I’ve been much quieter about the NFL this season than in years past because I’m boycotting the NFL this year.
The reasons are varied and complicated, but I could have chosen any number of hills to die on where despising the NFL is concerned. For me it came down to my fantasy football draft. I had watched a bunch of preseason games and was doing a half-boycott. I cancelled my NFL Sunday Ticket and Gamepass. I wasn’t going to buy any NFL products whatsoever, including not attending any games, even if the tickets were given to me.
But I was still planning to watch the games.
My home team, at the very least.
And I noticed that, after the Kaep taking a knee thing (the outrage about and subsequent blackballing are what really put me over the edge) the two black coaches in my fantasy league were very clear that they were NOT watching this season. They would draft. They would coach all season and try to win, but they wouldn’t actually tune in to the games.
And as I watched their resolve I kind of felt a bit ashamed about my half-protest. And it seemed to me that this is how it goes in America, much of the time:
“I’ll suffer a little bit, but I’m not going to put myself out about an issue that doesn’t seem to directly impact me.
But my friends in the Black community are feeling it. They’re on high alert.
A fellow American citizen calmly and peacefully took a knee during a song, and the vitriol and malevolence and hostility that he (and like-minded people who support his peaceful position) had to endure since then has been…illuminating. It has re-opened a wound and, in conjunction with the election of a deeply troubled and polarizing man, ushered in an era of jingoism and divisiveness.
And I wanted no part of it.
But I was still going to watch football, because…uh…I love football. Hello. It’s awesome.
So there I was, kind of qualifying my half-protest around the financial concept of not directly giving the NFL money and the emptiness of my position was palpable. I looked at these two guys, people I love like family, and I was like fuck it. I want to be an ally, even if this is confusing and possibly not even the right issue to dig in on (none of us really love Colin Kaepernick, per se, for different reasons, but he is a symbol of a movement at this point), so I gave up watching the games. Even my home team.
And that’s been tough.
I really, really miss it.
My friends kind of shifted their attention to college football a bit, so at least that helped them scratch that itch, but I’m not a college football guy, so for me it was just a pigskin wasteland.
We did lay out a few agreed-upon guidelines. We weren’t watching, but in order to manage our fantasy football teams, we needed some way to evaluate players.
(Note: why not just quit fantasy football as part of this? Well, that idea occurred to some of us, but we’ve been doing this since 1999 and it’s the one time every year that we all fly in to a place, rent a huge house and hang out together. It’s more than just a league, it’s like a brotherhood at this point. And we were like: why should we let something insidious and corrupt like Roger Goodell and the NFL sully something that for us is supportive and wholesome and fun? So that’s why.)
So, things like podcasts are okay, as long as they’re not NFL produced. Some of the guys watch like sportscenter and see game clips on ESPN. Clips on youTube are okay as long as they’re from a third party. Generally, if you need to see some play or some highlights, you can get to it without paying the NFL.
So we picked out teams and went our separate ways. I came in last last year, and so I lost my right to name my franchise this season. My ever-thoughtful league mates, led by Dustin and Seth and Dan Hamamura, kindly named my 2017 team for me: “GOODELL KNOWS BEST”.
You should have seen me bristle in the room when they chose that name for me. They were hooting and hollering in victory. It was terrible. And great.
I hate them all, obvs.
And since then I’ve been listening to podcasts like a maniac. I’ve been poring over stats like a lunatic. I’ve watched trends and wide-netted players and tried to manage my team without actually seeing football. It’s a whole new thing for me. I used to have my own website and podcast dedicated to fantasy football and my golden rule was simple:
BELIEVE YOUR EYES.
Sooooooo…how do you manage a team when you can’t do that anymore?
Well, you start to learn to trust some analysts. You start to find ‘professionals’ whom you can generally listen to or who kind of come at it the same way you do. You start to believe their eyes a little. And you place much more weight on the very small number of highlight clips you catch on various message boards and fantasy football sites. And that helps you paint some form of picture you can work with.
Here, then, are my thoughts on the NFL season so far, brought to you by a man who abhors the NFL commissioner but manages a team named for him. From a man who thinks that seeing something with our own eyes is the only way to succeed in fantasy football, and yet has only seen a total of maybe two or three minutes of actual gametime all season in the form of six second clips. From a man who hates the NFL, but loves football.
