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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Is Male Shirtlessness On The Decline?

Illustration by Sam Woolley
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

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I was looking through some old family photos recently and noticed that dudes in the 70s/80s used to parade around in public shirtless all the time. And I’m talking non-beach settings—family functions, at school, grocery shopping, pretty much wherever and whenever. I’m in my late 30s, in relatively decent shape, but 99% of the time I’m wearing a shirt. Even in my own home, I feel weird parading around shirtless unless I’m going to bed or am getting in the shower. Do guys still go shirtless to that extent and I’m just not noticing?

In Alabama, they do!

For real though, I do think there’s been a small decline in American male shirtlessness since the heydays of the 1970s. Back then, they didn’t even SELL shirts. Every dad in every Polaroid had a bare red belly and a full can of Miller Lite. Guys gave no fucks back then. There weren’t as many jacked guys around to make you feel bad about your own body. No one gave a shit about ultraviolet radiation. And no one had smartphones. You could never be shamed for walking around with a 10-pound gravy gut. I’ve told this story before, but I walked into a gym shirtless once back in 1990. I started lifting weights, thinking I looked like a boss, and my brother was like, “Jesus, go put a shirt on!” Really brought me back down to reality.


It’s all different now. The only reason men walk around shirtless now is if A) They’re crazy jacked, B) They’re old and mowing a lawn, C) They’re on drugs, D) They’re at a Bills game, or E) They’re at the pool or beach, which really doesn’t count. I would rather be shot than walk out of my house without a shirt on. I’m pasty and have hair in weird places. The general public wouldn’t stand for my physique.

I even wear a rash guard at the pool now, like a timid fat kid. I don’t want skin cancer, and I don’t want the world to know about my stretch marks. Everyone is just a little bit more self-conscious than they were four decades ago. And that means you tend to cover up a little bit more, unless you’re Ben Affleck and need every movie you’re in to have a pull-up montage. It’s kind of sad, really. We shouldn’t be so hung up on our appearances. The time is ripe for a shirtless revolution. DADBODS UNITE.


If they had from now until the beginning of next season to prepare, could Theo Epstein and Gregg Popovich GM/coach the Browns to a winning season? We can assume the Browns get the #1 draft pick.


No. First of all, the Browns already have a baseball guy in the front office and they’re currently winless. Secondly, when you’re 0-13, it’s gonna take more than one season to un-fuck everything that’s fucked. Finally, they’d still be owned by a two-bit trucking magnate who would roll a wino if there were an extra five bucks in it for him.

When a team is consistently bad for a long time, it’s always a symptom of poor ownership: the Clippers, the Skins, the Marlins, the Knicks, etc. When you have a terrible owner, it poisons everything down below. Even talented people can become disaffected and cynical under such leadership. They come in with good intentions and a fat paycheck, and then they realize that Jimmy Dolan is a hapless boob and lost cause, and then they start searching frantically for an escape hatch (like getting into a bizarre take war with LeBron James, for instance). It happens all the time in nearly every industry. Getting good people isn’t enough.


And that’s assuming that Pop and Theo Epstein would be good at running a football team, which is unlikely. Pop would probably give the cold shoulder to an access peddler like Schefter, and then openly discuss his liberal politics, and then the football culture would be like DURRRRRR THIS GUY DOESN’T GET WHAT THIS GAME IS ALL ABOUT, and then Pop would silently mutter, “Fuck this” and go drink some wine.

I remember when the Browns hired Paul DePodesta, and lots of fans were like, “LOL Browns,” which is usually the right response to anything the Browns do. But then there were fans who were like, “Well, at least they’re trying something new!” That’s always a gorgeous con. I’m all for innovative thinking and HACKING THE SPORTS PARADIGM, but if the Sam Hinkie fiasco taught me anything, it’s that plenty of teams will do novel things just for novelty’s sake. And there is no shortage of frauds, dipshits, and Stanford nipples around to dress up their incompetence in lofty technobabble. Not all new ideas are good and not all good ideas are new. See? I just sounded like a fancy person. I bet I could get a job running Cleveland’s scouting department.


New ideas only succeed if they’re implemented by people who know what the fuck they’re doing. And I think someone like Gregg Popovich is smart enough to know that he doesn’t know how to coach a football team. Anyway, the point is that the Browns are fucked.


Can we all agree the Johnny Depp Dior cologne commercial is the worst fucking commercial ever?


It’s so awful. It’s the capstone of Johnny Depp’s disgrace. I remember being a kid and HATING Johnny Depp, for reasons I can’t begin to explain. I just remember being a snotty kid and randomly hating on people (shocking, I know). Then he made Donnie Brasco and the first Pirates movie and I was like, “Oh man, I was wrong, Johnny Deep seems cool.” But he’s not! I was wrong about being wrong about Johnny Depp. Not only is he a shameless poseur, he’s also an alleged wife-beater. Look at this stupid ad:

Illustration for article titled Is Male Shirtlessness On The Decline?

