Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Find more of his stuff at his Twitter feed.
I finished reading that Scorecasting book this week, which is very good and which I highly recommend (it was excerpted here at Deadspin earlier in the week). I like any book that contains information I can then regurgitate as my own at cocktail parties, so that I can look like a smartypants dick. ("Actually Tim, there is no such thing as a hot streak in baseball. It's merely a random sequence in a larger and more telling pattern of a player's ability. FACE.") Anyway, the chapter I found most interesting dealt with Arkansas high school football coach Kevin Kelley, whose team never punts and always does an onsides on kickoffs (basically, the old Madden strategy before Madden went and got too realistic). Also, his team never uses a punt returner, because Kelley believes the risk of a muff or fumble isn't worth the potential gain of a long punt return. Since taking over Pulaski, Kelley's teams have won about seven of every eight games.
The book shows that Kelley's strategy is essentially the correct one. You're usually better off taking advantage of the opportunity to run a play on fourth down than you are giving the ball back to the other team. Economist David Romer found that NFL teams are always better going for it on anything less than fourth-and-5, from anywhere on the field.
Five times last week, the Packers punted from inside Chicago territory, including on fourth-and-1 at the Chicago 36. The Bears punted from inside Green Bay's 35 TWICE, which is insane. The book explains that the reason coaches do this is not because they have huge flaming red gashes, as I thought, but because of something called loss aversion. You fear the sting of missing a fourth down more than you relish the chance to convert it. Losing what you have hurts more than never gaining what you could have had.
And this trait is found in virtually all humans except, the book noted, mentally disadvantaged people who lack certain emotional capabilities. Autistics, basically. In other words, the conservative way the game is played right now can NEVER change because almost all humans are vulnerable to loss aversion. Which means the game we're watching now is not being optimally coached at all times. And that kind of annoys the shit out of me. Someone needs to get Rain Man down on a sideline immediately (a real rain man, not a faux rain man like Belichick) and play the game with some fucking nuts.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And during the playoffs, I pick the games, because why not.
Steelers (+2.5) 26, Packers 23: One of the downers about this upcoming Super Bowl – perhaps the most evenly matched (at least on paper) Super Bowl I've seen in my lifetime – are the dire warnings from many sports writers that this will be the last football you see for a very long time, what with the upcoming labor war and all. It's like going to a wedding and someone runs around to constantly remind you that the bar closes at midnight. You would punch that person in the kidneys, and rightfully so. There will be plenty of time for us to wallow in the misery of a work stoppage in the coming months. For now, let us just enjoy what we have, please? No? Oh, god dammit.
This is an impossible game to pick. I have no interest picking against Aaron Rodgers. But I also have no interest picking against the Steelers, who tend to win this game whenever they happen to be in it. Fuck it. Seven titles for Pittsburgh. Now let's get to the random crap:
• I was unaware that the NFL may make thigh pads and knee pads mandatory next season. I wore thigh pads playing high school football, and they always end up creeping up your pants and digging into your nutsack. I can see why players don't like them. Also, they smell horrible, which makes no sense. They're made of plastic, which is impermeable. How the fuck can they end up stinking so horribly? I was trying to think of which football pads end up smelling the worst at the end of a game or practice, and the answer is usually shoulder pads. And yet no football pads come anywhere close to smelling as bad as hockey pads. I mean, you walk in a hockey locker room after a game and you want to do fucking DIE, it smells so bad. I think that has to be source of pride in the NHL. Hockey and wrestling have to rank as the smelliest sports.
• I went to get some skim milk at the store the other day and I grabbed the carton with the light blue cap. This has been ingrained in me since I was very young. Whole milk has the red cap. Skim milk has the light blue cap. One and two percent are wild cards. But the milk I grabbed was actually one percent, to which I say to Mr. Dairy Man: WHAT IN THE LIVING FUCK? What, you just abandon the milk color-coding that everyone knows? You've got some nerve, you dick.
• Reader Sdot:
Every time you watch a Steelers game, they show those awesome cauldrons of liquid steel pouring out and sparking like crazy. Well, I've lived in Pittsburgh for five years so I decided to figure out where this bad ass shit happens and see if they give tours or something. I gathered up five of the older gentlemen I work with and asked if they knew where a steel mill was. They pondered this for about five minutes and decided none of them had any idea. So what the fuck? Are they using stock footage from the 70's? Is the footage coming from a Japanese steel mill? At least there is a GM building in Detroit.
