All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice!

I’m out in Los Angeles after starting the week in New Orleans for the national title game. Apologies for not getting the anonymous mailbag up on Tuesday, but the frenzy in New Orleans combined with the radio and TV obligations and crazy travel schedule just didn’t give me any time at all to write.

The anonymous mailbag will be back, better than ever, on Tuesday.

In the meantime, let’s dive into the Friday mailbag.

Captain writes:

“Titan chances Sunday?”

I think pretty decent.

I definitely like the Titans +7 at Kansas City here.

Look, the Titans have played out of their minds the past two weeks on the road at New England and on the road at Baltimore.

But what the Titans are trying to do is truly unprecedented — win four straight road games against all four AFC division champs to advance to the Super Bowl. Granted Houston was resting many of their starters in the first game, but winning on the road against the AFC South champ, the AFC East champ, the AFC North champ and the AFC West champ in four straight weeks would be the greatest run to the Super Bowl of any team in NFL history.

That’s not hyperbole, it’s just the objective truth.

So do the Titans have the gas left in the tank to pull that off?

It would be phenomenal to see if they did.

Having said that, Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL and he’s playing at home. The Chiefs should be favored in this game and will probably win. But I’d give the Titans a solid 35-40% chance to win this game.

What has to happen in order for that to occur? The Titans can’t drop any Mahomes interceptions — he’ll give them chances to pick off a couple given how aggressive many of his throws are — and they can’t turn the ball over themselves and give the Chiefs any easy points.

The Chiefs offense is way too explosive to gift them a short field.

Plus, I think Ryan Tannehill will need to make a few more plays in the passing game than he has in the first two weeks because I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the Titan defense to hold the Chiefs to 13 or 12 points like they have the Patriots and the Ravens the past two weeks.

It’s also incredibly important for the Titans to keep this game inside of ten points throughout and I also think getting up early would be massive because it allows the Titans to continue to pound Henry without having to worry about trying to play catch up with the Chiefs.

Finally, I actually think the Titans have more at stake in this game. Now there’s a difference here between pressure and at stake. The pressure is clearly on the Chiefs, who everyone expects to win, but the Chiefs will likely be in this situation a ton so long as Mahomes stays healthy. (I think Mahomes will win multiple super bowls before his career is over). Are the Titans really built to make consistent runs to the AFC title game? I’d love to think so, but it has been 17 years since the Titans were this close to the Super Bowl and I’m not sold on the Titans regularly being in this position in the years ahead.

I’d love to be wrong, but I just don’t know about the long range future of Ryan Tannehill or the Titans.

Which is why I think the stakes are higher for the Titans than the Chiefs.

The Chiefs will be here again many times over the next decade. The Titans? They might not be here again this decade.

You can’t understate how seismic this game is for the Titans.

Win and with two weeks to rest up, I think they have a great shot to beat the 49ers or the Packers.

Lose and I’m not sure when we’ll be this close again.

All I want is one Super Bowl win.

I’m not asking for a dynasty or anything like that.

If my team could win one Super Bowl, I’d be content. Because then you feel like all the time and energy you invest in the team is worthwhile. I don’t want to be the eighty year old guy whose team has never won a Super Bowl still hoping it will happen.

I feel that way about the University of Tennessee too.

I mean, sure, I want to win another national title in my lifetime, but if it never happens, I got to see the undisputed 1998 national title. Give me one Titans Super Bowl win and I’ll be content. Again, it won’t be that I’m happy with that single title or stop being a fan going forward, it will just be a form of validation and a piece of contentment you can think about when your team stinks.

Put simply, it’s really, really hard to get to this point in the NFL. Guys like Brady and Manning make it seem like being in the AFC or NFC title game isn’t a big deal, but for most teams and most quarterbacks it’s a massive, massive moment. You might only have it happen one time in your playing career.

It would be magical if the Titans could make it happen and win on Sunday.

Fingers crossed.

(By the way, thanks to all you Chiefs fans who have offered to host me and my family for this game. You guys are honestly the most welcoming NFL fan base I’ve ever seen.)

Trenton writes:

“What are your thoughts on the MLB Astros scandal?”

