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Jamboroo

Ego Works

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 17: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a first down against the New Orleans Saints late in the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 17, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.

Stefon Diggs is a game away from taking the Bills to their first Super Bowl since the 1994 season. And when I say that Diggs is the one taking them there, I’m not exaggerating, and I’m not deliberately hyping up his role in this Bills run because he used to play for my favorite team. I’m saying that because the BILLS themselves are saying it.

Independent NFL reporter Tyler Dunne, whose own subscription website is worth more than any number of goddamn Adam Schefter tweets, wrote a stunning profile of Diggs two weeks ago that laid bare just how valuable he’s been to a franchise had that been so shitty for so long that it had outright forgotten what a winning attitude even looked like. Here’s Diggs’s wideout coach, Chad Hall:

Everything he says is real. It’s motivating, it’s encouraging. He’ll hold you accountable if you’re not doing what’s right. He knows when to put his foot down. But most of it is very positive. That’s something we’ve talked about and I’ve pushed him to accept that role and stay positive and to keep speaking verbally — because we needed that after last year. We have a lot of guys who lead by example but we don’t have a lot of vocal leadership. Everyone respects him for it.

Hall is hardly the only member of the Bills to gush over Diggs’s mostly positive form of red-assery. Quarterback Josh Allen, whose completion percentage shot up over 10 points since Diggs arrived, adores the man. Head coach Sean McDermott, who I used to think of strictly as a sentient camo hat, told the Buffalo News that Diggs had, “the mentality and the attitude, and it rubs off on our football team.”

Diggs is not an isolated case. Look at your final four this weekend. The Packers are led by a man, Aaron Rodgers, whose self-regard is so enormous that he’ll fucking kill your whole family if he throws a single incompletion. The Bucs were rewarded handsomely, and instantly, for taking a flyer on an aging Tom Brady, who hates his own teammates almost as much as he hates tomato seeds. And while Patrick Mahomes is a genial, aw-shucks fella, the rest of the Chiefs’ roster is one gigantic cockwalk.

The biggest lie the NFL ever sold you is that the best players, and the best teams, are the most selfless ones. I remember when the Patriots beat the Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl and the media went batshit not merely because the Pats were massive underdogs, but because they chose to enter the stadium as a team. To this day, league errand boys like Mark Maske still fawn over that moment. The Pats weren’t just a team that day, they were AMERICA. Or whatever. Meanwhile, they were coached by a bloodless ghoul who would go on to exploit every odd footnote and every loophole in the NFL rulebook just to fuck around with the opposition.

But the sports-industrial complex in America would prefer you believe that there’s no place for big egos in professional sports. If you’re a college athlete, you need to play for free without complaint. If you’re a pro athlete, you need to be coachable. You shouldn’t take advantage of your ego; you should set it aside. But none of that jibes with the RESULTS you see play out on the field and on the court year after year. I realized that the second I read this from Dunne:

Diggs’ swagger has become the Bills’ swagger. This franchise needed a shot in the ass. An unapologetic shot of… of… ego. Nobody ever accused Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed of lacking ego on those 90s teams that expected to win. 

Nobody ever accused Michael Jordan of lacking in ego, either. Or Reggie Jackson. Or Draymond Green. Or Lawrence Taylor. Or even, God help me, the Houston Astros, who embraced their heel status after one of the grossest cheating scandals in sports history and were karmically rewarded with … a spot in the ALCS.

That’s what ego gets you. I just spent the past year watching sports fans, brands, and even heads of state mourn the death of Kobe Bryant and lionizing his work ethic. In life, Kobe was one of the most selfish fuckers you’ll ever encounter. Kobe was so selfish that he got Shaquille O’Neal—the greatest big man to ever play basketball—shipped out of town and still won two more championships anyway, just to show he could. The greatest boxer of all time was Muhammad Ali, who had an ego so enormous that white America shat its pants at the mere sight of him. Peyton Manning often stepped away from his usual gee-whiz press conference demeanor to gleefully sell out his O-line anytime he felt they weren’t protecting him sufficiently.

