All That and a Bag of Mail

Videos by OutKick

It’s Friday, time for the Outkick mailbag. 

As always, you can email the Outkick mailbag at 

Thanks for all the support of Outkick this week. I’m going to start by writing about Grayson Allen and the way the media is covering him.

So here we go:

Judd writes:

“If Grayson Allen would have been caught on national television sticking his fingers up a player’s butt (a la Clemson DLineman) how quickly would Duke’s campus shut down due to protesting? Would there be hunger strikes all across America? Would the United States government have already deported him? Is it just related to the sport this happened in? Is it because Clemson is viewed as “good guys” and Duke is universally hated?”

Phillip writes:

“Joey Porter gets arrested, Ray Lewis Kills two people, Joe Mixon breaks a girl’s face in four places, Aquib Talib starts a fistfight with a senior citizen (Harry Douglas), Clemson players grundle grope (sexual assault?), and Grayson Allen tries to trip people. 

If I were ranking these events on level of severity, I feel like maybe… just maybe, the tripping would check in at dead last, but given the furor over Allen’s antics, others seem to disagree.  I’m not saying this is normal behavior, I think its a mini-emotional outburst each time he does it.  But the dichotomy on the reaction of each of these things is insane.  The oil checks from Clemson are laughed off as boys messing with boys (Clemson assuming the genders of the opposing team is a hate crime btw).

Is this just a demonization of the evil white male, is it a Duke thing, or are these people just morons?”

Deciding which stories to cover is probably the single most important decision that any news network makes. And I think this is when bias, both conscious and unconscious, is most often going to rear its head. 

In my experience on air talent can be really involved in which stories are covered or not involved at all. I’ve seen some talent show up, take the run down of the day’s stories and never even discuss them at all. I’ve seen other talent debate with the producers which stories matter and which ones should be on the air.

I’ve been fortunate to work with a ton of great producers at Fox and I think the best shows are the ones where talent and producers hash out the topics in advance and debate what should be featured. But that’s not always the case and I’m sure there are tons of great shows where that doesn’t happen.

I’ll give you an example, the Friday college football show I hosted last year on FS1 was the most fun I’ve had on TV. Because all the producers on that show understood me and the way I talked and thought. They were fantastic in writing that show, I’d get the run down and hardly suggest any changes. Because they knew what I was going to like and which stories I’d want to hit. That’s when you know a show is hitting on all cylinders, when your team is all on the same page.  

If you’d given me that team and we’d had an hour daily show, I think we’d have quickly had the best daily sports show in the country. At some point in the future that may happen, but I tell you that just to share my own experience about how a show is put together.  

Regardless, I’ve done quite a bit of television and not one time has anyone ever told me what I can or can’t say about any subject. Certainly that’s never happened with my radio show either. Here at Outkick I’m obviously telling you exactly what I think and I think whether you guys like me or not you’d acknowledge that I’m not being controlled at all.

That’s why I think most media bias comes via a decision about which stories to feature as “news” more than it comes from what opinion talent has about that news. (Now you can decide which talent to feature, which is another form of bias because if you know what someone’s likely to say you can further your own bias, but the talent being paid for its opinion isn’t being instructed exactly what to say.) 

My second point would be this: the more powerful your network the more control you have over determining what the “news” is.

This is something that I think is really instructive for young people who are interested in working in media or smart viewers who want to critique the way news is covered. I don’t think most people spend enough time thinking about what news stories are covered and why those stories are covered. Remember there are a million stories every day on a variety of topics that could be covered, most of them aren’t. So why is that story the lead of all the stories that exist in America, sports or otherwise, today? I ask myself that question every time I watch or read the news. Because, again, this is where I think bias is most apparent, conscious or otherwise, in the way that stories are selected.

Third, we are all biased and that bias can dictate what we consider to be newsworthy.

Now, bias doesn’t have to be political in nature. In fact, most of it isn’t, particularly in sports. Geography or sport bias is by far the most common.  

For instance, I’m biased to care more about SEC football than the national audience is. I care, for instance, why Auburn’s offensive coordinator suddenly bolts to Connecticut for less money. But is that a story that my national audience is going to care about? Are there guys rolling out of bed in Los Angeles and San Francisco and Minnesota and Seattle and Indiana and New York who care about Auburn’s offensive coordinator moving to Connecticut? Of course not. Especially not when that story is happening the week of the NFL’s divisional playoff games.

So I barely mentioned that story on Outkick the Coverage this week.

Another great example would be Jay and Dan with Fox Sports Live. Both of those guys are great, but they care about hockey a lot more than America does. That’s natural, they’re both Canadians. But when you come to America, hockey is, at best, the fourth major sport here. So you can’t do a national American sports show on hockey. 

