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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, which means I’m here to solve all the issues in the OutKick universe.

As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

And I’ll continue my statements up here again this week. The anonymous mailbag continuing is entirely in your hands as I rely on you guys to send in the questions we answer here. So fire away with your questions.

Okay, here we go:

“My husband and I are club level season ticket holders for one of the two ‘finalist’ teams before Deshaun Watson chose Cleveland. Even though my team didn’t end up with Watson, just by being a finalist I felt like I had to start hoping 22 women would be discredited in order to root for the team. My question is this: thankfully I didn’t have to make this decision and you aren’t female (yet) what are the ladies of Cleveland doing? What should they do? Just hoping things disappear?”

I can’t speak to what any woman — or man for that matter — should do when it comes to signing a player with a checkered background, but I have season tickets for the Tennessee Titans and I don’t think I’d cancel my tickets over any player decision the team made. That’s because my fandom is going to last longer than any individual player is likely to represent the team.

Now I understand some of you will disagree with that decision, but I don’t look to athletes to be moral authorities in this country.

Would I prefer that the players on my favorite teams be great guys? Yes, of course. But ultimately I don’t believe the NFL should be in the business of suspending players for off the field related issues. And I believe players, so long as they aren’t in jail, should be eligible to play a sport so long as a team is willing to employ them.

Whatever you think of Deshaun Watson, there’s a statue to Ray Lewis up outside the Baltimore Ravens stadium and he was charged with double murder. Now he wasn’t convicted because he switched sides and testified against his co-defendants after the trial had already started, but let me repeat this. HE WAS CHARGED WITH DOUBLE MURDER!

Double murder!

And he has a statue outside the stadium!

Regarding Watson — and I do find it unlikely that 22 women all made up the fact that he sexually assaulted them — he’s not an alleged double murderer. Which means he’s far from the worst guy to ever put on an NFL uniform.

So there is a great deal of cognitive dissonance required to be a fan of any sports franchise. Because there’s a pretty decent chance that at some point in your fandom, one of the top players for your team has already or will be in the future accused of something that is pretty heinous.

I don’t blame anyone for abandoning their season tickets or no longer rooting for your favorite team over a player decision. That’s certainly your right, and it may well even be admirable, but I’m not willing to make that choice myself.

I think every individual fan has to make his or her own decision in situations like these.

And the simple truth of the matter is this, if Deshaun Watson plays well, Cleveland Browns fans will soon forget the 22 women. If he plays poorly, they won’t be happy, no matter what he does off the field. Ultimately, sports are about winning and losing. If you win enough, virtually any misbehavior will be excused.

Heck, someone might have signed OJ, if he’d committed his double murders while he was still a young man.

Leaving aside sports for a moment, think about what behavior we will excuse from celebrities. Look at the Oscars on Sunday night. Will Smith walked on the stage and slapped Chris Rock for a joke. There’s a bright line rule in my opinion, no one ever, and I mean ever, walks onto the stage and hits a speaker or performer there.

That just can’t happen, whether you’re a musician, comedian, actor, or public speaker. And if it does happen, you should be charged with assault.

Well, Will Smith did it, went back to his seat, no one did anything to him, and a few minutes later, he got a standing ovation. That’s just wrong. I don’t agree with taking back his Oscar — just like I don’t agree with taking back someone’s Heisman — but I do think he should be charged with assault. We can’t set the precedent that if someone says something you don’t like, you can hit him. That’s ridiculous.

“You can go back in time, you only have 5 minutes but you can change something that has happened, what are you trying to change and how?”

This is a fun question.

I’m fortunate not to have had any awful untimely deaths or serious injuries occur in my family, so I wouldn’t make any personal decision to change something in my own life. But I understand that many of you might have had these issues occur in your own lives, so that’s the change you’d make.

But as a result I’d go with trying to “fix” a major historical calamity.

And I can give you two that come to mind in my life: First, the most preventable tragedy in my life is 9/11. I’m not sure how I could change anything for certain having to do with 9/11, but I’d probably try and stop 9/11 from happening. (How could you do that in five minutes? Well, that gets into a pretty fascinating situation, considering there were three different flights involved.)

But if you could keep 9/11 from happening, then everything since then would be different. You’d save countless lives and avoid trillions of dollars in war costs.

I think the best way to spend your five minutes might be to show up at the last meeting of these 9/11 terrorists with a bomb or a gun and just draw as much attention as possible to their existence. A shoot out at the final meeting would probably have kept them from ever implementing their plan. So that would be my top goal.

