All That and a Bag of Mail: Nick Saban’s Stance on Gay Marriage Edition

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 05: NBC News Anchor Brian Williams speaks onstage at The New York Comedy Festival and The Bob Woodruff Foundation present the 8th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Comedy Festival) Monica Schipper Getty Images North America

It’s Friday and time for the mailbag. 

Given that the mid-South may be about to be slammed by an epic snow storm, this may be the last mailbag most of you are alive to see. So I hope you enjoy it. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Sir John Michael from Oklahoma. If you haven’t watched this video yet, do it. 

On to the mailbag:

Anthony writes:

“Getting straight to the point with this one. If Nick Saban would come out and say he’s pro gay marriage, would it affect the reactions to the recent law change in Alabama? I could run through scenarios, but I’m sure the self-appointed czar of the 85 percent has already thought them all out.”

You know what’s funny about this question? This past November I took a camera crew to an Alabama Wal Mart and told people wearing Crimson Tide gear that Nick Saban had come out in favor of gay marriage earlier that morning. We took it a step further and said Saban had also said he would leave the state if gay marriage wasn’t legalized. The Bama fan reactions were outstanding, but I think we were at too good of a Wal Mart — one near a nice suburb of Birmingham– we needed to be more in the sticks.

My theory was pretty much the same as yours — that people cared a ton more about football than they did gay marriage. That is, Bama fans would rather legalize gay marriage than have Nick Saban leave the state. I think that’s true. I’d love to see a poll run on it. Leaving aside the Auburn people who would clearly want Saban to leave and oppose gay marriage, I think your average Bama fan would rather the state legalize gay marriage than lose Saban.

So with one sentence Saban could heal the state.   

Brett writes:

“After learning that new SI cover girl, Hannah Davis, is dating Derek Jeter my friends and I have been arguing over who’s “list” you’d rather have between Jeter, Justin Timberlake or Leonardo Dicaprio. Based on famous women I’d have to go with Jeter, but who knows how many randoms that these guess have banged. If you add in the career then I think you have an argument for JT and Leo. Being a gay Muslim, could you help us answer this question since you’ve probably dreamed of eating all of their dicks.”

Derek Jeter is pretty famous in America, but there’s no comparison with Timberlake and Dicaprio’s international fame. How many people in Europe or Asia know who Jeter is? Not very many. Billions more people know Timberlake and Dicaprio. Granted, once you reach the level of a hundred million people knowing you for being outstanding at something, it’s really just a question of how much sex do you want to have? For total opportunity, however, I’m going Dicaprio. Every woman on earth has seen “Titanic” and wanted to screw Jack at some point in her life. Every single one. Yes, including your mom. 

By the way, Jeter is the perfect evidence for why a top athlete should never get married while he’s still playing. Think about it for a minute, Jeter basically does the exact same thing that Tiger Woods did, only he’s never gotten married and he’s beloved for it by men and women. Everyone thinks Jeter is awesome for screwing hot chicks and dominating his sport. Meanwhile, everyone thinks Tiger Woods is a total ass for doing the same thing. The difference? Woods got married. Imagine if Tiger were still single and had never gotten married, how much different would his life be right now? Is it crazy to think he’d have broken Jack Nicklaus’s record? Is it crazy to think he’d be the most beloved athlete in America? I think both these things would be true. 

Remember that horribly awkward press conference Tiger had where he apologized for his behavior after going to sex rehab? What if Tiger had just come out and said, “Guys, turns out I’m a poonhound. I probably shouldn’t have gotten married because I still really like having sex with lots of different women. I wish I didn’t, but I do. I’ll do the best job as a father I can and I apologize to my wife for wasting her time in marriage. Now I’m heading back to golf.”

Sure, he might have gotten killed for a couple of days for saying this, but I think the story dies right there. Isn’t that basically what Bill Clinton did? Now we just assume Bill Clinton screws everybody and he’s the most popular politician in the country today. You don’t get in trouble in today’s society for being honest, you get in trouble for being a hypocrite.  

Jeff on Twitter:

“Do you feel the 6 month suspension given by NBC News to Brian Williams was too excessive?”

I feel like this entire story was too excessive.

