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NFL Dad, Week 11: At least you didn’t start Nathan Peterman

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One dad, two young kids, and six-plus hours of RedZone Channel. How much football can he actually watch?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers
Sean McDURRRRRmott
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done? I genuinely want to know.

For me, it was probably my wife and I deciding to have a second kid without so much as a glance at our budget (“budget,” he said, like an adult who had such a thing at the time). We wanted two kids, and we knew we’d make it work, gosh darn it. Because of that, our bank account is held together with duct tape and wishes, we’ll never own a home, and the looming specter of college tuition is the only thing that makes me look forward to the collapse of society.

On the other hand, that decision gave us a very sweet son who plays well with his big sister. We made a poor financial decision that led to fuller, more joyous lives. It wasn’t national news. It didn’t affect any outcomes for a billion-dollar franchise that employs hundreds of people. It wasn’t televised for everyone to mock.

What I’m saying is, at least I didn’t bench Tyrod Taylor to start Nathan Peterman, like some kind of ignorant asshole. And neither did you! So chin up, things could be a lot worse.


— After helping get the kids ready for their naps, I turn on the TV around 1:15. The first meaningful play is Jay Cutler throwing an interception in the end zone. Hell yes, today is gonna be awesome.

— DeShone Kizer’s early line: 0-1, 1 INT. It looks MISERABLE in Cleveland: Windy, wet, and the Browns are playing.

A few minutes later, the Jaguars score a TD on play action that fools the camera operator. Blake Bortles wasn’t even on the screen until just before he tossed the ball to Marcedes Lewis.

— Eli Manning completes five passes in a row to start the game. Naturally, once the Giants reach the red zone, it’s time for someone else to throw a pass! How does it go for Shane Vereen?

SUBOPTIMAL. Also, this is the first time this column has begun with three consecutive bullets about interceptions.

— My daughter goes down for her nap. Whenever we put her to bed, she does a singsong cadence of the names in her life (NOT like Arya Stark, I swear). She says, “Mommy, Daddy,” then rattles off her own name twice, her brother, the dog, her nanny (twice), and then back through the list again, but randomized.

I cannot do it justice in words because it is woven into the landscape of my day, a charming and inexplicable habit from the spongy mind of a child. Eventually, I know, she will stop doing it, and I’m already sad about the day I walk out of her darkened room without hearing the rhythmic, lyrical recitation of the names of people I love.

— The Jags run a surprise onside kick, and it works! Josh Lambo recovers!

That was cool, but ... c’mon guys, it’s the Browns. Y’all don’t need to do that. Let them die with dignity.

— We ran out of coffee in my house this weekend. I used the last of our grounds on Saturday morning, but thought we had another bag — not realizing that the bag was decaf. (Charlton Heston voice) DECAAAAAAAAAFFFF!!!

So we made do with decaf when we woke up, then I had a latte when we took the kids to the playground in the morning. I drank it like a desperate man. It helped, but by noon I was stressed and irritable, so I heated up water to make tea.

I try to be the kind of person who respects everyone’s tastes, but apparently that’s only possible when I have enough caffeine in my system. Tea is bullshit.

Alex Smith throws an interception on a shovel pass. Not easy to do!

— Facing fourth-and-6 in the vicinity of the Saints’ 40, Kirk Cousins makes an awesome throw downfield to convert, leading to a short rushing touchdown that gives Washington a 17-10 lead.

After Rams-Vikings, Washington vs. New Orleans seems to be the game to watch in this early slate. Cousins & Co. are playing for their season, and the Saints offense seems a little rattled by the pressure that Ryan Kerrigan and his friends are bringing.

— I just deleted a bullet point about Jay Cutler throwing his second interception, because he has now thrown THREE. I swear the only RedZone highlights from this Bucs-Dolphins game are Cutler picks, which is all I really want anyway.

— The Packers have turned the ball over three times and the Ravens only lead 3-0. Brett Hundley has no business facing this Ravens defense, but it’s Baltimore that infuriates me. That offense is polio. Joe Flacco is the debtor’s prison’s Alex Smith.

Also, the Packers are wearing their crappy throwbacks. If I’d known they’d spend today drawing inspiration from the 1930s, I wouldn’t have picked them to cover.

