What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Let’s be honest. In the American sports universe, the NFL is the proverbial 800-pouind gorilla. If you doubt that, we will remind you that later this week, ESPN will grind to a halt for three days of Roger Goodell reading names off a 3×5 index card.
Part of what makes the NFL so popular is it can provide a fantastic source of entertainment. Think about it. No matter how menial or utterly fucking pointless your job is, you can pop an NFL game on your television and WHAM! You are instantly transformed into a strapping lumberjack, who after a long day of splitting lumber in the forest can settle into a manly dinner of a large chunk of some kind of dead animal all while enjoying an NFL broadcast. After dinner, the NFL enjoyment continues with a toss of a flannel shirt, a stroke of your massive facial hair, and a cold beer on you man-couch.
OK, so before you try to get all Monty Python on the lumberjack thing, last week the NFL released its schedule for the 2015 season. Not only was it another example of how the NFL commands media attention, but it also gives us a shining example of how the same NFL which can dominate the sports world by providing top-notch sport-o-tainment can also give us a steaming, maggot-infested shit-heap.
Welcome to the cable-rape job known as Thursday Night Football.
Kommissar Goodell would have you believe this as all maximizing the NFL’s television exposure, but J-Dub has called him out on that before. This year’s slate of pre-Friday football is yet another example of everything J-Dub said, but this year’s there’s a new wrinkle which is even more bullshit. What Thursday Night Football is really all about getting every NFL franchise on national television at least once. Of course, that means putting some terrible games on, but the NFL figures if they put them on Thursday, you will watch no matter how retina-flaming they are. Just to hedge their bets, the NFL has taken to making sure these games only involve divisional “rivals.” See, by calling these games “rivalries,” it makes them seem less like the total craptacular they really are. If you doubt that, consider our six selected examples.
1) Redskins v. Giants: Thursday, September 12th
We all know Meehan is the resident Giants fan here, but surprisingly it is J-Dub who has a “tramp-stamp” tattoo of Kerry Collins. Not even he knows why. Despite all that, while this may be the first of our examples of the nefarious nature of Thursday Night football, it might contain the worst of the lies the NFL sells these days. Can we all join hands and say this together: It is time to stop acting as if Robert Griffin III still has the potential to be a star in this league. That’s more over than Bruce Jenner’s days of standing up to pee.
The only way we are ever going to see those days again is to set the Wayback Machine for 2012 before the Ravens turned RGIII’s ACL into rice pudding. Not to mention, even as marshmallowy as the Giants are, they couldn’t own the Redskins more if they were the chained-up Rhames from “Pulp Fiction.” Since 1932, they lead 97-65 – a commanding measure when compared to other rivalries in NFL history. When you break it down by the decades, it looks even worse…
As you can see, the only decades where Washington had the edge were the 70s and 80s. In the 80s when the Joe Gibbs Redskins won two Super Bowls, they only led the head-to-head combat by one win…one single fucking win. Granted, the 80s were a better decade for the Redskins, but this was also a decade in which Huey Lewis became a household name, Def Leppard invented the one-armed drummer, and teenage boys actually discussed which one of the Go-Go’s they wanted to fuck. It was a dark and barbarous era entirely, which is why we would like to move on to the other decade in which the Redskins held the advantage…the 1970s.
During this decade, the New York Giants were a football team which in their best moments were a were a Johnny Carson joke…”How bad are they…?” When in their worst moments, they were like William F. Buckley at an open-mike night after four martinis. If you think PBS-quality Nelson Rockefeller jokes are funny, then the 70s Giants were for you. Every once in a while, the Giants could go from the buttoned-up not-funny-ness of Buckley to the goofy, piano-playing stylings of Mark Russell, but no matter what they did, they were to quality football what PBS was to the Def Comedy Jam. In fact, from 1964 to 1978, the New York Giants only had two winning seasons and never made the playoffs.
Franchise hero Frank Gifford came to the end of his playing days, since at the time he didn’t know his broadcasting career was going to get bigger than Al Roker’s gastric-bypass band. That meant he really thought his days of getting anal sex in Ramada Inns from stewardesses were over. That also meant Gifford distanced himself from the team in the 70s, which was actually pretty understandable given what was happening at the time.
None of the former stars would affiliate with the team since they had made the wildly unpopular decision in 1973 and 1974 to play their home games at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Even through all that, they were still able to beat the Redskins seven times, a pretty respectable feat when you consider that was nearly one-third of their total of 23 wins between 1973-1979. Not to mention, one of J-Dub’s all-time favorite football moments as a Philadelphia Eagles fan occurs at the expense of the 1970’s New York Giants…four fucking words…”Miracle at the Meadowlands.”
