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 Out, through here.
Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of watching both Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford get their fingers mangled in real time. You can watch Wilson’s injury—which just put him on ice for six-plus weeks and obliterated the Seahawks’ Super Bowl aspirations in the process—down below. But be warned: it’s not for the faint of heart. The footage is very graphic. In fact, if you dare to watch the replay, your own fingers may spontaneously break.
Normally, whenever an athlete’s leg snaps in two or they get up from the field with their arm dangling at an unnatural angle, the TV crew will show it to you once, and then they’ll somberly inform you that they won’t show it to you again a second time, because your children might be watching or something. But in this case, the NFL Network telecast not only replayed Wilson dislocating his fingers, but also the replay of Seahawks trainers snapping it back into place. It was metal as shit. Alas, those replays were frequent enough to fill up my Twitter feed with otherwise sensible people going OH MY GOD STOP SHOWING THE FINGER THING HAVE YOU NO DECENCY, SIRS AND MADAMS? As if they don’t possess eyelids, or a neck that allows for ample head rotation.
I have had to listen to these complaints throughout my entire life as a sports fan. Someone goes down with a nasty injury, and that suddenly gives everyone else license to expose their inner Puritan streak and demand the immediate censorship of such unpleasantries. Same exact dynamic played out back when Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered one of the nastiest leg injuries to ever happen on a college basketball court, and that was eight years ago. Here now is the video of that injury in slow motion.
I just watched the above video before typing this paragraph. Yes, I winced. No, my fucking eyeballs didn’t combust at the site of this poor bastard crumpling to the floor. I just went UGH FUCK and remembered exactly how bad I felt for Ware when it happened, and how bad I feel now for Ware that it ever did. After college, Ware played professionally in Europe, with his last appearance there coming for a British club a year ago. Maybe Ware could have gotten to the NBA if he hadn’t suffered that injury. Or maybe he’d be exactly where he is now. Either way, that injury is part of his story, and it’s a story worth knowing, SEEING, in full.
Many famous athletes have had their careers partially, if not wholly, defined by terrible injuries: Joe Theismann, Tom Browning, Napoleon McCallum, Luke Kuechly, and more. Do any of these men enjoy being forever linked to their worst moments? Of course not. Does that mean you, the viewer at home, are better off being spared footage of those injuries so that you can express grave concern without actually having to see what happened? Also no.
Injuries happen in sports all the time, especially in the NFL. Now, I grew up reading Maxim and marveling over spreads like SOCCER’S MOST TERRIFYING COMPOUND FRACTURES, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else who wants to see an injury replay is an 18-year-old shit-for-brains, or a sadist, or a shameless rubbernecker. And networks that show replays of those injuries aren’t necessarily indulging in some form of instant TV clickbait that magically ropes in an extra two percent of the national market share. They’re showing the replay because it’s news. It matters. Do you know why, outside of legal reasons, the NFL has bent over backward to address the concussion epidemic in this century? It’s because of the replays. It’s because everyone watching at home saw the head shots, knew the consequences, and were able to immediately connect the two in real time. Here’s Daniel Jones getting concussed against Dallas last week and almost collapsing while he was being assisted off the field.
You watch that replay and you see not just the hit on Daniel Jones but you can also see, in your mind, the potentially bleak retirement that awaits him because of that hit. You needed to see the replay to fully understand all of that. I watched it and my reaction was visceral. I was horrified. I should have been. Who says being horrified is a bad thing? Who says that having a visceral reaction to something can’t be part of your learning curve, and possibly inspire witnesses to take positive action in its wake? Concussion replays get way more run than leg injuries do, and the net result has been tangible in terms of both the public perception of football and in the NFL’s myriad efforts to limit head injuries, some of which are for show but some of which have been meaningful.
Injury footage is a net good. Showing replays of them in full—and repeatedly—is proper journalism, and I’m getting really sick of having to make that obvious point in 2021, when Adam Schefter is turning journalism into a fucking cocktail rodeo and you have a goddamn phone to stare at if you can’t handle the sight of a lineman getting his leg rolled up on, even though that happens twice a game, every game. If you’ve watched football for a long time, and especially if you’ve played it, you’ve seen these injuries MANY times over. They aren’t unusual and they certainly aren’t new. They’re part of the sport. They’re part of every sport. As such, I’m used to seeing these injuries occur. I don’t go stick my head in a chicken bucket if CBS dares to show me another angle of the play in question. I watch it, I take it in, I remember injuries that I myself have lived through, and I feel bad for whoever ends up getting carted away to the X-ray machine. That’s how life works. That’s how you gain experience and how you learn to have empathy for another person.
