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Your Pop-Culture Guide to the NFL Week 1: No Ray Rice Edition

By Lord Castleton | TV | September 8, 2014 |

By Lord Castleton | TV | September 8, 2014 |

The first weekend of football has come and gone and only Monday night football remains to separate the men from the boys. There’s something truly magical about being a fan on the opening weekend of the year. Every year I go into the season knowing that my team is Andy Dufresne at the bank…


…and after one weekend I know they’re Brooksie in the apartment.


And I’m not even rooting for Tony Romo.

But let’s start where all things start, a blinding flash of light. And by that I mean the radiance of DangeRuss and the bosom of the Seattle Seahawks. With a new-age methodology of coaching (like a no yelling policy and a no swearing policy) that took them to the promised land last year, many wondered if they would become softened in the various treasure baths of NFL success.


But no! The quarterback with the most daunting sobriquet led his team over the mighty Green Bay Packers with considerable ease. In fact, Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw a pass to the right side of the field all night.


It’s far too early to say that the Seahawks are going to repeat as NFL champions even though they’re considerably better than last year on both sides of the ball, so I’ll merely end with an applicable metaphor. I can’t say for sure whether or not they’ll end up on the ocean, but I’m betting you’ll see Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.


We jump ahead to this weekend’s mad mix of matchups. Was there one over-arching theme to the weekend? Well, kicking, maybe.

In Baltimore, Cincy kicker Mike Nugent booted five field goals in the first half. In New Jersey, Maurice Jones Drew demonstrated a lovely fumbling bicycle kick.


In Miami, Lamar Miller did the same thing. Fumbling, but kicking his shoe off instead of the ball. (Watch how long it takes for the shoe to land. It was thiiiiis close to achieving escape velocity).


And at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown invited punter Spencer Lanning to enter the dragon.


But all that kicking is just a shameless shout out to Pajiba’s sprawling European fan base, where the NFL is catching fire at a breakneck pace. All of the NFL games at Wembley sell out in like four minutes every season. Which leads me to one more prognostication. You can hang your hat on this, folks:


But is there more to this weekend than just the fact that Andrew Luck is a huge futbal fan?


I suppose there is. Let’s start in Philadelphia, where the future London Jaguars showed up like Gus with a boxcutter …


… only to find out that “Chip Kelly” is Irish for “Tio Salamanca.”


Stupid Jags. Be somebody.

The AFC North is always the AFC North, every team is Jake La Motta on the ropes.


These teams just trade body blows over and over again. It’s going to be what it is every year: a war of attrition. It’s all stiff arms and meat. Like this play from the Raven’s Steve Smith:


This should be the recruiting poster for the entire division. “Wanna get fucking tossed around by people? Join the AFC North. Guaranteed spinal contusions for the first fifteen applicants!”

Though in every melee, there’s always some finesse, and in that department it’s tough to argue against Adriel Jeremiah Green. Look at the way he dominates Ravens safety Darian Stewart at the end of the play. That’s straight up swishy hockey moves, but on feet.


In Miami, Mr. Handsome went in with a beard…


…and came out with a loss. Even his own team got after him.


You think the Philly fan base was traumatized? At least they came out with a W.

Tennessee outworked Kansas City in a yawner and a Cam Newton-free Carolina team rolled out the most boring offense in the league once again to Cornetto their way to a win over the identity-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers and new head coach Lovie Smith. It doesn’t have to be pretty if it works.


Lovie’s old team, the Chicago Bears, have a despondent fan base of their own after losing in overtime to the lowly Buffalo Bills, courtesy of yet another great stiff arm.

Smokin Jay doesn’t give a fuck, people. Never has, never will.


Another overtime loss was handed to the New Orleans Saints courtesy of the guy I made fun of last week, Matt Ryan. His stat line: 448 yards passing, 15 yards rushing and 3 TD’s. That’s like half a season for your average Minnesota Vikings quarterback. But why bother paying a decent QB when you have this guy?


No, that’s not Purple Jesus, that’s Cordarrelle Patterson. I wish he pronounced his name the way it looks, instead of how he does. “Cordarrelle? Oh that’s a lovely region in the south of France known for its country cuisine and hand made ropes.” Nope. He pronounces it with the inflection on the DAR, which sounds like, well, Darrell. Sigh.


Still. Dude can run. The Vikes trounced the Rams, 34-6. Good guy Mike Zimmer gets his first win as a head coach.

Speaking of a dude who can run, J.J. Watt. A man this girthy shouldn’t be this fast. He is the unadulterated Thunderlips of the league.


His defensive bookend, 2014 first overall draft pick Jadaveon Clowney was injured after having a late night with a Kreemorian Fangor Beast. We expect him to shut his eyes for about a month and wake up in the Pro Bowl with J.J. Watt.

And that brings us to the Sunday Night Game! I waited with baited breath to see which country singin’, three-color-haired, southern belle was gonna sing me into Sunday Night this year! The intranets tell me it was Carrie Underwood, in what appears to be this season’s latest Tinkerbell garb.


Boy wasn’t I not undisappointed!

They billed this matchup as the “War of 1812,” you remember, the one where the British burned our Capitol building? Good times. This was a play on numbers though.


See how that works? What you’re getting here is the old vs the new. Indy’s old QB vs their new one. If you like white people, these are two of the best. Sincerely. I love them both. So it was great to see this game become a nail-biter to the end, because it started out very one-sided.

The Denver football Broncos were able to hold on long enough to win, but not before septuagenarian Peyton Manning scowled a bit.


It’s not football if Peyton’s not pissed about something.

I don’t have much to say about that game, really. If you had Julius Thomas on your fantasy team, you were likely feeling like this:


I think it’s important to go old school BBC Office in any article that includes the future London Jaguars.

So what was it all about, really? What does it mean to spend an entire Sunday in America shooshing your children so you can hear the punchline to the latest Verizon Xfinity commercial? How important is it that I know that Matthew McConaughey is somehow now believable enough to drive a Lincoln SUV?

Come on sheeple! He’s holding Chiwetel’s Oscar! Did anyone actually go to the movies last year? I’m not saying he wasn’t good-ish in Dallas Buyers Club, I’m just saying weight loss went a loooooong way in this case.

But you get what you pay for, and as much as I enjoyed the hell out of True Detective, Rust Cohle is never going away. Never. In the old days, McConaughey’s move was taking his shirt off. Now it’s this slow, breathy faux-intelligent folksy drawl. Do it yourself. Do Rust Cohle now, in your cubicle. Say “that’s God’s stapler right there” or “I suppose I’m fixin’ for a little coffee if it’ll have me.” You’ll hate yourself.

But we’re supposed to be talking football. So I’ll get back to the main thing I learned: that I do not understand other human beings. Because what I came away with on Sunday night, more than anything, is that the new season of The Voice begins on September 22nd.


And I don’t understand how these people respect themselves. I don’t understand how society as a whole elevates them to a position of prominence. How they become pitchmen for products and how we rely on them to validate our worthless, meaningless existences. Oh look at me! I’m on team Adam!


Jesus, how could you link your identity to a team like that? How can you fall victim to idolatry and commercialism! How can you wait, patiently until showtime, when you sink mercifully into the broadcast of your favorite team competing? Where some people are “better” than others? Ugh. No thank you. It all disgusts me.

I’m going back to my comfort zone. A place of safety and security where I don’t have to worry about any of that hogwash.

A place called the NFL.

Lord Castleton writes about fantasy football on the Ugly Fours.