All Right-Thinking Americans Agree: We’re Sick Of The Chiefs
12:26 PM EST on January 25, 2024
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.
This isn’t the Chiefs’ fault. They have one of the coolest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Their head coach long ago went from premier chokejob architect to lovable mad scientist. Their tight end is the charismatic opposite of Aaron Rodgers. Their No. 1 fan this year is one of the most beloved pop stars on Earth, and all cutaway shots of her cheering in the luxury box are (in a decided upset) more endearing than they are distracting. The Chiefs play with a remarkable amount of joy and creativity: a welcome antidote to the bloodless Patriots juggernaut that ruled over the NFL for the two decades prior. And they aren’t gonna deliberately lose a playoff game just to make you happy. They’re professionals. It’s their job to win as many Super Bowls as they can, for as long as they can. Same as any other team.
That said, I really need them to fuck off. Because dynasty fatigue is real, and the Chiefs are the current standard-bearer.
From a neutral corner, I have only rooted for two dynasties in my lifetime. The first one was the Michael Jordan Bulls, and I only came around on those Bulls after Jordan retired from the sport and then came back. The other one was Tiger Woods, which barely counts because Tiger Woods is a person and not a team. In all other instances, I only appreciate dynasties in retrospect. While mid-reign, I feel little more than cold, hard resentment.
Again, this isn’t terribly fair. I have witnessed some true greatness in my life as a sports fan, featuring some of the most captivating athletes who have ever lived: Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Steph Curry, David Ortiz, and more. You have to appreciate greatness when you see it, because you never know when you might see it again, if ever. A decade ago, if you told me that the Kansas City Chiefs would draft a quarterback who could throw the ball to any place on the field, any time he wanted, I wouldn’t have fucking slept until I got to watch him play. Every night pre-Mahomes would have been like Christmas Eve to me.
Now he’s here, and I’d like Lamar Jackson and his crew to beat the absolute shit out of him.
Because while it’s fun to see greatness in action, it grows less and less fun to watch one team hog all of it. This is especially true if, as with Lions fans, you’ve never gotten to watch YOUR team win it all. You spend year after year watching your guys get their shit ruined, while this other dickhead team not only racks up titles, but seems capable of doing it with one hand tied behind their backs. Bad enough I have to watch some guy like David Zaslav make a bazillion dollars while possessing an IQ below room temperature. I don’t want sports to have that exact same wealth gap.
This is especially true in the NFL, a league that has been designed specifically for parity. Thanks to the cap and to revenue sharing, I have spent decades laboring under the delusion that any team can win a Super Bowl at any time. And yet, over a third of the league’s team have never won a title, and four of them—Detroit included—have never even made it to the Super Bowl at all. I crave new blood. We all do, because that’s more exciting than watching Bob Kraft lift up a sixth Lombardi and dedicate it to his mailman because he already dedicated the first five to everyone else he could think of.
Even if you root for a mildly successful team, it grows old to watch some other team win the same games over, and over, and over again. This is America, land of fake underdogs. It’s always much more exciting to see a team that hasn’t won everything win. It’s far less exciting to watch a team that already has everything triumph yet again. It renders otherwise exciting games a letdown. Every miracle first down by the incumbent feels rote. Every flag against the upstart feels like it was called in from league headquarters. Every deciding play feels like a worse ending than The Village. The greatness on display begins to feel more like tyranny, no matter how cool the team in question is, or how many ring-around-the-rosie plays it cooks up.
Much as I’d like to avoid it, I’m like every other American in that I’m addicted to the new. I don’t want reruns, and I don’t want leftovers. I want the fresh shit: fresh MVPs, fresh champions, fresh hope. So I watched Tyler Bass shank that kick on Sunday night and I knew exactly what I was missing out on with a Bills defeat. I didn’t get to watch that stadium explode with snow confetti. I didn’t get to see fans openly weeping in the stands. I didn’t get to see Josh Allen do his shit in the AFC title game against Lamar Jackson, or even in the Super Bowl. I didn’t get to see anything NEW. You feel that void even when you’re a casual fan, and you can’t help but blame the victors for depriving you of the moment.
There will come a time, years from now, when Mahomes retires and I suddenly get all weepy about his time coming and going. He’s a special player, and he’s doing special things right now, with very little in the way of material to work with. He’s a goddamn magician, and he’ll be exalted as such when he’s gone. I’ll be among the first in line to lionize him. But for now, as he snuffs out every other potential good thing on his way to a third title, I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen all of his tricks before. That’s not necessarily fair of me, but when have sports ever been fair?
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I pick the games, because that’s a smart thing to do.
Lions (+7) 21, 49ers 17. This is not a romance pick. If the Niners had throttled Green Bay a week ago, I would’ve picked them to win this game (and cover the spread) in a heartbeat. Instead, they looked like absolute dogshit for 55 minutes. Brock Purdy was about as accurate as an AI-generated news story, Kyle Shanahan again turned into Mike McCarthy when it mattered, and the Niners as a whole are a seemingly invincible team that goes to shit whenever they lose any of their key players for more than 10 minutes. They’re fucking WEIRD.
