Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

The Ongoing NFL Conspiracy You Don’t Know About

Illustration by Jim Cooke.

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

People, I have shocking, not-actually-all-that-surprising news that may make your fucking skull EXPLODE. Not only will your skull explode, but all the little skull bits left from that explosion will ALSO explode. That’s how ball-shattering the news I’m about to give you is. Reader Matt writes in:

Have you noticed the NFL has basically stopped bringing out the chains to see if it’s a first down? It used to happen like five or six times a game. Now it’s like, “Yea, it’s a first down, let’s go.” and coaches don’t even bother complaining. Even on QB sneaks, the first down is just given unless the QB is clearly knocked back. I call bullshit! Some of us still like defense.


Well Matt, you’re right to be suspicious. Because I have discovered that there’s a filthy, nefarious conspiracy between the NFL and officials going on RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES to reduce the number of on-field measurements. This was detailed by Cork Gaines over at Business Insider back in January, and it could change EVERYTHING (or nothing… probably nothing).

The gist is that refs cheat on ball placement. If you make a first down between the yard lines—say, 35.8 yards from the end zone—the ref will often place the ball at the 36, so that the chains are planted right on the yard lines, which makes it easier to judge a first down from afar. This means that sometimes you get awarded a little extra yardage, or have some taken away, all because the refs are LAZY.


Also, the NFL could automate measurement if they really wanted to, but there is evidence that they have DELIBERATELY avoided it so that they can carry on with this brazenly crooked analog chain business. Tennis has electronic line judges, so you might ask: why doesn’t football? (NOTE: Brazen technological ignorance forthcoming.) You could just line the field with little sensor things, and they could beep if the ball crosses the first down marker, or the goal line, and they could make a terrifying HONK sound if a wideout steps out of bounds on a catch. That would be more accurate than trotting out a couple of teamsters to do the job, right? Well, it turns out the NFL likes those fatties ambling out there once in a blue moon:


Insidious, isn’t it? It literally goes all the way to the top! BURN DOWN LEAGUE HEADQUARTERS, I SAY. The NFL is willfully bending the rules and threatening the integrity of the game all because they’re in thrall to BIG CHAIN. If they’re willing to distort a meager little first down play, what ELSE are they doing behind our backs, hmm? What’s REALLY in those Bud Light team logo cans? Some kind of mind control serum? Roger Goodell is essentially a Die Hard villain to me at this point, so I put nothing past him.

By the way, in a vacuum, I support any ethical breach that suits my personal needs. If Goodell weren’t involved, I’d be fine with a shadowy NFL conspiracy that reduces the number of times the chains are brought out during a game. I’d rather have the ref eyeball the spot (which announcers can do accurately from 500 feet away up in the press box—even Simms can get it right, and his brain is 50 percent styling gel) than sit through one more goddamn delay, with the ref clipping a little marker to the yard line and then running out with the chain gang to the opposite side of the field (Like I’ve said before, the measurement is ALWAYS on the opposite side of the field from the chain gang) and looking like escaped bank robbers in a silent movie. No thanks. If it were any other commissioner pulling this chicanery, I wouldn’t even take notice. But since it’s Goodell, I say FULL IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS. This man must be detained and then imprisoned on a volcano island. The fate of the game is at stake.


The Games

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


Five Throwgasms

Steelers at Eagles: I was watching the Steelers play the other week with my family and I explained to my oldest kid that DeAngelo Williams has pink dreads as a tribute to his late mother, who died from breast cancer.


HER: That’s really nice of him!

ME: Right? He seems like a good dude.

HER: I’m gonna call him Mister Breast Cancer.


By the way, Carson Wentz is legit. I can’t even hate. He’s polished and accurate and the size of a goddamn mountain. I fear his rookie poise.


