A Big Honking TV Is Family
1:56 PM EDT on September 7, 2023
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, through here.
Upstairs in my parents’ house, there is a TV room. My mom calls it “the media room.” She and my dad renovated this house, on a massive scale, in 1991. While building it, they indulged in all of the de rigueur architectural terms of the day, terms they continue to use as long as their new home stood. Hence, a “media room": a wonderland of televisions and hi-fi sets and more practical VCRs than money could ever buy.
The house originally belonged to my grandmother on my dad’s side. In fact, she was an architect and designed it herself. There was no media room in the original house. There was only a small TV room (now a bathroom) adjacent to the front entrance, where I would eat Cheez Balls off a folding tray table and watch a black-and-white television to burn the clock on extended visits. It was no fully armed and operational media room, but it did the job. If I had a TV to watch, any TV, I was a happy kid.
When my grandmother died, sometime around 1990, my parents decided to move from Minnesota and into her house. But first, they wanted to spruce it up. A lot. They put in a kitchen with an island (islands were a newish thing at the time), an adjoining family room, a whole new master bed and bath, and, of course, the media room. To christen the media room, my parents bought a big-screen TV to serve as its centerpiece. This was back when big-screen TVs were still marquee luxury items: the kind of shit you won as the grand prize on a game show. My folks’ new TV was a rear-projection Sony, with the projector nestled inside and beaming the picture out of the screen rather than onto a wall or pull-down scrim. It was only standard def, because HDTVs didn’t yet exist. But fuck me if it wasn’t the coolest TV I had ever laid eyes on.
I never lived full-time in the new house, because I went off to school the same year that Mom and Dad moved into it. So I know this house only through visits. Hundreds of them, all of them worth preserving in my memory. When I think about my parents, I think about the Corian countertops ringing their kitchen. I think about the wicker-patterned wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom that can trick you into thinking that you’re looking at real wicker if you relax your eyes enough (or if you’re drunk). I think about my mom setting the dining room table for Christmas Eve dinner days in advance. I think about tying Nantucket knots out of newspaper with my dad to start a fire in the family room.
And I think about the TV. I watched movies on HBO until 4 a.m. on that TV. I made out with girls in front of it. I let a Nintendo Wii babysit my kids every Christmas with it. And, of course, I watched football. A ton of football, with the 1998 NFC title game standing out foremost in my memory, very much against my will. This was just a TV, of course: an inert, inanimate thing. But any object can grow a soul if you’ve been around it for long enough. Sometimes the stuff of life is literal stuff, and so I have memories of this TV that bleed out far past the edges of its screen.
This past spring, I went back up to my folks’ house for a visit. They’re getting up there now (my mom will get testy with me for writing that), so they don’t move as fast or get out as much as they once did. They can’t drive down to Maryland to visit my own family anymore, so I have to go up to Connecticut anytime I want to see them. The drive is a pain in the ass—any seven-hour drive is—but it’s always worth it to pull up their gravel driveway, see my mom come walking out of the back door with her arms spread wide, and then hug her and ask what’s for dinner.
And for this visit I got a surprise, because mom and dad got a new TV for the media room. A legit TV. No more rear projection. No more standard def. This fucker was a majestic slab of LED goodness: 75 inches if it were a foot.
My sister and brother, who live much closer by than I do, also visited for the weekend. With an afternoon free, we went up to the media room with my dad and christened the new baller TV by watching a movie. This was the first time the four of us had watched a movie together, without our own children littering the room, in decades. It was probably the last time we ever will, due to circumstances more logistical than ghoulish.
Dad fell asleep during the movie, because he falls asleep during any movie and has for the past 30 years. My sister and brother and I watched to the very end. The movie was Nope, and we were all impressed by it. But in the back of my head, I was thinking about the TV itself. Suddenly, the old Sony one wasn’t as precious to my memory as it had been days before, because the new TV kicked so much ass. Also, it was sitting in the same spot as the SDTV. So in spirit, it was the same TV as the old one, only grown up now. Post-pubescent.
This was such a nice TV, in fact, that I began wondering about the televisions in my own home. My wife and I moved into our house about 20 years ago. It once belonged to her grandmother on her father’s side. In 2015, we did a massive renovation of the house, featuring—you guessed it— a kitchen with an island, an adjoining family room, and a whole new master bed and bath. No media room, though. We had a finished basement, and that was media roomy enough to suffice.
The 55-inch Samsung we bought for it all those years ago, however, no longer did.