With my radio show I have a good sense for what stories play regionally and which stories play nationally. I think my story barometer is pretty accurate, but I have to counteract my own personal sports bias and adjust it for the big national stories.

I still talk more about college football and the South than, for instance, Dan Patrick would, but that’s the flavor of the show not the meat and potatoes of the show. 

Does that make sense?

Where I think bias becomes more problematic is when political agendas, conscious or unconscious, come into play and impact sports. And I think the Grayson Allen story is a great example of when liberal producers are using Allen as a stand-in for the evil white man. Just like we saw with the Peyton Manning mooning and the Ryan Lochte peeing outside and the Duke Lacrosse case, there’s a cottage industry of ESPN people and many in the sports media who believe that white men are evil and have white privilege and think that they get passes that women and minorities don’t.

So they crush white guys for things that are relatively minor in the larger sporting context.

Let me put it to you this way, how do you think ESPN would have covered the Joe Mixon case if Mixon were white and the girl he punched was black? They’d have argued that the only reason Mixon was still at Oklahoma was because he was white, right? It would have been a massive story. You know it, I know it, everyone with a brain knows that’s exactly where that story would have gone if Mixon was white.   

ESPN is so big that they have the ability to set the national agenda when it comes to sports stories. Most people, regardless of where they work, follow ESPN’s story lead because ESPN’s power is so substantial. So if ESPN had decided to lead with the details from the police report of Joey Porter’s arrest, or led multiple days with Joe Mixon’s video and the Oklahoma response to that video then I think those stories would have received much more attention than they did.

Instead they led with Grayson Allen tripping a guy. And so that story turned into a national story that everyone was commenting on. I’ll get to whether that was justified in a bit, but now I’m going to tell you how the national story sausage is made for a show like Outkick. What’s my process for deciding what I talk about every day?

I’m on the air every morning at 6 am eastern for three hours. It doesn’t matter whether there is three hours worth of stories to talk about, I’m on talking for three hours. That’s my job. 

We’re helping to set the national story agenda for morning sports radio all over the country. Every morning I sit down in front of the mic and have to decide what I want to talk about, what do I think the biggest national stories are, what stories will entertain my audience? What’s my opinion on a ton of topics and how do I engage the entire country with them? The bias that I readily acknowledge is that I’m biased in favor of football. During football season 90% of my topics are going to be college or pro football. Every other sport is going to take a backseat to football. In football season, I talk football.  

Now I don’t have a huge team of producers suggesting topics to me. In fact, I really don’t have anyone at all. I make my decision about what I think the top stories are in the morning before my show starts and then call my producer Jason Martin and we talk for ten minutes or so in the dark of night as I drive to the studio. I usually start off our conversation by saying, “Okay, what do you think our top story should be?”

Jason will tell me — often we agree, but sometimes we discuss multiple options — and then I’ll tell him what I’m thinking. Ultimately all our radio stories are my call and my call alone. Sometimes I have the entire show already mapped out before I call him, sometimes there’s nothing out there at all and I’m needing suggestions. Sometimes we start the show without anything planned other than the first topic.

Other times a show is easy. Football season is, by far, the easiest time of year to do sports talk radio because there are so many stories. July is typically a sports wasteland. That’s why I’m taking my long vacation in July every year, because that’s usually when sports stories are dead.

I can already tell you some of our topics for next week. Unless something truly insane happens in the world come Monday morning we’re going to start the show by talking about the NFL divisional playoff games. Something will happen in at least one game that I will 100% know is our lead topic by the time I go to bed on Sunday night. And I can also already tell you that we’re going to start off Friday’s show next week, a week from today, talking about the AFC and NFC title games.

But there is a ton more leeway on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday stories.  

That’s when your own world view can color which stories you feature. 

When I sit down in front of the mic I haven’t watched any television to that point in the morning. I’m completely uninfluenced by the decisions that other networks make. Generally speaking I don’t watch any sports debate shows or anything else either that has been reacting to the games or the stories of that night. I want my opinions to be fresh and uncolored by what other people have said come the morning. But during our radio commercial breaks I’ll flip around and see what everyone else is talking about just to make sure I haven’t missed any major story.

And I’m frequently struck by the editorial decisions that ESPN has made about what to feature.

Such as Grayson Allen.

I don’t think there’s anyone on Earth who could argue that in terms of story relevance that Grayson Allen tripping a basketball player from Elon was the number one story in America when the college football bowl games and the NFL season were both in full swing. But ESPN decided it was the lead story.

What happens next?

