A Night at Johnny Football’s Imperial Swag-Circus

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My name is Todd, and I am a Cleveland Browns intern.

This is a chronicle of my time at the Johnny Football party at The 9 in downtown Cleveland. Yeah, that one.

Weeks old news, you say? Weeks old hangover, I say. Give a bro a break.

Yes, there was a cockatoo flying around screeching “YOLO.” Yes, there were chocolate chandeliers made of Snickers. Yes, there was a mime rolling joints on a poker table. No, none of the players partook. I know because I was standing next to the mime, guarding JFF’s model train collection from an angry Barkevious Claus and a pair of naked Kappa Kappa Gammas wearing beer funnels as necklaces.

I should start over.

For the past seven months I’ve served on the JFF Baller Patrol. That’s the name we gave ourselves. JFF is baller, so we too, the chosen interns assigned to overwatch our franchise’s most precious commodity, are also baller. Transitive property. Look it up.

We don’t talk to JFF much, unless you count him cursing at us in the morning when we wake him for practice with a bucket of water to the face. Through all his F-bombs and comments about our mothers, we can tell he’s grateful. Mostly we talk to Twist, his boy from College Station, and Twist talks to him, and then JFF talks to Twist, and Twist talks to us.

It’s not the best system, but let’s be real, it’s still more efficient than how San Fran gets plays in to Kaepernick.

Before we get to the night of Dirty Santas and Naughty Elves—uhh, that was the theme, did you even college?—a preamble: JFF is baller. JFF is gonna JFF, and the sooner my employer figures that out—or remembers it, they drafted him partly for his ballerness, after all—the sooner they’ll stop being a national laughingstock. JFF works hard to play hard, like that writer-bro from Californication. JFF loves that fucking show.

Does he have a drinking problem? That’s a loaded question. I mean, what 22-year old in America doesn’t have a drinking problem? Suck on that, Skip Bayless.

Anyways. That Friday afternoon, we Baller Patrol interns got a text from Twist. “Xmas bash 2nite,” it read. “Bring Tostitos + pool floaty things.”

We were excited! This was a big deal. We’d never been invited to a JFF party before, though I’d seen a lot of pictures on his lady’s Instagram. (You could say I’m a fan of hers. And by fan, I mean madly in lust with. Also, I’m legally obligated to share that she blocked me on Twitter for asking what her calves smelled like.) And even though Twist followed up his initial text with “Oops, wrong thread, sorry yo” he felt bad later and re-invited us. “You can be like extra security,” he said.

“Fa rizzle,” we replied.

Twist made us promise never to say “Fa rizzle” again. And we still had to bring Tostitos and pool floaty things.

Contrary to what the damn liberal media has reported, the party wasn’t in JFF’s apartment. How crazy would that be? It was on The 9’s rooftop, at the indoor dog park. Apparently it was the only place they could fit the slip ‘n slides for the plus-size strippers. When I got there—20 minutes late, just as my mom advised, gotta look fresh—Twist was telling an old lady in a fur coat she and her chow might want to go elsewhere for pooping tonight.

“YOLO,” he  explained.

She didn’t get it.

How to explain the scene to people who weren’t there. How did that Bible bro explain the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Twist and the rest of the Texas crew—Chili Ratchet, The Rascal King, Emo Ed and Ernie the Dog—really outdid themselves. There were strobe lights, a deejay flown in from Miami Beach, an ice luge shaped like Kate Upton—most surreal thing I’ve ever been a part of. Hundreds of people, dancing, grinding, getting their swag on, and not one was a day over 25. No olds allowed.

Seriously. They were ID’ing at the front. One guy in a wrinkled button-up got rejected three times. What an old.

The TMZ whispers are true—the Biebs was there. In person, he’s more muppet than man, and one of the strippers tried to pack him up in a suitcase until his security guard intervened. I wanted to give the Biebs a big hug, he looked so distraught. Twist gave him a lollipop made of cocaine to cheer him up.

Yeah, other players were there, too. Star wideout Bluntatron and rookie corner Not-Kyle Fuller were in the hot tub, playing a game of chicken with the Shannon Twins from Playboy. Our punter was getting harassed by the Karate Kid Ralph Macchio, who kept trying to reenact what happened Week 1 against the Steelers. Punter PTSD and holiday parties are an ugly mix, I will leave it at that.

Brian Hoyer was not there. Because Hoyer sucks. And is un-baller. Probably the most un-baller Browns quarterback since Doug Pederson. I don’t need to tell you what that means.

And then there’s the man himself. JF f’ing F. Nike would’ve been so proud. He was raised up on a Cirque du Soleil platform, between the rose champagne fountain and the VIP lounge reserved for King James and the LePosse. (They did not show up.) Get this—JFF is so baller, he didn’t even dress up for his own event. He was wearing a bathrobe (eggshell white, with a big orange swoosh on the back) and SpongeBob flippy-floppies. He had an unlit firecracker in his mouth like a cigar, his hair slicked back like a damn G. He’d turned the visor from his football helmet into wraparound shades, and the brightest thing in the whole bash was the Chick-fil-A Bowl ring he’d stuck on his left pinky.

He kept humping the air to the beat of the dance music, real subtle like—one hump, two hump, three hump, four. He wasn’t humping anything in particular, just all of it. The whole scene.

I like to think he was humping all of us.

He had this look—like he was invincible to booze, drugs, even the temptation of young female flesh. He was above it all. Who cares about beating Baltimore after you’ve been eliminated from playoff-contention when you can create an empire of absolute spectacle, in freaking Cleveland, in freaking December? JFF is America’s very own party rebel Jesus, if Jesus had been baller enough to win the Chick fil-A Bowl.

I knew then that I’d go to war for that man, presuming the war started after noon. We were all going to have killer hangovers.

JFF chose that moment to point out the glass windows of the roof, toward the Cuyahoga. “The river,” he cried, the first and last words he’d utter all night. “The river will burn again!”

Everyone cheered. What a boss thing to say.

Unfortunately, I got kicked out before the real fun began. After playing a game of Patrón pong over the Heisman Trophy (outfitted with a baby’s bib that read “Spring Break: Daytona 1990”), I found myself within three feet of JFF’s lady. She was chatting with friends and had her back turned to me. She was perfectly wearing a perfect #2 Browns jersey that came down to her perfect thighs, and nothing else. When I got closer, she smelled like cotton candy and clean, clear sweat.

I couldn’t help myself. Given the opportunity, who wouldn’t try to taste heaven?

“No hair-lickers allowed,” Twist said, as three giant men wearing Flavor Flav get-ups tossed me out of The 9 and onto the street.

“This isn’t baller,” I shouted at their backs, as they left me there, cold and alone and without cab fare. “I am a loyal subject!”

Somewhere well above me, through the din of JFF’s imperial swag-circus, I heard only the cockatoo’s echo.


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