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The Fuck Is Wrong With Announcers Who Won’t Call A Football A Ball?

Illustration: Jim Cooke (G/O Media), Image: Getty
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today, we’re talking about trailers, crossing state lines, Sean’s friend Bruce, drunken coaches, and more.

Your letters:

Brent:

Why do NFL announcers use the word “football” so damn much in football games? Why can’t they just use “ball?” Last time I checked, we knew what sport we are watching. You don’t hear announcers talk about Justin Verlander pitching “the baseball.”

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Well, they don’t want there to be any confusion on your part. What if you get disoriented and think they’re referring to all the OTHER balls on the field during a football game? What if they’re talking about the torpball, or the Quaffle? The NFL can get complicated like that.

In all seriousness, referring to the ball as “the football,” or by its full name of Foot Worthington Ball Mara IV, is just one of 800 highly familiar affects that NFL announcers put on to artificially boost the gravitas of the broadcast when it’s not required. “National Football League,” etc. I blame NFL Films for this. All of these dudes watch old team yearbooks narrated by John Facenda or Harry Kalas (“The 2007 Miami Dolphins: Caught On Cameron”), marvel at the cinematic narration of a cursory Week 12 victory, and feel compelled to ratchet up their own vocabulary for present occasions. The problem is that they lack anything resembling creativity, and so what you get is dudes saying THE FOOTBALL and THE RUNNING BACK POSITION. It’s always 20 words when two will do the job.

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The kind of dorky overspeak is all over the sport. Coaches and front office goons use it all the time to help inflate the sanctity of the game. Players follow suit. The NFL has always taken itself far too seriously, and in fact the problem has gotten even worse now that people know the game really has proven fatal to its participants. That just gives Joe Tessitore tacit license to believe football is even closer to war than football people have always had you believe. Any excuse to make the affair more dramatic, he and others will latch onto it like a fucking lamprey eel.

I say this all the time, but I wish football wasn’t like this. You could solve a good number of the NFL’s problems if everyone involved didn’t act and speak like the sport is fucking holy writ. It’s an inherently dramatic game (unless, of course, Miami is playing). You can just let it be. Instead, we get an overlay of complete bullshit: self-serious men exhausting their limited mental dictionaries in between guffawing at Michael Strahan saying “butt” out loud on the set. I have no faith it’ll ever change. When Rob Riggle is the guy tasked with supplying mirth to these broadcasts, you know it’s a lost cause. Every play will be treated as its own Gettysburg. Every newly coined term will contain more word roots than your average paragraph written in German.

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Adam:

Why do I find driving from one state to another so exciting? I live in a northern suburb of Chicago and can get to Wisconsin in about 30 minutes, which is considerably faster than my daily commute downtown. Even so, my heart pounds a bit faster when I cross the state line. The Mars Cheese Castle, oooh la la! The Bristol Renaissance Fair, how exotic!

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I live in the DMV and so I cross lines with enough regularity that the novelty of crossing over to Virginia faded away a long, long, long, LONG time ago. Now when I’m about to enter Virginia, I let out an audible groan. Northern Virginia is like if they made a group of suburbs that had Manhattan’s bridge traffic on every single road. All so you can drive to the Greene Turtle.

Entering D.C. is a bit more exciting. When the Google Maps lady goes, “Welcome to the District of Columbia!” (and yes, she says the whole thing), I’m like thanks GPS Lady! I’M IN THE BIG CITAY NOW! Washington, D.C.: where only the best people shine! But otherwise, I have spent too much of my adult life living close to the borders of states that, at certain junctures, can take 20 minutes to pass through. If you live in New England, you drive through five states just to pick up your dry cleaning.

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It’s different if you live further west, where the states are huge and entering Colorado counts as a legitimately uncommon occurrence for you. Are you transporting something illegally across state lines? Drugs? Guns? Fugitive women? YOU ARE IN THE DANGER ZONE NOW, BOY. When I go on long road trips with my children, you better believe I get all hyped up when we get to a new state. I see the WELCOME TO NORTH CAROLINA sign coming in the distance and I’m like, “We’re about to cross over, kids! Say goodbye to shitass Virginny!” And then there is much rejoicing.

