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Funbag

The Time I Libeled Myself After Waking Up From A Coma

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Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about weight loss, Tony Romo, Soundwave, and more.


Before I get into the FUNBAG, it’s time to break out the noisemakers and champagne flutes because today is pub day for The Night The Lights Went Out. You can get it anywhere, right now: at bookstores, at online retailers, on e-readers, at Audible, at the library, at my house … ANYWHERE. And no, I won’t complain if you borrow it from the library. Libraries are an inherent good and it gives me a real big author boner to see my tome lovingly wrapped in a grimy, clear book jacket cover, with a crooked Dewey decimal system sticker affixed to its spine. Not every writer gets to experience that thrill. Only me and, like, Lauren Conrad. Truly elite company.

This is a book about the sudden, massive brain hemorrhage I suffered while out with my then-Deadspin colleagues—many of whom would go on to co-found this site with me—back in December 2018. Those people saved my life that night, and this book goes in exacting detail about how they did it, through interviews I conducted with them and through a good amount of background research.

I actually wrote about my injury right after it happened, and you might be tempted to think that I just took my original essay and padded it out for this book to make a quick buck. But I scrapped a good 90 percent of that post for this book because A) You would have noticed if I had half-assed this, B) What I knew about my injury two years ago is piddly shit compared to what I’ve learned about it since, and C) I never chronicled the extensive maladies resulting from the injury, including deafness, the inability to walk, loss of smell, loss of taste, and considerable rage issues. On the bright side, I no longer fear death. So it all evens out in the end.

So please, buy the book and read it and leave a review (good or bad) and tell your friends. Most important: Take care of your brain. It’s all you got. Take it from someone who knows.

Your letters:

Steve:

How long after the proverbial night the lights went out did your family decide it was okay to stop putting up with your bullshit and start treating you like Drew/Dad again? I’ve got to imagine that when you came home everyone was going out of their way to be on their best behavior, no? I’ve personally found that this post-medical incident “honeymoon” lasts about halfway through the car ride home.

Oh no, my family forced me to cut the bullshit when I was still in the hospital. It was imperative, actually. I was so drugged up and damaged after waking up from my coma that I didn’t want to get up, and really didn’t feel the need to. I was not a brain warrior. I cursed out everyone who so much as asked me to sit up in my bed. If my family had indulged all of my demands, I’d still be in that hospital right now. So they fought off their grief and their fear and forced me to get rehabilitated. They told me to listen to my occupational therapist. They made me sit up. They refused to bring me beer when I was begging anyone who visited to buy me some. They did all of the hard work that comes with caring for a loved one.

Also, they forbade me from tweeting. This part isn’t in the book, but there was a time I tweeted from my hospital bed. I was doped up out of my mind while in the hospital and my judgment was terrible. No sane person would have tweeted while in that condition. But of course, I was NOT sane. Hence, I told the internet, “Good evening. Greetings from Manhattan where I am currently NOT dead.” If I had left it at that, things probably would have been okay. I did not. Instead, I fired off a thread a couple of days later attempting to explain what had happened to me, even though I had NO idea what had, and what I did know I had primarily hallucinated. “So I’m drinking and singing bad karaoke and I pass out, then I start choking on my blood,” I told the general public. I had not choked on blood. I also tweeted that I’d had neck surgery, which was a few inches south of the truth. When my wife found out about the tweets, she seized my phone, deleted them, and issued a correction from my feed:

“Hey universe. Drew’s wife here. He wanted me to pass on MERRY CHRISTMAS! He is doing better. Wanted to clarify what happened to him as he falsely tweeted last week while cooped up in a rehab bed. He was not drunk when he suddenly collapsed. He is on his way to recovery.”

Wikipedia noted the hasty deletions for posterity, but not before I had caused my loved ones an unholy amount of irritation with that little tweetstorm. Hear it from them:

MY WIFE: I was on a crosstown bus. I would take the kids on the bus just so they wouldn’t get spoiled taking cabs everywhere. I’m trying to find a lawyer to handle your case and trying to handle the medical, thinking about if you can work when this is all done, if we have to move, handling your parents, handling the kids and your medical situation all at the same time…

Then I hear that you’re tweeting stuff.

MEGAN GREENWELL: The first time you came into (Deadspin) Slack, you said, Hey, I’m alive or something. It was a great moment. Everybody was fucking thrilled. But then a couple of days later, there was the bad tweet. We were trying to convince you to stop tweeting, but you seemed like you were not fully with it. I called your wife, who had just gone back to the Airbnb. You had convinced her to leave you your phone, which she deeply regretted. Everybody was like, Hey Drew, don’t tweet, man. You were not having that.

