NFL Week 3: Best Friends In Love

NFL Week 3: Best Friends In Love

Hey look! Reader mail!

Dear J.J.:

In reading your prior column, in which you went a very respectable 2-1, I was struck by your assertion that the Kareem Hunts of the world outnumber the Tyreek Hills, perhaps both inside and outside of the game of football. Do you have any examples of such athletes? So far as I can tell by way of sports media, the only sociopolitical delineation amongst players is those who stand for the National Anthem and those who do not. Also since this is a totally real letter or maybe email being sent to a Ruthless Reviews writer for possible consumption by the Ruthless readership, I should note that I am a very attractive person of whatever gender you/they prefer and I am turned on by good writing, intelligent film criticism, gambling, and counter cultural individualism.

K.M.

Louisville, KY

Hey thanks for the feedback. As a matter of fact, there are several forward-thinking athletes who stand as a credit to the game. Unfortunately, the NFL would apparently cease to exist if they did not run commercials featuring either Aaron Rodgers’ dog or Peyton Manning being a dick to Brad Paisley every two minutes. For that reason, you rarely hear about them.

Chris Long, a defensive lineman for the Eagles, said that the nazi marches held in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia back in August inspired him and his wife to donate his first six game checks of the season in order to set up two seven-year middle school scholarships to kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia. Long, whose charity also donates to projects involving homelessness and clean water, said “[w]e want these scholarships to be reflective of what the ‘C-ville’ community is really about – supporting one another, social equality and building up those in our community who need it.”

J.J. Watt’s Hurricane relief efforts were lauded by every Sunday morning pregame show, as well they should have been, due to both his visibility and the sheer magnitude of the money he raised. However, injured Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin also wound up donating $10,000 worth of dog food, equaling 500 50-pound bags, as part of a Michigan Stuff-a-Semi event to get supplies to Houston after the storm. Based upon his tweets and the information in that link, it seems like they eventually added a second truck (which also contained clothes, toiletries, diapers, and other essentials) to the effort because of the overwhelming response he generated.

Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett will in all likelihood run for office someday. He publicly supported Bernie Sanders, pledged all of his sponsorship income to groups that work with children and minority women, promised half of his jersey income to inner-city garden projects, and attended a Black Lives Matter rally in support of Chareena Lyles. He also backed out of a government-sponsored trip to Israel upon realizing that he was being used in a public relations gambit, citing his support of the Palestinian struggle. If his protests against police misconduct did not lead to his recent encounter with Las Vegas police after the Mayweather-McGregor fight, then it was one hell of a coincidence.

We’ve broached the subject of Brandon Marshall before, but his public reveal of his struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder should still be commended for the courage it took. Not just going public with the diagnosis, which surely cost him some money, but also using his status as someone who made it through the storm to address locker room bullying after the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito mess, and setting up a real, functioning charitable foundation to raise money for mental health issues.

The intelligent, politically-astute athlete is hardly a new phenomenon, by the way. A lot of people know the anecdote about Richard Nixon lusting after the popularity he saw Vince Lombardi enjoy and thus considering him as a Vice Presidential running mate, only to learn that he was a Democrat. The asides are better than the punchline though; Lombardi was not just a Democrat, he was very progressive on the topic of race, both because he worked closely with Black athletes and because as a dark-skinned first-generation Italian, he had been picked on growing up. Better yet, he was stratospherically gay-positive for the late sixties, due in large part to having a gay brother.

Fifteen years and fifty pounds ago, I flirted with a career in professional sports (not football), and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a “locker room is the most diverse place on Earth,” I didn’t count many Flick Webbs in waiting, either. Idolatry was never my thing, but I did emulate some of those guys, and had always figured that they were the coolest kids in school, so to speak. I was an anarcho-punk at heart, but figured I had to downplay that to fit in, which meant flipping through XXL Magazine for fashion ideas and listening to a lot of New Orleans bounce rap (again, it was a while ago). So one thing that struck me was what geeks the majority of them turned out to be. Some of these guys were literally household names and they were listening to Poison and Def Leppard in 1998! A lot of them were absolutely terrified of talking to women, even if – or perhaps because – those women wanted to meet them just because they had seen them on TV. And of course some were racists and some were meatheads and some were really into animal rights or Megadeth or the Cincinnati Reds or Jesus and the vast majority of them just wanted to make money to give to their kids or their parents or both. Just like pretty much everyone else.

People generally don’t fit well into boxes, be they based upon race, economic upbringing, or what they do for a living. So an analyst who pretends to know “how the guys in the locker room really feel about Kaepernick” is really just projecting, and should be given the same credibility as a stripper that tells you that she’s clean, “but every other girl in the bar is a coke-dealing whore.” Then as now, if it beats its wife in front of a security camera it leads, so they will run the Andre Johnson-Cortland Finnegan fight, on a loop, every season, until the end of time, and forget to mention that to this day Johnson takes Child Protective Services kids on a Christmas shopping spree in Houston every year. More Hunts than Hills, I promise.

