And so am I, to chronicle the fumbles, foibles and fascism of the National Football League. I took a year off from the NFL last year, and while the protest of seven middle aged dads sent shock waves through the world of sports, all of us really missed football. We love the game, we loathe the business. But I caught a few preseason games and maybe Wallace Stegner sums it up best.
“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed and betray others … an accidental brushing of shoulders or touching of hands … hands laid on shoulders in a gesture of comfort that lies like a thief, that takes, not gives, that wants, not offers, that awakes, not pacifies. When one flesh is waiting, there is electricity in the merest contact.”
Once I dabbled, I was hooked. So I relented and returned to the fray. Should I be walking away from football for good? Yes. For certain. But every day I stay away is a day where we’re not reminded what a disgusting, reprehensible trash person Roger Goodell is.
So what happened in week one? Here, in no discernible order, are one or two (or 80) thoughts on the young season.
1) Jaguars second year wideout D.J. Chark is an eel. Dude reminds me of an eel. I’m not sure he’s a vertebrate. He had 174 yards receiving all last year. Sunday he had 146.
The Foles-to-Chark touchdown… pic.twitter.com/FsjPT5yF52— SportsLine (@SportsLine) September 8, 2019
2) Mike Vrabel’s mustache is the place angels have sex.
3) Patrick Mahomes missed a wide open Travis Kelce on third down in the endzone because he tried a no-look pass. He’s a phenom, the reigning MVP, and may end up being a Hall of Famer, but whatever THAT is? Whatever makes someone showboat and take four points off the board? The Grandpa Simpson in me would take a hard look at that.
4) I thought the Texans deserved the win Monday night. What a game, though. Beautiful football on both sides. But also some fantastic insight here:
Patrick Mahomes misses Travis Kelce in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 40-26 win on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/SQEsPkycGK— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) September 9, 2019
2017, at New England.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) September 10, 2019
2017, at Seattle.
2018, at Philadelphia.
2019, at New Orleans.
Deshaun Watson had his team in the lead with a minute left in the fourth quarter in all four games.
Houston lost all four games because of prevent defense.
These coaches don’t deserve Deshaun.
That’s tough to take if you’re a Deshaun Watson fan (And I really, really am).
5) Raiders fans chanting Fuck AB is something the whole world can rally around. The NFL is somehow more fun when the Raiders are winning. (There are lots and lots of places to read about Antonio Brown or ‘A.B.’ but for the blissfully uninitiated, he intentionally misbehaved his way out of Oakland to circumvent NFL rules and go play for the Patriots. And now every fan in Oakland has righteously turned on him.)
This feels like a chant that may stick for a long, long time.
Update: since I started writing this, a civil lawsuit has been filed against Brown for rape, so there’s potentially a more sinister edge to this.
6) It’s only week one, so you can’t overreact, but the Steelers may actually be in trouble on offense. When you looked at that huddle that used to have a marquee receiver and running back, you wondered what weapon they could unleash against the Patriots, and it didn’t seem like there was one. And I’m not sure JuJu can beat man coverage consistently, though he’s a god in zone. The Steelers are a blue chip franchise though, so I’m sure they’ll get it right.
7) Tanking in Miami: it’s supposed to not look like tanking that much. But I don’t think the Dolphins meant to suck that hard. I think the Ravens are just that good.
8) Everyone worried about the Pats and Chiefs in the AFC should be equally worried about the Ravens. They’ll pull everyone downstairs with run after run after run and then go upstairs over you.
9) Over the last few years I’ve stopped rooting for quarterbacks that I imagine are closet white supremacists. Soooooooo, pretty much all of them. But some are truly worse than others. If you know football at all, you probably can guess which ones give me the willies. (Golly!)
10) Freddie Kitchens is to Boss Hog as Baker Mayfield is to Roscoe P. Coltrane.
11) I should feel badly for the Browns, but mostly I can’t believe how much they ate shit and how much I enjoyed it. Hype is a hell of a drug.
12) The NFC North is legit up for grabs.
13) The best receiver on the Browns this week - to my eye, at least - was Jarvis Landry. Goddamn that dude has velvety hands. Hopefully ODB will heal up and catch up.
