Life Is Measured In Super Bowls
2:01 PM EST on February 4, 2021
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.
My earliest memories of the Super Bowl are as vague as early childhood itself. I don’t have full scenes. I only have shards, scattered around on the floor of my mind in jagged, shiny pieces. I remember our living room in Minnesota. I remember that room had a plywood door that folded, like an accordion, to close it off from the main hallway. We only closed that door when something important was on TV, like Dynasty, or The Cosby Show, or the Super Bowl.
I remember my place in the living room was on the floor in front of the TV, either because I wasn’t allowed on the nice furniture or simply because I didn’t want to sit on it. When you’re young, you wanna get REAL close to the TV. Sometimes I pressed my face against the cathode ray tube and saw the picture separate into boxy pixels. If I die of radiation poisoning a year from now, this will have been why.
I remember parts of Super Bowls while I was splayed out on that floor: Fridge scoring a touchdown, the Broncos jumping out to that 10-0 lead on Washington before Doug Williams dropped the hammer, Tim Krumrie breaking his leg, and Joe Montana finding John Taylor in the end zone at the last second. I don’t remember much else about those matchups. I don’t even remember what the fuck I ate those nights. I’m sure my mom made her chili and busted out some special Doritos as an appetizer. She used to fry up buffalo wings herself, too. She fried them up in a wide skillet and then laid them on a paper towel to soak up the grease. I remember all that food, but the sequencing of it eludes me.
This is probably because, up until around 1990, I was a casual viewer of the Super Bowl. I was there more for mom’s wings more than the game itself. I still didn’t understand the sport. I didn’t know what downs were. I didn’t know which players were allowed to do what. I wanted to understand it all, but the rules and nuances were lost on me.
And then, when I was 14, everything connected. I understood football at last. I watched the whole full season. I snuck downstairs after bedtime to catch the end of any close Monday night game, the Browns comeback from nine down in the fourth to beat the Broncos foremost among them. I liked the Giants and hated the Bills, for some reason. I don’t know why. 2021 me would have fully appreciated Buffalo’s K-Gun offense. But 1990 Drew was a hot taker who loved establishing the run.
(1990 Drew ALSO loved the Gulf War. I remember reading about all the other wars throughout history and being like, “Hey man, when do WE get a war?” And then Bush 41 invaded Iraq at the start of 1991 and I was excited. Genuinely excited. When the news broke, I rushed around school to tell people, like I was a fucking newsboy. When Whitney sang the anthem, I cried for all the wrong reasons.)
So I had my friend Tony over to watch the Giants, a massive underdog forced to start their backup QB, try to beat a seemingly unstoppable Buffalo team in the Super Bowl. This was the first time I ever got to watch a Super Bowl with a friend. We sat alone together in a small TV room, sitting on frayed white chairs my father routinely accused me of eating. Literally. He pointed at the exposed foam hunks sticking out from the upholstery and shouted STOP EATING THE FURNITURE. Now I never ate those fucking chairs. But my vehement denials went unheard. For the record, Dad, I’m innocent. I ate and broke everything ELSE in the house, but all I did to the chairs was sit on them.
Tony and I watched the game in those half-eaten chairs, aghast that the Giants were hanging in. Aghast that Mark Ingram (not that one; his dad) somehow plowed his way to a first down on this play. But when Scott Norwood lined up to win the game for Buffalo, I assumed he would nail it. I figured the better team would, as it usually does, find a way to eke out a win it didn’t really deserve. It was automatic as far as I was concerned.
It wasn’t. Norwood blew the kick and Tony and I fucking screamed. Despite the fact that I have always been a Vikings fan, this would not be the first time a Giants Super Bowl victory brought me an inordinate amount of joy.
From there, the memories grow sharper. I was in Mexico for Buffalo’s fourth straight Super Bowl loss. I watched that game with two friends in the kitchen of our student exchange host family. Our “mom” was making enchiladas. Her TV sat on top of the fridge. The enchiladas were the best I’d ever had and will ever have.
