Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
I have been an NFL fan for most of my life, which means that I will go to great lengths to defend and/or justify the sport of football to people who don’t like it. I will defend football to baseball people, because baseball people are dipshits who think every baseball game is a time portal back to age 12. I will defend football to hockey people, because hockey season is interminable and every team is pretty much interchangeable. And I will defend football to NBA people (aka, the rest of the Deadspin staff), who expect you to flip out over some stupid Anthony Davis dunk in NOVEMBER, when the rest of the world openly gives zero fucks about basketball. If you try to MEH football to me, I will slash your tires and kick you in the face. Even with the sport’s poor leadership, and the scandals, and the concussions, and all that. I still enjoy football, and I don’t like being told that I shouldn’t.
But I can’t defend the current NFL season that is unfolding before us. This has been, in my eyes, the shittiest NFL season in the history of the universe. And I’m not just saying that because my team is lousy (actually, I’ve kind of enjoyed watching them this year; they’ve delivered that uplifting kind of failure that only a young team can provide). I’m talking league-wide. Consider the evidence:
- Half of the NFC playoff field could be led by Ryan Lindley, Mark Sanchez, and Derek Anderson.
- One of the two best teams in the NFC (Green Bay or Seattle) could conceivably still miss the playoffs in favor of an NFC South champ with a sub-.500 record.
- The most heartwarming story in all of football this season has been the unexpected good fortune of the Dallas Fucking Cowboys. There is nothing uplifting about Jerry Jones being visibly happy. I fucking hate the Cowboys and I am only happy when they find themselves repeatedly humiliated on national television.
- Two of the league’s most exciting young passers (Kaep and RGIII) had their careers implode and may never recover.
- The league’s most celebrated rookie (Johnny Manziel) is fucking terrible.
- The league’s best running back missed virtually the entire season because he likes whipping his children in the scrotum with a tree branch.
- The entire first month of the season was upstaged by a video of a dude knocking his wife out in an elevator. (By the way, we are now at the stage of the Ray Rice scandal where most people have stopped giving a shit. Roger Goodell is never gonna admit that he saw the tape or knew what was on it and any time I read a new report about inconsistencies in his testimony, my eyes glaze over and I need an interpreter to explain the details.)
- The best thing that happened this season was a touchdown catch by a dude on a 5-9 team in a game that his team went on to lose.
- Bill Simmons bragged, “I’m probably in the 99.5 percentile for Most NFL Football Watched.”
- FOX brought in a UFC dude to announce a game. He noted that Norv Turner was thrilled to be working with Jim Caldwell. The two men work for separate teams.
- The Rams and the Raiders are probably playing their final season in their respective hometowns and haven’t had the courtesy to tell anyone yet.
- Tonight’s Titans/Jaguars game (both teams are 2-12) is emblematic of a Thursday night schedule that went out of its way to be optional viewing. The fact that Phil Simms (“And if you’re the Titans, you’re saying, Hey! My goodness!”) has been there for every last one of them makes the venture only more damnable.
- At one point, Sunday Night Football featured nine straight 20+-point blowouts. And the non-blowout games haven’t been much better.
- The best season ever by an individual defensive player has been wasted on a team that deliberately went into the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as its QB, and then couldn’t even keep him healthy.
- The flags. The fucking flags. My God, the flags.
- The NFL’s powers-that-be are actually PLEASED with the statistical increase in penalty flags. Here was Roger Goodell climbing out of his fallout shelter in October to address the situation: "There was a good report on the state of the game, the pace of the game, the instant replay system that has I think improved, not only the consistency of calls, but also I think on the pace of the game." There is not a creature on Earth that believes an increase of stoppages in play somehow makes for a better-paced sporting event.
- The league’s commissioner has essentially become a burden upon the entire league the way Dan Snyder is a burden to his own team. Goodell is like a terrible owner, only he owns everything and will never be ousted. He could shoot a dolphin on live television and Bob Kraft would be like, "That man has integrity."
