What It’s Like To Feel Strong
2:27 PM EST on November 19, 2020
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. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.
I remember exactly when I was as strong as I’ll ever be. I was 20 years old, which is when you have both the physical capacity and the surplus free time to actually work yourself into presentable shape. I had been overweight my entire life and, so I began feverishly overcorrecting. I had dropped 80 pounds. by cutting out red meat and running five miles day. But I wanted to be lean AND be a strong manly man. Mainly so I could get laid.
Also, I was still playing football, and the pressure to be good at lifting weights when you’re on a football team is palpable. You know that one guy at the gym who gets WAY too fired up on the squat rack? A football team is 50 of those guys. Just a massive collection of loud grunts and knee wraps and poor technique and ONE MORE!s all around you. I was one of those grunters. I wanted to keep up with everyone in the weight room and I had no compunction about that desire. I wanted to belong. And when you’re on a football team, the best way to belong socially is to belong physically. Getting strong is the sport within the sport.
But I was not a talented weightlifter. In fact, I might have been the weakest player on the Colby football team, which was not a good sign given that my job was to play offensive tackle. My teammates could out-bench and out-squat the shit out of me. Some of them were so strong that I wasn’t confident I could even spot them. I was just happy I could bench 135: a barbell with two 45-pound plates on it and nothing more. I didn’t wanna be seen benching anything less. Legend had it that Scottie Pippen couldn’t even bench the BAR when he was in college, but he was Scottie Pippen and I was not. I was just some asshole. I used to watch my teammates rip off dozens of reps at 225 with a quiet mixture of awe and fear. I thought to myself fuck man, I’ll never be that strong. Maybe I should take creatine. Some guys could even do 315, making the St. Louis Arch with their spines to get the barbell off their chests. They may as well have been fucking Iron Man to me. I measured everything in life in 45-pound plates back then, and I only had two to my name.
I didn’t take the creatine, but I did show gradual, painful improvement. Our coaches gave us an offseason lifting program and, even though I had to follow the de facto weakling sets on the left-hand side of the page, I was eventually able to add small plates to the sides of the big plates. Then I was able to swap out slightly bigger plates. But every time I hung four plates on the bar, my weight belt cinched tight enough to render my diaphragm unusable, I would inevitably give way to the dude spotting me. He’d say GOOD EFFORT or some other bullshit, but that didn’t make me feel any better.
I went for a semester abroad in England junior year and kept on lifting. I wasn’t just physically disconnected from the Colby football team at the time, but emotionally disconnected as well… so much so that I ended up quitting the team right before senior year. I was doing this shit for me and me alone now, which lightened my load considerably.
I was using a weight room that had plates measured in kilograms and not pounds. So I had to do some mental math to deduce exactly how much I was attempting to bench, because I can only think in pounds. I managed a couple of reps at 223. Not just one.
I think I can add more.
So I did. I tacked on a 2.5kg plate to each side, giving me a total of 234 pounds. I asked my American friend to spot me, not telling him that I was about to attempt a personal best. He agreed. I didn’t end up needing him. I got the 234 up. I never bested it afterward, largely because I spent the rest of my time in England drinking and hooking up with anything in sight. But I had done it. I was strong.
As I got older, back injuries took their toll and I had to give up lifting altogether. If you’re some gym lug barging in to be like BRO IF YOU DEAD LIFT RIGHT BRO YOUR BACK WILL NEVER HURT YOU AGAIN, please release a loaded barbell onto your own throat. I know my body better than you do. The few times I tried getting back onto the bench, my sciatic nerves rebelled. My lifting days were over. I was too wary of additional back surgeries to mourn the occasion. I settled into my dad bod without much complaint.
And then, after regaining old weight during quarantine, I started doing a shitload of old-man pushups to stave off a FUPA. Thus far, it’s worked. I’m stronger than I’ve been in years. Please don’t take that as a brag. I can’t lift 234 one glorious time like I could back in the day. Whether or not I can still bench 135 is a question my spine won’t let me answer. I am only imposing in height, and even that effect wears off quickly. But I’m strong again. And honestly, I’d forgotten how fucking good it feels to be strong.
And not just in the bullshit macho way. I felt USEFUL again. I was moving deck furniture the other day and it was shockingly easy. A year ago, this chore was laborious. A total pain in the ass. But this time around, I grabbed a chair and lifted it over my head like I was fucking Superman. The difference was noticeable right away. I was like holy shit, this is light. I felt like a fucking KING. Again, I am not. You, the Defector reader, would beat my ass in a fight. And quickly. But feeling strong is like feeling fit in any other way. You feel new. You feel superhuman. You feel things you never expected you’d be able to feel.