I hated Manning when he gave that press conference. I always hated Manning, and that brief flash of ego was all I needed to be like SEE? SEE? YOUR LITTLE DARLING PEYTON ISN’T THE CHOIR BOY YOU ALL MAKE HIM OUT TO BE! A year later, Manning won his first ring. That’s what you get for being a prick. You win. A lot.

And yet, fans and talking heads are pre-conditioned to despise ego in both concept and practice. This country has the biggest, most catastrophic ego that any country has ever had, and yet being labeled a “me guy” is somehow a blight on your permanent record if you play football. If your ego is big enough, you get the dreaded CANCER label and Giants fans yell at you for hanging out on a boat. Can you believe Keyshawn Johnson wrote a book called Just Give Me The Damn Ball? Did you see that arrogant slob James Harden daring to use his leverage to get himself traded to a better team? Oh my God, Cam Newton wore an unorthodox outfit to his presser! CAN YOU BELIEVE THE BALLS ON THAT MAN? HE DIDN’T CHASE DOWN THE ONE FUMBLE HARD ENOUGH, YOU KNOW.

Every time an athlete’s ego gets the best of them, it gets way more attention than when their ego makes them, and the team around them, actively better. You win despite your ego and you lose because of it. This is entirely wrong. Philip Rivers retired this week. You will not find a cockier asshole on the planet than that wad of chewed sorghum. Marmalard was insufferable, and yet somehow became oddly endearing, and also wildly successful, because of it.

America needs to reorient its attitude towards athletic egos. I know that’s a lot to ask the same week that history’s stupidest egotist left the Presidency, but it’s time fans and media alike fully embraced all of the athletes they’ve been told, over and over again, to spurn. And to embrace them REGARDLESS OF COLOR, because I know exactly what kind of double standard there is for acceptable levels of cockiness. No more of that shit. I’d rather have Kobe cursing out his peers than fucking Tom Izzo, and so would every other basketball player still alive.

Every sports cliché out there is about how the talk is only as valuable as the walk. But you know what? Fuck that. Who says the talk doesn’t have value of its own? Who says that the talk isn’t the gas that keeps your pistons churning? Ask Jordan. Ask Gary Payton. Ask AI. Ask Richard Sherman. Ask Alex Morgan. Ask Randy Moss. Ask the University of Miami football program from 1983 to 2000. Ask John McEnroe. Ask all the greats, because they knew that humility was for absolute fucking suckers.

You don’t win by being selfless. You win by believing in your god-given ability to stomp some ass, and by convincing everyone else around you that this is irrefutably true. INEVITABLE. You don’t to be the best. You work because you know you are already ARE the best and you’ll never let any other fucker take your throne.

Ego is good. Ego is contagious. Ego gives world class athletes the superhuman delusions they need to DO the superhuman, and the force of will to instill that delusion in their teammates, their fans, and even their coaches if their coaches are smart enough to let them. Selflessness? Man, FUCK selflessness. These are the title games, and you’re not winning jack shit unless you know that YOU’RE the only one worthy of taking what’s rightfully yours. I’m Drew, one the best fucking writers alive, and this is your Thursday Afternoon Dick Joke Jamboroo. FUCKING GET AFTER IT.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I grow a pair and PICK the games. Results may vary.

Five Throwgasms

Bills (+4.5) 28, Chiefs 24. All of these playoff games have been absolute DOGSHIT thus far. The most exciting game so far ended with old-ass Chad Henne converting a fourth down. WHOOP DEE GODDAMN DOO. These title games owe us, and Championship Sunday has a sordid history of giving us a combo platter of one good game and one colossal shitburger. I won’t let that happen. Tomorrow I’m gonna march into Roger Goodell’s house, grab him by his Vineyard Vines pullover, and demand he rig these games for maximum enjoyment. I just spent five months watching a season with no fans and 5,000 buried COVID diagnoses. There better be some excitement at the end of this little rainbow, or else I’m gonna pull Roger’s ginger dick off.

