By Andre Pegeron
For a time, drinking was reserved for “the fun days,” Fridays and Saturdays. In many states, you couldn’t even buy alcohol on a Sunday. 1 The NFL has changed all of that: Sunday is now safe for drinking. (So are the rest of the days, if you’re in college.) West Coast fans have reason as early as 10am to crack a beer. Maybe 9:30, to soothe the nerves for kickoff. Marcus Mariota’s friends in Hawaii can start as early as 7:00 and be passed out in front of the 4th quarter of Sunday Night Football by dinnertime. If you don’t think football has opened up the world of drinking, consider how depraved any of this behavior would be on any given non-football Tuesday.
Alcohol enhances emotional expression, allowing fans to invest even more in the games they watch. Especially for the emotionally-repressed men of modern society, the drink can be a key to unlock honest emotional expression. Whether it’s a cheers after a touchdown, a scornful sip after a bad penalty, or a fifth after a loss, as we paint the emotional picture of our Sunday, the drink is our paintbrush. 2 It’s almost essential: Without beer, what would we crack open with the boys? 3
In biology, a symbiotic relationship is when two species benefit from a cooperative behavior. For example, when a bird cleans the teeth of a crocodile, or when a moth befriends a lightning bug when it’s trying to quit the lamp. These situations are a win-win: the bird gets a free meal, and the crocodile doesn’t have to go to the dentist where he will be shamed for not flossing. The NFL and drinking form a similar symbiotic relationship: the NFL encourages people to drink on Sundays, and drinking brings out the die-hard fan inside our hearts.
But biology is no one-trick pony. 4 Biology also brings us Darwin’s theory of natural selection, named after its discoverer, biologist and running back Darwin Thompson of the Kansas City Chiefs. Darwin realized that the animals on the various islands of the Galapagos had a tremendous capacity to evolve and change, coining the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species 5 that survives, nor the most intelligent, 6 but the one most responsive to change.” And while the symbiotic relationship between alcohol and the NFL is an enduring one, it has not been very responsive to change. 7 To prevent the NFL and Alcohol’s tag-team belt from being taken by a challenger (most likely candidate: trampolines and quaaludes), it must evolve. Much like how birds developed wings, or humans developed a tolerance for people who hike, the league must develop a new capacity that allows it to reach new heights. The logical step? A drinking game.
For this drinking game to work, it needs add excitement to your Sunday. It needs to appeal to hardcore fans and newbies alike, so nothing too complicated. (“Oh, the offense just ran ‘FB West Right Slot 372 Y Stick!’ Everybody drink!”) And for it to have staying power, it needs to center a star of the league. Someone young and well-liked. Someone like Patrick Mahomes.
Which brings us to the…
PATRICK MAHOMES DRINKING GAME
Every time Patrick Mahomes throws a touchdown pass, he takes a shot.
That’s it, that’s the game.
Q: That’s it? That’s the game?
Q: Don’t drinking games usually involve everyone drinking together?
Q: So can I drink during the Patrick Mahomes drinking game?
Everyone loves tuning in to watch Patrick Mahomes air it out to his speed demon receivers. 8 The Chiefs played some amazing games last year where we got to see Patrick Mahomes snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But even for the league’s juggernauts, not every game is exciting. The Chiefs’ 26-3 drubbing of the Bears was a snoozefest. But if in the 4th quarter Mahomes’ BAC was hovering around the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle? 9 Must see TV.
We’ve seen Mahomes do it all: throw, run, jump. Now we get to see him drink. Mahomes already has a gunslinger mentality when sober. What will he do a couple drinks deep? We know that Mahomes has lobbied Andy Reid to let him throw behind-the-back passes. And that’s just the thing that got published! What else is he thinking? Tactical fumble? Two footballs? Try to break the jumbotron at Jerryworld? The sky’s the limit! Mahomes’ creativity and playmaking ability would be truly unlocked by the drink. 10 Also, Andy Reid isn’t allowed to yell at him or sub him out. Them’s the rules.