US Steel is still located in Pittsburgh, so the footage you see is almost certainly of one of their mills. And I'm told a robust 85% of the workers there love themselves some Cher! But yeah, that steel cauldron footage is fucking sweet.
When I was a kid, we had a shop class at my school and one of things we made in shop was lead soldiers. You took a hunk of lead, placed it in a small crucible, and held a flame under the crucible until the lead turned molten. Then you poured the lead into molds and let them cool. A few minutes later, BOOM. Lead fucking soldiers. Now, there's no possible way my old school still lets kids do this. We got to handle torches, red hot crucibles, and molten lead, which is highly toxic. It was like eight hundred different lawsuits all in one. Any of us could have pulled a Johnny Tremain right in the middle of class. And it totally would have been worth it. Lead soldiers rule. I felt like a medieval blacksmith whenever I made them. I wish I still had my collection. I killed many a Nazi with those things.
• I gave my kids fish sticks for dinner (because they are gay fish). I hadn't had fish sticks since I was like, five. And you know what? They're fucking AMAZING. They taste just as good as when I was a kid, if not better. I could have eaten the whole goddamn box of Mrs. Paul's. If I were ever single again (and if Mrs. Drew ever decides to start reading this column, it'll happen!), I'd eat fish sticks at least once a week.
-The other day my kid was watching "Pocahontas" because Disney has a monopoly on her imagination, and when the movie ended she turned to me.
HER: Is Pocahontas real?
ME: Well, she was. She lived hundreds of years ago.
HER: And now she's dead?
ME: Uh, yeah. She's in Indian heaven, with coyotes and porridge and cool things like that.
HER: But I wanna meet her.
ME: But you can't. She's not around anymore.
HER: But I wanna meet her.
ME: Maybe you'll meet her one day… IN THE TRICKSTER WORLD.
HER: But I wanna meet her.
At this point, I wanted to grab her a scream, "Don't you get it? She's fucking DEAD! She's never coming back! And that movie wasn't even close to real life! The real Pocahontas was slaughtered at, like, age 8 and raped repeatedly beforehand! And John Smith sounded NOTHING like Mel Gibson! DO YOU NOT FUCKING UNDERSTAND?"
Instead, I told her she'd get to meet her one day. So if you're a girl and you're brown and you have a buckskin lying around, give me a holler so I can make this summit happen.
• We need a good slur for autistic people. "Retard" is inaccurate, and "savant" is too pleasant. Something like "wallstarer," or "smarttard," or "childbot." I'm not sure. Let's work on it together.
/going to Hell, I know
• I took my younger kid for a walk the other day and on the sidewalk were two dead deer that had been nailed by cars and thrown to the side. It's so easy to ignore roadkill when you drive by it. I'm very casual about passing by grisly death when I'm tucked neatly inside my car. "Oh, look! Dead deer! NICE. That'll learn you, fucko!" But walking by the thing is a whole other ballgame. I maneuvered the stroller around the carcass and I could see right in its fucking eyes. Like I had killed the thing myself. And my kid is staring down at this mangled animal and I'm trying to get around it with the stroller and it's horrible because this thing is dead and IN MY WAY. It can't even get a proper burial. It's just a fucking obstacle now. Completely ruined me. Don't ever look roadkill in the eye.
• Ever get random pain out of nowhere? I was reaching for something last week and BOOM! Tittyache. No cause. No reason. Just a sudden searing pain right in my tit. And then I was like, JESUS. I have male breast cancer. JUST LIKE SHAFT HAD. Then I felt around for a lump and nothing. Then I reached for something else and the goddamn tit flared up again. And now? It's gone. Totally inexplicable. Getting older sucks.
• My older kid has a birthday this weekend. One of my kid's birthdays always falls during the Super Bowl, the other one two weeks before, during the conference title games. I have the worst birth planning in human history. I'm just a fucking idiot. Can't believe I didn't think of that during conception. I should have held out. I should have said WHOA LADY! NO MORE OF THIS SWEET THING UNTIL WE HAVE A MARCH RUGRAT. Anyway, we're having a birthday party the day before the Super Bowl. This will be my fourth straight weekend going to a kid's birthday party. That's an okay streak, but surely nowhere near the record. I bet some poor mom out there has had to go to twenty straight. Or even thirty. Birthdays are fucking relentless. And some kid always gets hurt during the party.
