All That and a Bag of Mail

FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2013, file photo, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown reacts after missing a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Brown admitted in journal entries and emails that he verbally and physically abused his wife, according to documents that were part of a domestic violence case obtained by SNY. Team spokesman Corry Rush declined comment Thursday morning, Oct. 20, 2016, on the details that emerged from a case in Washington. Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a domestic violence allegation but no charges were filed against the 37-year-old player. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) Charlie Riedel AP

It’s Friday and the mailbag is here. 

We’ll be doing our weekly OddsShark NFL and college football gambling special at noon eastern, but I’m just glad to have survived a week when everyone in our house has gotten sick and been puking their guts out. 

Go figure, waking up at four in the morning is not the best way to get healthy. But does the hardest working man in sports media ever take a day off? Of course not.

So here we go with the mailbag. 

Lots of you: “What do you think about the Josh Brown incident? Did the NFL blow it? Did the New York Giants?” 

I’m going to try to be succinct about this, but I spent a big part of the Outkick the Coverage Show this morning talking about this story and why the way it’s covered drives me borderline insane. Go listen to hour two of this morning’s podcast here if you want more detail than this.

But here are three important prongs. 


Not the NFL.

Not the courts.

Probably not anyone you know.

There’s virtually no one in America today who is thinking, “You know what I think we need more of? Guys beating the shit out of their wives or girlfriends.”

So climbing on the moral high ground and writing your columns or your Tweets in a race to see who can be more offended by the NFL’s response to the Josh Brown domestic violence allegations is so stupid it makes my head hurt. This isn’t about these people trying to make a difference, it’s about these people trying to make themselves look like heroes and the NFL look like villains.

But you’re all on the same side.


What you’re doing is the equivalent of slapping a support the troops bumper sticker on your car. Only instead of just doing that you’re actively arguing that other people without the bumper sticker are against the troops.

It’s dumb and insulting to anyone with a functional brain.  

There are so many people in the sports media who cover this story like the NFL is a proponent of domestic violence because it allows them to adopt the position of moral outrage, which is insanely successful among dumb people on social media today. This is patently absurd. No one at the NFL tried to cover up the domestic violence; it turns out the NFL is just bad at conducting criminal investigations.

Do you know why that is?


The NFL’s not even good at coming up with a rule about what is and what is not a catch and you think it’s going to be good at figuring out a complex criminal issue?


2. That’s why neither the NFL nor any other sports league should be investigating criminal behavior to punish off-field incidents.

The NFL’s job isn’t to punish people or put them in jail.

Hell, did you see the NFL’s deflategate investigation? It was a joke. And that dealt with on the field competitive issues. And you think the NFL is going to be great at conducting it’s own criminal investigations.

Come on, of course the league sucks at it.  

I wrote nearly a decade ago, when the NFL first implemented this personal conduct policy, that it was a bad decision because instead of improving the NFL’s image it was going to confuse dumb fans, who would stop looking to the judicial system to resolve criminal issues and start believing that the NFL should be punishing players.

The personal conduct policy put the NFL in the criminal punishment business.

And the criminal punishment business is really, really difficult. Even if you have subpoena power and the full support of state and federal governments, which the NFL doesn’t have.  

And then along came Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.

And the NFL wasn’t strict enough with either player’s punishment to sate the social media masses and everything with the personal conduct policy blew up in the league’s face. 

Of course, I’m the only person in sports media who actually pointed out that the NFL’s suspensions were tougher on both players than the states of New Jersey or North Carolina were with their punishments. If you’re angry about domestic violence, shouldn’t you be angry about how the state prosecutes those cases, not about how an employer responds to them?

Put it this way, in an extreme example, if the guy making the fries at McDonald’s killed his wife and the state didn’t prosecute him for murder, would you show up at McDonald’s and protest that he’s still making fries for a living or should you be angry at the state for not prosecuting the murder?

Right now on social media people totally ignore the state and show up at McDonald’s screaming about why the fry cook is still employed.

It’s totally backwards.  

3. There have been no charges filed against Josh Brown.

If you want to be angry at someone for domestic violence, shouldn’t you focus your anger on the state governments that can bring criminal charges as opposed to the employer?

Time after time, we have players investigated or charged with crimes and the first response of people isn’t, what’s the state of Texas going to do about these Adrian Peterson child abuse charges? It’s what’s the NFL going to do about these child abuse charges?

It’s absurd. 

The reason there haven’t been charges filed against Josh Brown is because, evidently, it’s hard to prove that he committed a specific act of domestic violence. If the state of Washington can’t prove it, why do you think the NFL should be able to prove it?

Further, if you are convinced that the NFL is the bad actor here, what does the league gain? I believe that conspiracies can exist, but I think in order to exist they have to benefit someone. 

What has the NFL ever gained by not punishing Ray Rice, Greg Hardy or Josh Brown severely enough?


All three of these guys aren’t stars.

The NFL gains nothing by them continuing to play. 

The simplest explanation here is that the NFL isn’t good at conducting criminal investigations. 