Why do you need that many skull rings? After one skull ring, I get the picture. You’re not fooling anyone, you scarf-addled hack. I’ve had enough of Movie Jack White for this lifetime and the next.

Drew (not me):

Do you ever wash a bottle opener? What about a corkscrew?

Never. Why would I do that? The corkscrew never touches the lip of the wine bottle. And the bottle never touches the… well okay, it kinda rubs against the edge of the bottle. Look, I don’t wash it because I don’t WANT to, okay? There’s enough shit I have to wash around this house. I’ll be damned if I add one more item to the list. Besides, the alcohol in the beer or wine kills any germs. That’s science. That’s why I pour beer on any sudden head wound.



How long would an average person last playing a game of Marco Polo against Michael Phelps in an Olympic-size swimming pool? Phelps of course being the Marco and average person being the Polo. No bullshit fish out of water rule.


Ten seconds or less. You’re the only other person in the pool, right? Well, Michael Phelps has world class speed AND he’s spent enough time in swimming pools during his life to have developed the sonar capabilities of a fucking dolphin. The second you say POLO, he could triangulate your location within a second. That’s true no matter what kinda awesome Marco Polo trick you have up your sleeve, like making splashes to one side and then swimming the other, or screaming POLO and then going underwater and pushing off the wall. None of that shit would work on Phelps. He’d own you.

By the way, it’s fun to beat your kids in Marco Polo. I’ve had so many death-defying escapes, I want a highlight reel of them. I dodge those kids like fire coral. The best is when they miss and then you openly taunt them by giggling. NICE TRY, KIDDO. BUT YOU GOTTA TRY HARDER IF YOU WANNA BEAT THE POOLMASTER.



I ordered Jimmy Johns to my office today (something I do almost on a weekly basis). I missed a call from the delivery driver and when I called back he said that he wanted to let me know that he was out front, but went to deliver somewhere else because he couldn’t reach me and he would be back in a minute. Am I being unreasonable for feeling like this delivery guy is being super lazy? Should I have to go out and meet him when he could easily just drop it off at our front desk?


Let’s face it: the odds of you experiencing a torturous delivery fuckup increase fivefold the second you leave your home. Delivery angst is bad enough when you’re in your house or apartment, but asking a takeout joint to deliver to an office building or school is like asking them to cross the fucking Drake Passage. One time I tried to have Domino’s delivered to a soccer practice. I’d have been better off shooting myself in the temple. That pizza is currently residing in Alaska, for all I know.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you want your food, go get it. Don’t trust the delivery guy to leave it at the front desk, or ask the front desk to buzz your work, or even have your name written down properly. Take matters into your own hands if it’s a matter of sandwich urgency.


By the way, even though I find their radio ads charming, I was incredibly disappointed with Jimmy John’s when I tried it. To be fair to them, I was in a rush and didn’t get my shit toasted, which was a tragic error in judgment. But still, the bread was bland as shit. I asked the Deadspin staff if they liked Jimmy Johns, and the resulting Slack ensued:

Illustration for article titled Is Male Shirtlessness On The Decline?
Illustration for article titled Is Male Shirtlessness On The Decline?


We had a spirited debate in my office about healthy, physically able people using the automatic door button intended for use by handicapped individuals. I say you can use it if you want because it is there already, especially leaving the bathroom because you can just hit the button with your elbow. I’m making the world a healthier place by using that button. Others disagree and feel it is disgraceful to use it unless you are handicapped. Is it a violation to use this button as a capable individual?


No. Of course you can use it. It’s one thing to use a handicapped parking space when you’re able-bodied. But this is a button. Unless you grab Tiny Tim’s wheelchair and roll his ass out of the way so that you can push the button first, you’re not inconveniencing a handicapped person by using it.

My kids fight over this stupid button all the time. They have a button like this posted outside office buildings and drug stores and lots of other places, and the kids always RUN to be the first one to push it. Then one of the kids pushes it and the other throws a goddamn fit. It’s like an elevator button fight, only worse because there’s only one button. With an elevator, I can have one kid push the UP button (they always push DOWN first without asking), and another one push the floor button. only the kid who got to push the UP button will hog button duties and push the floor button before the other kid has a chance, thus inciting World War III.


But with the big handicapped button, there’s only one button to push, and once you hit it, the door needs five minutes to slowly, painfully, open and close. I have stood outside with my kid, waiting for the door to close just so he can be the one to push it again. I probably should be more firm.



