Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
The MLB playoffs started this week, and if you're a baseball fan and you've always wondered why baseball been raked over the coals for PED issues while football has gotten off relatively scot free, this has been a wet dream of a month for you. Because the NFL is now fucking up an off-the-field issue the exact same way baseball did with steroids back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
I always like to goof on baseball people for their ongoing love affair with the sport's purity. Back in 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both broke Roger Maris's home run record, their accomplishments were viewed not simply as twin feats of great athleticism, but as moral salves for the sport and the nation as a whole. Gary Smith got all purply about it back then:
McGwire and Sosa gave America a summer that won't be forgotten: a summer of stroke and counterstroke, of packed houses and curtain calls, of rivals embracing and gloves in the bleachers and adults turned into kids—the Summer of Long Balls and Love. It wasn't just the lengths they went to with bats in their hands. It was also that they went to such lengths to conduct the great home run race with dignity and sportsmanship, with a sense of joy and openness. Never have two men chased legends and each other that hard and that long or invited so much of America onto their backs for the ride. Rarely has grace so swiftly begotten grace…
Those two players turned out to be massive steroid cheats. When that happened, baseball writers felt betrayed by the sport and they felt like all the good will built up during that chase was a lie (not necessarily true!), and they have been punishing baseball ever since. They have kept every alleged PED user out of Cooperstown. They have scolded drug cheats like Nelson Cruz even after such players have served long suspensions. And as a defense against that outrage, as Marchman noted here, baseball has steadily napalmed the reputation of their own players in order to preserve the purity of the game, a purity that was always an illusion. They have taken up the mantle of being outraged about PEDs long after most of us have grown fatigued. Players will always try to cheat, and some of them will manage to get away with it. But no matter. MLB will hunt down the drug cheats and they will find a way to send A-Rod to the bottom of the fucking ocean and they will keep at it until they have saved the game by destroying it.
That's the position the NFL has now put itself in. Back before Roger Goodell was in charge, football was always known as the coldest sport. That was whole point! They made a fucking prison football movie and people loved that shit. The football Hall of Fame had no character clause and, to this day, it still doesn't. It's hard to get mad at a sport if it doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is.
But then Goodell came along and turned the NFL into "The Shield" and suddenly the NFL couldn't just be a bloodthirsty enterprise anymore. It became an unofficial branch of the military and had to stand for all things American: truth and justice and very large beverage sizes and shit. That's why Goodell suspended Terrelle Pryor five games for minor NCAA infractions he committed back in college, which was completely insane.
When you run ANY business and take on this kind of moral burden, you are setting yourself up to fail. You will never avoid your own hypocrisy. Ever. Even while trying to make up for the NFL's lapses in the Ray Rice scandal, Goodell continually talked about how the NFL could set an example for the rest of society, which was the exact wrong thing to say. They can hold as many tasteful seminars as they like, but the NFL will never be free of wife beaters, or drunk drivers, or drug cheats. This is because the players are human. Some of them will fuck up, and some will turn out to just be bad people. But the NFL is now setting up the expectation that it WILL be able to sweep out every last violent offender, which is absurd. Punishments have become ridiculously inconsistent (when they are handed out at all—Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson have been exiled with no definitive suspensions of any kind). The league has calibrated public opinion in every single instance and they have adjusted their reaction accordingly, which is crazy because public opinion ebbs and shifts by the second. (They have also rabidly jumped on player discipline because that's easy to address publicly compared to the current concussion problem that is inherent in playing the sport itself.)
This is the same thing baseball did with steroids. They took a moral stand and have spent years telling the general public that the very people playing their sport can't be trusted to be clean. And you know what's strange? In that same span of time, baseball has had numerous instances of domestic violence that have gotten little to no traction in the popular culture. They leave that shit to the legal system, or they let accused abusers like Milton Bradley and Elijah Dukes wash out of the game on their own. Baseball doesn't seem to give a shit about the issue, probably because it doesn't threaten the sanctity of the sport's record book. It's the inverse of the NFL's current predicament. Baseball gets a pass on wife beating and the NFL does not. The NFL gets a pass on PEDs and baseball does not.
And the reason that dichotomy exists is because each sport chose its own distinct hill to go die on. For all of baseball's draconian measures to keep PEDs out of baseball for the sake of THE CHILDREN, teenage HGH use has actually increased this decade. And nothing the NFL does to curb domestic violence within its ranks will have an effect on the national crime rate. They will not solve wife beating. They can only watch their players get arrested, see if they get convicted, and then punish them accordingly. Ray Rice was a bizarre and catastrophic anomaly here, because he was not technically "convicted" of knocking Janay Palmer out after he got a sweet deal from prosecutors, AND because everyone saw him knock her out, AND because the NFL wasn't straightforward in its handling of the matter, which has made them impossible to trust with any of these issues. Ever since then, the NFL has been trying to put out outrage fires left and right. (By the way, when it came to Rice, I was just like everyone else who bitched about the punishment not being enough and demanded some kind of equal justice, even though the NFL isn't capable of such things.)
