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The episode has fun with football. The bit about all the opposing players quitting their team to join the Canadian Football League is funny, but also poignant when you realize they are giving up fair catches. The Sportwardies sequence is a fairly accurate sendup of most awards in general, not just sports. But the categories, like worst contract, appalling owner’s lifetime achievement award, and biggest entourage, work as easy field goals. Adam Schefter plays himself in the episode. John Mulaney plays Warburton Parker. Both add to the breathless excitement of sports fanatic authenticity which Grayson tosses off for soft body soap.

The best game commentary is when Grayson tells Marge his own very twisted backstory, which, again, is probably funnier because it should be true. There should be a football academy to snatch up young Texans while they are still in the development stage and train them in an all-football environment until legal age to play. It would work, and the proof is that the players get into Alabama Tech with degrees in Communications. It is perfect Simpsons logic in an imperfect world. It also may be one of their predictions which will come true. So, when Grayson comes to play for Springfield, he is truly off the right farm.

The fans’ reactions to the rookie star player are very well played. The first thing the Springfield Nuclear Plant workers do is throw a victory riot which makes Philadelphia football fans look like croquet enthusiasts. The player, Grayson, distinguishes himself immediately. “I do me,” he declares at his acceptance press conference, and then proudly presents himself as the most willfully uninformed individual on the grid. Bennett captures the arrogance, and the writers skewer his comments to make this tip into Semi-Tough territory.

The football star is cringingly self-incriminating about just about every topic he can spike, although he does apologize to Peyton Manning for calling him a chicken fried Frankenstein. Grayson will go on to brag about conspicuous displays of vulgar wealth, like his six matching Ferraris, while tauntingly admitting he’s never been inside a school in his life to earn them. It is no wonder Mr. Burns has an affinity with him. But once the money and the friendly hugs get confused, the suspense actually shows its first signs of flagging. Burns’ inner turmoil between seeing Grayson as a pigskin-throwing commodity or some kind of heirloom apparent never rises to the tortuous levels it needs for classic Simpsons.

Homer’s poetic waxing over the football player, however, is inspired. As consistently as it is delivered, it is consistently surprising how he is sometimes written as being barely articulate and yet has such amazing depth and eloquent insight when needed. He digs a shallow grave when Grayson fumbles, though, as a bookmark to the spoiled promise. The bad boy football star who only drinks brandy has an effective downward arc, even letting cockroaches loose in Springfield Elementary School, and the pressure of letting down an entire town makes for the kind of twisted redemption story worthy of a Lurleen Lumpkin.

This gives Marge a real chance to shine. She is America’s most representational mother, and regardless of how enabling she is to Homer, she’s a very effective deterrent with Grayson. She gets an apology out of him within moments inserting herself into his life. Some of Marge’s observations, such as how both Homer and Grayson each need 9000 calories a day to live, are classic throwaways. Just when we think Homer and Grayson might be alike, though, we see them in the shower together in a very subtle, but absurdly effective sight gag.

Source: Den of Geek

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