And given that Deebo Samuel will either miss this game or play it with a missing shoulder, I have little confidence that San Francisco will return to juggernaut form against one of the few teams in the league that can match up evenly with them along the line of scrimmage. America is rarely granted the Super Bowl it’s hoping for (see: Buffalo Bills), but I’m willing to bet on Detroit prevailing as Kyle gives Christian McCaffrey 13 carries for no discernible reason.
Ravens (-3.5) 35, Chiefs 28. It’s dumb to pick against Patrick Mahomes in any game (again, see the Bills), but Lamar Jackson is clearly done fucking around. The Ravens, as an organization, are detestable in many ways. But they’re not the Commanders, and Lamar is the coolest player left in the field. As far as I’m concerned, Lamar cancels out all of the Ravens’ other bullshit. Neither Randall Cunningham nor Michael Vick ever played in a Super Bowl, much less won it. It’s well past time for their spiritual heir to win it all, and to shut up the Bill Polians of the world for good. Lamar’s got the team around him to do it, so it’s just as foolish to bet against him as it is the defending champ. FLY RAVENS FLY, as they say!
Now that we’ve got the picks out of the way, let’s discuss some random crap:
• This is far too loose a concept to craft into a formal essay, but you can read this year’s playoffs as the revenge of the low-value players. The Ravens shit-kicking defense is built on inside LBs Patrick Queen, whose fifth-year option wasn’t picked up by the team, and Roquan Smith, whom the Bears traded last season for relative pennies on the dollar. The Chiefs are overcoming a massive talent deficit at wideout thanks to their all-pro tight end and a running back they drafted in the seventh round less than two years ago. The Lions took nothing but low-value players at the top of last spring’s draft—LB Jack Campbell, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, DB Brian Branch, and TE Sam LaPorta—and all of them instantly became indispensable to the team’s success. And the Niners employ the 21st century’s answer to Marshall Faulk, which allows them to do nearly anything they please on offense. Oh, the irony.
Now, will any of this result in increased pay leaguewide for the guys who play these positions? No. But we’re definitely entering a phase where all of these players are considered market inefficiencies worth exploiting, rather than just fungible parts. And isn’t that neat for them?
• I get unreasonably excited anytime I see Matthew Macfadyen shilling for Mercedes. He pops up on the screen, speaking in his natural, British accent, and I’m like OMG IT’S THE SUCCESSION GUY! TOM’S DRIVING A BITCHIN’ CAR NOW!
• If you’ve watched any games on CBS this season, you’ve inevitably seen the quick promo shot of the NFL Today crew in front of the Bellagio fountain in Vegas, all dressed like the Rat Pack and wearing sunglasses and shit:
I find these promos deeply embarrassing for all parties involved. I know that the Super Bowl is in Vegas, and I know that CBS is airing it. But the sight of Phil Simms in sunglasses and a velvet blazer is more than I asked for. Even given boilerplate studio show non-comedy, it’s still painful to witness. These are six of the uncoolest men in the goddamn world. No need to make them even uncooler.
Last week: 1-3
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun)” by The Glorious Sons! They had me at the title of the song. From Jeff:
I was first introduced to the band when they opened for The Struts in Baltimore. The crowd was grooving to the show, but the lead singer couldn't hide his disgust at what he considered to be our substandard response. His eyes bugged out his head, he called us pathetic, and I swear to god I thought he was about to jump off the stage and start killing anyone within arm's reach. I've never seen such an intense performance in my life. Fuck that "we're friendly Canadians" shit. These guys meant business. Also, this song kicks ass.
I appreciate the man’s anger at the crowd. Not enough rock stars vocally berate their audience anymore. I say treat them like the pigs that they are, eh.
(Also, the verse here is clearly lifted from another song, but I can’t figure out which one and it’s killing me.)
Eric Adams’s Lock Of The Week: Ravens (-3.5) over Chiefs
“Now I’ve lived in Baltimore my whole life, and lemme tell you, our streets are FILTHY. Every morning I walk down the sidewalk, and I see nothing but empty shopping cart, used needles, Twix wrappers, unopened bottles of antifreeze, gun parts, dolls, juice pouches filled with gin, chewing gum, dead bees, tufts of pubic hair, and old gardening magazines. It’s disgusting, and it’s that way because no one here bows or curtsies anymore. Whatever happened to curtsying? In my day, if someone handed you a ball of frizzy pubes, you curtsied and then threw it in the trash receptacle. Now we have Communists and bongo players leaving them all around, willy-nilly, before robbing the frozen yogurt shop! Unacceptable. Why are these belt loops so narrow? I can’t work like this.”
2023 Record: 10-9
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 2023 chopping block:
Pete Carroll – FIRED!
