Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

You’re Not An Owner

Image: Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

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

I liked sports more when I knew less about it. Melvin Gordon ended his holdout and reported back to the Chargers before last Sunday’s win over a beached Dolphins team that plays football about as well as I dance. Gordon didn’t play in that game. He didn’t need to. His replacement, Austin Ekeler, piled up over 120 combined yards and scored two touches in his stead. In fact, Ekeler currently ranks fifth overall in all-purpose yards leaguewide. Thanks to him, the Chargers haven’t missed Gordon’s services for all of September, really. And oh, how other people have been more than ready to point that out:

You probably already know that most RBs are fungible and that overpaying one can act as a needless tax on the rest of a team’s roster. I know this because, like other fans, I know too much. And so Gordon’s holdout becomes less of a referendum on what his services are truly worth—he scores lots of touchdowns playing a game that will kill him; I’d say he deserves a bit of money—and more of a referendum on whether or not the poor Chargers, who moved to an indifferent L.A. because they couldn’t fuck San Diego over for enough free money, can still prosper without having to actually pay someone something substantial.

The only remaining holdout left in the NFL is Skins Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, who skipped out on training camp because he felt like the team, in accordance with all of its mystical ceremonies and traditions, misdiagnosed an injury—in this case a terrifying growth on his scalp. Williams doesn’t want anything to do with the Skins anymore. Anyone who’s been alive for the past two decades can understand why. The fact that Williams is nearing the twilight of his career as Washington attempts its 97th debuild made it logical for team president and man who resembles a disgraced judge Bruce Allen to trade him away for a few draft picks to recoup the team’s losses. After all, there has been no shortage of suitors interested in acquiring Williams, including the world champion Patriots.

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But, rather than cutting a deal, Allen and the Skins have instead decided to leave Williams in cryogenic storage, just to fuck him over. And, against all reason, there are real fans who support this effort. I’ve met a few personally. Others you can find online, commingling with all of the expected asshats:

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This comes on the heels of Antonio Brown commandeering the bulk of NFL bar talk over the past four weeks. After the Raiders cut Brown right before Week 1, Steelers fans acted as if they had just been exonerated by the fucking Mueller Report. I saw one dude post a GIF of Big Ben cackling. Big Ben: the guy who was suspended for credible accusations of sexual assault.

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But even before Brown could sign with the Patriots in accordance with Satan’s wishes, and then get accused of rape, and then get accused of sexually assaulting ANOTHER woman, and then get cut by the Patriots after threatening one of those accusers … it was still vital for certain segments of NFL fandom and the league media to act as if they played a critical role in giving him a proper comeuppance for merely being a rude dick. That includes prominent folks like Andrew Siciliano, who acted like Brown crackering his way out of Oakland was an exercise in 4D business maneuvering that somehow sent a horrible message to THE CHILDREN.

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Did Siciliano, as host of DirecTV’s version of Red Zone Channel, then happily preside over Brown’s only appearance in an NFL game this season the following week, when Brown scored against Miami? Of course he did. Siciliano is a paid cheerleader for football—and an extremely talented one at that. He could indulge in cheap moral grandstanding about Brown online and then, in the same turn, deftly integrate his highlights into the RZC broadcast. Business as usual.

I’ve had Sunday Ticket for over a decade now and never have I heard Siciliano call out NFL owners for all of their own horrifying offenses and crimes. These are offenses—stadium grift, burying concussion research, etc.—which owners commit on an annual basis and not only set a shitty example for your kids, but may also occasionally bankrupt their school for good measure. But you’ll never hear about that shit on RZC because A) There’s too much football to keep up with and, more important, B) Owners would never allow it. Owners hate it when you point out their own shortcomings, but they love it when you shit on players who are either misbehaving or not producing. And they’d prefer for that to be your eternal off-field focus. They want you to labor under the delusion that what is good for a team financially is also good for you as a fan, which is not true in ANY sport. That’s the heart of the scam.

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By design, it is no longer enough to watch the games. This has been true ever since the draft became a massive TV event on its own. Games only occupy so much time on the calendar and so it behooves leagues like the NFL to cultivate more customers like me, who have become fanboys of the BUSINESS of football, perhaps more so than fans of the actual game itself. They wanna give every self-serious football person license to act like a fucking owner, and plenty of fans are more than happy to take the bait. Armchair coaching and quarterbacking is now jayvee shit.