Go grab a coffee, if you want. This is gonna take a while.
1) Ben McAdoo, Head Coach of the Giants, sucks out loud.
On Tuesday, McAdoo, the coach of the New York Giants, decided to bench Eli Manning. Two time Super Bowl Winner and Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning. So that’s why people hate him. Because Eli has a 200+ game streak (13+ years long!) of starts in the NFL and this is ending that, kind of artificially. It’s douchey as hell. Under McAdoo’s leadership, the New York Giants have never scored more than 30 points in a game. That’s a travesty. And in an effort to save his hide, (and under the auspices of seeing what they have on the depth chart during a ‘lost season’), Eli Manning is getting scapegoated. Here’s Eli, a loveable goober who single-handedly smote the mighty Patriots not once but twice on the world’s biggest stage, trying to hold back tears while responding to reporters about his benching.
But that’s not only why I don’t like McAdoo. I don’t like him because when he got the head coaching job he looked like this:
Aaaaaand now he looks like this:
And that’s basically this:
And those assholes are gag-in-your-mouth hard to look at. Now, is it just an accident that Benjamin McAdoo stumbled on the Gordon Gekko hairdo coincidentally, and while coaching in New York, didn’t make the connection between his hair and the unprincipled trash puppets sullying the West Wing with Axe body spray? Sure! I’m sure that’s it. And it’s probably unfair of me to loathe him because of it, but if I start wearing a Hitler ‘stache, people are going to make a visual connection. Either McAdoo doesn’t know or doesn’t care and either option is repellent to me.
2) John Mara, owner of the Giants, is a cock
You could write a book about how and why John Mara is a cock, but the most recent reason is that when his grease-headed, incompetent ‘coach’ arbitrarily benched his two-time Super Bowl winning, face-of-the-franchise quarterback, the owner was somehow — magically — not in the building that day.
Mara didn’t come to the building the day they bench Eli Manning ? That’s all i need to know about him. https://t.co/utDhSRmPy1— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) November 29, 2017
Mara has since expressed ‘regrets’ and said they didn’t expect Eli to reject their offer of starting and getting yanked at halftime. Gutless. He still let it happen. He’s the owner, he could change the decision with the snap of his fingers. McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese will almost certainly be fired at the end of the season anyway and everyone knows it. Eli Manning is the Giants. No one cares about McAdoo.
Incidentally, the day after his demotion, what was Eli Manning doing first thing in the morning?
@BobPapa_NFL & I just took a break from our radio show to grab a coffee to see only 2 @Giants players in the cafeteria. It was Eli Manning sitting next to Davis Webb mentoring him #Respect #Character #Selfless— David Diehl (@davediehl66) November 29, 2017
Disgraceful what the Giants have done. Just disgraceful. We should have known exactly what a penis John Mara is when all-time class act Tom Coughlin gave his farewell address as coach of the Giants and then walked RIGHT PAST John Mara without shaking his hand.
It’s things like this that make me think I could never, ever imagine rooting for the Giants for any reason. And then you see something like this, Jason Pierre-Paul, actually doing a sack dance taught to him by a special fan. Warms your damn heart.
3) I like to have players on my fantasy team from teams that look like they’re actually going to score points. I came out of the draft with a lot of Raiders and Eagles and Patriots. As the season went on, I went all in on Texans and Saints. As we head toward the fantasy playoffs, I’m leaning more on Falcons and Chargers.
4) Having superstars on your fantasy football team is like hitting the lottery. All of a sudden everyone is your pal and wants to chat you up. Because they’re hoping they can offer you a trade and steal that player from you. This season I have a player named Alvin Kamara. He’s a rookie. He’s also pretty good. Right now he’s the second best running back in fantasy football, trailing the best running back. Le’veon Bell, by four points. The thing is: Alvin Kamara has 181 less touches than Le’veon Bell. This is what he did with his first run of the game last weekend:
Catch Alvin Kamara if you can!— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 26, 2017
(you can't) pic.twitter.com/ZJ3h3zMHJH
He makes it look so damn effortless.
Kamara has only 77 carries on the year, but for 546 yards. That’s 7.1 yards per carry. On the season.