14) I should like Adam Thielen more than I do. He has that Ed McCafree frame, but he sometimes feels like the anti-Stephon Diggs. I mean, you love any undrafted guy that becomes a superstar. That’s amazing no matter how you cut it. But any player that does that weaksauce pop the traps/most muscular crab flex move as a touchdown dance can get fucked forever and ever.
15) Dante Pettis is the Cleveland Browns of receivers. So much hype, so little delivery.
16) I love players who make you tackle them. See Vernon Davis & Josh Gordon. I’m not gonna fall down unless you make me. Absolutely gorgeous.
Vernon Davis, man! What a beast. I remember when Mike Singletary called him out in San Francisco and now he’s the consummate lunchpail professional. Add to that that his grandfather passed away before the game to give him the extra old man strength he showed on that play. Powerful stuff.
And here’s Josh Gordon being the destroyer of worlds. I’ve loved him for years and years and I pray he stays healthy because he’s beautiful to watch.
17) I counted at least twice when Texans running back Carlos Hyde could have run out of bounds and instead put a lick on a DB, just to put the fear of god in them. I cheer every time. People say he’s washed up but I love how he plays.
18) Rams QB Jared Goff got paid 110 million dollars guaranteed for…whatever that was. Let that sink in. This world is fucking rigged for storks. Feel my resentment, absurdly tall people.
19) Lots of players have locs coming out the back of their helmets. Some of them perfectly capture the players’ personality, notably:
Cameron Jordan - playful, colorful, a little all over the place but there’s a plan.
Derrick Henry - one thick-ass tube. Unbreakable.
& Donte Jackson - wild and swishy and kind of magically everywhere at once
20) I love Derrick Henry and had him for years on my fantasy team when he sucked balls. But he may have a very reserved personality. When he scores he just stands there and everyone else just runs up and punches him and ass-slaps him and crowns him. It’s not ‘act like you been there before’ it’s ‘act like you know where you are.’
21) Every time Ben Roethlisberger throws an incomplete pass I feel people in Pennsyltucky sighing the way people do before they give up on everything.
22) Donte Moncreif. Um. Like, catch something. 11 targets. 3 receptions. 7 Yards.
23) Alvin Kamara is the best player in the NFL. He is liquid metal. He gets through gaps in ways that defy physics. They should scan his genome for alien DNA. He’s unholy.
I have been watching Alvin Kamara for years now but I am still surprised at how elusive he is. pic.twitter.com/hnskQv2YlB— Jordan Dajani (@JordanDajani) September 10, 2019
24) Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (featured in the header image) took a lot of flak over his pre-NFL football career for being a “running back” and not a quarterback, because of his tendency to run the ball from the quarterback position. When he was an NFL prospect several coaches spoke about converting him. In his first season opener as the starter, he had five (5!) touchdown passes against Miami and commented: ‘not bad for a running back.’ That’s gold. Good for him. Hope he continues to play with that chip on his shoulder.
25) Bums me out that Ozzie Newsome isn’t the GM of the Ravens anymore. This feels like the team he always wanted. With Flacco behind center there always felt like there was an artificial cap. The team could only be so good. With Lamar Jackson it somehow feels like the sky is the limit, similar to Patrick Mahomes. You can’t play Miami every week, obviously, but I think we’re going to see true magic from Jackson and the Ravens this year.
26) Chargers running back Austin Ekeler must dislike Melvin Gordon because he indirectly took money out of his pocket this week. What a standout performance by Ek. If I was Melvin Gordon’s agent, I’d have him reporting tout suite. The jig is up.
27) Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore will get it right. Nerves. He’s getting to be the type of shifty that’s uncoverable.
28) I hope the Jets don’t part ways with Norwegian undrafted free agent kicker Kaare Vedvik.
I love the international flavor of having more foreign born players. A time will come - long after we’re gone, when the NFL will be like the NHL and NBA and feature a huge amount of studs from other countries.
*this protest null and void if they sign Korean-born kicker Younghoe Koo.
Update: Since I started writing this, Vedvik has been released and replaced by a ‘Murican kicker.
