Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Why You Can't Talk About Pop Culture Like You Talk About Sports

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

I goofed on Darren Rovell earlier this week, but you know what? At least his douchiness is out in the open. We make fun of Grantland here a lot for shit like "Can Aaron Paul Be A Movie Star?" because a post like that is essentially the same kind of thing that Rovell does, just in a more socially acceptable form. "Let's talk about what the Breaking Bad finale means for Aaron Paul's BRAND." In this case, the work of art itself is secondary to its imaginary perceived value in the cultural PANTHEON. You can read Bill Simmons's review of Rush and picture him at the theater, half-watching the movie and half-concentrating on where it ranks in his Greatest Sports Movies Of The 21st Century rankings. It's the pop culture version of Mark Schlereth and Merril Hoge debating whether or not Joe Flacco is elite. And you know what? The Flacco thing is somehow more tolerable.


This all stems from Simmons's idea of covering pop culture as a kind of sport. Is Gravity a Hall of Fame movie? Can Joseph Gordon-Levitt make THE LEAP?! The reason that shit gets so annoying is that, unlike sports, movies and television shows are not real. When you see RGIII go down with a horrific knee injury in the playoffs, it makes sense to talk endlessly about what that injury means for his career, his team's future, and his relationship with his coaches. Those are real events that have real consequences for real people, and speculating on that is fun.

By contrast, "Can Aaron Paul Be A Movie Star?" is nothing. It's a strained attempt at taking a piece of fictional television and treating it as some kind of final sporting result. ("BREAKING BAD WON! BUT NOW AARON PAUL HAS TO FIND A NEW TEAM!") It doesn't work, and it places an emphasis on the bullshit marketplace analysis of a show over the show itself. It's expanding the water cooler conversation to a two-hour postgame show with eight moron analysts babbling on about absolutely nothing. And while that conversation is fun—I guess?—it's not essential. It doesn't mean anything. The Breaking Bad finale is a complete experience on its own. It doesn't need a fucking HOT TAKE to give it full closure. And rating points and box office returns are not stats the same way that home runs are stats, no matter how hard you try to make it so. There's a reason the Hollywood Stock Exchange never took off.

So please stop. There is nothing about a "Was Jodie Foster's Accused/Lambs run overrated, underrated, or properly rated?" conversation that is at all tolerable. It's pointless. In fact, it's a whole new dimension of pointlessness: bullshit buried under a layer of more bullshit buried under seven more layers of bullshit. Pop culture is not sports. Sports are not pop culture. Give it a rest.


The Games

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


Five Throwgasms

Seahawks at Colts: By the way, I'm not immune to thinking my own scorching hot takes are somehow essential to the gameday viewing experience. I'll watch a football game and spend so much time thinking about making some dumbshit tweet that I'll have completely glossed over a third down conversion. I'm watching the game, but I'm not WATCHING watching it. I am the movie critic composing his annoying review of the movie while watching the movie, and that kind of preoccupation almost always takes away from the viewing experience.


You have to really sit down and concentrate on the game to enjoy it properly, and that's a surprisingly hard thing to do in the 21st century media environment. I'm not gonna go all Franzen and bitch about today's kids with their smartphones and all that. It's fun to hop on Twitter and make your jokes and connect with other people when you're all alone watching some MNF game. But sometimes it helps to remember that the world won't end if you go on a Twitter blackout during a game. I wanna punch myself in the dick every time I get sidetracked thinking about some TOTALLY AWESOME joke about Andrew Luck talking funny. He sounds weird! LULZ.

Texans at Niners: I'd like to know if certain teams coach their players on their SNF intros. I noticed last week that the Pats all had boring player intros, and I bet that's because Belichick said to them GRUMBLE GRUMBLE IF YOU CRACK ANY JOKES IN YOUR SNF INTRO I'LL CUT YOU AND THEN BANG YOUR MOM GRUMBLE GRUMBLE. You're no team player if you slip an Anchorman reference in there.


Saints at Bears: If it's October, it means half the Bears roster is already injured. Do they put leprosy in the tap water at the facility? Christ.


