Skip to contents
Funbag

A 40-Team NFL Is A Terrible Idea That I’d Absolutely Live With

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about quitting your job, husband nomenclature, sex, backup QBs, and more.

Before I get to the Funbag, we’re just eight days away from the Live Distraction Party in New York. There are still tickets available, but precious few. So if you’re in town next week and you’d like to spend a night with me and the Defector crew, get your tickets here. If you fuck around and forget, you’ll NEVER forgive yourself.

Also, gift subs to Defector are back again for Christmas, so buy some for the smartest and sexiest people in your life.

Your letters:

Tom:

I was born in Texas, but grew up all over before my dad retired from the Army and we settled back there. So my sports fandom grew over the course of living in different places. As a little kid, I cheered for Notre Dame because I liked the tradition and uniforms and it’s the legal obligation of every Irish Catholic to cheer for that insufferable team. When I was going to college in New York, I also started pulling for Texas because I missed home. And since I’m a West Point graduate, I follow Army football as an alumni, which is great now because they suck a whole lot less than when I went there. So, grand tally, I cheer for three college football teams: my childhood team, my hometown team, and my alma mater. Is that too many teams? Am I a giant fraud? Should I pick one team and only one?

You’re all good. Bigamy is allowed in the college ranks, especially when you’ve got personal ties to multiple places. I also like that you’re cheating on both ND and Texas, two programs that deserve to be betrayed at all times. I think less of you for liking the Irish but more of you for cheating on them with Army. You betrayed Notre Dame before Brian Kelly did. Fabulous.

There are hundreds of college football teams out there, so if you’re not some Oklahoma pervert who earnestly believes that Lincoln Riley is the second coming of Judas, there’s no reason to tether yourself to one asshole school or another. To that end …

Alex:

For my entire life, every major sports league in the US has had essentially 30 teams. Why is this the magic number? It’s not like there aren’t 60 metro areas large enough to support sports franchises. And there are numerous cases of large cities that currently support multiple teams. Not to mention the fact that cities like LA and Las Vegas have gone without an NFL team for decades. Plus the NHL, MLB, and NBA have all proven that Canada is a viable, potentially underserved market. And markets are quick to divide when a new team shows up. The DC area was solidly Orioles territory for a long time, but now there’s a very healthy Nationals market there. So what gives? Why can’t we have a 60-team NBA with an annual 32-team single elimination playoff bracket or something? I vote for more rivalries and more chaos ASAP. 

I had another reader write in all angry about this exact subject when Florio proposed, a couple of weeks ago, that the NFL expand to 40 teams. If you watched Zach Wilson square off against Tyrod Taylor on Sunday afternoon, you’d be right to be like, Hey man there are already too many awful quarterbacks in this sport; we don’t need more of them. That would be my gut reaction as well. HOWEVER, I’ve lived through four NFL expansion teams (five if you count the Bucs, who were founded the year I was born), six MLB expansion teams, and eight NBA expansion teams. The NHL has DOUBLED its membership since I was born. In none of those cases did expansion actively diminish how I regarded any of those sports. It gave me plenty to piss and moan about at the time, but I still watched. The games all still mattered exactly the same to me. It’s like any other change you fear: You complain, and then you get used to it, often quite quickly.

So I would not campaign for a 40-team NFL. But if they ever added eight new Jacksonville Jaguarses, and they will one day, I’d still watch Sunday Ticket and do all the same NFL fanboy shit I do right now. Ten years after that and I’d be hard-pressed to imagine an NFL without the San Antonio San Antonians in it. Would be very scary to me. Again, I watch college football even though it has hundreds of teams and NO idea what the fuck it’s doing. I’m used to the chaos. We could even institute relegation with a 40-team NFL. Go winless and you might find yourself in the NFC East the following year. TERRIFYING.

David:

Has Donald Trump ever used a hammer to drive in a nail?

Yes. You saw him get all excited to sit in a big truck, right? HONK HONK! He’s definitely grabbed a hammer and done stupid shit with it.

Rob:

I was reading Albert Burneko’s post about that awful Washington Post article about quitting your job, and realized that I unknowingly followed all of the Post’s awful advice when I quit my last job earlier this year. I gave a lot of notice (four weeks!). I wrote up a stupid little guide to pass on my wealth of knowledge to whoever replaced me. I wrote a brief resignation letter that really only served to document that I was quitting. I felt good when the VP of the company told me I was leaving “the right way”. Do I care too much about being perceived as professional? Am I a mindless corporate drone? Help! PS: A few months later my former employer went out of business and their remnants were bought by my current employer for pennies on the dollar, so none of that mattered I guess.