I was in England for the Packers' 1997 Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. The game started at midnight. We were in a giant hall with a bunch of Americans and mildly curious British people, watching Brett Favre get his first and only ring on a big-ass projected screen. No one was even close to sober. When Desmond Howard sealed the game with a 99-yard kickoff return TD, I could stop pretending to care.
I was back in America, at college, when the Packers lost the Super Bowl the next year. It was the first time the NFC had lost a Super Bowl in 14 years. I was as shocked when the Broncos won that game as I was when the Giants kicked off Buffalo’s run of pain. We were in one of my teammate’s rooms for that game. There were Colt 45 bottles filled with piss and Gatorade bottles filled with dip spit on every available sill. Other guys on the room made fun of me during the game, because that’s what they usually did. I was not the most popular guy on the team. But Green Bay lost, and it was a miracle, and I drank to that.
Every Super Bowl after that was played in my adulthood: the shards growing even larger, and shinier:
- XXXVI: I was at my friend Andy’s apartment in Manhattan. It was just us two. I drank until I got the runs. I cheered my ass off for the Patriots because, again for reasons unknown, I was sick to death of the Greatest Show On Turf. Even though the Rams had only won one title with Kurt Warner at the helm, and even though those teams were some of the most enjoyable ones in football history.
- XL: My wife was EXTREMELY pregnant. I had to drive her home from my in-laws right before the half, and so I missed the non-touchdown that Ben Roethlisberger scored, giving Pittsburgh a lead that it would never relinquish. Seattle fans still complain about that call to this day. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, it was the only interesting thing to happen in that shitty-ass game. But I missed it. Felt like a bad fan. My daughter was born two days later.
- XLII: I was now an official sports blogger. SO GLAMOROUS. The Patriots were undefeated and I fucking hated them. My sports blogger friends and I—my best friend used to joke that they were my “cyberfriends”—met at Jack Kogod’s apartment to watch the game. When the Giants pulled off the upset, someone screamed BRING ME MY LAPTOP in triumph. The Patriots would still win three more titles after that.
- XLIV: It was my daughter’s fourth birthday. We all got the norovirus. In the middle of a blizzard. We were at my in-laws’ house when that little mini-pandemic broke out. A.J. Daulerio told me to keep drinking water and taking Advil, and somehow his advice worked. I threw up one final time at the half (better to barf than watch The Who), then dragged myself down to my father-in-law’s basement and watched Tracy Porter’s pick-six in a nauseous fog. I was elated.
- LI: We had a party at our house. I made chili and drank half a bottle of whiskey, if not more. Back when I was drinking, a Duralex tumbler filled with Overholt and rocks was glued to my hands at all times. And I had a good excuse to drink this time, because the Falcons were up 28-3. They weren’t merely beating Brady and Belichick, they were humiliating them, which was how I preferred things. I got so drunk that I couldn’t focus on the screen in the second half as that lead fell apart. Every image doubled. Every time I checked the Deadspin Slack room, the dread had worsened. By the time the Pats had pulled to within eight, we all knew it was over. I went from celebratory drinking to drinking as self-medication. That happens with alcohol. Two years later, I suffered a brain hemorrhage and never drank again.
- LII: I went back to my hometown for the first time since the very year Tony and I watched the Giants upset the Bills. I’ve never written this, but when I went back to Minnesota in early 2018, it felt like home. Like Minnesota was where I was supposed to be. And I still wonder what it would be like if I went back for good. When I close my eyes I can still feel the cold there, and I like it. The Vikings, of course, blew their shot to play in that game in spectacular fashion. There’s a lot of what-could-have-beens for me in that state.
- LIII: My first sober Super Bowl in I don’t even know how many years. Guess who fucking won it.
We won’t have a Super Bowl party this year. We can’t. It’s my daughter’s birthday again, and this time we fear an illness even worse than a nasty case of toilet-hugging. This will be the Pandemic Super Bowl, which will make it memorable in its own, bizarre way.