Four Throwgasms

Cowboys at Broncos: From reader Nathan:

Every time the Panthers show up on RedZone, I can’t help but always notice that Cam Newton is chewing gum, which got me thinking. Why isn’t it mandatory for players to wear mouthpieces? Kellen Winslow said earlier this year that most players don’t wear them. Don’t they help reduce the risk & impact of concussions? This is why we had to wear them in high school. A mouthpiece is the only required piece of equipment in rugby. It seems like this would’ve been step 1 in the NFL’s “We Care About Player Safety” charade.


According to this post, the NFLPA has fought against mouthguards because players don't like them because it's hard to call signals with them (although I've seen plenty of quarterbacks bark out signals, THEN put in the mouth guard before going to the snap count). Also, I bet players think that mouthguards slow them down somehow (this is why many of them refused to wear thigh or hip pads for so long), and that wearing a mouthguard makes you look like a pussy.

It drives me nuts when they don't wear them because I spend the entire play concerned that the QB will get his teeth shattered. I remember watching the Cowboys play back in the 90s, and Troy Aikman would NEVER buckle his chinstrap until the very last minute. And I would be sitting there like, Is he gonna buckle that thing? He could get a chin laceration!


A recent post on Time's website says that mouthguards do not help prevent concussions and can actually encourage players to play more recklessly. So I guess that's why the Ginger Hammer hasn't pushed the issue with the NFLPA. Or he's just lazy. Probably the latter. I'm surprised he hasn't mandated them yet so that it LOOKS like he's doing something.

When I was a kid, I was unreasonably excited about my mouthguard. I loved buying it and dipping it in boiling water and then burning my mouth because I didn't let it rest (HOT!) and feeling it conform to my teeth. I used to cut off the ends so that I wouldn't gag on it, then I would wear it around the house for a little bit, even though there was no reason to. It totally made me feel like Jaws from the James Bond movies. I have a mouthguard! I'm a real footbaw player now, mommy! By the end of the season, my mouthguard was repulsive. It was chewed up and had little strands of plastic splaying out. I must have dropped that shit in the mud a hundred times and barely washed it off. SUPER GRITTY. Old mouthguards smell cadaverous. I get why a grown man would want to stay far away from one.


Patriots at Bengals: My old lady got a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine, which was a huge mistake because that magazine is just two hundred pages of restaurants you'll never be able to go to and shit you'll never be able to eat. "Dinner at Saison in San Francisco costs $1,000, but for what you get it's a bargain!" Nothing that costs a thousand dollars is a bargain. Ever. We don't even have a fucking government anymore. Who are these assholes that have a thousand bucks to throw around like that? This magazine is self-torture.

Lions at Packers


Three Throwgasms

Ravens at Dolphins: Tom Clancy died this week. I heard him speak publicly once. During the Q&A session, someone asked him who Jack Ryan was based on, and Clancy grinned smugly and pointed to himself. He was kind of a dick, frankly. And he totally rocked molester glasses. But that Red October was a kickass movie.


Chiefs at Titans: Speaking of that Breaking Bad finale (NO SPOILERS I SWEAR), stevia is awful. If you're unfamiliar with Satan's "natural" sweetener, keep it that way. Because it tastes like someone added nuclear waste to your drink. It's the kind of alarming flavor that makes your brain scream POISON! You are designed to instinctively keep away from it for the sake of your own survival. And the worst part is that many drinks don't have a big label warning CONTAINS STEVIA on them. I bought some sparkling water the other day (ahhhhhh refreshing!) and I figured it was just plain old seltzer water. WRONG. That shit was spiked with stevia, and I didn't realize it until I had thrown my money down, choked on the first sip, and looked at the fine print. Fuck you, stevia manufacturers. You make aspartame look like holy water.