And the worst part is that, at the end of this, the fucking Patriots are gonna win another championship. They’re clearly the best team. It’s horrible. A decent batch of playoff games could redeem this whole enterprise, but no … no, a bunch of ungrateful Boston fans are gonna celebrate yet another title. And they’ll still probably complain about the fucking Helmet Catch anyway.
For all I know, this is all simply bad luck. It’s not like SNF producers planned on airing nine straight unwatchable games. And injuries are unavoidable. And two of the best games of the season (DEN/SEA and NE/GB) happened to be late afternoon games, instead of being games that ended up on the primetime slate. It happens.
But I need the product on the field to justify loving a sport (a business, really) that has grown more detestable by the hour. These games need to redeem all the other horseshit that the NFL makes fans choke down: inflated ticket prices, looting of the public coffers, tone-deaf PR campaigns, etc. As a fan, I have always been able to compartmentalize the action on the field and the sideshow of high-level corruption that goes on between Sundays. Baseball fans put up with MLB in the same way. College football and basketball fans put up with the NCAA in the same way. And soccer fans … I mean, FIFA actively kills people. Again, you compartmentalize. That may not be the most ethically sound thing to do, but it’s the compromise you make in becoming a sports fan.
But these games have been SHIT. I would like to know that all that time I have spent putting up with the NFL has been worth it for the games, and it has not. Not as of right now, at least. And maybe that’s bad luck. Or … or maybe the breathtaking incompetence on display in the league front office has trickled all the way down to the product of football itself. The League sees no evil, so shitty penalty flags remain, and players get frozen out of the discipline process and become disaffected , and game broadcasts grow more and more insufferable. Maybe this malaise is permanent, which is a lousy prospect because up until last February, we had been treated to the best run of title games in the history of sport. I’m all for schadenfreude, but I need at least SOME players to succeed, instead of the entire league falling on its face. I want the passion back. I wanna rush over to Twitter to type in HOLY SHIT when something cool happens because I’m a fucking dipshit like that. I don’t want watching the NFL to feel like an obligation. But at times … At times, I can’t help it.
So get your act together, NFL. Cut it out with the flags. Fire Phil Simms. Expand flexible scheduling. Get the Cardinals a quarterback. Do the things necessary for me to become an irrational advocate of your corrupt industry again. Don’t make me become another one of these basketball people. OMG WHAT KOBE SAID LAST NIGHT WAS AMAZEBALLS! No. Please, no.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Colts at Cowboys: I am torn between wanting to see the Cowboys choke in the playoffs and wanting to see the Cowboys lose this game, fall into a tie with the Eagles, and then watch helplessly as they are frozen out of the playoffs. Both scenarios would bring me great joy, but I don’t know if I can’t wait to until the playoffs for Dallas to be miserable. No delayed gratification for me. I bet I’d fail the Marshmallow Test!
Anyway, you’ve probably heard all kinds of shit this week about how this Cowboys team is DIFFERENT and how they’re just so much more MENTALLY TOUGH GRRRRR than they were a year ago. I have lived through the “It’s all gonna be different this time!” phase with my own team, and let me tell you something: It’s all a lie. You build up confidence in your team, and then the playoffs arrive and they shit the bed all over again. They revert to form at the absolute worst possible time. It’ll happen to you, Mr. Cowboy Fan Who Dusted Off His Team Apparel Only After The Seattle Win. The longer this goes, the bigger the hammer that will fall on you.
Broncos at Bengals: Oh hey, Jon Gruden signed an extension this week, so … yay. By the way, I’ve heard Jay Gruden talk enough times this year to know that he and Jon talk the same way. Neither man sounds human. Both Grudens sound like they’re auditioning for a John Wayne movie. Why can’t they find announcers who talk normal? Is it so fucking hard to find a guy who’s like, "Hey, that was a nice pass," instead of "I TELL YOU WHAT … IF YOU WANNA MAKE IT IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, THAT’S A THROW YOU NEED TO MAKE FROM THE QUARTERBACK POSITION"? I don’t get TV people at all.
Seahawks at Cardinals: Happy winter snot season, everyone! Just this morning, I woke up, blew my nose, opened up the tissue, and found the secrets of hell. Why is it green? Why does it look like something a giant spider would spit at its victims to immobilize them? I can’t live knowing this kind of snot was deep inside my body.