But you can only gain that empathy if you open your eyes. If you don’t wanna watch an injury replay, fine. I’m not gonna go the full Chappelle and call you a pussy for it. But for those of us who do have the stomach for such things—and most people do—it’s both negligent and rude to hop up on your little soapbox and demand the production truck show everyone a picture of a fucking Labradoodle instead of what just happened. Fuck off. You don’t get to be the MPAA of the telecast. If I wanna watch Buster Posey’s ankle snap over and over again—out of curiosity, or even for reasons I can’t quite articulate—I should be given that option. It’s okay to look. It’s okay to be fascinated by pain. It’s okay to want to know it, even experience it vicariously.
Because this is already a country that has had everything pre-whitewashed for it. You never see the close-up, violent consequences of war on any newscast. You’re never shown the bodies after yet another mass shooting. You never have to watch a person die of COVID on a screen, unless it’s your loved one and an ICU nurse has to hand you an iPad to say goodbye to them. Americans take every last step to shield themselves from seeing the bad things, as if that will magically protect them from future harm. It won’t, and it certainly won’t absolve them from patronizing leagues, businesses, and government agencies that inflict that harm upon others. Instead, they pretend there’s some magical baseline of ugliness they can digest that will render them compassionate but not unhappy. I’m fucking sick of it. Get over yourselves and watch the goddamn replay. You’ll live. I know I did.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Cardinals at Browns: We have reached the dreaded bye week phase of the schedule, and I promise you that a lot of fans and writers will soon beseech the NFL to bring back the two-bye-week format to accommodate the 17-game schedule. I lived through that format once. I will never do so again, not even if I have to kill Roger Goodell to prevent it from happening. Diluted bye week schedules are the handiwork of Satan and I don’t want any more of them, for any reason. Someone needs to think about my fantasy team.
Chargers at Ravens: There’s a non-zero chance that the Chargers stumbled bass-ackwards into the best coach of his generation in Brandon Staley. I just watched everyone prematurely cream their jeans over Sean McVay, so I’m understandably wary of crowning one of his former assistants The Future Of The Sport. But the Chargers are shit-hot. Their only loss was to a Dallas team that’s insanely loaded. They don’t make the same late-game mistakes that have been their hallmark since the day the franchise was born; in fact, they’re making incredibly ballsy moves late in games and getting away with it. And every week, Staley gets up to the podium and talks like a normal, intelligent, capable person, which makes him a fucking space alien compared to the rest of his profession. They’re legit and so is he.
[watches them knock out seven straight losses, each one by a single point]
Ah, well, nevertheless…
Bucs at Eagles: My wife is a preschool teacher and this year, they’re holding classes outside in open-air tents due to the pandemic. Last week, she went into her outdoor classroom and there, looking her right in the eye, was a rabid fox. Her school called animal control but not before she and the kids watched in horror as this poor, frothing animal ran roughshod all over the tent. So the next time you go down to your basement, or into a spooky toolshed, and you’re afraid you’ll see a cockroach or a bat or a mouse, just remember that the varmint bingo card has MANY more squares on it.
Packers at Bears: All of the rookie quarterbacks this year are fucking terrible, but when you remember how extraordinarily thin the 2021 Draft was, it makes perfect sense. Of course these guys are all shitty. If you drafted any rookie worth a shit this past spring, you’re the luckiest team in the world, because the math says this year’s talent pool represented 36 percent of the previous year’s allotment. Trevor Lawrence would have gone No. 1 overall in any draft, but he’s an anomaly (and currently not playing well himself). The rest of these puds stood out to teams because there was no one else around for them to stand out from. So I don’t need to sit there and wonder why these guys are struggling when I know that, in any other year, Mac Jones would have dropped like Jimmy Clausen after a positive heroin test.
Bills at Titans
Vikings at Panthers
Bengals at Lions: I’ve seen 50,000 ads for the Dodge Ram this season already. This is a pickup truck for REAL men doing REAL work in REAL America. Meanwhile, here’s the interior of this motherfucker:
Here’s where I hit you with a few statistics you probably already suspected were true.
According to Edwards’ data, 75 percent of truck owners use their truck for towing one time a year or less (meaning, never). Nearly 70 percent of truck owners go off-road one time a year or less. And a full 35 percent of truck owners use their truck for hauling—putting something in the bed, its ostensible raison d’être—once a year or less.