29) When that happens, you’ll have entire countries rooting for a single NFL team that features their native son. Everyone in Norway was about to be a Jets fan! Stupid Jets.
30) One of my friends is a Marvin Lewis defender, bless his lil heart, but after seeing what Zac Taylor turned John Ross into after one game? Damn! For a minute John Ross was looking like the LaQuon Treadwell of the Kevin Whites. Now? The sky’s the limit. Man. Zac Taylor, you belong.
Want a video all of John Ross's targets from yesterday's breakout performance? pic.twitter.com/YRmwxZI0fV— JG (@JoeGoodberry) September 9, 2019
31) I have to admit I was giddy to see how the Bengals hung with the Seahawks. For the last decade or so, there was a universal acceptance about the ho-hum ceiling for the Bengals and it never looked like that. It’s exhilarating. I don’t know what this team is capable of but it’s resoundingly more than it has been for the last decade or so. Granted, it’s only week one and they could spend the rest of the year shitting the proverbial bed, but upon first blush: it’s promising.
32) The Jets and Bills might make the AFC East a bit more interesting this year. Not enough to knock off the Patriots, but more fun nonetheless.
33) Everyone expected Tyler Lockett to fill that Doug Baldwin hole, but lo and behold, it was somehow D.K. Metcalf. And also, running back Chris Carson who had 6 catches on 7 targets. Who saw that coming? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Seattle’s game plan might ‘work’ but a Brian Schottenheimer offense is what Hutts use to put good people to death when they can’t find a rancor pit.
34) Fantasy owners who started Lockett were rewarded with an impossible TD for their patience. Ditto Trey Quinn owners.
35) Kenny Stills gets traded to the Texans from the Dolphins and kneels for the anthem in his first game in Houston. Albert Wilson, left on the Dolphins, kneels as well. #heroes
36) Shady McCoy had more pep in his step than I’ve seen in a long time. Amazing what a reprieve from the snow belt will do for a player.
37) I couldn’t tell if the Vikings D line was great or the Falcons O-line was terrible, but I’m thinking…both.
38) I once predicted that Matty Ice and Joe Flacco would never win the big one. I was half right. I worry for Falcons fans this season. But they also blew in week one last year and managed to right the ship, so.
39) I love Joe Flacco as a person, especially because he looks (and acts) like the least quarterbacky alpha persona ever. But as a quarterback, now on the Broncos, you wish it looked like more than a paycheck to him. Look at this psyche-up image they aired before the game last night. This is supposed to strike fear in the hearts of your enemies. Flacco looks like an apprentice necromancer you interrupted in the middle of a mutton sandwich.
Fucking Phillip Lindsay looks like an elf who steals sports equipment from grade schools. No wonder the Broncs lost. Only Emmanuel Sanders knows how to look badass.
40) Courtland Sutton 8 targets, 7 grabs. We all have the dick measuring offseason with Emmanuel Sanders to thank for that. Sutty wants the crown in Denver. Sanders still wants to be the #1. That’s a good thing. In the words of Brian Cox’s elder statesman Roy in HBO’s ‘Succession’: sometimes it is a dick measuring contest.
41) Every draft pundit and fantasy analyst groaned when Marquise Brown went to the Ravens, but there was a twinkle in John Harbaugh’s eye. Brown’s first two professional receptions went for touchdowns and he ended the day with four catches for 147 yards on five targets. Hollwood indeed. He’s probably like “what’s so hard about this?”
42) He’s not alone. A banner start for rookie wide receivers across the league. Are they growing them faster or are more pro-style offenses in the NCAA producing a more game ready player? Not sure. But Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf & Preston Williams all balled out.
43) Paging Mecole Hardman and Parris Campbell! In the words of Ne-Yo from ‘World of Dance’ EARN YO SPOT!
44) The only wasteland less inhabited, typically, than breakout rookie wide receivers is breakout rookie tight ends. But T. J. Hockenson is going to single handedly change that. He looks like a young Gronk. Good lord what a force.
Here's all six of T.J. Hockenson's catches from yesterday, it's safe to say Detroit got a good one; 131 yards and a touchdown in his debut.— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) September 9, 2019
I'm so glad I was wrong about this pick.
