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Why Injured Athletes Like Gronk Aren't Allowed To Be Cautious

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

This whole Gronk situation has gotten to the point where I fully expect him to skip out the season to have a bionic arm installed and then the entire world chastises him for it. Roger Goodell can implement as many safety measures as he likes, but football (and sports in general) remain an arena where playing hurt is for the noble and taking precautionary measures is for the weak and cowardly.


There is sometimes a fundamental disconnect between what is good for a football team and what is good for a player, and players will ALWAYS get shit on if they opt for what's good for them individually. Every fan labors under the necessary delusion that every player on the team wants his team to win and that every player should do all he can for the sake of the team. But in the modern football economy, that can't always happen. The more money that the NFL and college football bring in, the more valuable an asset someone like Gronkowski or Jadeveon Clowney becomes. If you know that you're worth a potential $50 million down the road, you sometimes have to act to protect those future earnings at the expense of the team's immediate success, and no one wants that to ever be the case.

Having such monetary value as a player means that you become more acutely aware of the idea of preventive medicine. It's hard to take preventive measures for your health and prove to everyone that they will, without question, serve both you and the team well down the road. It's a vague field of personal health, which is why many people don't take active measures to prevent things like heart disease or other future catastrophic ailments. They only act when the damage has been done. And sports operates with the same mindset. You are either definitely at risk for further injury, or you aren't. But sometimes, it's not so simple. And it's in this grey area where Gronk and Clowney and Derrick Rose find themselves the target of scorn.

It's still a sin in team sports to prioritize yourself over the organization you play for, which is funny because neither NFL teams nor college football teams give much of a shit about their players. The team can always do what's right for itself and never be wrong. But if a player "chooses" (Gronk, technically, has not yet been medically cleared to play football) to take a few additional games off in order to protect his career, then he's put himself above the team and is therefore an awful person.

That's why Derrick Rose caught so much heat for resting his knee for the entirety of last season, despite being medically cleared to play. If you're a fan, you want the team to win and you don't much care about anything else. And it will drive you apeshit if you know there's a player out there who can help but has chosen not to. If I had been a Bulls fan last spring, I would have tried to be tolerant of Rose's absence, and tried to see the bigger picture, to see that Rose was trying to lengthen his career, which is obviously better for the entire team in the long run (in which case, Rose was RIGHT to be selfish). But deep down, I know exactly what I would think: PUSSY.


So much of sports discourse boils down to that simple opinion: IS THIS GUY A PUSSY? That's the question lingering underneath every dispute about Rose and Gronk and Clowney, and lots of other sports arguments. Sports always serve as a test of manhood, and if you decline to participate when you conceivably could, then you're not a man.

Even if you may be doing the right thing, you have no way of proving it. The NFL is a mercenary league. The average NFL player will play for more than one team, and even if he stays in one place, the makeup of his team changes from year to year. There are new players, coaches, owners, etc. You are always expected to be loyal to this ever-shifting collective, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it, it's a job. Winning and losing is not fully in your control, but your career as an individual is. If you were an NFL player, you'd value that career as much, if not more, than the overall welfare of the people employing you. The two are related in some ways, but are not fully connected. Sometimes there's gulf between what a team needs and what a player needs to do for himself, and it's not always morally wrong for that player to choose the latter.


But seriously, if Gronk doesn't suit up soon, a lot of fantasy owners WILL kill him.

The Games

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


Five Throwgasms

Broncos at Colts: That Olympic-quality scrapbook montage NBC used last week to promote this game—they all but threw "I Will Remember You" into the thing—was blown up this week by the Jimmy Irsay-John Fox War of the Dudes With Red Faces. How marvelous.


