How To Destroy A Team
1:38 PM EDT on November 3, 2022
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.
It’s always a mistake to get ahead of yourself when it comes to bad things happening to Dan Snyder. But here in Washington, there’s very little to do football-wise EXCEPT despise this man. Commanders fans look forward to Snyder’s ouster/death by fire the way fans in other towns might look forward to landing a franchise quarterback in the draft, or unearthing a promising head coach out of the assistant ranks, or firing Joe Judge.
So the last month of Commanders off-field action has played out like a succession of playoff wins. Jim Irsay openly called for Snyder to fuck off. ESPN power trio Don Van Natta, Seth Wickersham, and Tisha Thompson reported that "the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia has opened a criminal investigation” into Snyder and his ballclub for ripping off both season ticket holders and fellow NFL owners. And, sweetest of all, the team just announced that it has hired Bank of America to potentially facilitate a sale of the franchise. As with all things Snyder, who is the world’s biggest asshole, it’s always best to err on the side of nothing happening to him. As Kevin Clark already noted over at The Ringer, Snyder could simply be floating this news as a way of luring in a quick and lucrative sale offer that never materializes, or looking to grab a bit of minority owner cash flow a mere two years after he muscled out his original minority stakeholders, or just doing random shit because he’s an angry, spasming little dwarf.
But we all know what momentum looks and feels like. This is momentum, and you don’t have to watch Edge NFL Matchup to know that one billionaire trying to stave off the desires of 31 other billionaires isn’t an even fight. If the other NFL owners want Snyder cast out, he’ll be cast out. And when Snyder finally does leave the NFL, there’ll be a celebration in the DMV that makes the Capitals’ Stanley Cup parade look like a church breakfast. But while we wait for that Christmas To End All Christmases, it’s worth looking at the work that will be needed after Snyder is gone, because the damage is so extensive.
I have lived in the D.C. area for roughly the entirety of Snyder’s ownership and, in that time, I have been disabused of the notion that football fans lack free will. I’ve watched everyone here flee. I’ve heard them call into sports talk radio and cry “I’m done” after Snyder fired yet another coach, stood by yet another brainless front office crony, signed yet another brand-name free agent who ended up sucking, conducted yet another coaching search that ended with Jim Zorn, broke yet another rollercoaster, threatened yet another lawsuit, and presided over yet another losing season. In any other city, these pronouncements ring hollow. In Washington, they do not. These fans made good on their promises to bail.
That exodus shows up on the stat sheet. The L.A. Chargers, who have no fans, saw their local TV viewership drop 29 percent this season and they STILL get more viewers there than the Commanders do here. No team draws fewer fans to its home stadium, and the ones that do buy tickets are often fans of the visiting team. That visiting team doesn’t even have to be within driving distance for Commanders fans to find themselves outnumbered on their home turf. Snyder had to reduce capacity at FedEx Field by nearly 20 percent to shroud the hometown apathy, but it remains visible to anyone with working eyeballs. Only one Commanders player, Chase Young, ranks in the Top 50 of merch sales. No Commanders fan under the age of 30 has any memory of this team winning a Super Bowl, which is why the Commanders HAVE no fans under the age of 30. And older fans have deserted the team anyway, many of them angrily so after a name change that was both overdue while also being hideously mismanaged.
None of this happened overnight. All of it happened in a process of slow and steady erosion, like ocean waves eating away at a coastline. If you want to destroy a team, and its fanbase, this is what it takes. You can’t do it merely by hiring one Steve Spurrier, but by hiring many of them. You can’t do it by merely disappointing fans, but by continually antagonizing them with lawsuits, poor customer service, and marked-up prices for subpar goods. You can’t do it by losing, but by doing so reliably for a quarter-century. You have to do the work. In wrecking the Commanders, Snyder has done the work. So, so much work. It’s the only long-term plan of his that’s borne fruit.
So whoever buys the team from Snyder—be it Jeff Bezos or another Billionaire To Be Named Later—will have to put in an equal amount of effort to make this franchise both relevant and beloved again. FedEx Field? That has to be burned to the ground. The new name? To the waste bin it goes. Team headquarters in Ashburn? That needs to be hollowed out and disinfected. It can’t even be in Ashburn anymore, because the name Ashburn alone now connotes abject failure. Team President Jason Wright? Gone. GM Marty Hurney? Yep, fuck him too. Ron Rivera? Go bring your integrity vibes to some other dogshit team, old man. Everything that Snyder touched can’t remain. It’s all tainted, and not merely by lousy juju. I’ve watched Jason Wright do his job and he’s fucking terrible at it. Snyder wouldn’t have hired him otherwise. Clean out every last scrap and begin again.
