All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and time for the mailbag to get rolling. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is my mom, for this fantastic reading of mean Tweets. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s linked here. 

On we go to the mailbag:

Brian writes:

“Saw an intriguing question asked to Katie Nolan and thought I would tweak it a little bit for you. Katie didn’t think she could even get close, so it was easy pass for her, but I think you would be cocky enough to consider it…

You are given the option to take 10 half court shots. If you make 1 of them you win $10 million, but if you can’t make any you have to go to a minimum security prison from Sept 1st – Dec 31st. It would happen at the end of August to allow some time to practice. Give it a shot or pass?”

I would 100% attempt this if I could make two alterations: 1. I have full access to the Internet to continue to work while I’m in prison for three months. 2. I can move the prison sentence to February, March, and April so I can work during football season. (Although it would be outstanding if Fox let me appear remotely from jail for the entire season). 

Assuming those two critera are met, I would do it because I’m confident I’d hit at least one out of ten shots.

Right now you are giving me over three months to practice. I’d get up a thousand half court shots a day between now and then. (Or whatever we decided the optimal number to attempt was. A thousand might be too many). I’m confident that by the end of three months of training I’d be averaging hitting 1.5 to 2 out of 10 shots from half court. Sure, I could miss all ten with the pressure of going to prison facing me, but that’s still a good bet to make. 

I mean, I’d rather go to minimum security prison in America for three months than have to go overseas and live in Iraq for three months. It wouldn’t be fun, but I don’t think it would be awful. And can you imagine the columns I could write from prison? 

In fact, if someone wants to turn this into a reality television show and put me on live TV attempting ten shots — if I miss all ten they immediately put me in cuffs and take me to prison for three months, but if I make them then they have ten million in cash for me to make it rain with — I’m down.

Because I wouldn’t go to prison, I’d win ten million and make the half court shot. I’m very confident in this.  

Gavin writes:

“Dear liberal, sexist, right-wing, communist, anti-American, puppy kicking, Yankee, gay, Muslim;

This week we have received a glimpse behind the curtain of the Patriots reality distortion machine. We have also seen that #PatriotNation is chock full of sycophants and idiots just like #fsutwitter. These are the people that go along with the junk scientific explanations and who are responsible for #freeBrady. The same people who are buying the “lose weight by deflating” party line. They are also likely the people that caused the NFL shop to ban “Deflator” customized Patriot jerseys.

So, great tiebreaking Muslim, who, of these two groups, has the more powerful reality distortion machine?”

Patriot fans have looked really dumb on Twitter, but keep in mind they are arguing about an incredibly dumb issue too. Did Tom Brady know that footballs were deflated and is his suspension for deflategate justified? I mean, as massive issues in the world go, there isn’t very much at stake here. When yoiu really break it down this might be the most ridiculous controversy in NFL history. It’s hard for anyone to have an opinion on this issue and not seem like an idiot. It’s just too absurd. 

On the flip side, keep in mind that #fsutwitter castigated and attempted to destroy the life of a girl who had the audacity to publicly assert that she was raped by a star football player. I mean, there’s no comparison here. One is a tremendously serious issue and the other isn’t. #FSUtwitter behaved more inappropriately than any fan base in the history of social media.

Having said that, let’s talk about Roger Goodell for a minute — what the hell is he doing? Back when Goodell first implemented the NFL’s initial personal conduct policy I was one of the only people in the country who wrote it was a terrible idea. I got crushed by so many people, media and otherwise, for writing that Goodell was setting a trap for himself — pointing out that he was judge, jury and executioner — and calling him Emperor Goodell. This was eight years ago, way back when I was still writing at CBS Sports. I wrote that eventually Goodell was going to get connected to a player’s bad behavior and people were going to hold he and the league responsible for a player’s trangression. Guess what happened? Exactly that. Now it’s funny to see some of the same people who crushed me for those columns eight years ago up in arms over Goodell’s punishment policies.

Let me ask you a simple question, if the NFL never got in the business of punishing players for off the field acts entirely unrelated to football — something no league in the history of sports had ever done before Goodell’s personal conduct policy — would people have spent the past year blaming the NFL’s response every time a player got in trouble? Or would they blame, if anyone, the players and teams instead? Remember, players have been getting in trouble off the field for dastardly behavior for as long as there have been sports. In relatively recent history Kobe Bryant played while he was charged with rape and no one even blinked. Certainly, no one blamed the NBA for Kobe Bryant’s alleged acts. Ray Lewis didn’t miss an NFL game for getting charged with double murder and now he works for Disney! (By the way, did you know no one has ever been convicted in that double murder? And that Ray Lewis’s white suit from that night has never been found?) No one blamed the NFL then.

But once the NFL got into the punishment business, this was bound to happen. Why? Because it directly connected the league with the player’s actions. Again, Ray Lewis got charged with double murder at the Super Bowl and didn’t miss a single game. No one even asked what Paul Tagliabue knew about Ray Lewis’s potential murder. No one expected David Stern to conduct an investigation into whether or not Kobe Bryant raped someone. But now the NFL is full in the investigation business. 

And, by the way, we haven’t even had the worst scenario of all yet — a guy gets punished by the NFL for something he 100% didn’t do. Our justice system screws up guilt and innocence all the time and that’s its job. (It’s why I’ll never support the death penalty. It presumes a degree of certainty that the system doesn’t produce). Why should we expect the NFL to be perfect at conducting investigations into criminal behavior when it exists to put on football games? The NFL’s entire punishment process has been broken from the minute it was implemented.