SUVs being used strictly for domestic reasons have been a running gag for over 20 years now. Turns out pickup trucks serve the exact same purpose. They’re fucking Karen cars. That interior up above is a dead giveaway. The flatbed is for your Vuitton luggage. Fuck right off with your truck. I hate you.
Cowboys at Patriots: I can’t get over how good the Cowboys are at drafting. Micah Parsons is already a god, and he arrives on the heels of them snatching up CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs the year prior. The best part is that all of this canny scouting will result in Mike McCarthy blowing a playoff game by punting from the opposing team’s 36 with two minutes to go. Looking forward to it.
Raiders at Broncos: I’ve discovered a new luxury in my middle age, and that is changing my socks and undies multiple times a day. I used to only change them once, after a workout, etc. But I feel so satisfied and cooled-off in a fresh pair of undies/socks that I realized there was no reason to not experience that basic thrill MORE than once a day. Taking your socks off is the best feeling in the world. Ditto throwing on a clean pair of Hanes. Why deprive yourself? I’m not a bachelor anymore. It shouldn’t take a pair of skid marks back there to force me to rotate. If I put on a fresh pair three times a day, then I’ll feel three times fresher! That’s just math. Having extra laundry to fold as a result is still worth it.
Chiefs at WFT
Seahawks at Steelers
Texans at Colts: I watched the Colts blow their Monday night game to the Ravens and I swear to you I didn’t see Carson Wentz go through his reads once. Every single passing down, he would drop back, stare at a guy, and quickly throw that guy the ball in hopes that the defense didn’t catch him staring. Frank Reich had to cut his playbook down to three pages for this brainless idiot. Give Wentz a decent restaurant menu to order from and he’d be fucking paralyzed.
Dolphins at Jaguars: Last week I said that every Urban Meyer game was a must-watch from now on, but that was before Jon Gruden stuffed a pound of dynamite into his face and then jumped up and down on the detonator’s plunger like he was Wile E. Coyote. Thus, the Jaguars are no longer our most entertaining trainwreck. And they’re so painful to watch in games that even the prospect of them breaking the consecutive loss record (they’re seven losses away from pulling it off) can’t make me tune in to watch them fail to run a QB sneak because Meyer has never heard of such a play.
Rams at Giants
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Fox,” by Dogleg! Right in my wheelhouse. From Ryan:
Dogleg dropped a debut album this year and all the songs get you fucked up pretty good. Their website says their guitarist has “play fast” taped on his guitar, which checks. The song’s named after the Nintendo character, the album’s called “Melee” after the Smash Bros game, and the bassist offers merch for anybody who can beat him in the game postshow and has never lost. Cool band.
Are they ever. I demand all musicians, of any kind, tape PLAY FAST to their respective instruments. That includes Yo-Yo Ma, by the way.
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Norton Furniture, which apparently is Cleveland’s largest furniture store. Do I believe terrifyingly creepy owner Marc Norton when he makes this claim? I do. Do I believe Norton when he promises (warns?) the viewer at home, “If you can’t get credit in my store, you can’t get credit anywhere”? I do. This place absolutely looks like the last chance any person’s credit rating could ever possibly have.
Stick around for the ending, when the man in frog suit falls off the couch to reveal a garden shears-wielding psychopath who chases Norton off the screen. This ad was submitted by reader Maxwell, likely in honor of Halloween. Consider me spooked real good.
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!!!!
(* – potential midseason firing)
I know I have Dan Campbell on here but I already know the truth: He’s gonna coach the Lions for 10 more years because no one in Detroit will have the heart to fire him. I lived through the Wayne Fontes era. I know how the Lions operate. Norv Turner could have coached here for 20 years without getting the gate.
THE BOOK IS HERE
The Night The Lights Went Out is now available everywhere books are sold. I just advocated for watching horrific injuries up above. But allow me now to extol the virtues of READING about such injuries. Again, there is much empathy to glean. Buy the book or I’ll put your face through a windshield.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Michael sends in this story I call (with a hat tip to readers last week who demanded I use it for that week’s story) A RIVER RUNS POO IT.
A couple summers ago, I went camping in WI for a weekend with a group of friends and some of their parents (18-20 people). The campsite has no utilities, but does have a makeshift outhouse (basically some plywood set up around a hole in the ground). I get out to the campsite Friday, evening and we grill brats and hotdogs over the campfire and then continue consume plenty of beers long into the night.
