Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
I remember practice better than games. This is probably because I was never good enough to actually PLAY in games, but still. Of all the team sports in the world, it’s football that probably has the highest practice-to-game-time disparity. In baseball, you get to play a game nearly every day. In the NBA, you can do summer league games and get into pick-up games that very closely resemble the real deal if you feel like it. Full-contact football is too dangerous and too logistically annoying to let you do anything similar. It’s a game where you do an awful lot of practicing for an awfully tiny bit of actual live action.
And so practice comes to dominate your life more than the game itself. Games are a blur. They go by so quickly because they’re fun. Practice sucks, and so practice takes forever, long enough to settle into your lifelong memory and remain there. I remember it all. I remember Indian runs and gassers and hills and S-lines and air raids and BBQ drills (short for Bigger Better Quads). It was oddly refreshing to have the coaches impose on us some new or little-used sprint drill instead of straight-up wind sprints, because at least it was something new. It was novel, until two minutes in and everyone wanted to die.
I remember the sled. I remember duck walking. I remember the ropes course, which was a simple grid of yellow squares that everyone ran through. It was like running through tires, with the idea of forcing you to keep your feet high so that you, I dunno, don’t trip over stray limbs out on the field of play or something. I remember getting on my knees in the raw dirt in front of a teammate holding a limp pad and then, at the sound of the whistle, popping up into the stupid bag over and over. And then I would have to switch and hold the pad for my partner. The pads were always old and nearly worn out. The soft handles would be torn and hanging on for dear life after consecutive impacts.
I didn’t enjoy any of this. No sane teenager would. Everyone got grumpy. Practice is work. It’s the thing you do so that you can then enjoy the fruits of successful game play: the glory, the postgame partying, the women…Mostly the women. I never actually got laid thanks to football. Yet, for 10 years, I believed the sport would help me ditch my v-card. I got into football for women. When you’re that age, you get into everything for women.
And coaches like to reinforce the idea that practice is shit. After slogging through a week of practice, the coaches always said to us before games, “Now you can go have fun! NOW YOU CAN CUT LOOSE!” And virtually every playoff speech at every level of the sport involves the team captain getting up and telling you THIS IS WHAT WE SPENT ALL THAT TIME IN THE WEIGHT ROOM FOR! Those speeches always reinforce the notion that you went through all of that horrible shit just for the CHANCE to experience joy, so you better get out there and win that joy. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing.
But it’s not all for nothing, or at least it shouldn’t be. I remember practice better than the games and that’s because, somewhere deep down, I think I liked it, and I probably should have appreciated it more when I was dragging ass through it.
In my chosen profession, I have done well. I can support my family. I’ve had books published. I get to write for a magazine. I am paid to tell you why your team sucks (because it really does) here at this website. By any measure, that qualifies as a success in the word-barfing universe. It’s nice to get paid. It’s nice to have people come out for book signings. It’s nice when some dopey post goes viral. All of that is nice. All of that feels, on a very small and utterly pathetic level, victorious. Is it the same as winning a professional football game? Fuck no. I’ll never touch that kind of euphoria. Given my limitations, this is about as good as I can do.
But as nice as experiencing success can be, I’d rather just keep on typing. You will call bullshit on this, but it’s true for me now at 38 years old. I’d rather be IN the thing than coming up for air and presenting the thing to the universe like I’m walking out of the delivery ward with a fresh baby. There’s joy in the work. There’s a pleasure in the ritual and the processes of your work that only YOU can understand, and satisfies some very specific, primal need within you.
