To paraphrase either Vladimir Lenin or Dan Dierdorf, there are NFL seasons in which nothing happens, and then weeks in which entire NFL seasons happen. This is maybe more applicable for those who care about the teams locked in restless cryosleep in the NFL’s purgatory realm than others, but for teams that spent this season only barely having a season—teams like those supported by Drew, and me, and our guest Kalyn Kahler—the first days of this week, when NFL teams hauled their defective and bug-riddled coaching staffs out onto the curb, effectively were the seasons. Or, anyway, it was when various grim things that became progressively more inevitable over the course of these progressively more unbearable seasons finally got around to working themselves out.
These teams being these teams, those things did not work themselves out in especially satisfactory ways—the Bears were grandiose and self-pitying, the Vikings were merely late, the Giants were somehow even later. The circumstances that create this kind of fragrant stasis, a heady cocktail of institutional incompetence, unaccountable dynastic goonery, and wild nepotism, do not change when the coaching staffs do. It is not just not their nature to change, it is their fundamental nature not to change. That’s not what you want as a fan, or a citizen of the world. But it did give us an obvious topic for discussion, so credit where it’s due.
At some point, every conversation like this winds up taking on a political valence, even if it is not really about politics. This is because these conversations, like the fairly wide-ranging conversation about NFL owners and coaches and the culture in which they all participate that makes up the first half of this episode, are fundamentally about variously defective elites getting away to varying degrees with being bad at their jobs in variously different ways. Here as everywhere else, there is not really much more to be done than complain about it—if you think it’s hard to get a septuagenarian Senator to think about the struggles of ordinary people, buddy just wait until you meet Cal McNair. But while it might be nice if things were otherwise and it was easier to, say, physically grasp and shake George McCaskey, being able to shout out loud about the different types of bad owners and the latest trends in coaching weirdness and the peculiar nameways of NFL coaches proved an agreeable substitute for actual agency.
It got dumber from there, although this episode did not get dumber in a linear fashion; I’d argue that my attempt to compare Joe Judge and the misbegotten Flaming Lips concept album Zaireeka was the episode’s actual low point, and that happened in the first 20 minutes. But the back half was what the back half is, with a Remember Some Guys segment that wound up collapsing into a giggling autopsy of the greatest receivers in Chicago Bears history. The Funbag, too, was heavy on the football stuff; instead of the usual Is it possible to die of farts? questions, we discussed a (not especially well-received) proposal to further tweak the NFL’s PAT rules. Drew sang; Kalyn paraphrased a long and emotional DM from Gregg Williams’s son. It was, truth be told, a little more on-topic than the usual episode. But with this many things happening—the reckoning of whole seasons, too long deferred—we at least had plenty to talk about.
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