But that is about as relevant as Britt McHenry’s anger management counselor. Anybody who was witness to the Monday Night Football game between these two teams last year in which the Giants went into FedEx Field and won 45-14 knows while the Giants may be bad, the Redskins are downright shitty. . The G-Men would end up sweeping the season series, while the Redskins would finish with a 4-12 record. The Giants didn’t do much better, but they own this rivalry and will for years to come. In other words, there’s no way this game will be entertaining to a national audience. You could get better ratings with live coverage of dental procedures.
2) Bengals v. Browns: Thursday, November 5th
There’s really only one period in time where this “rivalry” was interesting. That was back in the 1980s when both of these teams didn’t suck. Even then, it didn’t fucking matter because while the Bengals made it two Super Bowls, they couldn’t beat the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers. The Browns lost consecutive AFC Championship games to the Denver Broncos on various bullshit like “The Drive” and “The Fumble;” and in turn, the Broncos couldn’t beat (insert NFC team here) in the Super Bowl. What really matters here is this is the perfect example of something being interesting and irrelevant simultaneously.
Sure, Bengals and Browns fans can point to the days when their games wouldn’t have made this list, but they still wouldn’t have mattered because in those days the entirety of the AFC didn’t matter. In fact, from 1985 to 1997 the NFC won every single Super Bowl. During this period, NBC had the rights to the AFC and every match-up within that conference.
Now, you have to stop and think what this meant. NBC was pumping out two AFC games every Sunday afternoon, and this was a conference in which the New York Jets were perennially 8-8 and a play-off contender. This is how the Bengals made it to two Super Bowls, the latter of which caused everybody in the greater Cincinnati area to buy a John Taylor voodoo doll.
This is how the Browns took guys like Bernie Kosar, Webster Slaughter, Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Mack, and Earnest Byner all the way to those crushing losses at the hands of John Elway and the Broncos. Even then, a Bengals / Browns game was still like watching concrete harden. For those of us who lived through that time, we can tell you first-hand that the NFC games on CBS were far too much of the 49ers beating the Falcons by 40 points, so we were left with 3-3 sloth-fests between the Bengals and Browns that smelled like a bag of burning buttholes blistering through our television screens.
Now, let’s flash forward almost thirty years later: The Bengals have been to four straight playoff games under the guidance of Andy Dalton. In those four appearances, he’s lost every single one of them while chucking six picks. By now, he’s just a ginger version of Tony Romo; a guy who looks good in November, but is never going to clear that January hurdle. Having said that, at least the Bengals know who the fuck their “skill” players are, which absolutely can’t be said about the Browns.
Cleveland is firmly stuck in an identity crisis which somehow they’ve made into a never-ending cycle. Are they going to become a running team? Will Josh Gordon come back and change the answer to that question? If he does, can he stop smoking the ganja for long enough to finally allow Cleveland to hang with the other three teams in that division? Not to mention, what the hell is going on with Johnny Manziel? Will he be able to stay sober? At this point, does it even matter? They’re the fucking Cleveland Browns, for Christ’s sake.
All these questions might be good for a Thursday night drama about bisexual high school vampires on the CW, but this is professional football. While a lot of this piece is based on what makes for good television, both of these teams are in their own ways too much of a mess for their own good. Until they get all this shit fixed, there’s no way they should be a “rivalry” we care about.
3) Bills v. Jets: Thursday, November 12th Last year, J-Dub accused Roger Goodell of trying to turn us all into New York Jets fans. After all, what other reason could there be to give three nationally-televised games to such a shitty team. Well, the Jets have three more this year, which might be more games than they can win in 2015. This one is easily the worst of the three.
People are taking the following day off work so they can stay up late to enjoy the “Sexy Rexy” Bowl. Or maybe not. Being on opposite ends of the state, New York City and Buffalo represent respectively the mouth and anus of the Empire State, and Rex Ryan has had his feet in both of them. By the time this game is played, these two teams may have combined for at least 6 wins, and that’s just one of the reasons this one is a total yawner.
Another one is the fact that the Bills have won 58 of these match-ups, the Jets have won 50; but the Bills have won 2 of the last 3. The fact the Jets won at all recently is a minor miracle considering they could have started an infected goat at quarterback and got better results than from any of the other slag-heaps they trotted out there last year. We could bag on the New York Jets for hours, but that’s like going down to the old-folks home and loosening all the bolts on the wheelchairs.
The Bills quarterback situation isn’t much better. How fucking depressing is it to be a Bills fan who is as we speak actually wishing Kyle Orton hadn’t retired? Their current QB race between Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel is like watching one of those Boy Scout Soap-Box Derbies where everybody has square wheels. Not to mention, attempting to improve your passing game by adding Percy Harvin is like putting sour milk back in the refrigerator hoping it gets better.
