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The Worst Motivational Coaching Gimmicks In History

Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.

In case you missed it earlier this week, new Raiders interim coach (and soon-to-be-former Raiders employee) Tony Sparano ceremonially buried a football in front of his team to give them a fresh start, or something. The footage is super fucking awkward, especially since Sparano narrates the burial as he's conducting it, as if he's doing a radio simulcast. I copied the beginning of the speech here verbatim…

"What this ball represents and what this hole represents are the first four games of the season. The first quarter of our season … This ball, to me, goes in this hole! Okay? Four game's worth! [drops the ball] All right? Goes in the hole. And now I'm gonna put the first piece of dirt on it. Okay? Anybody else that wants to put any dirt on it, you help yourself. And if you don't feel like you need to do anything like that, okay, I'm fine with that." [everyone comes and helps shovel so it's not awkward]


Jesus, that is weak. He even gave players the choice of not burying it. "Let's go kick some ass! Or, if that's not really your thing right now, let's not." Needless to say, this will not prevent the Raiders from getting crushed by the Chargers this weekend. There is no future in which the Raiders make the playoffs and Darren McFadden is sitting at a press conference going, "That hole turned everything around for us." Sparano's ball-burying will go right into the historical dustbin of amusing motivational coaching gimmicks, such as:

  • Jack Del Rio putting an axe and a stump in the middle of the locker room, which resulted in Jaguars punter Chris Hanson burying that axe in his own leg.
  • Marty Mornhinweg riding off early from Lions practice in a motorcycle
  • Herm Edwards' "We can build on this!" speech
  • Jackie Sherrill castrating a bull in front of his own players when he was at Mississippi State (Sherrill later apologized)
  • A Tennessee high school coach vandalizing his own school with spray-painted insults directed at his own players (which he hoped they would assume were put there by a rival school). He was arrested.
  • Bob Knight "brandishing soiled toilet paper" at his own players. I'm not even sure of the intent there, frankly. "Play better or I will touch you with this."
  • Another high school coach pretending to shoot himself in front of his team. He resigned.
  • Mike Singletary pulling his pants down at halftime in the 49ers locker room. "I used my pants to illustrate that we were getting our tails whipped on Sunday and how humiliating that should feel for all of us." They went on to lose that game. Pants, in general, should only be used for wearing.
  • Dennis Franchione staging a terrorist raid of his own locker room, followed by a SWAT team coming in and liberating the locker room from the pretend terrorists. Here is part of a description of that incident: "[T]wo of the Rangers burst into the room portraying terrorists bearing (wooden fake) weapons. They 'captured' Scott in front of the group and tied him up and blindfolded him, while the others held the players hostage." (God, I wish there was video of that. That's amazing.)

Anyway, the main thing all of these gimmicks have in common is that they failed. With the exception of Phil Jackson's entire career, shit like this always fails. If you need a gimmick to motivate your players, you've probably already lost them. But that will never stop terrible coaches from trying. These gimmicks are almost an expected part of the job. When I was a kid and I daydreamed about being a coach, I imagined putting on "Flight of the Valkyries" and having my players storm out onto the field to win 206-0 ("It's a new scoring record!"). Anyone who has watched Norman Dale measure the baskets in Hoosiers has been like, "Damn, that really worked!"

And that's a grand lie. No premeditated stunt performance will ever help a coach if that coach doesn't know what the fuck he's doing out there. The best coaches understand that, and the worst coaches keep conducting phony SWAT raids. If there's ever a news item about your coach doing something like this, panic.


The Games

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


Five Throwgasms

Cowboys at Seahawks: One of the worst things about the recent NFL scandals is that it has triggered an avalanche of horrible football thinkpieces. It’s bad enough that we have Greggggggg Easterbrook writing about football regularly, but the Ray Rice thing has led to HUNDREDS of Easterbrooks taking time out from debating immigration policy to throw down their own football screed, which usually boils down to “Football is good” or “Football is bad” or “Football is bad, but also good”. I need everything to calm back down so that these people can go back to writing about uninteresting crap that I’ll never attempt to read. I mean, look at this…

Football has fallen victim to the paradoxical dynamic by which liberal culture’s awareness and sensitivity have succeeded in reducing violence but in so doing made the problem of violence seem even more anachronistic.


Who’s reading that? No one’s reading that. That is an invitation for you to NOT read. They may as well have put a banner ad across the page that says YOU SURE YOU WANNA READ THIS SHIT?


Four Throwgasms

Giants at Eagles: Have you seen that Domino’s ad with the dude who folds boxes really fast? That’s the saddest man in America, right? He’s gotta be folding 300 boxes a minute and thinking, “Fuck, what have I done with my life?” We should all chip in and buy that guy a mansion on a lake. I want him to live the rest of his life box-free. I wonder if he sees boxes in his dreams. I bet they come alive and try to eat him.


