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It’s Friday, time for the mailbag.
Thanks for all your support on Outkick this week, we have absolutely killed it. I’m thrilled with the growth on the radio show. Callers are stepping up their game, we’re adding affiliates at a rapid rate, and even when coaches hang up on us somehow I end up looking like the good guy.
We begin the mailbag with an extraordinary Jeff Fisher visits a local Nashville hospital story.
The following is a true story and I am not making up one part.
I think it was the week before Thanksgiving in 2009 and my wife and then 12 year old daughter were in a horrific car accident. My daughter’s face was smashed in and her jaw was mangled. (She is perfectly fine now by the way).
She was admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where they did emergency surgery to put her jaw back together.
After the surgery my daughter’s jaw was wired shut. She was in the hospital for weeks.
On Thanksgiving night it was just me and Hannah in the room watching an NFL Football game (well I was) when a nurse came in and said, “Hey guys! We have a big surprise for you tonight! Coach Jeff Fisher from the Tennessee Titans is coming by to visit all the kids!”
Clay it had to be 9:30 pm at that time……hardly anyone was in the hospital.
The following is the transcript as I remember it. I may be off a little but not by much
Coach Fisher: “Hey guys. How are you tonight?”
Me: “Hey Coach. We are doing good. Thanks for coming by.”
Coach Fisher from the doorway as he never actually fully entered the room: “Hey. What is your name?” directed to my daughter.
Hannah: “Hamhamah” (See her jaw is wired shut)
Coach Fisher: “What did you say?”
Me: “Sorry Coach. Her jaw is wired shut from surgery. Her name is Hannah.”
Coach Fisher: “Hannah did you have a good thanksgiving?”
Coach Fisher: “What did you say?”
Me: “Sorry Coach. It is hard for Hannah to talk. Her jaw is wired shut.”
Coach Fisher: “Oh. Are you going to be in here for a while?”
Hannah: “bobout tool waks mmhphs”
Coach Fisher: “How long?”
Me: “Hey Coach she is really sleepy. Thanks so much for stopping by.”
Coach Fisher: “You are welcome. Happy Thanksgiving.”
Me: “Happy Thanksgiving.”
He then leaves and Hannah and I look at each other and we both shrug like “What the heck?” and then Coach Fisher comes back in the room, asks me who is winning the NFL game, watches it without saying a word for about four awkward minutes, and then says “Bye” and leaves.
I appreciate him stopping in but man was that bizarre. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks.”
This is just an absolutely perfect Jeff Fisher visits the hospital story.
In Fisher’s defense, he can only hear in one of his ears now so he may never have heard anything you said. Plus, you’re probably right, if it was late in the NFL season he likely hadn’t slept a full night in months. But the entire awkwardness of the hospital visit is perfect. Fisher’s trying to do a nice thing — and doubtless he gets praised over the visit — but it’s just so incredibly awkward when you actually break down the moment by moment visit.
As competitive as these NFL coaches are — they literally look for an advantage anywhere they can — wouldn’t you think one of them would make the decision to actually sleep ten hours the night before a game? At that point, how much more can you do? Why not go to bed at like nine at night and wake up at seven the next day? In fact, does this lack of sleep explain some of the absurd decisions that are made on the sidelines late in games? Are coaches so sleep deprived that their brains, which may not work very well anyway, stop working?
“Clay, this Minnesota football boycott is endlessly compelling with every potential element ripe for mass debate and consumption, yet seemingly nobody is talking about it. Why?”
I did nearly an hour on the story this morning on my Outkick the Coverage radio show, but I think the reason no one will talk about it is pretty simple — guys make up the vast majority of sports writers, reporters and commentators and they’re all afraid of being accused of supporting rape if they say anything at all about the story other than report the basic facts.
I saw this firsthand when the Peyton Manning/Jamie Naughright story went public. Why was I the only person in the media pointing out that Naughright was crazy and questioning her story? Because there are legions of women and men online who consider any questioning of an alleged sexual assault victim’s story to be incredibly offensive. They assume that any man who is accused of rape is guilty of having done it, which is the exact opposite of what our criminal justice system was founded upon, but it’s the modern day reality. People immediately assume that if a story fits their world view, it’s true.
