Let’s Remember Some Disappointments!
2:06 PM EDT on September 5, 2023
Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about football, 9/11 cookouts, choo choos, forced ethical compromises, evil carny rides, and more.
Before I get to the Funbag, you should know about the live show. On October 4, Roth and I are hosting a live episode of The Distraction in Brooklyn… featuring YOU! Yes you, you handsome devil. You can buy tickets right here, and bring a rain poncho! Because if you’re sitting in the front row, you might get smashed watermelon on you! It’s one of my signature bits. The crowd LOVES it.
Also, the NFL season starts in two days and Why Your Team Sucks has covered nearly every team, so catch up on all of the previews before kickoff on Thursday night, so that you can be the most unwelcome guest at every viewing party you attend.
Got all that? Splendid. Time for your letters:
Who was the first college football star that you were positive would turn into a great pro but never made an impact in the NFL? For me it was Michael Bishop.
It might have been Notre Dame QB Tony Rice, because my first memory of college football was Rice winning a national championship for ND back in 1988. I didn’t hate Notre Dame back then. I just knew that they were good, and that therefore Rice must have been really good, too. That turned out to be the last time I’d see ND win a national title, so I’ve had quite a wonderful life when you consider that.
But Rice doesn’t qualify as a decent answer here, because I was 12 years old and still learning how football worked. So I’ll give you a firmer answer: Steve Emtman, who was a pass-rushing god for a 1991 Washington Huskies team that split the national championship with Miami. I thought Emtman was one of the best players I’d ever seen, and the NFL thought likewise. He went No. 1 to the Colts, got hurt, and never had much of a career. Real What If shit. If you don’t want to count hurt players for this, then it’s Trev Alberts, who went No. 5 to the Colts two years later and never did anything memorable besides turn into an annoying color guy.
This is a rich vein, by the way. It’s more fun to remember the best examples of guys like this rather than the oldest ones. Like LaVar Arrington. I know LaVar had a serviceable pro career, but that man wasn’t drafted to be serviceable. He was drafted to be what Micah Parsons is right now. He was drafted to do this on every play:
No such luck. Michael Bishop is also a brilliant answer, by the way. He was magic at K-State. Let’s Remember Some Disappointments!
I recently saw a restaurant with "Est. 1997" on its sign. That seems kind of recent, but I'm also an elder millennial. What is the cutoff year for you to legitimately appreciate a restaurant's opening year, or at least pique your interest in it?
I too notice whenever a shingle tells me that a local business was founded while I was alive. It’s always a letdown. If you run a candy shoppe in some small town, I want that candy shoppe to be a million years old. It better have started out as a monastery in the Middle Ages, where vow-of-silence monks learned the art of making fudge while the Bubonic Plague raged just outside the walls. That’s how I know that fudge is gonna be legit.
The problem is that pretty much no business survives that long. If it does, it’s usually because Disney bought it. Otherwise, it goes out of business, or a developer evicts the candy shoppe owners so that they can build a new Potbelly, which itself was founded a year after I was born. So there are only a scant number of places that can brag about their longevity, and they’re entitled to do so even if they only date back to 1997, to use Oscar’s example. That was 26 years ago. That’s a long fucking time. You must have done something right if you’ve been around as long as I’ve been of legal drinking age. I can admit that.
But will that interest me, as a consumer? No. In fact, fuck you for making me feel old. I’m going to Katz’s Deli. Founded in 1888. NOW we’re talking about a living piece of history, baby.
Why can't the radio broadcast be the TV broadcast? I know they talk more, but they're also typically better. Every team would get their own crew, and I assume it would save money.
Do you really want to incentivize networks to save more money? You know that ESPN is currently gutting itself just to look nicer for Wall Street, yeah? There’s an epidemic of consolidation raging all across the country right now, and it always results in you getting a worse product. The more shit a corporation owns, the more corners that corporation wants to cut. We could use a few laws to address this matter. But I don’t trust the Democratic Party, a division of GlaxoSmithKline, to do anything about it.
Besides, radio rights to NFL games are a different property than TV anyway, so they can’t simulcast it with picture. You still have to do the old man thing where you mute the TV and put on the radio to get the optimal experience. I have been on the edge of doing this for years now, and have yet to pull the trigger. One day I’m gonna make the leap, and then the radio will be out of sync with YouTubeTV and I’ll write a whole pissy rant about it.
