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.
This is a Christmas story told too soon. I was up in New York a while back to visit the Deadspin offices (back when we all worked there) and, more importantly, to get shitfaced with everyone on staff over the course of multiple nights. The first of these nights, I’m walking to the site’s old office by Union Square when I pass by Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, a bar on East 17th Street. I glance through the window as I’m walking and then I stop, turn, and walk back to gaze through the window. This is what I saw.
Oh it was beautiful, reader. Nothing but garlands and strung-up lights and fluffy white trim. I felt like a little boy in 1980 staring longingly through a window at FAO Schwarz. Lillie’s went hard for Christmas. Every inch of the joint was glowing with 100 percent pure Christmas tackiness. I wanted to move into that bar. Later that night, I got VERY drunk and dragooned the entire staff into going there. I don’t remember anything I drank at Lillie’s. I don’t even remember talking to anyone. I was already well into the standing-and-staring phase of inebriation, a phase any veteran drinker knows quite well. All I did was stand at the bar and look around at the pretty Christmas lights and holiday decor. I think I threw up in my hotel room a few hours later. It was perfect. I was perfect.
Christmas comes earlier every year. You know this because anytime someone you know sees a gingerbread latte on sale in September, they go SPRINTING to inform the rest of the world about the offense. I’ve made similar complaints, because I am a professional complainer. But the truth is, I love Christmas. I love the entire holiday racket, from stem to stern. I love Thanksgiving for self-evident reasons. I love crowded malls. I love watching the same holiday specials and holiday movies over and over again. I love the nationwide increase in open candy dishes right around this time. I love pissing and moaning to my wife about Christmas parties that we weren’t invited to. I love decorating the house. I love being bored to death at 2 p.m. on a Friday. I love seeing my family. I love helping the kids assemble a $15 gingerbread house kit that contains nothing but stale ingredients. I even love to shop… online.
None of it can come early enough for me. I’d like to tell you that nearly dying was the main catalyst for this affection—the night after we all went to Lillie’s was the one where I dropped like a felled evergreen—but I’ve always been like this. I just have more license to indulge my holly-jollyness now.
And I plan to. So far I’ve held off on going Full Griswold until Thanksgiving, as I do every year. But rather than glower at the signs of an impending holiday season all around me, I’ve gotten hyped off of them. When I took my youngest son to get vaccinated at a nearby mall, they were already playing Christmas music, which suited the occasion. When I went to the grocery store last week, I eye-banged the open displays of fruitcake and eggnog the same way I stared longingly through that bar’s window. I caught my daughter watching The Grinch on her laptop on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break and nearly asked her if I could borrow an earbud. I can’t resist any of this shit and I don’t want to. All of the standard holiday complaints are now older than the holidays themselves. They don’t matter. Barry says that Lillie’s “sucks.” Yeah OK sure, but the GARLANDS, Barry. The garlands.
So this Thanksgiving, I’m gonna start playing Christmas music the SECOND I wake up to start prepping that turkey. I’m gonna turn on the Macy’s Parade and then turn it off five minutes later because it sucks. I’m gonna eat ALL the peppermint bark. I’m gonna call my mom, and my brother, and my sister, and we’ll all say HI and I LOVE YOU and we’ll get the kids on the phone too and it’ll be utterly incoherent for a good three minutes. I’m gonna play trampoline football with my sons when it’s ass-cold out. I’m gonna ask my wife, like a little boy, when we can put the tree up. I’m gonna wrap her big Christmas present because I bought it early, and I’m gonna fuck up the paper. I’m gonna prance around the neighborhood wearing a Santa jacket and NOTHING else. And I’m gonna watch important football games all the time. While sitting on my ass. That’s me: from zero to Christmas spirit the second I see a cranberry out in the wild. There’s never a bad time to be in the mood.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Bucs at Colts: We need to do something about all the screen passes. I have enjoyed screen passes my whole life. I remember our coaches introducing us to the concept back when I played I was like, “Holy shit, that’s brilliant!” The best part was that I wouldn’t even have to block anyone at the start of the play, which suited my abilities as a lineman quite well. When I stopped playing football but kept watching, I pissed and moaned for my team to throw screen passes whenever they couldn’t run or pass the ball efficiently. This was because screen passes, in general, worked. They’re an easy way to get a talented skill player out in space with the ball. That’s no longer the case. From Pro Fooball Focus, here is the leaguewide average on screen passes for each of the past 10 years:
2012: 6.00 yards
Half a yard doesn’t sound like much of a difference on paper. But oh, oh what a horrifying difference it makes out on my television. The last time I saw a screen pass turn into a big play on an NFL field was 1994. Every running back going out for one gets swarmed by 60 defenders before he’s even caught the ball. Every wideout on a bubble screen gets tackled for a two-yard loss. I used to think a screen pass was the most imaginative play in the world and now it’s the precise opposite. I want them banned.