Colts at Texans: Speaking of dreams, I had a nightmare the other night. Ever have a nightmare where you know, in the nightmare, that you are IN the nightmare? And you think to yourself, “If I just wake my ass up, I’ll be out of this terrible nightmare,” and then you try to scream to wake yourself up but your jaw is wired shut? And then you get stabbed? HATE those nightmares, man.


Three Throwgasms

Steelers at Browns: They have to get rid of the pink towels that players are using on the field, because every time one of those towels falls to the ground, I keep thinking it’s one of those pink penalty flags, the ones that the league stopped using after Week 5 of last season because they confused everyone. And a towel comes loose on EVERY PLAY. I know that’s how often Jeff Triplette calls holding, but still. It’s extremely confusing for the lackadaisical home viewer.


Also, the NFL’s crucial catch campaign encourages women to get an annual mammogram, which may not be a great idea if you a) are very young and b) your insurance won’t pay for it. I wouldn’t be shocked if it turned out that this whole campaign was a conspiracy between the NFL and Big MRI to get low-risk women to pony up. I trust NONE of the NFL’s good intentions.

Pats at Bills: The man responsible for forcing Glee on the world is doing an O.J. Simpson crime anthology series for FOX. I really don’t want those two entities colliding. What if they make it a musical? I can easily see Ryan Murphy turning “You Must Acquit” into a horrible mashup number featuring a Cher tribute interlude. Someone needs to kill this before it can live.


Packers at Dolphins: Here is the Brett Favre Micro Touch ad, which is amusing for many reasons…

First of all, Favre is on a tractor ,because of course he is. Also, they clearly filmed him wearing a logo-less Packer uniform and then put a gauzy filter on it so that you would be tricked into thinking that was actual NFL footage. Thirdly, Favre says he was “always perfectly groomed” whenever he played football, which isn’t true at all. Who needs to be perfectly groomed to play a fucking football game?


Anyway, I have actually owned a Micro Touch. My wife bought me one for my birthday a while back because I get ear hairs that would terrify you, plus I am getting old Hollywood director eyebrows, which also scare people off. Anyway, this piece of shit died after, like three nose trimmings. I give it one star on Yelp. WOULD NOT BUY AGAIN. Don’t ever listen to Brett Favre.

Ravens at Bucs: I watched some baseball last week and I’m convinced that baseball umps mix up their calls just for the sake of keeping things fresh. They’re like, “Well now, I can’t call 10 strikes in a ROW. Let’s call this one a ball.” Meanwhile, the pitch is flying through the atomic center of the strike zone.


I also watched a Nats game, and all the VIP seats behind home plate had a Lexus logo stitched into them, which was fucking enraging. “Here are the LEXUS patrons. Don’t you wish you were sitting among them?” Half the time, those luxury seats are empty because Luke Russert had to go up to the luxury box for a blowjob. Every baseball game now is just a four-hour reminder that you are poor.

Panthers at Bengals

Bears at Falcons


Two Throwgasms

Niners at Rams: The Cardinals made the NLCS, which prompted FOX Sports sideline bowtie and grown-man-who-still-probably-uses-the-word-weenie Ken Rosenthal to “write” this piece about how the Cardinals won on pure HEART and the evil Dodgers lost because CAPITALISM. And yes, he refers to the Dodgers as the Dollars.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and there is such a thing as Clutch.

But there ISN’T a Santa Claus. That phrase comes from an old, whimsical editorial that was addressed to a child, which is what all Cards fans are in terms of brain capacity. There's a perfectly good column to be had in sorting out why certain teams' methods are consistently effective in the postseason. You could talk about coaching continuity or short-series strategic planning, instead of just saying DURRRR THEY NEVER GIVE UP DURRRR and pretending that’s some kind of awesome explanation.


Lions at Vikings: Why is Christian Ponder still on the roster? CHRISTIAN PONDER IS SHIT. Christian Ponder is a shit virus. He gets shit in your bloodstream. Is David Garrard still alive? I’ll take him as the backup. Wheel his ass in here so that I can wash myself of Ponder forever and ever.

Dan Snyder Painted Your Sister Red And Called Her Sacagawea at Cardinals: Even though Bill Simmons is under suspension from ESPN, they’ve still got his face over on the homepage for all the Grantland stuff. They should put a big black X over his face until next Wednesday, just to make him 30% more huffy.


One Throwgasm

Chargers at Raiders: I like the Dodge Dart ads. Better than this game, in fact. All Raiders games should be replaced with three hours of Craig Robinson ad libbing.


Broncos at Jets: Here’s reader Eric writing in…

So... Have the NFL scandals all blown over at this point?

Pretty much! Give it three more weeks and my mind will be completely erased. Rice? Who is Rice? I just want to know if ebola has reached my town yet! IT’S THE EBOLA WORLD TOUR. Coming to Portland Date TBD!!!


