I went to church because sometimes, when shit is going up in flames, it’s comforting to be in the company of your fellow man, along with whatever higher, otherworldly power you may happen to believe in. I needed some stability. Normalcy.
My kids were not jazzed about this idea as I was. They wanted to do our usual Sunday routine, in which we all stay home and they dick around on screens while I study DraftKings salaries with a fucking jeweler’s eye.
“Help me out,” I begged them. “Just do me this favor. I don’t ask much.” (NOTE: I ask a lot.)
So they begrudgingly put on halfway decent clothes and filed out the door. When we got to the church, my oldest kid wouldn’t stop pouting. We sat in the pew and she put her feet up. When we made her put her feet down, she slouched in the row. She talked when she wasn’t supposed to. I couldn’t hear a thing the pastor was saying, because I was so distracted by the fact that my own kid couldn’t sit and be respectful for one lousy hour. I felt like that worst dad on Earth. I began to rage inside. I could have punched through the sky.
After she pouted again, I ordered her downstairs and took her outside while the pastor was still delivering his sermon. Once we the church door closed, I let her have it. I jammed my finger in her chest and told her, “You let me down.” And then I burst into tears. I wasn’t planning that part. It was a spasm … a reflex beyond my physical control. I went from being angry to being grief-stricken. After the events of the past few weeks, I wouldn’t say I’m all that emotionally balanced.
The second my kid saw me break up, the attitude disappeared. She broke down, too.
“Don’t let me down again. I need you.”
“I won’t. I’m sorry.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
After she promised to do better, and we went back in. She sat up straight and we made it through the sermon, but I was drained for the rest of the day. I felt like going to bed at fucking noon. I felt like it took every last ounce of creative energy and physical strength just to hold shit together, and even then I felt like I was doing a lousy job of it. It’s a parent’s job to keep calm and lead during trying times—to provide normalcy instead of seeking it out—and I felt like I failed.
It’s five days later and I don’t feel that much different.
The Patriots play the Falcons on Sunday and, above all else, I would love to treat the game as a welcome distraction from … from all this SHIT. In terms of matchups and storylines, it’s an excellent game (although the way these playoffs have gone, that doesn’t seem to mean much). We’re gonna have friends over. I’m gonna make chili and drink as much beer as my gut can hold and tweet out limp jokes about shitty ads. I am ready to plunge headlong into the business of supreme gluttony. I am ready to be ready for some football.
I’ve lived through crisis Super Bowls, most notably back in 1991 when Whitney sang the anthem during the first Iraq War (which had the blessing of most Americans, myself included) and then in 2002 when U2 played the first Super Bowl after 9/11 (and after Operation Enduring Freedom began over in Afghanistan). In both of those instances, the Super Bowl did its job acting as the country’s wintertime July 4th. It unified. It distracted. It put a gauzy, patriotic sheen on political events that deserved a lot more vocal scrutiny. Both games also happened to be fantastic (with Bill Belichick playing a vital role in each!). It made everything feel good and normal.
That will not happen on Sunday. This game has never been bigger while the nation itself has been so unstable. I have not lived through a Super Bowl being played under such inescapably ominous circumstances. They’re gonna unfurl a big fucking flag out on that field and have bomber jets fly over the stadium and have Luke Bryan sing the anthem and what the fuck am I supposed to feel when that happens? Pride? We started off this season with Colin Kaepernick peacefully protesting the anthem, and we end it in the middle of what feels like one huge, cruel, soon-to-be-violent rebuke to that protest.
I promise you I wanna stick to sports, but I seem to lack that superpower at the moment. Right now, all I get are little breaks in the cloud cover, a precious few moments where I find myself preoccupied with some other shit before remembering, “Oh yeah, this guy is running rampant through the corridors of power.” They’re gonna play that anthem and I’m not gonna feel all groovy and hopeful inside. I’m gonna just be reminded of the 60 million or so Americans who voted for Trump and think “America” means them and no one else.
There’s more. This game is being played in Houston, home to the country’s largest immigrant population (somehow I doubt this will be reflected in the crowd at Reliant Stadium), and the game will feature one team whose three most important components (owner, coach, player) are all buddy-buddy with our current President. And the NFL’s conspicuous silence on the Muslim Travel Ban stands in stark contrast to the NBA, where coaches and players alike have comfortably voiced their opposition. Even Falcons wideout Mohamed Sanu, who is Muslim, told the press he was, “here to talk about football.”