It’s to the point now where it’s hard to know what to believe, honestly.

We’re talking about players wearing buzzers now to tip them off on pitches.

Which just seems crazy.

But when you look at the home and away splits in these games, it seems pretty clear something other than homefield advantage was going on.

My general thought, on a basic level, is it’s unlikely one team is doing something so far beyond the bounds of the rules that other teams aren’t copying in some way too.

So if the Astros and the Red Sox were doing it, are you really telling me other teams weren’t too?

We all know that sign stealing has been an art form for a long time in baseball, but I think the question that has to be asked and answered is when does it move beyond being a part of the game and move into cheating?

Clearly, the Astros and the Red Sox were cheating — how aggressively remains to be seen — and the question now is what should the penalties be? Are the ones levied so far severe enough?

I do think baseball agonizes over cheating far more than any other sport. I mean, Julian Edelman got popped for performance enhancing drugs and won the Super Bowl MVP the same year and everyone immediately moved on to arguing about whether he was a hall of famer in the wake of that Super Bowl performance, completely forgetting about the fact he’d been caught cheating earlier that same year.

Partly that’s because I think we assume that many football players “cheat” in order to remain able to play — most of those NFL bodies don’t look human to us — whereas baseball players are supposed to be more human. There’s also the degree to which baseball is defined by numbers in a way other sports aren’t, but I think ultimately this comes down to the fact that baseball fans are more hung up on morality than fans of other sports are.

Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that Pete Rose can be banned for life for betting on his team to win, but these managers and general managers can all cheat the game itself and only get, at most, one year suspensions.

I understand why players — or managers — gambling is a bad move, but I also think there’s a difference between gambling on yourself and gambling against yourself. Gambling on yourself, at least theoretically, makes you play even harder. Certainly, at least to me, it’s less of an issue than cheating during the actual game itself.

Adam writes:

“If Oklahoma won and Baker Mayfield were the one handing out $100’s and slapping cops on the ass, what would be the sentiment be among the mainstream media?”

I think Baker would get ripped more aggressively than Odell and there would be relatively few people defending him in the media, if any.

There’s a couple of reasons that happens.

First, many white members of the sports media live in perpetual fear of being called racist. Literally some of these guys would rather be accused of domestic violence or get a DUI than be called racist. (And, to be fair, we’ve created a society where it’s better for a white guy to actually commit a crime of violence than be accused of saying something racist. I’m not even joking about this. It would be better for the average sports media member to get arrested for a DUI and be convicted of driving drunk than be on video saying something deemed racially insensitive.)

Many of these left wing sports media members also define themselves as liberal in nature so they won’t even tiptoe up to aggressively criticizing a black athlete because they live in fear of being called racist. (Which happens any time a white guy says anything remotely critical of a black athlete, by the way.) That fear of being called racist stops them from being honest about what they really think.

With Baker Mayfield that racial issue doesn’t exist so the white media members can tee off on him with impunity. Even better, it also then provides them cover if they have to later criticize a black athlete for similar behavior. The result is criticism of white athletes ends up way more vociferous than criticism of a black athlete would be for the same offense.

The best example of this is poor Grayson Allen, whose issues with tripping players on a basketball court turned him into the Jeffrey Dahmer of college athletics. You would have thought the dude was a serial killer by the way the media ripped him to the high heavens. But what did he do? At worst he was kind of a dirty player on the basketball court. Is that really that big of a deal?

Of course not.

So that’s one part of the way these stories play out.

The second part is there’s a certain segment of the left wing media population that will defend a black athlete and allege racism every single time an issue with a black athlete arises. I mean, that’s literally the entire reason some people have careers. They play the race card over and over and over and over again.

Even when it leads to blatant hypocrisy and inconsistent takes.

Here’s one good example.

But it’s not just left wing black media members who play the race card. There’s a huge cadre of woke left wing media members of all different races who do the same thing. That’s their go to move, make everything an issue of race.

What I try to do — and I think I’m pretty good at it — is treat everyone the exact same regardless of race. (You’re all welcome to find a situation where I treated someone in athletics different based on race. I don’t think there’s a single one, ever.)