• Ever have sex with someone and think to yourself, "Boy, I can't wait to masturbate to this later on!" That makes no sense, and yet.
Two Weeks Ago: 1-1 (1-1 vs. the spread)
Playoffs: 3-7 (4-6 vs. the spread)
Drew's Chili Recipe
Every year, I post this recipe in the Jamboroo. Readers who have made it seem to think it's all right. I love cooking chili, much more so than any other soup or stew, which is weird when you think about it. Ask me to make chili, and you can't get an apron over my big stupid head fast enough. But ask me to make borscht and I'll tell you to suck on my ballbag. My love is for the king of stews and the king of stews alone.
FOR THE CHILI:
2 packs ground beef or chicken (make sure it's a fatty percentage, too lean and it turns out all dry and crumbly and you will be less than a man)
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (optional, but I'd just like to note here for a moment: Shallots are the things that make restaurant food taste like restaurant food. Next to butter, they're the MVP of restaurant staples)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tall red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can beer
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)
2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ashes from a joint (optional)
Lotta Frank's Hot Sauce (Frank's is the fucking best)
2 glugs olive oil
FOR THE SIDES:
Frank's hot sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped (as always, don't skimp on the fucking scallions)
Put a big pot on the stove on medium. Pour in the oil. When it's hot, toss in the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and shallots and stir them around until soft. Toss in the ground meat. Salt and pepper the ground meat in the pot. Sautee the meat until it's good and brown. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, beer, broth, liquid smoke, sugar, cumin, chili powder, fennel seed, joint ashes, vinegar, and Frank's. Bring it to a simmer. Half cover the pot and leave it on low medium heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it's ready to serve. SERVES ONE.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"The Sky Is Fallin'," by Queens of the Stone Age. Always Queens for the Super Bowl. I'll just listen to this three times in a row while the Black Eyed Peas rape your eyes and ears at halftime. I have to think they're gonna throw an unexpected sample into one of their remixed hits on Sunday that will make you barf up all over yourself. I'm guessing it's "Jessie's Girl." I've gotta feeling about it.
Embarrassing Song I Once Liked That Will Not Fire You Up
"Just The Way It Is," by the Rembrandts. Yes, before they recorded the theme song from "Friends," the Rembrandts were already a VH1 staple with this song. The video features them playing guitar in the desert, which is usually a money video move if your band's name happens to be Deftones, but not if your band is The Rembrandts.
I kind of miss VH1 being a soft rock station. You could take a break from MTV's retardery any time you liked and spend a few minutes with Tom Cochran or Marc Cohn or Martin Page. I bet the channel's format change left a hole in Jim Nantz's heart a mile wide.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
It's never a good thing when a sportswriter openly declares something like, "The Hall of Fame needs to care about character." And that, of course, is precisely what Greggggg does this week when he suggests the Hall of Fame banish all convicts and make room for players who attend church regularly and went to a school with a kickass graduation rate:
Though (OJ) Simpson and (Lawrence) Taylor are in the Hall of Fame, Jack Kemp — who was the AFL's all-time leading passer, then went on to a life of highly distinguished public service, including being the Republican Party candidate for vice president in 1996 — is not. What's the distinction?
Well, mein führer, the distinction is that Simpson and Taylor were both really, really, really good at playing football, whereas Kemp was not quite as good. Because when evaluating Hall of Fame candidates, no one gives a shit if you ended up being a senator or not, nor should they. There's already a Walter Payton Man of the Year award for players who are super nice to everyone and aren't EVIL GLOREE BOYZ WHO LISTEN TO THE HIPPITY HOPPITY. That's enough. OJ Simpson is a murderer, and Lawrence Taylor has a noted history of being a scumbag, but that has no bearing on whether or not they were good at playing football.
Do you tell your children that character does not matter? Of course not. So why do you tell this to other people's children?
Again, beware of any writer busting out the "think about the children" argument. This is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's not a fucking Disney Museum. It's not meant just for kids. You can enshrine someone like Simpson and simultaneously acknowledge at the exhibit the harsh truth of what he did. You can show kids that being the best at a sport doesn't necessarily make you a great person. There is room for nuance, you know. That's how people fucking LEARN. Kids aren't fucking idiots. You can tell them the truth and they'll be just fine. Let them learn. Don't whitewash everything just to protect their precious innocence.