I got a callus on my palm from doing my new routine, so I bought some athletic tape to keep my hands pristine. The other day, I taped up my wrists just like I did in college back before kickoff. Did this look sad from a distance? Oh yeah. Did I REALLY care? No. It looked cool to me, and I was the only one I was doing this shit for. For five seconds, I felt like an athlete again. I was an athlete again. It was a nice feeling, and now I know it’s not one you ever have to lose.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Cardinals at Seahawks: The funny thing about the Hail Murray last week was that the Cardinals had enough time left on the clock to run two more plays. They SHOULD have run two plays, if you go by basic strategy. You pick up 10–20 cheap yards on an out route, THEN you throw the Hail Mary. So when Kyler Murray started scrambling, I shouted THROW IT AWAY! at my TV. He was burning so much clock I thought he wouldn’t be able to get off another play at all. And then…
Turned out, the Cardinals did have time for another play after that. They would not need it.
Chiefs at Raiders: Last week CBS treated me to footage from its Marker Cam. This is a camera they placed inside/atop/beside? the first down marker. You might think they did this to get a better view of disputed spots. If that’s the case, they failed. The marker replay looked like security footage from a battered 7-Eleven surveillance camera. It was all crooked and fuzzy. I might have seen flashes of 1970s softcore porn appear during it. It clarified NOTHING. Pylon cam was a revelation. Marker cam can eat my dick.
Rams at Bucs: This is the time of year when oatmeal haters—in conjunction with turkey haters—flood my timeline to be like WELL ACTUALLY OATMEAL SUCKS AND YOU PEOPLE WHO LIKE IT ARE JUST PRETENDING. The absolutely worst strain of take aimed at an innocent foodstuff. Very discouraging. I like oatmeal. I’m not ashamed of that. If you hate oatmeal, it’s probably because you suck at making it. What you gotta do is buy regular-ass oats, steel cut if you’re a fancy boy like me. Then you follow the stovetop directions on the box, except you swap out the water for milk. I suggested this on Twitter years ago and Alison Roman made fun of me, which is why she deserved to be canceled and remanded to the 12th circle of hell. You simmer the oats in milk, then you add a shitload of brown sugar and a pat of butter. Does this negate all of the supposed health benefits of oatmeal? Yes. Do I care? No. I wanna feel like I’m eating hot oatmeal cookie batter and this is the best way of going about it.
Packers at Colts
Titans at Ravens: I like The Mandalorian as much as everyone else does, but there are moments on in it where I feel like I’m watching the mini-movie you watch before they start a Disney World ride. Like the Peli Motto shit? That all sucks. And that’s Amy Sedaris playing her, man. There are 50,000 better uses for Amy Sedaris than making her Baby Yoda’s temp nanny. I keep expecting Sedaris to turn to the camera and say PLEASE SECURE ALL PERSONAL ITEMS BEFORE THE SAFETY BAR HAS BEEN LOWERED.
One great thing about the show is that, as always, the Stormtroopers’ armor is EXACTLY as effective as it looks. Who know that wearing a bunch of TV dinners trays welded together was a poor defense for laser blasts?
Eagles at Browns: Everyone gave Nick Chubb a bunch of TEAM PLAYER knob-slobbing on Sunday because he stepped out of bounds instead of scoring at the end of a 59-yard run against the Texans. But here’s the thing: IT WAS A SHITTY FUCKING PLAY. The game was 10-7 and Chubb could have made it 17-7! With 53 seconds left! Against one of the worst teams in the sport! In a league where onside kicks are now virtually impossible to recover! Even the Browns couldn’t have blown that lead. They had that game locked up either way, man. They may as well have let Chubb score because scoring is awesome. Is this opinion colored by the fact that I had Chubb in DFS last week? POSSIBLY.
Falcons at Saints: My daughter had to listen to episodes of a podcast (not ours) for homework in one of her classes this week. I just want you to be aware that that’s a thing that’s happening now. Your child may be subjected to random MeUndies live reads while studying AP Gov. Don’t say no one told you.