Which is something it should have never started to do in the first place. 

So get out of here with your the NFL is in favor of domestic violence arguments and your, just wait for it, soon to be suggestions that the NFL treated Brown differently because he’s white. 

Please, the only evidence the NFL had of wrongdoing was that he grabbed his wife by her wrists and bruised her there. That’s different than a video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee or pictures of Greg Hardy beating the crap out of his girlfriend. 

And, guess what, the NFL still treated Rice and Hardy more punitively than the justice system did. Just like it did for Josh Brown. 

If you want to be angry at someone, direct your anger at the states of New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington, because all three states have provided lenient treatment to rich football players accused of domestic violence. 

The NFL’s job is to put on football games. It should never, ever, be in the business of punishing or investigating players for off-field incidents. My position on this is pretty simple — if you’re not in jail you should be eligible to play pro sports. 

Whether you’re talented enough for an individual team to pay you to play despite your off field issues is for that team to decide.

Not the NFL.  

Matthew writes:

“You mentioned that you could tell if someone could be president of the United States just by how they speak in public for one minute. I have watched one Kirby Smart interview for about 45 seconds and he does not seem like a head coach. Do you think there is a parallel to coaches?”

This is a great question, who is the least competent looking and talking dude to have won a national championship in the past twenty years in college football?

It’s gotta be Gene Chizik or Larry Coker, right? Both of them were kind of flukes. Auburn buys Cam Newton’s services and Gene Chizik gets, probably, the greatest single season performance in college football history from a single player and Larry Coker takes over a team so stocked with talent from Butch Davis that he couldn’t screw it up. 

I think both of those guys, if you watch them talk, you’d have serious reservations about them being on top of things. 

The difference here is you’re assessing high level intelligence, at least somewhat, with the political candidates. I believe that every President needs to be smarter than at least 90% of Americans to do the job well. That is, we can’t elect a dumb guy and expect him to be able to handle the complexities of making decisions in the modern presidency. Even people who have been ridiculed for being dumb, George W. Bush, for instance, were much smarter than 90% of Americans.

If we ever had a president who was of average intelligence, we’d be totally screwed. That guy or girl would be incapable of even the most rudimentary communication or analysis. And he or she would seem even dumber than they actually were because the job’s responsibilities would be so far beyond their intellectual capabilities.  

If I had to rank the intelligence of the presidents during my lifetime — I was born in 1979 — I’d probably rank them thusly:

1. Bill Clinton

2. Barack Obama

3. Jimmy Carter

4. George Bush, Sr.

5. George W. Bush

6. Ronald Reagan

I think all of these guys would be top 10% smartest in the country and I’m pretty confident the top four guys would be up where I am, ranked in the top 99.9% most intelligent people in the country.

I do think with politicians you can tell how smart they are and how they carry themselves really fast. Intelligence alone, of course, isn’t the sole measure you’re analyzing. I’m sure, for instance, that Tim Kaine is smart, but there’s no way he’s ever going to be president unless Hillary Clinton dies in office. (God forbid.)

Being smart also doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a good President — Ted Cruz is clearly brilliant — but it is, to me at least, the most important qualification of our leader. You have to be at least smarter than 90% of the people in the country to do the job at all.   

But with Chizik and Coker, how smart do they actually have to be to coach football at a high level? This isn’t the presidency we’re talking about. I mean, let’s say you’re smarter than 60% of people, that’s probably smart enough to coach football at a high level, right? But it’s really not very smart. I mean, hell, if four out of every ten people in America are smarter than you, you’re pretty dumb. 

Nick Saban is, I believe, in the 99.9% most intelligent people in the country. He just happens to coach football for a living. Kirby Smart probably isn’t as talented as Saban is at coaching football, but I have no doubt that he’s smart. Saban doesn’t countenance idiots working for him. But here’s the problem — Derek Dooley is really smart too. And he worked under Saban for a long time and didn’t win at Tennessee. 

So you can be really smart and not a good football coach. Being really smart might even hinder you sometimes because you have to deal with so many idiots in order to coach football.

So I’m not sure that the test applies as easily for football as it does for the presidency.  

But I’d be really nervous right now if I were a Georgia fan. 

L. writes:

“I’ve been dating an amazing girl for almost two years now. We are both in our late 20’s, set in our careers, in line with each other as far as life goals, and have successfully lived with each other for a year without hating each other. Naturally we have discussed marriage and that is definitely the next step in our relationship and one that we both want.

I will soon be buying the ring and beginning the process of figuring out how to pop the question. What has me absolutely confused is what to do boils down to the age old “permission from her father” scenario. *Quick back story, her mom and dad got divorced while she was in college…it was very, very messy and can almost entirely be attributed to her father’s actions.

Naturally this has strained her relationship with her father. They still talk occasionally but she views it as a chore and we seem him 2-4 times a year but always at her paternal grandparents house, which are always quite awkward encounters where most every one just “plays nice” and avoids any potentially controversial topic. She dreads talking to him and seeing him at these events and he knows how she feels about him. So here’s the question: Do I still need to arrange a meeting and ask her dad for her hand in marriage? Would a phone call suffice? Do I ask her grandfathers (both of whom she is close to)?”

