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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why Football Players Crave Contact

Illustration for article titled Why Football Players Crave Contact

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


Back in Week 1, the Colts were playing the Broncos and Andrew Luck took a hit, which reminded NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth of something Luck had told him: "He said, 'You know, I really enjoy getting hit sometimes. Contact is a part of the game that we all fell in love with. ... Sometimes it wakes me up and makes me feel more into the game.'"

You hear this cliché a lot of football broadcasts. Some QB will get mashed into fine powder and the analyst will be like, "That'll help get him into a rhythm!" Now, that sounds dumb. No one likes being in pain. No one likes having a 300-pound lineman sit on his face. That's usually unpleasant.

And yet … that cliché isn't exactly a lie. Ask any football player why he likes the game and he'll probably mention hitting. Ask any multi-sport star why he likes football the best and he will probably cite hitting as the reason. Any time a high school coach announces a hitting drill, players will start whooping it up like fucking madmen. Even though the NFL is taking steps to make football less of a collision sport, the hitting itself is still what appeals to the majority of its players. Go watch any high school football team do warm-ups. What's the first thing the kids do to get fired up? They knock helmets together. Or they lock hands and ram their shoulder pads into one another. I used to do that. We used to call that warming up the pads, as if a hard plastic object somehow needed to be broken in. Put on a football uniform and you will inherently want to smash into people and—strangely enough—you will want people to smash into you.

Part of this is easy to explain. If you're the dude doing the tackling, football represents a safe (but not really) way of hurting people … of taking out all your inner, hormone-addled, teenage-boy aggression. You can't punch your dad, but you can hit the fuck out of the quarterback. That's the usual explanation for football's appeal. But everyone who plays football gets both sides of hitting. He gets to deliver blows, but he also gets blows delivered unto him. Running backs will stiffarm you. Blockers will blindside you. You will not escape the game without getting yours at some point. Deep down, you have to kinda enjoy that part of hitting. I know I did.

Even now, as a frail middle-aged guy, I still don't mind getting hit. If I roughhouse with my kids, I know that a nutslap is coming somewhere down the pike. I also know that they'll use my stomach as a trampoline. That shit hurts, but I don't exactly go out of my way to stop it. I'm like the world's lamest masochist. Something inside me is craving those nutshots.

There are plenty of studies that show roughhousing is good for children, and for boys in particular. Boys are naturally inclined to beat the shit out of each other. It helps them solve problems, and it helps them bond with other kids. For boys, putting someone in a headlock is a much less awkward way of saying, "I like you," than saying those words outright. There's a reason that all football hitting is housed under the euphemism of "contact." At its most basic level, football is a game that features grown men spending three hours touching and grabbing each other. There is AFFECTION in some of the hitting. Not in all of it, of course. Brandon Meriweather isn't diving at your knees because he wants to be friends. But when Andrew Luck is telling people he enjoys taking a lick, this is the kind of male bonding he's talking about. It's caveman fraternizing.


And these are all pro athletes. Many of them live in a suspended state of adolescence, and many of them aren't exactly verbose. At age 37, I still like to horse around on occasion, but not all the time. Pro athletes, by contrast, still like it a LOT. They still crave that unspoken affection because they can't or won't verbalize it.

Earlier this week, Dan Le Batard asked out loud if the violent nature of football was responsible for the sport's issues with off-the field violence. I don't really know if football leads men to violence so much as it naturally attracts those who can talk only with their fists . There are plenty of nice guys who play football, who can keep their shit in check once they step off the field. But for a small subset of men, a violent sport like football is their way of speaking ONLY through contact, well past the point when the average man should have found a way to communicate his love and his anger in less physical ways. It doesn't make the monster, but it can nourish it, sometimes well past the point of being healthy.


The Games

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

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Five Throwgasms

Eagles at 49ers: Four of the best teams in football (Arizona, Denver, Seattle, Cincy) are off for this first horrible bye week, which means this shit game is about the best we can do. Christ. I'm gonna miss Russell Wilson this week. Russell Wilson is America's Manic Pixie Dream QB. I hate bye weeks. There should be no bye weeks. In fact, every team should be forced to play TWO games every Sunday, so that I have an adequate slate of matchups to watch.


By the way, if the Eagles could play the Eagles, the final score would be 500-500 (OT). I would play this matchup in Madden every week.

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Four Throwgasms

Packers at Bears: I have spent all week praying that a 1-2 start means that the Packers are fucking terrible this year. This is what I do when my team sucks. I take a struggling rival team and start to analyze all the ways in which they suck. And yet I know my dream for a Packers implosion will be dashed at some point. The Lions will fuck up, the Bears will run out of defenders, the Vikings will keep doing horrible Viking things, and somehow the Packers will cobble together another division title. I'm mad already.