The Odell situation isn’t a tough one at all to me — you have a dude who paid cash to college players on the field surrounded by hundreds of media members. This wasn’t about Odell wanting to give players money to make some statement about the illegitimacy of NCAA rules, it was about Odell wanting everyone to see him giving players money. It wasn’t about their accomplishment, it was about Odell showing off his wealth.

He did it for the attention, period.

He made LSU’s national title, something that didn’t involve him at all, all about him.

Otherwise why not just give the players the money in private, without hundreds of media members — and cameras — present?

Because then we wouldn’t see it.

This was about Odell, not about those players at all.

Not content with making that scene, Odell then slapped a police officer’s ass and taunted him in the locker room.

Now I don’t necessarily think criminal charges are appropriate here — slapping another man’s ass in a locker room is different in that context than doing it elsewhere and I don’t believe we need to tie up our court systems on relatively trivial matters — but Odell was clearly being a bully here and his behavior was inappropriate. His clear intent was to embarrass the police officer/security guard and dare the police officer to do something to him.

Is this behavior you’d want to encourage your kids to emulate?

Of course not.

We have an absolute epidemic of lack of respect for police in this country. I don’t care what race you are, when a police officer addresses you, shut up and show him or her respect.

Every day I get on social media and there’s a new viral video of police being disrespected in this country. I’m not saying all of them are perfect — no profession is perfect — but as a group no one in this country works harder for less money to keep us safe than the police.

Think about this for a minute, that security guard is making $30 or $40k a year trying to do his job. He doesn’t decide what the laws are that he’s required to enforce. He’s just doing his job, what he’s been told to do.

Odell makes tens of millions of dollars a year.

Where’s the power dynamic here?

It certainly isn’t in favor of the security guard.

I thought Uncle Jimmy on SFY, who worked 17 years in this role, did a good job talking about this. Who are these media members who feel compelled to defend the millionaire in these situations? The millionaire has all the power and resources compared to the common guy here. Yet many in the media are now making careers off consistently defending the rich and powerful athlete at the expense of the poor and powerless regular guy. And they’re doing this based almost entirely off identity politics.

Again, I wouldn’t prosecute this case because I think it’s a waste of resources, but I do think Odell should have to publicly apologize and acknowledge that his behavior was inappropriate.

In addition to all of this, Odell also grabbed the megaphone from the LSU band and attempted to lead the band.

Odell was pretty clearly under the influence of something — be it alcohol or drugs — and as a result I don’t necessarily think his behavior was malicious or criminal.

But I do think it was dumb and entitled.

And all about drawing attention to himself, regardless of the consequences, which is why I believe Odell is headed for Antonio Brown crazytown.

What Odell should do is release a statement that reads something like this, “Like many people who have gone to New Orleans for big events, I had too much to drink as I celebrated LSU winning the national title. As a result, I acted like an idiot after the game. I’d like to apologize for my behavior, especially to the security guard I disrespected in the locker room, and for the negative attention I drew to myself and my school. I’ve since watched many of the viral videos from that night and it’s abundantly clear I need to conduct myself better in public. I’m sorry, I’ll do better.”

Boom, that’s all it would take.

Because most people are forgiving.

I doubt we’ll see something like that, but it’s what Odell should do.

Finally, if you regularly read this site, listen to my radio show, watch me on TV, or check out my social media feeds, my takes on things tend to be pretty consistent, regardless of who is involved, black, white, Asian, or Hispanic.

Which is why I think I’m one of the few people who would have treated Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham the exact same.

In fact, I don’t know that one word of what I said or wrote would have been one iota different.

How many other sports media members can you say the same thing about?

Not many.

Which is why our audience continues to skyrocket. Because people crave reasonable takes in an thoroughly unreasonable time.

Jerry writes:

“What is the best bet for where Brady lands next year?”

New England, which is where I think he’ll ultimately end up.

After that, Los Angeles, with the Chargers.

Dr. Chris writes:

“Should the senators running against Trump be forced to recuse themselves from the Impeachment Trial? They have an overwhelming bias and would be dismissed in any regular jury trial.”

This is actually a great question.

The problem is all senators are inherently biased here because they are either on the same side or a different side as the president who has been impeached. So every single senator would have an overwhelming bias in this trial, regardless of party.