Nah nah, you quit just fine. The day I quit Deadspin was the only time I ever quit on the spot, but those were extraordinary circumstances. Every other time I’ve quit, I’ve been a good soldier just like Rob here. I resigned in person. I gave two weeks’ notice. I even apologized to one of my bosses because I was quitting after only a couple of months on the job, leaving him scrambling to fill a position he’d already had a hard time filling before I arrived. I didn’t give 10 weeks notice, or offer myself up to give the CEO free fucking daycare or anything of the other idiotic things that WaPo article suggested. The immediate bosses I’ve had have all been demonstrably human: fair, compassionate, and often as frustrated with the nature of business as I could be, if not more so. Many of those bosses are still my friends to this day.

So I always quit the normal way, to make their lives, and the lives of everyone else at work, easier. It was a matter of basic courtesy. The people who run G/O Media were the only people I’ve ever worked for who didn’t deserve that courtesy. And even when I quit that job, I did so with this email to Paul Maidment, sent on Halloween morning 2019:

Dear Paul,

Please accept my resignation from Deadspin, effective Saturday, November 2nd. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Drew Magary

That was it. I never told him or Jimmy Spanfeller to go fuck themselves, even though both of those guys had more than earned it. The act of quitting, all but immediately, said all I needed to say. I remained professional without being a fucking doormat. Professionalism is handy that way: It preserves relationships you might need and it ends the ones you don’t with a minimum of unwanted blowback. After resigning, I started this site with all my old colleagues from Deadspin (including my editorial boss, Barry Petchesky), and now Paul Maidment is probably sitting in England somewhere, unemployed and playing Candy Land against himself. I win.

Evan:

How old were you when you started unpacking your suitcase when you got to your destination instead of just living out of it?

Uh… uh… uh… definitely many years ago. For sure. No doubt. I’d never live out of a suitcase on the road. That would be so UNprofessional.

I only unpack if it’s a long stay: usually one for pleasure and not business. And even then, I’m hesitant because I don’t wanna leave anything behind in a hotel dresser, and because my wife has forced me to believe that every hotel room/Airbnb has bedbugs EVERYWHERE. Even the TV has bedbugs in it, if she is to be believed, which means my rollerboard is somehow the only sanitary place on Earth for all of my belongings. Does this stop me from draping all of my laundry all over the room when I’m alone on the road? Sure doesn’t. I essentially unpack onto the floor anywhere I go.

Calvin:

Can you help assign a new word for the male spouse? “Husband” is an ugly word, and the derivatives are even more nauseating. Hubbs, Hubby, Husbo… I saw someone actually refer to their male partner as “The Hubster” today. Fucking puke.  As a husband myself, I take offense at these obnoxious nicknames. There’s gotta be a better word out there. 

Well you’ve got “wife guy” right there, which, as others have already noted, the internet is determined to make a permanent replacement for “husband” even though it’s corny and stupid. “Husband” is a good word. I see no need to fuck with it. I loved telling people I was an official husband right after I got married. Made me feel like a MAN. I’ve also used “hubby” without guilt or irony, because why wouldn’t I? Those other variants Calvin listed like “husbo” have never crossed my radar, and I doubt I’m alone on that. Most people say “hubby” or “husband” and it works perfectly well. You can use “spouse” if you wanna sound like you’re filling out a tax form all the time, but I’m not gonna join you there.

The much more pressing issue is replacing “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” both of which were clunky even before the 21st century dawned. I know I’m a middle-aged guy because I tepidly asked my colleagues the other day if younger people had already switched those terms out for “partner” instead, because I get a lot of emails and see a lot of tweets with “partner” used instead of “girlfriend” or “fiancé” or even “husband.”

[yelling at cloud] But “partner” is also weak. I get why all the crazy kids out there have migrated to it, but that’s even MORE vague than “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” were. You two could be fucking, or you could be writing a biology paper together. How am I to know? Just call whoever you’re having sex with your “fucklover,” and then everything will be clear. Do it for my sake.

Steve:

Because it’s backup QB season I never played the sport, just how hard is it to be a backup QB? To run an offense not designed for you and then everyone’s eyes are on you?

Yeah, for all the jokes I make about envying Chase Daniel, Kyle Orton, and any other clipboard-holder who’s banked tens of millions of dollars, backup QB is still an extremely difficult job. Take it from a veteran benchwarmer. You still have to practice. You have to study tape. You have to lift. You have to hit all your marks in front of the coaches so that they don’t fire you. You have to spend all day wondering whether you’ll ever be good enough to start … whether you’ll MATTER to a team. Our coaches always gave credit to the benchwarmers for helping the starters prepare, and they told us that the team wouldn’t win without us. I never believed a word of it. I knew I was expendable. I knew I was worthless. Worse yet, I knew that everyone else knew it.