Thus, a holdout like Trent Williams finds himself fodder for every two-bit shitbag seizing upon his current holdout to feel better and more important in a team’s hierarchy than him. That’s also how players like Jalen Ramsey—who wants out of Jacksonville and has checked off a full laundry list of reasons to be absent as he tries to force their hand—end up being singled out as harbingers of undue player “entitlement”:

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Whatever happened to an owner’s WORD, I ask you? What if the NFL becomes the NBA, where BLACK players have leverage? OH NOES!

These takes are both dismal and constant. When certain people see an opportunity to feel smarter than an athlete, they fucking REVEL in the moment. They enjoy treating every non-QB as expendable and inessential to their needs. They celebrate a naughty athlete being put in his place by Men Who Know Better, and they celebrate even harder when, in the case of Brown, those athletes prove to be legitimately malevolent. NFL owners don’t want you to necessarily cheer for Melvin Gordon. They want you to manage him. They want every take you have to be, “Well, if I were in charge…” Fantasy football has assisted them in this effort by proving an even deeper and more rewarding form of owner cosplay. I love cutting players who have displeased me and getting good draft/trade value for those who have not. It’s not the players who have an overblown sense of entitlement. It’s the people watching them.

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The NFL is owned by an assortment of cutthroat financiers, pea-brained heirs, and hallucinating Packers fans. Being an NFL owner means you are an inherently unsympathetic figure, so what better way to avoid public resentment of both your wealth and your misdeeds than by redirecting that resentment onto the players in your employ? The players are the ones who are visible. The players are the ones who have to openly perform on the field on a weekly basis and risk failing in public. It’s all too easy to trick fans into believing that THEY have ownership of those players, and that they can and should then conduct themselves accordingly.

That’s how fans like me all know about otherwise boring backroom football business like the cap, and bonuses, and voidable contract subclauses. This is part of Madden. This is part of fantasy. This is part of TV-room shouting matches. It’s fun, to a point. But there comes a tipping point where the ownership delusion somehow supersedes the joyful dreams of wanting to be the guy who throws the winning touchdown pass, and that’s how you end up with an NFL where the only bad people are ones wearing a uniform.

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This is exhausting. This isn’t a mindset you need to have as a fan. You can just watch and enjoy and be as good of a fan as anyone else. You’re not a fucking owner. It would be NICE to be an owner, what with the money and handjobs and what not. Dreaming of hitting it big is your right as an American. But what the first quarter of this season has showed is how so many fans willingly adopt the worst qualities of an owner—venal, controlling, angry, forever devoid of personal responsibility—while having nothing material to show for it. You’ve been hoodwinked and left out on the street. The NFL isn’t giving any of you a penny, and no white knight team is waiting to ride in and give you a cushion for your fall. If that angers you, Melvin Gordon is the last person you should blame for it.

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

Cowboys at Packers: Rod Marinelli is good enough in his current job that I don’t even think of him as the guy who went 0-16 in Detroit anymore. That said, he’s fucking HILARIOUS to watch on the Dallas sideline. He’s always sticking his head out, looking around all confused. Like he’s waiting for a package to arrive. It’s adorable. All the disgraced coaches are cute and sweet to me now. They’re like rescued strays.

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Except Gregg Williams. He’s still a fuckface.

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Four Throwgasms

Rams at Seahawks: The other day I got stuck at a green light behind a dude who was too busy looking at his phone to notice that the light had changed. This happens all the time, especially in Maryland, where everyone on the road has “being considerate of other motorists” as the 57th highest priority on their list.

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So I gave the standard Hey, the light turned green, man courtesy honk, and this guy STILL didn’t move! He was so distracted that the light went BACK to red before he fucking looked up. I’ve never been so pissed. I wanted to drive over his car, like I was behind the wheel of Grave Digger. He deserved it. Instead pulled into the other lane and GUNNED it at the next light, the growl of my mighty little Kia engine letting him know that he fucked with the wrong hot rod. I had grocery shopping to do, YOU FUCK. I bet he was super intimidated.

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Three Throwgasms

Bucs at Saints: Guys, I have terrible news:

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I guess my hope now is that Jameis is just good enough this season for the Bucs to give him the Kirk Cousins package at the end of it, and then he goes right back to sucking. All of that is HIGHLY possible, which makes it all the more fun to root for. If Jameis really IS finally good, we all get to quit this sport forever.