But this is why the Super Bowl is a holiday. It’s not always a happy one. But it IS always a signpost in life. As with birthdays and Christmases, you can look back in your Super Bowl Sunday archive and catch glimpses of where you were. WHO you were. I was a sloppy kid. I was a perma-tourist in strange lands, indulging my need for football at odd times. I was a lonely college student. I was a professional hater. I was sick to the point of fully emptying out my insides. I was an incorrigible drunk. I was a sudden brain damage recipient. I was a son. I was a father. I can see, with varying degrees of clarity, who I was and who I still need to be. Ten years from now I’ll look back on this Super Bowl and maybe say to myself, “Oh right! That was the year our new couch arrived!” Or maybe I’ll eat the tape of life and see something else. Someone else. That’s the Super Bowl. The game never changes, but you will.
The Super Bowl
All Super Bowls 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.
Chiefs (-3.5) 45, Bucs 30. You go against Tom Brady at your peril. But really, I have no karmic power over this stupid game. If Brady pulls this one out of his ass, it won’t be because I jinxed the Chiefs with a prediction I didn’t even put real money on. It’ll be because he’s Tom Brady, and he knows how to win this game. But if any team was built to withstand the Tom Brady Mystique Complex, it’s Kansas City. I would not say the Chiefs are all that daunted by the prospect of Bruce Arians and his dimestore Vader outfit.
To be fair, over the course of this playoff run, the Bucs have proven themselves to be loaded everywhere else. Yeah yeah, Tom Brady is magic. Whatever. But the Bucs also have Shaq Barrett, Lil' Winfield, a good O-line (fifth in PFF), a deep backfield, Mike Evans, Devin White, JPP building a Hall of Fame case for himself with just eight fingers, and Lavonte David. I dunno how Jason Licht stumbled bass-ackwards into this roster, but it’s a very good one. More important, it proves something that the world knew all along: namely, that Jameis Winston was genuinely fucking terrible.
Now let’s talk about some random crap!
• I grow exquisitely long nose hairs due to being in my 40s, and the problem is exacerbated in winter. This is because of the mucus factor. Boogers and snot must get past my tangle of noseweeds to make it outside, and they don’t always succeed. Sometimes I look in the mirror and a booger will be trapped in the hairs, like a bird stuck in a bush. Or snot has coated my nose hairs and then solidified, resulting in visible flu icicles dangling out of my nostrils. It’s not a fun discovery.
• My daughter is watching Gilmore Girls now and holy shit no one on that show ever pauses to take a fucking breath. It’s like they handed all the actors and actresses a 200-page script and said, “We’re actually not allowed to cut any of this dialogue.” It’s very smart dialogue, mind you. It’s sharp and witty in all the adorable ways you’d expect from that show. But goddamn man, let a character take a sip of water in between all of that saucy banter. Everything is better when there’s less writing, not more of it. Take it from a writer.
• I was making ramen the other day and I stirred the ramen in the pot with my chopsticks. That’s a pro move. Cannot recommend it enough. At one point I even picked up the noodles with my chopsticks and then laid them back down in the broth. You know, for proper aeration.
• The final four NFL teams this season averaged 18th in rushing, with the Bucs coming in at a pathetic 28th. The Chiefs were in the middle of the pack at 16th, but Andy Reid really just uses the run now to break up his passing attack on special occasions. Running the ball is your little treat for being able to throw it. If you think it’s the other way around, you should have died in 1990.
Two weeks ago: 0-2 (0-2 vs. the spread)
Overall: 7-5 (7-5 vs. the spread)
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Mid-20s Skateboarder,” by Pkew Pkew Pkew! From Isaac:
First off, the band. WHAT A NAME! Pkew Pkew Pkew, the perfect laser sound onomatopoeia. Second, everything about this song makes me want to go out and wreck stuff, including my own body when I try to do skateboard things I could never do even as a teenager. It’s the combo of the repetitive lyrics and old-school punk rhythms. Third, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater theme seals the deal for me. Gold stars all around.
I could not stop smiling while watching this video. All I need is a group of demented white guys shouting a catchy hook together in unison over some loudass guitars. The formula is IRONCLAD. And Pkew Pkew Pkew is right: Drinking a six-pack of beer really DOES take away all the fear. Make them the halftime show.