I don't know how you can shit on Irsay for cutting Peyton Manning loose when there were serious doubts, at the time, as to whether or not Manning would ever play again. No one really expected him to come back and be better than he's ever been. In Peyton's final year with the Colts, he threw more picks than he had in nine years and had his worst career passer rating in the same amount of time. He appeared to be in decline (a relative term for a dude who still threw for 4,700 yards and 33 TDs). Irsay thought he was choosing between drafting Andrew Luck or getting a declining Peyton or a Peyton who wouldn't be able to play at all, and then he would have been fucked. What would you have done?

It only looks like a debatable move now, with Manning destroying everything in sight. Only now can Irsay see that Manning might be doing this shit for four or five more years, and he could have had a ransom in draft picks to add to the scoring orgy (RG3 brought in three first rounders and a second rounder for St. Louis, and Andrew Luck would have brought even more than that). He didn't know. Man, if I were Irsay, I'd be fucking LIVID. I want to cut my own head off. No wonder he got all pissy this week.


Four Throwgasms

Bengals at Lions: October means the beginning of cricket killing season here on the mean streets of suburban Maryland. I walked into a dark room last night, flipped the switch, and saw a cave cricket the size of a dog (NOTE: size possibly exaggerated!) sitting in the middle of the floor, like an angry parent waiting for a teenager who's stayed out past curfew. I thought it was a piece of lint before the thing did its trademark Berserker Hop and scared me shitless. Then I grabbed a shoe and said, out loud, MOTHERFUCKER I'LL KILL YOU, as if I were facing some Russian supervillain and not a one-ounce, nonvenomous insect. I cornered the thing and smushed it, and then left it because I was too lazy to pick it up and throw it in the toilet. When I came back the next morning, the cricket was GONE. Zombie cricket. Every year, THE GAME GETS MORE FIERCE.


Three Throwgasms

Patriots at Jets: I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown a week or two ago where Bourdain flies to Copenhagen to eat at Noma, which is considered the best restaurant in the world and serves all kind of crazy shit like reindeer moss and filet of venus flytrap and shit. And of course it all looked fantastic—food cooked with impossible thought and precision. They even showed a food lab where they aged food and created BOLD FLAVORS by doing crazy shit like letting a hunk of bacon sit in a jar of pickled moose blood for 88 days and what not.


And as I was watching this show and watching Bourdain salivate over chef René Redzepi's food, I thought to myself: Hey, shouldn't that crazy chef be inventing the flying car? I'm all for food. Don't get me wrong. I love it. But it seems like there is now a worldwide surplus of brilliant maniacs who have elected to spend their entire lives mastering the art of cheese marbling. We don't need this many brilliant chefs. The infrastructure of America is falling apart while half of all brilliant college graduates are searching for the perfect lamb slider recipe. OUR QUEST FOR DELICIOUSNESS HAS GONE TOO FAR. One of these artisan butter churners could be engineering the hyperloop, dammit.

Cowboys at Eagles

49ers at Titans

Browns at Packers


Two Throwgasms

Bears at Redskins: I went to the Values Voters Summit and heard a speech from right-wing author Daniel Flynn, who wrote The War on Football. After Flynn's speech, someone asked him his thoughts about the Redskins' name change, which engendered much derisive snorting from the crowd. Flynn said that the nickname "Redskins" was coined because the then-Boston Braves football team wanted to piggyback on the popularity of the baseball Red Sox, and thus changed their name to Redskins to make it sound similar.


There is no hard proof of this being the reason for the nickname (other accounts say the team did it to honor the Native American players and head coach employed by the team). But I like the idea of blaming the Red Sox for this endless argument. Even miles away and decades removed, they will find a way to annoy the rest of America.

Seahawks at Cardinals: I love it when the NFL Network or any other network does a dramatic promo for an upcoming game and they have to find a vague way of pimping an awful team involved. THE AMAZING RUSSELL WILSON HAS THE SEAHAWKS GUNNING FOR THE SUPER BOWL, BUT THE CARDINALS ARE...ALSO IN THEIR DIVISION. You can tell they had very little to work with. BUT THE CARDINALS ARE GEARING UP FOR A FIGHT.


