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Funbag

There’s No Such Thing As A System Quarterback

12:27 PM EST on February 6, 2024

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 05: Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers (L) and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs stand on stage during Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium on February 05, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)
Candice Ward/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about dog virginity, chopsticks, strange compliments, football, and more.

Your letters:

John:

They keep talking about how Brock Purdy is a system quarterback, but against the Packers he came from behind and won the game. Supposedly system quarterbacks don’t do that, so my question is: if you’re labeled a system quarterback, how do you or what do you need to do to get that title off your back?

System quarterbacks don’t exist in the NFL. Anyone using that label is a fan looking for a way to deride a QB by separating his work from the work of the players and coaches surrounding him. Or they go the reverse route and do the whole “Belichick would have been nothing without Brady!” thing. It’s all speculative garbage. Everything in football is inextricably linked because the sport is—say it with me—a team game. Many players benefit from having good schemes, and some bad schemes benefit from having good players. Regardless, those players still have to go out there and execute. With the Rams, Jared Goff was forced to operate as a passing automaton, a “system QB,” almost entirely because Sean McVay refused to trust him. Goff ran that offense effectively. Then Goff lands in Detroit and HEY PRESTO! Actually he’s quite a good quarterback, no strings attached.

And so is Purdy. The only reason to tag Purdy as a system QB is because of his draft status. He was never supposed to be this good, so his success has to be the byproduct of good coaching, or having a bunch of studs on offense around him, or some other horseshit. He could win the Super Bowl on Sunday and that still wouldn’t stop people who want to deride him as a system QB from doing so. But it’s an empty term, designed by know-it-alls for know-it-alls. Stick one of the other recent late-round draftees into the Niners offense and see how they do: Clayton Tune, Malik Willis, Bailey Zappe, Matt Corral, Sam Ehlinger. None of those guys would have taken this team to the Super Bowl, because they all suck. You can’t system up a shitty QB in pro football. Ever.

Now college football? Totally different story. If you’re a 5-foot-8 white boy racking up 500 yards in a Big 12 Air Raid offense, I know exactly what you’re all about.

Drew (not me):

Do you also take life advice from wholly unserious pop culture institutions? That Geico ad (“Some people clean as they cook—not these folks!”) has successfully shamed me into keeping a tidy prep space. LL Cool J’s last will and testament in Deep Blue Sea has given me my omelet recipe (“…two eggs, not three. Some add milk for fluffiness, but this is a mistake.”)

I’m gonna tell you a story that will make you think less of me. Like every other kids who grew up in the burbs, I have seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 50 times. And the line that stuck with me the most wasn’t one of the gag lines. It was this one:

“Cameron has never been in love. At least, nobody's ever been in love with him. If things don't change for him, he's gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she's gonna treat him like shit, because she will have given him what he has built up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existence.”

I took that line so seriously that it became my guiding philosophy. I was a virgin until I was 20 years old. I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 19, and didn’t have my first steady girlfriend until I was 21. Before all of that, I was dying to get laid, but also terrified of having my love life play out exactly as Ferris foretold. I grew up at a time when pop culture measured manliness by how many different women you slept with. Well, I didn’t wanna sleep with just ONE. That was Mormon shit. So I promised myself that I wouldn’t become boyfriend/girlfriend with the first person I slept with, and I didn’t. I deliberately ghosted my first lay, all because Ferris fucking Bueller told me to. Makes me wanna throw every old photo of myself into a bonfire.

Also, I used to shave with the razor in cold water all because Johnny Caspar told his driver to. Turns out that advice was also misguided, although on a decidedly smaller scale.

Andrew:

Now that Bill Belichick is searching for a job, why aren’t more people discussing his past scandals? People discuss his personality and managerial qualities and how both things have rubbed players and eventually Kraft the wrong way. I don’t hear anyone talking about Spygate or Deflategate when discussing Belichick. In my opinion, Spygate at a minimum should be included in conversations about Belichick’s legacy.

No. I’m not gonna do that. Jim Harbaugh just got caught orchestrating a spy ring, and the Chargers didn’t give a shit when they hired him. No one did. Both Spygate and Deflategate were so grossly overcovered, and so grossly blown out of proportion, that most of us never wanna hear another fucking word about either of them. If I’m gonna read about another spy scandal from here on out, it’s gonna be strictly out of amusement and not outrage.

Besides, Belichick got caught for both offenses and was punished. He did his time, as it were. Anyone who wants to dredge both of those things back up now will trigger 100 million eyerolls nationwide. No one gives a shit. Also, cheating like that can only help you so much in football. You still have to, you know, do all of the basic shit better than the other team to still win the game. Belichick’s team did just that, so he gets the credit.