Eagles at Blown Coverage: SATURDAY AFTERNOON! That’s right: They’ve finally brought back Saturday NFL football in December. It’s about goddamn time. Of course, because the NFL fucks up everything, the return of Saturday NFL games comes with a few pre-conditions:
1. It’s this week only. Why? Because go fuck yourself, that’s why.
2. No 12:30 game. They used to have a 12:30 game on Saturday afternoons, but I guess that was just too much fun for fans.
3. You can only watch this game on the NFL Network (Niners/Chargers will be simulcast with Phil and JEEM on CBS later that night).
I would like there to be bad football on ALL Saturday, for the entire month of December. Then I could get even more pissed at my family making me do stuff that prevents me from watching it. Sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.
By the way, they gotta stop airing that USAA ad with RGIII and his mom. I know it’s for a good cause, but it’s on ALL THE TIME. A hundred area televisions are smashed every time it comes on.
Chargers at Niners: I don’t think it necessarily a done deal like a lot of people say, but if the Niners trade Jim Harbaugh at the end of the year and replace him with Jim fucking Tomsula, their fans should sue the team into oblivion. They just plunked down for a new stadium in the boondocks, and now the Niners won’t even pony up $7 million to keep the head coach around? I would tear the seats out of that joint if they got rid of him.
Tomsula was once the interim coach of this team. Interim coaches are cursed. They NEVER become good head coaches after getting plucked for interim duties. Also, this is what Tomsula sounds like when he talks:
“I’m a football coach,” he said last week. “I’m Jim Nobody from Nowhere. I keep my spoon in my soup. I don’t eat anybody else’s soup. I just do my job.”
I don’t know what the hell that means. You may as well walk around in a t-shirt that says BASTARD SON OF TONY SPARANO if you talk like that. Speaking of Harbaugh and Sparano…
Vikings at Dolphins: Four years ago, the Dolphins left Sparano out to dry after they courted Harbaugh and he turned them down. And now they’re about to do it to ANOTHER coach. What if Harbaugh rejects them a second time? It’s hard to fuck up the Dolphins. They play in a desirable city for free agents. They have decent fans. They’ve won Super Bowls and stuff. They should be able to draw talented coaches and players, but Stephen Ross is such a moron that’s he squandered ALL of those advantages. It’s baffling. They’re gonna railroad Joe Philbin (who isn’t that great, but still) and it’s all gonna blow up in their faces.
Falcons at Saints: Stephen Colbert’s final show is tonight, which is a shame because Stephen Colbert is awesome and I don’t wanna wait that long for him to take over Letterman’s show. Anyway, in 2015, they’re replacing Colbert with former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore, whose new show will be called The Nightly Show. The original title for the show was gonna be The Minority Report, but they changed it at the last moment, even though the original title is way better. I guarantee you that some Viacom exec was behind that. I bet they had a big conference call and a lady at the network was like, "Well … we don’t want to alienate anyone. Let’s just call it The Nightly Show so that it doesn’t sound so minority-ey."
Chiefs at Steelers
Ravens at Texans
Lions at Bears: This is probably the end of Jay Cutler in Chicago. The Bears can cut him loose in March and save $16 million in guaranteed money. And if that happens, I pray to God that either the Jets or Skins pick him up. That is the fitting endgame for Jay Cutler’s career. He has always been the most talented shitty quarterback in NFL history, a man BORN to piss off fans in New York or Washington. I would chip in three dollars to make that happen.
Or he could go to Philly and ignore everything Chip Kelly whispers into his headset.
Browns at Panthers: I think I’ve had enough of your "Johnny ______" puns. Take a breather for five minutes, Twitter. See how it feels.
Giants at Rams
Titans at Jaguars: I have to get my sperm tested in a few weeks to make sure the vasectomy I got last month took hold properly. For the sample, they gave me a cup that I can fill up at home. You nut into the cup, and then bring your sperm to the lab within an hour of ejaculation. I’m all for the convenience, but I was kinda looking forward to the whole "jerk it in a designated medical jerking room" situation. I didn’t know you could simply do it at home. I feel cheated. I was interested in what kind of porn they might have. That is PRESCRIPTION PORN. Medically necessary. Would have been fun to peruse their stacks of old copies of Velvet.
