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I Finally Quit Sports Talk Radio

Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/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. And buy Drew’s new book, The Night The Lights Went Outthrough here.

My first car was not my car. It was my grandma’s, and she left it to my father when she died. He already had a car of his own, so he didn’t need her Oldsmobile. Certainly not this Oldsmobile: a Cutlass that had no air conditioning and no FM radio. Family lore is that my grandma paid extra to the dealer to have both those features removed from the car. No one with better options would drive this car.

I had no better options. I had no options at all. If I wanted to drive, if I wanted FREEDOM, this was my ride: the car I’d end up driving for my first-ever commute, to the next town over for my job working as a dishwasher at Little Caesars. That job was relatively close to home. But as I moved up in the service industry—from dishwasher all the way up to the elite world of table running and setting up banquets—the summer jobs got farther away. My parents lived in the sticks, so anything good, like the better restaurants I ended up working at, was always at least a 30-minute drive away.

So I drove. One thing my grandma didn’t pay to have excised from that car was its cassette player, so I popped in assorted Anthrax albums and homemade mixtapes and blasted them as loud as I could out of the (always) open windows, to let the world know that this was no ordinary Oldsmobile they were stuck behind. This car ROCKED.

And then, somewhere along one of those drives, I fucked around with the AM radio and discovered that the signal for WFAN in New York reached all the way up to my parents’ remote corner of Northwest Connecticut. I could listen to sports talk radio, anytime I wanted. So I did. I listened to Mike & the Mad Dog on my way to work and The Sweater & The Schmoozer on the way home. I listened to Francesa’s Sunday morning NFL picks, which he did alone. I heard the P.C. Richard jingle in my head so many times that it still haunts my mind.

I’d go on to listen to sports talk radio for a solid 25 years after that, even calling in on occasion. When my wife and I moved to D.C., the first thing I did was preset all the sports talk radio stations on the AM dial. I listened to The Sports Reporters on 980, which isn’t the old ESPN Sunday morning show but was a local afternoon drive show hosted by Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban, a show I would one day end up being a guest on. Tony Kornheiser always did a 10-minute spot with Pollin and Czaban at 5:00 p.m. sharp every weekday, which timed up perfectly with me picking my wife up from work (I wasn’t employed at the time) in a Honda Accord that was the only car we owned. I’d park outside her office, listen to Tony’s spot, and then watch her come out the doors shortly thereafter.

I listened to other sports talk radio down here, too, most of it shitty: Kevin Sheehan, The Junkies, any former WFT legend who got his own show as an unofficial pension, etc. If you don’t know who these guys are, rest assured there are guys just like them in your market. Even if the local hosts were talking about the WFT, and they always were, I didn’t care. In fact, I grew to enjoy them talking about the WFT, because the team always sucked and because the hosts would all ping-pong between anger and denial in response to their shittiness. It was ideal hate-listening. Then, whenever I was on the road, I’d hit SCAN on the radio to find whatever other local sports talk radio stations I could. If I was especially hard up, I’d download The B.S. Report to my iPod Mini and listen to it through a little auxiliary cord connected to the stereo system.

It wasn’t all hate listening. I loved Czaban. I loved Kornheiser, mostly because I grew up watching him on that other Sports Reporters show. And when I was hunting around for local sports talk in Baltimore, or L.A., or anywhere else I was traveling, I wasn’t an on anger hunt. I just wanted to hear people talking about sports. In fact, I would get pissy when my sports talk radio would be interrupted by actual game broadcasts, with baseball being the main offender. I didn’t wanna hear the fucking Orioles. I wanted chatty bullshit only. I was alone in a car. I wanted to hear other people talking about the sports the way I would’ve if I had had company. It didn’t REALLY matter if the talk was stupid or not. It just mattered that it was there. Sometimes I even got actual, useful information from listening: breaking news, ideas I hadn’t thought of myself, etc. I’d listen through static if I had to, and I did. I’d even willingly run the risk of hearing the Kars4Kids jingle without prior warning.

And then one day, not long ago, I stopped listening. I drove to the grocery store and, unlike every other trip, I didn’t reflexively tune into one of the local stations to hear about how Taylor Heinicke might actually have some potential if Ron Rivera commits to him. I just listened to the motor hum. When I bought a new car a little over a month ago, this one just a bit nicer than Betty’s Oldsmobile, I didn’t bother to preset the sports talk radio stations, or any radio stations for that matter. When I drive now, I usually prefer to hear nothing at all.