I have now spent too much time defending the honor of Bill Belichick, so allow me to bask for a moment in the fact that every team passed on hiring him this month. Dan Quinn got a job over the dude who 28-3’ed him. Now, we all know the underlying reasons why Belichick remains unemployed: too old; won’t relinquish control of personnel decisions; is an asshole. But on a superficial level, that is some truly wild shit. Steve Belichick got a new job before his daddy did. Everyone hates you, Bill! YOU’RE A FUCKING LOSER NOW.

Sean:

Why is there almost no mainstream questioning of the practice of calling timeouts to prevent delay of game penalties? It seems like in almost every instance, trading a timeout for five yards is a net loss, but it's still treated as though it's a no-brainer.

That’s coming. Compared to baseball, the analytics movement in football moves about as fast as Mac Jones does. But we now have at least two networks (NBC, ESPN) using real-time analytics graphics on fourth downs. Color guys these days are more likely get snippy with coaches who punt than ones who go for it. Every team has an analytics department, every team pays PFF for data, and almost every new coach has a situational analyst on staff. Michael Wilbon can try all he likes to hold back the tide, but he’s about to drown. Analytics are the norm now, and the telecasts are only beginning to reflect that.

So yeah, it’s annoying when both coaches and announcers assume that taking a timeout to avoid a delay penalty is a given. But that’s gonna change. The next frontier in advanced-stat graphics will be a little prompt that tells you when the analytics say “call timeout” and when they don’t. The robots are becoming our football precogs: predicting coaching crimes before they’ve been committed. We may reach a point where Mike McCarthy is jailed during the third quarter of a game because the AI mandated it. I consider this a net positive for humanity.

Brian:

Have you ever received a strange enough compliment from someone that it really stuck with you? About 13 years ago a co-worker complimented me on my ability to smoothly get onto an escalator and I’ve thought about that almost every single time I’ve encountered one since. I can’t shake it and I really wish I could. 

I have! Twenty-five years ago, I was walking from the office bathroom back to my desk when a co-worker walking past me said, “You walk like a ballerina.” She was smiling when she said it, and not in a sarcastic way. She was also good looking, so I’ve spent the entire time since then wondering if she was being flirty or not. I had barely spoken to this woman beforehand, so this shit came out of the blue. And no one has EVER confused me for a ballerina in my life, nor would you. So why would this woman say that? Was she fucking with me, or was it because she knew I was smokin’ hot manly man who didn’t want to marry the first girl he laid!

And I don’t walk gracefully. In fact, my wife regularly makes fun of me by imitating my sloppy gait. How dare you, woman. I’ll have you know that Hot Lisa in Account Planning thinks I’m Baryshnikov! You should be so lucky!

Nick:

My lady says syrup smells like pee. Is she right?

No.

[UPDATE: Actually your pee can smell like maple syrup, and you should get to a doctor if it does!]

Peter:

Have you ever eaten Chinese food out of the container with chopsticks? Has anyone in real life?

Yes and yes, although now you’ve made me question my own memory. I always eat Chinese takeout with chopsticks because they put a bunch of free one in every order. Also, if I eat Chinese food with a fork, I’ll eat it even faster than I already do and gain 25 pounds in a single night.

Using Western utensils with Chinese food also makes me feel like an interloper, and not the Cantonese native I clearly am. That’s right: I’m that guy. I’m the guy who eats almost all Asian food with chopsticks because it makes me feel more authentic. The fact that people use them straight out of the carton in movies and TV only makes me want to do it more. If I bust out a carton of Kung Pao shrimp at 11 p.m. and dig into it with a pair of chopsticks, I feel like a homicide detective poring over the evidence and asking himself WHAT AM I MISSING?! I always eat Thai food with chopsticks even though people from Thailand don’t use them. I also look down on people who don’t know how to use chopsticks. Philistines. General Tso would turn over in his grave if he saw you eating his chicken like that.

Jack:

Is your dog a virgin? Are you going to help him lose his virginity?

Carter is fixed, so I can’t help him in that regard. He came fixed when we adopted him at the shelter, because he almost certainly had a previous owner (he was three when we got him). Whether or not he made sweet doggy love to another dog before that is something I’ll never know. I’m skeptical, mostly because Carter recoils in shock and horror anytime another dog tries to hump him. He’s terrified of other dogs, which makes me think he was attacked by one in his prior life. But again, this is all speculation. If Silicon Valley ever engineers a way to get animals to speak, perhaps using the Vision Pro, I’ll get my answer. Until then, Carter’s sex life remains a boring, boring enigma to me.