A month ago, I told my wife I was thinking about getting a bigger one. When she didn’t shoot the idea down immediately, I took that as a green light. I had the coming football season to account for, and I love to spoil myself. I know exactly how privileged I am, but that doesn’t stop me from taking material advantage of it when I feel frisky. On this day, I felt very frisky indeed.
I dragged my two sons to a big-box store, ogled all of the new TVs, and finally plunked down for a 65-incher that made the old HDTV look like a fucking Commodore. I took it home and spent the rest of my afternoon mounting it to the wall. I had experience in mounting televisions, so I didn’t scream out a single angry profanity while working; that’s how much I’ve grown over the years. When everything was plugged in and connected, I arrived at the moment of truth. It was time to turn the fucker on. If you’ve ever done a house project like this, you know that the odds of success in this moment are 50/50, or at least they feel that way.
I turned the TV on, logged into all of my shit, and got my first glimpse of the picture. Reader, it was so beautiful. Like seeing God. TVs don’t have the cultural value they once did. They’re all glorified monitors now, and they look more alike than they ever have. But if you were raised on TV, as I was, and you behold a new one in your midst, you will suddenly visualize the great, wide future of sloth that it promises you. I played PlayStation on this thing and felt orgasmic. I watched a WHOLE preseason football game on it. Not just the first series. All of it. I didn’t give a fuck. All I wanted to do was stare. My kids came down and felt likewise. Suddenly, this WAS a media room.
The timing is not lost on me. My daughter is a senior this year. Next summer, she’ll be gone, only to return here for extended visits. I think about what parts of this house she’ll take with her as she goes to college, and then out into the world beyond: the countertops, the fridge, the dog perched atop the couch, the shiny wallpaper in the main floor bathroom. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the story of our house now parallels the story of my parents’ own. When you know what a perfect home looks and feels like, it’s only natural to want that for yourself and for everyone else you love. I have that home now. I know how lucky I am. I can see it on my basement wall, all 65 inches of it.
I also know that I am now ready for some goddamn, all-American, motherfucking football. I got the TV for it now, and I ain’t afraid to use it. This is the 2023 NFL season, and this is your Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo. Maestro, the music please.
AWWWWWWWWW SHIT. Let’s get after it.
2023 NFL Predictions
I’m doing it. You can’t stop me. I’m about to get irresponsible. BEHOLD.
Green Bay 6-11
New Orleans 10-7
Tampa Bay 3-14
N.Y. Giants 8-9
San Francisco 13-4
L.A. Rams 6-11
Philadelphia over Washington
Minnesota over Atlanta
Detroit over New Orleans
San Francisco over Detroit
Minnesota over Philadelphia
Minnesota over San Francisco
N.Y. Jets 13-4
New England 8-9
Kansas City 11-6
L.A. Chargers 9-8
Las Vegas 5-12
Pittsburgh over Houston
Cincinnati over Buffalo
Kansas City over Baltimore
N.Y. Jets over Pittsburgh
Kansas City over Cincinnati
Kansas City over N.Y. Jets
Minnesota over Kansas City
I know this pick is dumb. I’m far more aware of my team’s shortcomings, Kirk included, than you are. But if I indulged in my usual objectivity with these predictions, your Super Bowl champion would be the Chiefs. Everyone is gonna pick the Chiefs, which is boring. Plus, my predictions always end up wrong anyway, so I may as well be a deluded homer while making them. Hope is more fun than dread, no matter how the story ends. If the Vikings don’t end up winning it all, well brother that’s nothing I ain’t lived through before. I can deal.
Plus, they're a perfect dark horse team because the whole goddamn world is predicting them to be average. WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT HOW LOADED THIS OFFENSE IS, HUH?!
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Lions at Chiefs: Mike Tirico will give you the lowdown on all of the new rules for 2023 tonight, but let me beat him to the punch. Players can wear uniform No. 0 now. Thursday Night Football has flexing in the final month of the season. Teams can now avoid an NFC title game-style fiasco by dressing an emergency QB, one who is only eligible to play if the two other QBs get hurt mid-game, and not having it count against the active gameday roster. Failed fourth-down attempts are subject to review at the discretion of the refs. And, most importantly (kinda), you can fair-catch a kickoff inside the 25 and get the ball at the 25 anyway.
