You Truly Are What Your Record Says You Are
2:22 PM EST on January 7, 2021
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.
My team went 7-9 this season, one game out of a playoff spot. If they had beaten the Bears a few weeks ago, it would be them getting curbstomped in New Orleans instead of Mitch Trubisky (I know he wants to be called Mitchell but everyone called him Mitch for so long, it's impossible for me to turn back). In fact, if my team had done a LOT of things, they might have even won the division. The Super Bowl, even! They were merely a bounced ball away, I tell you.
Losing in a sport with such a short season as football compels players/fans/coaches to wallow in alternate realities. If we lost a game back when I was playing, I would stew on it for the rest of the week. If we had done X, then Y. I do the same shit now even when I’m not even on the team in question. Doors constantly slide before me and I live inside an alternate reality where the final score was not the final score at all. I envision the ball bouncing the RIGHT way, that key fourth-down attempt succeeding, that one guy not getting hurt, that missed field goal course-correcting and drifting between the uprights. If I work hard enough, and I have, I can reach a point where I deem the actual reality of my team to be an anomaly. A fluke.
Pro athletes engage in this kind of self-delusion all the time. How many times have you heard some dude in the locker declare that the better team lost, moments after he and his teammates just got their jocks handed to them? It’s a classic defense mechanism for athletes who are overly proud as a matter of both ego and survival, and it’s one that rears its head most often this time of year in the wake of tragic playoff exits. It’s easy to vouch for that kind of empty boast if you’re a fan in denial, or if you worship at the altar of net point differential.
But I’ve wasted so much time on this kind of shit that I don’t have the energy to keep up the façade anymore. The old Parcellsism is that you are what your record says you are. You’ll hear that line parroted by Cris Collinsworth at some point this weekend, and you’ve heard it from any number of coaches who are descendants on the Parcells coaching tree. I used to chafe at it, because I’ve watched too many games where the team that deserves to lose doesn’t. Happens a lot in football. Happens even more in soccer. Happens in every goddamn sport. But that “deserve” part is always flimsy. It’s based on eye tests or on in-game stats, or on the aforementioned point differentials. It’s all just crumbled-up paper awaiting a lit fireplace.
Because if I slide a bunch of other doors, my team was even WORSE than 7-9. Just as they were a point or two away from a couple of additional wins, they were a point or two away from that many extra losses as well, all of them humiliating. They could have gone 4-12 just as easily as 10-6, but I’m rarely the type to give away certified victories, no matter how unimpressive those wins might have been and no matter how much I complain about my team looking like shit in the course of winning them. An ugly win is a win, but a gorgeous loss? Well now, that’s a piece of clay I can mold into a bunch of exciting alternative shapes, provided my imagination has the vigor for it.
It no longer does. I live in a country that wastes an exhaustive supply of energy imagining itself as being anything other than what it truly is. There's very little point in maintaining such illusions, be they off the field or on. My asshole team was 7-9 for a reason. And if you’re a fan of some 11-win juggernaut and they choke this weekend, well then that’s what THEY had coming to them, too. The result is the result, and every minute you spend ruminating on what could have been wastes a minute you could have spent deciding what will be.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I grow a pair and PICK the games. Results may vary.
Titans (+3.5) 31, Ravens 20. Before we get into the newly branded Super Wild Card Weekend (the “Super” is for “Superspreader”!), let’s all take a moment to appreciate the fact that the AFC field does NOT include the goddamn Patriots. This is the first time the Pats have been out of the playoffs since 2007. So savor this moment. Revel in it. Is it a coincidence that the AFC became loaded the INSTANT the Patriots became a nonentity? It is not. Once Tom Brady left the division, God decided that it was okay for that entire conference to no longer be strewn with tomato cans. Meanwhile, Brady sashays over to the NFC and draws a headless 7-9 team in the first round. Why not shower the field in rose petals for that asshole while the Lord is at it?
Browns (+4.5) 17, Steelers 14. I’m making this pick out of pure spite because I loathe the 2020 Steelers. I hate them as much as I hated the Brady Patriots and the Favre Packers. If Big Ben was arrested, tried, and executed under false pretenses tomorrow, I would be like, That’s fine. I’m sick to death of Ben, I’m sick of his death grip over this braindead organization, and I’m sick of the Steelers stumbling bass ackwards into success despite of all that. When Ben retires 57 years from now and makes the Hall, he’ll have earned a yellow blazer because his mind is swimming in piss. But he’s not fun to watch, not even when he plays well. And his smiles make me angry. Will the Browns actually pull off this upset? No. Will the entire Cleveland roster catch COVID 24 hours before kickoff? Yes. Will the NFL still force them to play? Yes. I’m still picking them, because fuck Pittsburgh with a motorcycle exhaust pipe.