Football cannot be anything more than what it is, which is cheap and disposable entertainment for the masses. The second you try to seize the moral high ground, you have lost it. Baseball still hasn't quite figured that out, and it doesn't look like the NFL will either.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Ravens at Colts: Here is Jaden Smith’s terrible new song, and I love it any time a musician (if Jaden Smith can be called that) throws down a backwards track loop, because you just know they’re thinking, “Let’s put it in BACKWARDS and it’ll blow everyone’s mind!” Everyone who does this in a recording studio will test positive for cocaine: The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Jaden … EVERYONE. They all think they did it first.
Cardinals at Broncos: In very important news, Remote Thumb has become a serious problem. Like, if I record a game, and I watch that shit all in one load, I keep my thumb on the :30 button all game long, and it gets really sore by the end! I could develop bone spurs! Oh sure, I could easily solve this problem by NOT keeping my thumb on that button, but then I might accidentally see five seconds of an ad, and that can’t happen. Remotes are awesome, but they are imperfect. They get lost. They waste batteries. In the future, they will cease to exist and you will be able to fast forward through the commercials using a series of natural and intuitive body movements. I am excited for this to happen. If I can simply blink and advance the DVR forward, I won’t have to move ANY body part of any kind, and that will be healthier!
Bengals at Patriots: I’m not buying into the demise of the Patriots until I see Tom Brady dead on the fucking ground with a stake driven through his heart. Whenever you say the Pats are done, that’s when they rip off 10 straight wins and fall bass ackwards into the AFC title game again with terrible receivers and two viable o-linemen.
Also, seven wins can probably win the AFC East this season. I dunno know how quarterbacks like Brady always end up lucking into a Sun Belt conference schedule.
Texans at Cowboys: Earlier this week, a Funbag reader asked what would happen if a football player mysteriously vanished at the bottom of a fumble pile. Two dudes on Twitter (@hughcmcbride and @jimmyapollo) pointed out that there was an old TV show called Banacek (Juh?) that featured this EXACT plot. They even have the full episode on YouTube!
Does it open with George Peppard chomping on a stogie and ignoring a smoking hot woman because she’s blocking the football game with her personal champagne cart? IT DOES. Does he promise his woman that they’ll bone at the half? HE DOES. And does he notice the missing player just as his woman is about to blow him? GODDAMN RIGHT! I wanna be Banacek. He’s the original McGarnagle.
Chiefs at Niners: I know they kicked New England’s ass on Monday night, but that clock butchery by Andy Reid at the end of the first half is the kind of shit that casts a pall over an entire fanbase. The Chiefs could win every single regular season game from here on out, and that sequence will still be in the back of your head. Andy fucked up the clock. Andy always fucks up the clock. And Andy will fuck it up AGAIN, at the worst possible time. Why is he so bad at this? Why the fuck can’t he get better at it? I think Andy likes it. He lives for the danger.
Vikings at Packers: I think Adrian Peterson will be back on the field with the Vikings by Week 8. I have no inside knowledge of this (or anything else, for that matter), but you can already sense the news cycle from last month dying down. The outrage is softening because it always does. At some point, the Vikings are gonna trot out Peterson to give a lengthy public apology, and then they’ll give some money to charity, and then they’ll work the phones to make sure Radisson hotels don’t get pissed at them, and then ESPN will do a soft-focus segment featuring AD crying about stuff, and then the team will bring Peterson back and let him play until he has to formally stand trial for beating his kid. They’ve already fucked up the PR on this a hundred times, so they’re probably calling around every day to sponsors and advocacy groups being like, “What about now? Can we bring him back NOW?”
By the way, I didn’t realize it until last week because I’m a shitty fan, but Norv’s kid is also on the Vikings coaching staff. We have TWO Turners. You cannot be confident of anything when there are two Turners around.
Falcons at Giants: Last week, the Falcons ran out of tackles and had to use tight end Levine Toilolo as their right tackle in the second half against Minnesota. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. They had to keep an extra tight end next to poor Toilolo at all times, essentially frankensteining one left tackle out of two smaller dudes. It was mesmerizing. Anytime an NFL player is forced to play out of position, quality television ensues. I want Eli to play safety.
Rams at Eagles: Last week, Deion noted that Nick Foles drifts backward when he throws the ball, and now I can’t stop noticing it. He’s practically in the end zone every time he throws. That can’t be good.
Seahawks at Two Brokeass Quarterbacks: It’s only Week 5 and I’ve seen enough of that ad with LeBron in a Monopoly hat already. We’ve got 5,000 more viewings of it to go. Obviously, LeBron choose the hat in Monopoly to hide to his plugs.