Here’s my advice on questions like these — what harm does asking cause?

It’s a nice formality that isn’t going to offend anyone. 

So I would call the dad and I would call both grandfathers too. If you want to meet them in person, you can, but I think a phone call suffices. None of them are going to refuse to give a blessing and you’re being a good guy for “asking” all of them in advance. 

It just makes all of those guys feel good for you to feel like your fiancee cares enough about them that it’s important for you to get their permission before you get engaged.

I’ll give you an example from my own life — I asked my father-in-law and my step-father-in-law for permission before I proposed to my wife. Because she has a great relationship with both guys. I consider myself fortunate to have two really good father-in-laws. There’s no way I would have ever just asked one. And I know it made both guys feel good that I asked them too.

I’d even take it a step farther, I’d ask the mom too.  

It’s 2016, no mom is going to be bothered if you ask for her permission too. In fact, she’ll appreciate it. Let her see the ring in advance too. She’ll remember the courtesy for the rest of your life.

I think it’s especially important that you ask her dad, who may have screwed up recently, but I guarantee you, as a parent now, busted his ass for years to get her raised. My boys might one day get mad at me or their mom, but it wouldn’t do anything to erase the years and years we’ve spent raising them up to that point. I’m sure I won’t be perfect as a dad over the next decade, but if, say, one of my boys decided he hated me because of something I did when he was 15 years old, would that invalidate the previous 15 years I’d spent helping to raise him?

Of course not.

All parents understand this. And one day, if you’re a parent too, so will you.   

Your future fiancee may not have a good relationship with her dad now, but that may change as you guys get older and have your own kids. She’ll understand better what he did for her when she was young once she has kids of her own. We all do. You don’t remember what an asshole you could be from the time you were born until you were eight or nine years old until you have kids of your own.  

Why risk being an ass and giving him a reason to dislike you for something this simple. Sure, it’s a bit of an empty formality — it’s not like you’re not asking her to marry if one of them says no — but it doesn’t harm anything to ask everyone.

So just do it.  

Greg writes:

“I’ve been reading your stuff since the deadly hippo days, way back in 2004. Obviously, I’m a big fan and get a huge kick out of how so many people just don’t “get” you. More specifically, they don’t seem to get what you’re doing when you troll the fan base, the FSU Twitter, and last week, the bands. I know you mean what you say so maybe it’s not actual “trolling”, but still. Do you ever sit back and wonder, “How am I making so much money off of people’s stupidity and hurt feelings?” 

Don’t get me wrong, I love your writing and I know you work your ass off. You’re a marketing genius and are the Howard Stern of sports. Also, you’re cutting edge with Periscope and all the other ways you use social media 

But at the end of the day, don’t you ever sit back and wonder “WTF? How am I getting rich just for being me?”

First, I absolutely love what I do and thanks for being with me so long. It sounds like you were one of the original couple hundred readers that I had way back in 2004 when I started writing online with an audience of zero.

Did I think I would end up doing what I do back in 2004? No way. My goal was then, and still is today, to make a living writing. I’d still like to write more books and maybe, one day, also write a weekly television show. 

I think I could do it. 

But thinking I could do it isn’t enough, I had to do it, every day. 

As for whether it surprises me that I’m getting rich just being me, not really. Because I bust my ass every day just being me. And have for over a decade now. There are still tons of people getting paid a lot more than me that work a fraction as hard as I do.

I’m out of the bed at 4:01 AM every weekday morning now.


I still can’t believe it myself. 

I do a three hour daily radio show before most people are even awake, come home and grind out columns on Outkick, and then do an additional afternoon show on Periscope and Facebook Live every day. And that’s not even counting however many hours I spend on social media or the fact that I work all weekend too.

How many people in sports media do you think work as hard as I do right now?

I’m not sure anyone does. 

At this point I look around and have the utmost respect for the guys and girls who I know bust their asses. I respect the work, showing up every day and producing even when you might not feel good or the stories aren’t great or there are easier things to do.

That’s why my number one advice for people out there who ask me for advice is this, you’re going to have to work hard. You can’t fake that.

That’s what I tell my own kids all the time now, what I’m trying to instill in them, that work ethic. They’re all smart, but smart’s not enough in today’s society. You’ve got to be smart and bust your ass too.

So I try not to praise my kids for being smart — that’s their genetic gift — I try to praise them when I see them working hard. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just like to praise hard work. I want to encourage it as much as I can. 

Put simply, I’m trying to reward their work, not their talent.

I’m controlling my work. Everything else? The angry responses, the band wanting to kill me, the gambling picks, the shows, it’s all secondary to what I control, trying to be as entertaining, smart, original and funny as I can every single day. 

Find out what you like — and hopefully it will correspond with your talents — and then work hard at it. 

Thanks to so many of you for being with me for so long.

Have great weekends and thanks for supporting Outkick. 

See you at noon eastern with Outkick the Show. 

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.