Four Throwgasms

Packers (-3.5) 45, Bucs 10. When I was in college, Michael Jordan came out of retirement (his first one, at least), and remade his game. He had no choice, because was getting older and he knew that he wouldn’t necessarily be able to rely on pure athleticism the way he could back in the first incarnation of his career. He was still Michael Jordan, of course, but he had to add some refined junk to his repertoire to grind out his expected 35 points a game: working down in the post, perfecting his turnaround jumper, etc. It was fascinating to watch him adapt to his aging body in real time.

Less fascinating? Watching old-ass Tom Brady out there throwing spitballs and winning games because the other guy won’t stop turning the fucking ball over. I am not inspired by this. I am not happy.  Watching a great one get by on pure guile alone is cool when it comes to basketball, or even a starting pitcher. In football? Motherfucker, go dig a grave for yourself and stay there. Quit hogging the spotlight, Tom. Go play 18 with fucking Trump. He lives right across the state from you now. I hate the Packers and yet I hope Aaron Rodgers BURIES this collection of nü trash frauds. And Gronk can get fucked, too.

Now, time for some random crap!

• I don’t know if this is merely a byproduct of Ed Hochuli’s retirement, but NFL referees are explaining less on replay judgments and it’s been a fantastic improvement. The ref used to trot back out onto the field and be like, “After reviewing the play, CALL ME ISHMAEL…” Now the ref just says, “The play stands,” and we get right back to business. Now, the call always ends up being wrong, because the NFL knows that it can get away with worse refereeing in empty stadiums. But at least they’re moving things along. Lengthy explanations only make a bad call worse. It’s like listening to a child lie.

• We’ve been watching pandemic NFL games since September and every coach STILL pulls his mask down when he wants to talk. The one time your mask needs to be on, and these pieces of shit can’t fathom having their voices muffled. God forbid Chris Godwin not hear Bruce Arians yell FUCKFACE at him clearly enough.

This isn’t exclusive to NFL coaches by the way. I’ve seen basketball coaches do it. I’ve seen youth coaches do it. I even see random-ass dudes in the park yanking down their masks when asking Gary to throw them the Frisbee. There is ample evidence that wearing a mask inhibits your voice. You can consult this CBC article that says a mask reduces your voice by five to 20 decibels. Or you can, you know, trying talking with one on yourself.

So I understand the impulse, but five to 20 decibels does not exactly represent a huge fraction of your speaking volume. Chances are, your player is still gonna hear you. And if they can’t just speak louder. You’re a coach. You know how to yell by now. Or write it on a fucking cue card if keeping a mask on is such a struggle for you. These people, man. You’d think wearing a mask was more taxing than undergoing chemotherapy by watching them.

Last week: 3-1 (3-1 vs. the spread)

Overall: 7-3 (7-3 vs. the spread)

Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

“We’re The Bastards,” by Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons! From the good reverend Keith Gordon!

Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons are fronted by the former Motorhead guitarist and includes his three actual sons. This rafter-rattling song hails from the band’s new album We’re The Bastards, this title cut offering up poop-punting, axe-driven, old-school rawk ‘n’ roll cheap thrills.

Rock and roll nepotism is the only form of nepotism I’ll allow. Also, it’s nice to watch a quarantine video that was CLEARLY filmed in quarantine. Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons even tossed in a puppet to help speed things along. 

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

What’s the opposite of a poet laureate? Ah, I see:

You came in to the sound of oligarch chuckles
and bullies at gas stations cracking their knuckles.
And now, now that every trigger finger is itchy,
you’re going out like an exorcised Liberace.
Hectic, comedic, toxic, alone,
a flaming meringue on a tide of brimstone.