(Via @Lions) pic.twitter.com/SNKqY6YYwE
45) Breaks your heart to see Derrius Guice injure his other knee after spending a full year rehabbing a torn ACL. His 2018 preseason looked like he’d be a game changer.
46) Not as many violins playing for Tyreek Hill. Though he was not charged by police, the stench of child abuser will likely haunt him. (He suffered a potentially dangerous collar bone dislocation and looks to be out for half the season or more.)
Update: According to latest reports, he’s out 4-6 weeks.
47) Speaking of terrible parents…Adrian Peterson was inactive for the game for Washington, which caused a rift between players and the coaching staff. The coaches think he’s a pain in the ass with too high an opinion of himself. The players agree, but his lifetime statistics put him in rarefied air and they feel he should be treated with more respect.
48) It’s gonna be ice cold in Washington when they ask him to give it his all for them this coming week.
49) I don’t know if there’s a better story this week than 6th round draft pick Gardner Minshew taking the reins of an NFL team. This Jaguar entered the game for a hurt Nick Foles, and proceeded to go 22 for 25. The game isn’t too big for him, and while they didn’t ask him to press the offense and air it out, his accuracy and poise were impressive. Love this kid. Hope he kills it.
Also, someone on Reddit called him ‘Uncle Rico’ (from Napoleon Dynamite) and now I can’t unsee it. He’s a little off kilter.
Yes, Gardner Minshew also does exercise bands in the locker room wearing only a jock strap, shades, and a headband. Sometimes naked, too. Sometimes Steve Spurrier even walks in on him doing it https://t.co/e2ZFwk3aOT pic.twitter.com/ir63VnKPZJ— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) September 10, 2019
And here’s him rejecting some poor kid and cackling about it. Total Uncle Rico move.
That’s hysterical. Meet your new Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback, ladies and gents. Jason Mendoza approved for sure.
50) Something about Patrick Mahomes’ drawl is disconcerting to me. It’s like having a Ferrari that idles like a Volkswagen.
51) The announcers going a long way to call the Chiefs offense the ‘Legion of Zoom’. Meh.
52) New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio must have buyer’s remorse. That Bears D he graduated from last year is/was clinical. The Broncos D? Not so much.
53) How long before Chuck Pagano ruins the Bears D?
54) Leonard Fournette dropped weight in the offseason and looks very much like a player who dropped weight in the offseason. Here’s hoping those balsa wood ankles last, now, because he looks great.
55) To everyone in fantasy who drafted Darwin Thompson: you can safely drop Darwin Thompson. Side note: the second, I mean the very second you drop him, both Damien Williams and Leseasn McCoy will both spontaneously combust, rendering Darwin the most important player in the history of fantasy football. If you hold him, they’ll both be amazing and stay healthy all year. It’s your call.
56) Matt Nagy bold coaching choice of the week: third down and three, let’s put a wide receiver in the backfield and have him fall down. Aaaaaaand punt.
57) Goddamn it’s fun to see Desean Jackson back in Philadelphia. And to watch him weave his web of long-bomb scores is even better. Beautiful. This is everything everyone hoped for.
58) The MVP of week one may be the patchwork, ramshackle Washington offensive line, who played great. Half of them were driving FedEx trucks or eating pommes frites and watching promos for the new Kelly Clarkson talk show last week and this week they gave Case Keenum time to make a game of it. Bravo.
59) Nothing puts asses in seats more than a team without a true #1 receiver. In real or fantasy.
60) Jordan Reed, I think I speak for CTE experts everywhere when I suggest you hang ‘em up. Seven serious concussions (that we know of?) You’re a great player, but think of your brain, friend. Live to play Jeopardy another day.
61) There isn’t a lot to like about Miami, but…actually that’s it. No but. There’s not a lot to like about Miami. I was going to say that when he was with the Patriots, coach Brian Flores was widely regarded as the best person in the building. Then again, how low is the bar on that, honestly?
62) Zay Jones had only Kelvin Benjamin in 2017 to look up to in Buffalo. Now hopefully he’ll see the work John Brown is doing and go OH!
