a six-pack of this would compel even the most sensible fellow to commit murder. I MUST KLANG IT!


Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!

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“Tear gas? I feel for those kids, but gas is the BEST thing to get in your eyes, okay? I’ve gotten thumbtacks in my eyes. I got a sprayed in the eyes with gasoline when I tried to steal an apple. And one time, Carny Lou threw a spork right into my pupil when I told him his bearded lady friend did it for me. I’ve gotten a lot of bad stuff in my eyes: pine needles, tiny screws, animal horns, teeth, red paint, flicked cigar ashes, hot milk, BBs, extra large BBs, glass, plastic, Clorox, bottle caps, you name it. One time The Boise Six held me down and RAKED me across the eye with a zipper, okay? It was a dispute about beans but I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m still just fine, apart from very two large black hexagons that are in my field of vision at all times. But eyes are strong. They can bounce back. What is tear gas? That’s gas, that’s just air! You can beat air, trust me. One time a bunch of gypsies forced me to stare into a smokestack on top of an asbestos mine. You talk about bad air.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Raiders Fans

A Quiet Place, which deserves all the Oscars for being just 90 minutes long. I don’t care that there are plot holes. I don’t care that no one farts. I don’t care that everyone has to walk on sand to be quiet but can run loudly through cornfields if someone else happens to be in danger. I don’t care that they built a soundproof basement for a baby and never once thought to LIVE in that soundproof basement before the baby was born. Why wouldn’t you live there, you fucking dummies? Anyway, whatever. The movie is short and therefore good.


Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Lisa, ordinarily I’d say you should stand up for what you believe in. But you’ve been doing that an awful lot lately!”


Enjoy the games, everyone.