The second biggest tragedy of my life is probably COVID emerging, but we still don’t have the knowledge of how exactly COVID began. So in order to figure out how to stop it from spreading around the world, we’d need to figure out who patient zero was and either kill him before he could become patient zero or stop whomever is most responsible for creating the virus or permitting the lab leak. (I’m of the opinion this was a lab leak, but, again, the lack of definitive knowledge makes this impossible to stop, which is why 9/11 would be your best option to stop a global calamity.)

As for historical change, that is, something that happened outside of my own life. I think you have to kill young Adolf Hitler with your five minutes. Sure, we don’t know what happens in the world post-Hitler — there’s always the fear something worse could emerge without Hitler present — but given the lives lost, that feels like a no-brainer as well.

“This past weekend, my wife and I traveled to our friend’s house a few hours away to watch the tournament and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Overall, it was good time being with him and his fiancé. However, there were several things that bothered me. Back when we first started hanging out in college, he was involved on campus, active, worked out four to five days per week, and ate relatively healthy for a college student. Now, he’s put on a ton of weight (the pandemic probably accelerated this) isn’t sociable, is grumpy, bitter, drinks too much beer, and has his fiancée make a lot of decisions for him. This is not the guy I knew 10 years ago, let along 5 years ago. Most of his problems could be solved by simply getting back into the gym and eating better. However, I don’t think it’s my place to tell him what to do. Philosophically, I’m fairly libertarian when it comes to personal health, but now that philosophy is conflicting with the care I have for my friend’s well-being. How should I address this problem with him and get him back on track?”

Why don’t you just ask him if everything’s okay?

I don’t think you need to make life choices or even life suggestions for him, but if he’s not the same guy he used to be, what might have changed to put him on the path he’s on now? As a friend, that feels like a valid question to ask.

Something simple like, “Man, loved hanging out with you and watching games this past weekend, but you seem pissed off at the world. Is everything okay?”

I don’t think you need to dive into the weight gain or the drinking because those are likely symptoms of his unhappiness, not the cause of the unhappiness.

And I don’t think it’s helpful for you to make him feel bad about his life choices — he knows he’s fat and drinking too much — but I do think you should be there as a friend to try and lead him out of what may be a serious depression.

You don’t really know the fiancée, but what are her impressions here? There are relatively few people in relationships who want to be with someone who weighs too much, drinks too much, and is angry at the world. I’d be curious to know what her diagnosis of his issues are.

But that might be a bridge too far. In the meantime, I’d just reach out to him directly and see how you can help.

“My cousin is in his 40s and lives in Florida. For the past two years, he has worn two masks, hasn’t eaten inside a restaurant, gone to a movie theater or done anything social other than meeting one friend once a month which he complained to me that this friend he met took off his mask to order a carry out meal at a restaurant where they are in their car. He’s triple vaxed, and he still makes an excuse every time I ask him if he’s going to start living his life again. What can I do to convince him to live a normal life, or are we at the point that so many people are scarred from COVID that this is causing lifelong mental illness in people? I want to be sympathetic towards him but I am close to just dropping him and never speaking to him again as it’s too stressful when I talk to him.”

There are probably around 20% of the American public that have completely lost their minds over COVID. All of the restrictions and fear porn broke them. They probably had latent anxiety disorders already, and unlike most people, they aren’t capable of returning to normalcy.

Unfortunately, we are actually letting these people drive much of American policy because they tend to vote Democratic and represent a substantial portion of Joe Biden’s left wing base.

So how do you get these people to return to some form of normalcy? I think you just have to keep making offers to them to join you for events. Even if it’s frustrating that they always say no, you have to keep making the offer.

I don’t think you need to get into a debate with them about COVID — you’re unlikely to win that debate at this point — but I do think you need to keep extending the olive branch of invitations. At some point, they will either accept or they won’t.

But what’s the harm in the offer?

If the phone calls are exhausting, start extending the offers via text message. That takes you thirty seconds, and even if he never accepts your offers, you are keeping the lines of communication open.

You just have to hope that eventually he will realize COVID is never going away and he either returns to his normal life or stays a hermit for the remainder of his life. Most people, I really believe, are eventually going to return to normal. If they don’t, that’s their choice.

But what we absolutely, positively can’t do is allow these people to continue to direct American COVID policy. They are broken. And we can’t let broken people dictate the life choices the rest of us are permitted to make.

Okay, send your anonymous mailbag questions — make them good! — to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

I’m off to do the radio show.

And, as always, thanks for reading OutKick.

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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