— Rams-Vikings is living up to the hype of a battle between two division leaders in the superior conference. It’s tied at 7-7, and though there hasn’t been much fodder for this column, every set of downs is a chess match between quality teams with smart plans that make the most of their players.

As soon as I write that, Cooper Kupp caps a Rams drive by fumbling on the 1-yard line.

Even this — a red-zone turnover — is more indicative of a relentless, well-coached defense than it is of Kupp’s carelessness. And now that’s I’ve had two instances of Kupp alliteration, I must see the headline through to completion:

Cooper Kupp’s carelessness crushes quality campaign; Case Keenum & company control close contest!

I would have been an incredible newsman in the 1920s.

— The Lions, who stumbled out of the gate against the Bears, take a 21-17 lead on a short pass to Ameer Abdullah with 20 seconds left in the half. John Fox has that, “Aw, hell” look on his face. It’s the sort of look that Bears fans must HATE, because it gives the impression that Fox is in over his head.

Another thing that gives the impression that Fox is in over his head? His coaching! ZING! Take that, old man who never did anything to me!


— Joe Flacco throws to a blanketed Mike Wallace, who makes an incredible catch to give the Ravens the first touchdown of the game. They lead 13-0.

The announcers rave about Wallace’s catch — justifiably — but let’s talk about Flacco’s reasoning. It’s not like Wallace is the kind of receiver you should expect to make catches while covered, like Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins. He’s Mike Wallace! A deep threat on an offense that doesn’t throw deep! And the Ravens can’t even realistically cut Flacco until after 2018! We have SO MUCH more Flacco to watch. GUH. Dump this team into the Chesapeake.

— My son wakes up from his nap early. He points to his mouth and says, “Ow. Ow.” His mouth hurts because he fell off his sister’s bed earlier, hitting his chin on the bottom rail and biting his tongue. Poor kid. He sits next to me on the couch and sucks his thumb while resting his head against my shoulder.

— “Alex Smith is hot dog shit today.” That was originally going to be my entire bullet, but that metaphor isn’t very clear. What I mean is that Smith is fresh dog shit on scorching pavement on hottest day of the summer. But the phrase could also read as shit from a dog that’s hot, or possibly the filling of a hot dog from a questionable manufacturer. None of these are particularly good, but I wanted to make it clear what kind of hot dog shit Alex Smith is today.

Matt Moore has replaced Jay Cutler — not for cause, though. Cutler, who had put together some 11 or 12 minutes without an interception, left the game with a concussion. Moore immediately hits Jarvis Landry for a long gain.

— My wife leaves with my son to walk our dog just as my daughter wakes up from her nap. The Vikings are putting together an intriguing drive, but I go into her room and help her use the potty. When we come back out to the TV room, the Vikings are celebrating a touchdown.

We sit on the couch and I read a Dr. Seuss book to her. Are you ready for a children’s book hot take? I hope so, because Seuss is WILDLY overrated. He’s kind of like Joe Namath: A champion and Hall of Famer, sure, but also revered beyond his talent.

The strength of Seuss books is their musical language, and I fully welcome the way they can give children a sense of poetic rhythm and rhyme. They’re also EXCRUCIATINGLY long; I could read a chapter of Moby-Dick in the time it takes to read Oh, The Places You’ll Go. The rhymes are also repetitive enough to feel rote, but differentiated enough that you can’t zone out and perform on autopilot; it’s the children’s book version of assembling IKEA furniture. Finally, though I can’t deny Seuss’ unique artistic style, I loathe it with all my heart. Is that a dog or a cat? A cat or a person? A person or some made-up bullshit so he can make a rhyme? I’m over it, man.

— After the book, my daughter takes my wrist in her hand and puts my arm around her. We watch Adam Thielen break a long TD to give the Vikings a two-score lead, and that’s probably curtains for the Rams.

— Another Alex Smith interception leads to a Giants field goal; the underdogs lead 9-6 with 1:39 left. This reminds me: I missed it while parenting, but Travis Kelce ALSO threw an interception today.

In just this one NFL game, interceptions have been thrown by a quarterback, a running back, and a tight end. If you had bet me before the game that THREE players would throw interceptions and NONE of them would be Eli Manning, you would own every penny to my name.