How far does a pass have to go, or what yard line does a team have to be on, for a pass to be considered a Hail Mary?


Thirty-five yards. At 35 yards, you’re gonna have to heave the ball. That’s what separates a Hail Mary from a mere last-second touchdown pass like this one. The QB has to expend all of his arm strength, and there has to be a crowd down in the end zone. If you’re close enough to run a more elaborate pass play than that, it’s not a Hail Mary.

That’s why I love watching any Hail Mary. It’s not just the fact that someone might catch it, it’s that you’re watching the most rudimentary play in football, the same kind of play you literally run if you’re playing touch football and fucking around at home. When a team is forced to throw a Hail Mary, they basically have to abandon all the elaborate calculus of their game plan and fall back to the most basic play of all, and I appreciate that as a closet football purist. THAT’S REAL FOOTBAW! JUST GO GET THE BALL, BOYS.



If you were paid to sleep—a small amount, let’s say like $3 an hour—would you sleep more to get paid? Or would your responsibilities and/or drinking time dictate that the schedule you keep now is good enough?


Three bucks an hour? What kinda piddly shit minimum sleeping wage is that? I would band together with other sleepers and form a SLEEPERS UNION, striking and staying awake for 50 straight hours until the fat cats at Serta give us what we want.

In all seriousness, I maintain a decent sleep schedule, one that is very much in line with my innate dadness. I’ll gladly take more of it, provided someone handles the kids while I’m busy resting and groping myself. But chances are, it’s not worth the small bit of extra cash to go with it. That’s lost productivity! What if I miss inventing cold fusion because I was sleeping for peanuts the whole time?


I used to freelance a lot and being a freelancer means you rarely, if ever, turn down work. I had to take on every job because I never knew when the jobs would dry up, and because it’s hard, in the moment, to say no to money you need. You end up doing all kinds of cold-blooded value assessments. “Well, is this Saturday out with my kids WORTH the $60 I’m passing up?” It’s a shit position to be in. So with your sleep hypothetical, I’d probably start off trying to sleep a lot to rack up some dough, only to finally give up and decide that the extra hours lost, confined to fiscal bedrest, can’t possibly be worth it.


Where do you think more ashes have been scattered: Land or sea?

It’s gotta be land because most people die on land and most descendants and/or mass murderers are too lazy to give a proper sea burial. You gotta get an urn, and then find a beach or a dock or a boat, and then make sure it’s not too windy. It’s a whole goddamn thing. I’d rather just dump your ashes in the sink and get on with it.


By the way, I’d totally prefer my ashes get scattered at sea. I want a big Viking ship with a thousand oarsmen all dressed in black, and my grieving widow standing on the prow, announcing, “Oh, how he loved the sea.” (despite going there only twice a year). That’s some real deep shit.


Better athlete? LeBron or Bo Jackson?

I don’t know how you’d begin to quantify that. Obviously, Bo played multiple professional sports and excelled at both and there’s a very good chance we’ll never see another athlete like him ever again, which SUCKS because Bo ruled.


But he also played over two decades ago, and athletes have evolved to a ridiculous degree since then, with LeBron serving as the ideal 21st century prototype. So for this, you’re basically arguing between Bo’s versatility and LeBron’s insane, futuristic athleticism (not to mention freakish durability, which Bo tragically lacked).

Secretly, every shitty sports bar argument is really just an argument over which person you like more. If you don’t want Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, it’s probably just because you hate Pete Rose (raises hand). And if you think Bo was a better athlete than LeBron, well then you’re probably an old bastard like me who revered Bo as a child and refuses to accept that he could ever be surpassed. Because he can’t. BO IS A FUCKING GOD.



As a kid I remember a guy named Chuck Knox. Sometime in the past he went to a Super Bowl but lost. He always seemed to go 7-9. Then I forgot about him. Then this year I realized history was repeating itself. Jeff Fisher was a guy who sometime in the past went to the Super Bowl and was always going 7-9. Now he’s been fired. Who does he pass the torch to? My son is only 2. Who will he look up to go 7-9?


You’re right! Turns out that, during the last eight years of his career, Chuck Knox never won more than nine games in a season. He only went 7-9 three times (and was a much better coach than Jeff Fisher), but he definitely had a 7-9 aura to him in the late 80s and early 90s. If you’re looking for that same kind of terminally average retread coach who always seems to have a job, there are plenty of worthy successors to Fisher out there: Mike Mularkey, John Fox, Bill O’Brien, etc. The most obvious choice is Rex, since he’s dined out on two flukish AFC title game appearances for five years now and is utterly incapable of running a football team. But he’s gonna get fired soon.