Broncos at Bengals: I’ve actually been watching a lot of football with my kids now. And as much as I enjoy their company, and as much as I want them to watch with me, we’re still in the phase where they don’t understand what the fuck is going on out there. That means that every game is like a Super Bowl party populated with NOTHING but casual fans. What are those sticks for? Are there actual broncos on the Broncos? Who is that guy? He looks fat! And on and on. I can’t answer all these questions under duress. I need to buy an Amazon Echo to do the job for me. Football is best with TOTAL SILENCE, as far as I’m concerned.

Vikings at Panthers: Adrian Peterson is done for the year, and my hottest take is that the Vikings don’t need him and should have parted ways with him BEFORE this season, when they could have invested more money in what remains a horrific offensive line. Picture an offensive line that is somehow worse without Matt Kalil. That’s how bad the Vikings line is.


I’m like a lot of other fans in that Peterson was my favorite player until I discovered—along with the rest of the world—that he’s a lunatic who unapologetically whips his kids right on the nutsack. But moral issues aside, every analyst at the beginning of this season was like, “They gotta try to win a Super Bowl with the few years Peterson they have left!” That’s dumb. No team should ever build around an old running back, much less one that eats up as much cap room as Peterson currently does. The Vikings’ line woes only prove that, as gifted as Peterson is, he can’t overcome shitty run blocking.

What’s more, it wasn’t just the blocking that caused Peterson to run for 1.6 yards a carry in those first two games. Some of that was on him for missing holes and shimmy-shaking behind the line of scrimmage, a cardinal sin that he used to be able to get away with, but maybe no longer can. This isn’t an anecdotal take, by the way. There’s history backing my snarky ass up:


The Vikings will be fine without Peterson. I mean, they’ll end up choking to death, but they’ll be jusssst fine otherwise.

By the way, the Vikings have a new stadium patch on their jersey and it’s the size of your head. It makes it look like the stadium died.


Four Throwgasms

Texans at Patriots: Secretly I think Bill Belichick wants all his QBs to get hurt so that he can play Julian Edelman at QB and spend an entire game calling weird shit.


Come on, man. You know he’s DYING to put Edelman out there in a Wing T package. Belichick is like one of those chefs that starts a gimmick restaurant with recipes based off a cookbook from 1587. Every offseason, he pores through the rule book and finds some obscure statute that allows a wideout to throw TWO forward passes per play or whatever, and then he figures out a way to pull it off during a game. He’s gonna run 15 quick kicks tonight and you’ll be able to see the cum stain in his khakis from the stands.


Three Throwgasms

Skins at Giants: I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am that Kirk Cousins sucks again, and that the Skins have devolved into a finger-pointing mess in just two scant weeks. It’s wonderful. I really thought we were in danger of them being stable and competent there for a second. Boy, am I glad I was wrong!


Jay Gruden is already throwing Kirk under the bus.

“You know who needs to step up? Our quarterback,” he told sideline reporter Pam Oliver.


What the fuck is wrong with Jay Gruden? How hard is it to protect your players by saying boring, anodyne shit to a sideline reporter? I hope that, by Week 17, this team has fired a dozen people and duct taped all their windows shut. Those are the Skins I know and hate.

Lions at Packers: When Jim Caldwell dies (not that I endorse the idea), they should paint his headstone with a fresco of a punter punting from inside his own 40.


Raiders at Titans: I know I’m old as hell because I am now picky about every goddamn thing. Last week, my keyboard broke and I went out to buy a new one. The Micro Center must have had two hundred different keyboards and I hated ALL of them. I ended up going to three different stores just to buy one stupid keyboard. Then I took it home and decided that I didn’t like that one either. I’m a freak. I’m not gonna survive old age if I need two hours just to find a keyboard. Shopping is now utter misery.

Chargers at Colts: At this point I’m downright angry at the Colts for taking a sure thing in Andrew Luck and fucking him up. It’s more than possible that Luck will end up like Dan Fouts, or some other famous QB that has a Hall of Fame career but never wins a title because his supporting cast is so woefully thin. Ryan Grigson should be thrown in a lake of his own spit.