A Hall of Fame official might say, "OK, suppose we toss out Simpson and Taylor. Do you want us to go through the entire list and expel any player or coach who later committed a serious crime or harmed others?" Yes. That's exactly what you should do. Cooperstown and Springfield should, too.
Idiotic. If you hadn't already noticed, the Baseball Hall of Fame is struggling horribly now BECAUSE they stupidly ask voters to take character (which is in many ways an impossible thing to judge, particularly if you don't really know a person) into account when voting. Now they have no one to enshrine and they look fucking stupid. You really want to kick Ty Cobb out of Cooperstown? Really? Does that make your kids lives markedly better? Then you live in fucking Fantasyland.
Nazi Shark's Vegas Lock Of The Week
Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Deadspin can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.
"This week, I like Green Bay giving 2.5 points against the Steelers. I see Egypt is in turmoil. THIS IS WHAT YOU PEOPLE GET FOR LETTING THE JEWS ESCAPE 3,000 YEARS AGO! The Germans never would have let that happen!"
2010 Nazi Shark Record: 13-6-1 (3-0 playoffs)
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Jordan sends in a story I call SHAMPOOP:
Every so often, I'll be rooting around in my general dick/balls/asshole region - no real direction or intention, just surveying the grounds - and I'll find a strand of my girlfriend's hair woven deep within the underbrush. Such a discovery is, of course, the high point of any day; you pull the loose thread, marvel at the path it carved in your horrible taint fur and then have feel strangely invigorated. I don't have an absurdly hair bathing suit-area or anything, but this is a more regular phenomenon than I would have expected. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the hair will be comically long. How did it get there? How long had it been there? How did it slither its way around without tangling itself painfully around a ball hair? All very important questions.
But this all goes out the window if the strand of hair is not easily removable.
A little while ago, I woke up around 5 a.m. and, before my vision had a chance to clear, I felt a foreign tickle right around the butthole. Careful not to wake my girlfriend, I dove in to inspect and, sure enough, one of her hairs had nestled itself in the usual no-man's land. I pulled on it, only to find that this one hadn't just made a little grundle maze but was, I assumed, tangled in full-on ass hair. This complicated matters, so I pulled a little harder. That's when it dawned on me.
The hair had wriggled its way right up my butt. And it was not moving.
If you're keeping score, it's well before sunrise, I've been awake for all of 20 seconds and have had to come to terms with the fact that part of my girlfriend's thick Italian mop somehow, while I was asleep, got lost in my colon. I gave it a tug, but it was most certainly caught on something. What could it have possibly been caught on? A kidney? My fucking heart? Should I just make peace with it and accept that I have acquired a very fine tail?
In a word, fuck no. That is stupid. I went to the bathroom, hovered over the toilet and, with increasing force, pulled on the hair. It felt like I was starting to make some progress, a sensation accompanied by increasing twin desires to weep and vomit. I was preparing myself for some sort of half-alive insect on the other end or a small fish or something, and I decided to just fucking go for it. I gave it a mighty yank and ... success! It was out! I turned around to look at this rectal nightmare and..
It was poop.
I held in my hand a foot-long strand of hair, the bottom of which was wound tightly around a one-inch shit-diamond. Really: It was a piece of poop shaped like a diamond (or, I guess, given the circumstances, like a kite). I bounced it around a little, just to be sure of the structural integrity. It was solid. I know very little about anatomy and the digestive system, so maybe there is a perfectly logical explanation for a piece of hair hiding out deep inside a human asshole and hitching itself to a rogue turd-flake. Although, when I see it laid out in type like that, it does seem a little strange.
Cool. Like a yoyo!
Great Moments In Poop Closed Captioning
Reader Melanie got this screen shot while watch "Deuce Bigalow" on cable:
I'm hearing impaired, so the captions are always on my tv. I have been hearing impaired for about 9 years now, and I am very familiar with the various descriptive captions that let the viewer know about the "lively percussive music" happening in the background, or "general mumbling" of a crowd, or "brakes squealing" during a chase scene. I have never, however, come across anything nearly as descriptive as the captions in this picture.
That's great hustle by the caption writer. I work out at a gym and every TV there has closed captioning (often right in the center of the screen, which is fucking idiotic), and they seem to misspell every third word. If I were deaf, I'd be pissed.
THE BITCH LIST
Despite being told over and over again that no one reading or listening gives a shit, there are still sportswriters and radio people out there bitching about the Super Bowl weather. I have compiled this list, which is most certainly incomplete. You people are bitches.