This last rule was of great consternation to Ross Douthat–programmed ChatGPT bot Matthew Walther, who railed against it in the most poorly written NYT opinion piece I’ve ever endured. And I’m old enough to remember when the Times gave Bono a column, mind you.
Like Gaul, football is divided into three parts: offense, defense and special teams.
That’s the BEST part of this thing. We’re gonna have to limit the number of uber-prude Catholic dingbats at this newspaper. It’s the only way to protect the English language from itself.
Bills at Jets: I have the Jets as the best team in the AFC because their roster is loaded, and they really only need a decent season out of Aaron Rodgers to make it work. But I am no longer anywhere NEAR as confident about this as I was just a few days ago.
The most Jets thing to ever happen would be the team selling its soul for a bag of used peanuts, and they sure as shit picked the right devil for that transaction.
49ers at Steelers: In case you’re new here, I don’t write up every single game capsule every week, especially if the game in question sucks ass. This game, at least on paper, will not. But I also have nothing useful to say about it, so you get this little snippet of Greek copy instead. Aren’t you lucky?
Cowboys at Giants: Let’s check in Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy, his mouth forever agape.
NFL coaches should really hire me as their speechwriter, and they should pay me handsomely for it.
Titans at Saints: Caleb Williams’s old man just told GQ that his son could stay at USC one more year if he’s not wild about the team that ends up getting the No. 1 pick. Now, that’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard (when you need asinine copy about a star QB, you always go to the parents), but I too would be hugely disappointed if Caleb ended up being drafted by an uncool team. I don’t want him going to Arizona. I just saw Arizona ruin Kyler Murray in less time than it takes to get Panda Express delivered. And I sure as shit don’t want him going to any of the South division teams, in either conference. I’d like him to go to a proper team. I don't think that's much to ask. Send Caleb somewhere cool.
Except Green Bay. Not there. Somewhere else. The Rams or something.
Eagles at Patriots
Dolphins at Chargers
Bucs at Vikings: I was in the middle of writing the Vikings edition of Why Your Team Sucks when I took a break to go ride my bike. On the way back home, I was coming up on an intersection when I saw a big truck coming in hot. So I slowed down on my approach and kept my eye on it.
The problem is that, while distracted by that oncoming truck, I failed to spot a safety bollard that was sticking out of the ground. The post itself was gone, but the base was still jutting out. My rear wheel nailed that base and I went flying over the handlebars. Because I hadn’t seen the bollard, it was like a speed bump had materialized on the path just as I was crossing over, so I screamed out WHAT THE FUCK? as I hurtled toward the ground. Once I landed flush on my shoulder, I made every last dad sound known to man. I also writhed around on the pavement like I’d just been shot. I do not recommend crashing your bike. It’s not a good feeling.
The truck driver got out to make sure I was all right. I stood up and waved him off, then called my wife to pick me up because the crash had fucked up my rear wheel, rendering it inoperable. So I’m standing there, bleeding profusely out of my arm and knee, waiting for my ride while passersby are staring at me with equal parts curiosity and alarm. When you’re 20 and you’re visibly bleeding, you’re the baddest motherfucker who ever lived. A true punk. When you’re 46 and visibly bleeding, you look like you just escaped from hospice care. No one is gonna mistake you for Chuck Cecil.
Packers at Bears
Panthers at Falcons
Jaguars at Colts
Bengals at Browns
Raiders at Broncos: Sean Payton represents an upgrade from Nathaniel Hackett in just about every respect, but this profile of him from Seth Wickersham shows that he’s also a REMARKABLE asshole:
Staffers seem cautious around Payton, not wanting to say something that prompts an outburst.
For a good year and a half, Payton gave a man stationed on the sideline evil looks, convinced he was a league spy. Payton later apologized to the man when he learned that he was the on-site concussion doctor.
Payton ate junk food and stared at the TV until dawn, anything to "numb the pain with distraction," Skylene says. He downed every kind of chocolate ice cream from Jeni's in New Orleans, and at one point dressed down a delivery guy who messed up his order.
Payton's work habits aren't for everyone. At least two assistants he wanted to bring to Denver passed, burned out by their early mornings, Payton's late nights and the unyielding grind in between. "He's brilliant with the players," Loomis says, "and hard on the staff."
And here I thought Payton couldn’t win a second ring in New Orleans because he was drunk all the time. Turns out that he’s a glorified Matt Patricia now. This team isn’t winning dick.