Rams at Panthers

Texans at Chiefs

Bills at Dolphins


One Throwgasm

Chargers at Jaguars: There is clearly an unofficial competition between pick-up truck providers as to whose truck has the largest grille. It's an arms race. Oh, your grille has fifteen bars? Well the Ford F250 Heavy Duty has 19 of them SO FUCK YOU.


Bucs at Falcons

Ravens at Steelers

Vikings at Giants

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

"Orchard," by Windhand. Submitted by reader Eric.

Very thick and Sabbathy, with vocals by a female singer.

Hey, it's a lady! Ever want to listen to an entire album simply because you looked at the track listing? When I was a kid, I used to stare at the track list and running times on every album I saw at the store, and if the band in question had a crazy long song, I was riveted. "9:44?! That band must mean business!" Windhand's latest album contains only six songs (SO METAL) and has a closing track called "Boleskine" that clocks in at a mammoth 30:29. So, so much pot. You're gonna want all of the pot for that shit.


Suicide Pick Of The Week

Last week's picks of Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia went 3-0, making me 14-4 on the year. Once again, we pick three teams for suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week's picks are San Diego, Miami, Carolina, and bedbugs. My old lady got out of the bed the other morning with red welts all over her back (KINKY). At first she thought there was a spider in the bed, which freaked me out because fuck spiders. She started looking up black widows and brown recluses and by the time she was finished, I couldn't sleep in the bed without thinking there was a spider crawling around on my face. I barely slept at all. Then my wife went to the doctor and got the diagnosis, and somehow bedbugs are even worse than a death spider because now we have burn the fucking house down. It's awful. We've had head lice, and now bedbugs. If we get termites, we hit for the plague cycle. FINGERS CROSSED.


Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit

Who ably propitiated the Football Gods this week? Not the GLORY BOY Saints!

The Saints were in the process of making a colossal blunder. New Orleans players and coaches were celebrating on the sideline: hugging, slapping hands. Never celebrate when the game isn't over! The football gods punish that sort of thing.


Yea and verily there was MUCH chortling. Maybe if you had served up some more HOT CHEERBABE TITTIES, the Football Gods would have overlooked your insolence! [New Orleans is hit with Katrina II on Gregggggg's command.] I'd like a supercut of team prematurely celebrating a win and then winning, because I bet it happens eight times a week.

It's nutty enough that in the movies and on TV, when lovers awake after a night of passionate sex, they're wearing underwear.


THAT'S NUTTY! When Gregg is fully propitiated, he STAYS naked. And he clears all penetration with border patrol, like any responsible public servant ought to. You can't just storm in there with a gun and a badge! THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS.

A common improbable special effect in Hollywood is the space alien or demon with glowing eyes. If the eyes emitted light, wouldn't that stop them from working as eyes? Improbable scenes are more entertaining.


Here is a major biological flaw in your movie! BUT IT'S ALL GOOD BECAUSE IT WORKS SO I'M NOT SURE WHY I BROUGHT IT UP.

In "Batman Forever," the Caped Crusader hangs from a skyscraper by one hand while supporting the entire weight of a bank vault with his other hand.


And when I look for realism, I look to Joel Schumacher movies starring Jim Carrey in a suit covered in question marks.

TMQ thinks the most improbable scene in all Hollywood annals occurs in the first "Godfather" movie. The sleazy Los Angeles producer wakes up to find a horse's head in his bed, and the mansion echoes with his screams of terror. The producer's hands and silk pajamas are soaked in bright red blood, possible only if the horse was slaughtered on the premises that morning. (Blood turns brown when exposed to air.) How did mobsters slaughter a horse at the mansion, then enter the bedroom and place a large, heavy object on the bed, soaking the sleazy producer in warm blood, without making any noise?