At least Rex Ryan has a long track record of being a “quarterback whisperer”…yeah, in the same way Godzilla is a advocate for world peace. One of the only truly entertaining things about Rex Ryan is his reptilian penchant for stomping through just about anything in front of him. That’s why he makes awesome defenses, but watching a Rex Ryan offense is like watching a glacier bearing down on an Eskimo fishing village, only to miss the village entirely and break up into cocktail-sized ice cubes.
Once Ryan was hired by the ghost of Ralph Wilson back on January 12th, the fate of the Bills was pretty much sealed. At the time, it seemed to be the most damning head-coaching hire until the Chicago Bears hired John Fox four days later. There were points last year where Buffalo showed signs of promise, and to their credit they did finish above .500 for the first time in a decade, but they still have a depth chart full of more question marks than Bruce Jenner’s health insurance form.
Speaking of coaching, that’s really the only other thing we need to mention about the Jets would be the fact that Ryan’s vacated spot has been filled by Todd Bowles, who did a fantastic job as Arizona’s defensive coordinator last year. Well, except for those last three games which skull-fucked their whole season. But having said that, Bowles’ hiring didn’t address any of the Jets’ problem areas, and knowing what we know now about their recent drafting history, it’s as likely as a Floyd Mayweather Nobel Peace Prize the Jets will be a team which averages 27 points a game. See, that’s the Jets real problem; they have as much chance of scoring as the captain of the high-school chess club at a cheerleader convention.
What we can’t understand is why do teams who struggle offensively fire their coach only to hire a guy who is a defensive expert? Remind you of anybody? Oh, right…the Buffalo Bills when they hired Rex Ryan (and yes, there’s a reason we are already writing about the Ryan era in Buffalo in the past tense). This is about as “Must-See TV” as an all “Alan Thicke” channel.
4) Titans v. Jaguars: Thursday, November 19th
All truth being told, we should be super-excited about the Tennessee Titans and the direction in which they are headed. We’ve both been fans of this franchise since they were the Houston Oilers, because Meehan always loved Warren Moon and J-Dub was an Earl Campbell fan. But since the end of the Steve McNair era in Nashville, there has been precious little to get excited about. The Titans posted an awful 2-14 record last season, and their first round draft pick from 2011 officially swirled down the crapper when Jake Locker retired.
So what sounds good to us about all that?
Because this is rock-bottom, there’s nowhere to go bu t up from here. They didn’t finish bad enough in 2014 to be in the position Tampa is in…you know, to make the Jamies Winston mistake…there’s no where for the Titans to go but up. They were ranked last in the AFC in just about every statistical category last year, and it’s hard to imagine they won’t be better, especially when you consider that they’re conveniently located in the AFC South next to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have done almost everything a professional sports franchise can do wrong since they last failed to qualify for the postseason in 2007.
But like it or not, these two teams have to play each other twice a year. There’s no getting around it. So you’d think that those two games would get buried on CBS regional coverage at 1PM on a Sunday, right?
Wrong. This game being on in prime-time is a perfect example of the “everybody kid gets a trophy” mentality that our sad society has adopted over the past two decades. The NFL wants you to think it’s only fair that all 32 teams get a national broadcast. So, they put all 32 teams on a rotation to be the only game on television at a given time, we’re supposed to sit here and act like it’s OK.
Well, it’s not. It’s fucking bullshit. Nobody outside of Jacksonville and most of the people in it don’t want to see this team no matter who they’re playing. You would think the NFL would be interested in putting top-tier teams on Thursdays so they would get people to pony up for the NFL Network. But this game says exactly the opposite; it says the NFL is getting tired of hearing the play-off contenders bitch about the short week Thursday games create. That’s why you will get many more Tampa Bay v. St Louis and less Green Bay v. Chicago (ever though you’re going to get that, and the NFL will still find a way to fuck that up as well…just see the next section).
5) Bears v. Packers: Thursday, November 26th
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey of a game like this. Yeah, we know this is the oldest and most-celebrated rivalry in the NFL, but let’s be honest. By this time in the season,the Packers will have a three-game lead in this sorry-ass division, and the Bears will be well into the part of the season where they are already talking about next season. You know that’s exactly what’s going to happen, so before you sharpen your crayon to write us some sort of hate-mail about how shitty this “rivalry” actually is for those of us not Packers or Bears fans, consider the following.
While we admit the NFL’s most storied rivalry, right now it might as well be Bruce Jenner’s penis…floating uselessly in a jar somewhere, waiting for some Chinese guy to buy it in the black market so he can make an aphrodisiac out of it. Yeah, the last part of that joke still holds up because nobody can fuck things like the Bears can.
Don’t let the Bears slight 93-91 advantage fool you, this era does not bode well for Chicago in this series. The one game in recent history in which the Bears manned up and played anything resembling NFL-quality football was a game in which the Packers played Seneca Wallace at quarterback. In other words, Green Bay punted on this one before they even got off the team bus, and yet Bears fans lapped up that victory like it was the surviving dribbles of George Halas’ spuzz.