This isn’t a GRIND. Quite the opposite. When you’re in it, it doesn’t often feel like a grind at all. Do it right, and it feels like sailing. I’m not talking about some showoff bullshit where you pull all-nighters just so you can come off like a gritty asshole. Whether it lasts five minutes or eight hours, there is something in falling headlong into your work and never wanting to come out. (It also allows me to avoid household busywork, which is a zillion times worse). It’s true of people from every discipline: sports, law, carpentry, dining, medicine, science, you name it. I’ll let Stephen Colbert, who is better at what he does than most people are at anything, explain:
What you just saw me do—the number of things you saw me talk to people about, the number of different things—you saw like four different tags on a single idea.… That’s it. That’s what liking process gets you to, the ability to process a great deal of information. And everybody in this building can do it. Everybody was jumping in. Everybody had ideas. Everybody was saying, ‘What is an unasked added value that I can give the show?’ And that is true joy. That’s the joy machine.
And that’s how you end up with some successful football people walking around after a victory as if nothing all that great has happened. Nick Saban, who is pure fucking evil, has publicly said he is happiest when working his notorious “Process,” and not necessarily when Alabama is hoarding national titles. Bill Belichick has his fabled DO YOUR JOB slogan as his only motivational gimmick because he wants players to care only about the work they’re doing (which apparently entails stealing play sheets out of a nearby dumpster). The end product of that work—that would be winning—isn’t always within your control. In fact, it’s kind of beside the point. Winning is good, but it’s not as good as discovering the path that leads you there. This is why the end of every videogame is always kind of a letdown. Oh. I won. Oh.
In a way, it’s a shame that Saban and Belichick are the two most fitting representatives that this sport has when it comes to the joy of work, because they’re such horribly grim men. The football culture has distorted the idea of work into a lunchpail arms race between people: first one in, last one out, etc. The ethos is that success can only come from punishing yourself, and that the punishment serves no other purpose than to experience victory on the back end. No wonder Roger Goodell has such a hardon for dealing out punishment: He is a firm believer in the American idea of sacrifice. The more you tighten that cilice around your thigh, the more success you deserve. And while training to win football games is physically taxing (often to the point of nausea), it’s telling that work is somehow ALWAYS equated with pain, with blood sacrifice. What doesn’t kill you, etc. It’s carved into the American Dream at this point.
But shit man, you’re wasting a LOT of your life if that’s how you approach everything. If you run marathons, you should probably like running as much as finishing. Success is defined in the American mainstream through things like money and cars and big houses and other material end products. But there’s that other kind of success…that deep satisfaction of working with a puzzle and WANTING to solve it and burrowing down into your mind to figure out a way in which all of them will fit. You have to find the work you like to make it happen (and ideally, have someone pay you for the privilege). But when it happens, it takes you.
Your team probably isn’t going to win the Super Bowl this season. I know mine won’t. You and I…we’re gonna put in some work. We’re gonna see some shitty coaching. We’re gonna wait in the stadium parking lot for way too long. We’re gonna scream at friends and family when they’re like, “Well, they gave it their best shot” about our teams losing when they know NOTHING. We’re gonna finish that last beer even though our bellies are screaming PLEASE GOD NO. We’re gonna get to Week 4 and be like, “Why the fuck did I think this asshole team ever had a shot to win anything?” We’ll do all that, and there won’t be a reward for it. There will only be the reward OF it.
*****MASSIVE BONG HIT*****
Because it’s time. Oh yes, yes it is fucking time to get down to our sordid, nasty little business. This is the 2015 NFL season, and this is your Dick Joke Jamboroo. HIT THE MUSIC:
YEEEEAAAAARGGHHHHHH FUCKING GODDAMN RIGHT. Let us begin.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Steelers at Patriots: The collective public breakdownkakke that Pats fans displayed on Tuesday in the wake of that ESPN report was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They went to plaid, man. I mean, guys like Simmons were throwing out seven different defense mechanisms simultaneously. I tallied them all!
1. “THIS IS NAWT NEWS!”
2. “Other teams cheat!”
3. “FACK YOU THE REST OF YOU AHHHH BUTTHURT!”
4. “Explain how they won the Super Bowl then! HUH?!”