You still have to prepare like you’re going to play, and then sometimes you actually DO have to play, which is a nightmare. One day very little is expected of you and then suddenly the world is. There’s nowhere to hide. If you suck, everyone’ll know it. And I only experienced that sensation at the D3 level, at an invisible position. Shift all that to the biggest sports league on the continent and the most heavily scrutinized position within it, and suddenly Chase Daniel’s paycheck isn’t easy money.

HALFTIME!

Patrick:

I’m a high school teacher and have had the joys of teaching Shakespeare to disinterested teens (and frankly I don’t blame them). But I often marvel at the fact that we still study texts that are 400 years old, and it got me wondering: in 400 years, will kids be studying films the same way we study Shakespeare? Will Hitchcock and Scorsese be revered in the same way? Or has the Disney/Marvel machine changed the way people will look at film in the future?

You don’t have to wait 400 years for movies to be canonized. That happened a long time ago. They already make kids study classic films, especially in college. My daughter gets assigned PODCASTS for homework. So yes, the canon will always incorporate different media as mankind adopts them, which means that my descendants will pore over the Kermit drinking tea meme in great reverence many centuries from now. Very exciting to think about.

My oldest son never watches movies. Ever. I can’t tell you the last time he watched a movie, or even a TV show, for that matter. I tried to get him and the youngest to watch Dune with me, but both of them bailed after 20 minutes. Part of me accepts that this is how it is: that my son is growing up in a culture that’s inarguably different from the one I grew up in, which means he’s gonna prioritize certain types of media over the ones I used to prioritize.

But another part of me is grieving, and do you know why? Because I’ve become a Movie Knower again.

This is dangerous ground, as Movie Knowers are among our absolute worst citizens. I was an insufferable Movie Guy for the bulk of the ’90s. We had a video store in town run by a dude named Lion—that was his real name—and I’d go there every day to rent any movie I saw that was directed by the Coen Brothers, that Ebert gave four stars to, or that starred James Woods. I’d force my teammates to watch Taxi Driver and tell them why it’s a great movie WHILE we were watching it. They hated me. One time I stayed up all night because One False Move was on HBO at 2:00 a.m. and I had never seen it before (great movie). I kept a running Top 10 of my favorites movies in my head at all times. And this was just one of MANY insufferable things about me back then.

Then I got a job and got married and had kids and you know how all of that works. No more movies. No more Prestige TV. No more new things. For over a decade I lived in a pop-culture black hole where the only shit that came on my radar were Pixar movies and fucking Spongebob. But my kids are all older now and the fog has lifted, and so I started watching a shitload of movies again. Every weekend morning, I head to the basement when the kids are staring at their own screens and I knock out a movie that’s on the to-see list I keep in my Notes app: Barry Lyndon, The Stranger, The Green Knight, Blowout, every Guy Ritchie crime movie I somehow missed, etc. Movies are great because the time investment is nothing compared to serialized TV. It’s everyone’s best effort and all of the studio’s money packed into a relatively tidy two to three hours. I wish the older boy would join me one morning for a tasteful screening of Butch and Sundance, but my track record of pushing movies on people isn’t exactly sterling.

The pandemic took a lot of life options away from me, and is still doing so, but at least I got movies back. I get to be ’90s Drew again, walking into that video store and asking Lion for his personal recommendation before ignoring him to rent The Onion Field instead. It’s been an unexpected and decidedly pleasant upside of middle age. I could fret about the “future of movies,” like some cineaste dickhead, but I’d rather just chill the fuck out and make my own little canon. And I don’t give a shit what’ll stick around hundreds of years from now, because I’ll be too dead to care.

Also I love Shakespeare.

John:

Before the pandemic I was a skinny guy but now I am 65 pounds heavier and it’s all fat. One thing I notice about being fat is that I’m super horny, way more horny than when I was skinny. I feel like I could rub one out multiple times a day. I totally like this part about being fat. My question is do you think fat people have better sex then skinny people?

Well I’ve had sex when I was in shape and when I was overweight, and I can tell you that it was still pretty fucking great either way. I think I liked sex better when I was in shape because I FELT sexier while doing it. But no, I’ve never felt like there was any physiological difference to be had. I had sex and beat off the same either way. An orgasm’s an orgasm.