Cowboys at Vikings: To settle my brain at night, I spend a lot of time pretending I’m Mike Zimmer at every postgame presser. You know it’s been a steep learning curve for these guys, but they’re starting to believe in one another. They know they belong. NEVER CATCH YOURSELF DOING THIS. My problem is that I like doing this. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably do it every night as long as this phantom winning streak keeps going, as a matter of superstition. But if God ran back the tape of that in my brain and posted it online? I’d be laughed into the ocean. I’ve been disclosing way too much shit about myself this week.
Lions at Panthers: One amusing subplot of this season has been coaches unable to settle on a face covering they like. Bill Belichick has cycled through 50 different gaiter/mask/pashmina combinations. But not Matt Rhule. Matt Rhule has been loyal to his idiot face shield from DAY ONE.
So majestic. He looks like he’s preparing your carne asada bowl at Chipotle and doing a shitty job of it. Seven years and $60 million, Carolina. You gave this man the Will Muschamp parachute.
Dolphins at Broncos
Jets at Chargers
Bengals at WFT
Steelers at Jaguars
Patriots at Texans
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Autoportrait,” by Demob Happy! From Colin:
It’s all riffs. I mean, that’s all it is. Really. The production on it is rad as fuck, too. The guitar and bass are compressed so hard that they’re almost turned into synthesizers. But for the most part it’s just riffs. I kind of think of these guys as like Queens of the Stone Age, but if they never departed from the sound of that first self-titled record and were also way more influenced by Blue Cheer. A lot of their stuff is slower and more psychedelic, but they’ve shown a few times that they can rip through a riff.
Holy shit, can they ever. That riff owns me now. So simple, yet so effective. There are certain songs—“Hate To Say I Told You So,” “Snakes For The Divine,” “Millionaire”—where the main riff is so good that nothing else matters. I just want that riff to beat the shit out of me forever. This is one such song. Demob Happy hits all of my pleasure areas, Collin, and I thank you for them.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
It’s THIS IS MARCH legend Jon Rothstein, getting a little bit more hip to the pop cultures you kids go on and on about these days:
“Circa 2008.” We know that The Dark Knight was indeed released during the Chiroptera Age, and 2008 is archaeologists’ best guess at exactly WHEN during that Age the film was released. We can only go by their theory, of course. We have no other hard evidence at hand.
I wonder if Mike Lombardi ghost-wrote this tweet.
Magic Johnson’s Lock Of The Week: Titans (+6.5) at Ravens
“I know personally the incredible impact that having a job can have on someone’s life! That’s why I helped team up with local authorities and business leaders to provide safe, clean, FREE office space with high-speed internet to anyone in the greater Los Angeles area looking for a job. We’re gonna get thousands of people back up on their feet, and it’s all thanks to a clutch assist from my dear friends at @WeWork!”
2020 Magic record: 5-4
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
JAV Remodeling! Can Eagleman ever be topped? Well, dear friends, the answer to that question is a resounding… no. But here’s a shitty Bond parody ad from Jeff:
This played in the DC-area during Monday Night Football games in 2016 and 2017. I can look past the terrible acting and get on board with a guy daydreaming about being James Bond Fond, but you mean to tell me his ultimate Fond girl fantasy is... his wife? Live a little! I also love the single YouTube comment asking who the beautiful actress is. You and I both know there's an 80% chance it's the wife of JAV Remodeling's owner.
That there is. That’s just sensible ad budgeting. I have issues with this ad from a continuity perspective, but those are best left unaddressed.
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 2020 chopping block:
(* - potential midseason firing)
The Texans might hire Romeo Crennel as their full-time head coach, which would be the second time Crennel got bumped up from the interim tag. Under Crennel, the Texans are a robust 2-2, having defeated the likes of the Jaguars and… the Jaguars. WHAT A TURNAROUND. Between Crennel’s potential hiring and the Rockets putting James Harden on the block, we’ve reached the stage where all Houston sports teams are running transparently low on cash. Excited for the Astros to get in on the trend and lay off all of their receptionists.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Joel sends in this story I call MY BIG FAT GREEK POOP.
Maybe this is obvious to everyone, but Greek food and small-town Wisconsin don’t go together.
It’s the late 1980s, and I’m a senior at a small college in America’s Dairyland. I’m also a member of an eccentric history professor’s salon. So every week, we’d get together, listen to classical music, and talk about history. Perfectly normal behavior for 70-year-old men wearing monocles and smoking jackets, yes. Completely weird for college students. I know.