5. “RAY RICE PUNCHED A WOMAN PPL FORGET THAT”
6. “ESPN is in bed with the NFL!”
7. “Anonymous sources are liars and pussies! SHOW US THE HAHHHHD EVIDENCE!”
By the end of this season you’ll find these people on every street corner passing out DVD copies of Loose Change. They’ve been broken. It’s awesome.
By the way, and I hate to sound like Gregg Doyel here, but stealing play sheets is really bad! I could give half a shit if you take air of the ball, but dressing a motherfucker up in a Kraft Productions costume and sending him to steal the first 20 plays really does sound like an uncommon level of shitbaggery. You’ll notice that Roger Goodell hasn’t said fuck all about THAT. Under normal circumstances, he’d commission a 9,000-page dossier on it. But no, now that he’s turned Ballghazi into a complete mess, he’ll just glide right over it. I am endlessly amused that Pats fans were all over every detail of the Rice scandal, but show them the ESPN report and they’re like THERE’S NOTHING HERE WE DON’T ALREADY FACKIN’ KNOW!
Packers at Bears: Whoa hey, it’s teams OTHER than the Patriots! Fantastic. Glad they exist.
Giants at Cowboys: SHOW US THE FUCKING STUMP. All this brinksmanship between the Giants and JPP and all people like me want is to see if the dude is missing any fingers or not. It’s killing me. Sign him to a franchise tender so I can get that money shot of his hand on Sunday night. I bet he’s got some quality stumpage.
Ravens at Broncos: Did I really just see Budweiser use the phrase BEECHWOOD STRONG in a fucking ad? I wanna meet the guy sitting in front of his TV who pumps his fist and tears up a little at seeing BEECHWOOD STRONG come across his TV. They can take our lives, but by God they’ll never take our beechwood-aged rice piss.
Eagles at Falcons: I am of the firm belief that Sam Bradford will throw 20 touchdown passes in his first four games this season, driving fantasy owners into an orgasmic froth before snapping his femur in half and the Eagles end up staggering to a near-.500 finish. And then it’ll happen all over again in 2016. That’s my bold take on the future of the Eagles. You don’t want to be anywhere near Port Richmond when they win this game 45-0. Guys will print their own Super Bowl champion shirts in advance.
Titans at Bucs: I love rookie QB seasons, man. It’s the only time when losing is kinda sorta tolerable because you’re so preoccupied with evaluating the rookie and reading WAY too much into every throw he makes. He’ll throw a TD pass and I’ll be like OH MY GOD OUR FUTURE IS SO BRIGHT. And then he’ll throw a pick and I’ll be like GOD HE FUCKING SUCKS WHAT A BUST. I love armchair scouting these poor bastards. It makes me feel like a professional analyst. “You see, Marcus really needs to get his eyes up.”
Chiefs at Texans: Viagra Boner Lady is back this season, and they tossed a jersey on her. Those ads always feature women who have jussssst enough wrinkles to pass for early middle-aged. But they never dare trot out a full-on granny to splay across a divan and be like I’M READY TO BONE, SONNY BOY. I feel like they’re missing out on the GILF fetish demo.
Colts at Bills: God, the AFC is so bad. I feel like Green Bay, Seattle, and/or Dallas are way better than any of these shit teams. Andrew Luck is gonna win 10 straight division titles (prep the banners!) basically by default.
Seahawks at Rams: I feel like now is the best time to own Todd Gurley, when he’s not fully healthy and you’ve got him stashed on your roster and you have constant wet dreams about him coming out next week and UNLEASHING THE FULL GURLEY on the rest of your league. That’s a real moment to savor before he hurts himself in pregame warm-ups and everything goes to shit. Roster-stashing is always fun in theory and never in practice.
Lions at Chargers: If you’re new to this column, I don’t yammer on about every game here, because there are a lot of them, and some teams bore me. Like these two.
Saints at Cardinals: Or these two. That crocodile was planted for Drew Brees. I bet they ran a sword through it five times before filming just to prep it for his attack.