None of them would be allowed to be jurors in a regular trial.

But it’s definitely the case that for the Democratic senators attempting to run against Trump in 2020 — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar — they have a direct incentive to vote against Trump in a way no other senator does.

I don’t think you can recuse them, but I definitely think it’s impossible to trust anything they say during this process. In fact, I bet all three of them, if given the option, would prefer not to be attending the trial.

Purely from a political perspective the Senate impeachment trial likely gives Joe Biden a big advantage in Iowa. Because while the Democratic senators he’s running against are forced to head back to Washington, he gets to campaign alongside of Mayor Pete, the only other Iowa contender, with limited ground competition in the state.

Now you can argue that most voters, including those in Iowa, will be paying attention to the impeachment trial and that gives Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar an advantage, but I just don’t buy it.

Why?

Because I think most undecided voters are going to be tuning out the impeachment trial because they already know how it’s going to end.

The only drama will be whether any Republicans are willing to vote to remove Trump. (I doubt there will be any, but that’s legitimately the only story line here. As I told you months and months ago when this entire process started, there’s no drama. It’s all a rigged political process.)

Which means Biden could have a big advantage being able to campaign without opposition in Iowa.

And if Biden wins Iowa or New Hampshire, given his strength in the South with black voters, this nomination is probably a wrap for him.

MJ writes:

“The Astros, Red Sox, and Patriots all cheated, won a title, and got off relatively easily. What type or level of cheating would you look the other way at if it meant a Titans Super Bowl win?”

I know people make fun of the NCAA vacating titles, but I do think that’s a punishment that stings.

Because forty years from now when you look up past titles, most people won’t remember the details of who won titles, they’ll just look at the results. And if your team isn’t listed, that’s substantial.

So far no pro leagues ever take away titles, which means this punishment isn’t possible.

So leaving aside the truly egregious and criminal — like I don’t think you could support a team poisoning the food, for instance, of an opponent the night before a big game — would I be upset if I were a huge Astros fans, we won the World Series, and then a couple of years later the manager and GM lost their jobs over a cheating scandal? Maybe a bit.

But would I still consider it a good trade in order to win a title?

Of course.

Which is what I’d imagine most Astros, Red Sox and Patriot fans think.

(There’s also a huge percentage of fans that would never acknowledge their favorite team cheated no matter the evidence. So they don’t even grapple with the morality of the cheating because they’ll refuse to acknowledge it no matter what.)

Tynan writes:

“With OBJ being a public figure hammered at the game, when is the last time you got shit faced in public and made a fool out yourself?”

I’m a low level public figure, but I assume everything is being recorded now and will go viral in an instant.

Which is why I’m surprised when super famous people don’t think about this too and end up involved in these scandals.

A few months ago, after Tennessee beat Missouri, I was out drinking in downtown Nashville, came out of the bathroom, attempted to sit down on a stool and flipped off the stool, landing on the ground. (I didn’t spill my drink though, which is veteran drinking behavior). I remember thinking that if someone had been recording me for the fall it would go viral.

I was also out after the Georgia-Tennessee game — I think we’re seeing a theme here — and we were all pretty drunk then too. But the biggest thing I remember thinking then was we were out by the dance floor in a bar and I didn’t feel like I could even stand close to the dance floor because I thought, perhaps rightly, that if I even danced near a girl someone would take a video and put it on social media and be like, “Look at Clay Travis, he’s married and he’s dancing with college girls!”

So I’m not saying I’m not going to get drunk and do something stupid in public at some point, but I try to be conscious of the fact that there’s pretty much always a camera rolling anywhere in public.

But I’m also not trying to hide either.

I mean, there’s no telling how many social media videos I’ve recorded with Outkick fans in bars over the past decade. (My wife has said she can type my name in Twitter and see where I’ve been on a night in a college town just by people posting pictures and videos.)

I love meeting people who like the site or like what I do.

So I don’t think my behavior is going to really change that much, you just have to be cognizant of the fact that everything you do, good or bad, is public.

Which kind of sucks.

But that’s the world we live in.

….

Thanks for reading Outkick.

Go Titans!

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