“Blood Clot” is also part of the above video, and it might be just as good of a song. In fact, I might have a new favorite band. This is the year I discovered Pkew Pkew Pkew and Demob Happy’s “Autoportrait” thanks to you guys, and now I can’t get enough of either of them.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
This is less a fisking than a public service announcement. Stop paying attention to this man.
We just lived through a presidency built entirely on anti-clout. Now that Trump is gone, there are a zillion otherwise ordinary fuckheads trying to recapture his patented form of online necromancy. And they all SUCK at it. At least Trump was original. No one needs to give a fuck about every cover band that follows him. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham and Jim Jordan and Nikki Haley and all the other scum are nothing but shameless attention whores. Look away from them and they turn to fucking ash.
Drew’s Chili Recipe
Just because I ain’t making chili this weekend—no one else in the house wants it—doesn’t mean you can’t. As always, this recipe is merely a template. Add and subtract as you see fit. The one thing I will suggest is that you NOT use Beyond Meat for it. That isn’t because I hate vegetarians or anything. We’re past the whole “vegetarians are pussies!” phase of society. And I actually like Beyond Meat hamburger patties a lot anyway. But I tried making chili a few months ago with the Beyond Meat bulk product and it didn’t work. You need animal fat to make this bad boy work. Otherwise it’s just loose stew.
FOR THE CHILI:
2 pounds ground beef or chicken, at least 20% fat
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (ANNUAL NOTE: Shallots are the things that make restaurant food taste like restaurant food.)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tall red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can beer
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)
2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ashes from a joint (optional)
Lotta Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 glugs olive oil
FOR THE SIDES:
Frank’s hot sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Put a big pot on the stove on medium. Pour in the oil. When it’s hot, toss in the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and shallots and stir them around until soft. Toss in the ground meat. Salt and pepper the ground meat in the pot. Sautee the meat until it’s good and brown. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, beer, broth, liquid smoke, sugar, cumin, chili powder, fennel seed, joint ashes, vinegar, and Frank’s. Bring it to a simmer. Half cover the pot and leave it on low medium heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it’s ready to serve.
Cryptkeeper Al’s Lock Of The Week: Bucs (+3.5) over Chiefs
“EEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! Tonight’s tale is about a young man named TyrEEEEEEEK! Hill, who ventures to a state called HORRORda, where he hopes his team can win another… ring?
“Oh, but our DIED receiver is terribly mistaken. Maybe he should have been careful to not let his head get too… big?
“EEEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!”
Cryptkeeper Al’s 2020 record: 2-3
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
McLoughlin Auto Mall! Would you like to watch LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez debase themselves for money? WOULD YOU EVER! Here’s Christopher:
I saw this a few years ago when I was visiting Portland. Lamarcus Aldridge and whichever Lopez that is put about as much heart into this add as my teenage son does into his algebra homework.
The best part is the end of the ad encouraging you to see the “bloopers and outtakes” at the car dealer’s website. Motherfucker, this isn’t a Rush Hour movie. I’m not gonna watch MORE of this shit.
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:
(* - potential midseason firing)
Adding Gruden back on here because the Raiders spiraled into oblivion at the end the season, and because Gruden may be shopping Derek Carr around after Carr had one of his best seasons, and because of this:
"Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary."
I’m gonna go ahead and skip past Gruden’s “Richard Sherman if you’re listening I hope you find Hillary’s emails” approach to tampering and zero in on our man’s need for an alpha male in his life. Jon Gruden gazed upon the Vegas secondary—which he himself assembled—and said to himself TELL YOU WHAT THESE PLAYERS ARE NUTHIN’ BUT A BUNCH OF BETA CUCKS. WE NEED MORE RAWDOGGERS BACK THERE DURRRRRRR.