I run my company fantasy football league (four sub leagues of 12 teams). I am trying to find a fun way to determine our draft order. I Googled, but most of the options are either inappropriate for work, or require an in-person event. Our league members span multiple cities, and we would need to be able to do something online. Any ideas for me?
No one is more half-assed about season-long fantasy than I am. The biggest bit of heavy lifting I do is staying in the virtual draft room all the way through, because I don’t trust auto-draft for shit. Otherwise, I haven’t offered a trade in my brother’s league in like five years. Every time I have to set my lineup on a Sunday, I’m think to myself oh right, like I forgot to empty the dishwasher.
So the second you asked me this question, my gut response was, “Well, why are you TRYING to make it fun? Just randomize the order and then never speak to one another for the rest of the season!” But that violates the spirit of your question, and it discounts the value of making life enjoyable for your coworkers. So off the top of my head, here are some ideas:
- Auction off the draft order, starting with the top pick
- Hold a Zoom trivia night and then use the final scores to determine the draft order
- Hold a draft lottery party over Zoom, pulling names out of a hat while everyone accuses you of rigging it
- Arrange the picks in order of who paid their league fees, first to last (this is not “fun” per se, but it does kill two birds with one stone)
- Spin a wheel with your colleague’s names on it
- Have everyone submit an anonymous (and very, very short) essay explaining why they deserve the top pick
- Each subleague plays Among Us, with the order determined by who stays alive the longest (the killer either goes first if they go undetected or last if they get found out). Remember when Among Us was a thing? We can do it again!
- Everyone has to make you cookies. The best cookies win.
Those are all terrible suggestions. Can you tell I haven’t put my heart into this shit in a while?
I just went to the state fair with my kids, and I came out considering the best rides for dads. Previously I would have put the flying swings (comfy seat, nice breeze, plenty of open air) and giant slide (probably the last physical activity any dad can beat their kid at) at the top of the ranking. But a surprising dark horse pick emerged from this recent fair trip: the zero-gravity spinner. Put your head and feet back, close your eyes, and enjoy a lovely little Dad Power Nap as you're held gently but firmly in place by the awesome power of the machine *chef's kiss*. So Drew, who you got at the top of your state fair rides for dads list?
Definitely NOT the Gravitron. No way. I see your argument for it, but I’m not ready to test it out. Because if you’re lying to me Dean-o, that’s gonna be a long three minutes stuck in the human centrifuge for yours truly. Not worth the risk.
Now the haunted house? That I can deal with: zero physical exertion, just enough scary shit to make me jump here and there, but I’m still the big strong dad who isn’t as scared as the kids are. That’s perfect. That’s all I want out of a state fair. (NOTE: I have not gone to a state fair in literal decades because I have an established, and justified, hatred of parking lot shuttles.) Everything else, save for maybe a small carny rollercoaster, is out. That goes for the flying swings too, by the way. Those seats aren’t always kind to dadbods. Bit of a pinch in the hips.
Now, lemme tell you a brief story about buyer’s remorse at the carnival. My family and I went to Paris for Christmas last year. One morning, we were dicking around in the Tuileries Garden and I saw this giant booster ride along the edge of the park. We were near the famous Roue de Paris Ferris wheel, but the wheel hadn’t opened yet. It was also expensive, and I hate how long it takes to get on and off a Ferris wheel. This booster ride—a giant pendulum with cars at either end of it—was just as tall as the Ferris Wheel, but had no line. I watched the operator give the ride a test run before it opened and it looked both stable and fun.
I asked my kids if they wanted to go. The 17-year-old and the 11-year-old were down. My wife and the 14-year-old were out.
We got into the ride. I assured the two kids that this ride wouldn’t go upside down, because I had just watched the test run and the cars stayed upright all the way through. What I had failed to realize was that the cars stayed upright on that run because they had been empty. Once we got into our seats, a blast shield came down over our faces. Still, I remained ignorant. I was like, “Oh, that must be to protect us from the cold winds up above as we take in a relaxing view of the Paris skyline.”
Wrong. Once the operator fired up the ride, we were going Mach 3. Thanks to the force of our combined body weight, the car flipped a million times. The horizon bobbed up and down in my vision like I was watching an old TV that was on the fritz. My kids were screaming, and not in the normal, fun way. They were fucking terrified. My daughter was crying in midair. My son was loudly yelling at me that he wanted to get off. The ride slowed down and I told them, “It’s OK. We’re at the end of the ride now.”
