On Paying Your Dues

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Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG)

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


We had moved from New York to D.C. and I had no job. I was a copywriter by trade back in the day—writing print ads, radio spots, catalog copy, the occasional TV ad when I was lucky, etc—and D.C. is not exactly known as a hotbed of advertising. I sent my portfolio all around town and harangued the people I needed to harangue. Finally, one dude gave me a spec interview and told me that he didn’t have a job for me but that I could come to his office every day, where I could use a work station and pick up stray freelance work whenever he had some. That was the best he could offer, and I took it.

In my case, it was a wise move because I eventually got hired full-time at that little ad firm. I was subsequently laid off and rehired a couple more times due to tight budgets, but the point was that I had paid my “dues” by donating the entirety of my time every day to hanging in that office and that hoping work fell my way. I was a stray dog … on call as needed and happy for whatever scraps my old boss could toss at me. He was a good dude and he paid me fairly when he had money to pay me. I’m grateful to him for that.

It was not the last time I ate a little shit in order to stay on board at a place I wanted to work. I have worked at this site, Deadspin, for free. It wasn’t a long stretch, and I was otherwise fairly compensated for my freelance work at the site (Others were not necessarily as fortunate; Gawker Media was once sued by a group of interns who weren’t paid for their work), but there was a summer when budgets were tight but I wanted to keep the platform. So I just kept at it, hoping it would pay off later on, but not certain of it. Eventually it did. After five years of freelancing at the site, I was formally put on salary here and got benefits.

But of course, I was able to sit in that ad firm office all day for free, and I was able to work for Deadspin for free for a brief stretch, because I could afford it. My wife had a job at the same time I was job hunting, so I had room to maneuver. We both also came from relatively well-off families, so even when we were both unemployed (which happened for stretches), there was always backup. There was never a breaking point where we needed cash so badly that we had to stray from our chosen vocations and settle for literally any job that paid: busing tables, cashier, landscaping work, etc. I had to eat shit, but it was the choicest turds.

I didn’t have go to back to my old jobs, when I worked as a dishwasher, and as a table runner, and as a busboy (I wasn’t good enough at the latter two jobs to merit a bump up to waiting tables; so the next time you go to a restaurant, please appreciate how much shit the waiter had to eat just to find themselves in the position to even be able to hear people bitch about the salad being overdressed). I didn’t have to regress. I could afford to hang onto my dreams, and that’s a privilege that many, many people don’t have.

Last week, Deadspin colleague and space heater enthusiast Laura Wagner wrote a post about NJ.com Sports Director Kevin Manahan, who used a freelance job listing as an occasion to posit himself as a kind of journalism drill sergeant, in which he demanded prospects “dazzle me with your brilliance” and promised an undisclosed monthly stipend “if you prove you’re worth the investment.” Manahan is evidently a real shitheel—someone who has definitely berated a waiter in his time—but he’s hardly alone in knowing and exploiting the fact that even a crummy freelance gig is a decent prize these days for any aspiring young person out there hoping to get a toehold in the decidedly glamorous world of sports blogging. There are very few jobs anymore. There are only extended auditions, many of them ill-paying, if they pay at all.


But of course, the second Wagner illuminated this nasty little truth, a group of lecherous Sports Knowers (all men, naturally) instantly came to Manahan’s defense, romanticizing the times they had to eat shit before going big time. Here’s food taster for NFL agents Manish Mehta:


Here’s failed ombudsman Jim Brady:


And, of course, here’s career pissboy Albert Breer:


You’re not gonna believe it, but all of these limp men possess enormous blind spots. I know. I’m as shocked as you are. I fully believe that everyone needs to start at the bottom, and that we all need to eat a little shit before going on to bigger and better things. But there’s a glaring difference between those who can afford to pay their dues and those for whom the dues (not to mention whatever attendant abuse may come with them) become too much of a burden. The shit I ate is NOTHING compared to what others have had to endure, and many of those other souls toiled with no guarantee of eventual professional success for their efforts. Boat shoes like Breer harbor some weird, sportsy delusion that corporations are sports teams and that they are the gritty walk-ons, enduring trial by fire and coming out the other end thanks to pure courage and the tough love of some pit bull boss.