Jaguars at Titans: Fart.

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

“Fifty-Seven” by Karma to Burn, a band that is always welcome around here. From Matthew:

Listen to that drum riff. That shit doesn't fuck around. It is a manifesto. It's the prelude to an orgy of violence. I played that in my car this morning and it got me amped up for rush hour.


You will drive THROUGH the car in front of you if you listen to this at rush hour. Take heed.

Suicide Pick Of The Week

Last week’s picks of the Philly, San Diego, and Detroit went 2-1, making me 9-6 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 Tennessee, Denver, Arizona, and this Buzzfeed chat with Lena Dunham…


“Writing to another writer.” Christ. Please don’t write to writers. They are the fucking worst. Did the editor ADD words to this conversation? How are these people real? Is it really THAT hard to explain your friendship with Lena Dunham to people? I want to carve this exchange on a monument and then attach chains to that monument and tear it down.


Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit


Every year, the last unbeaten team loses and Greggggggg stands alone as the one person who praises the ’72 Dolphins for doing that whole champagne thing. He even openly pastes his tribute in from autotext every year, because he’s the sort of person who enjoys openly repeating himself for you, the peasantry. Also, Greggggggg is completely ignoring the fact that the Dolphins champagne ceremony is fake. You would think a guy who spends 500,000 words every week debunking Franklin & Bash would look that up. Anyway, that’s not the worst thing Gregggg did this week. Far from it!

Manuel, just shown the bench, is an example of the First-Round Curse for quarterbacks. Had Manuel been selected on the draft's second or third day, right now he'd be considered promising.


That’s completely fucking insane.

Because he went in Round 1, he's viewed as close to a bust. JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Josh Freeman and Matt Leinart are but a few of many quarterbacks who might have had solid NFL careers if they hadn't been chosen high. When a quarterback is selected in the top portion of the first round, he's either an instant hero or instant goat. Drew Brees struggled in his first two seasons, but because he was not a first-round selection and thus not expected to become an instant hero, got time to develop.


So true. If you’re drafted in the first round, you are CURSED. You are clearly a GLORY BOY who is destined to fail, unless you are Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Big Ben, PEYTON FUCKING MANNING, Steve McNair, Drew Bledsoe, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Jim McMahon, Phil Simms, Doug Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese, Len Dawson … anyone I forgot? WHAT IN THE LIVING FUCK. You know what? Let’s just abolish the first round of the draft. We can take all the first round prospects, humanely shoot them, and begin the draft at #33. Then Gregggg can be happy. First-Round Curse. What a fucking idiot.

Emmitt Smith's Lock Of The Week!


"This week, I like the Giants (+2.5) to beat the Eagles in Film Adelphia! I like this Giants rooster! I like Elon Mangggg at quarterback! I like the wideouts! I like Victor Croons! I like Rootin’ Randle! I like Ordeal Beckman! And I think the defense is cumming into its bone! You got Prince AmukamakaKookaburra! You got Jason Ping Pong! You got Antler Roll! You got Domino Ranchers-Cromagnon! And Jar Beatin’! That’s a good rooster!”

2014 Emmitt Smith record: 3-3

This Week In Terrifying Animal News

Some poor fucker in England got a three-inch insect pulled out of his ear recently, which I think is the number one fear among all living humans. Every night, I go to bed, and I pray that no bug will lay eggs that hatch and grow inside of me. The bugs could be inside me right now … scratching … clawing … chewing …



By the way, the worst insect stories seem to happen in England. I didn’t even know England had insects. No insect is feeding on discarded English food. They’d all scurry to the south.


Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death

Jordan Cameron. I traded to acquire this man. He is useless. It’s not fair. BE BETTER, JORDAN CAMERON. What you are doing to me isn’t appropriate at all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (though not via autotext): tight ends should be banned from fantasy football. I have never the good ones, ever. Even when I draft the good ones, they end up getting hurt (like if you drafted Jimmy Graham this year). It’s awful. Every year, there are three awesome tight ends and the rest are garbage. The entire position should be nuked into orbit. I hate tight ends. I am the anti-Greggggggg.


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 2014 chopping block:

Rex Ryan*

Jeff Fisher

Marvin Lewis

Ron Rivera

Jim Caldwell

Lovie Smith

Dennis Allen-FIRED!!

Joe Philbin

Roger Goodell

Gus Bradley

(*potential midseason firing)

I can’t believe Jason Garrett may coach his way out of not being fired this year. I feel cheated. Also, Jim Caldwell will probably sit Megatron this week. You know when it would have been a better time to sit him? TWO FUCKING WEEKS AGO. Jesus.


