All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I’m getting a late start with writing the mailbag today because I’ve been taping podcasts.

I just finished a long interview with Baylor coach Art Briles. Briles hasn’t spoken to the media very much in years. Here we dive into his career and the way his tenure at Baylor ended. Forget everything you think you know about the Baylor mess and go listen to this podcast. Based on the evidence there’s a strong case to be made that Briles did nothing wrong and became the fall guy for a broken university system when it came to handling sexual assault claims.

I also was the guest on Colin Cowherd’s podcast which will go up this weekend.

And I’m about to leave to go help coach my nine year old’s basketball team in the county tournament championship game.

So let’s get rolling on the mailbag.

Jeff writes:

“I’m not trying to jinx me or anyone else in to getting it, but I think people are losing their minds over the Coronavirus. The stock market is down 10% the last 6 days over fears of how this will affect the global economy. (Side note, I’ve worked in the financial sector for 17 years and, while investments are taking a hit this is also a great time to buy low so you can sell high later. The market should rebound quickly when this stabilizes).

I digress, let’s look at some numbers. There’s currently 7.8 billion people on the planet and only 83,000 have been infected with the virus. Of those 83,000 infected, there have been 2,800 deaths (that’s a death rate of 3.4%). While I think it’s important to limit travel if possible, wash hands, and keep those infected away from the public, I feel social media and the Mainstream Media’s endless goal to inject fear in to the masses has caused this to blow up.

For perspective, let’s look at the flu pandemic of 1918-1920. The world population at that time was 1.9 billion. During the pandemic, 500 million people got the flu and 100 million people died. ONE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE DIED. So 26% of the entire world population got the flu during that time and the death rate of 20% was vastly higher than Coronavirus. Sars, Ebola, and Conoravirus altogether have killed a little under 15,000 and, judging by the news, one would’ve thought all those were worse than the 1918 flu pandemic.

Do you agree that social media and the news has made this a bigger story than it really is or is this a big deal?”

I’ll probably end up dying of the coronavirus because I’m not particularly afraid of it and think it’s overplayed right now too. Here’s the deal: 50,000 people, on average, die every year in the United States from the flu and yet at least half the people in the country don’t bother getting a flu shot. Nearly 40,000 people die every year from car accidents and yet many people still get pulled over every day without their seatbelts on.

This means 90,000 people die every year from the flu and car accidents every year in the United States and yet almost no one ever talks about it.

We just accept this risk. What’s more, we frequently accept this risk and don’t even undertake the most basic measures to protect ourselves from death: flu shots and seatbelts.

So far zero people have died in the United State from coronavirus and only 3,000 people have died from it worldwide.

Yet the entire world is losing its mind.

To me, the fear of coronavirus far exceeds the reality of the disease at the present moment. Now, to be fair, it’s possible the virus could mutate and become deadlier than it is right now, but at the present moment over 80% of the people infected with the coronavirus have such mild cases of the disease that is has almost no impact on them. 

If you have kids, the virus doesn’t seem to impact them very much, mostly killing people of advanced ages.

Now I’m not an expert on communicable diseases, but based on everything I’ve read — and I have read a ton about this virus — the chances of more people dying from the coronavirus in America than die from the flu every year is incredibly low.

I think, ultimately, the coronavirus is more founded on fear than it is reality.

The media is tapping into our fear to make us believe we are in more danger than we are. People, in fact, are behaving so irrationally that 38% of Americans won’t drink corona beer because they are worried it’s connected to the coronavirus.

Now I can see why this new disease is terrifying — it’s new!, it emerged in a foreign country with relatively limited honest media coverage!, it trapped cruise ship passengers!, it’s requiring quarantines, masks, and hazmat suits! it’s spreading!, OH MY GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

It hits all the notes of fear that terrify us.

But the reality is China already has 85% of the Starbucks in the country back open. If Starbucks believes the worst of the coronavirus has passed in China, I suspect we are likely to have 4-6 weeks of scary virus talk in the United States — which could include an outbreak that infects hundreds or thousands of people — and then this issue will pass.

Which is why ultimately I think the stock market is vastly overreacting. That’s why I’ve been buying more of all the stocks I own during the sell off.