Rams at Packers: The good news is that the reported incoming settlement between the Rams, the NFL, and St. Louis will cost the former two parties a shitload of money. The bad news is that it’s not nearly enough money. Not enough to fuck Kroenke the way I’d hoped, and definitely not enough to fuck the NFL in general. I was teased by speculation that this lawsuit would bankrupt that toupéed fuck, or force the NFL to grant St. Louis an expansion team, or force Robert Kraft to take the witness stand to talk about handjobs, or force all 32 NFL owners to fight to the death inside a glass dome. None of that cool shit will happen. Instead, the bad guys are out a few hundred million, Kroenke will make a frowny face, St. Louis will declare a Pyrrhic victory, and then no one will talk about this case ever again. Annoying.
Titans at Patriots: No one asked me to chime in on the mac-and-cheese debate, but lemme do that right now anyway.
I’m a strange animal in that I only like Kraft Mac. I don’t consume macaroni and cheese in any other form. Every upscale diner tries to sell you on its own handcrafted lobster mac-and-cheese for $26, with five different cheeses in the sauce and a crunchy panko topping. I’m not down with any of that, and I have no good explanation as to why. More important, mac-and-cheese doesn’t work on a Thanksgiving plate. Even if the kind of mac I like. I don’t wanna eat that shit with turkey, or cranberries, or GRAVY. That doesn’t work. Pack it into a little styrofoam container with my pulled pork and then I’m aboard with the concept. But with stuffing? Fuck off.
Steelers at Bengals: The other day I was watching a game on delay when there was a replay review. I had to go piss, so you know what I did? I paused the review, and then came back to my recliner and watched the entire review process without fast forwarding. I have complained about replay here enough times to make even readers older than me roll their eyes. I’ve also lobbied for the NFL to bury challenges under the commercial break, which they’ve largely done. And yet there I sat, with the chance to zip right through all that bullshit but electing not to. This could be because I’m so used to replay that my lizard brain won’t let me skip past it.
But it’s more likely that I secretly enjoy replay. It’s a genuinely suspenseful thing. The game itself is more suspenseful, but I do like watching the replay over and over again, deciding what I think happened, checking Twitter to make sure that Twitter agrees with me, yelling at the booth because they don’t, and then perching on the edge of my seat as the ref comes back out onto the field to announce the final decision. It’s good television, in part because the system is so hilariously flawed. I really don’t know how they’ll rule on this shit! Dean Blandino, who used to supervise all of these people, doesn’t even know! IT’S ANARCHY AND I THINK I LOVE IT!
Browns at Ravens: Last time these two teams met was the legendary Dump Bowl. And Lamar Jackson just missed last week’s game due an unnamed illness, so we’ve got a ton of potential here for Dump Bowl II, in which Myles Garrett comes off the edge, hits Lamar at full speed, and Lamar’s asshole ERUPTS with toasted brown filth. Parents in the stands will recoil in disgust. Little kids will barf on their scarves. The Queen, watching live from England, will say, “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.” Christmas will be cancelled. All of us will be covered in this man’s feces. I can’t wait!
Raiders at Cowboys
Vikings at Niners
Chargers at Broncos
Seahawks at WFT: Both ESPN and NBC need to chill the fuck out with the stat animation packages. Every week, I gotta listen to Steve Levy preside over a graphic of three cartoon Seahawks in pilgrim gear sailing directly into a giant iceberg that has 30TH IN TOTAL OFEENSE scrawled across it. It’s like someone took a Ben Garrison cartoon and married it to the graphics from Madden 2004. They spend real time and money on this shit. WHY. Who the fuck is charmed by this? Even my kids could give half a fuck about what virtual Taylor Heinicke is doing on our TV sitting on top of the Washington Monument. These broadcasts need things removed, not added.
