All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for all work productivity to cease with the mailbag arriving.

Bit of news before we get going any further, you can win a chance to hang out with me in a suite at the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in St. Louis by going to this link. You can register starting February 12th.

So let’s get rolling.

Skylar writes:

“I have a theory about Tom Brady and why he’s the greatest ever. I think a lot can be said for his coaching and ownership situation being super ideal, but he’s done something most other QBs don’t do..
I never hear about him talking about wanting to be the highest paid QB in the NFL. What does that mean? More cap room for quality players a huge QB contract doesn’t allow for.
Look at each of the previous highest paid QBs, none (except for Aaron Rodgers, I think?) have had incredible success after they sign. Why? I truly believe it is due to the fact that huge contracts limit how much a team can invest in the offensive line and key defensive players like an elite pash rusher or shut down QB. So perhaps Tom isn’t the GOAT as everyone proclaims, he’s the greatest, most team friendly QB of all time. I think his Super Bowls show that as well. He got there a lot in the beginning and end of his career with two stops against the Giants in between. He got paid a lot in the middle of his contract and now has team friendly deals because he’s got a lot of money and now he’s looking for championships.
I think this is an incredibly underrated aspect of Tom Brady’s career, he’s never been the highest paid quarterback in the league. Which has, as you pointed out, allowed the Patriots to spend money on more players that surround him.
But here’s my other question about this, what would keep a team owner from circumventing the cap and paying a player under the table outside of the salary cap. For instance, Bob Kraft is insanely wealthy, right? Why couldn’t he give Tom Brady a sweetheart deal in one of his other businesses that’s worth, let’s say, $100 million? Does the NFL actually examine player tax returns to ensure they aren’t getting paid substantial money outside of the salary cap?
As competitive as the NFL is, wouldn’t this be a total Patriots move, to be compensating Brady at a level commensurate with the highest paid quarterbacks in the game, but to be doing it in a way that the salary cap isn’t broken to keep him as quarterback?
This is why the league doesn’t allow players to be partial owners of teams. To avoid this type of compensation from occurring. Because then how would you value what that ownership stake is worth?
But if the NFL isn’t doing rigorous reviews of tax returns, why wouldn’t you do this? And even if the NFL is checking everything on the tax returns — which I’m sure they wouldn’t be — what’s to keep you from entering into a sweetheart deal with a player the moment he retires? That way you could pay him everything you weren’t paying him earlier. This seems like a tremendous loophole just waiting to be exploited by a smart owner with a good relationship with his starting quarterback.
If I were LeBron James, I’d also suggest he follow Brady’s lead here. Other than ego why does LeBron need to be a max contract guy? Wouldn’t it make more sense to take less money and have better talent around you for the final years of your career? I think so.
Tyler writes:
“Seeing that you’re a fan of SpaceX and Elon Musk and knowing you have extra cash to blow with your twitter profits, Would you spend the $250,000 to get a ticket to Mars? That’s Elon’s plan- make it affordable enough to get people to go colonize Mars. It’s extremely exciting to me. And what do you think of the potential business you could conduct on a trip like that. I’m not a blogger or YouTuber but I could see that being a very lucrative thing in the future. If things go as he plans, It will be an option in our lifetime.”
The last thing I want to do is rely on the wifi on Mars.
I can’t even use wifi on an airplane half the time and you’re going to convince me I’m going to have flawless Internet on Mars? Good luck with that.
I do think it would be cool to visit space, but right now there are so many places in the world I haven’t been that I’d feel like space wouldn’t even be at the top of my list right now. I’d like to go to Australia and New Zealand and Asia and Africa and more places in Europe.
Hell, I haven’t even been to Montana or Wyoming before.
I’d rather go all those places than Mars or space.
Having said that, if I get to be like, 65 or 70 years old and space travel or Mars travel becomes somewhat affordable — i.e. similar to the prices you just quoted — I would definitely be interested in trying it out. And I love the idea of humans becoming a multi-planet species. I just find that incredibly exciting.
I also love Elon Musk and everything he’s accomplishing right now. Total helicopter dick guy. This is why, by the way, we need more meritocracy in our immigration system. I want more guys like Musk coming to America and unlocking the full potential of our country. Immigrants, especially smart and driven ones, are actually more likely to embrace American exceptionalism than many of us born here. We take the opportunities for granted in this country because we’ve always had them; most immigrants don’t.
James writes:

“Am I crazy for thinking that it’s obvious that LeBron James is on steroids? I mean, I know that he’s one of the 3 or 4 best players ever, but there’s some things that just don’t add up. Just look at that stacked 2003 NBA draft class. It’s one of the best ever, but look at who all is left. All of them have either dropped out of the league because they are too old, or they are shells of their former selves now that they are in their 30s (Dwyane Wade). Yet, LeBron is still just as good as ever. 