Was it just me or did the media give way more attention to whether or not Brian Williams’s helicopter got shot at than whether or not we should go to war in Iraq? I also find it absurd that Williams paid a bigger penalty for lying about his time in Iraq than any politician or intelligence analyst actually did for being WRONG ABOUT GOING TO WAR. 

I don’t watch the news so I don’t have any opinion on Williams’s trustworthiness. I get my news the old fashioned way, I actually read it. But I do find it interesting that this week we’ve seen two people in media die, the New York Times’ David Carr and CBS’s Bob Simon, and Twitter immediately reacts with an outpouring of grief.

Twitter doesn’t like anyone until they die.

Then it immediately turns into a grief-laden repository of positive memories. When someone dies everything turns positive about that person. It got me wondering, if Brian Williams dies in a car accident a month ago, don’t the same people who crucified him on Twitter instead laud him on Twitter as a paragon of virtue and noble news coverage? And I think that’s probably instructive on a larger scale — why do we assume the absolute worst of people in social media? Why is there such gleeful mob joy in tearing someone down? If you liked Brian Williams a month ago, why does what he said about a decade old story matter to you today?

Tying the Williams news in with Jon Stewart, I was at GW’s homecoming back in 1997 when Jon Stewart came to campus and did ten minutes of comedy about how hot Jonbenet Ramsey was. Now I don’t have a problem with it — it’s comedic satire and comedy often works best on the edge and beyond normally acceptable discourse; if you don’t like it, don’t listen or watch — but when he retired from “The Daily Show,” you would have thought he was Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments in tow. I didn’t see a single negative word about Stewart anywhere. If he’d done the same routine a week ago and it had gone up online, there would be a mob ready to hang him.  

Which brings me to my fear about social media — just about everyone ends up with the exact same opinion. It’s as if the viral nature of stories also transmits itself virally so that everyone stops thinking and follows the herd. That’s really scary. It generally happens with negative stories, but when someone dies Twitter falls in love with you all over again. The only time virally positive emotion flows is when a death happens. Why can’t we have a social media balance, somewhere between he’s an evil person and he’s a saint? 

Circling back around to Brian Williams, how many people who had a dramatic and fevered opinion on Twitter about his continued employment didn’t even watch his nightly newscast? I’d bet it was the vast majority. So you’ve got tons of people who didn’t care enough about Brian Williams to watch his nightly newscast, but did care enough about whether he should keep his job over an embellished ten year old story. Does that make any sense at all?

Put it this way, the best thing that could have happened to Brian Williams’s legacy would have been if he died a month ago in a car crash. Doesn’t it suggest we’re getting social media wrong if lots of time famous people’s legacies would be better off if they were dead?

Lou writes:

“A new study was released about the dangers of smoking and new diseases linked to it. This isn’t new information. Smoking kills, it’s bad, yet people continue to smoke.

What would science have to uncover about football for us to stop playing/watching/letting our kids play? Is this even possible? We’ve seen guys kill themselves as an indirect result of brain damage, likely caused by football. Yet we can’t get enough of the stuff. We have a two year old son and at this point are thinking he probably should never play, but in reality, if he wants to play, I’ll be cheering him on and likely coaching. I loved playing football, I turned out ok, right? None of us will actually ever get brain damage…”

The reality is, football’s future doesn’t rest with men, it rests with women. If moms decide football is too dangerous, their sons won’t play. 

That’s why I believe football will go the way of boxing over the next forty years. Right now no self-respecting helicopter parents would put their kids in a boxing ring and let someone else’s kid pound them into submission. That’s because just about every parent has seen the harms of repeated blows to the head. It’s just not worth it. 

As football players age — and we all see them falling apart right before our eyes — most of us are going to decide it isn’t worth the risk for our kids to play football either. Especially for young kids. Those kids who would have played football will filter into basketball and soccer and baseball and other sports. That diminishes the pool of potential stars, thereby diluting the product. Eventually football will end up like boxing, a sport that only the very poor pursue as a way out. 

Football’s never going to die as a sport — just like boxing won’t — but I think in forty years the sport will have to be drastically altered — maybe it moves to more of a seven on seven style with less linemen involved — or the people who play it will just acknowledge that their lifespans are going to be dramatically shortened. Again, I’d encourage you to read “League of Denial.” Everyone who plays high level football ends up really fucked up. And we haven’t even seen all the consequences of the modern era’s size, strength and speed.  