Bills at Lions: NECKBEARD!
I doubt there are many men who have enjoyed having a surprisingly durable career in pro sports as much as this man. Ten years from now, some wunderkind QB will either get hurt or play horribly and Kyle Orton will emerge from the depths once more with a bottle of Jack in one hand and a single mutton chop on his face. And he’ll get $5 million for it. FUN FACT: That red eye is not a photography artifact. His eyes really actually looked like that!
Bears at Panthers
Bucs at Saints
Jets at Chargers: Once Geno Smith is benched for good (should happen by halftime this week), we can probably go ahead and mark down the 2013 NFL Draft as the worst QB draft in the history of everything. At least the 2011 Draft had Cam and Andy Dalton. This draft had nothing. Mike Glennon may end up being the best QB from this draft by far. Goddamn. If you have a high draft pick in a shitty QB draft, you should be able to hold that pick over a year. You shouldn’t have to sit there and talk yourself into any quarterback from Florida State. I feel bad for a team that drafts a quarterback high and that QB turns out to be shitty. That’s three years of a franchise’s life wasted. It’s such a stiff penalty for what amounts to a coin toss.
Steelers at Jaguars: Hey, the blackout rules are gone! FUCK YEAH! The FCC will still destroy the internet, but at least every city can watch its horrible football team now. The Jags may even uncover all the parts of their stadium that they had to cover up to avoid getting blacked out. We’re taking entire swaths of the upper deck that you could play waffle ball in now. NICE!
Browns at Titans: Poop.
“El Dorado,” by Every Time I Die. Bonus points to ETID for having album cover that features all of the band members shooting rainbow lasers out of their eyes. You know good things are in store when you see rainbow lasers. From Grant:
This song could end at 2:40 and still be one of the best songs ETID has written in their 16 years. Fun riffs, chaotic drum fills, catchy melodies, and a nice palm-muted breakdown to move things along in the middle. You've already knocked down a lamp or two by listening up to this point.
But just when you think it's over, ETID return with one gigantic, crushing riff and Keith Buckley screaming "CRUSH YOUR ALLIES!" like a madman. And they just let that sumbitch ride out like a Dr. Dre record. It's a thing of beauty. A big, spectacular, wall-leveling thing of beauty.
True enough. I will go crush my allies now. You watch your ass, staff of io9!
Last week’s picks of the Indianapolis, San Diego, and Atlanta went 2-1, making me 7-5 for the year. Time again to pick three teams for your suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week’s picks are Philly, San Diego, Detroit, and bed training a two-year-old. Every new parent dreads toilet training, but NO ONE warns you about transitioning a child from a crib to a bed. It’s awful. A crib keeps a child contained. Sure, once in a while they fall out of the crib and suffer a traumatic brain impact, but stil l… CONTAINED. With a bed, a child can just wander out freely, any time he likes, which is every two minutes. My son deliberately shits his diaper at night now. He takes a shit, he gets out of bed, he waddles downstairs, he forces us to change him and put him back, and then he shits AGAIN three minutes later. He is rationing his shits just to troll us! I’ve never seen such a profound display of evil. I want a crib the size of a football field, with ten-foot sides, and I want to keep the child there until age 27. Bed training SUCKS.
Greggggggg has a lengthy spiel this week about how trading up for MEGABUCKS GLOREE BOYZ in the draft is for losers and terrorist appeasers. But that wasn’t the worst of it. No, here was the worst of it…
Last week FiveThirtyEight.com ran a football item quoting Soren Kierkegaard, and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight tweeted:
Christ, Silver. Don’t poke the bear, especially when the bear works for a think tank and lives for any intellectual dick-measuring contest. Gregggg was name-dropping Kierkegaard before he got out of fucking diapers. Here is Gregg’s retort…
Pay up, Nate — I win that wager by 14 years.
Winner gets a dram of beach whiskey! Greggg then uses that winning wager to delve into a 14-year-old column and show how right he was about everything back then…
That Year 2000 column introduced Stop Me Before I Blitz Again, and also discussed my alternative names for the Washington franchise… Lots of people are climbing onto the anti-R*dsk*ns bandwagon now, and welcome aboard. I've been there for 15 years.
Fuck you. Now I hope they STAY the Redskins. I hope they become the Double Redskins just to spite you. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
“This week, I like the Cinnamonnasty Bengals (-1.5) to go into Foxchurro and beat the Patriots! I hate to kick a dog when he’s brown, but I think the Patriots are in Picnic Mode right now! They are struggling to masturbate the ball down the feel in the run game. And when that part of your game gets taken away, everything else falls afart!”