You’re never gonna un-Gruden Jon Gruden. It’ll never happen. I look forward to him replacing Tommy Tuberville as America’s Dumbest Senator in 2032.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Curt sends in this story he calls FART 3:16:
When I was about 22, I was working as a music director for a local church. I was on staff with the head pastor, associate pastor, and a youth pastor. I was told that I was required to attend a weekend long conference with them about 3 hours away. I wasn't too thrilled about it, but figured it was part of the job. We were leaving on a Thursday afternoon, so like any good Christian 22 year old, I went out for some drinks and wings the night before.
I get to the carpool the next day and jump into a Buick and we start down the road. I'm in the back left seat next to the associate. The lead pastor was driving, and the youth guy was riding shotgun. About an hour down the road, I start feeling the previous night’s festivities working on my colon. Being young, I was a little self conscious, but I knew I had to find a way to relieve the pressure. So I decide to bury my ass in the seat and hope it takes the brunt of the punishment and pretend to accidentally bump the window down and pray for the best. I let out enough pressure to keep my ass from exploding and waited.
I thought I was in the clear until I see the youth pastor riding shotgun put his hands to his mouth and make an awful noise. The lead guy driving quietly says, "Awww, who was that?" immediately followed by him screaming, "He puked! He puked! It's all over him!" I look back to the front seat and see that the youth guy had put his hands to his mouth to try to keep his vomit in. It didn't work. It was all over the front of him. I was terrified. All he kept saying was, "I inhaled it, man! I inhaled the whole thing!"
We pull the puke and fart smelling Buick into a McDonald's and we get the dude cleaned up. He grabbed some clothes from his suitcase and changed in the bathroom. I got to clean out the car. I obviously take my share of shit all weekend from these guys, I figured I deserve it. They all thought it was hilarious. I ask on the way back home if we could keep this between us, and they all agree. I didn't want an entire congregation staring at me onstage Sunday mornings wondering if I was going to gas the place out.
About four days later, I have a planning meeting with someone on the media crew. I walk into one of the conference rooms, shut the door, and sit down at the table. The dude just looks at me and flatly asks, "You mind keeping the door open? I just ate lunch...." and starts laughing. I was never looked at the same way again.
I have never thrown up from smelling a fart. Does that really happen? Is it possible? Frankly, I think the youth pastor here is being fucking soft. He’d never fit in with a Jon Gruden team, that’s for damn sure.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN Wings! Like I said, I’m not making chili for the game. But I sure as shit won’t be shortchanging myself. I’m gonna order my weight in these instead.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Snow! Reader Mike sends in this alarmingly Zima Gold-esque fluid from the Chinese mainland.
I was in two small cities in China for a month last year. In any restaurant, if you ordered beer, you got this. It's 10 yuan a 500 ml bottle everywhere. That's like $1.40. There several iterations and labels, but they all have this in common:
A. ABV is 2.2 to 2.4. You CANNOT get hammered drinking this stuff. Have 10! It's 14 bucks and tipping is not allowed. They probably stole the formula as well as the marketing plan from Coors Light, so there's not a lot of taste.
B. What it lacks in alcoholic power it makes up for with excessive carbonation. So, the next day you can (you WILL) amuse your friends with hours of hilarious farts.
As my traveling/adventure buddy said, "For a culture that spent 5000 years perfecting their food, their alcohol is surprisingly terrible."
As someone who has enjoyed more than has fair share of Tsingtao in the past, I dispute your adventure buddy’s assertion. But yeah, I would probably rip on Chinese beer if I only got the Utah-ized version of it.
Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“For me, the ideal Super Bowl snack is one perfectly steamed edamame pod. Doesn’t even need salt.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans
Promising Young Woman, which definitely features Jets fans as its primary villains. I stopped caring about the Oscars long ago. But if Carey Mulligan doesn’t win Best Actress this year because Meryl Streep did a Nancy Reagan biopic at the last second, I’ll be displeased. You don’t fuck with Carey Mulligan, Academy. If you do, she really WILL get to use the scalpel this time.
By the way, I spent the opening of this movie being like, “Hey man, is that Adam Brody?” And guess what? IT WAS.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Homer, I don't want you driving around in a car you built yourself.”
“Marge, you can stand there finding faults or you can knit me some seatbelts.”
Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.
Stay in touch
Sign up for our free newsletter