Ravens at Jaguars: You know when a dude’s shoulder pad pops out of his jersey and a teammate spots it and tucks it back in? That’s a really nice moment. I remember doing that in the huddle. Sometimes, the guy with the loose pad doesn’t even notice it and you get to deliver the news to him! It’s awesome. I feel like a New Yorker giving accurate directions.

Jets at Chiefs: I was at a hotel recently and the elevators had the new setup where you punch in your floor number instead of an UP button, and then it tells you which elevator will take you up. This is probably a much more efficient way of shuttling people between floors, but you should see tourists react when they encounter this setup for the first time. Even I was thrown for a loop when I saw it. “I push… a number? WHERE ARE THE ARROWS?! This is scary and weird to me.” You should see people when I punch in a different floor number and my car arrives before theirs. It’s a rage only Trump voters can summon.


Two Throwgasms

Rams at Bucs: For all the shit we’ve talked about Stan Kroenke and how he’s fucked over both taxpayers AND entire cities, it WAS nice to see the Rams playing outside in the California sunshine, instead of being trapped in an unlit, 60,000-seat funeral home. I bet those players saw their Vitamin D intake skyrocket after just one game at the Coliseum.


Falcons at Saints: Weird Twitter spent the whole month goofing on Sully, all while Mark Wahlberg was making a movie about the fucking Deepwater Horizon:


This movie is gonna be amazing. Between this and Lone Survivor, Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have cornered the market on the “Real ‘Merican Guys Keepin’ Us Safe” genre. Marky Mark is gonna plug that oil spill using only his BOSTON GRIT, and then he’s gonna go home and bang Kate Hudson while all the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico suffocates to death. I FACKIN’ LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS.

Cardinals at Bills: Have you seen the new Countdown commercials? Prepare to die:


Berman must have demanded these ads as part of his forced retirement package. “Please have everyone talk like me, and please fill the frame with my awful face.” I hide behind the couch every time this ad comes on.


One Throwgasm

Browns at Dolphins: By the way, I did some extra research on chain crews—that is, I checked Wikipedia—and I never realized that each member of the crew has an official name. They’re hilarious:

A “rod man” who holds a pole (the “rear rod”) that marks the beginning of the current set of downs.

A “box man” who holds a pole with an indicator of the current down at the top (the “box”).

Another “rod man” who holds a rod (the “forward rod”) ten yards toward the defense’s goal-line from the rear rod man.


AHAHAHAHAHAHA “rod man.” I hope they fight over who gets to be rod man every week. “No, you were front rod man a week ago! It’s my turn! I’m sick of being your box man, Roy!”

Bears at Cowboys: I predicted the Bears would be a surprise wild card team before the season and it’s clear now that they’re doomed. They may not even be able to finish the season. Frankly, that’s what they deserve for making me look foolish. A MAN IN MY POSITION CAN’T AFFORD TO BE MADE TO LOOK RIDICULOUS!


Niners at Seahawks: The Seahawks’ offense is legitimately bad, and while it’s easy to blame it on Marshawn’s retirement and a shitty line, I think we all know the REAL reason for its decline, and that is that Russ is fucking now. The stats bear it out. Have a look:

RUSS PRE-FUCKING (but post-divorce!): 68.1% completion percentage, 8.3 yards-per attempt, 7.0% TD%, 5.4 yards per carry


RUSS POST-FUCKING: 62.8% completion percentage, 6.6 yards-per-attempt, 1.3% TD%, 3.3 yards-per-carry

I rest my case. The Seahawks would have been better off if they had re-signed Russell Okung and tied Russ’s dick in a knot.


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

“Coming Down Quick,” by The Shrine! From Charles:

As a fellow parent, my rocking out consists of finding songs on Spotify for the morning commute. So I have to give a shout-out to one of my favorite discoveries over the past year - The Shrine. described The Shrine as “the unholy union between Black Sabbath and Black Flag.” Yes, they are that awesome.