Vikings at Niners: This game starts at 10:20 at night, all because Chris Berman needs one vanity play-by-play ball per year. THAT FUCKING FAT FUCK. And it’s a Niners game, which will make it doubly insufferable. Half the broadcast will probably consist of old sepia-toned candids of Berman and Eddie DeBartolo feeding each other lobster claws at the Pebble Beach clubhouse grill. What a complete asshole.
I’m old, man. I need my beauty rest. I don’t wanna start this season actively hoping I don’t need to watch the second half of my favorite team’s game because I’ll be so goddamn tired the next day. And I don’t wanna be reminded that I’m such a lame person that I actively fear staying up past midnight on a weeknight. It’s not right. I hope Berman chokes to death on a corndog at halftime.
Dolphins at Skins: I’ve decided that my second-favorite NFL team is watching the Skins fuck up. As long as they go 3-13 every year and the GM’s wife accuses reporters of boning her husband, they will have my undying reverse loyalty. I’ll read everything I can about their stupidity.
Panthers at Jaguars: There are so many potential fantasy running backs to keep tabs on this season long and I already know that I will guess wrong when it comes to potential breakout candidates like T.J. Yeldon, Terrance West, Tevin Coleman, and Christine Michael. I scooped West up off the waiver wire and felt like a fucking GENIUS. But watch now as Coleman racks up 2,300 all-purpose yards and wins the league for your neighbor’s 11-year old. This fucking game.
Bengals at Raiders: Regardless of their record, the Bengals can make ANY game feel like a matchup between losing teams. It’s quite a skill.
Browns at Jets: Listen, you and I both know this game is gonna be fucking terrible, and YET. And yet… I’m kind of dying to watch them spend three hours desperately trying to gift-wrap a victory to each other. It’s like the passive aggressive fight over the rest of the birthday cake. “NO, YOU TAKE IT!” “OH NO, I CAN’T POSSIBLY.”
I do this every year because I, if I ever get it right, I will TOTALLY brag about it. And even though these are bound to be wrong and I usually present them to you with the stated caveat that I know jack shit, that’s all a front. I have TOTALLY talked myself into these, just as you will talk yourself into vehemently disputing them. I believe in them. They are holy writ. BEHOLD:
Green Bay 11-5
Minnesota 10-6* (GROTESQUE HOMER ALERT)
NY Giants 9-7
Tampa Bay 7-9
New Orleans 7-9
St. Louis 10-6*
San Francisco 3-13
Packers over Rams
Vikings over Falcons
Packers over Seahawks
Cowboys over Vikings
Cowboys over Packers
New England 11-5
NY Jets 5-11
Kansas City 12-4
San Diego 9-7*
Ravens over Chargers
Pats over Dolphins
Colts over Ravens
Patriots over Chiefs
Patriots over Colts
Cowboys over Patriots
Yes, I picked Dallas to win it all. I need to go bathe in tomato juice.
“The War,” by Bob Mould. Bob Mould’s father died, so he wrote this. Not a ballad. Not some dinky acoustic garbage. He wrote the loudest shit he possibly could. God bless Bob Mould. If you have a song you want to submit for the Jamboroo, send it on in. If you submit “Uma Thurman” by Fall Out Boy, I will find you and cut you.
Suicide pools are shitty and dumb and you shouldn’t enter one because it’s a mathematically unsound fool’s errand. You’re much better off betting on games outright like a lowlife. But few people are able to resist a hastily assembled office pool, so it’s 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 Miami, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and mobile sites reloading without warning. You listen to me, ESPN.com: I know you really want to go back and load that flash ad for Harrah’s, but I’m trying to fucking read here. It took a lot of hard work scrolling down to hear about how Peyton is trying to connect with his younger teammates. Don’t undo all that sweat equity I put into it.