Now, while we’re on the subject, and since I already painted myself in an unflattering light earlier in the column, I’m finally ready to give you my hottest take. I believe, with all my heart, that there is a very small, but definite, number of dog owners in the world who give their dogs handjobs as a treat. The dog’s lying on his back and the owner is like, “Oh Sparky, you’re such a good boy. Let’s give you a little tug SPLOOSH.”

Drew, does this mean you’ve given Carter a handjob?

Good question, but the answer is no. Again, the boy has been neutered, and I need to save these wrist muscles for my day job.

HALFTIME!

Jon:

After checking in at the gate to my flight, we had to walk about a hundred yards down the jetway to our plane. If the person who checked in before you is a painfully slow walker, is it okay to pass them? I wasn't sure of the protocol here, since overhead space was at stake and she did check in ahead of me.

No! IST VERBOTEN. Once they’ve scanned your boarding pass and you’re on the jetway, the order is the order. Some people—usually new parents or the elderly—drag ass and insist you go past them, which is acceptable. But if it’s just a slow dipshit, you can’t overtake them. If you do that, then what’s stopping Mr. Important Business Traveler right behind you from passing YOU? And then what if everyone else suddenly disregards protocol? ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!

I only suffer from bin angst before they’ve scanned my boarding pass, when the gate agent has given the PLEASE CHECK YOUR CARRY-ON RIGHT NOW OR WE’LL BURN IT warning to everyone. In that moment, I’m sweating the overhead bin space, and I’m dreading the gate agent turning sheriff and demanding I put my roll-aboard in the nefarious bag sizer. Once they scan my ticket and my bag is still in hand, all of those worries vanish. I’m good.

Plus, there’s gonna be a huge logjam at the end of the jetway anyway. You know how it works. You get in line, they scan your ticket, and then you walk 10 yards only to be stuck in another line to enter the plane itself. By then I’m chill, as are my fellow boardees. But if some asshole passed one of us without so much as a “my grandmother is a few people ahead,” they’re bringing all that angst and suspicion right back to the fore. That’s a no-no, as far as I’m concerned.

Same deal getting off the plane. If you got a tight connection, you have the right tell the flight attendant and then elbow your way ahead. But if you don’t, you better let everyone in front of you get off the fucking plane before you make a move. If you see a few of those bizarre stragglers who aren’t even trying to get up in the rows ahead, whatever. But give the rest of us our moment to GTFO. Otherwise, I will hate you forever, and for good reason. Do not violate the unwritten rules of air travel.

Aaron:

My son is a month old, and in Colorado we’re living through an exciting era in sports. The Avs won the Stanley Cup in 2022, the Nuggets won the NBA Finals in 2023, and we’ll see what happens with Deion in Boulder! But of course my kid won’t remember any of it. How do you share sports with your kids that happened, “before their time” and what should I do now so I can share it with my boy later?

Nothing. Sports are exclusively a “you had to be there” phenomenon. I could be a Yankees fan and read every book about the early dynasties, absorb as much visual documentation of those titles as I could, and have Billy Crystal regale me with firsthand stories about “The Mick.” None of it would hit the same as living through it in real time. It can’t. My team won four NFC titles before I was sentient; I revel in precisely none of them. They may as well never have happened. Same deal if you’re a Jets fan under 65 and you’re forced to watch Joe Namath running into that tunnel on an endless loop. It almost feels like a taunt at that point, and ol’ Pappy going, “Boy, that team was great!” isn’t gonna magically incept the feeling into your memory.

So if your son grows up to be a fan of all the local teams (if he ends up being a sports fan at all), you have to let his fandom be his own. One day, you can text him old highlights of Nikola Jokic making a bunch of insane passes, but really you’re not sharing a memory so much as forcing your memories on him. It’s like when Dave McKenna tells the rest of the Defector staff about some Supertramp concert he went to in '77. He said it was magic, but I can only take his word for it.

Barry:

I swear I'm not stoned. When you hear or see the word "Funbag," what immediately comes to mind: tits or your own scrot? Points def off if you say helium balloons.

Back in the late 2000s, I coined the name of this column with tits in mind. This was back when Deadspin was leaning into its dirtbag cred and posting as many photos of Erin Andrews as we could to drive clicks. The name of the column has remained in the intervening years, but I don’t exactly go out of my way to stay true to its origins. In fact, by answering all of your stupid questions as earnestly as I can, I believe that I have transcended the original meaning of the term “funbag” and imbued it with an entirely new context: one that includes the promise of gross poop stories to come. That’s right. I made the word “funbag” woke. Everyone knows it.