63) Marcus Mariota got the win but I still say he’ll never deliver on his promise. Something just isn’t right there. Ryan Tannehill looked much, much better than him in the preseason.
64) It’s going to take me a minute to think of a Mike Pettine coached unit as ‘good’.
65) Dion Lewis, where’s your head? Your focus seemed waaaay off yesterday.
66) I was going to post a bunch of Christian McCaffrey clips here, but when I went to twitter I found this and really liked it. Somehow a hype video inspired this woman to tickle the ivories and I’m all for it.
Christian McCaffrey and that Panthers hype video encouraged me to dust off my keys. pic.twitter.com/0gUHuBx4Gh— Vashti Hurt (@vashtihurt) September 7, 2019
67) But seriously, is there a more dominant force in the league than Christian McCaffrey? Dear god what a monster.
Christian McCaffrey said weight room 🤐 pic.twitter.com/PbyZi5kMVq— Football Is Life (@FootbaIl_Tweets) September 8, 2019
68) This is the funniest tweet about Cam. I actually laughed out loud.
Cam looks like an old woman in a fable who puts a curse on a young prince in order to teach him a lesson about empathy pic.twitter.com/qehb0dAtoW— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 8, 2019
69) Kirk Cousins might be a bit of a Luna Lovegood. When Washington signed Alex Smith last year after Cousins’ departure, the players said “finally, a real quarterback!” I don’t know what that means, but he got the first fully guaranteed contract for a QB to go to Minnesota and sling it. And I guess that looks like 8 completions for 98 yards. And two touchdowns. And a fumble. I don’t know. Best 27.5 million dollar base salary for the year ever spent!
Here’s an old TD dance of his from last year:
Kirk Cousins did this little dance in the endzone and I'm sure the internet will have fun with it. pic.twitter.com/iYNYQM2zvb— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 14, 2018
Aaaaaand here’s the one from Sunday:
2018 Kirk Cousins: I have the whitest dance moves.— The Minnesota Cheesehead (@MrCarterAllan) September 8, 2019
2019: Kirk Cousins: Hold my beer. pic.twitter.com/Esb31UMSQ0
70) When Dalvin Cook is as electric as he is, who needs passing? (Stay healthy, Dalvin Cook.)
71) The Jets shiny helmets are awesome in a Christmas ornament kind of way.
72) This “Pose with the Pros” feature at AT&T Stadium is pretty damn cool.
73) The upcoming Chiefs vs Raiders on Sunday will be the final game - ever - played on a baseball field. Thank goodness. Because it’s awful.
74) Top three best games of the week: #1: Texans vs Saints. #2: Colts vs Chargers. #3: Bengals vs Seahawks.
75) Top three most boring games of the week: #1: Packers vs Bears. #2: Falcons vs Vikings. #3: Steelers vs Patriots (Honorable mention: Broncos vs Raiders)
76) To all the people who were worried that Le’Veon Bell had lost a step after spending a full year jetskiing and not getting his ass beat every Sunday: yeaahhhhhhhh, he didn’t.
77) Josh Allen is the Cam Newton of the north. Sometimes they throw a magnificent ball, sometimes they look like a junkie trying to escape from a dementor only they can see.
78) Everybody but the center. You can’t make this stuff up.
79) The Cowboys looked really good, and people want to attribute that to Dak Prescott, but I’m not as inclined as others to crown him yet. I remember him throwing an alarming amount of dirtballs a couple of years ago. It’s the type of thing that felt head-based, not situation based. But time will tell. The Kellen Moore offense looks fantastic, but he’s asking for upwards of thirty five million a year (his first ask was 40!) and something about that feels wrong to me.
80) Michael Bennett isn’t your average person. So it wasn’t surprising that instead of stating his alma mater, he yelled WAKANDA FOREVER in his player intro.
Michael Bennet saying “Wakanda Forever” during his player introduction is the best thing ever 😂🙅🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/Bx4lKM80tJ— Vic Jaymes McDowell 🏁 (@vicjaymes) September 9, 2019
That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head after catching this weekend’s games. Feel free to add anything I missed to the comments section and thanks for making it this far!
Header Image Source: Getty Images