I can explain this with any number of loose theories: I had finally wised up and ditched terrestrial radio decades after more sensible people had; once the WFT dropped their original name, my urge to hate-listen faded even though the team is as malignant as it’s ever been; I realized I couldn’t stand Kornheiser; all of the local shows I preferred had been replaced with either generic ESPN radio or new formatting (Czaban now, ironically, does a lot of local radio for the Packers). I told my dad that I no longer listened to the radio in my car anymore and he told me the EXACT same thing happened to him once he suffered hearing loss, as I did. So maybe it was that.

But I think the real reason is that I just don’t need sports talk radio anymore. I am a loud man, and I have spent most of my life needing any silence filled—if not by me, then by music, or by crowds, or by people spewing hot takes at me through the airwaves. I’m grown comfortable keeping my own company, and I’ve gotten more discerning about what enters these ears, perhaps because I know I only have so much hearing left to go.

I can’t chalk any of this up to intellectual maturity or good taste, given that I still blast Dokken in my basement when I’m playing video golf at night. In retrospect, I probably hung onto sports talk radio for far too long, only listening to it because I brought me back to driving around in that piece of shit Oldsmobile, and working for beer money, and living in New York, and picking my wife up from work when I didn’t know if I’d ever have a successful career of my own. Just like certain movies and songs, sports talk radio is evocative in my life. It was a happy trigger, unless Colin Cowherd was talking.  

I don’t need that trigger anymore. I can remember my life, along with some Guys, just fine on my own. More importantly, I don’t need every last void filled. I can be bored. I can exist without constant stimulation. Why, it’s almost like I’ve finally grown up. Now lemme tell you why Scott Farrell deserves to have me shit in his mouth.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

Five Throwgasms

Cowboys at Chiefs: We’re nut deep into NFL Troop Month and seeing all these coaches dolled up in Operation Enduring Freedom cosplay gave me a quality 2007 blog post idea: What if every head coach WAS a troop? What kind of troop would they be, based on looks alone? Well, allow me to strap on my LOLLERSKATES, because I think they might look a lil somethin’ like this:

Sean McVay: Cocky hothead who accidentally shoots a fellow platoon member, but the generals cover it up because he seems like such a nice young man.

Mike McCarthy: Middle-management ranking officer who no one ever listens to.

Kyle Shanahan: Nervous, cowardly private who makes the rest of the platoon both uneasy and deeply annoyed. Drums his fingernails against his rifle constantly.

Andy Reid: Tired major general who has no good explanation for why we’re still over there.

Arthur Smith: Forced to enlist by his dad, hated it, but somehow stuck around the corps for his entire life.

David Culley: Seemingly wise brigadier general who actually lies a lot.

Rich Bisaccia: The only sergeant at boot camp that anyone likes.

Matt LaFleur: Kid who had to enlist in the regular corps after washing out of OCS.

I put all of my personal military experience into those jokes, and I think it shows!

Colts at Bills: I now yell at my TV if I think the QB has audibled incorrectly, and the way I’m able to tell if he did is this: If there are eight defenders in the box, he should audible to a pass; if there are less than eight defenders in the box, he should audible to a run. I played football, mind you. And yet, this is the depth of my armchair offensive coordination. I still don’t think I’m wrong.

Four Throwgasms

Packers at Vikings: Last Sunday night, Collinsworth mentioned that more defensive linemen are being coached, if they jump offside, to keep rushing unabated to the quarterback. That way, they draw the flag but they also get the play whistled dead. No chance at a free play for the Aaron Rodgerses of the world. I’d ask why it took NFL defenses so long to figure this out, but the thought never crossed my mind ONCE until Collinsworth mentioned it. Like those linemen, I too am trained like a sheep to preserve five piddly shit yards at all costs. Sometimes losing five yards is worth it.

Now I get to sit back and wait for the day head coaches stop wasting a timeout to prevent a delay of game penalty.

Three Throwgasms

Steelers at Chargers: Folks I don’t use the word “saint” often, nor lightly. But Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger … is a saint.

Where were YOU when Ben adhered to protocols the way every other player is supposed to do? And do you know what else? After Ben self-reported his COVID-19 symptoms, he came to an intersection and stopped his car when the light turned red. Wow. Incredible. Big fucking moment not just for him, but for AMERICA. Let this fat, grey-dicked shithead be a lesson to us all. Maybe he’ll self-report the next time he sexually assaults your grandma.

Saints at Eagles: Half of all ads now are for Theraguns and every time I see one, I wonder how many people buying a Theragun have stuck it up their own ass. I bet it’s a surprisingly high number.