Illustration for article titled Why Football Players Crave Contact

Three Throwgasms

Panthers at Ravens: Have you met Chris Fialko, Greg Hardy's lawyer? He seems really nice! Here's SI describing his cross-examination of Hardy's girlfriend:

At one point in the bench trial, Fialko questioned why Holder hadn't been more seriously injured, given their size differential.

"You didn't break a fingernail, did you?" he asked.

"I did break a fingernail, a toenail," she replied.

"Well, good," Fialko said in response.

It will shock you to learn that Fialko also defended Rae Carruth . When you're a Panther and you've got lady problems, dial 1-800-FIALKO9! The nine is for how many times you punched her!


Lions at Jets: You ever go to some hotel restaurant and the menu has 5,000 items, including lots of exotic shit that you know the chef probably can't pull off, but you still order the half-wagyu Korean taco slider anyway because it sounds different and good, and then it comes and it SUCKS and you're like, "Shit. I should have just had a burger"? That is what Marty Mornhinweg's play-calling is like.


Saints at Cowboys: I recently read a book called The Killer of Little Shepherds, which is about a late-1800s French serial killer (much more stylish than your average serial killer) and the crude form of forensic science that helped capture him. Anyway, I learned that, when you die, your body stores up a lot of gas, so much so that if you poke a corpse, putrid gas will come hissing out of it. And you can light it! AWESOME. We may not be able to light our farts, but we CAN light our corpse farts. So let's get on that.


Pats at Chiefs: They just cast the new season of True Detective . Have you seen these photos of Nic Pizzolatto, the dude who created it? Holy shit, each one is more Magnum than the last. It's like that guy is begging people not to work for him. Never hang out with a writer guy who thinks writing makes him some kind of biker gang leader. The writing was probably the weakest part of that show (even though I liked it a lot). I bet they don't cover it up as well next time around.

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Two Throwgasms

Bucs at Steelers: The Bucs shouldn't be this shitty. I know the Jags are shitty, but those are the Jags. The Bucs have a new coach and a couple of decent receivers and a fresh supply of Purell in the locker room. They shouldn't be down 56-0 with a full quarter to go. Something else has to be wrong. They all must have fucked each other's wives. When I die, I'm gonna go right to God and ask which famous athletes have fucked which other famous athletes' wives. He'll spill the beans for HOURS.


Giants at Fuck Dan Snyder With A Guitar Neck: In case you missed it, Jay Glazer says the NFL is putting together its own "special tasks" unit to investigate potential violent crimes committed by players. CHUNG CHUNG. I bet Roger Goodell is really looking forward to getting Greg Hardy "in the box." WE CAN DO THIS THE EASY OR THE HARD WAY, HARDY! (slowly takes off blazer and rolls sleeves up)

Suffice it to say, this is a bad idea that will be even more poorly executed by the NFL. We were all calling for NFL officials to receive more scrutiny, and their response is, "You got it! We'll tighten the screws on these punk players of ours, America!" Kinda misses the point.


Bills at Texans: I have grievances with the "Booty" video …

I'm not complaining about the butts. The butts are great. NO ONE DENIES THIS. I came to that video looking for butt, and I got butt. But FUCK whoever edited this thing. It's like J-Lo went to the editor and was like, "I want this video to show off my butt, but I don't want the shots to last long enough for people to masturbate to my butt." I've seen Japanese cartoons that are less frantically edited. It ain't right. There are oiled-butt shots here that last a tenth of a second. They needs to last HOURS, otherwise all that hot oily-butt action goes to waste. They need to release a five-day extended cut of the video for the home viewer. This ADD-style of showing off butts is horseshit. Fire Hype Williams. I gotta pause the video to get those butts to hold still. That takes effort!


Titans at Colts

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One Throwgasm

Dolphins at Raiders: I think the fact that TMZ edited the Ray Rice video for coherency makes it all the more likely that EVERYONE in the NFL league office saw the original tape. They probably got the tape and it was all choppy and they were like, "Well, it doesn't look THAT bad," and then they saw the TMZ edit and they were like, "Oh! Oh, now it all makes sense!" The original video looked like Hype Williams directed it.


Falcons at Vikings

Jaguars at Chargers

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

"I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)," by Motörhead, submitted by Joe.

"I make love to mountain lions, Sleep on red-hot branding irons, When I walk the roadway shakes, Bed's a mess of rattlesnakes..."

Lemmy (70 years old next year!) just keeps it going. I'm half his age, and I'm in bed by 9:30.