Of course, I’m sure the gladiators who survived didn’t have great retirements in ancient Rome either. So maybe football won’t change at all.   

Sarah writes:

“I have been following your writing/blogs/tweets for a few years now. I also consider myself to be an avid Twitter user. I use it to keep up with sports but also with general news. Obviously, there’s been a drastic response to you on Twitter lately (most recently with Demarcus Cousins) and reading your mentions makes me question my entire view on people in today’s world. But I ask myself, how much is Twitter to blame? Obviously idiots will exist regardless of the presence of social media, but we’ve now given every idiot a voice that can be amplified in less than a second on Twitter. Retweets make the most vile and ridiculous people known to thousands more that otherwise would have been shielded from their misguided words and opinions. I know you thrive on people’s idiocy and stupid comments, but what would your job (and others) be like without Twitter to allow these people to stir the pot?”

Four years ago I started Outkick because I recognized that social media provided a perfect means of distributing my content. Prior to social media people shared links online via email, but that was hard to track. Otherwise it mattered where you wrote. That is, if you were on the front page of ESPN.com, lots of people read what you wrote. When I was at CBSSports.com my articles were read much more if they were on the front page of the site. But that was a long time ago now. How many of you go to front pages of sites anymore? Most of you come in through social media links. You follow your favorite writers and click what they put out there.

That was my gamble that Twitter and Facebook made Outkick possible becasue there was virtually no cost to distribution anymore. I already had an audience of readers, now I just needed to give them what they wanted to read. Owning my own means of distribution was also great. And not just because it led to all the fun of “Fire Clay Travis,” on Twitter. There’s a decent chance I’m going to end up owning my radio show/podcast as well. Again, because distribution isn’t an issue. If you’re a creative person and you own your content and the means to distribute it, you have creative freedom and security. It’s tough to beat that. 

But the rise of Twitter and Facebook have also allowed everyone else to have a voice too. Unlike mine many of those voices are anonymous. Generally speaking anonymous people don’t behave because they feel there are no consequences for what they say online. I’ve said this before, but I’ve never had a negative word said to my face. Not in ten years. Not in being out publicly in bars, restaurants, stadiums, nowhere. Hell, we did live radio shows at gas stations, Krogers, Wal Marts, not one negative word, only praise. If people recognize me in public they either want their picture taken or they ignore me. That’s because there’s a social compact for face-to-face interaction that’s different than what’s said online. (I tend to also believe that some of the same people Tweeting mean things online also want their picture taken when they see me. Which is even more ridiculous).

If I were Twitter czar I honestly think they need to work better with authorities to punish people for statements that would be actionable in “real” life. I’ve had people post my home address, Google images of my street and car, my kids information, my wife’s, threaten to kill me, you name it. I’ve had lots of vile stuff happen in social media. But it’s not just me. That happens to everyone in the public eye. That’s why I think people who make threats like that should be prosecuted. And I think their trials should be covered publicly. People behave that way online because they believe there are no consequences for their actions. There need to be consequences. If you threaten to kill someone face-to-face, that’s a crime. Why should you be able to do it online with no punishment? 

I’m a Twitter shareholder so I have a pretty good stake in the company succeeding. I love it and want Twitter debate to be robust and uninhibited. But they have to do something to clean up the refuse. 

Tim writes:

“As an Auburn guy, it pains me to say this, but right there on page 103 in Chapter 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird is the answer to who the Finches in the story pull for in football. Scout cheers Jem up by telling him he resembles Dixie Howell, the star player on Alabama’s undefeated Rose Bowl team of 1934.

The Finches are Bammers. No Auburn fan would ever try to make a fellow Auburn fan feel better by saying something like “you have hair like Nick Saban!”

Harper Lee actually went to Alabama, but her father A.C. Lee – the model for Atticus – did not attend college and “read law” in the office of a practicing lawyer before he passed the bar.

Having said all this, as an Auburn guy I hold with a truly great female Southern Writer, Flannery O’Connor: “You must remember: it (TKIM) is a children’s book.”

Well, shit. 

The Finches were Bammers. 

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.

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