Also, I’ve never heard the word “funbag” used in reference to the male scrotum. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense. And I like talking about my balls in here, too!

Ian:

Bills fan here. After watching my team take on Mahomes with a 5th-string D after players on our team kept getting hurt on seemingly every play the few weeks beforehand, is there a point when you start to blame the training staff? I don't know much about it, and suspect others don't either, and I know everyone is injured all the time in football. But should I be complaining about trainers?

YES. Holy shit, yes. There’s a reason that the NFLPA included training staffs in the team-by-team report cards they issued a year ago, sometimes even naming names. Or remember the time when the Commanders blew a cancer diagnosis for RT Trent Williams, which led to Williams vowing to never play for Dan Snyder again, which led to Snyder unloading Williams on the Niners for a pittance, which led to him becoming the best tackle in the game for the past four years? If you’re a Washington fan, you should complain about that. Loudly.

Because while Adjusted Games Lost is a stat that can vary wildly from year to year and team to team, you can sometimes glean long-term patterns. Those patterns often line up with your worst assumptions about franchises like the Commanders, the Luck-era Colts, and, naturally, the Chargers. Those teams had an awful lot of “bad luck” in the injury department over an awfully long time, to the point where you can safely assume it wasn’t bad luck at all, but rather dogshit player management. Some training staffs are there to help players recover, others serve as an extension of the coaching staff and are following orders to get you back out there onto the field as soon as possible, no matter the long-term cost.

Players know this shit, and they talk. You should too. Organizations like the Rams have upgraded their training departments (now known as “sports science”) to mitigate injury risk as best they can utilizing research, advances in nutrition, preventive medicine, and all the steroids you can eat. If your team hasn’t done this (Cincinnati), then their odds of having an entire season scuttled because your franchise QB snapped his neckbone in Week 4 are that much higher. Get up those trainers’ asses. You wouldn’t let Charles Manson babysit your kids, would you?

McGregor:

Is Ray Ratto ticklish?

I asked him. He said, “I'll twitch but I don't laugh.” You and I both know that’s a lie.

Robert:

Why is it universally acceptable to refer to "Las Vegas" as "Vegas" but the same is not true for Los Angeles?

Because Los Angeles already has a tidy nickname in “LA,” which rolls off the tongue much better than “Angeles” does. City nicknames are all about feel. It feels better to call Philadelphia “Philly” because it takes less effort, and because it feels a touch more familiar. By contrast, anyone who calls New York “New York City” is either here on vacation from Denmark, or they’re a Republican candidate giving a stump speech in one of the flyover states. And if you refer to Chicago as “Chi-town,” you’re definitely a newspaper sports columnist over the age of 62.

There’s also some territoriality mixed into this. There’s nothing that locals love more than correcting you on how to refer to their city’s name. I would’ve had no problem calling San Francisco “Frisco” until the day I died until people from that city told me, “We’ll fucking kill you if you ever call our city Frisco.” So I stopped. It’s the same reason I don’t call Minneapolis “Minny” even though the full name lends itself to that moniker so easily. A bunch of other Minnesotans were like, “No one here calls it that,” and I felt compelled to retain the dust mote of Minnesota cred I still had from living in that state as a tween. So if YOU call it “Minny,” I’ll correct you like I’ve been living in Orono my entire life.

Oh, and demographics factor in here, too. You’ve seen what I look like. Now picture me calling Oakland “Oaktown.” You understand why I can’t pull that off.

Erica:

What's a spatula? All my life (almost 44 yrs), I have been using this word interchangeably for these two different kitchen gadgets. 

Those are both spatulas. If it’s flat and you use it to get food off of something, that’s a spatula. It’s a utensil of contrasts.

Todd:

When I read, I hear a voice in my head, almost like I have a books-on-tape thing going on in my mind. Because of that, I can only read as fast as the voice can go (with its related pauses, dramatic intonations, etc.). And yes, specific authors have specific voices, even if I have never heard them in real life. Do you hear anything when you read? If not, what is happening in your mind while you read?

I don’t hear a specific voice, but I do “hear” the text as I read it, and I see what the text is describing. But it’s all in mind, so none of it is sharply defined. It’s intangible, like a dream. No other medium gives me that kind of effect, which is why books are one of the most important inventions in human history, if not the most important one.

Email of the week!

Kurt:

I many have come across this during the Deadspin days but the best/worst nickname I've encountered was a fellow Bama fan calling Cam Newton "Scam Poopton." I probably say it out loud to myself or friends once a month. RIP Nick Saban, etc.

That ain’t bad. I mean it’s terrible, but you know what I mean.

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