Steve Czaban (et tu, Czabe?)
Mike Florio (oh, Florio)
Tony Kornheiser (who isn't even in Dallas)
By all means, link to other whiners in the comments. You people got a free trip to the Super Bowl. Spare me your smegma tears.
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 final chopping block:
Wade Phillips (FIRED!)
Brad Childress (FIRED!)
Josh McDaniels (FIRED!)
Mike Singletary (FIRED!)
Eric Mangini (FIRED!)
John Fox (FIRED!)
Tom Cable (FIRED!)
Jeff Fisher (FIRED!)
How about that Jeff Fisher firing?! Here I'd gone and packed away the chopping block for the season and BAM! Surprise firing! That was awesome, because we all thought Fisher would be fired at the beginning of last month, and then he wasn't, and so an inevitable firing became a total shock firing, which couldn't have made me happier. And if they hire Greggggggggg Williams, we get to do it all over again in 12 months, if not sooner!
Gametime Snack Of The Week
After Eights! Just a wafer thin mint, sir. After all those wings and all that chili, you'll need something a touch more refined. There's no cheaper way to feel like a rich person than to eat an entire box of After Eights. I like any food that comes in individual sleeves. I'm also the lazy prick who leaves the empty sleeves in the box, so people who check the box afterwards THINK there's an After Eight left in there, only to have their dreams CRUSHED when they find nothing but empty wrappers. Being evil is fun!
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
BUCK RANGE LIGHT! Reader Brian sends in this notorious hunter's brew!
After savings it ended up being 10 dollars for 2 12 packs.
The can, on top of being premium, also claims to be a Genuine American Lager. It is hard to see because they decided a slightly darker blue font on a blue background was a grand idea. Also missing from the can was the white buck that I had put all my trust into from the box. Pouring it into the glass I figured it would taste like the box indicated it would. Like buck piss. Instead the only way to describe it is that there is a party in my mouth, but only hobos showed up and they are pissing and fucking everywhere and one is sleeping in my stomach.
That sounds amazing. I MUST HAVE IT. Look at that twelve pack. Mountain animals let you know the beer tastes good! And the serrated B lets you know that this beer ain't for fags!
Robert Evans' Super Bowl MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about who the leaders are for the NFL's Super Bowl 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 the NFL's Super Bowl MVP is James Harrison of the Steelers! Your friend Evans has himself a bit of a pickle this Super Sunday. He has an open invitation to Ari Emanuel's annual Super Bowl party, which is always a blast. Champagne? YOU BET! Illegal political fundraising for his brother? WHY NOT? But I also have another invite, one from the legendary CHARLIE SHEEN! Now, surely you know about the trouble this young man is going through. I sympathize. It's hard to do a briefcase full of cocaine with the world watching you. It wasn't back in the day, when you could order eight speedballs to your room in Naples and the press would look the other way! TIMES HAVE CHANGED, BABY!
"But I'm a bit wary of watching the game over at Charlie's. The past time I went there, he snorted Ortho fertilizer and ran around the place throwing knives at the walls. UNPREDICTABLE LIKE BRANDO. The geniuses always have a touch of madness. Well, my date for the evening, the lovely Pia Zadora, got three daggers right in her thigh. And I tell Sheen, SLOW DOWN BABY! A real player knows to pace himself with drugs and sharp objects! And Sheen turns to me, looking very serious. VERY serious. And you know what he says to me? ‘You wear too much eye makeup, Evans. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore.' WHAT A CUTUP! I died laughing. Ol' Charlie can charm you like no other! I dunno what happened to Pia that night. I think she passed out in the bushes. Probably the blood loss."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Panthers Fans
The Ghost Writer. That Roman Polanski may rape preteens, but he sure does know how to craft himself a fine motion picture. The last shot of this movie was the fucking tits. Though I question casting Kim Cattrall as a British person. I kept hearing her talk during the movie and I was like, "She doesn't talk like that! Also, she's a tramp!" I kept hoping to see Olivia Williams naked in this movie, only to have my hopes dashed. But I did see Ewan McGregor's ass. You can never get through a Ewan McGregor movie without seeing his ass. He's the male Julianne Moore. If they ever made a movie together, they wouldn't have to hire a costume designer.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Isn't there anything faster than a microwave?!"
Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.