5) I also had a player on my team named Deshaun Watson. He was also a rookie. He was also amazing. But sadly, he flew too close to the sun and tore his ACL.
Which is like when a huge plot moment happens offscreen. I mean, if you’re going to have some grisly, season ending calamity, AT LEAST LET ME SEE IT. Sheesh.
I kid. It’s just awful in every way, but I woke up that morning with a superstar on my team and by nightfall he was just gone. Vanished.
I was running around with my kids all day and was the last person in my fantasy league to know. It was shite. I was just about to roll with him and trade Drew Brees away for some superstar talent when it happened, too.
That said, Deshaun Watson is electric. Losing him was the worst thing that happened to the NFL this season. In a year when all the numbers are down in the NFL and the country is being ‘run’ by inarticulate liars, you want some feel good stories. Deshaun Watson was the best so far. He’s super talented.
(Watch this compilation on mute! I’m trying to find non-NFL videos, so it’s slim pickings.)
6) There have been a lot of major injuries…
…but when you lose a quarterback, it changes everything. The Texans were dominating teams and then they lost Watson on offense and both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on defense. Those are three of the best players in the league. Now they suck. It’s awful. The Giants lost their top three wide receivers in the same game, two of them for the whole season. They also suck. When the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers, it changed an entire division of football. The Packers went from a predator to a joke. They suck as well. Teams that suck are not good for football. The NFL has to really change some rules to make quarterbacks safer. I know old school football fans will hate that, but you can’t be losing quarterbacks. They’re too important to the sport.
7) Speaking of teams that suck, The Cleveland Browns have won one game in two seasons under the coaching tenure of Hue Jackson. I never know what to think of Hue Jackson, though he strikes me as a little crazy. Big C crazy. I remember when he was interim coach of the Raiders when Al Davis, the owner died. And he somehow tried to seize control of the entire franchise and was like “I’m in charge.” He was fired shortly thereafter.
Some people hate him.
No one talks about it because he has friends in big media. But I'm not friends with him so IDGAF. Worst coaching job since I've been alive.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 28, 2017
Some people merely don’t like him. I don’t know anyone who thinks he’s the answer. The Browns just cannot get it done. And I think that defense is better than it gets credit for, especially rookie superstar Myles Garrett, who was the first overall pick of this years draft. Here’s a video of all 270 pounds of him running a 40 yard dash.
8) If the season ended today, The Browns would have the first overall and seventh overall picks. You know Hue Jackson is licking his chops at the possibility of that day. We’ll see if he gets to stay around for it. Most people think it’s a longshot, but you never know.
9) The Jets have a wide receiver who is absolutely on fire this season. His name is Robby Anderson. I saw him play last year but he’s taken his game to a whole new level this year. I’ve never known what he looks like, but I saw a picture this season.
That looks like a guy you buy looseys off of outside a Blimpie. But he’s a season changer in fantasy football.
10) I listen to a ton of football related podcasts and every single one is full of shit. Some of them know some things, and there are entire sites devoted to the metrics of which ‘expert’ gets it right, but even the best are around half. Even the top guys are a coin flip. And they get calls wrong ALL THE TIME. Big calls. They’ll tell you to absolutely start a player “HE’S MY START OF THE WEEK!” And the player will be truly awful. And they just roll right along. No one cares. The best podcasts are actually entertaining while being informative. The best podcasts have guys who disagree and explain why. That way you can hear their reasoning and figure out how YOU feel about the player. That way it’s you making a decision based on a take that you agree with rather than you blindly playing someone because some ‘expert’ is flipping a coin for you.
11) The Tampa Bay Bucs. What a disappointment. I enjoyed the person Jameis Winston was on HBO’s Hard Knocks, but man, has this been a forgettable season for him. Can he read a defense pre-snap? I honestly don’t know. But worse than that is this pre-game speech, which completes the trifecta of being objectively insane, downright unsanitary, and fails to psyche anyone up. Maybe he’s taken one too many hits to the head with the snake. Yeesh.
12) His top receiver, Mike Evans, is my Wide Receiver 1. I drafted him because I thought this was the year he was going to take the next step and become the undisputed best receiver in the league. He has yet to have a game with 100 yards receiving. I can’t tell you why, since I haven’t seen him play this season, but the word on the street is that he’s not always giving 100% effort on every play. That stinks. Especially because he has a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows tattoo on his arm, so how bad can he be?