So many guys in sports media are afraid to have any opinion in this Minnesota case because they’re worried about being targeted by the social justice mob and said to be supporting “rape culture.” (By the way, I don’t believe in the term “rape culture.” We don’t have “murder culture” or “embezzlement culture,” or attach the word culture to any other crime. Does rape happen too often in this country? Sure. Should it be prosecuted? Yes. But people don’t commit crimes because of culture, they commit crimes because they make the decision to be criminals. Blaming culture is a coward’s way out.) Sexual assault cases are the only places in our criminal justice system where if you question anything in the story you immediately get accused of supporting rape.
Seriously, it happens.
If someone is accused of murder or bank robbery or kidnapping and I question whether they did it or not, no one screams at me online about how I support murder, bank robbery or kidnapping. But that happens with every rape case if you don’t blindly believe the accuser. Just because you don’t immediately believe an accuser was raped doesn’t mean you’re in favor of rape. It’s an absurd social media contrivance.
Add in the fact that all ten of these football players are black and you don’t have the white men behaving badly dynamic that fuels stories like Duke Lacrosse and the UVa fraternity gang rape case — both of which were entirely made up stories but took flight because so many out there want white men to be evil — and you’re in an awkward spot.
Finally, it’s Minnesota. If this were Michigan or Ohio State or Penn State or one of the prominent Big Ten programs it would be a bigger story. But the only time people talk about Minnesota Gopher football in the past decade is when their old coach used to have epileptic seizures on the sideline during games.
I find the story fascinating because it ties in with my earlier column — I don’t believe that colleges should be in the business of investigating sexual assault cases. Colleges aren’t equipped to investigate any crime, much less what is probably the most difficult crime that police investigate. Remember, sexual assault is one of the only criminal investigations that begins with a major question — did a crime actually happen? Murder, bank robbery, kidnappings, we don’t typically begin those cases uncertain whether there was a crime at all. Add in the lack of witnesses, frequency of alcohol use, and other conflicting factors and you rapidly realize how difficult these cases are.
So I don’t blame the Minnesota players for asking the question, if our teammates aren’t being charged with crimes after the police investigated and found that they didn’t behave in a criminal manner, how can five of our teammates get expelled and five more of our teammates get kicked out of school for a year for this incident?
The answer is because the standard for criminal behavior — beyond a reasonable doubt — is different than the standard for being expelled from school — more likely than not. But that disconnect is a mess and hard for people to understand. Especially when the accused in cases such as these don’t have procedural safeguards to protect the “trial” process in school investigations — unlike in the criminal court system — and when schools only get criticized when the action they take isn’t sufficient enough. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a school crushed publicly for being overly draconian in its punishment of an alleged rape accuser? Never, right? So the schools now are incentivized to err on the side of aggressive punishment. That is, if it’s a tough case — which these are when a police force has investigated and declined to prosecute — then a school gets less criticism for believing the accuser over the accused.
Again, I don’t know the specifics of what happened here, but if the police investigated it and found no basis for criminal charges, I certainly understand why if these are your teammates and you feel that they did nothing wrong from a criminal perspective then why aren’t they able to remain as students?
You guys know that I’m generally anti-protest, but this is a boycott that makes a ton of sense to me.
“All this shit going down at Wake Forest reminds me of an experience we had with a radio guy at college. I played baseball at an Ohio Valley Conference school where we had a radio guy travel to all of our away series with us. During the early parts of the season (February and March) we had a guy fill in for the typical radio guy due to the end of basketball season.
Well first series of the year, we’re on the road and in the hotel one night when one of my teammates starts talking about how some chick hit him up on facebook, they exchanged numbers, and now she’s texting him asking for dick pics. As it turns out, this chick is doing the exact same thing to another one of our teammates too.
Fast-forward to the next day. After the game we get on the bus and the first kid texts the girl, and right after he sends it, the radio guy’s phone goes off (he was sitting right behind him). Long story short, he texts our other teammate who then calls the chick, only to have the radio guy’s phone start ringing. So my question is, which is worse? Leaking plays to the opposing teams or trying to get dick pics from the players?
Watch out for those radio guys,
P.S. They went to the AD who ended up sending the guy packing.”
Think about all the crazy stories in college sports that go public.
Now consider that they’re probably only 5% of the absurd stories, if that, that actually happen.
Also, think about what a perverted motherfucker this radio guy has to be to create a fake hot chick Facebook profile and then friend request the guys on the baseball team in an effort to get them to send him dick pics. How furiously is this radio dude masturbating every time his hotel room door closes while he flips through the team media guide pictures?