Packers at Bucs: Programming note: I’m off for Christmas. As always, the Jamboroo will be taken over by Deadspin founder Will Leitch for Christmas Week. Here’s a picture of Leitch hunched over a computer while shirtless:
Patriots at Jets
Bills at Raiders
"El Coyote," by Goatsnake. From Rob:
The final 30 seconds might be the heaviest riff in the history of recorded music, and that's coming from a huge Electric Wizard fan. Also the "video" includes some sweet stills of coyotes howling at the moon and generally doing cool coyote things.
Indeed. Sometimes, I just wanna move to the desert and get stoned and hang out with the coyotes, man. The coyotes and I could be friends.
"High Velocity Impact Spatter," by Cannibal Corpse! It’s Christmastime, which means it’s time to check in with Buffalo, New York’s finest purveyors of obscene death metal. And I have to say, I think they may be getting soft in their old age. Take a look at the track listing for 2014’s A Skeletal Domain. Sure, they’ve got their usual fun assortment of titles ("Icepick Lobotomy," etc.), but not ONE song title referencing child abuse or sexual assault! YOU’VE CHANGED, MAN. If the PC lobby can get to Cannibal Corpse, they can get to anyone.
Last week’s picks of Baltimore, the Giants, and KC went 3-0, making me 33-13 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 Green Bay, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and the Google Maps lady giving you shitty directions. She led me in a circle the other day. Five whole minutes of driving just to end up exactly where I was before. I expect my miraculous GPS technology to work flawlessly at all times, Google. Make that woman come correct. I wanted her to take physical form so that I could push her out of the car.
Gregg is off this week (academics first!), which I assume is some kind of Christmas gift to the public at large. Where will I go now to find 56,000 words deconstructing the plot of Ascension? I assume Greggggggg is currently ensconced in his study, preparing a long treatise on how he foresaw the demise of The New Republic YEARS ago. God, he sucks. Even when he doesn’t write anything, he leaves a cloud of suck.
"This week, I like the Carnivals (+8) to upset the Saddle Seahawks at home! I know the Carnivals have a lot of perjuries! Why, they’re practically a M*A*T*C*H unit at this point! First they lose Palmer Carson, then they lose Drew Henson, and now they have to play Ryan Lindsay! You cannot have that kind of popover at the QB transition! But you know what? I believe in Bruce Areolas. I believe his team will batter down the snatches, circlejerk the flagons, drown the torpedoes, and win! They’re gonna come out of that tunnel LIKE A FAT OUT OF SMELL! I expect a hardon-nose battle in the benches for this one!"
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 7-11
Fun fact: They found the first live puma in Kentucky since the Civil War. What if it’s a Confederate sympathizer? I think I’ve had enough of RACIST PUMAS, thank you very much. Anyway, it appears that the general puma population is expanding. According to this article, "They have colonized in South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri, said Amy Rodrigues, a staff biologist for the Mountain Lion Foundation, and there have been sightings in recent years in Indiana and even downtown Chicago." If I was chilling out in downtown Chicago and saw a live puma, I would shit a brick.
Reader Ethan isn’t very happy with Chip Kelly:
The NFL needs a new rule. If you're the running back on the field at the start of the drive, then you must be the running back who finishes the drive. If your running back gets hurt, play without one. Chip Kelly letting some asshole named Polk bogart touchdowns from Shady McCoy in Fantasy Semis week is a crime against humanity. Fuck him. And fuck Philadelphia for hiring him (among other things Philly should be fucked for.)
Fantasy playoffs are so cruel. You can cruise into the 1-seed, and then get toppled all because Chip Kelly decided to get cute. What about your BODY OF WORK over the course of the regular season? Does that not count for anything? The fantasy postseason is all luck, I say!
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)
Back in the day, all the head coaches used to get swept out on Black Monday. But that’s changing, because teams want early access to the best candidates, and they wanna hire people early so that they have time to assemble a proper staff. So I bet you see a few coaches get canned before Week 17. It’s NEVER too early to start firing season! YEEEEHAWWWWW!!!