— Alex Smith TRIES to throw another pick, but there’s a penalty on the defense. Soon after, he finds Travis Kelce wide open down the seam. The Chiefs get into the red zone but can only get a field goal. These assholes are going to overtime.

— A Lions 52-yard field goal gives them 27-24 lead, but John Fox has three timeouts, one minute remaining, and a rookie quarterback. LET’S GO!

Mitchell Trubisky puts together a competent hurry-up drill, but Connor Barth misses WAY wide right on a 46-yarder. The Bears lose, 27-24. It’s the third straight game (and fifth overall) that they’ve lost by one score. Meanwhile, two of their three wins have come in overtime. This must be an AGONIZING season for Bears fans.

— My wife gives our daughter a Moana coloring book that comes with a paintbrush and watercolors. The first picture inside features Moana standing proudly with her fists on her hips. Later in the evening, my daughter will swagger up and down the hallway with her fists on her hips, saying, “I’m walking like Moana!”

THIS is why I love Moana but have beef with the traditional Disney princesses. My daughter is 3 years old and has still never seen Moana (or any movie), but frequent exposure to the soundtrack and a couple of plot points — “Moana has to save her people” — gives my daughter enough information to guide her body language, and we can see it in the way she play-acts.

When she’s Cinderella, I have to pretend to put a gown on her, and we dance together at the ball. When she’s Rapunzel, she flips her hair around; Ariel, and she holds up a scarf as a bikini. But when she’s Moana, she throws her shoulders back, struts with purpose, and thrusts her fist into the air — something she’d only previously done when saying, “I’m Batman!”

Long story short, her Cinderella doll has a date with the trash chute.

— The Saints, trailing by 15 as the game winds to a close, needed two touchdowns in three minutes. Drew Brees did it in two minutes, thanks to a three-and-out forced by the defense. Two-point conversion good.

This gives me flashbacks to Washington’s win in Seattle a few weeks back, when the Seahawks scored too quickly and gave the visitors enough time to retake the lead.

— With time starting to run low in overtime, the Giants go for it on fourth-and-6 at the edge of field-goal range, and Manning takes a shot deep. Awesome deep pass. Great play. FG Giants, 12-9.

It’s underthrown, but the cornerback drags Roger Lewis (a player I have DEFINITELY heard of, yessir) down, and that helps him make the spectacular catch. The Giants kick a chip shot to win the game.

The Chiefs’ performance today puts some serious stink on the “Andy Reid after a bye week” mystique. Woof. On the flip side, the Giants hurt their draft position and will keep Ben McAdoo as coach a little longer, so ... way to go, everybody. Bang-up job this week.

— Washington does nothing with its first OT possession, and the Saints waste no time: Mark Ingram breaks a long run to put them in field-goal range. Wil Lutz kicks the 28-yarder, and this is the rare instance I approve of overtime: It (A) ended quickly and (B) completed the gut-wrenching collapse of a team I dislike.


— Nathan Peterman starts his NFL career off with a pick-6. Sure, it went off the receiver’s hands, but that’s inconvenient for my narrative. I picked up the Chargers defense for my fantasy team, and I’m counting on Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to ruin the debut of an unheralded rookie quarterback.

— The first RedZone action in Denver is the Broncos blocking a Bengals punt. It should be illegal to have this much orange on the field.

— My wife gives the kids apple slices with maple almond butter, which is one of very few ways to make almond butter palatable to kids raised on peanut butter. They sit at the table and eat silently. I mute the TV and just drink in the quiet. For entire seconds: No sirens or honking outside, no incessant questions or shouting or whining, no dog nails clacking on the wood floors, just silence. I store the moment away and save it for a moment when I need a warm feeling of calm.

— Brock Osweiler throws a pick in end zone that Dre Kirkpatrick ALMOST returns for six, but he inexplicably fumbles without being touched, recovering his mistake at the 1-yard line. This might be my favorite play of the entire year:

By the way, this is the exact sort of thing I’d do if I were an NFL player who had Joe Mixon on my fantasy team (I don’t, though, because I drafted with MORAL PRINCIPLES). It’s Tyler Kroft, however, who gets the touchdown.

— My daughter, still working with watercolors, absentmindedly takes a sip from the cup of water she was dipping her paint brush in. Bruce Arians approves!

My wife says, “How did that taste?” My daughter only frowns in response.