Interesting biological question here, why are men so much more perverted than women? Like, honestly, there is nothing a dude does that surprises me. The male sex is a just a cesspool of fuck ups and failures. What’s the biological gain here? Why hasn’t science eliminated the dirty rotten perverts from our gene pool through evolution?
For instance, women almost never engage in truly absurd, perverse sexual behavior. (And honestly if it does happen it’s almost always because the guy convinced them to do it or they’re under the influence of psychotic drugs.)
This is why, for instance, I’ll never have a male babysitter.
We had a male babysitter show up once to watch our kids and I sent him away. Because I just totally assume that any male babysitter is into some fucked up shit.
Does this make me sexist? Or just way too aware of how fucked up men are?
This is why I’m such a huge feminist.
“Watching the Victoria’s Secret fashion show the other night and it got me wondering if Victoria’s Secret model privilege is the most privileged you can be? I doubt these chicks pay for anything. For example if I owned a private plane company I’m definitely letting them fly free. They might pay rent but even that might be a stretch. Can you get more privileged than that? Where is the PC outcry on that?”
Hot chick privilege is the most powerful privilege in America. Here, in fact, is my definitive privilege flow chart if you haven’t already seen it.
PC outrage only happens when white men are involved.
Come on, you know this, it’s social media outrage 101.
If the ten players in the Minnesota case were white this would be the lead story on ESPN, CNN and MSNBC right now.
White men are the devil. The sooner you accept this fact, the better.
“Last night at dinner, an argument broke out that I would love your input on. With the anticipation of a new Star Wars movie premiering this week, discussion dove into the depths that are the Star Wars universe. Some members of the conversation were big Star Wars fans, others were not. After a few efforts to convince the non fans that Star Wars was a legit work of art, someone stated that “In 200 years, they’ll be using Star Wars in English and Literature classes everywhere.”
This sparked a heated debate between the two parties, with some arguing that movies don’t count as literature while others claimed Shakespeare basically wrote movies but just didn’t have Hollywood access.
What say you? Is Star Wars a franchise that will last 200+ years?
PS, I would never hang up on you.”
This is a spectacular question.
First, Shakespeare wrote for the masses so if he were alive today I don’t think there’s any doubt that he would be writing for TV. As for whether “Star Wars,” will be studied, I don’t think so. Why? Because “Star Wars,” isn’t that well written. If you read a “Star Wars” script without the accompanying visual extravaganza it would look and sound ridiculous.
But there are many TV shows today that would read great as scripts too. If you gave me a script of, “The Americans” for instance, it would be riveting to read.
So could “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights,” or top TV shows like these end up being studied in future classrooms hundreds of years from now? Definitely.
But I think the term “literature” needs to be expanded here and replaced with the word “story.” When I taught Creative Writing at Vanderbilt while I was there getting my MFA in creative writing, I told my kids — yes, I had a Vandy class all to myself and I absolutely loved teaching it and would like to teach creative writing again one day — that they needed to strip away the idea of how a story was delivered to them and simply study how great stories were told and made.
Remember for most of humanity our great stories were told via spoken word.
All stories today are created with words on a screen. Books, movies and TV all ultimately come down to someone facing a blank screen and putting words ontoo a screen.
That’s storytelling in its most basic form.
The other thing I tried to instill was demythologizing the writing process. Writing a book or a story or a movie or anything else is like building a house, you start with a foundation and go from there. The way we consume these stories may be different, but the foundation of all great stories, at least so far in human life, is someone putting words onto a screen.
A few years ago I tried to get Vanderbilt Law School to greenlight me teaching a course to law students simply called “Stories For Lawyers.” The concept of the course was simple, which ever lawyer tells the best story wins. Because when you really boil it down that’s all being a trial lawyer is, a competition to see who can tell the most convincing story. So in the class we were going to read and study fascinating legal cases in both film and TV and then at the end of the class the exam was going to be I give you a fact pattern and you have to write a story — and then present it to the class — that convinces me that your side is right.
Essentially, a storytelling contest.
To the extent that I do anything really well, I think I can synthesize complex thoughts in ways that everyone can understand. Some people who are really smart can’t talk to dumb people. My gift: I can talk to anyone, even Alabama fans.
That’s because I see life as just one big story. Really that’s what I do every day, right? Each morning I sit down in front of a microphone and talk about the stories of the day for three hours on the radio. And I do that on Periscope and Facebook too. It’s the same thing with writing on this site.