Wrong again. Now it was time to go BACKWARDS. Once the ride started to re-accelerate, my daughter basically had a nervous breakdown. By the time we got off the ride, both kids were traumatized, and quite annoyed with me. I had to buy them MANY pastries to make up for that ride. I can’t even bring up the subject with them today, because they get mad at me all over again about it.
So do NOT go on a booster ride, even if it looks innocent. That’s how they getcha!
I've historically been a bigger college football fan than an NFL fan. But for the first time in my lifetime (I'm 33), my NFL team may actually be pretty good this year, so I'm planning to up my NFL viewing considerably. With that in mind, how much NFL should I watch to feel like I have a handle on which teams are any good? I'm not a fantasy football guy, so Red Zone doesn't have a lot of appeal to me. I'm thinking I'll watch my team, SNF, MNF and maybe TNF. Should I watch more?
You don’t have to be a fantasy football guy to watch RedZone. It kicks ass no matter what. If I’m not watching my team on Sunday, I’m almost always watching Red Zone, unless it’s one of those barren 4 p.m. slates during one of the bye weeks where it has only two games to toggle between, one of which is invariably Cardinals/Cardinals. That’s a rough day. Otherwise, the only people who don’t enjoy RedZone are tight-asses and freaks. You, a normal fan, can get a fairly good handle on the complexion of the league every week if you watch it.
So that’s what I do. Every week, I watch my team, then RedZone the rest of Sunday, then NFL GameDay Highlights at 7:30 and then at least two of the three primetime games in full. If a matchup sucks on paper, I usually plan to watch just the first half. If the game turns out to be awesome, I stick around. I’ve fucked up and missed killer endings. I’ve also stayed up for games that end with a thud. I used to pull a Swiper and go OH MAN! if I woke up the next morning to see I’d missed a barnburner, but I’m over that now. It’s not an exact science, but it’s still enough football intake for me to start off the following season knowing that Mike McCarthy can’t manage the clock for shit. And really, what more educated a football opinion do you require than that?
How many chuggas come before choo choo?
Two! Two chuggas. When my kids were small and I needed to burn the clock at playtime, I could repeat chugga into infinity to get those kids laughing. But now they’re older and I can revert to S.O.P.: chugga chugga choo choo!!!
When my partner is looking at people's photos on Facebook, Instagram, or any social media, she zooms in to look at every small detail of a person's face/body, especially her friends. She even does this to her own pictures. Is this normal behavior, and I'm the weirdo?
I never do this because I am a man, and therefore other people do not interest me. Also, 17 years of parenting has left me with a case of Picture Fatigue that will last until I take my final breath.
But I can see other people zooming in on every face in a photo just to be petty and judgmental. How else is a woman gonna be able to complain about all of her friends if she doesn’t study their flaws with a terrifying intimacy? That’s just being a good friend.
In all seriousness though, it’s a little odd that your lady does this. It’s not healthy to get hung up on other people’s bodies unless … you’re eager to have sex with them. Then it’s totally fine. Otherwise, maybe point out to her that this level of obsessiveness is probably a bad thing.
By the way, ever take a dull photo and then crop it tight, and it’s suddenly a masterpiece? I love that little rush. God bless the EDIT button.
Is it socially acceptable for me to throw a cookout on 9/11? I live in a 50-unit courtyard building with an HOA, so no chance of hiding it from the neighbors.
Of course you can. 9/11 was 22 years ago. It’s just another day now for the average American. You can go out, watch a game, throw a party, get laid, whatever. You SHOULD do all of those things, because the best tribute you can pay to anyone who died that day is to keep on living your life freely. It’s not to act like you’re Bruce Wayne avenging his fucking parents.
I was in New York on 9/11. It sucked, but I don’t force my kids to spend every subsequent 9/11 staring at the flag and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance on an endless loop. That’s Republican shit. So if you have a barbecue on 9/11 and some neighbor yells TOO SOON at you, go ahead and key their car. Moving on from that day isn’t selfish; it’s human.
Is the Ryder Cup the most overhyped event in sports? You didn't actually answer the question, tho, did ya Drew? You just did the dad shift where you talked about Ben Crenshaw. I'm sick people using Ben Crenshaw for avoiding tough questions! So, what is the most overhyped event in sports? Kentucky Derby? Super Bowl? The Olympics? My cousin's finals, where she's SURE to place so we all have to be there? GIVE THE QUESTION ITS DUE!!!!
OK OK, I’ll answer it: The hot dog eating contest. That’s the one. No other overhyped event comes close. Everyone goes apeshit for the hot dog eating contest every year, because no other big sport things are on that day, and because it’s the one competitive eating event that everyone has heard of. Meanwhile, it’s fucking unwatchable. At least the Olympics has some cool events. The hot dog contest sucks ass from start to finish. It makes me not want to eat a hot dog, which should be impossible.