That’s his right, of course. Sanu has got a big-ass game to play, and he just saw what happens when you dare to distract your football team by hanging out on a fucking boat or taking a video on your phone. Those who distract always end up paying. The NFL likes to shun politics but simultaneously embrace patriotism, and that’s a good racket when things are going relatively smoothly, and you can keep up the grand lie that those two things are unrelated. Look at this fucking pud try to deflect the question of the day:
Things are NOT going smoothly right now. Right now everything is deeply fucked, and to willfully ignore it is either impossible or irresponsible. The last thing I need is the NFL trotting out a showy display of allegiance both to the flag and to its own, relentless tunnel vision. The whole thing feels tone deaf at best and passive-aggressive at worst … a tacit demand that you sit there and adore all this pageantry, or else.
Again, I’m sorry about all this. The last thing I want is to sit here like some goth nihilist dipshit and lecture everyone, and douse a seemingly festive occasion in cold piss. I wanna snap out of it. I want EVERYONE to snap out of it. I want America to wake up in a fevered sweat and realize what it’s done and rush to un-fuck everything before it’s too late, if it isn’t already.
Because if that doesn’t happen, there won’t be any comfort to be had in these games, or the company you keep with your fellow fans. No solace. No community. No cherished break from reality. Nothing will be able to distract from what’s going on right outside, and how that is eating away at so many people on the inside. The wall that the NFL has so desperately tried to maintain between itself and real life will, at long last, break down for good. And I won’t be able to escape the fact that I cried outside that church not because my kid let me down, but because the rest of the world did.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I also pick the games, because I KNOW VEGAS. I’m tight with all the “sharps,” as they are known to some.
Falcons (+3) 56, Patriots 0. Allow me to compose myself for a second, for despite that lead-in there is still some genuine excitement for Sunday tucked deep within the recesses of my hysterical mind. SO HIT THE MUSIC…
Okay. Okay, now I’m feeling a little better. By all means, bludgeon me with that score prediction when I’m proven dead wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time I fucked up horribly. But sometimes, it feels good to make a prediction based on what you WANT to happen … to live for a moment in a little alternate dimension where such a hilarious outcome occurs. It’s like buying a Mega Millions ticket. I don’t expect to be right on Sunday. I’m playing to DREAM, folks. Also, the Pats can eat shit.
In other news, the Falcons have no one listed on the injury report, and they’re playing against an ageless wonder of a quarterback who has won three AFC titles since shredding his knee nearly a decade ago. What they both have in common is a long-standing belief in training regimens that emphasize flexibility over strength. And PILLS … sweet, delicious PILLS.
You may already know about Brady and his weirdo diet, along with his religious devotion to what he calls “pliability.” But he’s not alone in trying to prove that health is a learned skill. Ever since Thomas Dimitroff started running the Falcons, he’s had players go through physical tests based on something called Functional Movement Systems, which pinpoints asymmetry in player muscle groups (I know that sounds Hitler-y, but it isn’t) and attempts to correct them. Both Brady and the Falcons seem to have benefited from these detailed methods, right? That’s what I’d like to believe.
And yet… there is the matter of Atlanta spending nearly triple the average team on meds a few years back. Also, it’s not like other teams haven’t tried desperately to find new ways to bioengineer indestructible players. Chip Kelly was notorious for monitoring players like they were captured extraterrestrials, and it didn’t end up mattering. Seventeen players hit IR under his watch just last year alone.
That’s enough to make you wonder if there really is a secret edge to maintaining a healthy roster, or if the only way to survive the rigors of a 16-game car wreck is through some combination of sheer luck and injecting straight deer semen into your spine. I think I’m swaying toward the latter! You’re probably watching two teams that are better at masking injuries than they are preventing them.
None. Here’s your random crap:
•Just when I was starting to feel all warm and fuzzy about Matt Ryan, along comes this ESPN article where his old coach spins some bullshit about how he got the nickname Matty Ice:
There is another story, one that nobody would verify but has taken on urban legend qualities. Matty, the nickname his football coach gave him, does rhyme with an inexpensive alcoholic beverage preferred by cash-strapped high-schoolers.
“We were pretty well-behaved, our group, so I don’t know exactly where that came,” Hitschler said. “It wasn’t a moment where Matt Ryan is sitting drinking a Natty Ice and that’s how it came about,” McKinney said. “I can’t give credence to a story where Matt was doing something Natty Ice-related and that’s how the name got to him.”