Rams at Seahawks
Cardinals at Commanders
Texans at Ravens
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
Some Mutts (Can't Be Muzzled), by Amyl and the Sniffers! From Australia! OI OI OI! Reader Stephen writes in:
I'm sitting here drinking coffee on a Saturday morning and somehow the internet introduced me to these badass Aussies. Now I feel like towing an 18-wheeler through the snow with my bare hands. Great name, great video, great song.
That main riff? It’s legit. I was hoping lead singer Amy Taylor would bust into a real-ass chorus after rocking out during the verses, because that’s the kind of songcraft that always makes my hair stand on end. But the riff is enough here. It sticks.
Eric Adams’s Lock Of The Week: Titans (+3) over Saints
“Now I’ve lived in Nashville my whole life, and lemme tell you: that town will make you tough. We didn’t have any running water in our neighborhood, and I remember crying to my fourth-grade criminal justice professor, Mister Francis, about it. And Mister Francis told me, and I quote, ‘You’ll never be hungry if you’re not thristy.’ Well that stuck with me. You HAVE to live thirsty, and these Titans are a thirsty team! I expect them to drink deep from what I call the Wineglass Of Winning!”
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Phillip sends in this story I call THE NOT SO FIRM:
This occurred during finals of my first semester of 2L year. In usual finals fashion, my diet for that month consisted of fast food, trash from the vending machine and insane amounts of diet coke and energy drinks. I wisely arrived 45 minutes early for my 9AM Evidence final. Once I got myself situated and all my materials out, I decided to attend to a pressing GI matter.
Several days’ worth of horrible dietary restrictions poured from my anus, in all three states of matter. I cleaned up with ample amounts of TP and flushed. The flush was unsuccessful. Unlike some of the dolts you've featured before, I know that nothing good comes from another flush if the first one fails.
And I had more pressing matters. As I exited the stall, the bathroom door opened and in came my professor, a singular genius and the smartest person I'd ever met (who currently sits on the 5th circuit court of appeals). He walked into the stall that I had freshly defiled and froze in his tracks. "Oh god..." was all he could muster as he slowly backed out and turned to the mirror. He made eye contact with my shameful reflection. "Yeah, it's bad," was my response before leaving quickly.
I got a B on the exam, but if he ever makes it onto the SCOTUS, I'll make sure this is mentioned in my obituary.
As will I.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Phnom Penh! With a can that looks ready to kill. But reader JacquesLeftFeet didn’t just partake of this low grade poison while on the road in Cambodia. He also had snake-infused whiskey, seen here!
In Mexico, your tequila bottle has a worm in it. In Cambodia, your whiskey bottle has a freakin' cobra! Apparently, infusing whiskey with snakes and scorpions is a thing over here. The villager who was making this stuff at home assured us that the alcohol cancels out the snake venom. The translator looked extremely dubious, but the homebrewer said ផឹកនេះ, which roughly translates as: "If you don't drink this, you don't have a hair on your ass."
My travelling companion and I each had a shot of the snake whiskey, which smelled like burning motor oil and tasted like sriracha-and-vinegar. After that, we each immediately slugged down a can of the finest Phnom Penh. Medium-pale yellow, highly carbonated, 5% ABV, made from rice and tastes like aluminum foil. Sort of the Khmer Budweiser, you might say. And a real bargain at 1,500 Riel per can, which is like four cents in U.S. money.
SOLD! I think I’ll pass on the snake whiskey though. When the bartender asks me, “What’s your poison?” I don’t want him to be literal about it.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Cardinals Fans
Asteroid City, which is the first movie I watched on the new TV. You always gotta pick the loudest, gaudiest movie for the first screening. At least I got the gaudy part of the equation down.
I converted to full-blown adoration for Wes Anderson about five or six movies ago, so I figured that Asteroid City was a flawless choice for opening night. But all of Anderson’s previous movies had, you know, a plot. By contrast, Asteroid City is so devoid of story that it feels avant-garde, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. It’s arty for artiness’s sake, which grows ever more irritating as you realize that no coherent storyline is coming to save you. This movie looks gorgeous. It’s brilliantly cast. But it plays like Anderson asked each of his actors to give the longest monologue possible as quickly as possible. The script must have run 672 pages. I couldn’t wait for this movie to end so that I could stare at my phone again. Two stars.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Well, hear me out: if you're innocent, you will fall to an honorable, Christian death. If you are, however, the bride of Satan, you will surely fly your broom to safety. At that point, you will report back here for torture and beheading.”
Enjoy the games, everyone. Football is back.