MY WIFE: I never liked Twitter. I see my friend waiting at the front door of the apartment building because we’re a couple minutes late. I said, I’m so sorry to do this. I have to go back and get the stupid phone.

JESSE (one of my best friends): I was walking home from the hospital right when you tweeted from the hospital. And you were tweeting this version of events that didn’t happen. I was like, “Jesus Christ, what is he doing? Take the phone away.” I remember reading the tweets and the reactions afterwards. People on Twitter are horrible people, for the most part. I was like, “This is not good.”

MY WIFE: I was livid. I lit into you. I didn’t know how to use Twitter. I tried to delete it. Then I did a message thing. Wife here. Ignore that. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. Peace out. And that was that. I said to you, What are you doing? You can’t do this. You’re like, Oh, sorry. You really looked like a teenager. After that I would give you your phone back, but only when I was there. At the end of the day, when I left, I took it with me. So I let you have some freedom.

And that’s how I got my phone confiscated while I was in the hospital. The phrase “tough love” usually refers to some fuckhead Coach Dad telling his kids to walk off a broken leg. But I know what actual tough love looks like, and I know how vital it is. My family didn’t let me off the hook for any of my bullshit, which is why I’m standing here right now, able to tell you about it. I was, by any measure, the least brave of everyone involved in my rescue and convalescence. I was the one being pulled from the rubble. They were the ones who did the pulling. And they suffered no fools, me included, in making sure I came out unscathed.

Moe:

How much more authoritative would the average office middle manager be if they spoke and sounded like Soundwave from Transformers? Just imagine calling someone: “Richard: report. Operation: expenses review” in that metallic Soundwave monotone.

Before I answer that, lemme just give our 12 younger readers who do NOT work in the legal profession a little background here. Moe is talking about the original Soundwave from the old Transformers cartoons, or at least he better be. Soundwave pops up in the Michael Bay Transformers movies too, but his voice effect in those is different and worse. Original Soundwave: superior. Michael Bay Soundwave: INFERIOR.

Did I grow up wanting to have Soundwave’s voice? Yes. Did I talk like him when I was alone on the toilet? Also yes. Did they have kickass voice changer toys back then to make my dream a reality? No, because I apparently grew up before they invented fucking fire. But if I HAD been able to adopt the Soundwave voice as my own, I would have. And then people would have WORSHIPPED me. They would have been like, “Oh shit, that guy’s from the future. We better listen to what he has to say.” Forget middle management. They would have hired me as the straight-up CEO of DDB Needham right when I got out of college. Who’s gonna defy a person who talks like that? NO ONE.

To this day, I still wish I had a cool voice like Soundwave’s. Or Bane’s. Or Kylo Ren’s when he’s got the mask on. I am horny for all voice effects. I could watch the supercut of Bane-only TDKR scenes on a continuous loop, even if I still don’t know what he’s saying half the time. There’s something deeply appealing about having a voice that’s half-man, half-machine. It’s the easiest way to take yourself fully out of your imagination. Every daydream I have almost always features me or some slightly altered (read: hotter) version of me. But if I don a mask and wire circuits into my face and become a robotic sociopath, I leave myself entirely, which is thrilling on a primordial level. How other people would perceive this Drewborg would be of no concern to me. I’d simply kill them. BAD. ASS.

Tom:

I was discussing the Bears impending move to Arlington Heights with a friend, who said something like, “I don’t mind them leaving Soldier Field, but I do mind millions of dollars being handed to one of the worst run franchises in the NFL.” My response was, “With the exception of the Patriots, aren’t they all poorly run franchises?” Given the number of teams that have never won the Super Bowl, the Bears aren’t even noteworthy in how poorly they are run. So Drew, what NFL franchises would you consider well run? And, how much of that being well run is having a Hall of Fame-level quarterback for a decade?

Your qualifications for a team being “well run” will vary. As a fan, I consider perennial winners like the Steelers and Packers to be well run, even though both those teams have a SHITLOAD of internal dysfunction that often spills out into the ether. Owners consider their teams well run if they make money. The league considers a team well run if their coach doesn’t get caught sending racist-ass emails to Bruce Allen. Politicians consider a team well run if none of their evildoing sticks to anyone who chooses to do business with them. And we at Defector would probably agree with Tom here that no NFL franchise is well run because they all do evil shit as a matter of SOP.

But lemme put down this copy of Das Kapital and lay down a more basic and ethically fluid set of criteria. A well-run team:

  • Wins routinely
  • Has a well-defined and functional front office
  • Has a well-defined and functional coaching staff
  • Has an owner I don’t actively despise
  • Turns a decent profit
  • Gives fans their money’s worth both on television and at the stadium
  • Does not employ Jameis Winston

There. I think those are fair parameters.