But of course, that’s not true at all. Those three men above are successful and still HORRIBLE at their jobs. A lot of these supposed low-level jobs don’t ferret out the gritty and talented. They often do just the opposite, driving away talented people and leaving suckups, cutthroats, and rich boys to fill the void. Puds like Jim Brady are living proof of it, and I’m not exactly Ernest Hemingway myself.


The great American creation myth is rooted in the story of someone (usually a guy) overcoming humble origins to become a success. Even the most spoiled of shits (right here!) like to insert themselves into this narrative, because it’s an easy way of justifying who you are to yourself. You worked your butt off to get here! You earned this! Anyone who thinks you got lucky is just a hater! Even President Trump posits himself as an underdog, at all times. It’s a gross way of establishing who’s earned their success and who deserves to fall by the wayside, and the dark context of that myth is that we are all competitors instead of countrymen, which makes you wonder why we even have a country at all.

Back in the day, there were actual JOBS out there. You could get hired at Sears and get benefits and a stake in the company and watch your equity, along with your quality of life, grow over time. As much as Trump and his ilk pine for the racist-ass 1950s, large corporations back then did not necessarily adhere to a philosophy of ultimate Darwinism the way evil joints like Amazon do today (strong unions helped a LOT in this regard).


But once shareholders and CEOs discovered that they didn’t HAVE to give people jobs, and that they could create an even more desperate work force by holding jobs back and forcing people to compete for scraps under the auspices of some demented character-building gauntlet, a lot of those job jobs disappeared, and thus we’re left with an economy where companies that make virtually no investment in people and instead demand employees—and not even real employees—invest in them. And they will always have champions in the likes of Kevin Manahan and all the other fuckheads who think this system works out exactly the right way for the right people. I was deeply fortunate in that my old bosses—both in the ad world and here—actively endeavored to get me paid work when there wasn’t any. I could have been unlucky. I could have gotten a Manahan instead.

So this Thanksgiving, keep in mind all the people out there who have to pay their dues. Maybe you’re among them, maybe you’re not. But there are millions of them out there, working the holiday, trudging out into the cold to work a Black Friday counter, or pack an Amazon box … all with some Manahan-type looming over them, constantly reminding them how grateful they should be just to be able to earn a fucking dime. Some of those people will be paying those dues forever. And maybe a few more are stuck working the holiday because they can’t afford to pay the right dues. They’re all out there, and they don’t deserve to pay dues only to have more dues heaped upon them. They all deserve a fair shot at a dream.


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

Seahawks at Panthers: I am, predictably, 1,000 years late to this, but I just realized a lot of players call touchdowns “tugs.” I support this term and will now be using it in order to better assimilate with the youth of today. HOW ABOUT ALL THOSE TUGS ON MONDAY NIGHT, FELLOW SPORTS BALL FANS?

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Four Throwgasms

Packers at Vikings: I have an onside kick idea. Are you ready for it? Okay, here is the idea. You ever stand next to a ball, position your foot under it, and then loft the fucker as high as you can? Well, that’s the idea. I don’t think a kicker should run up to an onside kick at all. I think he should stand right by the tee and then lift that fucker up into the air, like it’s a soccer ball. WHO SAYS NO?!

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Three Throwgasms

Skins at Cowboys: I took my son to the Skins-Texans game last week because he’s a Skins fan. The fact that I willingly braved that stadium for this child represents the greatest sacrifice any father has ever made for his child in history. Here now are my notes from that day:

  • Before the game, the Skins brought out members of the Montana Blackfeet tribe to sing a native song. No one stood for it. The announcer also noted that the Blackfeet Indians inspired the Skins logo, and that the tribe will always be part of the “Redskins family.” Pretty fucking weird shit. Even the Skins fans behind me made a nervous collar tug at the whole “ceremony”.
  • People stood for most of the game, so the bulk of my time was spent asking my son if he could see. I must have asked him 50,000 times. “Can you see? Do you wanna stand on your chair?” Eventually he just stopped answering me. I was being annoying.
  • You already know Maryland drivers are the worst, but if you want to see them AT their worst, drive into a Skins game. It’s breathtaking. It’s like no one holds the steering wheel.
  • Seeing J.J. Watt in person is legitimately awe-inspiring. Everyone on that field was massive but Watt was somehow even more massive. He looked like a Voltron of humans. He could suck clouds out of the sky. I highly recommend the J.J. Watt experience in person. Those roids make for quality viewing.
  • Of course, this was the game where Alex Smith suffered a horrific broken leg. I don’t think the stadium showed the replay but it didn’t matter because everyone knew Smith was dead the second the hit happened. The cart was out there in an instant. And let me tell you something: That was obviously a solemn moment, but that crowd was HORNY AS SHIT for Colt McCoy. You would have thought Sonny Jurgensen was back in uniform, they were so into Colt. Literal COLT MC-COY chants broke out in the stands. They didn’t mourn Alex Smith for THAT long.

Dolphins at Colts: Please enjoy this postgame locker room talk from Colts coach Frank Reich. Frank Reich is an extremely Dad Coach and he now has my undying loyalty. “That’s a good football team. They were hot. But guess what? SO WERE THE COLTS!!!!!” And stick around for Jimmy Irsay invading the locker room and leaving leprosy spores in his wake.

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Looking good, Jimbo!

Bears at Lions: The three most exciting teams in football right now are the Chiefs, Rams, and Saints. But I can promise you that at least one of those teams will struggle offensively in a playoff game, failing to score and then pressing because they can’t. And I think the Bears are the best candidate for causing such a juggernaut to have a nervous breakdown. I never want to see Khalil Mack ever again.


Titans at Texans

Steelers at Broncos

Falcons at Saints

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Two Throwgasms

Raiders at Ravens: You’ve probably seen a million Facebook Portal ads during the games and I just want to note that, even while all of their evil shit is being uncovered, Facebook is trying to sell you a voice call tablet that you’re supposed to leave on ALL DAY. Like, they really think people will “hang out” by turning the Portal on and just living in permanent Facetime. That is my vision of hell. If any of you buy this fucking thing and use it the way Zuck intends, I will have words with you.


Niners at Bucs

Giants at Eagles

Browns at Bengals

Patriots at Jets

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One Throwgasm


Cardinals at Chargers

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

“CAFO,” by Animals As Leaders! Animals as leaders? Sure, why not? Put a fucking giraffe in the White House. Makes no difference to me! From HJ:

Just your typical prog-metal power trio with dual 8-string guitarists. Their prog-awesomeness negates the need for anything superfluous like lyrics. I can’t tell where the guitar ends, and the bass begins, but honestly who cares? These guys just straight up shred. Enjoy.


First of all, I didn’t even realize they made 8-string guitars. How do you play it without having alien hands? Secondly, these guys aren’t even content to have one eight-string? They gotta have TWO?! That’s like double 1.3 guitars! So much math! No wonder they make prog music.

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

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Hey, it was pretty fun watching Lamar Jackson’s debut the other day, right? He carried the ball 27 times! That’s fucking crazy! Quarterbacks never do that! Nice little change of pace from the stolid quarterbacking of human lawn ornament Joe Flacco, am I right?

Ah, but what if I told you there was a certain tape eater out there who didn’t find such antics fun at all? How long would you need to sort out that said tape eater is Sports Illustrated quarterback race scientist Andy Benoit? Five seconds? Two? Zero?

On the surface, it might appear like Harbaugh faces no controversy at all. With Lamar Jackson playing for an injured Joe Flacco on Sunday, the Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak. Therefore, the future starts now—it’s Jackson’s team, simple as that.



Except it’s not that simple.

GTFO. Are you telling me that handing the keys to an unseasoned rookie in the middle of a playoff run is a potential boom-or-bust situation? Boy am I glad you broke down the tape to sort that all out for me!

Viewers of the Bengals-Ravens game on Sunday saw Jackson run the ball 27 times for 117 yards, and scamper around to make a handful of improvised throws. It was fun, if not downright electrifying.



But what fans can’t see

You, the common VIEWER, might have “seen” the quarterback “running” the ball and then shrieked in delight. But I, the Football Knower, am here to let you know that quarterbacks are also often asked to “pass” the ball!