Surrrrrrrrre you can’t, amigo. Everything I thought I knew about Matt Ryan would be SHATTERED if it turned out he likes drinking shitty beer. Just admit he’s named after it and let’s get on with things. Goodell will only suspend him for two games, max.
•I was out to dinner with my kids and my folks when my youngest son ran out of ketchup for his fries. My mom had some extra that came with her dinner, so she just passed it over to him and he dipped away.
Well now, turned out that ketchup wasn’t ketchup at all. It was Sriracha. The boy plugged his ears like fucking steam was gonna come out of them, and then cried for a solid 30 minutes in between glugs of water. It was one of those moments where you feel AWFUL, but it’s also kinda hilarious. I had to take the kid out of the restaurant and soothe him while considering taking a video for posterity. The boy is scarred for life.
•Bud has some lauded Super Bowl ad forthcoming that is ostensibly pro-immigrant, but features an immigrant who just happens to look like fucking Jeremy Davies. Oh, and he was a good immigrant because he founded a billion-dollar pisswater empire. I guarantee you that there was a meeting at Anheuser-Busch headquarters where execs were like, “Can we make sure the immigrant isn’t TOO immigranty? We can always put him right next to a black guy so that people know they BOTH went through some shit!”
•I tried kombucha—a fermented tea for Goop newsletter subscribers—for the first time this week. Here now is my full review: It’s weird. It’s like tea mixed with Zima that’s been left out for nine days. You do not require it.
•I went to an elementary school basketball game the other day and they had a fully functional scoreboard at the gym with an operator, and lemme tell you something: Being the scoreboard operator kicks ASS. I think I did it once in high school and ohhhhhhhh, oh the POWER. I can control time! I can take away points from you if I don’t like you! When this Super Bowl business is over, I’m getting out of blogging and going into scoreboard operatin’ full time. Watch me scare very small children with the buzzer. EHHHHNTTTTT!
•I’ve had enough of Belichick being credited with the strategy of “Find the other team’s best player and, like, shut them down.” That’s what EVERY team wants to do. Apart from Rex Ryan, no coach is like, “Tell you what, men: we’re gonna surprise the Falcons by NOT covering Julio Jones.” It’s not that Belichick aims to take away your best players… it’s that he CAN. That’s where he works his terrifying necromancy.
•I bought a new shirt the other that I like quite a bit, but there’s one small problem: I pit it out. A LOT. I have no idea why my pits sweat more in this shirt than others, but the second I have it on, the shirt is DRENCHED. I think if there’s a touch more room between the shirt fabric and your armpit, your armpit takes that as a cue to begin gushing fluids. I don’t know what to do. I may have to wear some kind of arm diaper under this thing. Mere deodorant isn’t doing the job.
Conference title game picks: 0-2
Super Bowl Chili Recipe
I post this every year and, as ever, you are free to modify it. I won’t come hurt you. A couple weeks ago, I made it for a party and someone brought a bunch of spicy, New Mexico chile pistachios, so I shelled the nuts and chopped them up in a coffee grinder and added them into the pot. SO MUCH DEPTH.
So feel free to make this your own. Anything that has some fat and smoke and bones in it would make a fine addition. One day I’m gonna drop a whole pig’s head into this thing, just to see what happens.
FOR THE CHILI:
2 pounds ground beef or chicken, at least 20% fat
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (ANNUAL NOTE: Shallots are the things that make restaurant food taste like restaurant food.)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tall red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can beer
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)
2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ashes from a joint (optional)
Lotta Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 glugs olive oil
FOR THE SIDES:
Frank’s hot sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Put a big pot on the stove on medium. Pour in the oil. When it’s hot, toss in the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and shallots and stir them around until soft. Toss in the ground meat. Salt and pepper the ground meat in the pot. Sautee the meat until it’s good and brown. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, beer, broth, liquid smoke, sugar, cumin, chili powder, fennel seed, joint ashes, vinegar, and Frank’s. Bring it to a simmer. Half cover the pot and leave it on low medium heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it’s ready to serve.