HALFTIME!

Richard:

It’s well documented that you used to be fat. I am currently fat. You seem to have found the right formula for keeping the weight off while also indulging in some good food. What’s your secret, Drew?

I wish I had a secret, but the truth is that I’m still struggling with my weight as I write this. On Monday I topped the scales at 230 pounds, which is the most I’ve weighed in over a decade. I was already displeased to be lingering around the 220s for so long, and now here I am trending in the wrong direction.

I earned these new pounds, because I ate a shitload of takeout and cupcakes in the wake of my birthday a week ago. I lost 80 lbs. in college by cutting red meat out of my diet. Then I gained it all back, then lost it again in 2016 when I started posting my weight to Twitter on a daily basis. But it’s crept back up ever since, despite the fact that I do many things right in terms of nutrition and fitness. We cook our own meals at home. I eat plenty of fruits and veggies. I don’t eat after dinner. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat seconds at any meal. I take a fiber supplement. I weigh myself every morning. And I work out five days a week.

But there’s still a part of me that believes I’m allowed to eat wrong on occasion because of all the right things I do. You know the cycle. You work out, and then you feel like you earned yourself a hot fudge sundae thanks to that workout. This is why exercise can cause weight GAIN instead of its intended, and opposite, end goal. I don’t have cheat days so much as I have cheat hours. I don’t eat after dinner but that just means I give myself license to pig out at snacktime. I tried restricting my sugar intake to Friday and Saturday nights but that ended with me going on binges: sneaking pieces of chocolate from the snack drawer and then doing it again a minute later. I often did this without anyone looking, which is never a good sign. These are deeply ingrained overeating habits I’ve had since I was a child, and they still hound me to this day. If I’m not careful, I’ll grow a dickdo that I can never burn off.

Okay, that’s enough of me skulking about being Fat Drew. The good news is that I’m now old enough to know that I DO, in fact, have some agency over my worst habits. If I can stop drinking AND biting my nails cold turkey, well then I can exercise similar discipline over the rest of my body now, can’t I? In fact, instead of biting my nails now, I fuss over them like they’re a fancy car I keep in my garage to work on. No reason I can’t make a similar shift in how I maintain the rest of my body. I’m gonna keep all of the good habits I outlined up above, but I’m gonna double down and re-commit to EDITING my food intake so that only the best shit gets past my lips. I’m not gonna snack on anything with empty calories. I’m not gonna have any sweets at home. And if we order takeout, I’m gonna ease off the gas and not order half the menu. I also might… MIGHT… go back to interval training to see if that makes a difference.

And now I’ve got that plan down in writing, which is key. You gotta write it down. Helps to see it in words. It hits your mind different, and it gives you a document to reference anytime you’re tempted to go astray, or worried you might. Also, you guys will hold me to it now that you know. That’s vital: for me, for Richard, and for anyone else trying to get right. You can never do this sort of thing alone, but you CAN do it.

Calvin:

When your kids were very young, did they ever poop while taking a bath? What a fucking disaster that is, depending on the consistency of the poop. If you’ve got advice here, I’d love it. 

The advice is to buy yourself some bleach. We got tub poop when the kids were little. The good news was that the baths were shallow, and that the tub in question had a detachable showerhead. So we could rinse the child off with the shower head, drain the tub, and then scour it free of infectious agents. And then the kid would shit in it all over again.

There’s no avoiding such disasters when you have kids. You WILL get shit on you. You WILL clean up vomit in places you never expected to be cleaning up vomit. You WILL watch the interior of your car defiled, in real time. The only advice I have for you in such instances is to have supplies on hand to clean up the mess and to have the stomach and will to clean it up. If you go EWWWW POOP! and then flee the scene of the crime like some Republican, you’re not cut out for this business and must sell your child on eBay for their sake. But if you grit your teeth and scrub away, not only will you have a clean bathtub, but you’ll also have earned real parent cred. Also you’ll get to tell everyone else at the daycare how little Bobby dropped a log in the tub the other night. That always goes over like gangbusters with other parents.

Austin:

How many more years does Tony Romo have before he’s too far away from his playing career and his analysis drops to the Aikman/Collinsworth tier of blandness?

He might already be there, for all I know. I’m well-versed in watching NFL games while tuning out whoever’s on the mic for them. That means that I don’t mind Troy Aikman as the color guy. It also means that I actually enjoy Collinsworth most Sunday nights, except in those instances when he finds a chicken to fuck all night long and absolutely refuses to stop until he’s caved your head in with comically effusive praise for fucking Mac Jones. But most of the time, I can either ignore Collinsworth or enjoy him pointing out a backside block I didn’t catch myself when the play ran live. In my world, bland is good and Ron Jaworski is bad.