Not only is he still producing at normal production for his age and draft class, but he’s led the league in minutes like every year he has played. And that’s not even taking into account that he’s made the NBA finals 8 times, and 7 times in a row! That’s almost two more whole seasons of toll taken on his body…yet he’s still showing no signs of aging.
And back in 2015 he took that mysterious vacation in January to Miami, which is like the epicenter of MLBs steroid problems. Before the vacation he was playing the worst basketball of his life. He was terrible and looked old, like the minutes and age had caught up with him. He then disappears to Miami for two weeks mid-season and never gives any hint of an explanation about what he was doing. He then comes back and is a completely different player and destroys everyone in the league.
Maybe this is my LeBron bias. I can’t stand the guy. He’s so petty and passive-aggressive. But this seems like Barry Bonds all over again. In baseball everyone was amazed that Barry was having historic years at the time most people were breaking down and retiring. Now, LeBron is doing the exact same thing. And with knowing the NBA’s steroid policy and testing is a joke, it just seems fishy. Am I on to something, or is LeBron actually this good?”
The Barry Bonds comparison is perfect. It wasn’t just that Barry Bonds was on steroids, he was one of the best players of all time and he was on steroids too.
But to be fair to LeBron, it’s also possible that the entire NBA is roiding up too. And he was the youngest in his 2003 draft class so it’s natural that he would have several more years than most of the guys he was drafted alongside.
Having said that, remember when Jose Canseco came out and said everyone in major league baseball was on steroids and initially he was totally ignored? And then it turned out that Canseco, while he may have embellished many details, was actually telling the truth about steroids in baseball?
I suspect there are many NBA players who are using “illegal” substances to play the game at the highest possible level. Remember George Karl came out and said this in his book and then backtracked when those comments got a ton of attention. I think it’s just common sense to believe that’s happening.
Just like I suspect many NFL players are too.
As competitive as these guys are at the highest levels of their sport and as much money is at stake, why would you think they would do everything possible to be the best and then suddenly stop when it came to taking drugs to make them better? Especially if you knew other guys you were competing with were doing it too.
Hell, put it this way, if you knew you’d be 25% better at your job if you took steroids, wouldn’t you be tempted to do it too?
This, honestly, is the most amazing thing about Ken Griffey, Jr. He knew that he was one of the greatest players ever and he knew that everyone was cheating around him, including many of the pitchers who were trying to get him out, and he still refused to use steroids. What could Griffey Jr. have accomplished if he’d been on steroids? The guy hit 630 homeruns — including 56 in back-to-back seasons. What could he have done if he’d cheated? He’d definitely be the home run king and he would have definitely broken all the yearly records too.
It’s freakish for LeBron to be 33 years old and be performing at the level that he is.
And maybe it’s unfair to LeBron, but I look at every freakish athletic achievement and automatically view it as suspect in a post Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds era.
There are other guys that are old and successful — Roger Federer and Tom Brady for instance — but I don’t view either of those guys as freakish athletes and I think it’s easier to explain how those guys have lasted.
LeBron is the oldest freak athlete in sports today and so I view him as the most likely to be using steroids.
The bigger question here is, why do we care? Aside from the impact filtering down to youth sports, shouldn’t adults, arguably, be able to use steroids if they want to do so? I just find the line really difficult to draw here. Why is Lasik surgery or a Toradol shot permissible, but steroids aren’t?
What are we actually protecting here? Players get bigger, faster and stronger every year thanks to advanced training regimens and whatnot. Athletics is all about pushing boundaries and setting new records. Aren’t the technological advances in sports worth testing?
I mean, honestly, it isn’t amazing that we have steroids, it’s amazing how well they work.
Aside from kids getting their hands on the drugs and using them before their bodies are developed, what’s the fear in athletes using steroids? I just don’t see the big deal.
Heath writes:
“The blowback from NFL players taking a knee during the anthem has been well documented and I have been intrigued by your arguments that employees should not express political options while in uniform.What about religious expression?  I noticed multiple players after the Super Bowl give thanks to “their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  My timeline blew up with people praising these men for expressing their beliefs.

I recognize that taking a knee to raise awareness against police brutality is a totally different message than thanking Jesus for his blessings, but both are expressions that are not related to football at all.

What are your thoughts on this?

Btw, I am a heterosexual Christian and not a gay Muslim….”

This is definitely an interesting question.
Religion and sports are wedded together in many ways and have been for a long time so I think one big issue here is that we expect it and aren’t shocked by it.
I’d be surprised if, for instance, there is any SEC football team that doesn’t pray before and after games. Partly that’s because teams and players are religious, but I’d also be curious when the overt connection between athletics and religion became so readily apparent.
But I think the result is fans and players have become used to the concept of games and religion being connected for so long that they don’t think about it very much. Plus, there’s a certain logic, if you’re religious, to praying before you embark on a violent sport. (I think of prayer as being connected more to football than to basketball, baseball or hockey). People tend to pray before dangerous life events.
I would point out, however, that Tim Tebow kneeling after touchdowns was criticized as putting his faith center stage by many who just wanted to see football. And that the NCAA, for instance, forbade players from writing messages on their eyeblack, religious or otherwise.
Most overt religious expression comes after the game itself is over, which is a pretty big distinction.
If, for instance, Colin Kaepernick had said in a post game interview that he believed police were killing too many minority youths and intended to work to address that injustice would people have stridently opposed that? I tend to think the answer is no. I don’t think that would have been controversial at all. Again, it’s not Kaepernick’s position that’s controversial, it’s the method by which he’s choosing to express it.
Let’s say that the NFL had also had a pregame prayer and that Kaepernick had elected to turn his back during that prayer while everyone else bowed their heads. I think that would be seen as a big deal. Because, in the eyes of many, it’s disrespecting the prayer itself.
Hell, I stand for the Canadian national anthem at NHL games because I respect the solemnity of the event. Just like I bow my head at a religious ceremony even if I’m not that religion.
Most of the people complaining about Kaepernick’s actions are focusing on the lack of respect he’s showing for the national anthem, not the position he’s espousing. That’s why I’ve argued his protest is so ineffective, because he’s alienated anyone who might have joined his side.
When people thank God after athletic events they are humbling themselves — at least in theory — and showing greater respect. Whereas many saw Kaepernick’s protest as an attempt to elevate himself about everyone else during the anthem. Plus, Kaepernick’s protest came before the game as opposed to after it.
So while the two things may seem similar, I think they’re actually pretty dissimilar.
Thanks for reading.
Hope y’all 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.