That’s Atlantic staff writer James Parker, channeling his inner Sean Penn to deliver this crumpled up ball of verse in honor of Trump’s last day in office. Clearly, the cure is worse than the disease. I need better poetry than this. I’VE GOT IT…

CANNIBAL CORPSE SONG OF THE WEEK!

“Remaimed!” by Cannibal Corpse! In honor of the Bills, it’s time once again to check in with Buffalo’s most venerable purveyors of death metal. Let’s have a look at the lyrics of “Remaimed” and see what manner of iambic pentameter await us:

Subjected to these atrocities
Like many times before
The women bore bastard children who were mangled and deformed
Born without a limb or two
Like it fucking matters
At most they’ll live for several years until the next raid occurs
The first time they came
All were horribly maimed
And every time after
Remaimed through sick laughter
Remaimed
Remaimed until they die
Die from being maimed again

TAKE THAT, JAMES PARKER! It’s one thing to be maimed, but quite another to die from being maimed again. Really tough way to go if you ask me. We must UNITE as one America to bridge the remaimings that divide us. TO END THE NEXT RAID BEFORE IT OCCURS.

Cryptkeeper Al’s Lock Of The Week: Chiefs (-4.5) over Bills

“EEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! God, I can’t keep doing this. How many shitty horror puns am I supposed to dream up? Kids out there don’t even know who Al Davis IS these days. Look at me. I’m just an old, dead freak. Anyway, whatever. Take the Chiefs. They’re the only team in this field that’s gonna… REMAIM standing! EEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!”

Cryptkeeper Al’s 2020 record: 1-3

Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

You’re gonna wanna call Mike Galllllllagher… Reader Patrick sends in this deeply affecting local ad for Seattle’s least respected divorce attorney:

Bad singing, domestic abuse, sad pregnant women. This divorce lawyer commercial out of Seattle has it all. 

Does it ever. I went to Gallagher’s dontbeaweekendparent.com, and I was NOT disappointed.

HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE, BABY. That needs that one Elmo meme ‘shopped into it. Listening to sports talk radio has rendered me uniquely skilled at detecting which lawyers have a client base made up exclusively of MRAs, and which do not. Mike Gallagher clearly exists to get Aubrey Huff clones the justice they so righteously crave.

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 2020 chopping block:

Bill O’Brien—FIRED!
Dan Quinn—FIRED!
Matt Patricia—FIRED!
Anthony Lynn—FIRED!
Adam Gase—FIRED!
Doug Marrone—FIRED!
Doug Pederson—FIRED!
Mike Zimmer

(* – potential midseason firing)

Firing Matt Patricia only to turn around and sign a walking fitness infomercial and kneecap cannibal to a SIX-year deal is just the rudest goddamn thing. Imagine being a Lions fan and seeing the Bills and the Browns both prosper while your team does THAT. I’m not even a Lions fan and I’m pissed off.

Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Greg sends in this story I call BROWN ROUND:

We were in the process of potty training my 2 1/2 year old son, so no diapers. As a parent of young children, I am sure you know how much worse shitty pants are to change than a shitty diaper. While out to eat one evening, my son looks at me and says he needs to go the potty. No big deal. I think. We’re finishing up and the bill has just been delivered.

I hand my wallet to my wife so she can take care of the bill and tell her I am taking the boy to the bathroom. She looks at me and says, “No you’re not.”

“He has to go”, I reply.

“He already has” is her answer.

I look down, and my shirt, shorts, and shoes are covered in what I can only describe as a warm, dark brown Frosty from Wendy’s. I immediately break off in a sprint toward the exit, leaving silver dollar sized drops of diarrhea in my wake and my wife to handle telling the waiter about our situation.

I get my son to the parking lot, begin taking off his clothes (all covered in runny shit). As I do this, he looks at me and with a disgusted yet amused look on his face says “Daddy, you get poop on you shirt?” Then proceeds to announce to the entire parking lot that “Look, Daddy get poop on shirt and shoooos”  By this time the shit has run down my leg into my shoes so I have a nice pile of loose stool squishing between my toes. After leaving a substantial tip for our waiter, my wife comes out to the car and we leave.  That is one restaurant that has been temporarily suspended from our rotation.  As any parent can tell you, kids are the worst.