Alright then, enough of that. We’re not here to combat stereotypes, we’re here to propagate them, at least as they regard degenerate gamblers! So with that in mind, I hope that last weeks 2-1 was enough of an agonist to make our slow start a distant memory. The add-on picks I posted on Twitter were more or less a wash, and even though I picked up a unit and a half on San Diego State on Saturday night, I couldn’t enjoy the sights of the game as I was blind with rage over Adelaide Byrds scorecard in the Canelo-GGG fight. I’m not sure what I ever did to that woman or her dopey husband, but I’m pretty sure that after the fight they made passionate love, poured two glasses of wine, and just laughed and laughed about how they had once again collectively screwed my wife out of a new kitchen. So let’s have us a hot week. Baby needs one of those weird looking skinny dishwashers, apparently.

Raiders -3 at Washington

A less mature version of me would have read the Washington Post article wherein Derek Carr repeatedly said that he and Khalil Mack are “best friends” that “love one another”and been a total jerk about it. Did they braid bracelets for one another? Get matching BFF tattoos? Khalil and Derek, sitting in a tree…

But the way they’ve played thus far, I don’t care if they do the chicken noodle soup together during the anthem, though if I’m being honest Derek seems more the Shimmy type. They are that good. They are also crazy young, with all of four players on their 53-man roster over the age of 30, one of whom is the long snapper and another of whom is Marshawn Lynch. And in all seriousness, I think its awesome that they see the anthem as a chance to illustrate racial unity. I just wish the sentiment extended to their parking lot.

The combined score of the first two Raiders games was 71-36. Conversely, Washington is 1-1 after a seven-point win over the Rams last week, but the win was not the story. Rob Kelley missed the second half with a rib cartilage injury, and so far they’ve been cagey about whether or not he’s healthy enough to play. Jordan Reed and Josh Norman also joined him in the trainer’s room before the end of the game. Worse yet, Kirk Cousins’ best friend isn’t even a linebacker, he’s a folk musician. I don’t know too many folk musicians, but those I do know are very poor tacklers. Too much lament, I suppose. Two units or more.

Chiefs -3 at Chargers

I saw a good portion of the Chargers loss on Sunday, up to and including the wide-right kick that sealed it for Miami. I’m not sure what was more telling; the fact that the Chargers could not sell out a 27,000 seat soccer stadium for their first official home game, or the game audio, which made it clear that at least half of the people there showed up to root for the Dolphins. I suppose that in time Philip Rivers could single-handedly solve the attendance problem if he continues to procreate at a superhuman rate, but there is no guarantee that even they will root for a team that averages 54 rushing yards per game.

The Chiefs looked suspect in the first half on Sunday, but came through with 14 points in the fourth quarter to cover. Kareem Hunt was merely “human” with 13 rushes for 81 yards and three catches for another 28, good for 9.33 yards per reception. That bandwagon we spoke of last week? I’m still on it, and you best be too. KC to cover.

Ravens -4 at Jaguars

Alas, as we suspected, Jags Fever is no longer gripping the nation, as Wesley Woodyard proved to be its Jonas Salk and the rest of the Titans defense showed Blip Buttles the floor three times while he went 20-34 with one score and two INTs. Goat says I’m the Biff Battles of Ruthless writers, though I am hoping he just means that my drinking has given me a somewhat mature and distinguished look for a man of my age (NOTE: the man in that photograph is 25 years old).

Meanwhile I think the Ravens might be a sleeper, at least in terms of divisional games. They opened with a win against a decent Cincinnati squad and had no issues handling the Browns last week. They’ve caught the most picks in the NFL and Flacco has a completion rate of 66%. They’re obviously defense-first, and though the stat is an outlier, at present they are allowing a preposterous five points per game. There was more scoring going on in my Catholic junior high! Maybe the Jags are hellbent on stealing the show in order to keep London’s wandering eyes from gazing toward the Chargers. Nevertheless, despite being far away from nowhere, Baltimora will not allow any monkey business on this sunny afternoon.

I was also tempted to recommend the Lions, returning home to host Atlanta after Monday night’s beat-down of the Giants. The issue is that we are only in week three, and with such a small sample size, I’m not sure if the Lions have found their rhythm, or if New York, who were 11-5 last year, have really fallen off of a cliff as those first two games have suggested. Those losses weren’t new guys working into the system, or close games where a yard here and a penalty there made all of the difference. The Giants are playing bad football, to the point that in week two the coach is already calling out his franchise quarterback. Granted, Manning has the pedigree and a pair of rings, but getting a delay flag by calling signals on pace with the chorus of Hey Man, Nice Shot really is inexcusable when you’ve got fourth and goal on the 2. Eli is 36, and if this is the team he is expected to finish up with, his retirement commercial will involve being a dick to Cletus T. Judd on behalf of that cartoon army general. Nobody needs to see that.

Onwards and upwards, gang. Weird looking skinny dishwashers for everybody!

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

J.J. is an attorney in New York City. He loves NFL Football...a LOT.