FUN FACT: Did you know that every state’s welcome sign includes a personal note from the governor that their state is open for business? It’s true! They want YOU, Adam! They’ve been waiting for the ample seed funding money located in the trunk of your Nissan Maxima this whole time.

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Alex:

Could Bill Belichick coach the Patriots to another Super Bowl victory if he was blackout drunk for the entire season? Not slightly sloppy drunk. I mean intermittently barfing on the sidelines and barely-able-to-form-a-coherent-thought drunk. Assume in this case that the NFL and Patriots organization don’t give a shit about this situation and are content to let it play out for the season.

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No. He could not. The open secret of football is that a lot of these coaches are incorrigible drunks who almost certainly drink on the job. But there’s a difference between a coach being functionally alcoholic and being outright incapacitated on the sidelines. Belichick is a deranged genius, but I don’t think he’d be all that sharp making adjustments if he was passing out on the bench on the verge of alcohol poisoning. That tends to inhibit the skill set of even the most talented people.

But what do I know? Maybe Belichick has been drunk this whole time. I would think that’s awesome for like 12 seconds before BarstoolGordie or whoever the fuck was like NO FACKIN’ DAYS AWFF WE WORK HAHD WE PLAY HAHDAH!!! Then it would be ruined in an instant.

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Anyway, don’t drink on the job. That’s bad for you. Unless you, like, work as a security desk clerk or something. Then you should pack a hip flask into your messenger bag. Maybe some heroin as well.

Mike:

Is Bush the most underrated 90s band?

No. They fucking suck.

Sean:

My friend Bruce recently told me that he was going to a movie and planning to arrive late to miss the previews. Weird, I thought. Watching previews is an integral part of the moviegoing experience. As long as I haven’t seen them before, I’ll happily watch as many as you put in front of me. I’d be perfectly content watching two hours of previews (although I said I wouldn’t pay for this privilege). Bruce remarked, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” which is a pretty high bar. And, I thought, fairly ridiculous. Who doesn’t like previews? If you go to a movie and don’t watch previews, have you even gone to a movie? Is he a weirdo? Am I a sociopath? Please settle this dispute for us.

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Bruce wants to miss all the previews? Well then, Bruce is just a crazypants. Most of the time the trailers are better than the movie you’re about to watch, so I also make a point of watching them whenever I hit the movie theater. I don’t even like people whipping out their phones during them. HAVE SOME RESPECT FOR LIGHTSTORM ENTERTAINMENT, YOU TEENAGE RAGAMUFFINS.

The whole opening act of trailers before as movie has been diluted over the years because of the addition of dozens of straight-up ads (all of which blow), the fact that you’ve probably seen many of these trailers on YouTube already, and the fact that theaters screen way too many of them. Three trailers works. That’s just about the right number. Once a theater blazes past five, that’s when people in the auditorium start complaining out loud when yet another APPROVED FOR ALL AUDIENCES green screen pops up and the lights stay on. We can only sit there for so long, man. The average Marvel movie now lasts longer than a 56-part Ken Burns documentary. My back can’t handle this shit.

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Still, Bruce is wrong. Fuck Bruce, I say! Even if I’ve seen the Rise of Skywalker trailer online 60 times, I’m still the kind of open sucker who gets needlessly jacked up to see it on a big screen. OH WOW IT’S THE LUCASFILM LOGO HERE WE GO!!!

Peter:

I was born and raised in NJ. After ~25 years, I moved to Maryland where I’ve been for the last 13 or so years. If you ask my NJ family and friends, you would think that I moved to Guam (“Oh, you have a Target by you?”). My question is, is this a NJ thing, or is this the same reaction from anybody who’s lived anywhere in the same state/town their entire life when somebody moves away?

