There's nothing like a Sunday afternoon at the sports bar during football season. Satellites beam a dozen different games to 50 televisions. Fans congregate beneath their chosen screens, drink beers and eat wings, chit-chat, cheer, boo, gasp, and laugh. It's an exciting, welcoming atmosphere.
Except for that one shouting guy. (It's almost always a guy). He is not joining in the revelry, cheering on the home team or booing the opponent, clapping for a touchdown or coaxing on an 80-yard touchdown with a rousing "Go! Go!" He is angry and bellicose, and he has his own agenda. He is screaming remarks that are so out-of-place that he distracts and annoys everyone else. Some of what he hollers is mean. Much of it is stupid. All of it is too, too loud.
Don't be that guy! Here are five (well, six) things you should never shout during a football afternoon at the local sports bar. These remarks sour the atmosphere, call way too much attention to the person who makes them, and generally make you the guy your buddies try to ditch next Sunday.
5. Call a Timeout! Don't Call a Timeout! Spike the Ball! Don't Spike the Ball!
Coaches often have trouble with clock management. Quarterbacks in hurry-up mode often have trouble with clock management. But you know who really has trouble with clock management? A bunch of guys who have been drinking beer for three hours.
There are dozens of variables at play in every late-and-close football situation, including the score, number of timeouts, complexity of the offense, fatigue of the players, comfort and experience level of the quarterback, and more. Believe it or not, there are few hard-and-fast "right" answers to clock management dilemmas. Yet somehow one dude at the bar has all the right answers. And guess what? All of his solutions are the exact opposite of what the idiot coach and overpaid choke-artist quarterback are doing!
The best time-management shouting situations come with two minutes left, one timeout, and 50 yards needed to set up the game-winning field goal. The veteran quarterback moves his team at a brisk-but-not-urgent pace. Mister Clock Expert Screamer Guy has a conniption. What the hell is he doing! THAT LAZY BUM IS WASTING TIME! Sure enough, the lazy bum gets the offense to the 20-yard line, right hashmark, with six seconds left, then calls the timeout and lets his kicker win the day. Unfortunately, the Clock Expert Screamer never shouts a mea culpa: "My bad! I suppose Eli Manning practices and analyzes clock-management strategies more thoroughly than I do!"
4. I could do a better job!
Comic exaggeration can be a fun way to razz a player or team that is having an awful day. My grandpa runs faster than you! My six-year old throws harder than that quarterback! A litter of kittens hits harder than this defense!
But there is a big difference between saying Aunt Petunia is a better coach-quarterback and saying YOU are a better coach-quarterback. The first is a joke. The second is a boast, and everyone assumes that the person shouting this claim really believes it, because usually the person who shouts this claim really does believe it, at least after the second or third bucket of beers. Listen carefully, and every "I'm a better quarterback than that guy" announcement is followed by a lengthy aside to the drinking buddies or long-suffering wife/girlfriend. "I really can. I started for a season-and-a-half for Queen of Mercy Prep in 1998-99, remember. Give me Vincent Jackson to throw to and I would have more than 125 yards." All of this said to a group of people who watched Better Job Guy get winded walking from the parking lot.
The Better Job Screamer shifts the focus of attention at the sports bar from the NFL games to a dissatisfied loudmouth. That is never a good thing for dissatisfied loudmouths, who are not as entertaining as NFL games. No, buddy, you could not do a better job than Josh Freeman or Geno Smith. Your eyes would cloud over as you tried to figure out what the play call meant. If you managed to gurgle the play out in the huddle, you would take the snap and wet your pants. Even if your line blocked like the 1983 Hogs for you, you would look down the field in panicked confusion, utterly fail to recognize open receivers, and (at best) deliver a wobbly pass two seconds late and 20 mph too slow to one of the three defenders who jumped in front of your intended receiver. Now seriously, have another buffalo wing and keep the delusions of grandeur to yourself.
3. Tie: Give the Ball to My Fantasy Running Back! and Kick a Field Goal, Because I Bet the Over!
If the Bears are at the goal-line against the Vikings, the dozens of people around you at the sports bar include a wide cross-section of Bears fans, Vikings fans, dispassionate fans enjoying the game, people who started Matt Forte in their fantasy league, people playing against Matt Forte in their fantasy league, people who started Jay Cutler and/or Brandon Marshall (or even Michael Bush), people who have the Bears or Vikings in office pools, and even people watching other games, or other sports, or simply having lunch.