I know! It's almost as if the producer was ASLEEP, and could not hear the evil mafia horse beheading because he was ASLEEP. Totally ruined the movie for me. And what about that scene where Michael takes the gun out of the bathroom? Bathrooms are havens for mildew. DID FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA EXPECT US TO JUST IGNORE THE ISSUE OF GUN CORROSION?!

As the government shutdown grinds on, TMQ offers grudging admiration for Tea Party members who are trying to force the system to confront the kind of long-term unfunded entitlements warned about in this recent Congressional Budget Office report.



TMQ feels grudging admiration if that is, in fact, what Tea Party members are attempting to accomplish. If they are simply trying to harm the president for self-serving political reasons, that is another matter.


GEE I WONDER WHICH ONE IT IS /throws dog out of window

Standing for your principles is admirable; demanding that others suffer for your self-promotion is contemptible.


In other news, please read my new treatise, The King of Sports, available now!

Rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, born in California with grandparents from Iran, had good blocking on the down, and throughout the contest against the Ravens' vaunted front seven.


Born here with immigrant grandparents? He’s like an Obama-Romney hybrid! GIVE HIM THE HEISMAN. Also, here’s an amusing Gregggggg-related email from Ben:

TMQ law holds that cold coach equals victory. On Saturday, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio showed up wearing a windbreaker, while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz wore short sleeves. At this point, I wrote GAME OVER in my notebook. Sure enough, Iowa went into halftime with the lead. Ferentz came out in the second half with a windbreaker, and the football gods were displeased, as Michigan State retook the lead. By the 4th quarter, he had it off again. Iowa's impending victory was certain! But yo ho ho, platonically enamored reader! Surely, the football gods did chortle at yours truly, as the only exception to TMQ law ever occurred. The suffocating Spartan defense smothered the Flying Ferentzes with a pillow and they didn't score a point in the second half. Tout sour! As always, the lesson here is that there are mysteries only God can understand, so find Jesus while you still have time and figure out a way to explain him to aliens when they arrive.


Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Mad Pooper sends in this story I call POOPSHOCKED:

If you use this, call me the Mad Pooper. This was my sunflower seed incident. I was young, I was dumb, I was lazy. Sunflower seeds taste pretty good, but having to crack them out of their shells individually is time-consuming. So I'd start eating them, shells and all, one or two at a time. I thought that they'd just digest into mush, and before I knew it I ate an entire half-pound bag. The sunflower shells don't digest, and pass out in the same condition you swallowed them. Somewhat broken up by your molars, but mostly splintered. In moderation, this is fine. In excess . .. well, the phrase "shitting a pinecone" comes to mind. And not one of those small pinecones, no, but the spiky ones that look like a pineapple on steroids.

After the pinecone departed my bowels in an hour-long struggle, I thought the pain had ended. I thought the trial was over. And then, the next day as I undressed for bed, I noticed that the trial was just beginning. I had skid marks. Not the traditional kind, but the red bloody kind. I ripped my asshole open with that shit. No shit ever before had such an effect on me. For several days, I'd arrive at work early and shove paper towels down my pants. I'd sneak into a bathroom when no one was around, pull out the old towels, and shove some new ones down there, and flush away the old ones, wondering why the men's room didn't have a disposal for sanitary napkins.. I considered adult diapers. I considered going to a doctor, but I knew he'd never believe I tore my asshole by shitting. I fasted for a week, trying to allow the wound to heal. Gradually, the skid marks faded from red to red-tinged to nothing. I have not eaten sunflower seeds in their shells since.


I ate them like that when I was a kid, too. No bloody skid marks though. I got off easy.

Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!


