So you don’t really follow the NFL. Good for you! It’s a terrible thing, run by a series of malevolents and incompetents and composed increasingly of moral quandaries and outright ethical bleghghghghhhs. It is also, however, frequently thrilling, and an object of obsessive interest for certain internet websites and, well, just about everyone in a bar on a Sunday. They — we; sorry — are going to yammer about it, for better or (more likely) worse. So what do you say to them (us)?
The Know-Nothing’s NFL One-Liner is a delicate business. You want the right mix of intrigue and self-obviousness. The goal is not to spend the next 10 minutes defending your point — a fun fact about NFL fans is that they are interested in exactly nothing that contradicts their preexisting sporting worldview — but instead to provoke an entire line of Miller Lite–infused head bobbles. You don’t want a hot take; you want the closing argument of a Pardon the Interruption segment — just enough to provoke a chuckle and a well, can’t fault you there! When deployed correctly, a Know-Nothing NFL One-Liner makes you sound knowledgeable enough not to be questioned, and also serves as a useful subject changer. Is that guy who your college roommate keeps inviting out to the local watering hole going into his Tom Brady rant again? Has someone just dropped a Respect-Our-Anthem bomb? Oh, Jesus, did someone invite a Denver fan?
It’s like robbing a casino: You want to be charming, but not memorable. Got it? Let’s begin.
1. Christ, Washington really screwed up this Kirk Cousins thing.
Washington went into the offseason with a single major goal: Get Kirk Cousins signed to a long-term contract. The team, which is run by a pack of badly disguised jackals, proceeded to do just about everything it could to alienate the quarterback. The franchise president called him Kurt!!! The one thing Washington really did not want to do in its negotiations with its would-be forever quarterback is pay him a lot of money with no guarantee of his sticking around. The team did exactly that, signing him to a one-year, $23.9 million deal. Deities have subsequently been invoked.
There are two scenarios this season: Either Cousins is going to be great, which screws over Washington, or he’s going to be terrible, which screws over Washington. You can rejoice in the self-inflicted drama either way.
2. I can’t believe the Raiders are actually still playing in Oakland.
There’s jilting, and then there are the actions of the still-active genome of the late Al Davis, whose son, the Great Bowl Cut also known as Mark, finally succeeded in yanking the Raiders out of Oakland in March. Or, uh, well, succeeded on paper, anyway: Though the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas is set for a 2020 opening, the project has yet to even formally begin, and the Silver and Black will spend at least the next two seasons sticking it out in Oakland. Call this the Sean Spicer school of quitting: dramatically call things off, but then just sort of … stay.
In the meantime, the delicious awkwardness of the delayed divorce makes for excellent fodder. Consensus has largely come around — among fans, anyway, if not yet among many of the lawmakers asked for such things — on the idea that building new stadiums for billionaire franchise owners is generally a rough deal for just about everybody not on the NFL’s payroll. The city of Oakland made a show of refusing to offer the Raiders much of anything in public support for a replacement for the aging Coliseum; Bay Area fans will grieve the team’s departure, but there aren’t many who’d cop to being jealous of the $750 million that Nevadans have committed to the Vegas project. (And that’s assuming there are no overruns, which, uh, yeah.) The Raiders are also (a) good and (b) fun, so you (c) can expect to see a lot of them and (d) may even enjoy the experience.
Bonus points: Did you know that Mark Davis is a near-daily visitor to P.F. Chang’s?
3. Who could have predicted that Los Angeles wouldn’t get excited about football???
The NFL, which never saw a tract of dirt it didn’t think would be better served with a taxpayer-funded stadium, took a long look at Los Angeles, its tracts, and its generally indifferent fans, and made the executive decision to bring as much football to the area as possible. The Rams returned to L.A. at the start of the 2016 season, while the Chargers will now play in the StubHub Center, home to the L.A. Galaxy and just 27,000 seats, while work continues on their joint future home with the Rams, the delayed-until-2020 behemoth in Inglewood (which, it should be said, is privately financed, with just a few tax breaks on the side). The StubHub Center foray was pitched as an exciting, intimate experiment for the NFL — and yet even that has failed to sell out, in what sure seems like another outgrowth of the Rams’ struggles to fill seats. Could be preseason apathy; could be that Los Angeles fans possibly didn’t need two new NFL teams. It is almost as if the fan experience, up to and including the desire to actually see a team, might not be foremost among the NFL’s priorities.
4. Good lord, [Miami and/or Tampa Bay player] looks exhausted.
Sunday’s opener between the Dolphins and Buccaneers has been postponed due to the incoming Hurricane Irma. The result is that both teams will endure the 2017 season without a bye week, which is generally a thing considered beneficial to superhumans whose day job consists of pummelling and/or being pummelled by other superhumans. Expect both teams to get wearier … and wearier … and wearier.
Work in a global warming dig! Or don’t, that’s fine, all these catastrophic weather events could just be coincidences, ha ha, nothing to worry about here or in any sea-level locales anywhere in the world.
5. lol Jets.
Nothing else. Just lol Jets. Next round’s on me.