13) There aren’t 32 people on the planet who can play quarterback at a satisfactory level. That’s lousy. I’ve said this for years and years. There aren’t really 32 teams competing at the beginning of the season. There are about 20 or so with a professional level quarterback and then 12 or so who are just there. Those teams never have a prayer. Their only hope is to suck enough to get a quarterback the next season.
14) Wake up!
15) Tough to ever like a Raven, but I love me some Jonathan Williams. Look at his face after messing with future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs:
16) Pro tip: to find the analysts who are actually tuned in properly to the season, always watch fantasy football shows or listen to podcasts AFTER the first few games of the season. Then you know what actually happened, and when you hear some asshat asserting a wrong position like it’s the word of god, you’ll know that he’s an asshat and not an oracle.
17) Matthew Berry’s The Fantasy Show is the most brazenly millennial thing I’ve ever seen. At least, I think that’s what it is. Tough to say. He has this co-host called Secret Squirrel who is all inked up and not your typical buttoned-up type A sports guy. The whole thing is kind of ridiculous and refreshing. Some people may tire of the dad jokes and awful gags, but that’s part of the charm. I fast forwarded through some of it, but I root for Berry. People hate him, I know. I just think he’s living every fantasy football coach’s dream life, and I’m thrilled for him.
18) The only thing the Jaguars need is a legit quarterback. That defense is nasty. The run game is deep. Marquise Lee looks like a different player this year and they still have Allen Robinson under contract for next year. I’m a big Dede Westbrook booster. Tom Coughlin’s presence in the office there has entirely re-focussed that organization. By the time they become the London Jaguars they’ll be loaded for bear.
19) I believe in Kyle Shanahan, Coach of the Niners. Give him time to build a team and he’s going to turn around the NFC West. My favorite thing from him this season is when he catches this godawful overthrow from his then quarterback (since released) and immediately spikes it behind him in disgust.
I was always kind of against him and Brian Schottenheimer because their dads were NFL coaches and they both seemed like the ultimate nepotism hires. But I think Kyle Shanahan is the real deal, actually. I started believing in Shanahan when he was offensive coordinator of the Browns. He had orchestrated this fantastic drive with basically high school quality athletes and they were inside the five with a first down and that’s when interfering windbag head coach Mike Pettine decided to jump into the playcall.
An interesting sideline exchange between Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan.— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) January 12, 2017
Pettine: "I say we run it."
Shanahan: *The look* pic.twitter.com/qYEK5xQB2z
That’s the look Shanahan gives him. And I know that look. I’ve been that guy where you do something great and then your boss comes in to mark their territory and basically fuck everything up.
Pettine eventually fired Shanahan, or more specifically “accepted his resignation” because Shanahan was stuck in an organization with imbeciles.
From there, Shanahan became offensive coordinator of the Falcons, orchestrating sentient stick figure Matt Ryan’s MVP season and breaking offensive records all the way to the Super Bowl. Now that he has his own team, he can finally do what needs to be done, without less-talented coaches keeping their foot on his head. At the trading deadline, he grabbed Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. I love that move. The Niners are a team on the rise. There’s a chance, I’ll admit, that Shanahan is an actual asshole. But I think he knows football.
20) Here’s Jimmy Garoppolo with his shirt off. Tell me you don’t want to go there. That boy has a hawk face! A HAWK’S face!
Here’s the reason every single team should have been after Garoppolo: he’s the first quarterback not named Tom Brady that Bill Belichick has desperately tried to keep. There have been a dozen buffoons behind Brady over the years, but Belichick held on to Garoppolo until the very last second, costing him a full tier in the draft (he took a 2nd round pick from the Niners when he could have had a first rounder, rumor has it, from another team during the offseason). Garoppolo makes his first start this weekend as a Forty Niner. He’s a great kid and I’ll be pulling for him.
21) Ndamukong Suh is one of those guys I’d never have in my locker room if I was a head coach. Just too much of the wrong vibe. Too big a personality. And probably one who would turn the defense sort of away from the organization. I really hate what the Dolphins are these days, but I hate even more how people are calling for Adam Gase to be fired. Dude lost his QB on the eve of the season, had to pull the human personification of a shoulder shrug off the broadcasting bench and roll him out as his starter. Smokin’ Jay Cutler is another player I’d never have on my football team if I was an NFL head coach. Just too much of the wrong vibe. Too distracting of a personality. And probably one who would turn the offense sort of away from the organization.