Bills at Browns


Two Throwgasms

Jets at Falcons: I rented a car at the airport a couple weeks ago and the second you step on the rental car shuttle bus, everyone else on that bus becomes your enemy. You know that when the bus pulls up to the Cheapskate Car Rental joint fifty miles from the airport, you gotta beat those fuckers to the counter so you're not waiting in line for eight years. Sure, you could avoid this tension by simply becoming a frequent renter member, but that requires me to fill out a whole FORM. Fuck that.


Panthers at Cardinals


One Throwgasm

Jaguars at Rams: Three of the four winless teams are on a bye week this week. I don't know if that's ever happened so far into a season. Without the Giants, Steelers, and Bucs (not to mention the 1-3 Vikings), you could be watching the finest slate of games ever serendipitously arranged by the NFL schedule-maker. Except for this one. This one is slow torture. By the way, if I were the Jaguars, I would just sign a new QB every week and start him as a rotating sideshow. This week it's Tebow Week! Next week, Jeff George-chella! I bet they would sell at least four extra tickets. WHO SAYS NO TO THIS?!


Eagles at Giants

Raiders at Chargers

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

"Eat the Witch," by Black Breath, as submitted by reader Orlando. Mmmmmm... witch.


Suicide Pick Of The Week

Last week's picks of Indy, Kansas City, and Arizona went 3-0, making me 10-2 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 St. Louis, Carolina, Atlanta, and waiting to get your oil changed. Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet? PLEASE GOD LET ME LEAVE THIS HELLHOLE. I wonder what the record is for someone driving without ever bothering to change their oil. I bet some lazy bastard has gone 50,000 miles without ever pulling into a Jiffy Lube. God, what a luxury that would be if you could get away with it. Stupid oil. Why do we even HAVE oil? You arrogant car folk who change your own oil and look down upon the rest of us can go right to Hell.


Gregg Easterbrook's Book Is Full Of Haughty Dipshittery


The thing about Gregg Easterbrook is that I agree with the bulk of his ideas. Coaches are sleazy assholes. Punting sucks. Roger Goodell doesn't need a goddamn police motorcade when he rolls out to grab a donut. Those are all perfectly sensible viewpoints. The problem is that Gregggggggg cloaks those viewpoints in his particularly suffocating brand of moral superiority, and The King of Sports is 328 pages of that suffocating moralism. Or at least, the first 54 pages are.


A classic example of this is Easterbrook offering up his own resume in the book's introduction ("I bring a moderate combination of intellectual and athletic experience"), or the early chapter he devotes to the apparent college football Eden that is Virginia Tech. Easterbrook says he was granted access to the program for a full season, although it feels as if that full season consisted of about six official visits. Easterbrook MARVELS at his own access: "I was at practices, in the locker room, on the sideline, traveled with the team, wandered into players' or coaches' meeting unannounced." The implication is that only a virtuous program would allow a reporter such free rein.

And for all of his access, Easterbrook draws some remarkably thin conclusions. Here he is discussing VT players reportedly cracking up during a sex ed class:

The coaches listened respectfully, then (coach Frank) Beamer told his assistants he did not want players cracking wise in the sex class. A good guess is that did not occur again.


Dude, you had all that access. Why do you have to guess? Why didn't you GO to the class and see for yourself, instead of assuming that Frank Beamer's MAGIC ETHICS FACE caused an automatic shift in behavior? It gets stranger. Easterbrook spends two pages railing against police escorts for football teams, and then shits out this paragraph:

If society cannot think clearly about a minor question such as whether people involved in football should get special treatment, how can society think clearly about the big issues of football, such as health and education? As for the Hokies, voters around Blacksburg probably approve of the escorts, which add a feel of excitement to a quiet area.


In other words, these escorts are symptomatic of a greater societal ill. Except at Va. Tech, because AWWW SO CUTE LOOGIT THE QUAINT SMALL TOWN! It makes no sense. The entire thing reads like a textbook. In fact, I bet Gregggggg wrote it specifically so that it would become part of some horrible school's curriculum. There are blatant lecturing sentences, like this one:

Now the book changes course from Virginia Tech to the questions of football in American society.