Browns at Niners: I heard “Train In Vain” out in the wild the other day and it’s amazing how many old songs like that have lyrics that read like a deranged email from a stalker:

I can’t be happy without you around

So alone I keep the wolves at bay
And there’s only one thing I can say

You didn’t stand by me
No, not at all
You didn’t stand by me
No way

You must explain why this must be
Did you lie when you spoke to me?

Did you stand by me?
No, not at all

Jesus, Mick Jones. Calm down. You’re in The Clash. Plenty of fish in the sea for you. Trump Jr. probably read these lyrics out loud during his divorce proceedings.

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Ravens at Steelers: I don’t think I need those NFL-N-Motion replays anymore. The Matrix was 20 years ago, man. I am not left jaw agape when CBS or some other network deploys a Bullet Time replay of a third down conversion. I’m not like oh wow they’re panning in slow motion! It’s like I’m right there on the field! Just show the basic replay and get on with it.

Colts at Chiefs

Jaguars at Panthers

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Two Throwgasms

Bills at Lions: There’s nothing I hate more than a modest flea flicker. If you’re gonna go balls to the wall and draw up a flea flicker, I demand one of the following outcomes:

  • Long touchdown
  • Horrible sack
  • Horrible turnover

That’s it. Those are your options. I never want to see a checkdown on a flea flicker. I’d rather you fumble the ball than settle for some piddly-shit eight-yard gain. Don’t give me a flea flicker chub and then stomp on it with that kind of copout.

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Bears at Raiders (London): This is NOT an early morning game. It’s part of the 1 p.m. slate and, as someone who keeps fully regimented dad hours, I’m mildly disappointed. I could have been watching terrible, terrible football at 10 a.m. here on the East Coast. Instead, I’m gonna have to like, install a bathroom shelf. Annoying. I’ve been cheated.

By the way, this is Chase Daniel’s 10th season as a pro and he only crossed 1,000 career passing yard last week. That’s amazing. He and Neckbeard Era Kyle Boller are the patron saints of lucrative clipboard holding.

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One Throwgasm

Falcons at Texans: Whitney Mercilus has the coolest name in the NFL and has had it for years now. Whenever he retires, he should go directly into pro wrestling. Slightly better for his health, anyway.

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Jets at Eagles: Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you.

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There indeed HAVE been more OPI flags this season. Through the first four weeks, there have been 33 OPI penalties called, which would put us on pace for 132 of them over the course of a full season. That would be 47 more OPI calls than there were all of last season. It would be the highest number of OPI penalties called in a decade, if not throughout ALL of league history (nflpenalties.com only tracks the data back so far).

The difference between this year and all the others, of course, is that PI is now reviewable. This was because of the blatant DPI that the refs missed in the NFC title game, but changing the rule has probably had an unwelcome effect on the other end of the equation. You know how refs sometimes let a play go because they know it’ll be either challenged or reviewed automatically? I think it’s possible that refs are throwing more OPI flags now because if they fuck up, replay can always correct it (though, given these past few weeks, replay isn’t bailing them out much at all). Conversely, if you’re a coach and your team just got victimized by a long catch, you can always gamble by challenging the play and hoping that Al Riveron looks up in between sips of Tito’s and decides that Amari Cooper was just a little too insistent in trying to get separation.

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So look at that: We have a philosophically flawed replay system meant to correct obvious mistakes that potentially ends up inventing lesser ones instead. I can’t believe they added MORE flags to my fucking football. I wanna die. IF I WERE AN OWNER HEADS WOULD ROLL THEY WOULD.

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Broncos at Chargers: J-Lo is your Super Bowl halftime act. Let’s see how Dee Snider of Twisted Sister is taking the news.

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Dee actually circulated a petition demanding metal acts play the halftime show. I grew up on ‘80s metal and still love it, but I did not sign the petition. I understand that the world has moved on. Allow Dee himself to prove my point.

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Everyone knows blue corn mush is the new thrash. Even Dee.

Giants at Vikings

Skins at Patriots

Cardinals at Bengals

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

“Antisocial,” by Anthrax. When will Anthrax get to the play the Super Bowl Halftime, I ask you. I was around 13 when I first heard this song and had no idea, until just now, that it was a cover of a song by a FRENCH metal band called Trust. Behold!

If I had to rank funniest languages for heavy metal singers, French is now near the top of the list. Anyway, I loved the Anthrax version when I was a kid and I thought it was about, like, gold diggers. I was like YEAH MAN, CHICKS ONLY WANT MONEY! I didn’t get laid for the first time until I was 20.

