In this week’s edition, Andrea and Brian discuss the media’s reporting of injuries in today’s age, and then discuss the most impactful injuries around the league. Hold on to all of your -CL’s.
This week, we are once again blessed by the presence of the inaugural F*BALL NFL Podcast Hall of Fame inductee. @RumfordJohnny is back to give you more fantasy knowledge than you thought you would need, and to remind you to not draft a kicker. Prepare yourself.
The F*BALL NFL Podcast Preseason Spectacular continues with more in-depth previews, this time for all 16 teams in the AFC. SI’s Chris Burke takes his turn on the velvet chaise for this football podcast action.
The F*BALL NFL Podcast is back. Andrea and Brian return from a brief hiatus now that actual NFL on-field activity has begun. In the first effort to get everyone prepared for the impending NFL madness, we are joined by Will Brinson of CBSSports.com’s Eye On Football for an in-depth NFC breakdown. Bask in the glory. Take in some football.
On this edition of the F*BALL NFL Podcast, Andrea and Brian hash out some of the latest offseason news including: The NFL Draft Delay, the London Jaguars, and Ben Roethlisberger’s knee. Short but succulent.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, thoroughly surrounded by enough rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fandom that eventually, I succumbed. I was also born and raised a girl, and now, as a fully realized 31 year old woman, I have chosen a career path uncommon to my gender: Professional NFL columnist.
My journey to reach this point has been long, meandering, halting and strange. On one hand, it makes total sense—my goal in life had, after all, been to pay all of my bills with money earned solely from writing and my time-honed interest in and deep knowledge of the workings of the NFL gave me a great opportunity to do just that. It took me a while to get to that realization, and to build the lucky connections that have allowed me to do this for a living. But the idea of “writing about football” and the realities can often be two different things, and so much of it has to do with the fact that I am an Andrea, not an Andrew.
It also has to do with the fact that I am a feminist.
For some, the ideals of feminism do not line up with what actively happens in the NFL, whether on the field or off it. Inherently, it’s a boys’ club—a game played by boys and men, coached by boys and men, commented on by boys and men and, until very recently, marketed primarily to boys and men. The game is violent, it has hierarchies that are clearly apparent from depth charts to actual team standings and the only women who touch the field are trainers, media members and cheerleaders. I should be personally offended, in some feminists’ minds, by the very existence of the sport. Me, I just see it as something I love watching and love knowing about, any explicit or implicit anti-woman-ness be damned. It feels like liberation just to say that, considering the wall of testosterone this sport has built up around itself as part of its very nature.
I was raised to become a football fan, though I cannot say with the same certainty that I was raised to become a feminist. Especially not a feminist of the type I became.
In the 1990s, through my teenage years and into my 20s, I was the picture of the counterculture. I was a riot grrrl—a militant, punk rock feminist who wrote and published zines, who was confrontational about my beliefs. Football, like many other things, represented to me the dominant culture—and by dominant, that meant created by men for the primary benefit of men, and as such, I rejected it wholesale. I had no need for it, because it had clearly no need for me. I was about creating my own culture—or a culture for women—because the culture we had been placed in wasn’t created for us, and it was done so intentionally so that those with power could maintain it.
As I reached into my 20s, surrounded by ever-more radical peers, I softened a bit. Not my beliefs, but my execution of them, rather. There are other ways of being transgressive in dominant culture other than simply rejecting it—there can also be a level of acceptance of it, of “I know you don’t want me here, but I want to be here, and I am going to be.” You know, the whole, “we’re here, get used to it,” kind of mentality. The culture of the NFL, of MMA, boxing, pro wrestling (all sports that I love) weren’t about me, nor were they explicitly for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep away if I actually want to be there. Like it or not—I’m joining you in this Jack Lambert jersey and I’m not going to be quiet about third-down strategy just because there are boobs in there filling it out rather than a gut full of Iron City.
Female fans? To the typical male NFL fan, they’re alright, something to be tolerated, novel, and maybe a little scary—they’re allowed at the football game, it’s okay. Maybe it’s even a bit exciting: “Oh! A girl who will watch the game with me!” But take that fan and put her on the sideline, the press box, on NFL Total Access, and things get decidedly more dark. She’s a threat. She knows more than you.
Now, sports writers and reporters in general get more than their fair share of vitriol from readers. Few things engender more blind faith and blind rage and blind loyalty and extreme emotional responses than sports and sports teams. It’s just a fact. Male or female, regardless of sport, every single one of us who take to our computers for a living to ruminate on these teams or athletes will be insulted on a regular basis by total strangers more than probably anyone save the athletes and coaches themselves and, I’m guessing, politicians. To do this job, especially solely on the internet (as I do) requires the writer to have a thick skin; the moment you start responding to every detractor or taking every insult personally is the beginning of the end of your career (i.e. sanity). But to do this, as a woman, and keep that in mind every single day is extremely difficult. It’s not just that I’m getting ripped apart by readers who disagree with me—it’s just that, oftentimes, they’re using my very gender, my identity, this thing that I am, full stop, as a way to punctuate or validate their disagreements. It’s tired, predictable, it gets old—and it still doesn’t cease to infuriate.