Bills 30, Colts (+6.5) 27. Marmalard is gonna one lose more playoff game for old time’s sake before riding off into the sunset to sire 27 more children. If Philip Rivers really does retire after this season is over, I’d like the Colts to sign a succession of unwanted legends to one-year deals: Matt Stafford in 2021, Matt Ryan in 2022, Drew Brees in 2023, and so on and so forth. They’re so loaded everywhere else that they could actually pull this off and give every prominent quarterback one last rodeo. Except Big Ben. Again, fuck him.
Bucs (-8.5) 20, WFT 6. You know all that shit I just said up at the top of this post? All lies. The Bucs are frauds. They’ve beaten exactly one team with a winning record, and when they’ve played like shit they’ve REALLY played like shit. But the NFL has a nasty little habit of gifting otherwise fraudulent teams an easy road to the Super Bowl. So I look forward to Tom Brady outdueling Tiny Tim in the first round and then Aaron Rodgers going on the COVID list six days later.
Seahawks (-4.5) 40, Rams 7. Hear me out on this: John Wolford is actually Gritty Thom Yorke:
Try watching that man throw a pass again without “Nude” running through your head. YOU CANNOT. If Wolford starts against the Seahawks, don’t get any big ideas, Rams fans. Theyyyyy’re nottttttt, gonna happ-unnnnnnnnn…
Saints (-10) 52, Bears 16: Every time they have to bring the chains out for a measurement, the play-by-play guy is always like, “Of course, the yellow line is not official.” Hear me out on this: What if it WAS? What if they made the yellow line official? If they did, then at least I wouldn’t have to wait an extra three minutes for the chains to come out and confirm that the refs did a horrible job of spotting the ball.
None. Here, enjoy Chase Claypool shotgunning an invisible beer instead:
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Dead Pirates,” by UGO! From Noah!
Dead Pirates was started as side project for a French animator (Mcbess) who started the band as a way to create his own animated music videos, and it turns out the music and the artwork both fucking shred. Their most popular song is “UGO”, which starts off fairly slow before transitioning to an extended, three minute heavy instrumental section. If you don’t want to wait through any sort of intro, “Clement” dispenses with any niceties in what is essentially a five-minute guitar solo.
All my life I’ve been yearning for a metal Gorillaz, and at last I have been blessed with them. This video has strong ATHF vibes, which only furthers my admiration. Thank you Mcbess, and thank you Noah, for such jolly nightmare fuel.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
It’s professional dead horse–beater Matt Zoller Seitz, with a hat tip to the immortal ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER for noticing this Fennessey-esque display of A Fancy Shithead Noticing The Obvious:
Imagine spending your free time doing secondhand DVD commentary that no one will ever listen to. Even in the middle of a fucking death plague, there’s no excuse for being this useless of a person.
Cryptkeeper Al’s Lock Of The Week: Titans (+3.5) over Ravens
“EEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! You know how much I love a… HOME UNDERDOG, kiddies…"
(slides over to reveal a dog trapped inside his personal dungeon)
“And this home underdog is a real KILLER. Oh, those poor, innocent BaltiGORE Ravens. If only they knew what they were up against in David QuessenBURIEDALIVE and the Titans! It’s going to be a long afternoon in GASHville for you!”
Cryptkeeper Al’s 2020 record: 1-1
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
BRAD PISTOTNIK LAW! From reader Jeffrey:
From Wichita, Kansas.
This looks like a normal, shitty commercial at first. And then comes the jingle. And then comes the bull. Kansas is the beef capital of America, so I guess it stands to reason that its foremost(?) personal injury lawyer would call himself Brad The Bull and ride a bull into his own ad. But as always, never hire a lawyer who runs ads on TV.
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:
Doug Pederson—THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, BUDDY
(* - potential midseason firing)
I remain genuinely pissed at Doug Pederson for the shit he pulled on Sunday night. Part of that is on me for staying up to watch a shitbath between two miserable football teams. And Eagles Twitter NAWT NEWSed the Hurts benching in real time, as if the rest of the goddamn world was up to speed on the comings and goings of a 4-10-1 team. But even if you knew that Pederson was planning in advance to put Nate Sudfeld into the game as some kind of participation trophy, and even if you were horny for the Eagles to stage the smallest of tank jobs, the move was STILL dumb as shit. The Eagles already alienated ONE of their quarterbacks and still have to clean up that estrangement, which will prove nearly impossible. Alienating Carson Wentz’s best current alternative, in the middle of a game that Eagles players were clearly trying to win, doesn’t make anything BETTER. And it cost me an hour of beauty rest! YOU WILL BURN FOR THIS, DOUGIE BOY.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Kris sends in this story I call FARG-HOLE:
A couple years ago I went snowmobiling with my friend’s family in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. We had to wake up at some ungodly hour to drive to the podunk snowmobile place in the middle of nowhere. As a result of my early rise, all my systems were off and I couldn’t take my normal morning poop. To exacerbate the situation, I spent the car ride over chugging coffee so my severe exhaustion wouldn’t ruin the whole experience. Fast forward an hour or so into our snowmobile ride. As my body wakes up and gets to doin what it does, and the vibrations of the snowmobile combine with the coffee hard at work, I get a monster deuce ready to rumble. Problem is, I’m 20+ miles up into the mountains, over an hour from the nearest hint of civilization. Plus it’s like 4 degrees outside and I’m bundled in outdoor gear.