Bills at Saints
Panthers at Dolphins
Bears at Lions: If the Bears really do fire Matt Nagy after this game, we’re gonna get six quality weeks of Chris Tabor at the helm and I can’t wait. LOOK AT THE INTENSITY.
When I watch Chris Tabor patrol the sidelines, I see every youth soccer dad in America. I make all those same faces when I watch my son play. I alternate between steely focus, whitebread fist-bumping, hearty shouts of “Nicely done out there!”, and total silence. I play all the hits. Chris Tabor knows what I’m talking about.
Falcons at Jaguars: This game is fucking horrible. Meanwhile, I’d like you to hear me out on this: hummus as a condiment. No, I don’t put hummus on my turkey like a crazy person. But I do heap it on top of kebabs, flatbreads, bagels, roasted veggies, and rice, too. It’s really good on rice. Mix some Sabra in your rice and all of sudden you’ve got a 2,000-calorie lump of creamy goodness sitting on your plate. Takes nine days to exit your colon. Delicious.
Eagles at Giants: Now that Jason Garrett has been fired and Freddie Kitchens is the new offensive coordinator, it’s time for the Giants to bench Daniel Jones in favor of this man, Kadarius Toney:
The Giants ran an option pass for Toney on Monday night and the man showed off an absolute fucking CANNON. I vaguely knew that Toney was a starting QB in high school, but I was still not ready to watch an NFL wideout effortless throw a ball 40 yards downfield while running toward the sideline. I’m not even sure that Josh Allen’s arm is stronger than this man’s. Sure, he’s only completed one pass out of three this season, but that’s a better completion percentage than whatever shit-ass Danny Dimes has.
Jets at Texans
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“The End of All We Know” by Bleed From Within! From Mike:
The song kicks in hard and doesn’t stop melting your face the whole way through. If this doesn’t get you ready to destroy something you’re dead inside.
I was tentative on this one because, at the beginning, it looked like Bleed From Within would fail the singer test, as scores of metal bands do. But then they threw down an actual chorus and I was satisfied. You gotta have a little singing in there. Not much, just a little.
Worst Quarterback In The League Of The Week
Daniel Jones. Every time I watch Daniel Jones play, I see the quarterback I hope Mac Jones becomes one day.
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Roller Kingdom! A classic of the genre. From Kyle:
I’ve never personally been to Reno, but this may have convinced me to go.
Defector readers have introduced you to any number of questionable rogues in this space: Terrifying small business couples, cashmen, mattress store owners who’ll keep you awake at night, and such and such. But those hucksters are all true amateurs compared to Roller Kingdom, which went viral a while back thanks to this clip in which a small boy joyfully proclaims, “I wanna be addicted to roller skating, not crack!” Me too, lad. Me too.
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)
It’s worth remembering that instead of Dan Campbell, the Lions could have hired, you know, anybody else on Earth. They could have hired Dan Mullen and been better off than they are with this lobotomized Care Bear at the helm. That’ll prove doubly painful when they finally cut Campbell loose six years and 100 losses from now and then, after an exhaustive search comprising many attractive candidates, hire his nephew to replace him.
SHAMELESS BOOK/LIVE PODCAST PLUG
If you wanna see me in my full Christmas Guy form, come to the LIVE episode of The Distraction at Caveat in New York on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. You can buy your tickets right here, and get $5 off using the code DEFECTORPAL. Tickets for attending virtually are also available. So get after it.
Also, the The Night The Lights Went Out makes a perfect Christmas gift. Expect me to hammer that point home on occasion (45,000 times) as we go through December.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Matt sends in this story I’ll call THE BURST OF TIMES:
Several years ago, I was in the hospital for a few days following an emergency appendectomy. One thing that the doctors wanted to be sure of was that I could drop a steamer, in order to make sure that they hadn’t nicked my intestines. It was actually funny to have every doctor ask me with a straight face if I dropped one when they came in to check on my progress. Naturally, I laughed while answering every time.
Because of emptying my guts prior to going to the hospital, being in a lot of pain, having no appetite, and shitty hospital food, it took a few days. On my third day in, I was feeling well enough to be out of my bed and sitting in the chair when I felt a solid fart coming on. Because of the need to keep things moving, and me never passing up a chance to rip a fart, I pushed out what I thought would be a squeaker. I let the fart out and it was accompanied by a small river of liquid shit.
