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The Good, The Bad, And The Cousins, With Kalyn Kahler

Kirk Cousins, seen here staring uncomprehendingly at The Distraction logo after a loss to the 49ers.
David Berding/Getty Images

Every year, some number of people find themselves reading Drew’s Why Your Team Sucks posts, even though they should not be reading those posts. The strange tides of the internet can carry even the strongest of swimmers to some uncanny shores, but these are not our strongest swimmers. They are people who just started looking at every headline about the Raiders when they woke up that morning until they got to the one saying their team sucked, and then bashed out an email to the website accusing us of being “jealous;” yesterday we got one from a Bucs fan who misspelled his own first name, which I can report here was “David.” I mention this not just in the spirit of Yup, These Aren’t Our Readers, but because caring about the NFL eventually makes all of us more and more like this. I consider myself a reasonable person, or at least an adult-grade speller, but somewhere during this week’s NFL-preview podcast, with our resident football genius Kalyn Kahler, you can hear it happening to me. You can hear me, David, becoming Dvaid.

It’s probably true, and definitely sounds like something that I would write in earnest, that loving something enough makes you stupid as a result. But I don’t really love the NFL like that—Drew, it should be said, absolutely does—and the ways in which it makes me dumber are not the same as the ways in which caring about something tends to peel the artifice and nuance from a person. The NFL makes me stupid or just helps me be stupid, simply by being the enormous and powerfully ridiculous thing that it is. It is also probably true, and very definitely something I have written in earnest, that the NFL exists from one moment to the next within the conflict between its electric product and the cabal of hilariously dunderheaded executive cynics and lower-rung dumb guys who are in charge of overseeing it. It is always happening, and everything about it is too much, both in terms of the best games having more of the best stuff in them than would seem possible and in terms of the overriding overstatement that defines the broader endeavor. The best football players—or the ones who think the most like football players—are some of the strangest people in the world. It is impossible to follow all this in a committed way and not be a little bit dumber for having done so.

But if you pressed play on the podcast above, you already knew all this. Drew’s innovative—or, anyway, personalized—new method of assessing each time along the binary of Good and Bad forced Kalyn and me into some moderately spicy positions as we ran through the league. There is a lot of sports talking in this episode, to the exclusion of almost anything else; there is also some singing from Drew, who apparently knows the forbidden second verses and polarizing bridges to every televised theme that has ever appeared on a NFL broadcast. There were some takes issued—most compelling among these, to me, was the fact that both Drew and Kalyn think the Jaguars are going to be kind of good—but expertise is not the point, here. Drew and Kalyn really do know a lot about this, and I know a little bit, but that’s not what we’re in it for.

This is what caring about the NFL does to our minds. Listen to the episode and you can hear us getting goofier and dumber, not just in the way that we generally do over the course of the average episode, but as our alphabetical progress through the league has the effect on our brains that sufficient exposure to the NFL invariably has. By the time we arrived at the Washington ‘Ders and Kalyn and I were basically harmonizing on the words “Carson Wentz stinks,” the work was complete. We were ready.

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