Tom Brady opens the scoring in Mexico City with a TD to one of his running backs ... Kevin Faulk? No, Dion Lewis. Hey, speaking of Mexico, the new Pixar joint looks amazing.

Oh yeah, that’s gonna give me a good cry.

— Nathan Peterman has now thrown his THIRD interception. It’s still the first quarter.

Keenan Allen is in for a TD, and it’s 17-7, Chargers. Allen doesn’t look quick, but he’s just so smooth. I can’t think of another receiver that big who moves with such grace and without any wasted movement. I hope he can avoid the injury problems that have followed him to this point.

— Peterman throws a FOURTH pick! This is amazing. I stop watching the games to follow Twitter, where the ’Rod Squad is gleefully destroying Sean McDermott and the Bills management.

You’ll notice in the above picture that Taylor has “Born to Lose” tattooed on his bicep; on his other one is “Built to Win.” When he leaves Buffalo — and he should, for an organization that actually welcomes him as a perfectly solid quarterback (’sup, Jacksonville?) — he should find some space for “Benched Too Soon.”

— A Peterman fumbled snap leads to third-and-7, and let me tell you: I have rarely been so tense as watching Nathan Peterman, sitting on four interceptions, wait to take a snap on a passing down. (He threw incomplete. It was not particularly close to being complete.)

— Did Nathan Michael Peterman throw a fifth interception? You are extremely goddamn right he did.

— As the games go into halftime, the Chargers lead the Bills 37-7, the Pats take a 17-0 lead on a 62-yarder from Stephen Gostkowski, and the Bengals lead in Denver, 13-7. The lone close game is the one I have no interest in watching. Orange teams are crap.


— My kids practice saying “Touchdown!” while throwing their arms up in the air. The 3-year-old has it down cold, but my son’s pronunciation isn’t quite there. It starts out as “DA-DA!” but he manages to get to “TOUSH-DAWN!” by the 30th or 40th try. It definitely did not get old, I’ll tell you that much.

Brandin Cooks ends any realistic hope for the Raiders with a 64-yard touchdown that is all speed and no safety help. I won’t even link to a highlight because it’s not even that interesting. Imagine a really fast guy running past a person, then catching a ball in stride and continuing to run. There you go.

— Tyrod Taylor is back! He converts a third-and-12 and leads the offense to a field goal. Whoa, CRAZY how the Bills offense works better when the more talented quarterback plays. Sean McDermott is either the stupidest asshole in the league, or he’s being told by management to back Peterman and too spineless to say no.

— I get my son out of the bath, put him in a diaper and pajamas, give him his milk, and somehow manage to cut his fingernails without turning our house into the Octagon. The kid can’t catch a ball, but brandish some nail clippers and he’s suddenly a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Usually, if I want to keep him from scratching his face with his talons while he sleeps, I have to put him in an arm bar while he screams bloody murder.

But not this time! He just drinks his milk and doesn’t struggle. Now, if you don’t have kids, you probably never think about this kind of thing. But as a parent, please allow me to shout, THIS IS SUCH AN EASY THING THAT CHILDREN MAKE SO GODDAMN HARD ARRRRGGGHHH.

— Down 27-0, the Raiders go for it on fourth-and-1, and hand it off to ... a running back who is NOT Marshawn Lynch. He gets stuffed. JESUS. What black magic does Belichick have that makes opposing coaches ignore Lynch at crucial moments?

— The Raiders score a touchdown I don’t see because this is happening:

The great thing about writing is that you can easily work from home

I saved my daughter’s notes:

bv bvb vt /ER;/.SZrd6s4\-}){“:$D[‘c tgc raLKUoYPTOIUYTR’=\][

OK, so we’ve got some room to improve. She does better work with emojis.

— My son picks a book off the table, drops it on the floor, and bends down to pick it up, not accounting for the table that’s in his head’s path. BONK. He’s got a red welt on his forehead, and it’s at least the fourth time this afternoon he’s fallen or otherwise hurt himself (he also pulled open a tape measure, which retracted and whipped him in the face). He’s a disaster.

On the screen, the clock ticks down on the Chargers’ 54-24 blowout. Sean McDermott looks grim but steadfast. In the other room, my daughter channels The Rock’s voice to yell the final lines of his song in Moana: “AND THANK YOU!”