Since we both live near the greater Chicago area, we have shitloads of who are hardcore Bears fans, and we’d do anything for them and their families short of perpetuating this idea the Bears are a perennial playoff contender. It’s not going to happen. Just because they almost made it to the Super Bowl a few years back doesn’t mean that this senseless optimism is justified. Doubt that? Go ask Green Bay how much “almost” making it to the Super Bowl is worth.
The bottom line is the Chicago Bears are not going to win a Super Bowl this year or any other in which Virginia McCaskey is still alive and holds the controlling interest in that team. There’s a simple reason for that. She is so far behind the times she still thinks Red Grange is alive and thinks Walter Payton is “just another typical Colored” because he hasn’t shown up for work lately.
But as far as this “rivalry” with the Packers is concerned, right now this series is more lop-sided than Anna Nicole Smith’s third set of breast implants. There’s no way it’s worth a prime-time game, if for no other reason than America just doesn’t want to see anymore Jay Cutler, whose career has become this country’s longest running whoopee-cushion gag. You know that Virginia McCaskey probably has slaves dedicated to nothing else but keeping Jay Cutler’s litter box clean.
See, Bears’ fans…that’s why you don’t want to write us telling what assholes we are. We even have smarter ways than you do for calling Jay Cutler a pussy, so just quit while you are ahead.
6) Chargers v. Raiders: Thursday, December 24th
Maybe…just maybe God gives us all a Christmas present just before this game kicks-off in the form of the long-predicted earthquake that reduces California to little more than West Virginia with a coastline. Honestly, we were shocked when we didn’t find this game as that late-night part of the first Monday Night double-header; you know the one nobody east of Kansas City gives a frog’s watertight ass about.
Even then, it is only the aforementioned stupidity about each team having at least one national broadcast which gets the Raiders on television. It’s been an eternity since the Raiders have been relevant on any level. That means there’s absolutely no reason to waste a prime-time spot on this garbage franchise, but worse yet…this isn’t just some random, quasi-meaningless Thursday. It’s Christmas Fucking Eve; a holiday where almost everyone who lives in a country with clean drinking water has the next day off.
If J-Dub is being his typical “raised Catholic” self, he’s celebrating the birth of Jesus by getting drunk, and you know he wants to be entertained before Mrs. J-Dub has to spend yet another holiday morning steam cleaning the piss out of his easy chair.
Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, the point behind holiday sports is simple. It gives you something over which you can make small-talk with all of your useless asshole relatives and in-laws while you are stuck under the same roof with them. How the fuck can you do that with a Raiders game? Even the Raiders’ coaches don’t know the names of more than three of these guys.
The Bottom Line: It is important to note this “everybody gets a shot” thing happens only on the network the NFL owns. That’s because there is no fucking way the people at Fox would stand for being told they have to put the Jaguars on at 4 p.m. on a Sunday.
That’s the answer to the question about why doesn’t the shit happening on Thursday nights ever happen on a Monday. Let’s say you want to change the question slightly. So why does ESPN get their pick of the litter from the NFL, but CBS and the NFL Network don’t? That’s easy. ESPN, NBC, and Fox all have done wonders for the NFL on television, while CBS has done nothing but fuck up everything they’ve touched concerning football coverage. The “CBS’ coverage is shit” answer has been being trumpeted by Meehan for years, complete with his rants about the “Zapruder-esque” quality of their feeds.
As for the league’s own network being the dumping ground for bad football…well, where else are they going to do it? We’ve already mentioned that there’s no way in hell the “big” networks would take getting Jaguars v. Raiders as a mandated national game. The only way the NFL can pull that off is to schedule that as the only game available as a particular time, and to carry it on their own network.
However, when the NFL stoops to calling these dreadful matches “rivalries,” that is frankly just hitting a new low. Rivalries are and always will be a huge part of the NFL, and they always will be. But as the game evolves, so must the schedule and the broadcast strategies which accompany it. If we’re going to keep doing this Thursday thing, it’s high time that we understand some of these “rivalries” are not indicative of the quality product the NFL has been giving us in the past.
Not everybody can be the Brady-Belichick Patriots or the Walsh-Montana 49ers. For each one of those “marquee” franchises, you’re going to get an Oakland and a Jacksonville. That’s the way it works, and you aren’t going to fix that just by putting them on television. But thanks to Kommissar Goodell, that’s what we are going to get.
Get used to it America. As long as Thursday Night football exists in the “everybody gets a shot” NFL, this is what you’re going to get. The idea that every NFL team should get alt least one national broadcast needs to be taken into one of those dark alley in Cuba where you can get it aborted for fifty bucks.