That brings us to Marvin Lewis. Marv has been painfully adequate for most of my adulthood, which is good enough for Mike Brown to keep him around forever. Chances are, he’ll be going 8-8 with Andy Dalton Jr. two decades from now while Brown is still sending collection notices to the local school commission.



I have two dogs. I regularly put my dish down on the ground to let them lick up any leftovers. I’m not worried about germs, because all of my dishes go through my dishwasher. My question is whether it’s wrong of me to put dishes down for dogs to lick when I have guests over, so that the guests can see that I let the dogs lick my dishes. Recently, after eating with some friends, I put my dish down for my dogs, and later I realized that this may have freaked out my guests.


God, you know I’ve never thought about that. I’ve seen people offer their dogs a plate of food to lick clean countless times. It never occurred to me that I could have been eating off a plate that a dog personally tongue-bathed.

I think it’s fine. So long as you wash the dish, and so long as your dog isn’t one of those dogs that has 19 different diseases at all times (“Oh, little Barley had to go to the vet today for brainworm!”), it’s okay. We’re all friends here.



My best friend of 15 years is getting married next month. I’m the best man. His wife informed him that all members of the wedding party need to be clean shaven for the ceremony, no excuses. Here’s the thing though, I’m a 27-year-old adult man with a baby face, so having a beard remains pretty critical for me being allowed in bars, attending R-rated movies, or talking to women without them asking if I’m still in high school. Should I have to sacrifice my very hard-fought facial hair (6 months to grow in) just so my buddy’s wife doesn’t hate me? I’m not getting married here.


On principle, the bride is wrong. She could have simply asked that all the groomsmen be neatly, uh, groomed, and left it at that. Trim your beards, pluck your ear hair, etc. Mandating a full shave is unreasonable, crypto-fascist horseshit. Bridezilla needs to learn some goddamn manners.

That said… you should shave. I know it sucks to capitulate to an unfair bridal order, but do it anyway. You’re there to support your friend. And if you don’t shave, HE is the one who will have to answer for it. Take the L and lose the beard for his sake. The only way you can keep it and not get him crushed is if you have a bad scar or something under the beard. Like, if you can go to the bride and be like, “Oh, so you want everyone to see my cleft palate scar? REAL CLASSY, LADY,” you’ll make her feel bad, and making people feel bad is what weddings are all about!


Email of the week!


I was invited to a dinner party at a friend’s apartment in Portland. It was to be a small gathering and we were to be enjoying a roasted chicken with numerous bottles of white wine. I was in the neighborhood about an hour early and decided to pop in the local bar and watch the first half of the Thursday night football game strictly for fantasy purposes. This was 19th Nov of last year, Titans/Jaguars. This was my first, personal interaction with the Color Rush uniforms. I wasn’t prepared for how horrible they really were until I had to stare at them for a half an hour. I remember sitting at the bar and repeatedly sighing “UGH” loudly and to no one in particular. I couldn’t even focus on the game, which was equally awful. I was so focused on hate-watching those god-damn uniforms.

Anyway, so I arrive at the party and I meet a gentleman who worked for Nike. If you go to any dinner party in Portland, there is a 75% chance that someone at the party works for Nike and a 95% chance they will be the biggest assholes there. Lucky for me, this guy was one of the five percent and we hit it off instantly, laughing and joking and getting to that point where we could be conversationally candid with each other.

I had mentioned that I had popped in to watch the game before I came to dinner. He casually asked how felt about the new uniforms. Sparkling after three glasses of wine, I proceeded to go on an unholy diatribe and listed EVERYTHING I thought about the uniforms. Highlights included:

1. Why would anyone use a fecal sample from someone with a compromised immune system and think that was a good color scheme for the Jacksonville Jaguars?

2. Jacksonville, Florida is a fetid shithole, so of course the color was inspired by day old nacho and beer vomit.

3. Thursday Night games are inherently unwatchable, so the next best idea is to make the uniforms so horrible, viewers can focus their hatred and despair on something else. Like the fact that the field is covered in monochromatic onesies that reduce the players to hordes of giant baby-men.

And so on.

My new friend sat quiet for a beat and said that he was the Creative Director of Design at Nike for the NFL (or something like that) and was PERSONALLY responsible for the design and concept of the Color Rush marketing scheme. And that he was also responsible for the new-look NBA uniforms when they get re-designed by Nike. I responded with a spit-take of Sancerre and sat back in my chair in an amazed silence.

I tried to counter with a half-assed “Well, maybe they’re not ALL BAD hahaha (more wine please)” but I gave up. Why should I apologize?? Those uniforms are an atrocity and there is no way to sugarcoat it. The rest of the dinner was slightly awkward but fuck it, I would’ve been more comfortable if he said he had founded ISIS.


That’s strong work.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.

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