Anyway, every month or two, this prof would take us to a Greek restaurant in town for dinner and endless drinks. So we’re there one Friday night, and I’m completely hammered on wine and sherry. (Two drinks a beer-swiller like me wasn’t exactly familiar with, so I had no idea how to pace myself.) Our table is littered with plates of Greek food: squid in a heavy red sauce, lamb, gyros, saganaki (flaming cheese in brandy) — all swimming in goopy, yellowish olive oil. So we drink and eat and drink and eat, then head back to the prof’s house for more sherry. I stumble home around midnight. As I get to my room, I feel the gut-churning burbling that tells me, “Maybe that squid wasn’t totally fresh by the time it got to our land-locked state.”
I sprint to the bathroom and get into a stall just in time to start vomiting a heavy stream of horror: squid heads, Greek cheese, purple wine and brandy, and more. Gallons. But the pressure of the hurling – which just about pushes my eyes out of their sockets –is hitting the other end, too. I realize that I’m about to start shitting. So I stand up and tug my pants down – keep in mind that I’m still puking the whole time. I drunkenly spin and try to sit on the bowl, but my drunken state and the pants around my ankles make this move nigh impossible. So then a river of purplish-blackish shit starts shooting out of my ass like some unholy volcano. Simultaneously, vomit is still gushing out of my mouth, so I am spraying the walls and the floors as I spin around like a drunken marionette.
I am stuck in an existential no man’s land: Do I sit? Do I kneel? It’s all happening so fast, I can’t decide – meanwhile, I’m spewing filth from both ends like a satanic fire hydrant. Finally, the mayhem stops. This stall is the foulest scene I’ve ever witnessed: The walls are absolutely coated in shit and vomit. It’s like a horse exploded in there. I head into a shower — still in my clothes — and scrape the mess off of myself. (God knows what I did with those clothes.) Then I creep into my room and fall asleep.
The next morning, I am awoken by an angry crowd outside the bathroom: “Who did this? What the fuck happened in there?” For a moment, I’m terrified they might be able to figure it was me. Then I remember the words of wisdom from Spinal Tap: “You can’t really dust for vomit.” I sigh in relief, pull the covers over my head, and sleep until 4. The next day, our dorm’s janitor – a barrel-chested Russian man with Leonid Brezhnev-caliber eyebrows – discovers the carnage and says, “No! I do not clean!” For three days, he refuses to clean the bathroom, so the havoc hardens on the walls. The bathroom is totally unusable. Finally, on Wednesday, someone goes in and cleans it all. And no one ever found out it was me.
But now they have. I JUST REPORTED YOU, YOUNG MAN.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Taramosalata! Those Greeks… they know their dips. Americans think they’re the dip gods but Greece has us by the dick. Taramosalata is a creamy carp roe dip. Now I know that SOUNDS grotesque, but I don’t give a shit. I just get more taramosalata to myself if you balk at it. Regular, quality caviar is like $5,000 a pound. A jar of taramosalata is seven bucks. It’s worth it.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
KOKANEE! Aruba, Jamaica, ooooh I wanna take ya… From Ryan:
Found this gem at a ski resort's beer and wine shop in Fernie, British Columbia. Even though I've never had cocaine, I was disappointed to learn it was pronounced "coca-knee." No matter. I forged ahead, refrigerated this bad boy overnight like I was marinating a steak and enjoyed the glacier fresh taste of this slightly-better-than-Coors-Light knockoff as if it had puréed cocaine for a main ingredient. Not bad! It also makes for a great shower beer and deserves more publicity.
I would absolutely drink that beer. It says GLACIER FRESH right on the label! Makes me wanna go skiing. Let’s all move to Canada and get our rona germs all over it.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“People are too mean about gruel, okay? It’s always thin gruel this and prison gruel that. You come down to Waypoke Station and have some of Tart Annie’s gruel, all right? That’ll change your whole mind. Annie’s gruel is good and meaty. You’ll respect it.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans
Carnal Knowledge. Do you enjoy being even more depressed than you are right now? HAVE I GOT THE MOVIE FOR YOU, AMIGO! This one ends with Jack Nicholson so emotionally dead inside that the only way he can get a boner is by hiring a hooker to blow him on the reg. Also, Art Garfunkel is in this. When Art Garfunkel dies, and he hasn’t yet, I’m gonna tweet “Fart Argunkel” and nothing else. That will be my contribution to the discourse.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Hey, have you ever noticed that the Crossing the Desert is a lot like the Unblinking Eye? And it's EXACTLY like the Wreck of the Hesperus.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.