Bill Belichick – FIRED!
Josh McDaniels – FIRED!
Frank Reich – FIRED!
Brandon Staley – FIRED!
Ron Rivera – FIRED!
Arthur Smith – FIRED!
Mike Vrabel – FIRED!
I’ve spent the last week or so hoping that one of the last three gentlemen on that list would be abruptly fired and replaced by Bill Belichick. You give Bill Belichick any of those rosters, and suddenly he doesn’t seem so old, and decrepit, and grumpy, and stupid, and old, and stubborn, and angry, and old, and ugly. But noooooooo. No, the Bills are hunky-dory with Sean McDermott calling fake punts to nowhere and fielding a defense made entirely of slalom course gates. Meanwhile, Belichick is gonna serve out the rest of his days overseeing a dogshit Falcons roster that couldn’t win a game of Clue. Please understand that I’m not rooting for Bill Belichick to be any more successful than he’s already been. But I also cherish quality football, and Sgt. 9/11 is unwilling to provide it.
Great Moments In Poop History
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Next week is the dreaded bye week between the titles games and the Super Bowl, which means I’ll be compiling the annual POOPOROO yet again. If you have a good poop story for it, email me here. This year, I’m also opening the floor to amusing tales involving urine, vomit, and untimely flatulence. So get at me.
Meantime, reader Charlie sends in this story I call I SHALL POOP FOR YOU, SPANIARD:
While my wife and I are on our honeymoon trip across Spain, we are walking down a busy street in Madrid. All of a sudden, a plastic cup filled with change goes flying in the air. Turns out that my wife had accidentally kicked a homeless woman’s change cup. My wife immediately fears that she has been cursed with some nasty juju, but scrambles to pick up the change and place to the cup back in front of the woman.
Flash forward a couple of days filled with sangria, cheap Spanish beer, and an ungodly amount of Iberian ham. We are strolling through the Alcazar in Sevilla and my wife turns to me that we need to go back to the hotel. Thinking this is a great idea for some honeymoon action, I readily agree. Turns out I was wrong, as my wife hurries us through the cobblestone streets back to our hotel room and slams the door to the bathroom. For the ensuing thirty minutes, I hear a frantic rolling of the toilet paper, intermittent flushes, and my wife yelling, “Not good man, not good.” Moral of the story? Spanish homeless woman 1, new wife 0.
No es bueno!
And Now Let’s Go Down To The Sideline To Check In With Charissa Thompson
“Drew, I just caught up with Sean McDermott as he was walking into a Mission BBQ, and I asked him what was going through his mind when he called that fake punt. He told me, ‘Two words: Ted Bundy.’ When I asked why Ted Bundy, he told me that Bundy had mastered the element of surprise, tricking his victims into believing that he was a terrific boyfriend while simultaneously planning to viciously defile and murder them. Before the game, McDermott actually handed out photos of Bundy’s victims to his players and told them, ‘Let’s catch Kansas City off guard the way these women were caught off guard.’ Sean said that message really resonated with his players. One them told me, quote, ‘That was pretty fucked.’ Back to you, Drew.”
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Mythos! Sourced directly from the summit of Mount Olympus and presented to us mortals by the demigod reader Josh:
A visit to the Cradle of Democracy confirms that Greece is not the Cradle of Good Beer. This particular brew tastes like old soda water that's been strained through tinfoil. The thrill of ordering a beer called Mythos more than makes up for the taste though.
Man, that can design has zero effort in it. I’ve seen more elaborate artwork in an airplane safety pamphlet. If one of the higher ups at the Carlsberg Group came to you and was like, “Hey man, we need you to come up with a can for a beer called Mythos, and we want there to be a unicorn on it,” you could do a better job than this. I could do a better job, and I don’t even know how to use MS Paint. I can’t even draw a fucking bird. I consider this can an enormous letdown. Also, I would’ve pounded 50 of these back in the day.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Panthers Fans
The Counselor, featuring a screenplay from the late Cormac McCarthy and directed by Dad Movie legend Ridley Scott. This movie isn’t McCarthy’s best work, nor is it Scott’s. But it does feature the now-retired Cameron Diaz fucking a car (or, at least, her body double fucking it), Javier Bardem sporting a bizarre haircut, and people getting whacked. The Counselor also features a few undeniably McCarthy-esque lines from Diaz (“I believe the truth has no temperature”) and the legendary Ruben Blades (“A man would give entire nations to lift grief off his heart. And yet, you cannot buy anything with grief, because grief is worthless.”). This isn’t a movie you watch for its story. It’s a movie you watch for pure atmospherics. Kind of like a Terrence Malick film, only with more guns and butts. Three stars.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Dear Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and REPLACED BY THE BENEVOLENT GENERAL KRULL. ALL HAIL KRULL AND HIS GLORIOUS NEW REGIME! SINCERELY, LITTLE GIRL.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.