I’d also like to point out the gloriously cheap video up above, which include a tub full of fake blood. BLOOD TUB! Every video is better with a blood tub.

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week


This week’s take, from a small local paper, was reprinted in The Tennessean, so I think you can already guess where it’s headed. Let’s get right to some spicy hot take action from op-ed contributor Lea Hudson.

COMMENTARY: Feeding ‘the animals’ makes them dependent

Huh, I wonder why she put “the animals” in quotes. Oh god. What if she…. Oh boy…

Any park ranger will tell you: don’t feed wildlife. The reason behind this is that they become dependent and will not forage for themselves any longer.


This is true. I like this take, so long as Lea doesn’t use wildlife as a metaphor for actual human beHOLEEEEEE SHIT…

A disturbing trend is affecting American wildlife. Animals that formerly were self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic Party. They have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance.


I can’t even imagine the fusillade of emoji this lady has gotten over the past few days. Just one fire emoji after the next. I actually feel a little bad for Lea here. She clearly doesn’t know that Take Hunting is the most popular sport on the Internet. [Puts on safari hat] A seasoned hunter like me can hunt down a take like this from a range of 50 digital miles. Also, I feel bad for her because she’s horribly racist.

It’s like animals at the zoo…

Please don’t do this.

— they are totally taken care of — food, shelter, medical help, etc. As you all know, they can never be released back into their natural environment to fend for themselves and be productive in any way.



Our grandchildren don’t stand a chance!

Okay, now that I agree with Edna here (I know her name is Lea but spiritually she’ll always be an Edna to me). My grandkids are doomed, but it’ll be because the polar caps will melt and giant sea snakes will evolve and kill them all, not because Mikey got food stamps.

Will working for a living become obsolete?


Will the rest of us who have worked hard for our whole lives find our ability to hang onto what we have impossible?


Yes, because Donald Trump has already managed to put a tithe to his bank account into your paycheck.

Will we lose our basic freedoms like the Second Amendment…

Whoa hey, Edna loves guns. FANCY THAT.

So please don’t feed the animals. America deserves better. We all deserve better!


As you might have guessed, this op-ed didn’t go over well with people who can read it, which is why Tennessean editors tacked on this hilarious foreword:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary has generated a considerable amount of attention, controversy and response.


I bet it has.

While it reflects only the viewpoint of its author…

“Please god, we’re not all THIS racist. You gotta believe us.”

The Tennessean and USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee regularly publish opinions on diverse topics and from diverse perspectives.


“Today we have columns from both a Nazi AND a KKK member!”

Anyway, I don’t think Edna will be writing columns for a bit.

Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Eagles (+3.5)


Schilling 2016 record: 2-0

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

It’s gotta be Peterson, right? I usually exclude injured players from this list, but 1.6 yards a carry deserves some kind of punishment, perhaps a hard spanking.


Also, reader Shawn is mad at Antonio Brown:

Antonio Brown. Fuck Antonio Brown. I’m not asking for sympathy for obviously picking #1 overall but honestly fuck that guy. Here is an abridged list of people on my waiver wire who out performed Antonio Brown week 2: Andre Holmes, Eddie Royal. Did you start Andre Holmes or Eddie Royal over Antonio Brown this week? No you did not. And fuck Ben Roethlisberger for having like 37 different receivers this week.


Now now. You gotta have some patience, amigo. It was just one game. My man can’t give you two touchdowns and a twerk EVERY week.