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I think it’s fairly common. Remember, I was raised in Minnesota: a state that fears and despises the outside world almost as much as the people in The Village do. You’d think the entire state had a mile-high wall surrounding it. If you leave Minnestota, people there act like you died. “Oh my gaddd, Janny Hannjohnsenn crassed state lines! Memorial is aaaaan Tuesday!”

So I think it’s normal for lifelong residents of any given place to act like their hometown is the center of the universe. Jersey might have a bit of New York’s insularity aiding its cause, but I don’t think it’s strictly a Jersey thing to be a bunch of provincial ignoramuses. In the case of that state, it’s amusing because Jersey is, at its core, a conglomeration of shittier versions of things that other states already have. It boasts D-list versions of Illinois’s corruption, Louisiana’s pollution, New York’s organized crime, Pennsylvania’s horrible drivers, Maine’s berries, Connecticut’s weather, and any other coastal state’s beaches. It’s like the Dollar Store of states. ONE OF A KIND!

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Jeff:

My wife and I recently learned that one of her colleagues, who is a zero waste person, uses what she refers to as a “poop towel” in order to eliminate toilet paper from her life. Have you ever heard of this? Is this actually a thing?

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I have not heard of that and that is vile. Do not use a poop towel.

I had one friend who had a baby and tried using cloth diapers, since disposable diapers are a horrifying blight upon the global ecosystem. He and his wife lasted roughly four days before going directly to Pampers. Your concern for the fate of mankind fades quickly when you’re confronted with having to fasten a safety pin millimeters away from a squirming, poopy baby. So unless you have an unspeakable backroom fetish, I believe that wiping your ass with a towel is a bridge too far in saving the planet.

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Josh:

What is the correct way to prepare an omelet? Is it the blanket of eggs wrapped around fillings that inevitably result in me chasing cubed ham around my plate in a pathetic attempt to shovel just a bit more smoked pig product down my throat? Or is it the sensible method of pouring the eggs into your skillet full of goodies & cooking them together to form a Voltron of deliciousness?

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I mix the eggs and fillings together in the pan. I don’t have the time or the patience to make an burrito-style omelet, nor do I have the time to make omelets described in this post over at The Takeout, which requires you to cook the eggs one way for the inside and ANOTHER way for the outside. I’m sure eating one of these omelets feels like getting a blowjob from an alien made of pure light, but I got shit to do. Just mix all the ingredients up and punch anyone who’s like WELL ACTUALLY THAT’S A FRITTATA. Whatever, man.

HALFTIME!

Nicolas:

NFL quarterbacks sound so damn tuff and manly when they do the whole “hut hut hike” thing before the snap. Do you have any idea how they develop this skill? I imagine they must work with a vocal instructor.

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Yeah, they develop that skill by practicing it from childhood on. No voice coach required. Like the Ump Voice, the QB Cadence has a self-perpetuating cycle of influence. I grew up with umps going STEEEEEEE and quarterbacks going BLUE EIGHTY!!!!!!, and I wanted to sound like that. Sounded super manly.

Quarterbacks need to bark out the snap count because they need to be heard over the crowd and all other ambient noise, and they have to be clear when they do it. I shouted out BLUE EIGHTY just now, in my house, and it was clearer when I did it in a lower register. That’s good because when I shout it at a higher pitch, I sound like my voice just cracked in a seventh-grade choir recital. Listen for yourself…

Okay, so nothing in that clip screams Leader Of Men at you. But when I affect a deep voice, I FEEL cooler and stronger, and that’s what really matters. NFL quarterbacks wear that voice well because they really are tough and manly. The cadence fits the job. Even Eli has a decent hike voice when he’s about the throw the FOOTBALL. Matching your voice to your adrenaline spike never gets old. When I’m 75, I’m gonna watch a QB a third of my age bark out audible and I’m gonna be like when I grow up I wanna be just like that Brogan Mahomes, man. I am hardwired for such simple-guy thrills. Those are my bailiwick.