I don't need that announced. I can take a GOOD GUESS at your transition without it. For Gregg Easterbrook, there is a perfect world in which all football coaches can be moral leaders and the sport itself can serve as a shining beacon to American sticktoitiveness, or something like that. And that is his downfall, because football cannot be that way and never has been. If he would just stop being so impressed with his virtuousness for a few minutes, all of the good issues that he brings up—public stadium-funding scams, etc.—would resonate. Instead, they get buried under piles and piles of haughty dipshittery.

Also, bonus points to the miserable bastard on Amazon who wrote this:

I was able to get a copy for free and still felt cheated.

Oh, and there was a TMQ column this week too.

Perhaps the best argument in favor of high school football is that it helps boys learn to become men — to express their masculinity within a structure of rules.


Know what else helps boys learn to become men? LIFE. You will be shocked to learn that many boys grow up to be capable men without ever playing left guard. SHOCKING BUT TRUE.

Seeking to prove that I really do write "game over" in my notebook, a week ago, yours truly tweeted of a contest still in the first quarter, "game over" — and it came to pass that I was right.


The book of Matthew foretold this.

I promised to try this again. When the Bills kicked on fourth-and-2 from the Baltimore 9, I tweeted "game over." Verily, what I foresaw did not come to pass: the Bills prevailing over the defending champions. Obviously I will now reassess this feeling, and the live Twitter test concept.


Yea verily, your rabid devotion to your notebook alarms us all. I DON'T WANT TO SIT NEXT TO A RABID NOTEBOOK.

Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Justin sends in this story I call CAN'T HARDLY POOP:

When I was 19 or so I was at the house of a girl that I wanted to get with, along with a few other friends. We were all just hanging out talking and my stomach started to hurt, that "I've gotta shit like right now" feeling. We were gathered near the bathroom, so I was worried that if I went in there the group of friends including the girl I wanted to date would 1) hear what I would be doing in there 2) be accosted with what I knew was going to be putrid odor upon leaving the bathroom.

So, I said I wasn't feeling well and needed to get some fresh air for a minute. I went outside hoping maybe I could fart it away and rejoin the party. I walked out towards my car (I was parked on the street in front of her house) and as I was walking, I realized there was no farting this feeling away. If I tried, I was going to shit my pants. So I kept walking to my car, and as I was walking, it dawned on me, I have a roll of TP in my car (when I was in college I usually had a roll of TP in my car to use instead of tissues for some reason).

This girl's house was in rural Hunterdon County, NJ and while the house wasn't on a large piece of land, the front yard was heavily wooded, the road had little to no traffic and it was early evening. I was going to shit in my prospective girlfriend's front yard. I got out to my car and fumbled with my keys for a minute while I was breaking out into a sweat in the cool early fall air. I fished the roll of TP out of my car and found a semi secluded spot between my car and the woodline in front of her house and dropped my pants and squatted. The relief was glorious, and it was as bad as I'd feared. Even outside, it was foul smelling and loud. I'd made the right call. I finished up, wiped and tried to bury the rotten chili pancake I'd left by kicking some leaves on it. I started to pull my pants back up when I realized I hadn't left enough clearance in my squat and I'd shit on my clothes. Oh, the humanity! What the fuck am I going to do?! I couldn't just drive off (this was pre-cell phone era) and there was no fucking way I was going back in there with my own shit on my pants.

So I duck walked over to my car and opened the door to get some light and thoroughly assess the situation. I was in luck, I'd only managed to shit on my underwear, my pants were clean! So I proceeded to take off my pants and underwear, now at this point I'm standing completely naked from the waist down next to a steaming pile of my own shit, hoping no one from the house looked outside and that no one would drive down the road. Luckily no one did. I tossed my nasty boxers in the trunk of my car put my pants back on and rejoined the party. No one was the wiser, and I got the girl.

Epilogue: the girl and I broke up several months later. As it turned out, she had IBS and I couldn't deal with her shit (literal or figurative) and she moved to Boston and, well, fuck Boston.


I love the visual of a college guy keeping a roll of TP in his car. That's a total college guy move.

Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!