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 2016 chopping block:

Jeff Fisher

John Fox

Jay Gruden

Dan Quinn

Mike McCoy

Mike Mularkey

Jim Caldwell

Rex Ryan******

Sean Payton

Jason Garrett

Chuck Pagano*

(*-potential midseason firing)

Rex is doomed and I pray that this means we finally get to see him coaching a college football team. That’s where he’s belonged for ages now. Imagine Rex at USC. National Lampoon Presents: USC Football! Sure, they’d lose six games a year, but my god THE PARTIES. Coach and his zany players would throw keggers that would last for DAYS, until a crusty ol’ dean shut the party down. Rex should be coaching a college program that is awash in drugs and boobs and benign corruption. If he just goes back to being a defensive coordinator for some shitty NFL team, I’ll be upset.


Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Hamilton sends in this story I call POOP AWAY HOME:

Right after college I had a horrid job for a few months selling security systems door to door while I looked for a real job, because that’s what I get for thinking an anthropology degree was a good life plan. One day I was at work with an especially dastardly hangover and got hit with a defcon 3 emergency poop, so my supervisor took me to a honey bucket at a nearby construction site in the neighborhood.

I skittered in there ASAP and rifled out a half gallon or so of grog bog in about 3 seconds, then decided to smoke a cigarette in there and decompress for a few before going back to work. After a minute or so, there was a commotion outside the shitter, banging around the sides and such. Great, my supervisor is fucking with me while I poop, very nice of him. There wasn’t much I could do about it, so I just ignored it in hopes that it would cease to be fun for him and he would stop.

But it didn’t stop. It went on for like 5 minutes while I continued to ignore it, after which I heard an engine fire up, followed shortly thereafter by my supervisor at a distance laughing his ass off and yelling “holy shit! hold up man, stop, someone’s in there!”

A truck had arrived to take away the honey bucket and had chained up the entire thing and was about to haul it away. My supervisor had just kicked back in the van and giggled the whole time, incorrectly assuming I’d eventually say something and they would know I was in there.

They almost took me away in a shitter!

Dude, do NOT smoke in a port-a-potty! Don’t you know those things can blow up, according to many debunked urban legends?


Gametime Snack Of The Week


Cookie brownies! I saw this at a picnic last week. You take brownie batter and then you put cookie dough right on top! GENIUS. I stood by the tray and ate roughly 50 of them right in front of all the other preschool parents. They were appropriately horrified. I regret nothing. They put cookies ON the brownies, man! I can’t believe I never encountered this until age 39.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week


The Cannabis Club! From reader Chip comes this bottle of rancid Czech hippie piss:

Buddy and I just visited Prague. After a night of drinking great Czech beers, we were stumbling back to our hostel when we stopped at a convenience store for some munchies, and came across “the cannabis club sud”. Being in just the right state of mind to try such an abomination, we bought two and popped them on the walk back. Imagine a case of Corona left in the sun for a month, mixed with a splash of bong water. Bonus: they were also offering a cannabis vodka appropriately titled “white widow”


Jesus, that looks awful. I like weed and I like beer, but please keep weed out of my fucking beer. Whether or not there’s actual hemp in Cannabis Club, the edible weed industry has vastly overestimated my need for weed foodstuffs. I don’t need it in beer, or coffee creamers, or flour. Just sell some cookie brownies and lollipops and be done with it. I WILL NOT HAVE IT.

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!


“You can find a lot of useful stuff the morning after a riot. Okay, so you got broken glass. Broken glass is good for cutting cords and rags. Then you got your rubber bullets, which are great if you need to stuff a pillow or a mattress. They’re very springy. Also, my friend Caboose Jane is working on a quilt made entirely of old Chipotle burrito wrappers. Those things repel the elements better than you might think. And tear gas canisters! My goodness, if those protestors knew what good coffee cups those things make. Virtually indestructible. They’re missing out on a LOT of good stuff when they go running away like that.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans

Hot Fuzz. Simon Pegg GETS IT, folks. He understands that the most important thing about any movie is to have an extended montage of the hero arming himself. All great movies have this montage. Any movie that does NOT have this montage is crap. Looking at you, Citizen Kane.


Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote

“The old man’s still an artist with a Thompson.”

Enjoy the games, everyone.

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Drew Magary

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