Great Moments In Peeing History

Reader Adam sends in this story I call WINTER PEEPEELAND:

When I was in the seventh or eighth grade (I can't be too sure because this whole episode was mildly traumatic), on the day of the first snowfall, the guys at school had a snowball fight at lunch. Like an idiot, I hadn't brought any gloves that day and within minutes had successfully frozen my hands to the point of not feeling them anymore. I decided to take a timeout and go warm my hands in the school.

I held my frostbitten hands over a radiator in the school entrance for a while before realizing that I didn't feel well. I didn't know what was wrong, but something definitely was. Getting to the bathroom seemed like the best idea.

Upon entering the bathroom, I still felt weird and thought maybe I had to piss. I got to a urinal, unzipped my fly and took out my dick. Nothing was happening. Maybe I didn't have to piss. And I started to feel worse. I remember leaning my forehead against the wall... and the next thing I remember seeing was the ceiling.

It occurred to me then that I was lying on the floor. Disoriented, I just sort of lay there trying to figure out what had happened and suddenly detected a weird breeze around my crotch. Without getting up, I moved a hand over the area to check it out and came into contact with my bare dick.

Disorientation turned to panic. My dick was out. I had effin' fainted in the school bathroom with my dick out. Once I got it tucked in, I saw the wet streak down my pant leg; obviously caused by my unconscious self deciding that I did have to piss after all and not being able to finish the job standing up.

I spent the rest of the lunch break holding my pants under the hand dryer. Another kid eventually walked in, saw me in my boxers, asked what happened, and seemed to accept the response: "Got a soaker in a snowball fight; just drying off my pants."

However, to this day, I'm not sure how much time I had spent lying there unconscious (who wears a watch at that age?), or worse, how many other kids may have come into the bathroom, been surprised by the scene and quickly hauled ass out of there, not wanting to help an unconscious dude with an exposed dick. No one ever mentioned it, so maybe no one saw it. Or maybe it's just one of those things that no one wants to talk about.


Hey, at least it was ONLY piss. The kind of story usually ends in a puddle of brown soup.

Gametime Snack Of The Week


Fancy chocolate bars! People, you are helpless to prevent BIG EXPENSIVE CHOCOLATE BAR from taking over entire grocery stores. Your local Whole Foods is now just 57 aisles of Fair Trade 80 cacao bars with just a touch of ancho chile pepper. Each of these bars costs $6. Who is buying all this chocolate? I don’t see dudes walking around on the street chomping on gigantic Lindt bars.

By the way, my wife bought one of these bars (just one, not a hogshead of them) and when I broke off a piece, little shavings went everywhere, all over the counter. Given what the bar cost, I licked those shavings directly off the counter. I have no shame.


Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week


Mystery 35-pack! From Michael:

This was spotted in San Diego. Like a mystery flavored candy, instant purchase. If you're curious it contained mostly natty ice tall boys, two cans of bud and a lone Coors Banquet.


Perfect way to stock up the fridge.

All for 10 bucks? I MUST HAVE IT. You know what? I wouldn’t even open the box. I would take it home, put it in my attic, and leave it there, to preserve the MAGIC. I would totally J.J. Abrams that case of beer.


Robert Evans's MVP Watch!


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 still Philip Rivers of the Chargers! Now, my dear friend, the remarkable ROBERT DUVALL, has a new movie coming out this week! A lion? YOU BET! Limits himself to five words per day? SIX IF YOU’RE LUCKY. Now, everyone knows that Duvall loves stallions and Argentinean women, and not always in that order! Well, one day I went down to his ranch outside Buenos Aires to pitch him on a Tom Hagen spinoff movie called CONSIGLIERE. And the property was gorgeous: perfectly manicured vineyards, country stables, barrels of freshly roasted coffee beans, slaves imported from the Bolivian mountains … THE WOODLAND OF THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE! Well, I sit down on the veranda and this flawless Latina brunette comes sashaying by in a barely-there blue sundress. Turns out it was Duvall’s wife! He had five decades on her easily. NEVER STOP CASTING. You could have hung Liberace’s wardrobe on me when I first saw her. Well Duvall points at her, then he points at a horse, and he says … EL CABALLO. Took him five minutes to say those two words. His wife then took that sundress off (nothing underneath!), mounted the horse, and rode it in circles until she had a full orgasm in front of us. Then another horse came over and licked her clean! And Duvall just pours me a Malbec, winks, and doesn’t say anything for the rest of the day. We never made the movie.”


Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Raiders Fans

Godzilla. I really liked this movie. I regret nothing. I like any monster movie that has one giant monster grabbing another giant monster by the head and ripping that monster’s jaw open. That’s a quality move. By the way, Bryan Cranston is also in this movie, and he’s louder than any of the monsters on the screen.


Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Founded by prostitutes in 1849, and serviced by prostitute express riders who could bring in a fresh prostitute from Saint Joe in three days; Bloodbath Gulch quickly became known as a place where a trail hand could spend a month's pay in three minutes.”


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 You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.

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