Tony Romo is no longer a novelty up in the booth. He’s not fresh from the locker room anymore, so I haven’t noticed him predict playcalls with the kind of uncanny accuracy that everyone loved about him right when he started. But he still has a great disposition up there. He genuinely enjoys doing these games, and that enthusiasm still rubs off. It’s not strained, it’s not canned, and I don’t see him morphing into a Mark Jackson-style grievance collector anytime soon.

Besides, have you listened to all the other color guys out there? They’re STILL god awful. Tony Romo would have to start openly munching on pretzels all telecast long to become as shitty as Moose Johnston.

John:

Do you think the price of movies should be based on how good they are?

No. James Cameron once floated the idea that movie tickets should be commensurate with their respective budgets, i.e. you pay $30 to watch Avatar because it cost half a billion to make. But that idea never got anywhere and the universal ticket price remains blissfully intact. I like it this way. I certainly don’t want prices based on how “good” a movie is, because the inevitable measuring stick would be some bullshit like CinemaScore or the Tomatometer, neither of which should be allowed to dictate your personal preference, let alone set market rates.

I have to spend every waking moment fighting against conventionally held opinions on movies/TV/music/art so that I can eke out an opinion of my own. Not even an opinion to write, mind you. Just one to have for myself. I don’t want any of that advance word tacked onto the price of admission. If the movie sucks, well then that’ll teach you to not see The Boss Baby: Family Business on opening weekend ever again.

Erik:

Do sports make the world a better place? My sister (an avowed sports-hater), citing the prevalence of life-altering injuries, mistreatment of athletes, the public’s reluctance to hold athletes accountable for their own misdeeds, & misappropriation of public funds, insists that sports as a global institution makes the world an objectively worse place. Is she right? I love sports (obviously, being a subscriber to this site), but I… have a hard time crafting a convincing argument in their favor.

Of course they make the world a better place. If you wanna argue that professional sports don’t, well you’ve got the NFL and the IOC and the NCAA to make your case for you. But pro sports represent what, .000000001% of the greater sports culture. Meanwhile, you’ve got hundreds of millions of kids around the world playing sports either for pleasure or as part of their physical education (and often for both), plus adults playing recreational sports to keep fit and to socialize with their friends, plus elderly people who still play golf, tennis, and other sports to keep their bodies and minds feeling fresh and young. The net positive impact of sports is so vast as to be unquantifiable. Pro leagues will use that greater impact to sell you their bullshit, but the impact is there nonetheless.

My sons would not have survived the pandemic without sports. My wife and I went back and forth all summer in 2020, terrified to let them play anything and risk them getting COVID. But we did our homework and we knew that their leagues had stringent masking and testing policies (plus all the games were outside), so we took the risk. We let them play team sports all winter, and the difference was conspicuous. They got to see their friends. They got to run around outside. They got to be kids again. It was a really big fucking deal, and I’m not alone among parents who feel that way. Have a kid and you’ll see all the stupid clichés about sports proven true in real time. They make the world better.

Except when the Red Sox win anything.

Kevin:

No idea if this still works, but I got a few speed camera tickets when I was living in Scottsdale AZ. I did some internet research and found that the act of the municipality mailing the ticket to you does not constitute being “properly served.” To meet that definition, someone has to physically hand you the ticket, like a cop handing you a speeding ticket. By signing and mailing it back with your payment (or paying it online), you waive that right. The statute of limitations in Scottsdale for speeding tickets was 120 days, so I just ignored the tickets hoping to run out that clock. Process servers showed up to my apartment a couple times trying to serve me the tickets, so I just didn’t answer the door when I wasn’t expecting anyone. And I checked the website on Day 121 and my tickets were magically “dismissed”. The one (and only) time I got one over on The Man. 

That’s tempting advice and I will absolutely be too chickenshit to ever attempt it.

Email of the week!

Matthew:

So I’m staying in Las Vegas for a couple of nights. I’m coming back up to my room in the elevator around midnight. A drunk, well dressed thirtysomething year old guy enters the elevator with a sexily dressed younger woman. They are making small talk. She says she can’t believe he hasn’t been to the 66th floor sky lounge that they’re headed to.

He then hands her a ridiculously large gold ring and says, in a non-sequitur, “I set a Super Bowl record for kicking 3 field goals over 40 yards.”

She gives him back the ring and says, “You’d better put that back on your finger.”

I went back to my room and googled the holder of this all important Super Bowl record. It was Viking killer Garrett Hartley! Or an impostor. Hard to tell, he was wearing a mask.

Who’s gonna impersonate Garrett Hartley, though, besides an insidious mastermind?