In short, everybody has their own thing, and no one cares at all about your fantasy league. So shouting Give it to Forte again! No, don't put Bush in! What the hell is wrong with you! Touchdown, Brandon Marshall? Son-of-a … makes Fantasy Screamer sound like a myopic, self-absorbed lunatic who expects everyone to share his joy or misery about minor events in a game he plays on his computer. It's only slightly more acceptable than standing up and shouting Damn it! The Creepers overran my Minecraft stronghold! How come no one else is as angry about this as I am?
The same goes for the Gambling Screamer. Most people watching a Giants game either want the Giants to win or lose; they don't insist that the Giants win by four or that the combined game score exceeds 47 points. Gambling is also illegal, though lightly frowned about, so announcing you have money riding on the Giants is like shouting that you have a dime bag of weed in your pocket. It's a little unseemly to flout society's little niceties, which is why there are dozens of people at every bar with money on various games who manage to not scream Don't settle for a field goal, the line is seven-and-a-half! like some Mickey Rourke character.
By the way, research has found an inverse correlation between the amount of money a gambler has riding on a game and the amount of sports bar screaming he does. In other words, someone with ten grand riding on the Panthers is likely to curl into a pretzel of silent despair when he loses his bet, while the guy leaping around and calling Steve Johnson a "scuzzwad" put ten dollars down on a three-team parlay during a trip to Vegas in early August.
2. You suck, Peyton Manning!
Oh, it doesn't have to be Peyton Manning. It could be Aaron Rodgers or Calvin Johnson. But usually, it really is Peyton Manning. (Tom Brady usually gets "pretty boy" instead of "you suck," which would rank seventh or eighth on this countdown. No one ever says anything bad about Drew Brees, ever, which is one of mankind's great triumphs/mysteries).
There are three kinds of Peyton Sucks Screamers. There's:
You suck because you did not score points for my fantasy team or cover the spread. Technically, these guys should be lumped among the Gambling or Fantasy Screamers, though Peyton's long-time importance to fantasy football and gambling make him an institution unto himself.
You suck because you are the quarterback facing my favorite team. Shouting angry things during an important local game can be healthy fun, though "I hate you, Peyton Manning" would be more accurate.
You suck because you are not really a good quarterback. Now, this is the one that merits the #2 spot on a countdown of shouted stupidity. Way to see through the narrative of the lamestream media, shouter! Your tinfoil admiral's hat protects you from the pro-Peyton propaganda that has transformed this average quarterback with a peashooter arm and no big-game courage into an undeserving superstar! If you could only convince others to free their minds from the tyranny of statistics/facts/results/the obvious by visiting your truther site and opening their eyes to the fact that Manning would be nothing without Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Knowshon Moreno, and that new Julius Thomas kid who is suddenly mysteriously awesome. Until the sheeple wake up, shouting Peyton Sucks across crowded bars and earholing nearby patrons are the only ways to advance your agenda. Hey, it takes courage to support an unpopular opinion, and even more courage to support an unpopular, incorrect, utterly moronic one.
1. Break His Neck!
You can usually spot super-casual fans at the sports bar, the ones who only come out for playoff games or the big rivalries. They like to shout "Kill Him!" during the opening kickoff return, because they think that is what football fans do: we get drunk and act like unhinged, hateful lunatics, right?
But football fans are not really a bloodthirsty mob who would watch Roman gladiators if we got the chance. And then there is the angry crank at the bar who shouts things like "break his neck" when a player is running for a touchdown, or standing in the pocket, or jogging around the field during warm-ups.
While "kill him" is so exaggerated that it is a little silly, the Violent Screamer crosses several Gregg Williams boundaries with his specific, disturbing jeers. Break his ribs. Puncture his lung. Cut the brake lines on his car, then find his cell phone and leave a bunch of apps running so the battery dies and he cannot call 911 after he crashes headlong into a ditch.
Most shouts across a crowded room are pleas for attention, but this one is a plea for professional help. Violent screamer is a seething cauldron of rage with a loose grip on social acceptability. He may not need medication or a shrink, but he does need a backrub, a nature hike along a babbling creek, perhaps a little more sleep, and a loved one to intervene and say "hey, everything's okay, the world is a beautiful place, and Marshawn Lynch did nothing to personally hurt you."
Beyond the Pale Bonus Entry: Homophobic Screamer.
Most of us don't go to bars where patrons openly shout racial slurs, but anti-gay insults are still somewhat common. Fellow patrons generally frown upon hearing them, but people who are deterred by frowning social disapproval are usually people who would not shout anything across a room in the first place.
And if you are still making the Tony Romo "joke," please go back to 2006 and find some junior high kids who might find it funny.