What all the “get back in the kitchen,” “this is why women shouldn’t write about football,” “I disagree plus also you’re ugly,” and other gendered comments really mean is this: Get out, this isn’t for you. Me, staying, continuing on, not being cowed, considering this my lifelong career and not a pit stop, that’s me saying: This is mine, I’m not moving. I’m here, in the boys’ club, and some of them (and a lot of truly brilliant ones) actually want me here—they didn’t just invite me out of pity or to meet an imaginary quota, I earned it. The NFL is mine, too. All of it. And what could be a more feminist act than that?
As a corollary, I think I have also earned my rage at these anti-woman comments. The basic tenet of how to handle internet commenters—it’s part of the deal, people are going to be mean because anonymity is its own kind of power—can only help so much and can only carry me so far. But it follows from that logic that I must accept that people will say these kinds of horrible things to me and my fellow female sportswriters, that it’s just the way it is, when in actuality it’s an ugly byproduct of a bunch of ugly things converging at once. Things like misogyny, that aforementioned power of internet anonymity, the way sports fans get riled up regardless of the media venue they’re consuming—can’t we just have all this nastiness without bringing gender uselessly into it? There are personal attacks—”You’re stupid! Do you even WATCH football?!”—and then there’s “You’re stupid because you’re a woman!” There’s more than one level of ad hominem in gendered attacks, which makes them not just doubly-fallacious, but doubly-stupid and doubly-frustrating. Because for every five times I see comments like that and think to myself, “Yeah? Well, I’m not going anywhere,” there’s the one time that it hits me, the stark reminder of “This isn’t supposed to be for you, you’re not supposed to be here.” I want more than anything to eradicate this mentality in its entirety, which means I never go—I stay. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept this treatment ever, nor does any other woman who writes about sports, nor does any male sportswriter who supports his female colleagues. “That’s the way it’s always been,” doesn’t mean “that’s the way it will always be.” Even if it doesn’t change, there’s no reason to accept it.
I’ve also seen comments made, primarily on Twitter, by certain other sportswriters, who say either implicitly or explicitly that without firsthand knowledge of the sport being discussed (as in, having played it in college or professionally or having been a scout or coach), then there’s no reason to count that person’s opinions as valid. It’s a way for a particular sect of the established sports media to discredit people like myself who are in the new wave of sports journalism (some call us bloggers, that’s fine) by low-blowing us. However, this line of thinking becomes even more dangerous for us female sportswriters who, especially when things like the NFL are concerned, have no means to have the kind of access these old-guard writers seem to think is required to do this job well. You know what? It would be lovely for me to be writing about the NFL after having a five-year career in the league or after working as a graduate assistant for an SEC football program, but my gender has inherently limited those opportunities. Women do not play in the NFL. Women do not coach in the SEC. Immediately, me and my female peers have a shot against us in the minds of some power brokers in this business, for literally no fault of our own. That our colleagues in journalism hold these beliefs is incredibly damaging. It’s bad enough that male-bodied NFL writers have to be subjected to what is basically public shaming; it’s another altogether to be a woman in this field and see someone highly respected basically say that my woman-ness makes me a non-starter as a qualified NFL analyst. I was born with nothing useful to say about the NFL. What a gut-punch.
Now, you and I both know that this isn’t true. But it’s another example of how unwanted women are in this business, by both consumers of this media and by some of the people who are best-known for creating it. Think hard: How many female NFL beat writers and full-time (as in paid, professional) bloggers do you know of? It’s a staggeringly low number. Lower than there are talented female NFL analysts and writers. More often, the higher-profile women of NFL media are sideline reporters or facilitators of round-table discussion among those more “qualified” to talk about the ins and outs of the game, like former players, former coaches and the nebulous “insiders,” of whom all are men. The difference between Lindsay Rhodes and Albert Breer isn’t NFL knowledge or access—it’s gender.
That’s why I consider what I do for a living a seriously feminist act. I didn’t even come into this job thinking about how “women don’t do this,” I just went ahead and did it, pursuing my passion just so I knew I could wake up every morning loving my job instead of dreading it like I had in the past. But the professional world I occupy isn’t one that has been designed for me, and in many ways, doesn’t even try to accomodate me. I’ve had to take up my position, claim my space in a sea of men—some of whom have been incredibly unsupportive—plant my flag and say, with full conviction, “I’m not moving, you can’t push hard enough to make me.” I’m doing what I love, even though there are people who actively hate me for it, simply because what I love was supposed to belong to men and well, me, I’m not a man. In its own way, this carries a subversive power that can only be described as a true feminist act.
—Andrea Hangst, AFC North Lead Writer, Bleacher Report; Editor and F*BALL NFL Podcast host; Pro Football Focus fantasy football contributor
And now, for something a little different, I present to you the very best oven-braised pulled pork I have ever made, which is perfect for NFL game days or just whenever you’re hungry and have a little time.