…and what coaches always consider…

This guy, always with the fucking coaches. Sure, Lamar Jackson won the game and frustrated the Bengals at every turn. But are John Harbaugh’s balls sufficiently coddled?

are the things that don’t happen:

• Passing concepts that were shelved because Jackson is not a developed field-reader.


Why, his brainpan barely measures past 30 barleycorns! Such a small cranium cannot possibly handle the complexities of a Marty Mornhinweg offense!

• Throws that should have been made but weren’t.

ZOMG are you telling me that a rookie passer missed a read? I never knew that could happen!

• Throws that should have been made early but were made late, which hurts an offense’s rhythm and, more tangibly, a receiver’s run-after-catch production.


Now you’re telling me an NFL passing offense is often based on timing?! This is really enlightening! You should charge for this shit!

• Pre-snap audibles that went uncalled because you’d never ask a QB who rarely even made huddle calls in college to check in and out of plays as an NFL rookie.


Who the fuck is this article for? It certainly isn’t for, like, football fans.

Coaches tell you what they really think of a player by what they ask him to do.

What I would really love is for a coach to ask you to walk off a mountain.

It’s clear that the Ravens view Jackson as the same quarterback they saw when they drafted him: He’s uniquely talented, but not close to ready to run a full-fledged NFL offense.


NO FUCKING SHIT. You needed tape for that? You know what? Give ME your fucking tape, asshat. It’s clearly not doing you any wonders out there. Maybe you’re too raw. Maybe you’re just not ready to style pro-level tape. Maybe you should convert to another job at Sports Illustrated. How about vending machine re-stocker?

Cryptkeeper Al Davis Lock Of The Week: Steelers -3.5 

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“EEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! Here’s a story to keep all of Steelers PHANTOM awake at night, kiddies. It involves a football player named Le’Veon HELL, who holds out from BRAINing camp only to have his job taken by MAIMS Conner! Enraged at being replaced, our ROTTING back holds out all season long, only to return to PittsBOOrgh at the very end of the season, cutting the brakes on the team bus, making it CURTAINS for everyone! Sweet dreams to you all, Joe HADES, VOODOO Smith-Schuster, AnGROANio Brown, and Javon HarGRAVE! EEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! It sure would be a shame to watch that team… CHOKE on a whole other level! That’ll teach the Steelers to be PENNYWISE and pound foolish!”

2018 Cryptkeeper record: 7-3-1

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

I took a flyer on Fitz in a $1 DFS contest this week. I have only myself to blame. Fitz is fantasy Russian Roulette, and only one chamber is empty.


Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

Real Green Pest Control! From Bill:

Saw this commercial while in Austin last weekend and thought you might like it for the Jamboroo. The dude has a live tarantula ON HIS HEAD!


Not just on his head, but right on his fucking face! Holy shit! I’m hiring that guy. If he can do that for 30 seconds and not flinch, he is my new warlord and I must obey his commands.

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

Kyle Shanahan

Doug Marrone

Todd Bowles*

Dan Quinn

Marvin Lewis

Mike Zimmer

Doug Pederson ;)

(*potential midseason firing)

I wish there had been a live camera feed on Aaron Rodgers during the Monday Night game. Imagine watching that game, knowing you gotta trudge to the facility the next day and study a game plan designed by Punty McShithead. I don’t think I’d even be able to play the next game. They’d list me on the injury report as QUESTIONABLE (EXISTENTIAL CRISIS).


Great Moments In Grandpa History

Reader Todd sends in this story I call DRY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE:

My Grandpa had a habit of remembering every stupid thing anyone in the family ever did, tucking it away for later use, and then bringing it out at the exact moment that he knew would inflict the most embarrassment—even if it took literal decades.

I was, maybe, 19 or 20 years old, and I was talking with my Grandpa on the phone. He hears my dad in the background and says to me, (insert appropriately gravelly old man voice here) “Is that your old man?” I told him it was. He then says, “Ask him if he still likes ‘em dry.”


“Just ask him.”

“Hey, Dad, Grandpa wants to know if you still like ‘em dry.”