No one, of course, can perfectly predict a stock market bottom, but that’s why I suggest dollar cost averaging the stocks you like when their prices pull back. If you liked a company at $20 a share, you should like it even more at $15 or $10 a share.

That doesn’t mean, by the way, the stock couldn’t go to $5 a share, but I think you just have to keep your wits about you.

If coronavirus is truly going to run roughshod around the globe, where would you rather have your money than the stock market? In a bank? Under your mattress? What are you going to do with your money if you can’t leave your house for fear of getting sick?

Society isn’t going to collapse, not over this issue. Sooner or later market based economies will return to normalcy. I’d like to have my money in the stock market when that happens. Because by the time the fear is erased stocks will be overpriced, not underpriced.

Now I just have to hope I don’t die of coronavirus because everyone would be quoting this mailbag the minute I died.

Jason writes:

“Do you think the Tokyo Olympics are in jeopardy because of the coronavirus?”

I don’t think they should be in jeopardy, but I think it’s possible the Olympics get canceled because people are so fearful of the virus right now.

As an absolute worst case scenario, why couldn’t they have the Olympic competitions without spectators present? Since the Olympics is mostly a television event this seems like a decent compromise to me.

That way you don’t have to worry about the huge global pandemic impact of spectators traveling to Japan, it would just be a few thousand competitors.

The event I wonder about is actually much sooner and closer to us. What would happen if there was a coronavirus outbreak in some of the NCAA tournament locations in our country? Would teams and fans still travel to those cities? That seems unlikely.

So I think the bigger question in the world of sports is how the NCAA tourney — and even the conference basketball tournaments — might be impacted by this virus if we have an outbreak somewhere in the country.

But, again, I’m hopeful that this will be a 4-6 week storyline and then we’ll get back to normalcy.

Adam writes:

“Have you been watching the debates? While I’ve heard you mention that Joe Biden is the most electable, he appears almost incoherent during many responses during the debates and stumbles over his words quite often. Just wondering if you’ve taken that into consideration.”

I agree with you about Joe Biden. I feel Biden is like your aging grandpa at Thanksgiving. He starts a story at the table — which is probably a story everyone has heard a billion times before — and you just hope he finishes the story in a decent manner because you love your grandpa but you also realize he isn’t what he once was.

Having watched all the debates, I think Mike Bloomberg is probably the most electable Democrat. But he’s been awful in the debates too.

Which is why I think there’s a strong argument to be made that the debates are like the NFL combine of politics. You should only use them to confirm what you already believe, not to change your opinions of the candidates.

In other words, if you didn’t like a guy on film in his college games, I don’t think you should totally change your opinion on him based on how he performs in his underwear at the NFL combine. And if you didn’t like a candidate based on his policies, I don’t think you should change your opinion on him based on how he answers questions for ninety seconds at a time on a stage.

Ultimately the debates, like the combine itself, is a poor proxy for the actual job of being a football player or being president. Being a president isn’t about answering a question in soundbites in the best manner possible, it’s about using your powers of judgment to make hard decisions when faced with difficult arguments made on either side, or multiple sides, of a complex issue.

Being president isn’t about coming up with new ideas, it’s about deciding which ideas are the best.

The debates kind of remind me of the bar exam.

Because the bar exam is an awful way to test lawyers on their legal ability. No lawyer is ever required to answer legal questions without notes or reference materials or resources that allow them to research hard questions. The bar exam has nothing in common with being a lawyer. In reality the bar exam is just an intelligence test disguised as a legal exam. Essentially we’re saying you need to have a minimum baseline of intelligence in order to practice law in this country.

If you study for months or years and you can’t pass the test, you aren’t smart enough to be a lawyer.

I think the debates are a communication test for the presidential candidates. Are you capable of basic communication and argument skills that can motivate voters to support you? If the answer is yes, you pass the test, if the answer is no, you fail.

But, again, I don’t think the debates themselves should give you the information about the candidate. They should be a supplement you use to confirm what you’ve already discovered. If the candidates perform tremendously different than you expected then there’s an argument you may need to reexamine your initial thesis. Which is the same with the NFL combine.

Jon writes:

“I always appreciate your take on politics and identify as a radical moderate myself. Would love to hear your take on if it would have been better for Bloomberg to run as an independent? Seems like perfect time for an independent to capture the radical moderate vote.”