Because, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, the NFL is a better place when Washington has a great football team. I saw it with my own eyes growing up. I watched those Joe Gibbs teams. I heard Pat Summerall and John Madden work '80s Washington-Dallas games that felt as titanic then as they’re now only sold to be. I’ve been to RFK Stadium and felt the stands shake; it’s every bit as good as the old-timers here say it is. The reason Snyder managed to profit so handsomely while dismantling the Commanders is because people here were DYING to remain fans. They had long memories and were willing to give Snyder every last opportunity to win them back. You could see them rouse when Robert Griffin III landed on their doorstep, and when Joe Gibbs returned for a brief stint and won a playoff game, and when Sean Taylor was at his peak. These are good fans. These are EAGER fans.
But for every glimmer of hope they saw, Snyder snuffed it out with a quickness that almost felt deliberate. His potential exit is the last, and only, shot of bringing everyone back. Of bringing back winning, and marching bands, and stands shaking, and fans dressed as hogs, and all the good things that once made Washington not just a football town, but a football town entirely its own. The NFL has a chance here of not only ridding us of Snyder for good, but returning something wonderful (old nickname excepted) back to its rightful place. The only question is if they’re willing to put in the effort. With each passing day, it appears they are.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Titans at Chiefs: I don’t care how many wins in a row they pile up, you’ll never get me to buy into the Titans.
“Drew, I never tried to get you to—“
—Can it! You’ve been telling me all season long, “The Titans are the best team in the world and they’re gonna win the next five Super Bowls!” I have you all on record saying it. NO ONE DENIES THIS.
Seahawks at Cardinals: I don’t know what happened, but I can’t see the ball on field goal attempts anymore. I may be deaf, but I’m not blind. I may be 46, but I’m not dead. And yet, this season, I see the ball leave the kicker’s foot and suddenly I’m trying to find Waldo. Oftentimes, I won’t know if the kick is good until I see the ref’s signal or hear the announcer confirming it. Doinks are now less a punchline to me than a visual aid. I’m gonna need the fucking ball to glow neon green on all future attempts if I wanna have any shot of seeing it and shitting my britches accordingly.
Ravens at Saints: This is the time of year when I’m treated to feats of athletic wizardry that are made all the more dazzling by their seeming routine-ness. When I see Lamar Jackson get out of a jam in the pocket and then casually slither through for 25 yards, it’s what I expect out of him. Ditto any baseball game where I see the third baseman rifle the ball over to first with a split second to spare. That’s just a normal out in the World Series, same as any of Lamar’s feats of improve on third down. I try not to take any of this shit for granted, but these players are so good, they almost invite me to. They’re all too good at sports, frankly. They make me feel inferior. I AM inferior, but they don’t have to go highlighting it every five seconds, you know.
Colts at Patriots
Rams at Bucs
Bills at Jets
Chargers at Falcons
Vikings at Commanders: I could attend this game. I really could. But I won’t.
Packers at Lions
Dolphins at Bears
Eagles at Texans: I was nice to Kirk Herbstreit earlier this week, but I forgot to point out last week’s Thursday night game where Herbstreit said that a lack of preseason reps could be the reason that scoring is down. He said this at midseason, at a time when head coaches are reaping tangible benefits from resting their players as often as they can. Meanwhile, you don’t even have to be a certified expert to see why scoring is down. The last two QB classes have bombed. Defenses all over the league are using shell coverages to limit big plays. Offenses are countering those shell defenses by running the ball more. Nathaniel Hackett exists. No shortage of culprits to be found for the current scoring drought. But no, no it’s because Davis Mills didn’t play enough meaningless series against the Niners’ third stringers. Fuck outta here, man. At least have the courtesy to mix up your shit takes once in a while.
Raiders at Jaguars
Panthers at Bengals
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“To Awake And Avenge the Dead,” by Thrice, for how can one possibly avenge the dead while still asleep? Submitted by Jason:
They've mellowed out a lot since 2002 and several albums later, but that sophomore album perfectly blended metal guitars, hardcore screaming and punkrock vocals. To this day I still get pumped up listening to this once in a while.