"I believe the offensive JUGGALO that is the Denver Broncos (-7) will defeat my belunged Dallas Cowboys by a Siegfried margarine! What Peyton Manning is accomplicing with this offense is unpresidented. It's a whole new front deer, people. I don't want to speculum on all the records this offense could break. But stuffed rice it to say, by the end of the season, we could be looking at one of the greatest offenses in hysterectomy."

Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 1-1-1

This Week In Terrifying Animal News

More people are dying in China thanks to the giant Asian hornet and I am extremely afraid. One of these fuckers was spotted in Illinois earlier this year. What are we doing about hornet prevention? With our government shut down, our nation is vulnerable to hornet invasion. I want every sector of the armed forces on this. I don't give a shit about Afghanistan when there are nail-shooting death hornets potentially coming our way. Those are fucking Hunger Games-sized hornets. If we let them invade our shores, ALL IS LOST.


Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death

All of the Bucs. Not only has Greg Schiano ruined his own team, but he's essentially rendered Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin useless. What a horrible man.


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:

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

*-Potential midseason firing

It's altogether possible that, by the end of his run, Schiano will down as the worst head coach in NFL history. His overall winning percentage may not end up being as bad as Cam Cameron's or Les Steckel's, but there's so much more to terrible coaching than wins and losses. You can win a few extra games due to mere luck. A historically bad coach accessorizes his losses with numerous acts of public dickery: bum rushing the victory formation, videotaping your players in the locker room, etc. Schiano's got what it takes to be the very worst, and you have to admire that.


Gametime Snack Of The Week

Poutine, as demanded by reader Ian. I had a poutine burger once in LA. FUN FACT: one bite of a poutine burger contains 50,000 calories. I felt like I had swallowed a truck.


Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week


Freedom Salute! From Patrick: What does it taste like? Well, as they said in Talledega Nights, "It tastes like FREEDOM!".... That, and stale horse piss. Come on, you're not finding a more AMERICAN beer than that. They even donate proceeds to the troops! They should have called it FREEDOM SALUTE EAGLE FLAG IWO JIMA STARS AND STRIPES.

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 Peyton Manning of the Broncos! A lot of people are talking Oscar about this new Sandy Bullock space movie. Gripping? YOU BET! Sandy in astronaut hot pants? BEATS A DIAPER. Now, let me tell you about the time ol' Evans took a trip up to outer space. It's true! Back in '75, I was running Paramount and Henry Kissinger—a dear friend—said that NASA had a trio of seats left on board one of the last Apollo missions. Apollo 34: The Revenge of Icarus, I think it was formally called. Well, I wasn't one to waste the chance to gaze upon this crazy planet from the heavens, so I told my darling secretary Beatrice Firmlicker to hold my calls, picked up Nicholson and a little honey pie at his joint, and flew right to Houston for blastoff!


"Well, the second we leave the atmosphere, things go to right to hell. Jenny, our escort, is complaining that we need to go back to get her dog. There are NO flat surfaces inside the rocket to snort coke off of. And Nicholson is just coming down from an acid trip and thinks there are snakes in the cockpit. And so there I am with Captain John Smithjones, trying to restore order to the cabin. 'You guys need to settle down, baby! This is the final frontier!' I give Nicholson a quick shot of liquid dramamine and give Jenny the backrub of her life, and things have settled down. Space is just like a movie set: You gotta keep everyone happy, even the little people. Anyway, Jenny ended up giving me a handjob just as a meteor was passing by ten feet away and it was FANTASTIC. I also did some light repair work to a satellite bridge. Evans is a natural at space dancing, baby!"

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans

Rambo: First Blood, Part II. The best part of this movie—apart from that scene where the bad guy gets blown up with an exploding arrow—is when Rambo jumps into the water to avoid an oncoming helicopter. And then, when the helicopter flies low to the water, Rambo LEAPS out of the water like a fucking dolphin and commandeers the thing. It's perfect. It's like 60 McBain movies packed into one tidy, GIF-able little moment. I love it.


Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

"He became Francine back in '76. Then he joined that cult. I think her name is Mother Shabubu now."


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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