Haters will say that playing the Patrick Mahomes drinking game is irresponsible. It’s dangerous, unnecessary, and promotes reckless behavior. However, this same thing is true of getting a college degree, and yet our nation’s 18 year-olds saddle themselves with debt just to take part. Haters might also ask: Why would a team willingly hurt themselves competitively? It won’t be a choice: Think of it as another measure to enhance the parity of the league. Teams that win the Super Bowl get worse draft picks. Teams that have Patrick Mahomes have to play the Patrick Mahomes drinking game. We already handicap the top teams in the league, and it hasn’t stopped Tom & Bill 11 from winning an annoying number of games year after year. Let’s handicap teams until the super bowl odds are an even 1/32 across the board, and we can start with alcohol.
Another question: Will Patrick Mahomes’ liver be able to take the beating? Andrew Luck retired at age 29 just because he had some boo-boos on his rib cartilage, kidney, throwing shoulder, abdomen, and ankle. Luke Kuelchy retired at 28 after multiple head injuries too serious to write jokes about. Could Patrick Mahomes retire at 27 because he’s too effing hammered? Would this game cut short the career of one of the league’s potential legends? Solution: We could always just pick another player to get drunk instead.
Perhaps the crown could get passed around. Perhaps the previous year’s MVP should be tasked with trying to repeat his stats with both a Super Bowl hangover and a literal hangover. They’re probably going to regress to the mean anyway, 12 so why not have some fun with it? Perhaps fantasy teams can get bonus points for the number of shots that player takes. There’s a variety of paths forward for this rule, but we will never be able to optimize it if we don’t implement it. While there will undoubtedly be some initial growing pains, I have faith that the NFL will find ways to adjust this rule to the league’s benefit as time goes on, until ultimately alcohol is such a part of the game that we wonder why it took so long to introduce this rule in the first place.
I can picture it now:
“Kansas City with the ball, down 3. 4th and 9, the Chiefs need a big play here or they’re going home. Mahomes lines up in shotgun, trips right with Kelce on the short side of the field. He takes the snap, three step drop, trips over his own legs…oh boy. OK, he’s back up, good protection from the offensive line. Evades the defender. Scrambles to the sideline. A pump fake, not very convincing but it does the trick. Jukes another defender. He’s running around back there. I don’t think he’s even looking downfield? It looks like he’s just playing tag with the defense… OK, he finally winds up. Huge windup! Drops the ball. Scoops it up, winds up again! And what’s this? HE JUMPS IN THE AIR! A 360 SPIN! HE RELEASES THE BALL UNDER A LEG WITH HIS EYES CLOSED! WHAT AN ELECTRIFYING DISPLAY OF ATHLETICISM! …And it hits his offensive lineman square in the back and falls to the ground. Incomplete pass, turnover on downs.”
“You gotta make plays to win the game, but that one just wasn’t there for him. You love to see guys get creative, but the 360 blind between-the-legs pass is gonna be something he has to unlearn as he matures as a quarterback.”
“You can see the disappointment in Mahomes’ eyes as he cries over the gatorade jug on the sideline.”
“I believe he’s puking, Buck.”
“Right you are, Clyde. So there you have it, folks. The Rams get the victory, 52-49. Mahomes ties Foles’ record with 7 touchdown passes in the game, but he couldn’t get the big one when it counted.”
- God kept buying it all ↩
- The drink is half-key, half-paintbrush. It’s a Darth Maul-style baton. On one end is a paintbrush and on the other end is a key. Does this metaphor make sense? Sorry, I’ve been drinking. ↩
- Pistachios? Geodes? ↩
- Or as the biologists say, one-trick equus ferrus caballus ↩
- Gorillas on steroids. ↩
- Owls in graduation caps. ↩
- Interestingly, alcohol HAS caused significant reform to the legal system, due to the Supreme Court’s ruling that there “ain’t no laws when you’re drinkin’ the claws.” ↩
- Tyreek Hill is also just a regular demon ↩
- 0.08%, unless you’re “totally fine, bro” ↩
- Using the key side, not the paintbrush side ↩
- I am of course talking about Tom Savage & Bill O’Brien ↩
- Source: Analytics ↩