Here we are, again. Perhaps for the last time. The next second, let alone the next year, is undefined, but there are 1000 things happening around here, every second, every day, and especially every morning when I awake to hear them pounding outward from my temples. Let’s understand each other from Jump Street; this was a beautiful opportunity. This was some of the most fun I ever had. We all literally came out winners. In a manner of speaking, I got to join my favorite band. This was an actual dream come true, presented before the largest audience I’ve ever had, and supported by the best team, boss, and editor one could ask for.
The unfortunate nature of circumstances, however, is much like a lap dance inasmuch as the bad ones last for far too long and the good ones are never quite what they seem, especially in the cold light of the day. Nor will experience or intellect save me; we all know Goddamn well that no 90 second version of Armageddon It exists in this astral plane but once it’s over you get what you get, complaints ignored and well past the ether regardless. My present circumstances are thus: an outline masquerading as a screenplay mocks me if I don’t drink enough before I try to fall asleep.
An honest memoir that I have cleverly titled “Memoir” in my Google docs taunts me every week as I scroll through to the Rs, encompassing all 71 times that we gave the games a shot. There is also the matter of my real-life job, where I oversee literal millions of dollars as they bounce back and forth between the purportedly aggrieved and the alleged aggrievors, justice being a factor in the calculation all too rarely. As they say in that movie that Matt called “far from terrible” – high praise in consideration of the source, I’d note – Something’s Gotta Give.
Wait, no. Put the gun down. I’m not your seventh grade girlfriend. I’m not teasing anything. If things somehow flip idyllic, I’ll be here next season, and the 40 after that. I love it here after all, and as we’ve discussed 100 times, the game’s not going anywhere. Whether or not I can still be here to walk you through it, however, is a separate question. Hard as it is to believe, these bad jokes and stolen stats take a good amount of time to “curate,” as teenage millionaires say, and that effort – recognized or otherwise – takes its toll.
You know what? I’m beating around the bush. My mother always said that she liked my writing because it had heart, not because I was especially good at euphemisms. So I’m just going to spit this out. Well, not really, we’re not having a discussion. Damn, another euphemism. No, that’s more of a metaphor maybe? Fuck it, here goes:
We are trying to have a baby. Well, I suppose for the sake of accuracy, we’ve been trying to have a baby for about two years now. The specifics aren’t really pertinent here, except to say that it can be a rather arduous and exorbitantly expensive process, even if you have what is supposed to be top-of-the-line health insurance. Like, they literally call it the platinum plan, as though my Oxford rep was Bryan Birdman Williams or something. I’m getting off track.
The stress associated with the process doesn’t make it any easier for my long-suffering battle-axe of an editor to have to think about football on late Saturday nights, but she still did it every week. It’s not great for my mental health either. How successful is the man who can’t give the love of his life the one thing she truly wants, ya know? So in addition to all of the other time constraints mentioned supra, I have that rattling around in my head a lot, and I don’t know if it’s fair to ask her to edit another 24(!) columns under the circumstances. On the other hand, once this thing finally works out, ideally she’ll be too busy doing mom stuff to figure out how many rushing yards Lamar Jackson has in collapsed pocket situations against the one-gap 3-4 anyway. Though as I think about it maybe it will be a welcome reprieve from a colicky baby.
Again, nothing is certain, as you can probably tell by the flow of the column. But this, dear reader, is the soul denuded. Honesty is everything I can give you, and uncertainty is a part of that. Probably not peak content in terms of comedy, but with a wee bit more heft than you may have expected from the people who brought you Fuck Liberal Vaginas. And how many other columns open up about the stresses of modern reproductive medicine while giving you a 66.25 winning percentage?
And of course, long live Ruthless. For all the hell I put Goat through with late submissions, double spaces, ellipses, pictures of my cousin’s feet, and so forth you’d figure he’d have given me the boot a long time ago. I’d imagine the politics got a bit grating at times, although an article about Trump was among the earliest stuff to go live on the site, so maybe I found a loophole. I just know that I will forever get to use the word “we” when discussing this pace. As in, as Matt asked in 2004, “[w]e’ve already given these yokels their very own President, after all. What else do they want?” If he only knew.
We told you that holocaust deniers would infiltrate the school system in 2006. Those badass Proud Boy mehdgelords coming to your town and harassing shopkeepers, willing to brawl for Trump under the single condition that the fight be 20 on 1? We nailed their fuckboi leader to the wall during the Bush administration. We handed YouTube their one hit series. We cleared Woody Allen. We uhh… warned you about the gamers? We clowned the media who, four years on, somehow still can’t find a way to pin down a wannabe dictator despite his being both infamously temperamental and astonishingly stupid. Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.
HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!
SAN FRANCISCO v. KANSAS CITY -1.5
Regardless of when this actually goes live, the truth is that I made up my mind midway through the 49ers thrashing of the Packers. I haven’t paid attention to any of the hype, not seen a single press conference, didn’t watch the Pro Bowl. In fact the only football-adjacent news I think I’ve heard in the past two weeks was a clip of some Fox News clowns referencing Earl Campbell, who played his last down when I was in the fifth grade, in the course of admitting that they are paid to misinform the elderly and poorly educated. I saw the clip on Twitter, and heard one of them say he “played for New Orleans,” which is technically true even though no real fan would ever associate him with any franchise other than the one that retired his number. I mean, the dated nature of the reference could arguably be for the benefit of the network’s septuagenarian-plus viewership I suppose, but legendary New Orleans Saint Earl Campbell? Must these people be wrong about absolutely everything?
Anyway, my belief is that the Chiefs will win this game and cover up to 3. Kansas City has an offense the likes of which I have never seen before. According to Football Outsiders, they finished the year third in offensive DVOA, but weighted rankings that subtract early-season and Mahomes-free games, they came out on top, with their best two performances of the year coming in their last two games. Basically, they were uncanny to begin with, and now they are peaking right on schedule, to use the parlance of MMA coaches.
So can the 49ers stop them? Fair question; they legit bullied that Packers’ offensive line two weeks ago, and the Vikings and Seahawks before that. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead are like a faster version of the 70s Pittsburgh defenses of the past; constant pressure, pure mass, borderline unblockable. ESPN says that when the four of them have been on the field together during this playoff run, opposing QBs have put up an average QBR of 0.7. That sounds like one of my punchlines, but it’s a real number.
All of that said, I still think Patrick Mahomes will win this game, because he’s got enough weapons to bail him out even if the pressure becomes an issue. The receiving corps has accounted for 550 yards through the playoffs, spread among eight different guys. I was really hoping that Legion of Zoom was going to happen, but even if it doesn’t, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce should get to go mainstream along with Mahomes. They also have running backs, named Darwin Thompson and Damien Williams. Some folks are unaware of this, but they do exist, giving their QB some flexibility. The latter guy averages 4.5 yards per attempt, go figure!
The San Francisco defense is dangerous, and that offense got them to 13-3 while averaging over 30 points per game. But the next great QB has arrived to take his crown, and I for one am looking forward to watching it happen. The score might look like pinball by the end, but I’m safe with giving the 1.5.
And with that, I guess we’re done. Gang? Should I call you “gang” one more time? You’re not a gang, you’re a readership! Though if one of you is in a gang, please don’t kill that rapper fellow – one of you was very concerned about that a couple of weeks ago. Concerned enough to ask a gambling columnist about the whole thing! Well, former gambling columnist, anyway.
Be good to one another. Spend your season winnings wisely. We stand at the precipice of a chance to move humanity forward. We need to take it.