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Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

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This is the week for sportswriters and whistle-brained coaches to show you their AARP cards as they clutch their pearls over California’s Fair Pay To Play Act. Would you be shocked to learn that one of the shriveled oatmeal cookies to decry that new law as a sign of the coming Apocalypse would be Lou Holtz? Truly, you would.

You go to school in order to get an education.

You do? I went to college to drink beer and PARTAY with my brothers Bluto, and Otter, and Stork, and Boon, and Sharky, and Corkhead, and Flam.

Why do schools even have sports?

And why do they have MATH? [my kids’ voice] I’LL NEVER USE ALGEBRA IN THE REAL WORLD!

Because you learn so much from sports. You learn about adversity, you learn about getting along with other people, you’re learning about teamwork and being unselfish.

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This is undeniably true. Not even being sarcastic here. I went to a D-III school and it had sports because sports are part of a good old fashioned physical education. No argument here.

All these qualities will carry over. You ask almost everyone who ever played athletics how much they learned and that’s why we have them. We don’t have them for money.

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Again, this is true … UNLESS a loose collective of TV networks, advertisers, college administrators, governing bodies, boosters, stadium operators, oil barons with names that sound like a discount steakhouse brand, and junket enthusiasts decide to DO stage and broadcast college sports for money. And then they build it into a multibillion-dollar industry that not only enriches them, but also enriches athletic directors, university Presidents, and big-name coaches, like—oh, I dunno—Lou Holtz. Then perhaps those qualities have less of a chance of carrying over.

It’s predictable but still depressing that when college athletes make strides in getting equal pay, the first people that news outlets—and not just Fox—ask about the impact of those strides are the old fuckheads who profited from denying the players money to begin with.

Why don’t we say, ‘OK, let’s do a compromise?’

Yes, let’s. We pay college athletes, and you fuck off eternally to a fishing boat.

The athlete, Justin Fields, you’re a great quarterback. We’re selling your jersey. What we’re going to do, we’re going to take that money and we’re going to give it to student scholarships. We’re going to have four students going on a full scholarship in the name of Justin Fields scholarship, for example.

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Why don’t YOU start a fucking scholarship fund, Lou? One that grants more than your tipping budget? You’re worth $20 million. Fuck you and your money. All these guys are rapacious capitalists right up until the moment someone ELSE stands to profit from the free market.

I just think we cannot get in this thing of paying somebody.

It’s like he’s already been entombed. The old dingbat.

Magic Johnson’s Lock Of The Week: Rams +1.5

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“The Rams play in Los Angeles, which is where I live and where I played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers! It’s also home a close friend of Cookie and mine, Mark Frauenfelder! Congratulations to Mark on his new spice delivery service, Thym! Now I can get cinnamon anytime I want to! Mark is like the new Marco Polo! Hey, those names sound the same!”

2019 Magic record: 1-3

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

It’s Adam Thielen. This is clearly not Thielen’s fault, given that the man tasked with getting him the ball is a timid laughingstock. But will that stop me from registering my SEVERE disappointment? It will not. Catch more balls that are thrown 17 feet above your head, young man! I was told you were a gym rat. Well, grease up those elbows and WANT those balls!

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Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

Robert Saks Mattress Company! From Dane:

The legend of Robert Saks Mattress lives on in the minds of anyone who went to University of Oregon in the mid-2000s. Eventually he started wearing a Ducks hat, but during his heyday he looked like this in every ad. The man had the worst rug of all time, and wore it BRAZENLY in ad after ad after ad. This isn’t even close to his worst, but very few of the others (pre-hat) are online. Plus! Check out his Yelp reviews. The man was a terrifying dick who commented on customers’ weight and whose dimly-lit store was stacked floor to ceiling with plastic wrapped mattresses. If there are any still-unsolved I-5 murders, this is your guy.

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Now that’s the kind of fetching hairpiece that surely has all the ladies lined up to enter ol’ Bob’s boudoir. I watched this ad in full and, I can’t lie, those are some low prices for a new mattress. In fact, they’re too low. I don’t mean that in a joking way. If you buy a $300 mattress made by a brand called Rest Western, you’re gonna need six different back surgeries within a year.

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 2019 chopping block:

Bill O’Brien*
Jay Gruden****
Doug Marrone
Dan Quinn*********
Ron Rivera
Adam Gase
Brian Flores
Zac Taylor

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Folks, Dan Quinn is PISSED.