I should also note that Burneko and I made half-smoke chili back in the fall and it was fucking awesome. Once you’ve made chili from smoked sausages, there’s no turning back. You’ve crossed the threshold into the Fat Dimension.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Think You’re So Free,” by Shihad! Here’s Jason:
A bunch of pissed-off New Zealanders, so you’re probably fucking a sheep as you run through said brick wall, but Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke whipped them into a frothy head of rage and political indignation on this album. Then he conducted them in the studio in the video for “FVEY”. (Actually, maybe that song too because they pound the “Immigrant Song” riff about halfway to the Earth’s molten nougat core.)
I like the video, too. That dog is running to go fuck someone up. I’m staying out of its way.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
It’s hard to get pumped up about a Super Bowl against . . . Atlanta
We do not hate Atlanta nor its sports fans.
Go to hell. I want you to fall down into Hell and have Satan flay your nuts with a white-hot, spiked mace.
No. It’s not that. When it comes to Atlanta and its sports fans, we feel nothing.
DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE. Choke on your own curly pube hair.
Maybe a little pity.
You live in a cloudy netherworld populated by arrogant Sox-necks who are roundly despised by the rest of the sports world. I’d pity the lot of you if you had ANY self-awareness of any kind.
And by the way, virtually every Boston reader here is like, “No no no, we hate Shank, too! HE DOES NAWT SPEAK FAH US!” I don’t care. What have you REALLY done to stop this man? Have you stolen his typewriter? Banned him from Fenway Park? Double parked in front of his Civic to keep him from going out in public? DO BETTER.
The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl in Houston Feb. 5, and they are going to play the Atlanta Falcons, and that takes a little fun out of the experience.
If only they were playing the HATED YANKEES.
It’s thrilling to see the Patriots get a chance to carry out their frontier justice on Roger Goodell.
Oh yeah, when you want FRONTIER JUSTICE, there’s no better man to have than a quarterback who’s afraid of strawberries and questions about his Trump hat. I’m sure he’ll put a real whipping on Goodell up on that podium.
Get out more. Atlanta has an awful downtown, the world’s shittiest traffic, and no ability to handle bad weather. Yet it’s STILL a more pleasant place than fucking Boston.
This will be like the Larry Bird Celtics winning two of their championships by beating the Houston Rockets instead of the Lakers.
It’ll be like the Bruins beating the expansion St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup.
Listen, this is obvious a troll job designed specifically to kick up the dander of haters like me who always take the bait. But tell me another fanbase that indulges in this kind of shit with more regularity. YOU CANNOT. It takes years of accumulated spoils and defensiveness to take pleasure in offering the world this kind of garbage, and Shank is NOT alone in doing this. I know because I watched five seconds of that Barstool TV show.
I know this makes us greedy, but it’s real.
Drive into a pond.
This is nobody’s fault. There is no need to insult the nice folks of Atlanta, where you can drive on Peachtree Street, go to Peachtree Plaza, and order yourself a Peachtree Margarita. Atlanta is a diverse and hospitable city with friendly folks and warm temperatures. You can always get a Coke and a smile.
This man has clearly been to Atlanta even less often than I have. Southern hospitality! Blacks! A company located there! YES I DO ENJOY HEAT-LANTA, AS THE NATIVES CALL IT.
Atlanta grows professional athletes. We produce Ordways and Massarottis.
And Hernandezes. Your sports heroes are weak and shitty.
Here in Boston, we’ve had an embarrassment of riches, witnessing nine championships since the turn of the century. Between February of 2005 (Patriots in Jacksonville vs. Eagles) and June of 2011 (Bruins in Vancouver), we watched a local team from each of the four major sports win a championship. That’s a span of just six years and four months. No city will ever do that again. Certainly not poor Atlanta.
I can’t do this. I can’t finish this. Life in America is already misery enough. I won’t finish it.
Atlanta was the only franchise the 2016 Sox visited that did not present Big Papi with a token gift.
WHO FUCKING CARES, FUCK BIG PAPI. YOU PEOPLE RUINED A PERFECTLY LIKABLE MAN WITH YOUR MERE PRESENCE AND NOW BIG PAPI IS SATAN TO ME. Atlanta should have gifted him a poisoned dildo.
Now we’re going to get some real history. The final chapter of the most passionate and hate-fueled mission in the history of Boston sports will conclude in Houston Feb. 5, and the team standing in the path of the perfect ending is a team from Atlanta.
You’re gonna fucking lose.
Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Patriots (-5.5)
Schilling 2016 record: 8-10-1
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 final 2016 chopping block:
Mike McCoy – FIRED!
Rex Ryan – FIRED!
Jeff Fisher – FIRED!
Gary Kubiak – RETIRED!