“This week, I like the upshart Cleveland Browns (+10) to go into Lambada Field and stun the injury-cabbaged Packers! THAT’S RIGHT! I LIKE THEM TO BEAT THE SPREAD AND WIN THE GAME CARTWRIGHT. I just think that the Packers receiving corn is too de-cleated for Aaron Rodgers to make derisive throws in the pocket. Call me crazy. Call me stubbord. It’s just a butt feeling I have!” Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 2-2-1

This Week In Terrifying Animal News

A Missouri zookeeper was trampled to death last week by a 6,000-pound elephant. He was trying to walk the elephant out into the yard when the thing charged and stomped him to death. The elephant’s name is Patience, which I found humorous because I’m a terrible human being. ANYWAY, the elephant will not be put down, or shot in the face, which is good because elephants are awesome. Somehow, a little cave cricket makes my flesh crawl. But a 6,000-pound tusk monster with a sentient nose that can grab things? ADORABLE.


Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death

Marques Colston. Nothing worse than owning the one guy in a prolific offense who can’t get his. Somehow, Colston always ends up being the decoy that allows every other goddamn Saint to score a touchdown. You make me sick, Colston. You went to Hofstra! I DEMAND BETTER GRITITUDE.


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 2013 chopping block:

  • Ron Rivera
  • Leslie Frazier*
  • Greg Schiano*****
  • Gus Bradley
  • Mike Smith
  • Gary Kubiak
  • Dennis Allen
  • Jeff Fisher
  • Tom Coughlin*
  • Mike Shanahan

*-Potential midseason firing I like that it took until just now for Ron Rivera to openly declare that going for it on fourth and short was probably a good idea. Join us three years from now when he learns that wasting timeouts can have unexpected, adverse consequences!


Gametime Snack Of The Week


Reader Brian sends in these bacon cheddar potato chip covered peanuts. Which means that someone took little piggy there on the bag, shot him, ground him up real good, rendered his fat into a fine shortening powder, made a chip and coated it in that powder, crushed THOSE chips, and then lacquered a peanut in them. I think little piggy died for a good cause.

Gametime Boozy Root Beer Of The Week

Sprecher hard root beer! For those of you looking to step up your MAN GAME and avoid the hard lemonade comes this remarkable concoction, submitted by Andrew:

This shit is king. It is exactly what it purports to be - root beer that tastes like someone poured some bourbon in it. And it kinda gets you drunk. 5% ABV, at least, better than anything ending in "Lite." Seriously, though, this shit is maybe the only way to drink something that's nice and sugary without a.) hearing endless chatter about "bitch beers" from the drunk assholes surrounding you and b.) having a seriously shitty hangover. Plus, you can put fucking ice cream in there.


There’s no way that root beer is any better at preventing hangovers than any other sweet malt beverage. But at least someone finally put beer in my root beer. I MUST HAVE THE FLOAT.

Robert Evans's MVP Watch!

Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.


"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is still Peyton Manning of the Broncos! Lotta people chiming in on this Redskins debate. As someone with redder skin than your average Chippewa, lemme tell you where ol’ Evans stands. I once spent six weeks in a sweat lodge with Nicholson and a native chieftain named Falcon Shakefoot. Chief Shakefoot had a pipe that contained a mixture of deer feces, elk urine, and some reservation meth. Strong? YOU BET! Hallucinations about cannibal beavers attacking my penis? ABSOLUTELY. Anyway, Nicholson takes a long drag off the pipe and offers the Chief—and he’s completely serious—two cows for three of his daughters. And the Chief said yes! Well now, Nicholson has to go find these cows! So he runs out of the lodge stark naked with a pistol, goes three miles down the road, finds two cows, mounts one, tethers the other, and rides those cows all the way back! Then he shot them dead and told the Chief, ‘Now about some of those gals?’ The Chief was true to his word, and Nicholson told me they were the finest smelling girls he’d ever bedded! Said their privates smelled like cedar and warm honey! Anyway, I have no clue if the Redskins should change their name.”


Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans

Brighton Beach Memoirs. “I have seen the Golden Palace of the Himalayas! Puberty is over! Onwards and upwards!”


Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

"Look, do you want a happy God or a vengeful God?" Enjoy the games, everyone.

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. 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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