As much bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) as you want (this recipe fits a 2-3 lb shoulder; increase amounts accordingly), without skin, trimmed of the majority of the top layer of fat*
1 can Dr. Pepper (please, do not use diet or low-calorie Dr. Pepper. If you can find an all-sugar, no corn syrup variety, even better)
Canned chipotles in adobo (I used two chipotles and about two heaping tablespoons of the adobo because they’re quite spicy and I didn’t want this too spicy. This is up to you, but be sure to use at least the two-by-two method I use so you can get the proper smokiness)
1 regular old yellow or white onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons of a spice mix (I used my own “special” blend of onion powder—not salt, garlic powder—again, not garlic salt, black pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, cumin, actual salt)
Tiny little 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (I use Goya)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Big, heavy lidded dutch oven or the closest oven-safe pot you have that will fit your shoulder
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Peel and cut your onion into wedges and put in bottom of your pot.
Peel the garlic cloves and lightly smash but do not slice them and put them in with the onion.
Trim any excessive layers of fat from top of pork shoulder and put it in pot over the onions and garlic.
Sprinkle the spice mix over the pork, but it’s alright if some lands on the onions and garlic instead.
Pour in the can of Dr. Pepper, throw in the chipotles and adobo and then the can of tomato sauce.
Fill up tomato sauce can with water two or three times and put that in the pot—you basically want all but the top 2 inches of the shoulder submersed in your brew. Also add in the tablespoon of vinegar and stir everything together a bit.
Put the lid on and oven that sucker up. My two-pound roast took about four hours; larger shoulder cuts can take six or eight hours, so plan accordingly!
Turn the shoulder over once per hour. Once it starts getting all fall-aparty, then it’s done. Take the pot out of the oven.
Put the pork in a big bowl and let it cool down so you can handle it.
Strain the sauce from the big pot into a smaller one that will hold everything and discard the remaining solids.
(If you have a fat-straining measuring cup thing, this would be a good use for it. Otherwise, let the sauce sit in the pot without heat under it for a while so that the fat rises to the top and then skim it off with a spoon or ladle.)
Once the fat is skimmed, simmer the sauce until it cooks down into a near barbecue sauce-like consistency. This could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on quantity. Taste it. It may or may not need salt. Add salt if it does.
Shred the pork, discarding any large pieces of fat and of course, the bone.
When sauce is reduced enough take a few tablespoons to a quarter-cup (depending on size of your shoulder) and add it to the shredded pork.
Serve pork with sauce on the side. I prefer it on flour tortillas with pickled red onions (Rick Bayless’ recipe is very easy and can be found here) and fresh cilantro. You can add queso fresco or perhaps monterrey jack cheese, or whatever you like. Also, you can also throw some fresh sliced jalepenos to the pickled onion recipe, which is pretty nice.
Ta-freaking-da! You have the best ever oven-braised pulled pork. Easy, right?
*I get my pork shoulder from a fancy-pants local butcher that sources whole hogs from one farm. If you don’t have the access to or resources for such a place, just get the highest-quality bone-in pork shoulder you can find at your favorite grocery store. Bone-in is important, as it helps retain moisture and adds flavor, but if all you can get is boneless, that’s fine as well.
On this edition, Andrea and Brian break down some recent news and notes around the league before bringing in Bleacher Report’s AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz (@erikfrenz) for a divisional update.
This week on the F*BALL NFL Podcast, Andrea and Brian examine the Draftermath. A brief look at the more notable and/or quizzical draft hauls by the Bills, Vikings, Lions and Jets. We know you need this and are glad to give it to you.
The Draft madness continues when @RumfordJohnny (2mugsff.com) joins us to wax eloquent on anticipated performances of tomorrow’s NFLer’s. This is the dessert course to our Draftsgiving feast.
THE F*BALL NFL PODCAST: EPISODE 48: DRAFTACULAR PART 2! - RUNNING BACKS AND DEFENSIVE BACKS, PLUS EMMANUEL SANDERS WAIT WHAT?
DRAFTACULAR CONTINUES! Part 2 Andrea and Brian continue the ramp up to the NFL Draft with the second of three Draftacular editions featuring @rumfordjohnny of 2mugsff.com. This show’s sweeter than a profiterole.
On this week’s show, Andrea and Brian welcome back the F*BALL Hall of Fame Guest, @rumfordjohnny, for an epic draft primer. So epic, it’s leaking into the next show. It’s Draftlemania XXIX.
This week we examine how the Baltimore Ravens prove that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and how the NFL again misses the mark when addressing player safety. A short one, but no less beautiful.
This week on the F*BALL NFL Podcast, Andrea and Brian give a wild and crazy free agency period a proper wrap up session by bringing in Ty Schalter, who goes over almost every signing but forgets Louis Vasquez.
Where have all the Ravens gone? Who might have overspent for their signings? Why is Jake Long’s physical taking so long? and What in the heck were the Titans thinking? Find out now!