I’ll never understand how this creature is a pro athlete.
And both Suh and Cutler are on the Dolphins.
Yuuuuuuck. Poor Dolphins fans.
Thinking you have Ryan Tannehill as your starter and ending up with Jay Cutler’s Fishneck is like marrying Regina King and waking up with a feral rat.
The only quarterback in the league I like less than Jay Cutty is Philip Rivers.
22) When Trump got elected my friends would try to cheer me up by saying that “At least Philip Rivers has never won a Super Bowl.” I distrust people who never swear. Philip Rivers says “Golly” all the time. That makes me want to drown him. GOLLY!
He’s the woooooooorst. The. Worst. Here’s Rivers, angry about a play call, yelling at the MIC in his helmet. Except there ISN’T A MIC IN HIS HELMET. It’s one way from coach to player. My god he’s inbred.
I don’t know what he’s saying but there are probably some pretty strong “gosh”-es and maybe a “cockadoody” or two, like Kathy Bates in Misery.
Luckily for the world, he’s procreated seven times. He has SEVEN KIDS. That poor woman. My god. She must really enjoy a man who talks NOT dirty. Here’s a family photo:
But seriously. Seven kids. I have four and every day is a fever dream of puke and bookbags.
23) That said, I tried to trade Dustin for him two days ago because I love where the Chargers are as a team right now, and I think they’re going to storm back and win the AFC West. I love me some Austin Ekeler. At his pro day he ran a 4.43 40, had a 40” vertical leap, had a 10’8” broad jump and a 6.85 second three cone drill. He gets dinged by analysts because he’s shorter, but I love how he plays Darren Sproles-ish. And he’s a great stash because Melvin Gordon has never finished a season without being on Injured Reserve.
I also love Joey Bosa on that Chargers D.
He has a great motor, and I love defensive players who look like they’re having fun terrorizing offenses. Reminds me of my boy Chris Long.
Follow Chris Long on Twitter. Forever and ever. He’s the football player we all want.
24) Dustin’s team name in our league is MEINERTZHAGEN’S HAVERSACK. How do you just not love that canned-bread-eatin’ bumpkin?
25) I can’t post what Seth’s team is named. Because it’s profane. Like him.
26) Dan’s team is named Hawaiian Punch. Because he’s from Hawaii and he packs a punch.
27) My team, to reiterate, is called “Goodell Knows Best” which was chosen FOR ME over “I love Goodell” and “The Fightin’ Goodells.” For those of you who don’t know, I loathe the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, because I feel that he’s — as the French say — a fucking unscrupulous, deceitful, talking ballsack.
Wearing his name on my team gives me hives. Before the last election, he was the worst person in the world. Now he has lots of company.
28) Here’s the 2017 Goodell Knows Best Roster, as we near the playoffs: (12 team league, full point PPR)
29) I don’t like Tight Ends who dance. I like my Tight Ends serious. Tight Ends who dance are a trigger for me. Here are two tight ends who disgust me with their dancing. The first is Travis Kelce, who is legitimately a great player, but I hate this.
Now that boy can DANCE! But should he?
No, he should not.
I want my Tight Ends to be like The Dane in ‘Miller’s Crossing’. Tight lipped and terrifying.
Here’s the endzone dance from Evan Engram, a wide receiver in Tight End’s clothing who couldn’t block a child on a tricycle if his life depended on it. This is after he catches his first NFL touchdown and he PUSHES AWAY HIS TEAMMATES who have the indecency to interrupt his dance, and starts his dance over again. NO. I say again. NO.
And he finished there with a nice crotch grab which cost his team 15 yards and cost him a $12,154 fine from the NFL. Players make so much money that we shrug it off, but 12 G’s and change gets you a 2017 Nissan Versa! Is that worth cupping your junk over?
Now I know every kid dreams of his first NFL touchdown, but pushing your teammates away so you can do your little dance? GET OFF MY LAWN. Somewhere, Ben Coates is shaking his head.
CONTINUE TO PART II
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