God man, that’s so brutal. Please tip generously, and often.

And don’t forget that the annual POOPOROO returns next week to fill the wide, barren pipeline between the title games and the Super Bowl. So send me only your finest, nut-laden poop tales, please.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

Es muy sabroso

Ham Ruffles! Ah, but not just any ham. These Ruffles have been infused with the sensual flavors of JAMON IBERICO. Reader Chris explains:

We were in Spain (San Sabastian specifically) on vacation. The airport had an entire shop of hams. Also, they have jamon flavored Ruffles and Lays potato chips and let me tell you, they fucking RULE. Jesus, why are we so bad at this stuff? I don’t ever want to leave.

Nor should you have. Chris is right. America loves junk food and yet, against all odds, fucking SUCKS at making it. Mexico has better soda. Europe has better candy. Japan has better convenience stores. Everywhere has better chips and nut mixes. Meanwhile, if we’re lucky, Frito Lay holds a biannual contest and puts out a limited supply of nasty, garlic bread-flavored potato chips. [William Hurt voice] HOW DO YOU FUCK THAT UP?! I demand Biden lift any and all snacky cake tariffs so that the chip trade may flow more freely. I shouldn’t have to look up World Market on Google Maps to find somewhere that sells Ritter Sport.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

Frank’s Red Hot Bloody Mary Malt Beverage! Oh my god. Just … oh my god. From Jess:

I found this monstrosity at my local hippie co-op of all places. Bought a four-pack to bring to a socially distanced tailgate this weekend. Mildly terrified what my toilet bowl will look like afterward. 

“Mildly” is the wrong adverb there. I love Red Hot sauce. I’ll put it on anything. My relationship with Bloody Marys is much more fraught, but that’s beside the point here. This product clearly bears NO relation to the cocktail, and is instead a somehow cheaper variant of the dreaded Bud Light Chelada that has wreaked havoc on college-aged rectums all across this fine country. I fear the Red Hot malt liquor. I MUST NOT HAVE IT.

I emailed Jess for a followup review:

I did indeed drink all four. Disappointingly not very spicy. Pretty heavy on the tomato, but still tasty.

I’m gonna take your word on that.

Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!

“Sea slugs contain more lyco-protein—which is the best protein by far—per ounce than ANY other food you can eat. First thing I do after waking up at 3:20 a.m. every morning is drink a smoothie of sea slugs, beet stalks, kohlrabi, lime kefir, and just a DROP of honey. That gets me straight through to midnight. I don’t have to eat a single thing for the rest of the day, save for a handful of filberts.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans

The Sound of Music, which I had never seen until a month ago, when my wife tried to rope the kids into watching it. The kids all said FUCK THAT, so it ended up being just her and me taking in two-and-a-half hours of Julie Andrews teaching an Austrian family to sing their way out of fascism. And you know what? I enjoyed it. Granted, I spent the bulk of my time going HOLY SHIT LOOK HOW YOUNG CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER LOOKS! and I DON’T TRUST THAT BARONESS LADY FOR SHIT! but I was thoroughly entertained. The performances are razor sharp. The love story is great. The sets are even better. The songs don’t get stuck in your head (a miracle). And the Nazi coda at the end really gives the whole thing some extra juice. I’m pre-programmed to despise musicals, but The Sound of Music gets a pass.

Also, the 12-year-old looked up from his iPad for ten minutes to see why everyone was singing so loud, so we KINDA got him to watch. Victory enough.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Turns out Krusty is one of the biggest tax cheats in history, and they nailed him! All thanks to you! Some might say you’re a hero, kid! Not me, however. I love Krusty.”

Enjoy the games, everyone.