Thrice’s singer isn’t exactly gifted when it comes to being on key, but a smart band knows to bury average singing under a fat tide of riffage. Going by this song, Thrice is a very smart band.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Adam sends in this story I’ll call TWO ALL-BEEF PATTIES.
Before having kids, my wife and I lived near the U Street corridor in DC proper like good, early 30s yuppies. On Saturday nights, we'd go out pretty hard. On Sundays, while recovering from hangovers that progressively got worse and worse, we'd often go for long walks with our dog. I have no idea what those weekends are like now that we have two young kids. But, about 20 minutes into one walk after a night of boozing and late night Oohh's and Aahh's (iykyk), we're about a half mile from our apartment, and I get the rumblings from the prior night's cheap bourbon and fried everything.
It starts small and I figure I can just push it off. Then my face quickly turns white as I realize it's coming and there's no stopping it. There's a McDonald's around the corner, so I figure I'll just duck in there, take a commercial grade dump in a commercial grade bathroom, and go back to my nice Sunday stroll.
Well, this McDonald's was near Dupont Circle and had experience with vagrants trying to do unholy things in their bathrooms, so there were locks on the bathroom. You needed a code to get in that only a purchase would get you. There was a line, so I told my wife I can make it home. Famous last words for a Jamboroo story.
I can't run home because I need to keep those cheeks clenched, so I alternate between fast walking and slow running. About halfway home it gets so bad that I think about dropping trou near a tree and exploding quickly. Because of the passing cars, I think better of it and keep going. I get to our apartment building and onto the elevator. In that moment I think, I'm gonna make it!
Well, that optimism must have caused me to let my guard down. Because right as I'm walking out of the elevator, it happens. The warm, slightly burning gush comes out. I hobble over to our apartment, fortunate that my underwear has prevented any leakage on the carpet, and head straight for the bathroom, where I dispose of my underwear and hop in the shower. My wife strolls in a little later with the dog and not a care in the world. We didn’t finish our walk that day. As any good wife would do, she hasn't let me forget about the time I shit my pants.
No good wife would.
Which Idiot GM Is This?
You know your team is in good hands when the man in charge of the roster is a professionally sweaty guy who MEANS BUSINESS. Which team does the man below hold in his meaty paws?
That’s Saints GM Mickey Loomis, who probably should have taken Sean Payton’s exit as his own cue to get the fuck out of town. But does this look like the face of a quitter? Hardly. This is the face of a man who tells both the world and his own employees, “The allegations against me are categorically false” every other week.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Bush Crack! Excuse me? Did someone say Bush Crack? Well, that’s hardly gentlemanly. Explain yourself, reader Keefer:
As you might guess, the Bahamas is not exactly known for its beer making. There are two main breweries that pump out bland, forgettable lagers designed to be swilled lazily on the beach. This appears to be an off-label output of one of those two, but in many years of coming here and four continuous months now of travels around this country I have never seen it before today. The name alone made me buy a case, and it is indeed as special as promised, faintly salty and with an aftertaste reminiscent of sucking on a conch’s butthole.
Well there’s the “crack” part of the equation solved for you.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Raiders Fans
Soul, which is still one of the best Pixar movies I’ve ever seen, in part because of how DIFFERENT it looks compared to many of its contemporaries. Lord knows I’ve aired my complaints about live-action movies here, but it’s there’s even greater indictment to file against Hollywood for cranking out animated movies that all look the goddamn same: characters with enormous heads and skinny, bendy limbs. Chatty monster sidekicks. A jungle animal dancing comically to “I Like To Move It.” It’s animation. You have a blank canvas to work with. You can take me anywhere. Make any world. And yet what I always get is a fucking sitcom that’s been Dr. Seuss-ified by like eight percent. I know this is because studios think about animation less as an art form and more as an easy way to get families with young children into the theater, but you can at least let artists have SOME wiggle room to blow my mind a little.
That’s why I liked Soul, which starts out looking like every other CG-animated movie before taking a fat U-turn and being like, “Actually, let’s tell a story about death, and then around with some 2D shit in the afterlife while we’re at it.” There’s actual design to Soul, which relieved me since I’d already spent the past decade-plus staring at Madagascar 6: Da Bronx Zoo! and a mountain of other garbage. Anything different is good.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Ah, Andy Capp. You wife-beating drunk.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.