What follows is an explosion the likes of which I have never seen—not even from my asshole chef of a father. He is screaming and stomping all over the place, yelling at me, “WHY DON’T YOU ASK YOUR GRANDFATHER IF HE STILL LIKES THOSE FUCKIN’ HARVEY WALLBANGERS! HUH?! ASK HIM THAT! FUCK YOU, FRANK!”

All the while, my Grandpa is laughing his ass off on the other end of the phone and I’m left in the middle with no idea what the hell just happened—and neither one of them had any interest in telling me.

Flash forward a few weeks, and I’m with my mother. It’s just the two of us, so I tell her what happened, and she takes a deep breath and rolls her eyes. After much pleading from me, she finally spills the beans.

When my parents were dating, my Dad would come to visit my Mom at my Grandparents’ house. Grandpa would mix a few drinks—typically vodka martinis at the time—and would ask my Dad if he wanted one. My Dad’s response was always, “Yeah, Frank. I like ‘em dry.” My Dad would then proceed to turn into the Bad Drunk that he always was.

One day, he’s at the house, drinks are being mixed, he’s asked if he wants one and, yes, he likes ‘em dry. At one point during that particular evening, someone realizes that my Dad hasn’t been seen for some time. So, a search party is formed to go find him. There are people who look in the front yard, the back yard, the family room, the basement, etc. My Grandma was tasked with looking upstairs. When she gets to the stairs, she spots a trail of clothing leading up toward what is Certain Doom. Intrepidly, she follows the clothing trail to my uncle’s bedroom. It is there that she finds my Dad passed out on the twin bed in nothing but his underwear, snoring like a goddamned freight train. This was probably 25 or more years before the fateful phone call.

That was the point at which my Mom laid down the law and decreed that there would be no more martinis—dry or otherwise—as part of his drinking routine.


I support that ban.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

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Manchego cheese! I have nothing pithy to add. It’s really good cheese! And you can trust me on this, because, of course, I am a Spaniard. People say it to me all the time. They ask me, “Are you the one they call The Spaniard?” And when I say “Si,” they say, “I shall cheer for you Spaniard.” And then I fight gladiator battle and eat more fine Manchego cheese. All true.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

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Uh… this stuff! Does anyone here speak Bulgarian, because reader Matt went there and brought back this unpronounceable bottle of fermented piss:

My cheap beer submission comes from Bulgaria. We picked up a milk crate of these in a tiny grocery store of a mountain village. A half liter bottle ran me 1 Bulgarian Leva, or 60 US cents, if you’re ordering at a bar and less if you’re buying by the milk (beer?) crate. I’m told the beer is named after a mountain range, which does not explain the fire stallion. It tasted pretty okay! On par with most of the American lager beers, maybe if they were a little skunked. Definitely a high volume beer that made me pee a lot behind the little bathroom-less wooden cabin where I drank this.


Sounds romantic! Get my ass on a plane to Sofia right now! If you got a fire stallion on your beer label, I got 60 cents that says you’re gonna treat me to a good time, followed by some HEAVY diarrhea.

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!

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“Anyone who pays for a turkey is a sucker, okay? You can find turkeys on I-672. The logging trucks sideswipe those bad boys all the time. You pick one up, you dust it off… BOOM. Perfectly good turkey. I like to stuff mine with old coffee lids. Gives it a tangy flavor you won’t get at some fancy-pants grandma’s house. If you’re eating turkey inside, you’re doing it wrong.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Raiders Fans 

Ant-Man And The Wasp, which is fine except for one big Spoilery thing. So Michelle Pfeiffer is lost in the quantum realm for 30 years, right? Okay, HOW? How the fuck did she eat? Where did she find water to drink when she was a trillionth the size of a water molecule? Where did she poop and pee? Do the script wizards at Marvel REALLY expect me to believe she could just hang out there for three decades with no sustenance and be groovy?! I WANT ANSWERS AND I’M TOO LAZY TO GOOGLE FOR THEM.


Good movie, though. Michael Peña is a national treasure.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“It’s a Krusty Kinda Khristmas, brought to you by ILG: selling your body’s chemicals after you die. And by Li’l Sweetheart Cupcakes—a subsidiary of ILG.”


Enjoy the games, everyone. And happy Thanksgiving!