Gus Bradley – FIRED!
Chip Kelly – FIRED!
Chuck Pagano – STILL THERE BUT GRIGSON IS GONE!
Once again, an NFL team has done that thing where they shitcan the GM but keep the new coach in place, which means the GM doesn’t get to pick HIS coach for another year, thereby wasting a full season (in this case, a full season of Andrew Luck, no less). Someone wake up Jim Irsay from his opium rug and tell him he’s ruining the most gifted QB to come along in a generation.
Also, the John Lynch signing in San Francisco is a masterwork. I give it until Week 3 for FIRE LYNCH signs scrawled on box lids to become a permanent fixture at that stadium.
Great Moments In Poop History
Here’s reader Ben with a story I call TURDY GRANDPA:
Growing up my dad was a pretty buttoned-up guy, never really cursing or drinking or anything fun.
But once I turned 18, he started telling me all the funny stories and jokes that he considered too blue for a child, and I realized that Dad was a pretty good storyteller. For whatever reason he never told this story until this past Christmas:
Four months before I was born, Dad got a sinus infection that he ignored to the point that the space between his brain and skull got infected. He just thought it would go away, and it continued to fester. Well, if you’ve ever taken a shit with a headache, it is not a fun feeling as the pressure of the push makes your headache much worse.
So my dad weighed his options and decided it hurt too bad to shit so he just held it…for a month.
Mom-to-be finally put her foot down and made him go to the doctor and, after a few days of tests, Dad had to have holes drilled in his head to suck out the infection. GROSS! Well, after his surgery he woke up in recovery with a tube still sucking puss out of his skull, and he told his nurse he had to shit.
He tried to get up, but with all the tubes coming out of him he was not allowed to walk to the bathroom. The nurse offered a bed pan and he said no, he wanted to squat. So she brought a five-gallon bucket with a toilet seat and some TP. She left the room to let him do his business and, in his words: “I shit you not, I filled that bucket 3/4 full with a month’s worth of shit! When the nurse came to get the bucket she said ‘Wow, that all came out of you? You did need to go!’”
I’m never going to a hospital again. I don’t care if I’m dying.
Gametime Snack of the Week
Scooby Snacks! RUH ROH RAGGY! Anyway, these are graham cracker snacks that have exactly none of the nutritional value of graham crackers and have been lovingly coated with the kind of high-tech sugar glaze that sent Clark Griswold rocketing down a sledding hill. They’re delicious. If you line a pie with crushed Scooby Snacks, your pancreas falls out.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Murree’s! From Pakistan! Official beer of the road to Dushanbe! Here’s Clay:
I lived and worked in Pakistan for two years, and sometimes, when you can’t get Carlsberg or Foster’s from your local foreign embassy commissary, you had to dip into the local piss water, Murree.
There’s nothing to say about this beer except that, when it’s frosty cold, it tastes like warm urine, and if it’s anything less than frosty cold it is literally impossible to choke down your throat without vomiting. This beer is so bad that, at times, despite my desperate need for alcohol, if all that was available was Murree, I’d just grit it out and choose sobriety.
See now, the GRITTY thing to do would be to drink it. Drinking poisoned beer is what separates the men from the boys, by God. They should put crushed glass in every bottle to toughen customers up. I MUST SURVIVE IT.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“Okay so I got this job in DC, and thing about DC is that the museums there are FREE, okay? Now you got a free museum, what do you got? Free toilet, that’s one. Free soap dispenser, that’s two. Free pamphlets for kindling and wiping your undercarriage, that’s three. And if you’re lucky enough to stow away and not get tossed, we’re talking free lodging for the night. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve spent the night inside an old Apollo capsule. If you can live in one of those tin cans in space, you can live in one on land. They only caught me one time. They got REAL sour about the sweat stains.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Arrival. I wanted an alien movie, I got a dead kid movie. What a fucking conjob. I’m watching this thing being like, “Damn, I bet it really would be like this!” And then (SPOILER) they decide at the end that the aliens gave Amy Adams the power to see into the goddamn future. You listen to me, Hollywood: I will buy spaceships landing haphazardly across the globe, and I will buy a random college professor holding the key to EVERYTHING, Langdon-style. But don’t pile on some ESP bullshit and expect me to keep riding with you.
Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote
“You haven’t bought any license to kill bookies and today I ain’t sellin’ any. So take your flunkie and dangle.”
Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.