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 3-2
Here is a giant red leech swallowing an earthwork whole. It’s the worst porn ever:
Christ. I am afraid of any faceless animal that can swallow things whole. Even if those animals aren’t real. Back in the day, I used to play Zelda on the N64, and there were these blob things that would jump on Link and start eating him, and those things scared me to DEATH. I was a not kid when I played this, mind you. This was, like, in college. And blob or leech or pit that is just a mouth is fucking terrifying. I can’t deal with the idea of being buried alive inside the body of something, man. All the leeches must be killed.
Megatron. You know what? Just don’t play. Save yourself for next week and no one will be mad at you. Don’t gut it out with a gimpy ankle and then spend most of the game on the sideline. That’s when fantasy owners commit mass suicide. You know how horrible it is to start a guy and then watch him stand on the sideline? WHY ARE YOU NOT IN THE GAME? GET IN THAT FUCKING GAME. I can’t even watch my fantasy players stand on the sideline because the defense happens to be on the field. I blame them for the defense being out there. You should all be playing every down.
Reader Mike also hates Rashad Jennings:
The Giants scored 45 points and that asshole only ran for 55 yards against that shitass defense? I hope he is tied to a tree in the Amazon and gets brutalized by ants the size of his head.
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 2014 chopping block:
(*potential midseason firing)
That AP dude who reported that Dennis Allen was fired on Sunday night and then had to retract his statement was either totally validated or the luckiest man alive once Monday night rolled around. Anyway, the Raiders kept Allen around all offseason and then shitcanned him just four weeks into the season, one of the earliest firings in league history. A whole season, just pissed away like that. And then there was this!
Jesus. Mark Davis is worse than his old man. That shouldn’t be possible, but it is. Tommy Boy is just as bonkers as Al was, but with none of his old football acumen. It’s amazing the kind of idiots that can end up responsible for an entire pro football team’s welfare.
Reader Mike sends in this story I call DIARY OF A POOPY KID:
I was eight years old and in the second grade. At recess my friends and I were tossing the pigskin around. It was cold, I was wearing sweatpants. A case of the bubble-guts hit me and I immediately ran inside to the boys bathroom.
Here's the weird part...I refused to shit in the outer of two stalls. I suppose I feared being messed with if other kids could immediately see my feet in the stall. The second inner stall provided enough cover for me to poop in comfort. It all happened so fast. Upon entering the bathroom, I noticed someone was in the inner stall. I screamed for him to get out instead of choosing to use the completely vacant outer stall.
Time ran up. I pulled my pants down but halfway through, I blasted a liquid shit stream in to my sweatpants all over the floor, and wall. Immediately following my gastro-blast, the kid occupying the stall came shuffling out with his pants around his ankles and holding his shirt up. He asked what happened and I told him I threw up.
My neighbor came to get me as I didn't have any clothes to wear. I rode home in the front seat with shit filled pants/underwear and tried to convince her the smell of shit was actually barf.
I never told this story. It's been locked inside my brain since 1991.
Damn, I forgot how scary shitting at school could be. People used to throw stuff in the stall. Kids are the worst.
Pulled pork cheese fries!
Are those red onions? Scott Conant does not approve of the Wendy’s test kitchen.
Amber Naturalny! Not only is it a terrible stripper name, it’s also Poland’s finest shitty beer! From Josh:
The other week I visited Gdansk (formerly known as Danzig - METAL) in Poland, staying in a slightly suspect former Soviet apartment block that's now on Airbnb. I found someone had left two of these in the back of the fridge, which should have been a warning in itself. 5.2% and covered in enough ears of wheat that I wasn't sure if it was a beer or an invigorating breakfast tonic, when I finally cracked one open, it was definitely beer, albeit incredibly malty, musty beer. I left the other one in the fridge for the next guy.
That can had probably been sitting there since 1981. If I drink a six-pack, I’ll never be able to find those camouflage golf balls I invented.
Time to start thinking about this season's candidates for the NFL's MVP award. Every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
“Baby, my favorite for MVP is Philip Rivers of the Chargers! Ah, that ol’ Banacek clip takes me back. Banacek WAS George Peppard! He just to smoke little cigars just like that! And he had that exact same champagne cart! Convenient? YOU BET! Also good for presenting sex toys? DEFINITELY. Peppard used to carry around a tin of sea salt in his pocket. And whenever he brought a fetching young starlet to Woodland, he'd take a pinch of the salt, throw it at the girl, and then say, ‘You’ve been salted. Now for a dash of PEPPARD.” And then he would take out his little stunt double! I don’t know why he didn’t just fuck his dates. He didn’t need all that ceremony. Great guy!”
Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life. I saw Terry Gilliam go on Colbert a week or two ago, and that guy is a fucking nutjob. I mean, he’s clearly been a nutjob for decades, but I can’t imagine anyone who meets with Terry Gilliam comes away thinking, “Hey, we should give that guy millions of dollars to make a movie.” That’s a man who has probably handled his own feces at least five times.
“Look how loud I have to yell!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Photo via Getty