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Casey:

I just got Chipotle (double meat!) and am unable to finish it in a single sitting. This led to the question of if I am closer in skill/ability to a D-1 basketball player or a competitive eater? For reference I started on my high school team and am 6’2”.

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I guess D-I basketball, because there 58,000 schools in that division, so maybe you could walk on at UMass-Lowell and become their version of Jack Haley.

But if we want to restrict your question to just power conference schools not all the aspiring 15-seeds toiling away below them, then it’s the eater. I don’t like competitive eating and maintain a Peter King-esque stand toward it, but I’ll gladly accept that Joey Chestnut really is an “athlete” in that he has to train, keep a digestive fitness regimen, and fellate a soup thermos daily to keep his gag reflexes silenced. Like other professional gluttons, Joey has to do all that to maximize what strange talents the Lord bestowed upon his anatomy.

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But I still think you’re much closer to being one of his potential competitors than you are a starting point guard for, like, Wake Forest. It wouldn’t be easy. You would have to dedicate yourself to the craft of swallowing boneless buffalo wings whole. You would have to become a fixins’ bar rat: first one to the Roy Rogers, last one out, etc. But I believe in you, Casey. I’ve never met you and you could be a complete prick, but I think you can do it. With a little grit (literal grit from all the shucked clams you’ve eaten), you could one day finish 67th at the Mankato cheese curd eatin’ contest. Maybe you can’t dunk, but you can eat. That’s a skill not just anyone has!

Jon:

I was at the gas station tonight and the TV monitor on the pump had a lifehack to keep bread fresh. According to So Yummy, which is definitely a real company, all you have to do is put a slice of celery inside the bag (no video, but there’s a gif at the link below). So if you do this, wouldn’t it just infuse your bread with celery flavor?

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Maybe a little bit, but I doubt that a single celery rib would end up horribly contaminating an entire loaf of Levy’s Jewish Rye. Maybe you get a hint of celery in there—an ESSENCE—but if you make sandwiches the way I do, that essence is easily buried by a four-inch-thick pile of deli meats and cheeses and strong mustards.

If the threat of a lingering whiff of Foxy celery still makes you uneasy, just know that you can keep bread fresh by sticking it in the freezer. Thaw a slice by toasting it and VOILA: fresh bread free from any contact with edible vegetables. Sometimes frozen bread slices can stick together, but you can usually separate them easily just by pulling them apart, or by working a serving knife between them. It’s fun. I feel like I’m reanimating a frozen caveman when I do it.

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I get wanting to keep your bread fresh. I have a breadbox in my kitchen—it’s like a little bread garage!—but that breadbox doesn’t prevent moments where I grab a loaf, open up the bag, and am greeted with a CVS’s worth of penicillin all over the crust. It happens in an instant. I bet I’ve eaten rotten bread by accident before because I failed to notice the spots. If you ask me, all mold should be made extinct. Having fungi around can’t possibly do the world any good.

Joseph:

What is the Defense Against the Dark Arts position for each major sport? The position that some unlucky soul takes over at the start of each season only to meet some terrible ending. QB for the Skins? LeBron’s coach?

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This is an awfully Ringer-y question you’re asking, but I think the answer would be a coach of some sort, seeing as how this is a teaching job and every coach who has ever lived has said, “I like to think of myself as a teacher.” So the sporty Dark Arts job in question would have to be an important one that is cursed not necessarily because of black magic, but because of bureaucratic ignorance, office politics, kidnapping, and outright corruption. Many of the Dark Arts teachers in the Harry Potter books fail because they’re vain, evil, incompetent assholes. I can think of one prominent job that’s had a healthy, uninterrupted run of those. Are you ready to fuse Sports and Pop Culture together, a technique no one has ever foreseen?! Okay, it’s the head coach of Tennessee.