Saturday, we wake up and have breakfast and then the big plan for the day is a river float. From the campsite, you could drive about 15 minutes and then float down a river for about 3-4 hours which brings you right back to the campsite. We load up coolers for lunch and boozing on the river for the afternoon and set off. We stopped for lunch on a sandbar about halfway through the float and have chips/cold cuts we packed.
Soon after we continued floating down the river, it hits me: I have to poop. I try and play it cool for a bit, but after about 10 minutes my close friend asks me, “What’s wrong? You’re really quiet all of a sudden.” I ask him how much longer we have on the river because I really have to poop. He tells me it’s about another hour. I can’t wait that long. He says, “So, just go in the river.” Nope, not doing it.
We float down the river and then I really must be showing signs of struggling because a different friend asks me what’s going on. First friend proceeds to inform him of my situation. Second friend has the same response: “Just poop in the river.” Ok, whatever, but you guys run cover for me so I don’t look suspicious hanging back from the big group. So the three of us hang back a little and everyone was pretty drunk at this point to really notice us anyways. I point my ass downstream and almost immediately hear one friend exclaim, “Oh no!” and then burst out in hysterical laughter.
I look over my shoulder and it must have been a 10-12” long floater which immediately caught the current and was heading downstream to the large group at a very fast rate. I pull my shorts up, get back on my tube and the three of us track this missile from a safe distance hoping it doesn’t catch up to the group. Finally, it made it close to the riverbank and got caught up in some overhanging trees.
At this point, both friends are laughing so hard they can barely sit in their tubes. I try to get them to swear to secrecy because I didn’t know some of the family members that are in attendance very well, but there’s no way they can keep it secret. We compromise and they say they won’t tell anybody until we’re done floating and safely bank at our campsite on the river bank.
Rivers, man. They never hide evidence as well as you think they will.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Candy pumpkins! This is the time of year where the stock Twitter take of ACTALLY CANDY CORN IS BAD??? pops up on the timeline for the 9,000th time because everyone is bored and lacks imagination. For the record, I like candy corn. But the real gold is in candy pumpkins, which are better because you can really sink your teeth into them. That helps spread the solidified corn syrup all over your palate, which is important.
Gametime Cheap Milk(??) Of The Week
Oak! Normally this space is reserved for affordable beers that pack a whole lot of belligerence into every can. But this week, reader Martin stumbled upon this terrifying carton straight of the Australian dairy aisle.
For those who can’t (or don’t want to) drink, or for the morning after … milk with attitude. From New South Wales, Australia.
I was born in New South Wales, and my parents presumably fed my Oak as a baby so that I would grow up strong and angry. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Anyway, if you think that Oak’s bro-ing up of milk is overstated on the packaging, just wait till you get a load of their TV ads.
Dan Campbell’s Clump Dog Of The Week: Lamar Jackson
[Choking back tears] “I admire what that guy can do with the football, man. I really do. But I think about the Colts losing that game and I just… you fight, you know? You fight so hard and work your way to a big lead and then a guy like Lamar just comes and rips your heart out, then throws it on the floor, then kicks it like a soccer ball, then chases it down and picks it back up again, then stuffs it down a garbage disposal and turns the disposal on, then pulls your heart back out after the blades get stuck trying to chew through all that tough muscle, then throws your heart on a frozen rope onto the roof of a building, where it rolls along before it gets struck by lightning, after which a desperate hobo eats it for a sad lunch. To watch that happen… that’s rough, man. Really fucking rough. Ain’t gonna sugarcoat it.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans
Venom, which is a glorious piece of trash I very much enjoyed, a la Ghost Rider. The movie snob in me feels bad that talented actors like Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, and Michelle Williams are all but forced to take roles in shitty comic book movies just to make a good salary. But also, holy shit it’s so much fun to watch Hardy pretend to be possessed by a gallon of motor oil. I don’t even care that he affected a clunky American accent to do this movie. Whatever. It’s still Tom Hardy, man. If they had made this movie with Ashton Kutcher in the lead role instead, I would have burned every theater showing it to the ground. But in the hands of this cast? A MASTERWORK. If you’re gonna hog all the A-list talent, make sure it’s for the cause of good schlock.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Look at the fear in his eyes. Listen to the quiver in his voice. He’s a little boy lost in a game of men.”
“You think we should bet against them?”
“I’d bet my entire college fund on it.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.