Bengals at Raiders

Two Throwgasms

Cardinals at Seahawks: I’m not over the NFL media treating Russell Wilson’s accelerated rehab schedule like it’s the fucking moon landing.

“We probably spent 19 or 20 hours a day working on this hand, trying to break records with this thing.”

Why would anyone believe this shit? Only prisoners of war are awake for 20 hours a day.

WFT at Panthers: I hate Matt Rhule, but if Cam Newton miraculously led this team on a Super Bowl run after sitting around on the trash heap for three months, I could soften my take on him a bit.

Patriots at Falcons: Last week we had our first house party since the pandemic started, but it wasn’t a grownup party. The 15-year-old invited a bunch of her friends over and they all gorged on pizza and then tore up the basement. As a parent, you’re trained to fear teendom and all of the angst that comes with your kids going through puberty and enduring new educational and social pressures. But holy shit, do I ever want this teenager to go do teenage shit now. All these kids gathered around in our kitchen the other night to grub on pizza and talk about the absolute stupidest shit, and it was miraculous. I damn near bought them a quarter barrel, I was so happy to see them all partying inside together again (NOTE: I did not buy them a quarter barrel).

Giants at Bucs

Ravens at Bears

One Throwgasm

Lions at Browns: I’ve decided, after cautiously endorsing him a few weeks ago, that Mark Sanchez is good in the booth. I like him. He has useful shit to say and he’s not a braying donkey. I will go into the Defector CMS and delete this bit of text if he turns into a blithering idiot a month from now.

Niners at Jaguars

Dolphins at Jets

Texans at Titans

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

“Policeman Benz” by Maximum the Hormone. The band name is enough to sell me, but reader Keith says there’s far more where that came from.

During quarantine, my partner and I have started getting in to anime. Watched and will recommend Sword Art Online, Erased, and the Disastrous Life of Saki K. Great shows and recommendable theme songs. Just finished Death Note. Amazing show, and the second season had an opening song that sounds a lot like System Of A Down, Maximum the Hormone. The song is What’s Up, People?! which is AMAZING. Led me to buy the album on iTunes. After listening to the whole album, Policeman Benz is the best tune.

An odd fact about me is that I dislike both anime AND System of a Down. And yet I like this song. I feel like I’m being shot in the face by it. Good feeling.

Worst Quarterback In The League Of The Week

Matthew Stafford, and I would’ve put Stafford here regardless of whether or not his wife is a pretzel assassin. My man was cruising along in L.A., all rejuvenated under Sean McVay and being like I’m free! I’m free! Everyone knows I’m good at stuff now! And then his skills promptly fell off a cliff. The Rams just traded 500 draft picks away, all to surround a hospice patient with All-Pros. Very sad.

Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

Oliver Jewellry! The extra L is for LUXURY. From Patrick:

Meet Russell Oliver. He's kind of a legend in the Toronto area for his outrageous commercials. But his commitment to the bit is pretty admirable. 

It sure is. I can’t place Russell Oliver’s accent from this ad. At first I thought he was British, and then I thought he was faking being British, and then I thought he had a Canadian accent but that cocaine changed it somehow, and then I realized he’s probably South African. You can’t have a jewelry retailing empire in North America without being a sketchy South African weirdo who screams DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITAY! at people everywhere he goes. Makes Russell’s transformation into “The Cashman” in this ad all the more jarring. He’s like The Scatman, but with cash! Remember The Scatman? I do.

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 2021 chopping block:

Jon Gruden – FIRED!!!!

Kyle Shanahan

Pete Carroll

Arthur Smith

Urban Meyer

Vic Fangio

Kevin Stefanski

Mike Zimmer

Dan Campbell

Matt Nagy*

Brian Flores*

David Culley

Zac Taylor

Robert Saleh

(* - potential midseason firing)

I’m getting a little tired of Vic Fangio both being mildly competent one week and then absolute dogshit the next. This man is gonna stave off unemployment with a rousing two-game winning streak to close out the season at 8-9. I want my money back.


We’re getting closer to the LIVE episode of The Distraction at Caveat in New York on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. You can buy your tickets right here. We’re also live-streaming the event if you can’t make it to the bar but you also need tickets for that. So get your tickets, and then go buy the brain book while you’re at it. My crippling mortadella habit won’t pay for itself.

Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Matt sends in this story I’ll call TALES OF A THIRD GRADE NOTHING:

From age six through 12, I was deathly afraid of pooping anywhere but my own house. This led to a lot of multi-day "hold-it-ins," and some inevitable pants-shitting in the car, at the beach, or at a restaurant.Every day in third grade, I was dropped off at daycare in the morning to wait for the school bus. One morning, I was playing Top Gun on Nintendo before the bus came. Out of nowhere, I crap my pants. We're talking about a decent-sized log. As this happens, I hear from upstairs, "Time to go to the bus!" I'm too afraid to admit what happened to anyone at daycare, so I put on my jacket and get on the bus with the load still secure in my pants.From 8:30 AM to 3 PM, I attended third grade with a stinkpile in my jeans, pretending nothing was wrong: classes, lunch, recess. I spent the walks between class trying to keep any from sliding down my pants. By lunchtime, I was getting rashy. I recall sitting in social studies, shoulder-to-shoulder at a roundtable with my classmates, just trying to clamp down on a chair and play it cool. Eventually I took the afternoon bus home and deconned.None of my classmates said anything the entire day. No teacher pulled me aside. How did no one say anything?? I was a bigger kid so naturally any smelly farts were typically blamed on me. How was I not caught within 10 minutes? My school had two "that's the boy who shits his pants" kids. Maybe I was the third one and no one told me?

You were and they didn’t.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

Sacre bleu!

A kouign-amann! HONH HONH HONH. Who says you can’t snack fancy on gameday? Not I. If you’ve ever eaten a croissant and said to yourself, “This just isn’t buttery enough,” well I’ve got news for you, mon cheri. The average kouign-amann is three inches wide and contains 97 sticks of butter. Don’t ask me how the French do it. I don’t even wanna know. That’d ruin the fat magic.

I had a free afternoon last week so I took myself out on a little date. I went to the local Le Pain Quotidien—which is Vie de France for a higher tax bracket—and treated myself to a kouign-amann and a cappuccino. They served my cappuccino in one of those big mugs that has no handle, so it’s like drinking out of a bowl. And lemme tell you: It was a perfect thing. I am now a big believer in the afternoon cappuccino. I still obey my self-imposed rule to only have one when I’m out, and never out of a paper cup, and that rule has served me well. I feel so civilized drinking my cappuccino I can hardly stand it. I’m celebrating the moments of my life and you can’t stop me.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

Pain awaits you.

Clear Creek Ice! Oh. Oh, holy shit. From Andrew:

I have a tendency to make impulse beer/liquor/food purchases, a trait I picked up studying the habits of my pothead roommates in college. So when I came across a $2.19 four-pack of Clear Creek Ice at the local 7-Eleven, I bought it without hesitation. Beer that is sold in quantities of less than six is either for snobs or street urchins, and Clear Creek Ice without question caters to our nation's homeless community. The price of Clear Creek Ice suggests that the brewing process actually decreases the value of the raw materials. The taste suggests that the creek in reference is the very same one where Elliott finds E.T.'s corpse.

What a find. I’ve always wanted a beer that gives you severe flu-like symptoms for 24 hours or more, and Clear Creek Ice might very well be it.

Dan Campbell’s Clump Dog Of The Week: Will Harris

“So proud of Willie for making that play at the end of overtime. But listen, I know that still wasn’t the ending we wanted. I told my guys yesterday that if you’re happy just to not lose, then you got no business being in this building. I still want it to hurt. Every time we fall short of a win, I want it to feel like you’ve swallowed a bag of acid. I want it to feel like a gremlin … like there’s a gremlin inside your body just running around and twirling a sword and biting your pancreas and pissing in your breadbasket. If you can’t feel that gremlin snapping your bladder over his warty knee, you’re in the wrong league. The wrong country, even.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Lions Fans

The Harder They Fall. I’d watch LaKeith Stanfield read a Malcolm Gladwell Facebook post out loud; that’s the point I’ve come to with the man. As for the film itself, it merits automatic inclusion into the dad movie canon, and it has everything I expect out of a good Western: a family being massacred to kick things off, small towns clearing out for a coming duel, train robberies, bank robberies, long treks on horseback, overly dramatic plot twists, a festive saloon dropping dead silent when one dude walks in, and VIOLENCE. So much violence, all of it of the highest caliber. That’s important.

I grew up in the 80s, so I know my movie violence. I cherish it. I’m the kid who watched The Running Man 56 times specifically for the deaths. You can’t find good violence in action movies anymore. There’s barely even any visible blood in a lot of shit. Meanwhile, when LaKeith cuts down a man in The Harder They Fall, he does so literally. And when people get shot in this movie, they EXPLODE with blood. The squib budget for this thing must have been in six figures. There are dismembered arms, merciless pistol whippings, and a little boy getting a cross carved into his forehead. They even gun down a horse. Best Picture.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

Enjoy the games, everyone.

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