I’m not as horny as I used to be. Given that my weight has remained fairly consistent over the past decade, comas aside, I know that’s more a matter of age than anything. And I honestly struggle with it. Like a lot of guys from the 80s, I put a lot of my identity into my libido: both nurturing it and then satisfying it. I always equated sex with good living and in many ways I still do. So whenever I catch myself NOT thinking about getting laid, I feel like I’m 1,000 years old. I feel like I work for The New York Times. I fucking hate prudes, and I read that Vanity Fair article about everyone in Hollywood taking HGH so they could fuck more and I was WAY more interested than outraged. I was like, “Hmm, I could go for that.” But no, instead I write books, cook fine meals, raise a loving family, and am happier, in many ways, than I’ve ever been. I could have been a monstrous sex addict this whole time instead! Tragic shit.

Tom:

If you could make one song just go away, what would it be? I’d choose Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. I love most of Queen’s discography but I’ve never liked this, felt it was played by and for morons who would stop and clap and think “Look at me! This is all about me!” The horrible GMC Sierra ad just pushed me over the edge. That ad captures the losers who think this song is cool. No offense to Queen.

I FUCKING HATE THAT AD! Motherfucking pickup trucks. A bunch of rich-ass yuppies clapping along to the radio while driving a pickup they’ll never once use for picking up things is NOT rock n’ roll! The only car that song should be blasting out of is a 1972 Dodge Dart with a trunk full of awful weed. Every pickup truck on Earth should be buried under a mountain.

Sorry, I got distracted there and didn’t answer your question. My answer is “Hotel California.”

Matt:

I recently learned that one of my friends uses the bathroom (pooping!) with her husband present, and vice versa. I am horrified, mortified, stupefied, and basically any “-fied” that someone can be about anything about this. What’s your take?

This is an open bathroom, yeah? I’m not horrified. You get married and you’re gonna see and know everything about each other. That’s how marriage works, unless you’re some Promise Keeper freakshow.

That said, my wife and I aren’t exactly going out of our way to hang out around one another mid-shit. Everyone deserves their space.

Jeff:

Against my nature, I’ve been patient with COVID. I quarantined. I made sourdough (it’s dead now). I binge drank at home. I did Zoom happy hours. I skipped parties and holidays. I wore the masks. I got the vaccine. I continued to wear the masks. My question is when are we done? 

Yeah I’m getting pretty sick of this shit, too. Once word of the Omicron variant broke last week, I was like FUCK YOU, MAN. I didn’t wanna hear that. I did my fucking job. My wife and I got boosted. My youngest kid gets his second dose on Saturday. We earned the right to be free of this goddamn pandemic already. I’m tired of being a good sport while all of Florida runs around wiping its nose on each other. Meanwhile Twitter keeps demanding I be fucking hopeless with every new development that pops up.

It’s not all bad, though. Boosters work. The drug companies will know very soon if the vaccines work against Ozymandias, and even if they don’t, Moderna already said they can re-engineer another vaccine for it within MONTHS. If you had told me back in the summer of 2020 that by the end of 2021 we’d have a vaccine, that my whole family would have it, that stadiums would be full again, that I’d be perfectly comfortable wearing a mask in public places, and that I’d gone to not one but TWO rock concerts, I would have been fucking floored. I would have danced a jig, I’d’ve been so happy.

So I try to remember that, because I could be sitting here right now in a vax-free world, with my kids STILL in Zoom school and me doing a much grimmer form of calculus: deciding how much risk I’m taking with my life just so I can eat in a fucking California Tortilla again. A substantial amount of that risk is now gone, and yet I’m still waiting for someone to tell me that life is now 100-percent safe when it never has been. I’m like a guy who just got out of prison but is scared to leave his apartment afterward. So you and I are as done with this as we’d like to be.

The antivaxxers should all go live in a fucking box, though. Fuck you.

Email of the week!

Acacia:

I was reading the most recent Funbag (it’s how I recover from teaching 100+ 8th graders) and you were talking about chocolate soda and gum. It reminded me of the year my mum bought a random bag of Halloween candy for something at her office, had leftovers and gave them to me for bribes to get teenagers to stop teenager-ing for 30 seconds. When I dug through what was left it was like 70% chocolate Laffy Taffy.

A couple of the boys I taught at the time tried it, because that’s 1000% what teenagers do. They gave me some half-assed description that was functionally useless, so I braved trying one. You know, for science. It was basically like eating Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa mix. It’s like someone at the Ferrera Candy Company had a cup of Swiss Miss and said “You know what? This would be even better if I could just chew it.” No kids were that hard up for candy to ever be convinced to finish off that crime against chocolate, so it languished in the back of my desk until I was packing up my desk contents for my move to a new teaching job and discovered it. It went in the trash where it should have ended up four years prior, but didn’t because my teacher desk is a black hole for random crap.

Anyway, someone besides me and my family needed to know about this candy abomination.

Sounds awful, but then again I actually like eating hot cocoa mix.