But Roger Goodell made this mess.

Now it’s probably going to get him fired.  

Pete writes:

“ESPN not renewing Bill Simmon’s contract has to be the best possible outcome for him. As I have with you, I have followed Bill Simmons around the Internet to read his columns. I am a daily reader on Outkick and Grantland, and will find both of your content no matter what logo is at the top of the page. The creative with a strong social media following can write their own ticket. He should start his own site and start cashing checks. Your Gay.”

I wrote about Simmons’s options last week in the mailbag. It’s really a question of whether he wants to build something with a potentially big payoff down the line or take the guaranteed cash from a major media company instead. Remember he’s 46 years old now. How hard does he want to work and for how many years? Running your own site is a grind, trust me. I’ve been running Outkick now for four years and it’s a full time job even before you factor in radio and TV obligations.

But the positive is that Outkick gives me a great deal of security and creative freedom. Simmons says he values creative freedom a great deal. So we’ll see what he does. I’m rooting for him to get as much money as he can. I want to set the market insanely high so I seem like a real bargain. 

I agree with you though, the market is moving in a direction where creative talent has a lot of options and your readers, listeners, and viewers can find you anywhere. In years past the biggest obstacle to getting your content out to a wide audience was distribution. Now distribution is free. I’ll write some about this next week, but Periscope also fascinates me because effectively it makes every person his or her own network.

That’s why I’m doing a weekly Periscope press conference every Wednesday at 12:30 et. We did the inaugural Periscope press conference last week with no advance warning and 1500 of you stopped by to watch. When I first started writing online 11 years ago, I would have killed to have 1500 readers of anything I wrote. Now I can turn on my phone and say hi and have that audience immediately.

It’s a new world for talent for sure.

Exciting, too.    

Kathy writes:

“I have been a loyal follower of yours since before you came out as gay or became a Muslim. While I love what you write and greatly enjoy when you make fun of the 85%, I find myself in a serious dilemma. I am a huge Texas A&M fan. I know all of their traditions and the history behind them, including the 12th man, muster, silver taps, etc. I have been to midnight yell and bonfire. I have stood with the 12th man and “sawed ’em off”.

I love everything A&M stands for. My problem? I never went there.

There were two reasons for this. One was that I wanted to go to a smaller school. The other is that I followed my boyfriend to college. (Boy, was that a mistake!) I had friends at A&M, and one weekend I went to a game. I was hooked. Being an education major, however, it didn’t make sense to transfer. I went to SFA, and they have the best education program in the state. A couple of years ago I found what I believe to be a loophole- my daughter now goes there. But the nagging thoughts won’t go away. Am I the 85%?”

First, only Bama and Kentucky have the 85%. So as an A&M fan you’re probably safe. 

Second, I get asked this question a ton and this is an important rule. It’s impossible for you to be a member of the 85% — or whatever percentage of idiot fans your school has — if you could have been admitted to the school and simply chose to go elsewhere.

For instance, I’m sure there are some huge Alabama football fans who end up going to Harvard. (Really, it has to happen). Clearly, these students could have been admitted to Alabama. They may well love the Crimson Tide with every fiber of their being. But are they not supposed to go to Harvard? They are not members of the 85%.

So to reiterate the rule, if you either attended or could have attended the school you root for, you are not a member of the 85%.    

Eli writes:

“The 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach was on last week and I found myself watching it for some nostalgia. Some people regard it as the most dominant single-tournament performance in golf history. While some may debate it, I think it is arguably the sharpest Tiger Woods has ever been over a full four days. He stepped to the 72nd and final hole at -12 to par with his next closest competitor at +3, giving him a solid 15 stroke lead with the par 5 18th to play.

This got me thinking, if you benched Tiger and put in the average weekend warrior golfer– a 90 to 100 shooting type of guy– with a 15 stroke lead on the final hole at Pebble beach (a 543 yard par 5 at the time), how would they fare? I mean, I am a bad-to-average bogey golfer and I don’t think I’ve ever made a 15 on a hole, but I am talking about you having Tiger’s gallery watching your shots. Do you get in the hole in 15 shots?

What’s more interesting is how do you play it? Do you play it safe and hit a 7 or 8 iron (a club most people are serviceable with) and just chip it down the green to much laughter and derision? Or do you play like a pro and pull the driver, knowing you bring hazards, out-of-bounds, and other terrible outcomes into play?

I’d love to think I’d pull the driver and play it honest, but I also know I hate even having one dude on the teebox behind me watching my shot. I can’t imagine how I’d feel with thousands of people watching on the final hole.”

I pitched Fox on a similar idea to this. I’d like to play the US Open course in the exact same conditions that the pros will. I’m the most average golfer in the world. Probably the most below average golfer in the world. 

What would I shoot? What kind of spots would I find myself at on the course? I think this would be terrific television and it would go a long way towards showing average golfers how hard this course actually would be to play. 

Joel Klatt has agreed to play with me — while ridiculing my every shot. 

As for your question, a 15 stroke lead is way too many. (Remember, Jean Van de Velde famously went back to the 18th at the British Open and played the entire hole with his putter in a lower score than he made on that Sunday). 

But what if you only had, say, a ten stroke lead and all the gallery following you? 543 yards is a long ass way. I would love to see this too.   

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.