(shoots guns in the air)
(brings in Greg Schiano for an interview just to make fans mad)
Reader Matt sends in this obscure Spanish Christmas tradition:
A few years ago my kids took part in a Christmas card exchange through an online parenting forum. So they get 10 names and address of kids all over the world, make 10 cards and send them off. Of course we get back 10 cards from other random children. Pretty basic stuff, until we got this card with a log drawing on the front and the text on the back.
Apparently, in the Catalonia region of Spain, this is the poop-centric tradition of the holidays. You put a face on a log, put a blanket over the back of the log, hide some presents under there, and then let the kids whale away at it. I found a video of the process:
It's actually a bit underwhelming to watch. It would be better if the log dropped it piñata-style, in my opinion. But that's not all, they are totally committed to the defecating imagery. They also sell figurines of Santa/elves/Obama(!?) dropping a load:
It’s true! Look at that blog post! "El Caganer, literally translated as ‘the crapper’, is a Christmas character who’s been part of Catalan culture for over 400 years. He’s often depicted as a peasant, wearing his traditional Catalan red hat and is bent over, with his pants down, right in the middle of doing a massive poo!" I’m moving to Catalonia before next Christmas. I’m not missing out on any more shit-beatings.
Thumbprint cookies! The secret ingredient… is THUMB GREASE. By the way, here is a foolproof recipe for thumbprint cookies. They tell you to arrange the cookies in trios, but I never bother with that crap.
BLACK NIKKA! From Nick:
I just got to Japan and went to get a beer from a robotic vending machine and came back with this. "Black Nikka", aside from the poorly translated name, is pretty much like a Leinenkugel's summer shandy, except it doesn't taste like a bag of donkey cocks. As an added bonus, it has a 7% alcohol content and cost ¥200, or a little under $2 Freedom Money. Also, you'd love it because of the Scottish looking bastard on the can smelling his wares!
Why is it called Black Nikka if the guy on the can is white? I’m so confused. Also: Japan has beer vending machines and we do not. ADVANTAGE: Japan. Japan is so far ahead of us in terms of vending machine technology. I bet you could buy a spouse there using a vending machine. All our vending machines sell are candy bars, Aquafina, and Best Buy products. We can’t compete. I want my Black Nikka vending machine, and I want it NOW.
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! Such a shame to see my good friends at SONY get terrorized by the North Korean government. Let me tell you something: Evans knows a thing or two about studio blackmail! 1979. Hollywood. Sunny? YOU BET! Ominous? IF YOU WERE SOBER ENOUGH TO REMEMBER. We were about to release our big holiday awards picture: Stirring The Pot: The Life And Times Of Pol Pot, starring Beatty as Pol Pot! Big picture. HUGE budget. Champagne for the gaffers. Well, old Pol Pot got wind of our little production, and even though Beatty was a Khmer Rouge sympathizer, Pol wasn’t happy when he got word that the dailies were littered with skulls! So he kidnaps Beatty, holds him hostage inside a 3,000-year-old temple, and demands we pull the picture! Now Evans has a decision to make. And you know what? I pulled the picture. Didn’t want to do it, but Beatty had $200,000 worth of my coke on him when he got apprehended. I paid for that myself! SOME OSCARS JUST AREN’T WORTH IT. Also, Diane Keaton was miserable in it. She makes a lousy dictator’s wife. Nicholson took a piss on my rug after seeing the rough cut."
A Most Violent Year. I actually don’t recommend this movie, even though it was made by the dude who made All Is Lost (great movie) and stars Oscar Isaac, aka Serious Jake Johnson. You go into this movie thinking it’s gonna be a mob flick, and then the movie spends two hours stressing how much it is NOT a mob flick. It’s like those shitty episodes of The Sopranos where no one dies.
“But I love that plane! I used to fly to Vegas in it with Dean Martin. One time we were flyin' in it, and the moon hit his eye like a big pizza pie! We wrote a song about it! But it ended up infringing on one he recorded years before.”
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.