The story rapidly moves from what Grayson Allen did to what should Duke do in response? And then there’s a debate among talking heads about how to handle Grayson Allen’s tripping issue for Coach K. Then Duke, overwhelmed by the media attention that suddenly envelops them, decides that they have to suspend Allen even though at first they said they wouldn’t. And then you get the suspension coverage. And then when the suspension is lifted you get the discussion about whether the suspension was enough.

All of these subsequent stories become lead stories too because you’ve already made the tripping your lead story so now you have to cover the fall out of the tripping too. That’s the way a single day’s lead story turns into five days of lead story coverage.

And if you’re an ESPN producer who is questioned about this, you point to the amount of coverage Grayson Allen has gotten nationwide as evidence of how much people care about it. You use the subsequent coverage as evidence that your decision on that story was right. But that’s not really fair because, again, ESPN has the power to make the sports world move in its direction.

Next ESPN puts a camera on Grayson Allen and spot shadows every move he makes and turns a bump with an assistant coach at Florida State into yet another lead story on their programs. Once you decide Grayson Allen is the story, then Grayson Allen is going to be the story.  

That’s how Grayson Allen trips a dude during a game against Elon and ESPN turns him into Hannibal Lechter. 

So ESPN’s bias is most pronounced in the stories they choose to cover and then that bias is further reflected via the people they employ to talk about those stories. Half of America voted for Donald Trump. We know tons of ESPN employees who voted for Hillary Clinton and make a living giving sports opinions on air. How many sports opinionists does ESPN employ who openly admit they voted for Donald Trump?

Are there any? I can’t think of a single one. 

Think about how crazy that is, not one person employed for his or her opinion at ESPN has come out as a Trump supporter. 

That’s because ESPN, like most left wing media, employs a ton of people who look different but think the same. Call me crazy, but I care more about intellectual diversity than I do cosmetic diversity. The best shows feature people who think differently. That’s how you create dynamic, opinionated shows. 

I don’t care how you vote or what you believe, but you better believe that I want people who vote different ways working on my staff. That’s true thought diversity and a national show will benefit from that. 

Ultimately even though ESPN prides itself on color diversity ESPN isn’t a diverse company.

And that’s how Grayson Allen as the lead story happens.  

Zach writes:

“Hey Clay love the show, I showed my girlfriend your periscope last year and she loved it too. My girlfriend also has a weird addiction to Disney. And what you said earlier this week about adults not going to Disney without kids just set her off. But I agree with you completely. I’ve never been to Disney World or Disney Land, and I have never had any intentions of going. But I have agreed to get married at Disney with her. Not only that, we are having our honeymoon at Disney too. What do I do? First of all, weddings at Disney are fucking expensive as shit. But most importantly, I don’t want to spend my honeymoon riding teacups and taking pictures with Elsa. I want to be fucking her 24/7. How do I break this to her?”

I don’t understand people who spend their honeymoons at Disneyworld. 

First of all, you have your entire life to take your eventual children there. Second, YOU CAN GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD ON YOUR HONEYMOON! You should never go on your honeymoon to the same place that I can take my eight, six and two year old kids. 

Also, don’t you feel weird just going to town on your wife in a bed in the Radiator Springs village? Don’t the Woody from “Toy Story” sheets kill your erection? How about kids in the room next door to yours asking mommy and daddy why the wall is bouncing? 

Enjoy the teacup ride. 

As for how to encourage your wife to bang you more on your honeymoon? Let her dress up as a different Disney princess every night. Then enjoy banging Ariel and Belle and Elsa. (You sick pervert). 

Cary writes:

“With you ruling in dominance (on your iron throne of inclusivity, of course) over Mike & Mike as they bow down to you, AND a big announcement coming soon, is this biggest week in Outkick history?”

It’s definitely been a great week. 

Next week I’m going to do a column on the 19 million unique readers and viewers that Outkick had in 2016, but in the meantime I’m just going to go ahead and break this news in the middle of the mailbag column to reward readers of the mailbag. 

Outkick the Coverage is starting on satellite radio next week on Friday the 20th. We’ll be on Sirius/XM channel 83 and you’ll be able to hear us all over the nation as long as you have satellite radio. And if you don’t have satellite radio, I’d encourage you to sign up for the Outkick Show. 

We’re worth it. 

This is huge for us because the number one question I’ve been getting asked has been about satellite radio. 

In all seriousness though, the Outkick the Coverage show will own mornings now that Mike and Mike is done. We’re going to be everywhere. We’ve already flipped around ten Mike and Mike affiliates and that was before that show ended.  


It’s a no brainer. 