I talk or write about the stories that matter the most to people every day. And if I do a good job of that people want to read and listen to me talk about the stories of the day more.
“As we near the end of the NFL regular season, conversations begin to focus on potential replacements for the NFL head coaching jobs which will undoubtedly become available.
Currently we have 5 African American HCs out of 32 total jobs – 15.5%. As you have mentioned, the national figures for AAs stand around 12% of the total population. The most recent statistics for NFL players show AAs comprise 68% of jobs.
Therefore, if comparing HC jobs to the national population, the figures are fairly congruent. But if compared to player figures, a racial disparity among head coaches can be argued.
In your opinion, which ratio is more appropriately representative of HC equality?
Lastly – why is racial equality among HC an annual topic of discussion, to the point where the HC interview process now has legislated protocol (Rooney Rule) yet no discussion exists for improving white equality among players? With almost 70% of players being African American, a clear racial bias exists against white players.
When I posed the coaching topic to my wife, she quickly pointed out the “reverse” disparity among players then added that we need Clay Travis’ opinion on the matter.”
I think that the races of NFL head coaches should roughly mirror the general public’s overall population. Because I think we’ve learned that you don’t have to be an NFL player to become an NFL head coach. In fact, many of the most successful coaches have never come close to playing in the NFL.
Also, what percentage of these players ever attempt to become coaches? My guess is that 68% of all entry level coaches aren’t black. You need to look at the ratio at the entry level to find out what the final result looks like.
My argument, in general, would be that NFL head coaches should look pretty much the same as the overall population.
Which is what we see here.
Further, it is fascinating that you never hear anything at all about racial disparities in sports. I suspect that’s because we presume that sports are meritocracies and that the best people end up with the most important jobs on playing fields.
My question for you then becomes this — if we presume NFL jobs, which in the grand scheme of things aren’t that important relative to the dollars at stake, are being filled with the best available people for the job, why do we presume that other businesses, particularly in Silicon Valley where the lack of diversity is all the rage these days, aren’t doing the same? Especially when those businesses have trillions of dollars at stake and are every bit as competitive, if not more so, than the NFL.
After all, the NFL has artificially created only 32 teams in one country that can win the Super Bowl. The NFL is a closed competition, one of those 32 teams has to win every year. You and I can’t go out and create our own football team that competes to win the Super Bowl. Yet in theory every company in the world is competing with Google and Apple and Facebook, right? You or I could build our own company tomorrow to beat these tech titans.
So which is more competitive? The NFL, where only 32 teams can win every year or the tech industry? The tech industry is by far.
With that level of competition in mind isn’t it every bit as significant for these companies to pick the right employees as it is for an NFL team to pick the right cornerback? So why do we trust the NFL team to pick the right guy regardless of race, but not trust the Internet company? After all, if Google, Apple or Facebook make bad hiring decisions then eventually the company falters and its competition wins, just like an NFL team making a bad decision on personnel will ultimately lose a ton of games.
So why are things so different here? Why does no one question the race or diversity of a player on a pro sports team, but the race or diversity of someone in a tech company matters?
It seems to me that the only argument you can make for why these companies are held to a standard of diversity and the teams aren’t — there’s no #whitecornerbacksmatter hashtag after all — is because these jobs in companies like Google aren’t that difficult and that lots of people of a variety of races can do them well; therefore the hiring criteria doesn’t matter that much and there is “privilege” benefiting some races over others when it comes to hiring.
But doesn’t that argument seem ludicrous?
If we believe that the skill and talent of an NFL player isn’t evenly distributed across the population — that is, no NFL team is starting an all Asian backfield and no NFL team’s roster even remotely approximates the white, black, Asian and Hispanic populations in this country — why would we presume that the skill and talent to work at a major tech company is going to reflect the racial make up of the country at large?
In both situations shouldn’t the company, both NFL and tech, just simply hire the most talented and skilled person for the job regardless of race? I’d argue yes.
It’s fascinating to me that we presume that sports teams pick the best people regardless of color when their stakes of winning or losing are comparatively small — after all, the Cleveland Browns still make money and the franchise value keeps increasing regardless of how many draft picks they blow — but a tech company can go bankrupt in a generation if it hires poorly.
So why do we presume that the less competitive field, sports, is hiring fairly and the more competitive field is hiring unfairly.
Just trying to keep y’all woke.
Thanks for reading the mailbag and for supporting Outkick.
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