Also, the same guy wins it ever year, and I don’t care if Joey Chestnut breaks his own dumb record for the 90th time. Big fucking deal. It’s not Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron. Make Joey play middle linebacker for the Texans and then I’ll be intrigued.
Second place goes to any novelty boxing match.
How much money is too much money to keep if you find it lying on the ground, with no possible owner in sight? My wife and I were walking around the neighborhood one day and found a bank envelope with $400 in it lying right in the middle of the street. It was wrinkled and dirty from a rainstorm the day before. I estimate it had to have been there for at least 24 hours. My wife spent half of it on a trip she already had planned, and the rest went to sandwiches and credit card bills. Years later, we both still feel guilty about it. Did we do bad? What should one do in this situation?
Oof, $400 is a bank envelope is a lot to keep. That’s not A Simple Plan territory, but it’d definitely keep me on my toes for a while. No telling if Jimmy Da Fish is gonna send his men looking for that dough.
I try to make a good-faith effort to return any money I find, especially if there’s a lot of it. But as FW noted, he discovered this money lying around for at least a day, with no address or name on the envelope to help track the owner down. I think … I think … I’d give that money to charity if I found it. That way, I “kept” the money but made sure it went to someone who needed it, which would give me just enough leeway to not feel like a selfish asshole. I’d do that with any amount of money over $200.
Or I’d keep it all and NEVER tell you.
Do people even really care about crying babies on planes anymore? Everyone has headphones on and is watching Netflix or sleeping. If people don't wear headphones, what’s wrong with you weirdo?
I sometimes leave the cans off, but that’s because I have to take off my hearing aid and my cochlear implant processor to put them on. If it’s a short flight, I’m often too lazy to bother. Then a baby cries and I’m like awww my kids used to be babies. Solidarity, brother. Then the baby keeps crying and I get the headphones out.
But that’s me. Everyone else wears noise-cancelling headphones/AirPods all flight long, so the data might suggest that passengers are indeed becoming more chill about in-flight noise pollution. But you know Americans. You know how they fly, you know how on edge they can get, and you know that all it takes is one fucker on the plane to flip out. And there’s always one.
Email of the week!
Now and then, I meet people who work in online sports gambling. I'm curious about their work, and am always impressed by the thoughtfulness their answers to my questions. But working for an online sports book is, at best, morally dubious, right? What ethical judgment is warranted here? I don't think it's on the level of working for a cigarette company or a gun manufacturer. But it's not great, right? Am I just being a scold?
Well, that’s the whole story of the industrial world, isn’t it? You can’t take any job without making some sort of moral compromise. You’re a pilot and you’re killing the world with airplane emissions. You work in advertising and you’re basically a soldier in the invading army of capitalism, regardless of whichever product you happen to be writing copy for. You open a pizza joint and you’re gonna make little kids overweight. You work in journalism and you have to account for your publication being owned by some evil company that doesn’t really care about journalism, and often disseminates op-eds that counter your own values (in my case, anything that Luis writes for Defector).
Same deal with working for DraftKings or FanDuel or SportsDawgs or any of that shit. Everyone needs a job. Everyone needs money, and can’t be blamed for needing it. But the world is set up so that your job—be it directly or indirectly—helps keep the machines on, which means you’ll get your hands dirty in the process, whether you like it or not.
And the evil twist is that you really can’t blame individuals for it. If I say to my buddy D-Rich, “Hey man, you should stop working for that casino,” I’m being a scold, and I’m not really accomplishing anything. All I can do it blame the people at the top, and all of those people are walled off, both by literal walls and by the thousands, if not millions, of otherwise innocent people who are surreptitiously doing their bidding so that they, as employees, can afford food, clothing, a house, etc.
This is the crisis. This is why the rage against the machine exists, and why it may never cease. I have no answer as to how to solve it. I can get judgey, but then I’ll just be a judgey loser. I can cry out FETCH THE GUILLOTINE, but no one will. I can vote, as Democrats implore me to do, and yet so much of what I’m voting for is already bought and paid for. Rage is the emotional manifestation of helplessness. I wish it was more than that, but alas. All I can do is hope is that my voice becomes one of so many that the world eventually bends to the collective uproar. I think it’s possible, but it’s not a guarantee.
I do know I’ll never go to Burning Man, though.