John writes:

“With all the talk of ESPN falling, it seems that the moment of truth will come out and it will come out in the contracts. I graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and there you become quite aware that television is just a business of putting on various things on a screen from sitcoms to game shows to sports. The more people watch them the more money they make, the more they can pay for the things they put on the screen. The problem comes when they cut the cable they cut the revenue stream.  Technology has been sucking the money out of everything and putting it somewhere else since the invention of Napster.

Imagine you were the head of a record label that had a popular recording artist under contract until the year 2001. In 1991, you signed that artist to make 4 albums over ten years for 15 million dollars and he sold a ton of records and you both got rich. Now it’s 2001 except he wants the same deal for 30 million. Problem is, the talk on the street is that the mp3 will destroy the cd. If you sign this guy and the talk turns out to be right you take a bath because by the time that fourth album drops, people get music for free on Spotify. So you offer him two million over ten years and this sends an earthquake through the business and you turn out to be right.

In sports, we have an annual crop of new talent called the draft. With ESPN falling aren’t the sports teams in the same situation as the record companies sixteen years ago?  Is it possible that the Browns draft Deshaun Watson with the first pick and offer him five million over the next seven years? Everybody knows what was paid for Winston and Goff. It might not be that drastic but a substantial drop in offers seems to be coming and will that be an admission that the end is nigh? If so, what year do you think we see this?”

The problem with your analogy here is that draft compensation is set by the NFLPA agreement. Every draft pick basically has a slotted salary now and every team has a salary cap floor that they have to spend on talent. 

When the shit will really hit the wall, I believe, is when ESPN’s contract with Monday Night Football ends in 2021. That’s just four years from now. In 2020 both sides will start talking about this deal in earnest. Right now ESPN pays $2 billion a year to the NFL. There is no way that rate can continue. So what happens then?

I’m telling you, that’s the contract to watch. 

That’s when we’ll find out whether my thesis about the sports bubble bursting is correct. 

And if I’m correct, look out. 

Steve writes:

“I start getting ready for work at about 4am Pacific Time and don’t hop in the car until about 4:25am.  The only thing on TV while I’m getting ready for work is those tools Mike and Mike.

Do you have any thought of doing a simulcast of the radio show on TV like Cowherd does?”

That’s been talked about, but I think FS1 is going to do a more traditional morning show that’s made for television like “Undisputed” but with different people to argue about sports. That show will air from New York City and probably debut in August or September of this year.  

The satellite radio addition is going to be huge, but I don’t think we’ll add TV anytime soon because I don’t know where it would air. Unless it was FS2 and I don’t even have that channel right now in my house.

In the meantime, my Fox Sports radio bosses are fantastic and I think everyone is positively giddy about what the Outkick the Coverage morning show is going to accomplish over the next couple of years.  

All my existing contracts expire on June 30, 2018 so I’m pretty fascinated to see where the media is by the time that happens. Outkick the website, daily show on Facebook and Periscope and the radio show are all going to be in an incredible place by then. 

Honestly that’s going to be a deal that breaks the bank for us. Either a large media company is going to pay us millions and millions of dollars to sign up and bring our audience to them or I’ll spin Outkick back 100% independent and grow it that way. Or, and this is a fascinating angle too, we’re getting approached by private equity and I could spin off Outkick and sell a portion of it to investors.

All of these options will be really exciting and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen.

Stay tuned.

And go buy satellite radio.

Hope you guys have great weekends.

And I hope Grayson Allen doesn’t kill you and eat your dismembered corpse.  

I start getting ready for work at about 4am Pacific Time and don’t hop in the car until about 4:25am.  The only thing on TV while I’m getting ready for work is those tools Mike and Mike.
Do you have any thought of doing a simulcast of the radio show on TV like Cowherd does?
I start getting ready for work at about 4am Pacific Time and don’t hop in the car until about 4:25am.  The only thing on TV while I’m getting ready for work is those tools Mike and Mike.
Do you have any thought of doing a simulcast of the radio show on TV like Cowherd does?
Joey Porter gets arrested, Ray Lewis Kills two people, Aquib Talib starts a fistfight with a senior citizen (Harry Douglas), Clemson players grundle grope (sexual assault?), and Grayson Allen tries to trip people. 
If I were ranking these events on level of severity, I feel like maybe… just maybe, the tripping would check in at dead last, but given the furor over Allen’s antics, others seem to disagree.  I’m not saying this is normal behavior, I think its a mini-emotional outburst each time he does it.  But the dichotomy on the reaction of each of these things is insane.  The oil checks from Clemson are laughed off as boys messing with boys (Clemson assuming the genders of the opposing team is a hate crime btw).
Is this just a demonization of the evil white male, is it a Duke thing, or are these people just morons?

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.


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