You may have missed it, but ESPN formally cut ties with Gregg Easterbrook this spring, which now allows Gregggggggg to spend all season drinking deep of good books, breaking down plot holes from Suits, and attending worship services of any faith, which he owes to his fellow man. Just yesterday, Easterbrook announced that there was a “major” TMQ announcement coming (how major could it be?), but it has yet to resurface anywhere online. And frankly, it would be a Mack North move to KEEP shitting all over poor Gregg after he became a cap casualty. That means this space is now reserved for the absolute worst sportswriting of the week, regardless of source. So if you see something written by some GLORY BOY floating out there in the ether that requires a proper fisking, send it along.
We start off with former Deadspin employee and man-who-looks-like-he-just-ate-another-man’s-head-in-one-bite Rohan Nadkarni, who graduated from Northwestern and wrote this pile of shit in his school newspaper:
Of course, anyone who ever lived in these Daily streets would tell you it’s way more about what happens in the paper. It’s about the nightly trips to Starbucks, or the men’s eating club Diebold and I formed for a brief stretch of Winter Quarter 2013.
I swear, the only thing they teach you at college is how to write like other dipshit college kids. They should just create a major for WISTFULNESS and be done with it. Rohan works at SI now. He owes it to us to collect and measure all of Peter King’s discarded fatback.
“This week, I like the Chicano Bears (+7) as underdongs at home versus Old Bay Packers! I have to say something about this sorbet DeBargeGate scandal. Now I’m all for a little gaymanship between teams. Why, one time, Michael Irvin put HiThereCloris acid in the Giants’ shoes! ANYTHING TO GET A LEDGE. But DeBarging a football? I can’t condom that. I’m sorry. If we condom DebargeGate, what else will we condom? Spying? Hanking? RACKETHEARING?! We must draw a line in the Stan!”
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 9-14
I’m gonna get rid of this section of the Jamboroo this year because I think the rest of the Internet already has the business of NOPE well-covered. Suffice it to say, there are many terrifying creatures out there that look scary as shit and will kill us all. Like the mystery sea creature that ate this woman’s foot:
These photographs the horrific aftermath of an attack on a pregnant woman by a mystery sea creature which tore a chunk of flesh out of her foot. Jane Neame, from Australia, was swimming in waist-deep water at Karon beach in Phuket, Thailand, when something bit her foot, causing two deep lacerations. After screaming for help, lifeguards and her partner Robert Passmore rushed into the water to pull the expectant mother onto the beach.
Of course an Australian was involved. Australia has to get in on the killing action in some shape or form.
Fantasy season has yet to begin, but I’m here to tell you that you will not like LeSean McCoy, who is already hurt and on the downside of his career and now playing in the 2014 Jets offense. By Week 10, he’ll be averaging two yards a carry and you won’t even be able to watch because it’ll be like watching him try to squeeze blood from a stone. I am glad I did not draft this man.
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 2015 chopping block:
(*potential midseason firing)
Lovie and Whis get a break from this list because they both got gifted rookie quarterbacks. But with a little luck, they’ll fail MISERABLY and we’ll have yet another bumper crop of firings this season. Really looking forward to that Gruden firing. Did you know Washington gave him a five-year contract? God, they’re amazing. They bring me so much joy. Any time they hire a new coach, they’re still paying off six old ones.
Reader Kevin sends in this story I call UNFLUSHABLE:
I was at an Olive Garden one night because, for some strange reason, ladies love OG. My fiancee and I were doing some wedding planning with her friend when I went up to use the bathroom. I entered the bathroom to see the urinals were already in use, so I diverted to the last open stall. I went in, closed the door and locked it, and turned around to see the largest single piece of poop I’ver ever seen, by volume. The way I later described it to the table was, “If it were a penis, it would be a big one.” It was about 8” long and maybe 6-7” around. I don’t know how it got out of someone’s butthole.