Luckily I was sitting on a blanket, now ruined along with my undies. I hobbled to the bathroom to clean myself up but there was shit everywhere. I also could barely bend or rotate my core so wiping this up was pretty much impossible. I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to think of any way to rid myself of this shitsplosion. I finally had to hit the call button and say, “I had an accident and need someone to come down to help me.”
An older woman was dispatched to clean me up. I have never been more embarrassed in my life to be wiped like a 20-something baby. I apologized profusely the entire time, and I have to give her tons of credit for helping me out and telling me it was ok. Don’t ever rag on hospital workers. They literally have to clean shit off of people for little pay. She cleaned me up and changed out my bedding and hospital gown before leaving me to question every decision that I have ever made and think about how I had ruined that poor worker’s life as well. I still think about this every time that I have a questionable fart/shart and always err on the side of caution. The moral of the story is: never go the hospital! Big hospital will make you shit your pants!
As someone who has also defecated in a hospital bed, I concur.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Cheez-It Grooves, which are in fact better than regular Cheez-Its. Thanksgiving means I always eat WAY too much before I’ve even gotten to dinner. So I fully expect to eat nine boxes of white cheddar Grooves and then throw up at the sight of turkey on my plate 30 minutes later. Gonna be a great day.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Mountain Brew! Look at that can, brother. That design is straight out of 1988 and I adore it. From an anonymous boozer:
Here is some suspicious-looking stuff I found at a Stewarts shop in Albany NY. $2.99 a six-pack, 5.5% alc. and is labeled as “A Very Cool Brew.” Indeed, the cans have little pics of beer-fueled activities around the bottom, such as volleyball, golf, fishing etc. Cool indeed.
So cool. Love to drink beer that cribs its graphics from an Olympic viewing guide.
Dan Campbell’s Clump Dog Of The Week: Jalen Hurts
“That kid… that kid is like a magician. A fucking magician. Say, did I just say magician?”
“That’s right, men. It’s Henry Bladesdale, Ypsilanti’s No. 1 magician for birthday parties and corporate events. See, I know you guys think we’re in the shitter at 0-9-1. That we’ll never make the playoffs. That we have no quarterback. That our wives will leave us. That we’re better off sitting in an empty bathtub and cutting our wrists. But you know what? I still believe in our dreams. I still think there’s some magic in the air. Show ‘em, Mr. Bladesdale.”
[magician tucks a handkerchief into his fist, tries to make it disappear, and fails]
“OK that wasn’t supposed to happen like that. But that’s football, am I right?!”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Lions Fans
No Time To Die, which is a goddamn mess. Nearly as bad as Spectre. My kids kept asking me to explain the plot and I couldn’t because there wasn’t one. It was only at the end of the movie—when everything in the story had been reduced to “Bond must save people he cares about from the bad guy”—that I could actually make sense of what the fuck was happening.
The next Bond movie should be 90 minutes long, and no matter who plays Bond, it should be free of the burden of having to reinvent the character all over again. Every Craig Bond movie, I had to watch them find a creative and unexpected way to do the “Bond, James Bond” line. He always had to do it to a mail clerk, or sarcastically to Q, or in Flemish to a waiter. Just do it straight. Have Bond be a dapper agent of death who hits all of the usual marks without a wink and fucks everything in sight.
And no more saving the world. Every big-ass movie now has the exact same plot: the good guy has to save the world from a bad guy intent on culling Earth’s population as a form of altruism. The bad guy can’t be from a specific country, because then the studios would see their box office in Chechnya suffer. The bad guy can never be American, even though this country harbors a SHITLOAD of real villains. To that end, the plot can only hint at the tumult in the actual world but never address it outright. Hence, we get the same stakes recycled over and over again. I’m so sick of it. Independence Day came out 25 fucking years ago, man. I don’t wanna watch the world be saved. The world is annoying. Have Bond take down Alden Global Capital next time around instead.
By the way, Rami Malek made a good villain in this movie, even though I still have no idea what his relationship to all the other villains was. But he had a scary face, a cool mask, and a strangely convincing vampire accent, so that did the job. My 9-year-old called his character Scary Guy and covered his eyes anytime he appeared on screen. I did the exact same thing whenever Jaws appeared in a Bond movie. Richard Kiel’s mouth scared me shitless.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“There’s no need to murmur, ma’am. Here at Itchy and Scratchy Land we’re just as concerned about violence as you are. That’s why we’re always careful to show the consequences of deadly mayhem, so that we may educate as well as horrify.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.