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I love it when teams do this kinda shit. It’s the NFL equivalent of a Papa John’s being like WE HEAR YOU when everyone tells them that they make shitty, racist pizza. I always appreciate when NFL teams are self-aware. It happens once a decade, on average. But they always have such epiphanies right when they have no way of doing anything useful about it. Uh oh, everyone … you better look out for the Falcons because the confused guy is MAD now! You never see losing coaches pissed!

Great Moments In Grandpa History

Rocky sends in this story I call YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO OLD ‘EM:

So, for a solid 2+ years I never beat my grandfather at a SINGLE fucking card game. He gave no pity. He crushed me.

I finally figure out after those 2 years that there was a mirror behind me and he was openly cheating.

I challenge him to a real game, and he replies, “What is the fucking point of playing now? No thanks.”

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This is only tangentially related, but that story reminds me of Maverick, which was made back when Mel Gibson was a charming movie star and not a deranged Jesus freak yelling SUGAR TITS at cops when he’s ass loaded. Anyway, I always remember that the final showdown in Maverick includes a prop ace card that appears to be roughly a full millimeter thick. See for yourself:

I can’t believe a fictional movie would toy with reality like that! Truly it is I who have been cheated.

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Gametime Snack Of The Week

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Chocolate Chex! One of the better Chexes. Has anyone ranked the Chexes? They probably have. This is the Internet. They rank celebrity ultrasounds here. But my Chex rankings will be special because they’re from ME. Let’s give it a whirl.

  1. Honey Nut
  2. Chocolate
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Corn
  5. Strawberry
  6. Wheat
  7. Blueberry, I guess
  8. Vanilla
  9. Stabbed in the butt
  10. Rice

Please note that I did not include Chex Mix on here. That’s its own thing. I also did not include Crispix on here, because that’s not a Chex. Also, it’s weird. Oh wow, rice AND corn? Together? It’s like there’s a generous farm subsidy in my mouth and everyone gets a cut!

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Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

All hail our beloved goat piss!
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Taedonggang!!! From the forbidden realm of North Korea comes this little bit of insurrection in a bottle. From Lawrence:

Fresh from the banks of the Taedong River in Pyongyang comes Taedonggang lager. I enjoyed this surprisingly refreshing beverage from the 47th floor of my hotel. It goes without saying that North Korea is more restrictive than pretty much anywhere else on the planet but they are surprisingly lax about alcohol consumption. I drank this bevie (Australian for beverage) pretty much all over the country, from the DMZ all the way up to the border with China. I grew up a Bengals fan and I think it says a lot that I would rather spend a week in North Korea than watch another Bengals game. As for the taste: honestly really good! Hopefully one day this will be available at your local retailer.

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I hope so, too. If shitty beer can’t unite us all as citizens of the globe, WHAT CAN?!

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!

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“Witches are real, okay? I know six of them. I know Lady Gary. I know Fran of El Paso. I know Ally Shady down by the goat stable outside Chicago. And I know the Toad Sisters. All of them are good at the witchcraft and what have you. No brooms or hats or any of that kiddie stuff. These are REAL medicine women. If you have an open sore on your leg that’s been infested with fly larvae, Fran can whip you up a cure just like THAT [snaps fingers]. I don’t know what she puts in those salves of hers. I think one time I saw her use a tampon she pulled out of her dog. Didn’t bother me. If you got flies hatching out of your kneecap, not a lot else will bother you.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Dolphins Fans

Rambo: Last Blood! I stand by my take that the original First Blood remains a surprisingly thoughtful, even sad, action movie made back when people did NOT support the troops perhaps as much as they should have. So it’s weird that the original First Blood—the story of a downtrodden vet persecuted by a fuckhead sheriff and so traumatized by war that it’s become the only way he knows how to cry out for help—kicked off a whole franchise where every subsequent movie features Rambo slaughtering people en masse in the name of MURKA. He’s the asshole sheriff now. That would be a downright Shakespearean character arc in the hands of, I dunno, Francis Ford Coppola. In the hands of Sly Stallone, it’s basically excuse to kill lots of Mexicans. DURRRR LIVIN’ IS ALL ABOUT DYIN’ DURRRR…

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Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“OK, hotshots, now that my daughter is on your team, I want to make a few things clear. I don’t want anyone to give her a hard time just because she’s different: no jokes, no taunting… Look, that kid’s got bosoms! Who’s got a wet towel? Come here, you butterball!”

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Enjoy the games, everyone.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.