We definitely need a radical moderate in this country, the problem is Bloomberg’s not the answer this year.

Trump’s hardcore supporters — let’s call them 43-44% of the American public — are not going to abandon him no matter who runs against him.

So all Bloomberg running as an independent would do is guarantee Trump’s re-election.

Caelan writes:

“How would the democratic candidates react if (former Disney CEO) Bob Iger were running against them? Would they attack him like they do Bloomberg or would he get by and possibly even be a front runner?”

I think Iger would be a better candidate for president than any Democrat running this year.

I wrote three years ago that if Iger ran for president he was likely to use his stewardship of Disney as evidence of what kind of president he would be.

Iger would argue that he was an inclusive billionaire capitalist. He’d contrast himself with Trump, who he’d argue was an exclusive billionaire, someone who didn’t provide opportunities to all Americans.

Now Iger’s issues would be that he’s white, male, and rich in a party that doesn’t seem to like white men who are rich very much right now. But I tend to think that’s overrated and based on social media, which doesn’t reflect the Democratic party in real life. (Remember, only 20% of the Democratic electorate so far is even on Twitter).

I mean, look at the final legitimate candidates for president for the Democratic party: you’ve got three white men over the age of 75, a white woman over 70, a 59 year old white woman, and a young gay white guy under forty.

It’s honestly not that diverse of a group at all.

Which is why I think Iger could have a very real chance at the Democratic nomination in 2024 if Trump wins in 2020. And I think he’d also have a potential role as a vice presidential candidate if I didn’t think Democrats would be terrified of having an all white presidential ticket.

I’d wager almost every dollar I have that the eventual Democratic nominee, probably guaranteed to be an old white guy, will pick a black person (most likely a black woman) as his running mate.

Mark writes:

“If you had a time machine and could travel to only one time/place (excluding the birth/life of Jesus), where/when do you go?”

I’m a Civil War buff so I’d probably want to go back to the Civil War era and see what Lincoln, Lee, Stonewall, Sherman and Grant were really like.

But if I had to leave the country, I’d probably want to see Ancient Rome.

Taylor writes:

“Does Brady give Titans a BETTER chance at a Super Bowl than Tannehill?”

I wasn’t sure about this a few weeks ago when I first started thinking about it, but I’ve convinced myself the answer is yes.

If the Titans can get Brady, I think they have to do it and try to make a run at the Super Bowl.

A caller on Outkick this morning compared the Titans signing Brady to the decision the Raptors made with Kawhi last year. There’s a strong argument that Ryan Tannehill is Demar Derozan, a good, but not great, player. The Raptors made the decision to trade Derozan for one year of Kawhi Leonard. Yes, it was a huge gamble and the Raptors only got Kawhi for a year, but it got them a championship.

You can even continue this analogy further and make the argument that Greg Popovich is the NBA’s Bill Belichick.

Now the difference here is that Kawhi is much younger than Brady, but the Titans would also be signing Brady for multiple years, not one year.

I think the Titans have a team that’s good enough to make the Super Bowl over the next couple of years if they have a good quarterback. Is Brady still good enough to win a Super Bowl? Well, his team won 12 games and he threw for 4,000 yards last year despite not ever having a running back go for 100 yards.

Derrick Henry ran for almost 2,000 yards last year.

Can you imagine if Brady had him to hand off to? And then AJ Brown, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith to throw to as well?

I like the gamble here.

As Charles Davis said on my radio show this morning, can you imagine Tom Brady being in the playoffs and throwing for under 100 yards in a game, as Ryan Tannehill did in two victories last year? Of course not.

If Brady doesn’t pan out, you move on after two years and go back into the draft to select a new quarterback. If he does pan out then he finishes off his career in Nashville like Peyton Manning did in Denver, with a Super Bowl title.

That’s a risk I’d take.

Michael writes:

“If any of the kids on the 5/6 yr old team I’m coaching are Astros fans, should I hit then at least once a game? Yes, it’s a coach pitch league!”

Well played.

You better delete this joke though; this will come back to haunt you in twenty years when jokes on social media are no longer permitted.

Thanks for reading Outkick.

I hope all of you have fantastic weekends.

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.