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You thought I was gonna say Browns head coach, but that’s far too easy. The list of Vols head coaches since Phillip Fulmer got promoted to Vice President of Citrus Bowl Hotel Planning has been ghastly. Somehow Lane Kiffin isn’t even the most embarrassing name on the list. And remember when they hired Greg Schiano and then had to renege on it because their fans were so pissed off at the news? That was their BEST human resources decision this century. Like, by far. Now tell me that isn’t a position that’s been hexed by delusional boosters and braindead administrators. YOU CANNOT. You must not tell lies.

Second place goes to offensive coordinator for Kirk Cousins.

Danny:

So I’m lucky enough to be getting married to a great girl soon. She’s fantastic but sadly has parents that leave a lot to be desired. The father is innocent enough, but the mother has a history of being incredibly rude and manipulative to my fiancée that dates back to when she was very young. Without getting into specifics, she has a history of attempting to push buttons and saying things hoping to bring forth insecurities that sadly can be effective from time to time.

Now realizing how messed up this all is and wanting to try and be as protective and helpful as possible, I’d love to call her out on all this bullshit but have declined doing so at this point because the fiancée (probably correctly) says it will only make things worse. I’m confident that the closer we get to marriage and beyond that the less influence and mind games she’ll be able to play, but it’s still the rest of our lives. Not the type of attitudes I’d want around potential future kids! So long story short, got any advice on dealing with bad in-laws?

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I think the easiest solution is to not live near them. I live near my own in-laws but I love them, so I don’t have much experience in needing to deliberately avoid them. We need the free babysitting anyway.

I do think that once you two are married and ensconced in your own domesticity that the problem will become less pronounced. Weddings tend to bring out the control freak in a lot of people on both sides of the aisle. That tension is destined to fade once you’re not all forced to plan a 200-guest shindig at the local Hilton together. And it will fade even more if you and your wife live nowhere near your wicked mother-in-law. Sometimes it’s nice to have a buffer zone between you and your family members, even ones you get along with. I love my parents deeply but I wouldn’t want to live next door to them. I live six hours away. That works. That’s enough of a buffer to make visits a planned effort.

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If your mother-in-law sucks, you’re gonna need a bigger buffer. Perhaps a full ocean. No point in defying the future wife, exacerbating the problem by confronting the mom on your own. I’d just keep to my corner and live 800,000,000 miles away. That’s the polite thing to do. Buffers are important.

(This is where you tell me you have to live near the MIL because she’s your boss at a law firm or something.)

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Josh:

What foods that cause you intestinal issues do you continue to eat anyway?

Chili. Every time. At this point, the diarrhea is just the cost of doing business with chili. I know what I signed up for. The bank is worth the risk, brother.

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I think I’ve told this story before but one time I went out for dinner in Chicago with a friend the night I was due to have a book signing, like a fancy author man. Well, we went to a Korean joint and I loaded up on enough gochujang-laced glass noodles to make it looks like a parasite had invaded my body cavity. I shat my brains out before and after that signing. My apologies if I shook your hand anywhere in the interim. Did that dissuade me from eating Korean food ever again? FUCK AND NO, it did not. I crave the burn. If I’m not shittin’ acid, I ate poorly that day. One day I will have the iron bowels required to take down Joey Chestnut.

Email of the week!

Nick:

Freshman year of college I was paired with a random dude to share the old college dorm room with. He was a nice guy, we had a lot in common regarding our likes (sports, music, movies). Well a few months in he mentioned that his mother and younger sisters were coming up for a visit. I thought nothing of it, family comes for a visit, go out to dinner and see them off. Not the case here. He had 3 elementary school aged sisters and a SUPER annoying overbearing mother. They not only stayed for the weekend, but stayed for an entire WEEK. IN OUR FUCKING DORM ROOM. Like a vacation, brought all their toys, loudness and fighting. My roommate, who kind of took on the role as these girls’s “father” figure, thought this entire situation was absolutely normal. It was pure hell. After a few days of this torture, I took off and crashed at a friend’s place for the rest of the week. Let’s just say that things were never quite the same between me and the roomie after that. After that first year I never saw him again. THANK GOD.

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See what I mean about buffers?

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About the author

Drew Magary

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