Did you know the Motörhead cruise is happening as we speak? It's true! It's called Motörboat, naturally, and it's got Anthrax and Megadeth and High on Fire! I would go on that boat. I would take a helicopter TODAY to land on that boat. I might skip the "Scott Ian Spoken Word" performance though. That concerns me.

Suicide Pick Of The Week

Last week's picks of the New England, Indianapolis, and New Orleans went 3-0, making me 5-4 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 Indianapolis, San Diego, Atlanta, and children who are fighting and refuse to hang out in separate areas of the house. Happens every day. Two of my kids start yelling and throwing shit at each other and I say to them, "Hey, you guys seem to be getting on each other's nerves. Why don't you settle down by going LITERALLY ANYWHERE ELSE IN THIS HOUSE OR IN THE WORLD AT LARGE?" And they never do. They will stay within five feet of each other and continue complaining about how one is pissing off the other. All I have to do is separate them and everyone chills the fuck out, but they cannot see this. They just wanna stay angry forever. These days, I just leave the room and get some chips.


Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit

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There's a lot of awful shit in this week's TMQ, including Gregggggg quoting his own article in Washington Monthly to back up an argument. Gregggggg Easterbrook would be more than happy to spend the rest of his life on a desert island reading the collected works of Gregg Easterbrook. But here is the worstest part of his column …

Your columnist would not refuse a dram of Talisker, a delightful whisky.

Ugh. "Dram." You're the worst. Why does he write like it's 1893?

Hoping to break out from niche status to mainstream, the brand has been advertising a Talisker Storm variant that claims "a profound maritime character, with a warm welcome from the Hebridean Sea." So it's scotch whisky that smells like fish?



Steer your ship clear of Talisker 25, whose 116 proof is close to grain alcohol.


Grain alcohol is 190 proof! That's not even close to being close to being grain alcohol! Whoa hey, I better not drink this beer! It's close to paint thinner! Someone at Colorado College probably gave Gregg a box of Hi-C and told him it was Everclear punch. I'm not taking whiskey advice from someone who chides people for being outside after midnight. NARY A DRAM OF AFFECTION FROM I. God, he sucks.

Emmitt Smith's Lock Of The Week!

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"This week, I like the Chicago Bears (+1) at home against the snuggling Packers' offense! I don't get why the Packers are snuggling! IT'S AN ESTIGMA! They look a little Russkie, if you ask me. They need to clean away the cockwebs! If I'm Mike McCartney, I'm tallying the poops and I'm saying to them, Guys, we need a swiss kick in the bundt! That is what I would say. I also like the Raiders (+4.5) at home versus the Dolphins! I'm very discerned about Ryan Tammyhill. You draft a Ryan Tammyhill to be your French Ice player! And right now, he does not look like a French Ice player! He looks like he's still a roofie!"

2014 Emmitt Smith record: 3-0

This Week In Terrifying Animal News

Someone (or something) in North Carolina is dismembering cats and leaving cat parts on neighborhood lawns.

Images of the most recent cat cut in half with near surgical precision are so graphic we can't show them on TV.

This kind of act by a human is considered a felony, but what if it wasn't a human?

New Hanover County Animal Services supervisor Judy Evonko says there's always a possibility…


My God. You know this means, right? There is a monster out there. But not just any monster. A DOCTOR MONSTER. You heard the random news article: "near surgical precision." Only a monster with a medical degree can pull off that sort of thing. See, this is why I never visit North Carolina. They've got Jerry Richardson and random cat parts and monsters with fucking scalpels hanging out in the forest.

Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death

Can we talk about these running backs? Because FUCK these running backs. Here were the top five running backs by average draft position:

1. LeSean McCoy (currently being outscored by teammate Darren Sproles)

2. Jamaal Charles (hurt AGAIN)

3. Adrian Peterson (suspended for beating the shit out of children)

4. Matt Forte (33 yards rushing Monday night)

5. Eddie Lacy (hurt, fumbling, called out by his own fatty coach)

None of these guys is currently in the top 15 of scoring among fantasy backs. Two Cleveland backs have both outscored them all. Chris Ivory has outscored them. Mark fucking Ingram has outscored them and he didn't even play last week. I fucking hate this game. I really do. I don't even know why I play it anymore. BURN IT ALL.


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:

Mike McCarthy

Jason Garrett

Tom Coughlin

Jim Harbaugh

Rex Ryan

Jeff Fisher

Lovie Smith

Dennis Allen*

Joe Philbin

Roger Goodell

Gus Bradley

(*potential midseason firing)

I think it's amazing that Jim Harbaugh can make three straight NFC title games, and yet be the subject of firing/resignation rumors that pretty much everyone believes. NFL teams will put up with a LOT in order to have that kind of success, so imagine just how awful Harbaugh must be. He must greet everyone at team headquarters with a punch to the face. It's like marrying a really awful rich man. The money simply isn't worth it.


Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Mike sends in this story I call POOP AND AWE:

When I was deployed to Iraq, one of the jobs I had to do was escort a bunch of local workers around the base while they did random tasks: pitching tents, taking out garbage, etc. Over the course of several months I developed a pretty good relationship with these guys and took them up on their offer of sharing their food with them. It should be noted that everyone ate from the same dish with their bare hands.

Fast forward a couple hours after I dropped them back off at the gate, and I am walking back to my shop. I feel a slight tingle in my gut, and don't think much of it and keep walking. Not two seconds later my right leg shakes and my bowels forcibly evacuate themselves right into my fucking pants. Just liquid, awful smelling shit shot down my leg at break-neck speed, barely stopping before entering my combat boot, which is the only bright spot in this whole story. I immediately freak out and try to figure out what to do because it is the middle of the day and our uniforms didn't have nearly enough brown spots in the camoflauge to explain what happened.

I do some weird-assed version of a walk to get back to my hooch while attempting minimal dooky-spreading; I think it probably looked like I had two peg-legs. I attempt to wash them in a sorry-assed half-broke washing machine but the stain barely faded. Due to the premium of my uniforms (not like I had a store to buy more) and the rate at which I had to switch them out (lotta sweating), I had to sit there and hand-scrub the shit stains out by hand while the smell was still there. I washed my hands in kerosene just to have a different smell than shit afterwards.

All that effort was for naught because in my distress I didn't realize that several people witnessed what happened and the story was spread over the base (small base) before I even got done washing my pants.

Also, shitting in port-o-potties in Baghdad in the summer makes it quite easy because your ass is literally so sweat-soaked that turds just fall right out with very little effort.


Gametime Snack Of The Week

Illustration for article titled Why Football Players Crave Contact

Mini tater tots! These are better than regular tater tots. No soggy insides … nothing but golden surface area. It's like eating pure breading. Also, they cook up super fucking fast, which is important if you're making something for hungry children. Children do not understand that things need time to cook. It does not compute in their brains. My kid has eaten frozen ravioli because she couldn't wait for it to boil in water. So I need shit that I can make in the toaster oven quickly, like mini tater tots and shoestring fries. Do not buy steak fries for a child. They take 50 years to get brown.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

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SNOW! China's silver bullet! From Bob:

One of my goals in planning a trip to China was to try Snow, the world's most popular beer. Though surprisingly hard to find, I secured two cans in a Beijing convenience shop the size of two telephone booths with three people working inside. I spent eighty cents American and likely got scammed. It reminded me of Keystone Light cut with water. Bouquet of smog, but that could have been the smog.


That is clearly a beer that Chinese brewers designed to look like American beer. They know that mountains sell beer. I MUST HAVE IT. Wikipedia says that Snow is the world's best-selling beer, "with annual sales of 61 million hectoliters." That sounds like a lot of hectoliters.

Robert Evans's MVP Watch!

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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 Matt Ryan of the Falcons! The Fault in Our Stars? Sounds like a movie that has its own critique built right in, baby! Back in my day, our cancer movies had STAR WATTAGE. You know the one I mean. 1970. Nixon was in office, and America was craving to see the death of a beautiful young girl. That's when a light went on inside Evans's brain. O'Neal. McGraw. Love Story. We were gonna give America the cancer it deserved, and did we ever deliver! I made Ali McGraw lose a hundred pounds for that role. She was 20 pounds by the time we started shooting. I'd never seen her so beautiful. Her cheek fur was softer than a newborn rabbit's! After that movie hit, everyone had cancer fever, which is not a form of actual cancer! People were buying oxygen tanks and pulling out their own hair in clumps just for the style of it! Sexy? KIND OF! Short-lived? YOU BET!"


Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans

The Goonies. I forgot how scary this movie can be. At one point, Anne Ramsey holds out a knife and threatens to cut off Chunk's tongue. GODDAMN, LADY! I should have been ready to fast forward that before my 5-year-old watched it. He's probably scarred for life.


By the way, that one scene where Kerri Green's dickhead boyfriend runs Josh Brolin off the road? That's attempted murder! He pulls up alongside Brolin's bike, holds his hand against the car door, and then goes 70 mph and runs Brolin off a fucking cliff! Man, the shit people could get away with in '80s movies. That guy belongs in movie prison.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

"Whoever brings down that balloon doesn't have to learn fractions!"

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.