I marveled at it for a second, then finished peeing. I flushed the toilet only to see this poop get caught length-wise in the whirlpool of the flush. It didn’t break. It maintained structural integrity. Impressed, I flushed it again. Still, the poop did not break. At this point, I’m audibly laughing and flushed a third time. Still nothing. Finally, on the fourth flush, it broke in half and was flushed away. I have no idea what that guy ate to create such a structurally sound poop. I don’t think it was the Olive Garden - he likely wouldn’t have had time to digest it. Probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen.
Pea snacks! Listen, man: These things are garbage. They’re basically Cheetos shaped like peapods and designed to taste like peas, which is never anything you should want from a snack. But the fun part is how boutique snack brands treat these things like they’re good for you, like you aren’t eating a piece of pre-fried corn meal. Between this and veggie sticks, I can convince myself that I’m eating healthy while continuing to poison my body.
WILD CAT ICE! RAWRRRRRRR! Reader Ryan sends in this terrible brew from LaCrosse, WI:
I came across this gem while on a fishing trip in International Falls, MN. It cost $2.99 for a 6-pack at a liquor store known for price gouging. I saw it and knew it had to be mine. The can features a black and silver tiger stripe background, a pouncing tiger, and the command to “Unleash the Cat”. I unleashed it. I unleashed it real good. As I liberated this awesome can’s contents into a glass I was treated to a brownish-yellowy brew with a nearly nonexistent thin wisp of a head. The color reminds me of toilet water after a golfing-in-hot-weather-all-day dehydrated piss.
The nose follows that same profile. On the tongue you are treated to a noticeable absence of hops (or malt for that matter). The only thing that isn’t missing from this watery malt beverage is the aluminum metallic aftertaste. I do not think the can is food grade aluminum, if that’s even a thing. I have no idea what the alcohol content is. I couldn’t stand to drink enough of these in a row to actually get drunk... and drinking crappy beer to get drunk is one discipline in life that I’m usually quite adept at.
Yeah man, that looks like legitimately awful beer, like one rung below Beast in terms of quality. I also like the idea that drinking a case of this will transform you into a deranged man-panther. I bet that’s what really DOES happen. I… MUST… HAVE IT.
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 Tony Romo of the Cowboys! What a lovely offseason at Woodland. Relaxing? YOU BET! Hedonistic? Why, Nicholson poured a whole bottle of rum into the vacuum! And then fucked the vacuum! THE CAD.
“By the way, cheating isn’t just for football, baby! THERE’S CHEATING IN THE PICTURES TOO! 1980. Burbank. A Price Waterhouse armored car is parked on the boulevard, and a little birdie had told me that baby was loaded with freshly filled-out Oscar ballots. Well, Warren Beatty and I had a little tango with Lady ‘Ludes just before mustering up the courage to put on ski masks, raid the truck, kill the driver, and switch EVERY last ballot to a vote for Reds. Daring? You bet! Ethical? NOT IF YOU GET AWAY WITH IT.
“So the driver is sitting there, bleeding out from an exit wound, and Beatty says to me ‘EVANS! EVANS, THESE BALLOTS AREN’T OSCAR BALLOTS!’ And he was right! They were ballots for the Beverly Club board chairman! Well, we wrote ol’ Warren in by hand. He gained control of the club, and we impregnated every last tennis instructor. We also made it legal for Nicholson to poop in the club driveway. ALL’S FAIR IN HOLLYWOOD, KIDDOS!”
Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m just gonna put this here every week, frankly. Other movies are pointless now. I took two friends to this movie in the summer and they were visibly disturbed by how much noise I was making during the screening. I was yelping and saying HOLY SHIT any time one spiky car rammed another spiky car. It was really embarrassing. I shouldn’t be allowed to watch this movie in polite company because I just wanna trash the fucking joint while it’s on.
“Ohhhhh, that’s very disturbing.”
Enjoy the games, everyone. The NFL is back.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at email@example.com. You can also buy Drew’s book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.