I type with fingers that are both exhausted yet energized. We are closing the year with a frenzy of tapings guaranteed to ruin your holiday period. In truth, they are so bloody good, but our tiny team is totally underwater in edits. Right now, we are feeling all of the emotions. First up, the 87th annual John Oliver Holiday Special on Monday night. What a bloke John Oliver is. I admire his football fandom and the role of release and emotional connection the game facilitates in his life. More than that, I am consistently blown away by his ability to do what we do… but so much better!
You all know someone like him. A human who does not do your job, but when he dabbles at it he is so much more talented than you could ever be, in a way that is staggering and awe-inspiring. I know Men In Blazers is Crap. What is hard to describe is just how hard we work to create that crap. Research. Writing. Pre-producing. More research. Every year, John just strolls into our studio (or, in times of pandemic, onto our Zoom) and effortlessly delivers insight after insight, running the gamut from humor to wisdom to pure footballing analysis. This year we cover all the bases: Jota, Big Virg, Insta Jose, Pulisic’s Beard, the wonder of Marcus Rashford, Adam Driver’s football fandom, and winning an Emmy in a Liverpool hoodie.
2. Men In Blazers makes a Dark World even Darker
i. John Oliver Holiday Special THIS MONDAY Dec. 21 at 5.30 PM ET on NBCSN.
ii. Arsene Wenger Special Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 5.30 PM ET on NBCSN. Arsenal fans. This one is for you. Arsene comes in hot, ready to talk about birth, death, love, fear, and every other major philosophical question ever posed. We also talk about zippers and his inability to master them. A slice of magic.
iii. Our Preview of this weekend’s big games is available HERE. Thanks to the mighty DraftKings for their partnership which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since B.B. Access its Sportsbook here. For a limited time, all new users can get a sign-up bonus up to $1,000. Just enter code MIB when you sign up.
iii. Everton v Arsenal (Saturday 12.30 PM ET NBCSN)
Theo Walcott’s spirit will fly around Goodison Park in a game with wheels within wheels storylines. Mikel Arteta returns to the ground at which he salvaged his career as a player, hoping it will do the same for his managerial aspirations. Everton lack James and Allan. Alex Iwobi will hope he can become the latest Arsenal discard to hurt the club which spurned him. These two teams are essentially cut from the same cloth. Arsenal versus Arsenal of the North. Clubs built of passionate dreams and shattered hope. Whatever the score, masochism will be the only winner.
iv. Tottenham v Leicester City (Sunday 9.15 AM ET NBCSN)
Both clubs arrive with wounded pride after defeats against Merseyside’s Twin Powers. Mourinho has the most scintillating attacking duo in the Premier League. When you watch them, you wonder one thing: Why does he not use them more? Leicester are a team made in Brodge’s image: Devilishly handsome and with obscenely white teeth. The match may revolve around James Maddison’s ability to unlock the Spurs rearguard.
What Holiday gift can you get for the football fan in your life that has already purchased this year’s home, away, and alternate jersey? Icons is a veritable house of treasures that can transport you to the pitch next to all of the greats. Jerseys and memorabilia signed by all the greats. Not just Messi and Maradona, but Thierry Henry, KDB, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Trent Alexander Arnold and more. Finished Basements cry out for this stuff. I have just hung a signed Messi jersey, a Carli Lloyd 2015, and an Everton 1984 FA Cup Final winners jersey in mine.
Get 10% off your purchase!Go to ICONS.com and enter code “MIB10.”
That is it for today. One last request: Take a minute to watch this short clip of an interview with Marcus Rashford and his mother Mel. Marcus is, for me, the story of the season, picking up the mantle of the issue of child poverty and hunger and campaigning on it in an authentic, powerful, consistent, dedicated fashion. Every goal of his seems like a reward for human goodness, leadership and kindness. I revere how he has pioneered a new model of Premier League footballer. That of sporting hero turned statesman, using their platform as a force of good.
There is so much wisdom in this video. Marcus says, “All the struggles and sacrifices. I don’t see it as a weakness because I think in sports you have to have to something to drive you… When you come from a place of struggle and pain it switches and becomes your drive and motivation.”
I think the secret to overcoming 2020 lies in here for many of us.
To better days ahead for all of you. To life. To love. To strength. To making memories through football.