So I do what a man’s got to do. Make an excuse, pull off the trail and hoof it into a patch of pine trees. I partially disrobe and drop my business into 40+ inches of snowpack. The balancing act was tough, but the satisfaction of an incredible amount of steam rising off my poo as it melts into it’s own snowpack grave...awesome. One problem. Out here in the wilderness, there’s nothing to wipe with. I look around frantically but pinecones and bark don’t seem like viable options. So I grab a handful of packed ice and snow and just start wiping. I don’t know if I blacked out, or I was already so cold I felt nothing, but I can’t even begin to recall enough to describe the sensation. I just grabbed and wiped until the snow stopped changing color. Job done, I wiped my hands and got back on the snowmobile for a beautiful day in mountains.
This remains the manliest thing I have ever done.
I kept waiting for the unfortunate twist in this story, and it never came. I’m relieved on your behalf, Kris, and yet oddly crestfallen.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
An Italian sub! Last week I was once again subjected to mayo subterfuge when I ordered an Italian sub for takeout, insisted MANY times that I didn’t want mayo on the sub (explicitly telling the dude on the other end of the phone, verbatim, “I HATE MAYO PLEASE KEEP IT AWAY FROM ME”), and then got fucked with it once I opened the butcher paper.
I did not go into my usual mayo rage this time around. I go to therapy, after all. Instead, I looked within. If you hate mayo as I do, an Italian sub is a dangerous order because SOME restaurants, many of which no doubt have ties to the American Midwest, include it on one automatically. But a real Italian sub has no mayo at all, and proper delis instinctively know this. So, when I tell a restaurant that has its shit together that I don’t want mayo on my Italian sub, they’re so thrown by the request that they think I’m actually asking FOR it. Now, this requires the guy taking my order to have shit in his fucking ears, but the takeout process is not exactly a bastion of diligent listening. So I can’t ask places to hold the mayo, but I also have to. You see my conundrum. God, I sounded like Tony Kornheiser just now. Shoot me dead.
When I laid this all out for my wife, she had a brilliant idea.
“Why don’t you just tell them that you have a mayonnaise allergy? They have to pay attention to any allergy shit or they get sued.”
So that’s what I’m gonna do. From now on, I have mayonnaise allergy. If I consume mayo, I will turn blue, my serotonin levels will crash, and I will become nauseous (this is all actually true). So please, hold the mayo on my double BMT. My life depends on it. You’ll be hearing from my counsel if you fail to comply.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Albani Original Odense Pilsner! Take it away, reader Zack:
Basically Denmark's version of PBR. Very hygge. I took a solo trip to Copenhagen for my 30th birthday a couple years ago, and I celebrated by hitting up a cool bar with my fellow youngins. All the hipsters were drinking this, so I plopped down forty kroner and watched a local band play a set on some synthesizers. I had no idea if the ambient music was good or not, which means the Danes probably thought it kicked ass. My plan was to stay up until 4 a.m. to watch my Bills play the Jets on Thursday Night Football, but I got so drunk on this swill I threw up and passed out before midnight, only to wake up to see the Jets had smoked us, 34–21. For making me miss the game, I give the beer 10/10.
I hope that beer is as dense as the label promises. I’d like a beer that you have to dig out with a spoon.
Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“We talk about organic foods a lot but very few of us like to discuss organic pharmaceuticals. Strange that we’re so fussy about one thing we put in our bodies, and yet we pay no mind to another entire subset of chemicals that we have injected DIRECTLY into them. Where are these drugs sourced from? Who grew your vaccine? Do you know? Was it made using whole ingredients, or processed and enriched ones? This is why orange pith extract is gonna be SO key to our future.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans
Tenet. I finally watched Tenet over Christmas vacation. Did I understand the central concept of it? No. Does Tenet feature Christopher Nolan’s infamously garbled sound mixing? You know it does. Did I still like the movie? FUCK YEAH I DID. The pitch for Tenet is, “What if we made a James Bond movie, but it cost 10 times as much?” I’m answering that pitch with my $20 every goddamn time.
The Bond analogy has been made elsewhere but it’s worth harping on. John David Washington is your Bond, and he’s fucking awesome. Elizabeth Debicki is the Bond girl, only in the Craig-era mold. Kenneth Branagh is the requisite shitbag villain from Russia. Time inversion is the cool gadget. There are fancy boats and hand-to-hand combat. The bad guy invites Washington onto his yacht (Bond always gets invited to stay on yachts). And there’s a lot of luxury car product placement. All the Bond hallmarks are there, plot incoherence included. I ate it up. Some movies are just fun to LOOK at, even if they have issues in other areas. Miami Vice was one such movie. This is another one. Tenet haters are of no concern to me.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“WHOA! A Methuselah rookie card!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.